Lady Gaga flipped the script on those who speculated as to what she’d wear to the 2011 Video Music Awards by spending the entire show in character as Jo Calderone and making a case that when one is expected to wear something particularly outlandish, the most surprising choice is to dress down (albeit in drag). Adopting an accent reminiscent of VMA-infamous Andrew Dice Clay, “Calderone” monologued at length (Kanye, eat your heart out) prior to “his” performance of “Yoü and I.” When she wasn’t laying it on a little too thick (“And then the guys?meaning me; I’m one of the guys“) she was alternately self-aggrandizing and self-mocking, describing a Gaga who wears her heels in the bathtub and never breaks character except at orgasm.
After three and a half minutes, she launched into her performance of “Yoü and I,” first solo at the piano, then at the head of an all-male crew of backup dancers, with Brian May playing guitar behind a pillar until Gaga introduced him for his solo, to the absolute delight of Dave Grohl (to whom the cameras cut away as he grinned and pumped his fists in the air).
“Calderone” got a bit more confrontational when presenting Britney Spears with the Video Vanguard Award. After claiming to have masturbated to posters of Britney in her introduction, she moved in for a kiss, which Britney considered, then declined, remarking, “I’ve done that already.” Maybe Jo had whiskey-breath; cutaways to the audience showed Gaga, glass in hand, all night.