| 10.1°C Dublin

Portrait of the Lady


WITH her sold-out shows at the O2 this weekend the hottest ticket in town, Dublin is bracing itself for the whirlwind of publicity that accompanies Lady Gaga. Earlier this week, the self-styled saviour of pop stole the show -- and won three awards -- at the Brits cementing her reputation as one of the hottest talents in music.

But how, in the space of only 18 months, has the world gone completely gaga over the woman born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta?

Born in New York in 1986, Stefani showed a talent for performing -- and style -- from a very young age. "I was in the Three Billy Goats Gruff when I was in kindergarten," she said. "I was the big Billy Goat. I decided to make my Billy Goat horns out of tinfoil and a coat hanger."

Her wealthy, entrepreneur parents sent her to the Convent of the Sacred Heart, an exclusive private Catholic school. Although her peers at school were the likes of Paris and Nicky Hilton, Stefani shunned the limelight and described herself as "very dedicated, very studious and very disciplined" in her student days.

It was in school, however, that her rather eccentric style was also noted by others and not exactly encouraged.

"I used to get made fun of for being either too provocative or too eccentric, so I started to tone it down. I felt like a freak," she said.

She turned her hand to song writing, having penned her first track at the age of 13. A year later, her mother was chaperoning her to nightclubs where to perform open-mic nights.

Deciding that her future lay in music, she enrolled in the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. However, by her own admission she wasn't a model student, embracing a hedonistic lifestyle and she later dropped out. According to claims in a new biography, Lady Gaga: Queen of Pop, she allegedly became so addicted to cocaine that she feared it would kill her.

Those riotous days lead to several months of estrangement from her family, a period which she has said that she deeply regrets. It was also around this time that she met and started working with producer Rob Fusari, who is co-credited with creating her stage-name of Lady Gaga, which came from the Queen song, Radio Ga-Ga.

A well-received demo brought her to the attention of major players in the LA music industry. Catchy, floor-filling tracks such as Just Dance and Pokerface, coupled with her outrageously flamboyant personal style, led to her being feted as "the next Madonna" in advance of her debut album, The Fame, being released in August 2008.

A smash hit, the album topped the charts the world over, with her flamboyant stage performances -- most notably at the MTV Music Awards -- saw her crowned the queen of pop. Like Madonna, she's an expert at courting controversy. Lady Gaga has admitted that she's bi-sexual. Her biggest hit, Pokerface, is reportedly about her dalliances with other women.

However, she has said that she doesn't want to be defined by her own preferences when it comes to partners.

"I don't like to be seen as somebody who is using the gay community to look edgy. I'm a free sexual woman and I like what I like."

One thing that Lady Gaga is never likely to distance herself from is controversy as those lucky enough to be attending her O2 shows this weekend will find out.

Lady Gaga plays the O2 tomorrow and Sunday nights