NEW YORK — Contrary to popular belief, what drives Lady Gaga to succeed isn’t an urge to shock people (although she does enjoy it). It is, she said, a desire to live not simply for herself — a lesson she learned from her late paternal aunt, Joanne Germanotta, who died of lupus at age 19.

“I really believe I have two hearts,” said Gaga, whose given name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. “I think I actually carry two souls in my body, and that I’m living out the rest of her life and her goodness — she died a virgin, she died never having experienced all these things that we all get to love and experience in our lives. I think that I work in her image. I work in this life as part pop singer and part humanitarian, and to do great things for people because she was a good person and I don’t think she had enough time to do enough good.”

Her aunt’s deftness with poetry and art, in fact, inspired Gaga to go after her dream of being a singer at age 19, especially since Gaga has been diagnosed with a borderline autoimmune disorder. Like her late aunt, Gaga is an artist, and she uses herself as an art project in what she wears — often using her attire to make a statement on a cause about which she’s passionate (such as the infamous meat dress, which she intended to be a statement on human rights). Today is no different, as the entertainer is conducting an interview with WWD at the Trump SoHo Hotel in a latex suit with a swooping hat — which is intended to represent a condom. (Albeit one designed by Thierry Mugler and styled by Nicola Formichetti.) She sees it as the perfect statement on a day when she is acting as the spokesperson for the MAC AIDS Fund.

Further examples of Gaga-as-activist: She used her Twitter account to transmit her joy of the fall 2010 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She stopped tweeting in December, proclaiming herself “dead” until fans brought her back to life by making donations to Keep a Child Alive, a charity which works with children who have HIV/AIDS. She has proclaimed her passionate belief that no matter what one’s sexual orientation, all are deserving of love and respect with her new number-one single, “Born This Way.”

She doesn’t necessarily think that fame comes with an automatic mantle of responsibility to promote social justice, although she feels it is her responsibility.

“I have so many young fans,” she said. “I feel not only connected to them, but I feel responsible for them in many ways. They’re very smart, my fans. They’re very full of life. And it’s an important thing for me to listen to them. And when they say, ‘I feel disenfranchised,’ I speak for them as much as I can. When they say, ‘I’m confused, I don’t know about certain things,’ I research and take part in organizations that I can feel connected to.”

 

John Demsey, chairman of the MAC AIDS Fund and group president at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., noted that Gaga initially approached MAC about appearing in Viva Glam’s campaign, rather than the other way around. 

 

The Gaga 2 taupe lipstick and pink-beige Gaga 2 Lipglass, each $14.50, will also raise funds for the MAC AIDS Fund. The colors Gaga and last year’s co-spokesperson, Cyndi Lauper, created generated sales of $34 million (past campaigns were more in the $17 million to $22 million range, Demsey said.) This year, Gaga’s goal is to add $50 million to the more than $202 million the fund has raised to date.

 

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