Jo Calderone: Cool or Cringe-Worthy?

[First published in Cliché Magazine on 8.30.2011]

I’m always waiting for the ball to drop at events  like Sunday night’s VMAs. Waiting, with bated breath and wonderment, bracing myself for the moment Gaga arrives. It’s going to be crazy, I tell myself. And then a small part of me wonders if she and her Haus of Gaga geniuses have finally hit a wall – and it’s going to be completely radical because she’ll show up as Stefani Germanotta.As if Lady Gaga and her many identities were not alter-ego enough for the artist – murderess, biker-chick,  androgyne – she decided she’d create another alter-ego with another name all together.

Meet Jo Calderone.

A man of crass, distinction, and an intriguing fixation on Britney: “Gaga’s my girl, but Britney’s fucking Britney Spears. Didn’t you jerk off to Britney when you were a kid?”

Some reports have described her get-up as “drag,” but I consider that inaccurate. No, she was in costume for the character of Jo Calderone, “boyfriend” of the Lady herself. Others have called the stunt “underwhelming,” but it seems unfair to hold her to a higher standard every time she raises the bar of the outrageous.

But what is entirely baffling is whether there was a point in introducing audiences to this new alter ego. Is it a deeper message? A form of foreshadowing in the grander scheme of her artistry and persona? Or does it merely have to do with her “You and I” music video?

Full disclosure: I did not watch the VMAs in its entirety. I caught the first glimpse of Jo when Kanye Westembraced a jubilant papa-to-be Jay-Z in a jump-hug. And in the spirit of full disclosure, my first thought went something like, ”what is that unsightly thing doing at the VMAs, sitting so close to rap royalty?”

And then it became clear.

With Jo Calderone, it can be argued that the ball did indeed drop.

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Adrienne is an expert on storytelling for branding and impact through video and digital content. She is a video producer and writer.