Deep Inside the Unreal World of Lady Gaga

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But despite singing about it every night, she doesn't want to talk about it anymore – she wants to protect it, to keep it for the two of them. I encounter Carl backstage, but she asks me to keep the details off the record. She used to say that she would have to choose between music and love. But her relationship with Carl – a drummer, bartender and marathoner who has a blog and a book-in-progress about a fitness program he calls the Drunk Diet – suggests otherwise.

She gently addresses that topic. "Yes, but it's not quite that simple," she says, sitting in a Chicago hotel suite the week after Newark. She's just finished an Oprah performance of "Yoü & I," and still has a flesh-colored horn attached to each side of her forehead.

Introducing the Queen of Pop

"But my life is not as black and white as my hair," she continues. "It's much more complicated than that." The relationship is "very intense," she says, so "you have both, but each lives off of and suffers off of each other, and you just have to commit to what you believe in and fight for what you love, and that's it." So the problem is balancing it all? She shakes her head. "I'm not terribly interested in balance, and to be honest, anyone that loves me knows that about me and accepts that about me."

It'd be nice to think that Gaga could find some happiness – especially because she says some disturbing things. Back in Nashville, we discussed the twin fates of Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, the strange consequences of extreme fame in America. "You think I'm at that level?" she asks. It's within sight, I suggest. "That's more terrifying than anything, that you think that."

She ponders the idea for a moment. "If it is my destiny to end up that way, then it shall be so," she says, not blinking.

In Chicago, she dips into the darkness again. "Here's what I will say to you. What I will say to you is that when I am not onstage, I feel dead, and when I'm onstage, I feel alive," she says. "Whether that is healthy or not to you, or healthy or not to anyone, or a doctor, is really of no concern to me. I don't feel alive unless I'm performing, and that's just the way I was born."

It should be worrisome, this kind of talk – but I can't help thinking about a moment in Newark as she headed offstage. She'd taken her bows, the crowd was streaming up the arena stairs. But as the recorded version of "Judas" blared over the sound system, Lady Gaga began to move again. On the far-right side of the stage, in view of only a dozen or so straggling fans, she kicked up her stripper boots, dancing harder than she had all night. The show was over, but the performance hadn't ended. It didn't look like it would ever stop.

This is a story from the June 9th, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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