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Lady Gaga’s opulent, eye-popping “G.U.Y” video is a prime example of what the singer does best: complete sensory overload. During the 11-minute clip, the self-directed video filmed in California’s palatial Hearst Castle depicts the singer as a broken bird wounded and left for dead by money-hungry men in suits. It shows her resuscitating the comatose bodies of Jesus Christ, Ghandi and Michael Jackson. It features synchronized swimmers, massed oiled troops of undraped male extras and Bravo’s reality czar Andy Cohen smiling shirtlessly down from the heavens.
The video also makes room for the stars of Cohen’s most durable franchise, the Real Housewives. Five featured players from the Beverly Hills iteration, Lisa Vanderpump, Yolanda Foster, Carlton Gebbia and Kyle and Kim Richards show up lip-syncing and pseudo-strumming instruments. Two Housewives, Kyle Richards and Vanderpump, herself a veteran of the classic 1983 ABC video “Poison Arrow,” accompany Gaga as she wreaks homicidal revenge on the corporate clones who left her facedown in the dirt at the outset of the video.
How did they get the job? What was Gaga like as a director? And how did the famously volatile Housewives stand being around one another? The Hollywood Reporter got the lowdown from Vanderpump and Kyle Richards.
How were you approached to be in the video?
Kyle Richards: Bravo contacted me and said you’ve been asked to be in a video. We had to sign a nondisclosure agreement before we found out who it was. I was so curious, and then when I saw, I was completely blown away.
Lisa Vanderpump: I had a pretty rough time on Housewives this year to the point that when they came to me and asked me to do it, I said: “Let the others do it. I’m not having a good time with the other women.” Then they said, “It’s Lady Gaga.” I have a bit of a history with her because she’s been supportive of Vanderpump Rules, she’s even tweeted about it, and that’s a big deal when you’ve got 40 million followers. But I spoke to Andy [Cohen] and said, “I don’t feel up to spending the day with these other women — they’re just too mean and bitchy.” Next day, the phone rings, and a voice says, “Hi Lisa, it’s Lady Gaga,” and I said, “Right, and I’m Winston Churchill.” Suddenly, Andy was in the background going, “Lady Vanderpump meet Lady Gaga.” I said I’d do it, but on one condition. I want backup. I want the Giggster (Giggy, her trademark Pomeranian). She said, “I’d love to have the Giggster in it.”
This is Gaga’s first time directing a video. How did she do?
Richards: I was so impressed watching her direct. She’s an absolute artistic genius and perfectionist. It was a huge production, but she’d take the time go over and make sure the swimmers were OK. She was just professional and hands on from A to Z.
Vanderpump: She’s very much in control. It wasn’t like she was a shadow director in any shape or form. It’s hard to understand that she’s, what, 28 years old? To me, that was mind-blowing. This is a much older head on very young shoulders.
Was she aware of your TV personas?
Richards: We talked a lot about the show, and as we talked, I was thinking, “I can’t believe she watches our show and knows all about my life.” There was one scene in the video where it was just Lady Gaga and me, and she looked back and said something like, “This is just like what happened in that scene with [Richards’ husband] Mauricio.”
Vanderpump: She’s very Bravo-aware. She’s right in the center of pop culture, and Housewives is very much of the culture. I think you’d be surprised how many people watch it; people come up to me that I think would never watch our hot mess. I think the first lady even said she watches it.
Did she communicate a clear idea of what she wanted from you?
Richards: She wanted us to feel and look beautiful and fierce. There was one scene where I kill a man. She was like, “I want you to whip that ponytail even more. Go back and really exaggerate your head-flipping. I was like, “Whatever you say.” Even if I get whiplash, it’s OK. Lady Gaga told me to do it.
Vanderpump: To get me into a lace bodysuit, there’s not many people I’d do that for. I’m 53 years old, for God’s sake. She said, “This is what you’re wearing.” I looked at this thing, and it was lace head-to-toe lingerie. I thought, “Jesus,” but then I thought, “OK, you’re Lisa Gaga.”
The four Housewives first show up in the video as a band-playing instruments. Was there jockeying for position over who sits where or who plays what?
Richards: When Lisa and I shot with [Gaga] alone, she told us we were going to be playing a girl band, and I said, “Oh, can I please play the guitar?” I’d been taking lessons; I’m a frustrated rock star. So they gave me a guitar. I know how to hold it. I know the right key … not the key. See how professional I am?
Vanderpump: Gaga gave me a tambourine. That’s the only instrument I could be trusted with.
What do you think of the finished product?
Richards: Wow, it’s art. It’s beautiful art.
Lisa, did you get on with the other women?
Vanderpump: I had to, really. One wasn’t there, and that was Brandi Glanville. So that was a bonus. You can quote me on that.
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