(Photo by Flickr user TJ Sengel)
Imagine you're Lady Gaga. Imagine the emergency planning meetings you're currently holding, in the light of the general public proving a little bit less bothered about you than they once were. "Guys," you say, talking to your team. "Guys – guys, I'm talking to you. Guys, how can we make me weird again? Nothing seems far-out enough any more. Nobody's talking about me like they did with the meat dress when I was topical yet so wildly and calculatedly aloof. What can I do that's completely controversial for the street teams to promote in all of our regional markets going into the second quarter? GUYS?"
"Well, Gaga," says a pre-pubescent male assistant with legs made of jelly and eyes leftover from the storm, "we've done the meat dress, the big boiled egg and the one where your face was obscured by part of a cornflake. We've done the weight of the sea, the ache of the sky, the death of the soul as viewed through a latex bunny Jesus crying sherbet dip-dab tears. We've had the barbecued clingfilm tits, the fallen princess trying to get a gig as a Temazepam dealer, the one where you had acne crocheted all over your arse and the one where you looked like Jessica Rabbit having a wank in a dildo hat. And now we're spent. There are just no ideas left, unless you want to try – I don't know – getting fat."
Your shoulders rise up. You mentally reboot, the words "digital downloads" and "ticket sales" swimming around behind your robot eyes. You are GAGA – surely there are more ways to bring the radical back to retail than this?
Another assistant ventures forward. "The thing is," he ventures, nervously, "it's as if people have finally realised that your songs sound like an aerobics workout video being presented by a packet of KP Skips. I dunno, but it seems like the public may have sussed that your music has all the emotional impact of the man from the BT Broadband advert eating a panini and wondering if it's more grammatically accurate to call it a panino. Because – and I don't really know how to tell you this – but our market research is in and it suggests that listeners have cottoned on to the fact that the musical resonance borne by your albums is actually that of a lift being wrongly installed in a bungalow."
He sits down sharply and looks like he might stop there, but no – he finds new strength and stands up again, trying not to fall over his shoes, which are shaped like penguins. How he wishes he could wear shoes that are not shaped like penguins. How he wishes he could go to work in the morning wearing shoes that are shaped like shoes.
"You see, Gaga," the assistant stumbles, "we tried to keep this under wraps for as long as possible, but what with this new age of internet transparency and freedom-of-information acts and your mate Julian Assange, it seems the fans have finally found out some truths that we tried to hold back. We're not sure who told them – the leak is proving untraceable. But it's an incontrovertible fact that they now know your major label "art-pop" schtick is really about as avant-garde as Liz Hurley and Shane Warne getting a his-and-hers spray tan."
The room is silent. The room is terrified. A third assistant, boosted by the strength of his comrades, stands up.
"Our reports suggest that the bit in your stadium concerts where you tell your big gay audience that you too know what it is to be spat upon in the street, before saying that one lucky fan can get a phone call from you right now during this show if you leave your number at the front desk with a $35 competition entry fee – it's just…" he fades.
Penguin guy takes over again. "It's almost," he says, taking one last deep breath before he is rebooted out of the room and away down the road, into a world where his feet need never dress like flightless aquatic birds ever again. "Well, Gaga, the thing is, it's almost as if your attempts to appear sexless and deathless have led to your sexless death. You know, like a goth. There's this blog, actually, called 'Goths in Hot Weather' – you might want to take a look, it's just loads of photos of goths looking really uncomfortable when the sun's out, and I just thought maybe you could…"
A door bursts open and bashes against the wall a few time. A messenger has come in bearing news. Everyone turns to look at him. "GAGA IS IN THE NEWS AGAIN!" bellows the messenger. He then scrolls through the iPad embedded in his armpit and reads out the thing on the Daily Mail website about how Gaga has done an advertising campaign for Versace and the unretouched photos have been leaked.
In these pictures – the ones before anybody painted her face in post-production to look more Gaga-like – she appears textured, sallow, tired, multi-dimensional. She has lines under her eyes, the cheeks aren't contoured with powder, the brow has some hope and query in it. She's washed-out, she's human. Photo after photo appears from the shoot – it's like one big make-up free selfie for charity.
"This," say all the assistants after the photos are beamed onto all of their eyelids, "this is it. This is the weirdest you've ever frigging looked. A human face. Why didn't we think of it? This will change everything."