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Interview With Lady Gaga

Aired June 1, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LADY GAGA, SINGER: My name is Lady Gaga. And this is my house.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight the one, the only Lady Gaga. International superstar. Style icon. Self-proclaimed freak.

Lady Gaga gives us a backstage pass into her unique world. Next on this special 25th anniversary edition of LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: On this, our 25th anniversary week here at CNN, we're so excited to welcome Lady Gaga to LARRY KING LIVE. She's the Grammy- winning singer, songwriter, musician, performance artist whose provocative videos have been viewed more than one billion times online.

And later in the show, we're going to give you a sneak peek of her latest video "Alejandro."

She just received five world music awards in May and is one of the top winners at the 2010 Brit Awards.

Lady Gaga has sold more than 15 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide. And "TIME" magazine recently published this annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Lady Gaga was on the cover as one of those people.

Were you surprised at that?

LADY GAGA: Yes, of course. I was so surprised. I didn't even imagine that I would make the list at all. And I was so excited, and I am very blessed to have the wonderful fans that I do who voted for me.

Should I call you Larry or should I call you King Larry?

KING: Well, King Larry would be a great honor, but let's do Larry, and I'll do Gaga.



KING: OK. You were born Stefani -- why did you change your -- how did you come up with Lady Gaga? LADY GAGA: Well, it was actually a nickname that some of my friends called me in New York. I was doing these performance art pop music pieces in the city. And they were a bit on the eccentric side I suppose. So people started to call me Gaga after the Queen song "Radio Gaga."

KING: At what age growing up, Gaga, did you know that you wanted to be a performer?

LADY GAGA: In the womb, Larry. In my mother's warm womb.


KING: At your birth.

LADY GAGA: Yes, at my birth. I guess you could say it's always been my destiny to be a performer. I used to perform even just in restaurants with my family or in the living room.

But it's been really a very exciting transition now that I get to do this for a living. And I just refuse to stop. I probably should take a break and go on vacation. But I'd rather die on stage. Not under a palm tree.

KING: Before you were a performer, did you have any other jobs?

LADY GAGA: Yes, well, I was a waitress for many years. And a bartender. And I was a go-go dancer briefly as well. I used to make a lot of money to pay for demos and flyers that I used to post up all around the NYU area on the lower east side to get people to come see my shows.

I got a job when I was 15 because my allowance was about $20 a week which in New York was impossible. So I used to waitress across the street from where I grew up. And I used to take all the money I made waitressing so that I could go watch jazz downtown.

KING: Wow. You said that people use the word icon carelessly. Do you consider yourself an icon?

LADY GAGA: No, I do not. I hope when I'm dead I'll be considered an icon, though.

KING: Who are your icons? Who does Lady Gaga look up to?

LADY GAGA: Who do I look up to? My mother. My grandmother. I love Princess Diana. So much. She has -- was an enormous influence on me when I was younger because my mother worshipped her so much.

Her story, how she began, what she married into, how her society affected her as a woman. I was always very fascinated with Princess Diana. When she died, it was -- I'll never forget. My mother was crying, sitting on the couch watching the news, and I was very young.

And it was this very powerful moment in my childhood watching my mother so connected to someone. So I guess you could say she is one of my biggest icons. As well as, you know, David Bowie, wonderful. And --


KING: Did the family encourage you to sing and dance and perform?

LADY GAGA: Yes. My mother was actually in musical theater when she was younger, and my dad was in a Bruce Springsteen cover band for many years. He was a real Jersey Shore boy.

And they were always very supportive. They always -- you know, I think more than anything in my house growing up, my parents instilled a very strong work ethic in me and my sisters. So as long as I worked hard at whatever it is that I wanted to do, they were OK with me doing it.

But if I was ever lazy, I would -- I would reckon that they would perhaps not want me to do it.

KING: There's been a lot of stories and stories so often wrong about your health. How are you?

LADY GAGA: I'm OK, thank you, Larry. How are you?

KING: I'm OK. I mean, you look great. Is there any --there was a story about lupus or something? Do you have lupus?

LADY GAGA: You know, lupus is in my family, and it is genetic. And it's so funny because my mother told me the other day that my fans were quite worried about me because they did talk about the fact that I was tested for lupus.

And the truth is I don't show any signs, any symptoms of lupus. But I have tested borderline positive for the disease. So as of right now I do -- I do not have it. But I have to take good care of myself.

KING: Yes, sure, you have to be very precautionary. Death, though, is a theme in a number of your performances. You're only 24. You've been eaten by a giant Anglo fish on stage, crushed by a falling chandelier during a 2009 MTV Music.

Do you think about dying?

LADY GAGA: Yes, I do. I -- you know, I --

KING: At age 24?

LADY GAGA: It's something I -- well, I dream about it a lot. You know I -- I don't know. I suppose I could lie to you and not tell you the truth, but the truth is I do think about it.

The Anglo fish in the show actually was my childhood monster. My big fear was of the Anglo fish. So it was kind of comical to use it in the show that I battle my childhood fear every night before the finale. But I don't know. I actually -- I am a good friend with Deepak Chopra who I speak to a lot about my dreams. And he seems to think it's nothing really to worry about. He tells me that I'm very creative and I should learn to embrace my insanity and not worry so much because I always call him and saying, Deepak, I had this most horrible, morbid dream. What does it all mean? And he says you're just very creative. Put it on stage.

KING: Of course, Deepak is on this program a lot. He never worries about anything.


KING: He doesn't. He's a wonderful person.

LADY GAGA: He is a wonderful -- he is a wonderful person. I wish I could be more like that. But, you know, I think part of my fascination with it as well as why it is in this show is that the show is a celebration of shame. The show is a rejection of insecurity.

The monster ball is in essence an exorcism for my fans and for myself where we sort of put everything out on the table and reject it. There is so much in the show about insecurity and struggle. And so many of my fans are really, really, really troubled. And I was really troubled. And I still am fairly troubled.

So I guess you can say I relate to my fans in that way. And I choose not to hide from it. I'm not interested, Larry, in being a perfect placid pop singer that looks great in bikinis and is on the cover of every magazine.

I'm more interested in helping my fans to love who they are and helping them to reject prejudice and reject those things that they're taught from society to not like themselves.

KING: Well said.

LADY GAGA: Feel like freaks.

KING: Much more -- we'll take a break --

LADY GAGA: Like they're not wanted.

KING: Much more with Lady Gaga ahead including an exclusive sneak peek. You're going to see this for the first time of her new musical video for "Alejandro." You will not want to miss this. We'll be right back.



KING: We're back with Lady Gaga. It's our 25th anniversary week. We're honored to have her be one of our featured guests.

Bill Gates will be with us tomorrow night. And Lebron James Friday night. We're very diversified.

We have a question for you, Gaga. It's on our Facebook page. Is it true that Michael Jackson wanted to perform with you on his "This Is It" comeback tour?

LADY GAGA: You know, it's always very difficult because I don't necessarily like to talk about those very personal things that happened. But I guess I can speak about it now.

I was actually asked to open for Michael on his tour. And we were going to open for him at the O2, and we were working on making it happen.

KING: Wow.

LADY GAGA: And I suppose I believe there was some talk about us -- lots of the openers doing duets with Michael on stage. So -- but Michael's death was devastating for me regardless of whether or not I was supposed to go on tour with him.

He is such an inspiration and remarkable human being. And I guess I suppose, Larry, some of my fascination with death and the demise of the celebrity goes along with me watching these hugely iconic and amazing people that I have heralded and admired my whole life become destroyed -- whether self-destroyed or destroyed by the media.

KING: How did you come up with the idea -- the incredible idea of these costumes? Of not just singing and dancing, but the way you present yourself. How did that come about?

LADY GAGA: Well, some of the things I wear are obviously created for me by designers or they're recreations of archives of things worn in the '70s and in the '80s. But lots of the newer more original pieces, they're meant to be kind of a rejection of what people view about women.

I guess I'm a feminist. I am a feminist. And I want to change the way people view women and change -- I guess it's not quite sure what she definitely means by her work, but Marina Bromovich, the performance artist, she seems to be quite limitless and she seems to say that somehow she or we create our own limits.

So I guess I'm trying to push the limits, push the boundaries as much as I can. And I also really love -- love the way I dress. And it brings me a personal joy and satisfaction in my own life that I like to share with my fans.

I also try to create things that are quite easy for my fans to replicate. Some of them not so much. But some of them are very easy for my fans to replicate, and that bonds us in a way. It's quite nice to have this connection to them outside of everything else. Yes.

KING: Is there any boundary you won't cross?

LADY GAGA: I suppose I'll just -- well, you'll have to wait, Larry. I'm not sure.


LADY GAGA: I'm not interested in violence. Yes, I don't like violence. I hate violence. I don't like negativity. I don't like prejudice. I don't believe in hatred in music. So there are some things, I suppose.

KING: Well said. You said that your 2008 single "Just Dance," that single, saved your life. That was a quote from "The Sunday Observer." How?

LADY GAGA: Well, of course people love to take sound bites from nice interviews that I give. But it saved my life I guess in -- just as in a transitional way in terms of where I was in the journey of my music.

And I had moved to Los Angeles and I'd been dropped from record labels a few times, and been through so many obstacles and told no, and rejected, you're not pretty enough, can't sing enough, can't write a song good enough. You're a freak, the weird girl from New York.

I mean it was a rejection after rejection. And I wrote this song "Just Dance." And it was my -- it's my eureka moment. It was the thing that everyone was able to latch on to, the record label, the gay community who has been the most enormous blessing of my life that I have them and their support and the way that they truly understand me and support me.

And in fact the "Alejandro" video, which will premier very soon, but you'll see a snippet of it tonight, is a celebration of my love and appreciation for the gay community. My admiration of their bravery and their love for one another, their courage in their relationships. It's something I have yet to -- yet to nail on the head with a man, Larry.

KING: She has a special relationship with her fans. We'll talk about that and a lot of other things when we come back.



KING: We're back with the fantastic Lady Gaga on this our 25th anniversary week. We'll be joined Thursday night by the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

You said, Lady Gaga, that you don't touch cocaine anymore. Was it hard to stop doing it?

LADY GAGA: No, it wasn't. By the time that I had stopped doing it, it was ruining my life. So no, I kind of just threw it away, I guess.

KING: British tabloids say that you recently -- I want to get this right. You walked into a local pub in Birmingham. You had a few drinks and picked up everybody's tab when you left. True?

LADY GAGA: Yes. What's wrong with buying a few friends a beer?


KING: All right. You're in the midst now of a massive world tour. In fact, you're coming to us from the O2 arena in London where you'll be performing. What is that pressure like?


KING: To go on that kind of tour?

LADY GAGA: It's a wonderful pressure. It's the most amazing pressure. It's not like any other kind of pressure. It's not under pressure, it's not water pressure. It's not pressure cooker.

It's just wonderful. It's miraculous. I'm so blessed. I look out into the audience and I scream and cry, and we sing and we cheer and we dance. And I can't believe that 17,000 people singing my lyrics or that even know my name.

And I'm so -- I'm so grateful, Larry. I can't say enough about my little monsters, my beautiful fans. They inspire me so much. I've been writing my new album on the road every day. It's been a wonderful experience. Of course I always want to be better, but not a bad pressure. A good, wonderful pressure.

KING: All right. How do you come up with the little monsters idea? What does that mean?

LADY GAGA: Well, I wrote the album "The Fame Monster" which is the second album. And when I had finished, I realized that I had written each song about a particular fear that I had come across on my journey promoting the fame.

And then when I went on tour, my fans were so -- they were salivating at the mouth and they couldn't -- they were rabid. They couldn't wait for me to sing my new songs, and they just behaved like monsters on -- in the audience. So a couple of nights I just said you little monsters.

And I had -- I had used the lyric on the album as well, little monsters. So I just started calling them my little monsters. And before I knew it, they were all holding their hands up like this in the audience. And then this became the symbol for the little monster.

And now they stand -- they stand in the audience every night and they dance and they hold up their monster hands.

KING: She is a musical phenomenon. She is a social phenomenon. She is Lady Gaga. It's our 25th anniversary week. Bill Gates tomorrow.

Everybody is waiting to see what Lady Gaga's video for "Alejandro" will look like. Well, the wait is over. An exclusive sneak peek of that video that everyone is asking about is ahead.


KING: We have a Tweeter question for Lady Gaga Twittered to us. "If you weren't in show business, what do you think you'd be doing?"

GAGA: I would be dead.

KING: Simply put, you wouldn't be here?

GAGA: No. I also would -- so much of what I do is hinged on show business. I believe so much in it -- people ask me, what do you dress like when you're alone? Do you ever just wear sweat pants or whatever they say. And I'm thinking that they -- the concept of show business is lost. Michael Jackson, when he was being wheeled out of the ambulance when he was burned, he held his glitter glove up high above his head to was to his fans, because he was show business.

KING: You have become a champion of what you call, All the Freaks. Now explain, is -- is everybody a freak? Or are you appealing to freaks? Or are there millions of freaks? Explain it?

GAGA: Well, I -- I -- I have -- since my childhood in school, and for a very long time, I used to always feel like such a freak. I didn't have very many friends in school. I had a few close friends. And I -- I wasn't a popular girl. And got made fun of every day and couldn't really relate to anyone and didn't want do dress like anyone else and liked different things. And I related to men more than I related to women.

And I felt like a freak, and I had no where to go. And I guess, through the music and the performances we've done -- the clothing that I've worn, and as the fan base has begun to grow, I've sort of watched this massive group of misfits join together to liberate themselves. They love the music and they love what the House of Gaga is creating, because it has a sense of individuality, a sense of freedom, a sense of non-conform -- conformity. And I -- and I celebrate that.

I joke in the show. at the beginning of the show, I say all the freaks are outside and I locked the doors. It's -- it's kind of the opposite of what you're saying, Larry. We believe that we aren't the freaks, that everyone else is the freaks.

KING: Your videos are hugely popular on the Internet. They've also been remade by other people like U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan who parody "Telephone." Or the 12 year old Gracen Chance (ph) performing "Paparazzi." What have -- do you like all these imitators?

GAGA: Well, yes, of course, but it's actually very interesting that you brought up the soldiers in Afghanistan, because I specifically didn't post that one when I saw it. I wanted to put that on my Twitter, but I got nervous about posting it on my Twitter, because I was not sure how it would be received by the other soldiers, or the other, you know, members of the Army or the administration. So I didn't post it. And then it's quite interesting that all these -- these Don't Ask Don't Tell is happening now, that it's happening, because in the Alejandro video, there is sort of this homoerotic military theme in the video. And it kind of makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

It -- it all kind of comes together culturally and politically. And I -- I -- it's no secret that I -- I don't think that anyone should have to hide who they are, let alone be discriminated against. We can all fight equally.

KING: Sure.

GAGA: But I -- I bring that up specifically because it makes me sad that I saw that video. And I thought it was so great. And I was so excited that over in Afghanistan they're fighting every day for us, and they're protecting us, and doing so much. And they were just having a little down time. And I had to think twice before I posted it, because I didn't want anything bad to happen.

KING: She has been compared to another ground breaking female artist known for visuals, music and stage shows, like Madonna, of course. What does Lady Gaga think about those comparisons? And that video is coming.


KING: We have of course gotten tons of Tweets, Lady Gaga, about the soon to be released video of your song, Alejandro. When will it be released?

GAGA: It will be released in just a few days. And I wanted to make sure that my fans had something nice and foreshadowing to watch tonight on LARRY KING.

KING: OK. You've got it. The moment the world has been waiting for. A sneak peak of Lady Gaga's current single released in a couple days, "Alejandro." Watch.




KING: We mentioned Madonna earlier. And many articles were -- about you refer to Madonna -- comparisons -- parallels. What do you make of all that? What do you think of her?

GAGA: Well I think Madonna is great. She's been a wonderful friend and a very kind and supportive and amazing. And she's -- she's such an incredible woman. And, you know, I get compared to so many people. And we're compared to each other, whether we're blond, brunette, black, white, straight, gay. But on another level, it's kind of funny, because my mother actually looks sort of like -- like Madonna. And the older I've gotten, I look more and more like my mother. So sometimes I just want to say, it's not my fault that I look like her.

KING: Did you -- did you have fun doing that skit with her on "Saturday Night Live"?

GAGA: I did. She is great. We had a blast. We were laughing. We're both quite militant about rehearsals. So we were driving everybody crazy, rehearsing over and over and over again. And SNL wanted us to go get ready for the show and we kept going. But she is so great. And of course the -- no bad comparison to Madonna. She's wonderful. And there can never be another. So I have to think of even more ways to annoy and shock everyone, because she's done everything.

KING: Oh. There will never be another you either. Let's go to some other areas. You were raised Catholic. You were raised as a Catholic. What are your feelings toward the church and religion in general?

GAGA: Well, I struggle. I struggle with my feelings about the church in particular. But I guess it's, quite honestly, completely separate, isn't it? religion and the church are two completely separate things.

But in terms of religion, I'm very religious. I was raised Catholic. I believe in Jesus. I believe in God. I'm very spiritual. I pray very much. But at the same time, there is no one religion that doesn't hate or speak against or be prejudiced against another racial group or religious group, and -- or sexual group. For that, I think religion is also bogus.

So I suppose you could say I'm a quite religious woman that is very confused about religion. And I dream and envision a future where we have a more peaceful religion or a more peaceful world, a more peaceful state of mind for the younger generation. And that's what I dream for.

KING: Do you believe you will go somewhere when you pass on?

GAGA: Do I believe in heaven?

KING: Yes.

GAGA: Or hell? I believe I will go to heaven, but I suppose could go either way, couldn't I?

KING: You mentioned earlier about this appeal to the gays. You're an outspoken advocate of gay rights. Why do you think there's such an appeal between you and the gay community? You for them, they for you; why?

GAGA: Well, I can speak for myself. My admiration for the gay community comes from an incredibly steadfast and joyful courage and very bravery that they have for one another, for their community. To -- to be gay and to live openly in this society is something that requires a tremendous amount of strength and steadfastness. And I admire that. And I envy it in so many ways, because it is something that I, as a woman, do not always wholeheartedly possess.

And I think that my connection to them has actually been just symbiotic and mutual. They -- they know how much I love them. And my music in so many ways -- my friends since I was very young were all gay. And they were always my closest friends, my purest friendships. Gay men never wanted anything from but my life and my friendship. It was -- it's -- it's very different than the relationships with straight men.

So I suppose it's just very pure. And I celebrate their culture and their -- their union and who they are, through in through, in my music, and in my fashion, and in my work, every day. And I will forever.

KING: We have a few segments left with her. We wish we had hours. More with Lady Gaga. More on her thoughts on Don't Ask, Don't Tell next.


KING: It's out 25th Anniversary week. Tomorrow night Bill Gates. The president of the United States Thursday. And a major surprise Friday night. Lady Gaga is our big surprise tonight. What an honor to have her. What about Don't Ask, Don't Tell. You think they're going to change it?

GAGA: I hope so. You know there's so many things since Don't Ask Don't Tell. Recently, I know they're working on repealing the -- the restrictions on blood donors from the gay community. And its just there's so many archaic things floating around in the government right now that are so misinformed and so wrong. And I -- it's very confusing. It's very confusing for young people, especially, you know, 14 year olds in high school who are getting sent home because they have tea shirts that say "gay" on it, as if "gay" is a curse word or somehow inappropriate.

I just think that in terms of education -- sexual education, political education and social education schools -- I think it's important to be specific about civil rights and a person's worth. No person is worth any less than another human being based on their sexual orientation or religion.

KING: You said that your song "Poker Face" from "The Fame" is about your own bisexuality. Do you -- how do you deal with that? Is that -- how do you deal with -- are you with men more or women more? Do you want to be married? What -- what do you think?


GAGA: I deal with it just fine. I'm -- I'm looking for love just like everyone else, Larry. But right now, love is in the form of my fans. Love comes in many different forms. Right now, I'm passionately only serving them.

KING: Want to have children? GAGA: Yes, some day. Although my womb is not yet beckoning for a child. I'm -- I'm very far away from that day. I'm also terrified it will ruin my creativity.

KING: Forget it. It won't -- will not. We'll be back in a minute. As we celebrate our 25th Anniversary here on CNN, we ask you to vote on the top moments in LARRY KING LIVE history. We've counted on all the -- we've counted, rather, all the votes. And the moment you picked as number four is one of our favorites. It's a rare interview.

He had a lot in common with our guest, the legendary Marlon Brando. They did things their own way. And it ended with, of all things, a kiss. Watch.


KING: Our guest is Marlon Brando. We have a full hour to go. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

Brando does not do interviews. I get a call and the voice says, Larry King, this is Marlon. And I actually said, Marlon who?

MARLON BRANDO, ACTOR: I wore some red suspenders in your honor.

KING: Oh, my god. Have you ever wanted to run for office?

BRANDO: I want to run from office.

KING: Let me get a break. We'll come back with Marlon Brando. There's lots of other things to talk about.

BRANDO: No, I'm leaving now. It doesn't matter what he says.

KING: We'll be right back. Don't go away.

He was disarming. He was very open. He had food for the whole crew. He served champagne. He served it. He was a genuine good guy.

BRANDO: I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody.

KING: You chose it as a profession.

BRANDO: Because there isn't anything that pays you as much money as acting, while you are deciding what the hell you're going to do with yourself.

KING: He said if someone would just pull up to this door twice a year and leave five million dollars, I'll never act again.


KING: I've never been kissed by a man in my life until Brando. And I got to tell you the truth, I can't stop thinking about him. (SINGING)

BRANDO: Darling, good-bye.

KING: Good-bye.

I had no idea he was going to do that. That was Brando, impetuous. It's what made him the greatest screen actor of our time.



KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Lady Gaga. We decided, since you were so much in honor of us, we'll have a little in honor of you and go the sun glass route.

GAGA: Oh, Larry, you are so shady.

KING: Look at this. You're adorable.

GAGA: Shady King.

KING: You've got a number of Facebook -- we've got a number of Facebook posts posted along the way. Ask Lady Gaga what her next album -- when is it coming out and what will it be like?

GAGA: Well, my next album -- it will not be coming out this Christmas, which I don't know if I was supposed to tell you, but I will tell you so my fans don't crucify me later. But I wanted to give it some time, because even though it's finished, I really want to give my fans what they deserve, which is for me to promote and travel the world and give the new music to them in the most perfect and accessible way that I can.

And I'm on tour right now, which means I would have just had to throw the album up against the wall. And it just cheapens the atmosphere, which I don't like to do. I like to do things that will -- I want to go kiss every D.J. and radio director around the world again, like I did the first time. So that's the first thing.

But the sound is -- I couldn't possibly give anything away, because I don't want to reveal anything. But it's -- the album was inspired by my new found understanding and love for my fans, a -- a new found love and understanding for what they need, for what they dream about, for what they dream for our generation and for the future.

And the album for me is an anthem for the new decade. It's --

KING: Do --

GAGA: Has an over-arching message.

KING: A couple quick things. GAGA: I'm sorry?

KING: Do you -- I just want to see if I can still see. That was fun. Do you -- do you enjoy fame?

GAGA: Do I enjoy fame? I enjoy my fans. My fans are something I could never trade or even dream of giving up. But there are many things that come with it that I perhaps do not enjoy. You know, at the end of the day, I would much rather not go to the Hollywood party. I would much rather go to the pub around the corner and buy everyone a drink. So --

KING: Well --

GAGA: So I just still do. And I can buy you a drink when I come see you in New York.

KING: You've got it. Let's get together soon, OK?

GAGA: Yes. We will. We will.

KING: The King and the lady.

GAGA: The King and the lady. That sounds like a movie.

KING: Thank you, dear. Lady Gaga.

Thursday night, we'll have an interview with President Barrack Obama. Tomorrow night, my special Gates -- my special guest, Bill Gates. And Friday night a surprise.


KING: What do you think of Lady Gaga?

LEBRON JAMES, BASKETBALL PLAYER: She's an unbelievable performer, unbelievable talent. She has a great -- she has a great following.

KING: You going to go see her when she --

JAMES: Absolutely, absolutely.

KING: She's coming to Cleveland.

JAMES: I'll be there.


KING: "AC 360" right now.