Lady Gaga opened up the 2011 MTV VMAs with a stunning performance in drag as her alter ego, Jo Calderone, who first appeared on the cover of the Fall 2010 issue of Japan's Vogue Hommes. Folks at the time speculated it was Gaga, and this month photos of the fairly intense, hollow-eyed, scruffy man appeared on her Twitter page and Web site as cover art for her new single.
If there was any doubt, now we know for sure. (Or not:Gaga has been dogged by rumors about her gender for years.)
Wearing a white T-shirt, black slacks and blazer, Gaga looked every inch a 1950s greaser, dragging on a cigarette and swilling beer. She sang "You and I" with her signature energetic bellow and energy, and even seemed to stumble a bit as she climbed the piano, so worked up was she/he.
And just for good measure, Queen's Brian May added a screaming guitar solo.
Comparisons to Ralph Macchio on Twitter aside, fans loved it.
Later, Jo presented Britney Spears with the Video Vanguard award, and even attempted a smoch.
It would take a lot to upstage Gaga, but Beyonce may have done it: She announced she was pregnant on the pre-show carpet.She later rubbed her baby bump on stage after a signature stellar performance of "Love on Top," which was, understandably, a little light on the high-energy dancing. And she looked so happy!
Earlier, Beyonce's husband Jay-Z performed, officially unannounced, with Kanye West, doing "Otis" from their hit joint release, "Watch the Throne."
And of course, there was a few winners. Among them: Tyler, the Creator as Best New Artist; Nicki Minaj, Best Hip-Hop Video for "Super Bass;" Justin Biber, Best Male Artist for "U Smile;" Britney Spears, Best Pop Video for "Till the World Ends."
Highlights of the red -- or technically, black -- carpet that preceded the show:
_ Justin Bieber, sporting his shortest, lightest locks yet and enormous glasses (Rachel Maddow, anyone?) and clearly looking to move into edgier territory, carried a snake with him, bringing back memories of Britney Spears' 2001 VMA performance of "Slave 4 U". His snake was much smaller however, and he felt the need to announce it was named "Johnson" before planting a kiss on Selena Gomez's cheek after some very, very stilted conversation between the "couple."
_ Nicki Manaj in what can only be described as technicolor-domanatrix-harajuku-surgeon. We don't even remember what she said, we were so busy trying to take in the outfit.
_ Britney Spears looking healthy and mature in a black sequin dress (not wild about the mid-calf boots,though) and ready to achieve her lifetime achievement award. Could it be just four years ago she opened the VMAs with a disastrous, spaced-out performance of "Gimme More?"
_ The cast of "Jersey Shore," with the men looking almost, well, conservative. "You guys look so marvelous," MTV's Sway noted, asking if they like to change up their look to come to the West Coast. Perhaps the ride in MTV's private jet to ensure they escaped the wrath of Hurricane Irene had something to do with the turn, at least in the direction of, elegance.