Jesus, Lady Gaga is just incapable of being humble. Ever.
Her single flopped—and I liked it!—and now, when asked about Madonna, which admittedly is a troll-worthy question, she has this to say:
You know what, Gaga? You're not a genius. You're not David Bowie, you're not Stevie Wonder, you're not Michael Jackson, you're not Prince ... and you, not-so-nice lady, are not Madonna.
Lady Gaga has real, and measurable, talent, but she is stuck on her own hype that she is some kind of musical wunderkind, that what she does is utterly unique and spellbinding. When she was reading Born This Way, it was heralded as the Second Coming—and wound up being the Second Coming of “Express Yourself.” When she was preparing to foist ARTPOP on us, she raved about how genius it would be, a hubristic move that bit her in the ass. And she has not learned. She simply can not see herself in the proper context, can not accept that to be compared to Madonna is a compliment.
She raved about Madonna before their rift, and now acts like Madonna is some kindly grandmother with whom she shares no common ground?
Madonna plays instruments and is a songwriter. She has had a hand in every aspect of her career, including cooking up many of her own melodies. She is an unsurpassable live performer. She has done too many things first and best to sweat it when the latest throne-coveters approach, like Nosferatu, witchy fingers elongated in the shadows of deception.
But whether you don't care for Madonna, even if you think the rivalry is tired (IT IS), you've got to admit Gaga's defensiveness in the above clip is churlish and beneath her. “Nice lady?” Fuck off. I guess it's not so surprising that so many of her followers take time out to wish AIDS on Gaga's critics—I have the many receipts!—considering she really does emanate assholishness underneath her fake veneer.
Okay, I'm officially back off her. Man, I wish we could just go back to her The Fame Monster era and start over.
Though cool is probably not the first adjective she'd use to describe herself, Olivia Newton-John represented one side of my impression of coolness as a kid—my favorite male cousin was into Blondie, so Debbie Harry represented New Wave edginess to me, and my favorite female cousin received an ONJ album for Christmas that seemed to herald her arrival into womanhood. Both acts made me realize that keeping abreast of pop music was the only way to be true teenager.
Olivia is seemingly as busy in 2016 as she was back then, and her commitments are not only physical (she just returned to her wonderful show at the Flamingo's Donny & Marie Show Room in Las Vegas) but spiritual (she's always busy with her Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, and makes environmental causes a cornerstone of her stage show).
(GIF via Universal)
As I told the incandescent songbird—now the same age Gene Kelly was when he danced alongside her in Xanadu (1980)—she looks beautiful, sounds beautiful and, most importantly, is beautiful; her centered approach to her enduring career is inspirational without being preachy, and is spreading a little more love with each passing day.
Perhaps most exciting for fans is her brand-new album, LIV ON, a collaboration with Amy Sky and Beth Nielsen Chapman, which dropped October 14. The album emphasizes the trio's vocal skill and sensitivity, nowhere more powerfully than on the single “LIVE ON,” a sonic rock on which survivors can cling while struggling to get through life's challenges. The album and single take ONJ full circle, back to her early country roots.
Speaking of her roots, I was lucky enough to catch Olivia's return to her Vegas residency following her August tour dates.
The Donny & Marie Show Room is a gorgeous space, designed like an old-fashioned nightclub/dinner-theater venue, just larger. There isn't a bad seat in the house, and Olivia didn't hit a bad note—all sung live, so you get more than just a piece of her.
Olivia looks phenomenal, isn't afraid to tease her audience and for the show's spirited numbers, especially a generous Grease segment and the stand-out from her pop/rock years, “Twist of Fate,” was frequently kick-dancing up and down the stage.
(GIF via 20th Century Fox)
If you want variety, she's got it—Olivia nimbly segues from country to pop to rock to yes, even a Latin number, to New Age. Along with singing most of her iconic hits, she threw in new work like the aforementioned “LIVE ON” and lesser-known singles like the heart-tugging nature anthem “Don't Cut Me Down.”
Somewhat surprisingly, “Physical” arrived in the dead center of the very lively show, which allowed for some of her less reserved fangirls to jump up and recreate the choreography from that unforgettably gay-friendly music video.
Just when I was thinking Olivia had exhausted her top-tier smashes, her finale—delivered in a dazzling, silver-sequined, form-fitting gown—arrived in the form of a gorgeous take on “I Honestly Love You.”
And, honestly, right back atcha.
After the show, I was escorted to the green room, where I was able to meet with Olivia, have her sign two of my cherished 45s and tell her how much I loved the show. When I randomly blurted out that I've always loved her 1992 hit “I Need Love,” she asked me to remind her of it, so I had to speak-sing to Olivia Newton-John! She gamely jumped in and sang what she could remember of the tune, which was a slinky pop number with one of the best Hi-NRG dance remixes of all time.
If you're in or near NYC, or can find a flight, check out the 3rd Annual Broadway & Ballet HERO Awards, brought to you by HERO (HIV Experience Resources Organization).
The event—held October 24 at Stage 48 (605 W. 48th St., NYC) at 8 p.m.—will honor Broadway legend Donna McKechnie and international ballet star Marcelo Gomes. Plus, Ruby Lewis, Cirque du Soleil star, will receive the John Adams HERO Award and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will get the 2016 HERO Partner Award.
Directed by the amazing Patrick Boyd, the event is not to be missed. Per a press release:
This spectacular event will feature 14 original performances and a cast of over 30 stars from the worlds of Broadway and ballet including: (honorees) Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line, Broadway HERO Awardee), Ruby Lewis (Cirque du Soleil Paramour, John Adams HERO Awardee), Marcelo Gomez (ABT international ballet star, Ballet HERO Awardee), Michael-Leon Wooley (Little Shop of Horrors, American Buffalo, The Princess and the Frog), LaTrisa Harper (The Color Purple, The Lion King), Christopher Jackson (The Lion King, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater), Stephen Hanna (An American In Paris, On The Town, Billy Elliot, Principle dancer, New York City Ballet), Michael Cusumano (All Shook Up, Chicago, American in Paris), Brandon Leffler (Trip of Love, On The Town, Cinderella) Patrick Boyd (Grease, The Wizard of Oz, Gypsy, Touch: A Love Story), Daniel Lynn Evans (Trip of Love), Clifton Oliver, (Kinky Boots, Lion King) Donna Vaughn (The Lion King), LaMar Baylor (The Lion King, PHILADANCO!), Sean Stewart (American Ballet Theatre), Alina Faye (American Ballet Theatre alumni), Luis Villabon (A Chorus Line), Morgan Stinnett (soloist with Connecticut Ballet, member of Aijkun Ballet Company), Shomari Savannah (Alvin Ailey), Alexis ”Tilly” Evans-Krueger (Sonya Tayee Dance Company BODYTRAFFIC, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company), Melanie Fields (Evita, The Visit), Javon Jones (The Julliard School, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater), Sean Rozanski (Dirty Dancing, Gus Giordano, Jazz Dance), a special performance by Pace University students Seeley Stephens, Nia Coleman, Shannon Weir, and Kadin Andrew Mestas, choreography of an opening number by Ray Mercer (The Lion King, Award Winning Choreographer), and more.
I mean, they probably would feel a lot differently if people were calling them and saying, “So tell me: What you do in your bedroom every day?” This is my job. And I'm happy to promote my work. And I'm happy to stand up for things I believe in. If people can't see the positivity in that, then I think that's up to them. You can have Mother Teresa giving food out and somebody will find something negative to say.
I continue to argue: We know Robert De Niro likes chicks—what's so special about gay actors that their sexual orientations should be sacrosanct? Only homophobia benefits from that particular veil.
Read the rest of his articulate but, IMO, flawed arguments on the topic at the link.
Clayton also expresses sympathy for sex workers, talks about his crash diet for his nudity-charged role in the movie and speaks at length about his comfort with being undressed in front of the camera vs. at home.