No one saw the giant inflatable vagina coming.
But there it was.
And there she was, emerging from it, framed by a pair of air-filled legs spread into what looked like an anatomical goal post.
Lady Gaga was "Born This Way" Friday night at the MGM Grand Garden.
The song in question was one of self-acceptance, a reassuring, dance pop hand on the shoulder.
"There's nothing wrong with loving who you are," Gaga sang over a hydraulic beat that registered with the steady insistence of a jackhammer chipping away at concrete.
"I'm beautiful in my way," she added on the Stuart Smalley-worthy chorus.
Flashback to the previous number, "Government Hooker," where Gaga sang of submission to the tune of a synthesizer that sounded as if it was passing gas, splayed across a desk at the foot of the stage, receiving simulated cunnilingus from a chap in a spiked headdress.
In the span of a song, Gaga went from rubbing your nose in her sexuality like a dog being reprimanded for peeing on the carpet to offering up Deepak Chopra-worthy platitudes, her words suggestive of a Hallmark card enhanced with F-bombs.
And so it went for the next two-plus hours, which registered as a sci-fi self-help seminar complete with a loose narrative about aliens and humans birthing a new race, though said plotline was no more central to these proceedings than the dialog in a skin flick.
The stage was designed to look like a massive three-story castle in what could have passed for a remnant from a past Iron Maiden tour - it was meant to serve as a metaphor for the kingdom of fame, whatever that is.
Befitting of this setting, Gaga got medieval on the crowd right from the start, entering the arena on horseback during a show opening "Highway Unicorn," flanked by flag-bearing dancers with cast-iron abs.
What followed was a series of visual non sequiturs - Gaga fashioned into a motorcycle during "Heavy Metal Lover," her body serving as its seat; Gaga sporting a ram headdress for "Bad Romance" - that were contrasted with the much more clearly articulated themes of self assertiveness inherent in her lyrics, both in terms of gender roles and sexual orientation.
During "Poker Face," Gaga appropriated the cover image of "Hustler" magazine's controversial June 1978 issue, which depicted a woman's legs and derriere protruding from a meat grinder with a quote from Larry Flynt that read: "We will no longer hang women up like pieces of meat."
The "Hustler" cover was intended as satire, though Gaga seemed to take a more literal interpretation of it.
"Meat is precisely how we treat women," she said by way of introducing the song, entering the stage on a meat rack next to two sides of beef, later singing from within a giant meat grinder herself.
Never one for understatement, she'd spell things out further during "Scheiße" in Teutonic techno: "Love is objectified by what men say is right / Blonde high-heeled feminist enlisting femmes for this / Express your woman-kind," Gaga sang with you-go-girl gusto.
Of course, at the same time, Gaga routinely objectified herself, such as when she teased the crowd for more applause by lifting up her skirt at the end of "Telephone," earning more and more cheers upon exposing more and more her of backside.
Gaga's point is that she can't be exploited if she exploits herself on her own terms.
Then, does it really qualify as exploitation?
This argument has been voiced before, by everyone from pin-ups to porn stars, with the only difference here being that Gaga extends this line of reasoning to questions of sexual identity.
The clearest example of this on Friday came during "Americano," a song that addresses, among other things, gay marriage.
During Gaga's performance of the tune, two male dancers, one in a bridal gown, one in a tuxedo, met at the front of the stage to exchange wedding vows.
But the presiding officiant, played by a guitarist wearing a priest's collar, shook his head 'no' in disapproval.
"I will fight for, I have fought for, how I love you," Gaga sang.
With all this subtext underscoring the spectacle of the show, the whole thing could have capsized under the weight of its ambitions.
And there were times when Gaga's numerous between song monologues, as well-meaning as they were in their be-yourself spirit, grew redundant.
"I will be everything you love tonight and everything you hate," she said at one point, seemingly acknowledging as much.
But like the outcasts, misfits and star-crossed lovers who populate her songs, ultimately, Gaga just wants to fit in.
"I am not a freak," she sang during "Bad Kids."
And here we are arguing that that's one of her best qualities.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.