Lady Gaga’s Boring Baldness

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Okay, so Lady Gaga is bald.

Last Friday night, she appeared on the Paul O’Grady show with a meticulously shaven dome. Seated at the piano, one of her wigs set before her on stand, she serenaded it with — what else? — “My hair.”

I’m disappointed. It’s not that I feel any particular attachment to Gaga’s hair — with all her wigs, I doubt I’ve been privileged to lay eyes on it. It’s not that the look doesn’t become her; it’s actually pretty cute. No, what leaves me feeling shortchanged is that the look’s been done and overdone. Thanks to Sinead O’Connor, Erykah Badu, Demi Moore, Megan Fox, and yes, Britney Spears, a woman who shaves her head is no more a pioneer than anyone who settled in St. Louis, ca. 1975.

The look has reached all the way down to the Applebee’s crowd. Not infrequently, some radio station will host an event where people — many of them women — shave their heads to raise money for cancer research. This woman had hers shaved in exchange for a pair of Kenny Chesney tickets:

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Now, granted, when it comes to musical themses, Lady Gaga’s never been above borrowing — least of all from Madonna. The Jesus-imagery in the video for “Judas” looks like an homage to “Like a Prayer.” The Latin guitar strummy sound in “Alejandro” was straight-up “La Isla Bonita.” But for Pete’s sake, when it came to her personal appearance, I really thought I could count on the girl to shock me. The meat dress? Well done, thou. The Coke cans in the hair? Brava.

I pray I’m missing somee ironic message. The Huffington Post says no. Its editorial staff say that Lady Gaga’s baldness is a stab at sincerity.

With her “Born This Way” single and publicity campaign, Gaga has signaled again that she seeks to win, for herself and every other misunderstood soul, a normal, accepted human existence, regardless of gender or creed or, especially, sexuality. Her passionate speeches for LGBT rights, as well as her non-stop inspirational tweets, place her at least in the close exurbs of the mainstream, stripped bare of at least some of her eccentricities in favor of sincerity.

In that vein of stripping down from pretense to prove that she’s human, Lady Gaga went bald in a “Paul O’Grady Show” performance for her stripped down new song, “Hair.” Perhaps it is only a fashion statement, but given the song title, it’s unlikely, as she filled her piano top with wigs and took her own piece off halfway through. Perhaps she’s saying something about shedding that skin, that costume, that barrier that she created with all of her vaunted costumes — at least so that people know what she is inside before putting it back on.

The lyrics provide hints about that struggle; it seems that she’s trying to prove that her hair, her costumes, her persona are normal. So by taking it off, showing the world her insides, she’s proving her mainstream credentials, while still maintaining her built-up image.

Bother that. If I wanted to see human beings, I’d leave the house once in a while. From Lady Gaga, I expect not nature but artifice — transcendent and weird. Lady Gaga, if you’re reading this, please consider transplanting a bonsai tree onto your scalp; I’ll offer my apologies, along with a nice watering can.

UPDATE: Turns out Gaga didn’t shave her head after all; she was wearing one of those flesh-toned skull caps. Now THERE’S the artifice I’m looking for! Well played, Gaga!

  • Jenewingpierce

    LOL. I happen to think that almost everything she does is ironic whether she intends it that way or not. She has raised self-reflexive irony, collage, and homage to an almost dizzying level, until it is a hall of mirrors. Her intentions don’t really matter, she disappears behind it all, and I do think that is intentional. Unlike Madonna, who was always Madonna passing all expressions through the lens of herself. Gaga erases herself. She doesn’t solicit the WORSHIP of her fans, (though she gets it anyway) she identifies with them, puts them first. It’s fascinating. Self-undoing.

    I agree I’d like to see her get all smart and snarky about it, to wink to let us in on the joke. But mmm…I don’t think we’re going to get it…

  • Jan

    What’s really getting old is the perpetual search for “meaning” in the outrageous antics of entertainers. We actually pay these silly-assed court jesters to see and listen to their outlandish behavior, and the next thing you know, they are being taken seriously in matters that really count.

  • Martin Connolly

    Too much worrying about the image. After a while, you begin to stop seeing the outfits and wigs. Her vocal was perfection, her piano playing was spot on and her timing and gestures were excellent. The bald cap was a metaphor that’s overshadowing what was her best performance of the night. She’s a pop singer, and she does it very well.

  • nakedidea

    The difference between Sinead, Britney, and Gaga is that Gaga didn’t actually shave her head. Her power and emotion went towards the entire theme and performance. Many people do not understand Gaga. All they see is what’s in front of them: the costume. Strip everything off and you get an artist. Keep everything on and you still get an artist. So why does it become so easy for everybody to judge someone for the way they look? Maybe that is Gaga’s message after all, embrace everyone for who they really are, regardless of their appearance.

  • Tannaparties

    Lady Gaga is amazing. It’s not boring to go bald, what happened if a celebrity got cancer and went bald! Would you boo them? No. So she’s showing her individuality in her way. Let her be her and if you don’t like it then don’t write about it! That’s pathetic and disgusting.

    I <3 Purple Unicorns and Fuck anybody who doesn't.

  • Mongoolaphantom

    I’m not sure if it is just me, but when you wrote “meticulously shaven dome” did you mean that she had actually shaven off her real hair, or that she was simply creating the illusion of baldness (she had doneed a skull cap for the performance).

    I am in no way trying to dishearten you as I think this was a throughly enjoyable and well written article, but just a little more clarity would truly help those less able minded (like myself).

    Besides that though, like I said before, it is a wonderful article :) .

  • Annarose J

    There’s nothing natural, or real about gaga and true, she is her own creation a mask that she takes off. Real talent dont need all that, only those that cant pull it off without ……. whatever its called aint for me. I like beauty and embrasing it and not other way round. x

  • Anonymous

    It must be a slow news day at Patheos the way you’re struggling to make a story here. Lady Gaga did not “meticulously” shave her head – she was wearing a skull cap for just one “costume change” for one-half of one song. Taken in its entirety, the performance was most definitely original, and judging by the sensation it created on the internet, memorable. And she’s never sounded better.

  • Martha

    I’m sorry, but I’m laughing here at the HuffPo – what about Lady Gaga is *not* mainstream? As you point out, we’ve seen it all before with Madonna. She’s a commercial recording artiste (and good luck to her) and if her meat dresses didn’t shift multiple units of product, her record company would drop her like last year’s boyband and she could be as zany as she liked out of her childhood bedroom while returning to live in her parents’ house.

    I suppose it’s because I’m too old ;-)

    I remember all this kind of thing first time around, which is why I was never shocked by Marilyn Manson.

  • Anonymous

    Please do share your list of NON-commercial recording artiste popstars.

  • nakedidea

    It’s boring to read about the Madonna comparisons. Are we supposed to compare everyone to Madonna because she did pretty much everything already done in the female artist industry? Gaga has done her own thing too, or else she wouldn’t be on top. I’m sure her dramatic, “over-the-top” outfits didn’t make her the star she is today, nor did the “similarities” to Madonna…

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  • Guest22

    It’s entertaining enough for you to be worrying your hair to the point that you’re blogging about it. No one likes a boring blog, after all.

  • Martha

    dogstar, that’s the entire point right there. All this deep chin-stroking about the philosophical and artistic theory behind what she wears, her stage makeup, her song lyrics – she’s a pop singer who’s shifting loads of records and making a decent pile of cash. No shame there.

    What she is not is some kind of Jacques Brel de nos jours.

  • Akrath_98

    YOu cannot be that naive can you? It is obviously a make-up skull cap. The forehead line is obvious even in bad resolution vid

  • Kenneth

    At least when Sinead shaved her head, she really did it, and she really was angry! Not that real angst isn’t annoying in its own right, but at least its real. Scripted angst is sort of pathetic.

  • Jeremy Enz-Doerschner

    It’s a cap, dear.

  • Holly in Nebraska

    But is she a “real phoney?”

  • Jewjess

    If it’s real thar she has shaved her head or not, who cares? It’s her choice, and she’s obviously doing it to make a point. I support you Lady Gaga! <3

  • Anonymous

    Have you no clue how much of a snob you are?

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  • Anonymous

    I apologize for that remark.

  • RickG63


    JESUS Have you heard of this guy People say he is the son of god and a leader for the unusual and different . Which God I ask. He is trying to tell us there is only one, can you belive that HUH.
    This guy hangs out with weardoes,blind people and prostitutes. The guy must be gay or some kind of pervert. And what is he hiding under his toga. I heard he is a girl.
    And look at his clothes white after November and those sandles he must be a attention whore.
    I don’t know what people see in him he is just weard. What a diva.
    Did you hear some of those hymns ,singing of equality even for Gay people YUCK.
    Only the young would believe this BS because at my age I know what is right and this guy won’t change my mind.
    Why would I love my neibour he is strange but I do like his wife she is hot.
    He is one of those Jesus freeks, got him brainwashed.
    Now change the name to Lady Gaga and think about it.
    If God had a daughter her name could be Godga or something like that, and she would be a Lady.
    The Christians say there will be a second coming maybe she is here. We already killed off his son.
    Non of what I have written is from Gaga so don’t quote her saying that she thinks she is the daughter of God.
    I am just a follower of hers and believe in what she is trying to say.


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  • chloe arathoon

    lady gaga is amazing how she is with her songs and talent anyone can be bald and be famous but with beauty and kindness she can be an amazing singer to her fans and friends just like me! she has different talent to any other sing with her hair and outfits,if you look at kesha she dosent the most outstanding costumes as lady gaga and lady gaga is the most friendlyest singer i know so if i where you i would be one of lady gaga’s fans!