Lady Gaga’s iconic Meat Dress is now the Jerky Dress, but you can find it intact and under glass at Park Theater.
“It’s my personal favorite, it had such an incredible reaction at the time, so controversial,” says Nicola Formichetti, curator of Haus of Gaga, which opens Thursday morning at the entrance of Park Theater at Park MGM. “We preserved it and made it into jerky. It’s cool, and it brings back a lot of memories.”
Formichetti and designer Franc Fernandez devised the raw-beef ensemble for the 2010 MTV Music Awards telecast. Gaga later said the dress was a statement promoting individuality and a protest against the military’s then-enacted don’t ask/don’t tell policy regarding homosexual and bisexual service members.
Taxidermists later preserved the piece, illuminated under a spotlight in the Haus of Gaga display space. The 1,600-square-foot display space is still being filled and it opens noon Thursday (hours will be noon-8 p.m. daily, noon-midnight on Gaga’s show dates).
“It brings back a lot of memories, a lot of emotions,” says Formichetti, who has worked on Gaga’s stage and personal fashions for a decade. “We have some crazy ideas, and we have never done anything like this before.”
Gaga’s legions of “Little Monsters” can also check out the custom bodysuit she wore during her performance of “Paparazzi” at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, the Versace gown worn to an inaugural ball for President Obama in 2013, the custom Alexander McQueen lace gown worn in the Alejandro music video and the cigarette glasses from her 2009 “Telephone” video.
Of particular interest for “A Star is Born” fans is the lyric sheet from “I’ll Never Love Again,” written by Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine character, and the guitar-string wedding ring worn by Lady Gaga’s Ally in the film.
Haus of Gaga is to offer some retail items — “Enigma”-branded merchandise sold exclusively at the venue — but is primarily a strolling museum experience. Still, select items will be offered for auction, with all proceeds delivered to the Born This Way Foundation, the nonprofit co-founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, to support mental wellness of young people.
Lady Gaga’s artistic impact is being felt outside her Park Theater residency. Her longtime bandleader and trumpet artist Brian Newman opens his “After Dark” series at 11 p.m. Thursday at NoMad Restaurant at NoMad Hotel, connected to Park MGM. Las Vegas musicians, especially, are eager to catch that late-night hang, which is to incorporate local players along with some of Newman’s friends in the burlesque world.
And through the business prism, Lady Gaga has become intertwined in MGM Resorts International’s cross-promotional strategy with the opening of Haus of Gaga.
In a statement, MGM Resorts president of entertainment and sports says, “Lady Gaga has truly become part of the MGM Resorts family and we are honored she chose Park MGM as home for the first-ever Haus of Gaga experience. Her fans from around the world will have one more ‘only in Las Vegas’ reason to come visit. And more importantly, we are incredibly pleased with the opportunity to bring even greater awareness to the Born This Way Foundation, doing good for young people around the globe.”
Haus of Gaga is the first such exhibition venue of its kind and will remain open throughout Gaga’s run at Park Theater. The space will swap in outfits, including those from Gaga’s “Enigma” and “Jazz + Piano” productions — we might well see the rhinestone-covered body suit she wears while descending on an aerial harness at the show’s opening. Her matching keytar, too, would fit in aptly hanging somewhere at Haus of Gaga.
“We love evolving, we love keeping things very unexpected,” Formichetti says. “It’s all about her incredible performances. Everything we have is related to that.”
Park MGM staff is expecting about 2,000 fans to show up at Haus of Gaga’s opening.
“It’s crazy, we’ve never done anything like this before,” Formichetti says. “Las Vegas is very Gaga at the moment.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1on Instagram.