The Time I Ate Lady Gaga’s Taco
Before I delve into this article, I feel I should make two things clear before you proceed and end up disappointed. 1) By Lady Gaga, I don’t mean the actual Mother Monster. I mean Faustina Rose, a beautiful and talented New Yorker – stylist and model by day, waitress by night, who just so happens to be a carbon copy of the most recognizable woman in music and fashion right now. 2) By using the phrase “ate Lady Gaga’s taco,” I mean, quite literally, I took a bite of her steak taco that she so graciously shared with me, you pervs.
As I walked down Layfayette Street to meet Faustina at Mexican hipster spot La Esquina, I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous and even somewhat terrified. I was tense, partially because even though I was well aware that I was meeting a mere Gaga look-a-like, the pictures I had stalked my way through earlier on Facebook told differently. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have assumed I was scrolling through Lady Gaga’s fanpage. Mostly, though, I was anxious because of my outfit.
Earlier in the day I stumbled across Faustina’s blog. One of her most recent posts blared:
“Yea yea yea. I get it. Big ripped tee-shirts and shorts and combats are comfy. And OMG how cute would it be if I wore it with a straw fedora?!! Why must everyone follow? In my mind I am seeing the same 5 people everywhere I go. If I see another person who is a walking ad for American Apparel I will rip their cotton to shreds with my claws! Because claws I do have. And claws I do use!”
I hadn’t felt this kind of fear about wearing the wrong outfit since the 7th grade, when I showed up to a school dance in my Hanson T-shirt and cargo pants with side pockets large enough to house my Social Studies book.
My frantic thoughts were momentarily disrupted as a text from Faustina popped up on my phone. “I’m here, but I’m on a mission to steam my jacket, it’s a wrinkled mess. All I can find is Downey wrinkle spray.” This statement only added fuel to my lack of confidence fire. Shit, I’m covered in mud and look like a drowned rat from traipsing around the city without an umbrella all day like a moron, and this chick is worried about a few wrinkles in her jacket?
Why today, of all days, did I have to wear a plain black t-shirt, no-name jeans and my comfy Toms? Oh wait, that’s what I look like every day, something akin to a skinnier, less hilarious, female version of Louis C.K. My ensemble would surely feel the wrath of Lady Look-A-Like’s claws, along with my American Eagle shopping bag brimming with freshly purchased comfortable cotton items.
I was rushing to meet her, staring at my phone and about to cross the street, when I looked up. There she was. Wearing a bra. I’d never dined in public with a woman in her bra before, “this should be interesting”, I thought. The brazier was floral printed and lacey at the top, paired with an open hot pink cardigan and a black high-waisted…skirt? Perhaps gauchos? I couldn’t be sure. The only thing I could be sure of, was that she was wearing a brown belt on black, and as far as my fashion knowledge goes, that’s a big no-no. Although I have a feeling that rule may have changed since the early 90’s, the last time I updated my wardrobe.
While we were eating dinner I couldn’t tear my eyes away from her Gaga-esque face, and neither could the couples on either side of us. I was baffled by the insanely intricate eyeliner that danced around her eyelids, her thick black penciled in eyebrows and faux beauty mark perfectly placed in the center of her left cheek, not a single smudge to be found. I couldn’t even manage to keep my tame, simple eyeliner intact on a rainy day like today, and she managed to keep her artistic masterpiece flawless. I was impressed.
Throughout dinner I peppered her with questions, half expecting, half hoping to meet a deranged little monster completely obsessed with Lady Gaga and her every move—a diva fanatic, who worshipped Gaga and the dirty New York City streets she walks on. Instead, I met an extremely sweet girl, who was my age, and who had made the move to the big city just two months ago, with less than $200 in her pocket.
Faustina came to the city for two reasons: To be a stylist, and to be Lady Gaga. When Faustina’s aunt first told her she looked like Lady Gaga, she laughed and thought it was a joke. “When Lady Gaga was on the television,” Faustina told me, “my aunt would yell out to my family, ‘Look everyone, Faustina’s on TV!’ and would make a big deal out of nothing. I decided to dress up as Lady Gaga for Halloween that year to make my aunt happy. After putting on that blonde wig and black lipstick and pulling those black tights on I looked in the mirror and thought; holy shit, I am Lady Gaga!”
Cut to three years later, Faustina moves to New York City. Her first day here she is greeted with a handful of paparazzi that follow her every move for over an hour, snapping photos and hounding her friends with personal questions about Gaga. Faustina described the experience saying, “At that moment I thought, if this is any indication of what my life is going to be like, sign me up! Somewhere there are people looking at photos of me eating, scratching my head, washing my hands in the bathroom, pressing an elevator button and who knows, maybe someone even got a photo of me checking out my ass in a window!”
Although this was an exciting way to be greeted by the big city, it was not the first time Faustina had been mistaken for mother monster. In 2010 Faustina and her own mother went to Lady Gaga’s pre-New Year’s Eve performance held poolside at Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hotel. After the performance they attempted to make their way to a restaurant where they were bombarded by swarms of Gaga fans. It started with a handful of people and quickly increased to hundreds of screaming fans enveloping Faustina and her mother. A security guard grabbed Faustina and lead them through the hoards of people back into the hotel and sat her down in a private booth. “So sorry, Gaga, is there anything we can get for you, a drink, some food?” the security guard asked. “I just want to go home,” Faustina tried to explain. They waited a while for the ruckus to die down outside before attempting another exit. After stepping outside, they found themselves once again surrounded by crazed little monsters. Things began to get dangerous as persistent fans grabbed at the look-a-like, eventually causing her mother to get defensive and go into mamma bear mode, ripping the blonde wig and peacock feathers from the top of her daughter’s head, screaming, “this is NOT lady Gaga, it is my daughter!”
As she was describing all of these outlandish situations, I got distracted and noticed that the incredibly skinny Faustina had cleared her plate, ate the remainder of my yellow rice, and ordered dessert. After dinner we took a stroll through Little Italy in search of Faustina’s favorite Italian rainbow cookies, because just like Gaga, she is an Italian girl. We talked about my life and hers—how she got teased about her big nose and big teeth in school, just like Lady Gaga did, and how the only person I ever looked like was some star basketball player in my high school. People would always congratulate me on a spectacular game, even though I couldn’t make a layup if my life depended on it. I admitted that even though I knew it wasn’t right, I would often say thanks and bask in the glory of someone else’s fame. Perhaps Faustina and I are not that different.
After a while I felt comfortable enough to ask her the question that had been on my mind all night, “Do you think Lady Gaga has a penis, and do you think people assume you have a penis because they believe you’re her?” I idiotically blurted out. Faustina burst into a fit of laughter and said that she jokes about it all the time. “Most of my friends here are gay guys, and they often joke around saying I’m a drag queen, with my sharp features, heavy makeup and flamboyant outfits. Sometimes when it’s really hot out I’ll yell out extremely uncomfortable phrases such as, ‘wow it is SO hot out, my balls are sticking to my leg!’” To set the record straight, though: no penis.
Since moving to the city, Faustina has signed numerous autographs, posed in pictures with sobbing fans and has even accepted love letters and presents all meant for the real Lady Gaga. When asked if she purposely dresses like Gaga to gain attention, Faustina said that she is an Aquarius and of course loves all the attention she receives. She tends to adopt specific looks from Gaga; a similar hairstyle or makeup, but Faustina said she would never steal an entire look from her, like the infamous bubble or meat dresses. “Being into fashion and style myself, I already tend to wear extravagant over the top outfits. Pair that with our similar stature and faces and people are bound to confuse us.”
Faustina’s goal is to become a recognizable stylist, drawing inspiration from Michael Jackson, Elton John, Marilyn Manson, and of course Lady Gaga. Her first brush with fame has been styling Coco and Breezy for the launch of Roman’s Closet clothing line and website, and she can’t wait for greater prospects. She says that, ultimately, if she were approached with the right opportunity, she would love to act as Gaga for brands, various performances, or even to be hired as Gaga’s personal double, allowing Gaga herself to relax as Faustina deals with crazed fans and paparazzi. Another aspiration of hers is to do some sort of visual art project with the beloved pop/rock star, whether it be photos, videos or a live performance—something that best showcases their similarities.
Faustina has been approached by a few fashion brands but feels they aren’t something Gaga herself would be into. “I feel like everyone has a look alike, mine just happens to be the most famous woman in the world right now. I don’t want to let that gift go to waste, but I also want to make sure I portray a positive image of Lady Gaga, only accepting offers and opportunities that parallel what she, herself would do.”
Just last week Faustina was standing outside the Empire State Building when a Japanese tourist came up to her and began to cry, so excited and dumbstruck to meet her idol, blurting out unrecognizable phrases to Faustina. All she could decipher was, “thanks Japan relief.” Faustina hugged the grateful Japanese woman. “Who am I to take that away from someone?” Faustina said.
As the night drew to a close I snapped a picture of the faux Gaga as she escorted me to the 6 train on Lafayette where it would carry me back to Brooklyn and my normal life of being Brittany Zaborowski. Where was Faustina headed? Home to her bedroom where she was free to be herself—or was she headed out to a parallel universe, literally walking in someone else’s shoes, living someone else’s life? One final question that had been nagging at me all night surfaced as I was about to descend the dirty staircase. Do you ever feel guilty? Do you feel guilty for pretending to be someone your not? For falsely making an ecstatic fan’s dream come true—for letting them believe they’ve met their idol?
A faint smile came across Faustina’s lips. She shrugged and replied, “regardless of what I have to say, people will believe what they want to believe.” Perhaps she sums it up best on her blog with the post titled Mystery:
“I know me. Every morning I put on my makeup and style myself to who I am at the moment. Every day is different. I know what I love. What scares me. What hurts me. What angers me. I know my secrets and my passions. But do you know me? I mean really know me. Most of you have never met me before. How do you know I am real? Or what I am really about? How do you know I’m not really gaga? I am pretty convincing. After all I am famous. My fame brings on a mystery to everyone who sees me. They know, but they just can’t put their finger on it. I’m walking déj
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