Why Did Lady Gaga Make Us Suffer Through Jo Calderone At The VMAs?
“Who is Jo Calderone and how long will Jo be with us?”
That’s the question that one USA Today journalist asked and everyone was thinking when Lady Gaga appeared at the 2011 Video Music Awards as her skeevy male alter-ego that had a penchant for smoking cigarettes, slicking back his greaser 50s hairdo and talking dirty to Britney Spears.
At first we were slightly amused when Gaga, known for her out-of-the-box performances, took the stage as Jo and did a (way too long) monologue followed by a killer performance of “You and I.” But after the commercial break, everyone assumed that Lady Gaga would reemerge as her old self in a meat dress, Kermit the Frog gown or other outlandish garb but she didn’t. Instead Jo was in the house the whole night, presenting tribute awards to Ms. Spears, grabbing his junk and even introducing a preggers Beyoncé to the stage.
Jo even made his way backstage after the VMAs concluded, continuing the facade. All in all, Gaga didn’t break character once throughout the night. And when Gaga joked that Jo would only be with us for five more minutes, everyone was noticeably relieved.
Gaga’s creative director Laurieann Gibson explained to MTV News why she believes Gaga’s commitment was groundbreaking. So why did Gaga insist that the show must go on when everyone was clearly ready for the final act?
“The idea of her being a performance artist—and it’s starting the performance on the red carpet and the idea that the performance never ends for her—is the first time I’ve experienced this with an artist. I love it. That’s something that is specific to her, and the whole night was the performance, and it was important that Jo was a part of the whole night. I hope that the Monsters and the music industry [connect to] the idea that as long as you execute to the highest level of your ability, that you make a statement, that you push your creative ability to the max, and it doesn’t mean one thing or another. It could mean standing under one spotlight, it could mean tons of camels and belly-dancing girls. I don’t know one is not necessarily better than the other, But it is about who’s the artist; it belongs to the artist, so in that one moment you have to take it and give all you can. And so I hope people take the fearlessness away [and] the creative notion that we constantly push boundaries, that we’re not followers.”
Watch the full interview with Laurieann below and the final minutes of Mr. Calderone backstage at the VMAs. Have we seen the last of Jo? We hope so, but something tells us he will return. He’s not your average Jo, after all.