Monday, December 10, 2012

I was born this way: Lady Gaga comes to Paraguay.

Things I didn't think would happen during Peace Corps:


Paws up bitches. Lady Gaga came to town, and shit got crazy. 

Since showing up to Paraguay there have been rumors swirling around Lady Gaga coming to town. Locals would ask me about American music, and if I knew any famous people, eventually landing on the subject of Mother Monster. "Lady Gaga" they would say staring at me. No preceding sentence, no words after. Just a look, a smile, and "LADY GAGA." I wouldn't know if this was a question, or a statement, so I generally responded with, "Yes." After staring at me a few more moments to ensure my confusion as to what we were talking about, they would give their follow up. "She's coming to Paraguay, you know?" "Yes, I heard." However with no confirmation from venue, nor Gaga herself, I was doubtful. 

Then over a year later the news came. Gaga would visit the heart of South America, gracing her legions of little Paraguayan monsters with her presence. I bought tickets the first day. 

I think I did a decent job. 
After ticket acquisition outfit prep came next. I tossed lots of ideas around, but after spending way too much time, watching her videos, I decided do go for a look from Telephone. But rather than Gaga herself, I took a note from Honey B. I worked on it for over a week. Over 200 bedazzles and ten yards of brocade were used. 

Since almost every PCV was in town for the concert we literally took over hostels across Asuncion. Getting ready for the concert was an explosion of glitter, and body paint, and tequila. Gaga blaring from the Ipod, each PCV embraced their inner little monster. We had leopard jumpsuits, rainbow capes, nipple pasties (worn by a dude) and so much more. 

Locals also did not disappoint. 
Despite keeping my drinking to a minimum,I still can't remember the night clearly. It is all just a swirling blur of neon, music, dancing and fabulousness. It was a Gaga black out. 

Her Ladyship, started the night with her declaration of freaks rights,
 "Born this Way."
Black Jesus to the right. 
 It only went up from there. 

Judas, Telephone, Just Dance, Poker face. Each more fabulous than the last. The costume changes were impressive. She would exit in one corner and then seem to instantly emerge from the opposite side of the stage in another increasingly strange outfit. She was an alien queen, a motorcycle key board, and obviously the meat dress had an appearance. 

Here is where I go all fan boy on you guys. This was more than a concert. The feeling in the venue was one of liberation. It was a freak show, and the freaks had taken over. All of us together "not giving a fuck" about anything else. "Even Black Jesus (her back up dancer) has zero fucks to give," was undoubtedly the line of the night. Our collective lack of fucks to give, made for a sense of safety and freedom. Every person there got to be exactly who and what they wanted to be in that moment. Watching Gaga perform and interact with the crowd, you believed she loved us as much as we loved her.

Seeing a concert of an American star outside of America is a little odd, because Lady Gaga doesn't speak Spanish. Nonetheless our non-English buddies cheered at every word.  As Gaga said, "We all speak the language of love and music." 

After the show we all started for the hostel. While it would have been a great night to go out even more, a few too many volunteers had a too tenuous relationship with gravity. 

As we were reigning in the troops, I got a surprising taste of fame. About a dozen different locals exiting the venue approached me asking to take a photo with them. Other volunteers get this all the time, but it's never happened to me. For a stranger to ask to take your picture it's a strange combination of embarrassment and flattery. Mostly, I took it as a testament to my awesome outfit. 

Finally back in the hostel, those of us who didn't need to be put to bed, had a night cap and recounted every moment of what we had just seen. Not one of us could believe that this was part of our Peace Corps experience. When imagining Peace Corps, the farm animals, the bugs, and the trouble with language were all expected. We knew it would be an exciting life, but never did we think seeing the worlds biggest pop star could be one of those highlights. I'm just glad it was. 

End of the night and still fabulous.

(It took me two days to untangle my hair)