Dude looks like the Lady
When it comes to finding Gaga superfans, you need look no further than the Gay 90's, the downtown Minneapolis club that's home to nightly drag shows. After all, Gaga is a queen's wet dream come true: a dazzling array of wigs, drag-a-licious makeup and elaborate, over-the-top costumes, complete with song and dance routines. And there is one Gaga impersonator in town on the tip of everyone's tongue: Nina D'Angelo.
But it wasn't exactly love at first sight for Jamie Olsen, a 14-year drag vet who performs as D'Angelo five nights a week at the 90's.
"At first I thought, what a weirdo!" he recalled in his dressing room backstage. "It was kind of shocking, and so different." He was won over by an impromptu two-hour show that he saw her perform in Palm Springs, Calif., in April 2008. "I think the fact that she's so limitless inspired me to go that extra mile -- that onstage, there's no limit to what you can do."
Olsen has an affinity for the sewing machine and glue gun. He motions to a red-hooded costume, patterned on Gaga's "Beautiful Dirty Rich" video, and a polar bear head (from "Bad Romance") perched on a shelf in his closet. It's all ridiculously detailed.
"I kind of overdid these," he says, showing off a pair of bejeweled sunglasses inspired by the ones on Gaga's debut album. "They're so heavy I have to wear a string around my head so they don't slide off."
But what makes Gaga a favorite among drag queens also provides a constant challenge.
"It's so hard to keep up with her," Olsen says. He hasn't been able to replicate her infamous Kermit the Frog outfit -- at $40 apiece for the stuffed toy, it was too expensive. And he hasn't figured out how to get smoke to come out of the cigarette glasses from her "Telephone" video.
"My parents are like, 'You should go on "Project Runway,"' Olsen says, "and I'm like, 'I'm on "Project Runway" every day.'"
Jamie Olsen A.k.A. NIna D'angelo
- Age: 37.
- Occupation: Drag entertainer at the Gay 90's.
- Fan since: April 2008.
- Superfan credentials: Creates elaborate costumes inspired by Gaga's outfits. Lip-syncs Gaga songs in full drag.
- Favorite Gaga songs/videos: "Bad Romance," "Poker Face," "Paparazzi."
- Number of times he's seen Gaga live: 1.
- Craziest thing ever done in the name of Gaga: Attempted to get into her Fine Line show by claiming to be with the media.
Her 'Fame' is True
Gaga's over-the-top, impractical outfits show her penchant for theatricality, so it's only natural that some of her biggest fans are actresses.
Enter Allison True, a regular in Candy Eye Factory's "fashion-fueled" films and the indie theater circuit (Mixed Blood, Park Square and Bryant-Lake Bowl, where she can be seen in "'Miniature Horses Don't Go to Heaven' and Other Plays Inspired by Real News Headlines"). Known for playing saucy and seductive characters with a healthy dose of wacky and donning homemade costumes, True is inspired by everything from a "weird lady at work" to -- you guessed it -- Lady Gaga.
Take her comic turn as Meg Mallory in Candy Eye Factory's 2006 film "The Mallorys Go Black Market," which helped it win an award at the Slamdance Film Fest. The geekiest member of the Mallory family, True's character is expressed through '80s fashion hits and misses, such as sweater dresses, parachute pants and denim jackets.
"As an actress, [Gaga] inspires me to do my own thing, and be my own person," True says. "I think I struggle a lot with being myself and being accepted, and she doesn't care about that -- she's always herself."
The actress has certainly done her part to celebrate Gaga, via a Facebook group she created ("MN Loves Gaga") as well as the collage and decoupage art she does as a hobby. She's gotten a reputation among friends for being a Gaga superfan. "I talk about her a lot," True admits. "If I hear any news about her, I share it. If I see a new photo or interview on TV, I share it. Whenever she's on TV, I practically start crying because she's just so inspirational to me."
- Age: 29.
- Occupation: Actor, office temp worker.
- Fan since: About a year ago.
- Superfan credentials: Made a "MN Loves Gaga!" Facebook page to help get Gaga to add Minnesota as a tour stop. Creates Gaga-inspired fan art.
- Favorite Gaga song: "Speechless."
- Video: "Bad Romance."
- Number of times she's seen Gaga live: 0 (this will be her first time).
- Craziest thing ever done in the name of Gaga: Dressing up for this photo.