Bangkok went ga-ga this weekend after 50,000 screaming fans filled Rajamangala Stadium in Lady Gaga’s first concert in Thailand. This was the biggest concert held by any international artist in more than a decade.
For a moment Thais forgot the mundane problem of rising living costs and splurged on Gaga’s tickets that went for 1,500, 2,500, 3,500, 4,500, and 7,000 baht ($50-$235). Hey who knows if Lady would ever come back, right? This could be a once in a lifetime event!
Getting ready for the concert is already a feat in itself, given the artist’s over-the-top, highly provocative, and just plain crazy outfits. Several websites dedicated to mimicking Gaga’s fashion popped up in no time, complete with tips on make-up and costume ideas.
Lady Gaga indulged in all that Thailand can offer. As soon as her private jet landed, she tweeted “I just landed in Bangkok baby! Ready for 50,000 screaming Thai monsters. I wanna get lost in a lady market and buy a fake Rolex.” Later that night Lady and her crew showed up, unannounced, at Asia Hotel’s Calypso Cabaret.
Thailand can certainly offer the singer plenty of counterfeit watches, cabaret shows and even Gaga’s own fake CDs.
Celebrities and Thai fans alike showed up in outrageously creative outfits. Even Princess Siriwanwaree Nareerat showed off in her pretty pink feathers.
The Born This Way Ball features expletives, simulated sex acts, and people being gunned down onstage – so it certainly isn’t for the sexually and morally faint of heart.
At one point, Gaga borrowed a Thai chada from a fan and put it on her head, while she herself was (barely) wrapped in leather bikini-like outfit. “I love and respect your country…Bangkok is so beautiful…I feel like crying.” Then she hopped on a Harley and told the fans how much she appreciated Thais for being so open to the “girls” like those in the cabaret shows.
And it went without any major controversy.
Elsewhere in Asia, Gaga faced some opposition ranging from a small protest to threats of violence. Her June 3 show in Jakarta has remained tentatively cancelled because of threats from hard-core Islamists to disrupt it. The Church in the Philippines protested against Gaga’s influence on gay youths. In Korea the government, wary of her provocative performance, bans youth under the age of 18 from attending.
Lady’s message for gay rights or her outrageous outfits didn’t meet the same resistance here in Thailand.
In fact, Gaga’s concert is being used by the authorities as a means to rescue the country’s image abroad.
Suwat Liptapanlop, head of the concert’s committee and Chart Pattana Peua Pandin party chief, revealed the motivations behind the Born This Way Concert: “We discussed at length about how we could salvage our reputation and image abroad given recent political turmoil, economic problems and last year’s devastating flood. We all agreed that Lady Gaga’s concert in Bangkok would do just that.”
Given the success of the concert, perhaps the singer did manage to do just what our politicians can’t….
Gaga – you’re a savior!
Aim Sinpeng is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia, Canada