September 15, 2011

Celebrity alter-egos: necessary or overkill?

By Michelle Eigenheer–

The MTV Video Music Awards brought about a surprising revelation in the form of “male model” Jo Calderone, a mechanic whose good looks were supposedly discovered in Italy. However, he was not all that he seemed to be.

Apparently, Lady Gaga is the latest to fall victim to Miley Cyrus’ curious case of identity-confusion.

Joining the ranks of Nicki Manaj/Roman Zolanski, Lady Gaga revealed that her “other side” is, in fact, a man. She kept in touch with her Jo Calderone persona for the rest of the night and even tried to make out with Britney Spears on stage.

Why celebrities feel the need to create an alter-ego is something that those outside of the music ‘biz may never understand.

More importantly, why celebrities continue to create personas after so many examples of failed attempts also remains a mystery. Obviously, they don’t remember the horror of Garth Brooks’ stint as rock-n-roller Chris Gaines.

Miley Cyrus kind of has an excuse: she landed a hit television show out of her dual personality. What about the other musicians? Many artists claim that their alteregos manifest themselves while the singer is trying to explore their “darker side.” Beyonce as Sasha Fierce and her weird claw-hand, Eminem as politically incorrect Slim Shady, and Christina Aguliera as grungy Xtina have all used this reasoning. However, one has to question why the inevitable creative growth of an artist calls for the birth of an entirely new persona. The fan bases of these artists are so large that they would not lose a lot of following if they decided that they needed to alter and expand their musical style to suit their own tastes.

In addition to the artists who seek musical refuge within the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde complex, there are the artists who are just looking for cash, fame, infamy or all of the above.  is would include Courtney Love – Kurt Cobain’s last girlfriend – and her decision to become Cherry KooKoo. She used this persona to explain her “eccentricities.” There’s also Katy Perry’s new friend Kathy Beth Terry who does not actually sing, but does invite Rebecca Black and Glee cast members to her house for wild parties in the style of “Pretty in Pink.” I’m not sure what Katy Perry intends the girl’s purpose to be. Finally, there is Justin Bieber who, already widely recognized as a pre-pubescent joke, decided to try his hand at rapping. Needless to say, Shawty Mane did not have a prosperous career.

I’m sure that pop stars will continue to split their personalities in pursuit of creativity, notoriety and money for a very long time. However, this behavior just doesn’t lend credence to any of Hollywood’s claims that stars just want to be treated like normal people. If anything, keeping up with who’s who is mildly irritating at best and does not really boost fame.

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Photo: Terry Richardson/Highsnobiety

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