Lady Gaga Impersonator Fools Crowd at Las Vegas Charity Event

Lady Gaga Performing You and I- Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of The STRAT Hotel, Casino and SkyPod

Tierney Allen, a leading impersonator, says she was as shocked as anyone when an emcee at an event for Women of Global Change told the crowd she was the real deal.

A Lady Gaga impersonator was mistaken for the real thing at a charity event in Las Vegas on Friday.

Attendees of a national conference for Women of Global Change held at The Strat Hotel and Casino were shocked when they saw the pop superstar stroll onto the stage in a pink pantsuit and matching wide-brim hat.

She then sat at a grand piano and performed several of her biggest hits, including "You and I" and "Million Reasons."

But who they were actually watching was Tierney Allen, a Lady Gaga impersonator who performs regularly in Legends in Concert, a tribute review at The Tropicana that also features Freddie Mercury and Pat Benatar lookalike/soundalikes.

Contacted by The Hollywood Reporter, Allen says she had no intention of misleading the audience into thinking she was really Gaga.

"What happened is I was booked to perform at a private event for Women of Global Change. We always tell the clients to make sure the guests know I'm not the real thing," Allen says.

The confusion began when, at the end of her performance, the event emcee, Aurea McGarry, told the crowd that Allen was not an impersonator but was in fact the real thing.

"I thought, 'Oh, that's not good,'" recalls Allen. "I immediately started sweating. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights."

Allen has been mistaken for the artist before — she was once swarmed by fans while visiting the Park MGM in full Gaga regalia while the "Poker Face" singer was performing there — and decided to just "go with it" until she could get off the stage.

Allen says she had assumed McGarry knew very well that she was a fake — but thought the emcee got swept up in the moment and wanted to give the audience a thrill.

But lawyers for McGarry claim she was totally in the dark, as well, because Shellie Hunt, the CEO of Women For Global Change, told her in confidence before the event that "Lady Gaga would be making an appearance and perform at the conference."

"Unbeknownst to our client," McGarry's lawyers write, "it was not Lady Gaga who appeared and performed, but instead, Ms. Hunt deceived everyone by hiring an impersonator who our client and the audience later found out to be Tierney Allen."

The resulting confusion led to fans rushing the stage, swarming the impersonator and snapping photos of her.

The ruse grew even thornier when Allen was then enlisted to help in a charity auction of a framed A Star Is Born poster autographed by the film's two stars, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. That piece of memorabilia was authentic. But when the bidding began, the crowd was encouraged to spend more in the presence of Gaga. 

"The actual Lady Gaga is holding it!" McGarry told the crowd of the poster. A bidding war erupted between two women; it ultimately went for $3,000. Lawyers for McGarry maintain she believed the woman holding up the framed poster to be the real Gaga.

In a statement to THR, Hunt denies having misled McGarry.

"The tribute artist was hired as a treat for our audience, with absolutely no intent to deceive anyone," Hunt writes. "Ms. McGarry was not supposed to be involved in the introduction of the performer, the performer was not planned to be a part of the auction, and Ms. McGarry was certainly not told that the tribute artist was anyone else."

Continues Hunt: "Her performance was amazing, and it is unfortunate that Ms. McGarry misunderstood the situation. The woman who bought the auction piece was aware that the performer was a tribute artist and happily kept her authenticity signed poster when offered a refund."

When Allen finally left the event, her last words to an event organizer were, "I really hope I don't upset Gaga's people."

Among those totally fooled was The Strat itself, which issued its press release touting Gaga's appearance at 3:09 p.m. PT on Friday. The release included two photos of Allen performing onstage. 

Fifteen minutes later the hotel issued a retraction.

"An item was sent from our office earlier today regarding an event with Lady Gaga," it reads. "Unfortunately, new information has come to light that suggests it may not have been Lady Gaga, but actually a tribute artist."

Contacted via email by THR, a rep for the hotel responds, "There has been some miscommunication between several parties. We will keep you posted if we hear anything." 

Nov. 11, 10:41 a.m. PST Updated to include statement from McGarry's lawyers.

Nov. 11, 11:37 a.m. PST Updated to include statement from Shellie Hunt.