Gaga Must Be in Awe of Mark Ryden. (Hell, Who Isn’t?)

   I didn’t watch the VMAs but, periodically glancing down at my iphone screen, I saw that twitter was all a-twitter over Lady Gaga’s meat dress.     

(Yes, IPhone, yes Twitter. Groan. “Long Story,” sighs The Lusty Luddite.)    


But no one was saying the obvious which was “OMG! Gaga’s gone real life Ryden!”    

Check out that white flaxen hair!


Being the selfish little writer-chick that I am I decided to save my “OMG!” for y’all. Except then I couldn’t get online for the umpteenth time (boy, the free wifi from my next door coffee shop sho’ ain’t whut it used ta be.) By the next morning, several people were pointing it out, including Ryden himself. (On Twitter. Hence Twitter.)    


Look, no one’s calling Gaga a Ryden rip-off or at least I’m not. It’s still super cool & mad genius. Once again, Lady Gaga used costume as an artistic and spiritual medium; stirring our own frockful fantasies; probing own throbbing architectures of mythos & meaning. So yea, it was pretty much awesome. After all, the girl in “Incarnation” isn’t a real-life girl with stepped-one toes. She was a fantasy, up for the taking.    

Gaga plucked that sucker from the tree of meaning and took a big juicy bite. Oh, wait, let’s try that again. >>I’m a bit rusty due to my recent sabBRATtical. << Gaga fillet’d that fucker from the flank of id and toothesomely tore off a hunk of bloody flesh.    


It was brilliant, really, I loved it, except… well, it would’ve been much cooler if she had given Ryden a big old “Yea, baby!” shout-out rather than mumbling some vague, tired shit about feeling like a piece of meat or being seen as a commodity or bla bla bla. Shaaaad up, Lady Bla Bla.    


Look, the whole feminism “feeling like a piece of meat” thing, I get it. I just don’t buy it. Not from Gaga.    

Lady Gaga is an absolute expert at letting her meat hang out. If she were really troubled — feeling like a piece of ass — she’d probably cover that ass.     


Nah, I think it’s much more likely that Lady Gaga, just like the rest of us, has spent hours agog and drooling over Ryden’s paintings, searching for ourselves from among his feminine archetypes.    


I’ve often blamed Ryden’s meat paintings on pop culture’s current carnivorous phase. At the store, as customers went nuts over steak bath-mats and bacon band-aids, I’d just chuckle at Ryden’s far-reaching influence. People may not know that Ryden’s the reason they’re craving meaty gewgaws but he is.    

Mark Ryden put meat on the muther-fuckin’ map. Mark Ryden made meat cool.    

I dunno but I’ve heard that if you wanna get more followers on Twitter, you need only name-drop bacon.    

And vagina.    

And penis.    

And there, folks, is all you really need to know about WHY we are so obsessed with meat.    


We are meat. Sometimes we forget that we’re meat. And sometimes we long to remember.    


Mark Ryden probes that soft, bloody, fleshy place inside of us. And we…respond.    


Lady Gaga wasn’t saying “How dare you treat me like a piece of meat!” Puh-leeze. She was shouting, “Hey, everybody, look at me! I’m meaty!”    

"Broken Label" with Mark Ryden


Gaga was acting on an impulse that wasn’t as wholly original as many non-Ryden fans might think. In 2009, freaky fashion blogger Tatianista gave voice to that Grade A urge.    

How utterly fabulous would it be for an underground fashionista like myself to have wearable meat a la Ryden to add to my ever-growing, glamorously eccentric wardrobe? So fab, in fact, that someone far more clever thought of it long before I did.    

Tatianista waxed poetic about the Nagi Noda / Mark Ryden collaboration, which launched Noda’s “Broken Label.”    

The first and only collaborative fashion collection the two artists produced…will likely be as highly collectible as just about anything else Ryden has produced…even more-so now that Noda, whose broad body of work included everything from popular music videos and commercials to sculpture, conceptual art and “hair hats” died tragically young last year. She left this world wearing her favorite Chanel boots, Victor and Rolf black lace eyelashes and one of her own Mark Ryden dresses.    

In February of this year (2010) the prescient Schadenfreude Pony declared of the meat dress in Ryden’s “Incarnation”    

GaGa will be wearing it next week.    

Unlike Tatianista and Gaga, I’ve never felt an enormous need to wear a meat dress. I’ve always been more into Ryden’s more mythic maidens, all filled-up from the inside with story & secrets.    


 I was obsessed for a time with creating a t-bone steak clutch, perfect accessory for the LBD, but was too lazy and never got around to making it.    


The ground chuck bag was a Ryden collab with Paul Frank. I’m not sure who did the pork slab but isn’t it the ideal briefcase for bringin’ home the bacon?    


My someday steak purse would not be a real t-bone, of course, cause I can barely stomach raw meat when preparing it for the grill (and my stomach.) My meaty fashion forays would be more figurative than real life soon-to-be rotting flesh.    


Such as these folks did for a Mark Ryden opening. (She’s in stilts, I think, which is all kinds of circusy spectacular)    

Man in a meat at Mark Ryden show


Though I give Gaga big props for keeping it real. I mean, look at these shoes.    


They look like they’re ready for the oven not the VMAs.    


One sultry June night in Toledo, I met my friend Dan McGuire — my Precocious Dandy — at a gritty east-side club. Dan was joining a local band, The Porn Flakes, on-stage. As a steak. All 6 feet and 5 inches of Dan had disappeared into a giant foam-rubber t-bone. Back stage, in the tiny yard behind the club, Dan stripped outta the steak and changed into a giant cow.  I dropped down onto the discarded steak, lounging like it was a carne-chaise. In a tiny pinkey-orange sundress & pink boa, with a nice marmaladey tan, I was feeling pretty luxurious, pretty damn cheeky. Things were going great, until one of the Porn Flakes began to eye me hungrily.    

“What?” I playfully glowered. “What am I? Just a piece of meat?”    

“I dunno, nah,” he drooled, “But you sure do look like a golden, buttery mushroom to me mmm.”    

“Hey, hey! ” Dan hollered. “That’ll be enough of that. Have a little fuckin’ respect, why don’tya?   

While Dan railed and ranted — protectively, possevively — I lounged extra lasciviously on my meat chaise. I batted my lashes as Dan hurried to pack his things. I smirked as he reached for my hand, yanking me up, pulling me away from those perverted Porn Flakes. I giggled as I caught up with his long aggravated strides, glancing back at my starving admirer. Then I leaned lovingly into Dan’s sturdy ribs as we ran excitedly down the dirty street, a trail of pink feathers behind us.    

*All paintings/art by the crazy gorgeous genius Mark Ryden. Check out his  

*For another meaty anecdote, read “Ham, I Am”

10 Responses to “Gaga Must Be in Awe of Mark Ryden. (Hell, Who Isn’t?)”

  1. I am both intrigued and repulsed, at the same time…by the actual meat dress/shoes –especially. The paintings, hauntingly beautiful–part childlike fairytale imagery and bloody nightmares. Mark Ryden’s use of both aspects together, as one, is I agree, is genius.

    “I giggled as I caught up with his long aggravated strides, glancing back at my starving admirer. Then I leaned lovingly into Dan’s sturdy ribs as we ran excitedly down the dirty street, a trail of pink feathers behind us.”

    I love this poetic lines of yours, I could just picture it all, and the trail of pink feathers….very yummy indeed.

    Y’er back!….BTW bought some tea tree oil today….just in case.

    Peace A

  2. Alphabetfiend Says:

    Nah.The actual wearing of the meat is not for me. I like my meat cartoony. I love the ground beef handbag b/c the yarn looks so perfect. I’m working on a Mark Ryden Interior Design piece and I’ve found just the coolest cutest stuff. Like these meat throw pillows that are, dare I say it, adorable. Adorable meat? Who knew! Working on the Ryden Interior piece has been so much fun! It’s probably my favorite one I’ve done, fun-wise. I’ve put together so many divergent elements and found so much cool stuff that I’ll probably hafta post it room by room, or else it’d be way too long.

    You’ll be glad to know that the Mermaid Interior is just about ready. I think you will freak out over some of the stuff, one thing in particular which was almost impossible to keep from you. You will fall in love! You may just die from wanting it. I had my own near-death experience.

    I love that you loved that particular part about leaning into Dan’s ribs. Because I love it. I love that moment, that memory, so much. And I love Daniel so much. That night was the best night! It just made me very happy that you plucked that part out like a special rock on a rocky beach. I felt unsure of it writing-wise. I couldn’t manage to find the words that did the moment justice but the one part that pleased me was the line about leaning into his sturdy ribs. Cause ribs are meat. Cause it helped to convey his size (Dan’s a big guy) and also our comfort with one another. And cause it’s true…that was the real physical feeling of our friendship in that precise moment. Besides that line it’s clunky. You can tell I struggled with it. I need to tweak it and then tweak it again and so on like Dan does with his poems. He’s an amazing poet! Google him.

    I heard you’re starting a blog. Very cool. What kind of thing do you have in mind? What is your “focus”? Everything I’ve read says you need to have a focus. I think that’s probably true even though I haven’t followed that advice. I’m sure it has cost me readers and it does worry me but not enough for me to change. What kind of stuff would be the most enjoyable for you? Don’t forget to consider that!

    Be sure to send me a link.

    Good to see ya, Alice.

  3. My blog is on hold; I am processing at the moment—but hear ya about the focus.
    Had a strange dream last night, I dreamt of this sweet smelling cake, mirroring a Frank Lloyd Wright home, out of mocha butter cream, box on box, slightly askew, like it could be a picture of one of those homes on a craggy cliff overlooking the ocean on the coast of California, with large expanses of windows to drink up the sun, and capture the view. A dark chocolate ganache in a harlequin pattern was on each layer, but most importantly, were the words in bold lettering it said– *BE SAFE*– what’s that all about I thought. A sudden shiver, like someone or something, whooshed past me.
    I heard a voice which distracted me, I turned to look, no one, nothing; I swung back around–the cake, upon a second glance, just said *Happy Birthday* From M & C.
    Funny thing, I just purchased a book on dreams yesterday “The Secret History of Dreaming” by Robert Moss, so I best get to reading it. Huh?

    • alphabetfiend Says:

      Wow! What an amazing dream! I have so much to say, but not enough time at the moment. Wow. I’ve long been obsessed with dreams. I’m not one of those people who thinks dreams are just psychic junk recycled into nonsense. After years & years of keeping meticulous dream journals, I know better. Dreams have guided me through this life, leading me to good things (RobotBoy) and warning me of the bad (an unfortunate predator whom I’d welcomed into my home.) Your dream has alot going on — it has a whole complex architecture of meaning. It’s amazing how profound the dreaming mind can be. I have much to say, if you really do welcome my opinion/imput.

      But first, who is M& C? It could even be someone’s nickname or just the way you designate them in your mind. Is M you? If so, who is C? M & C…that’s the first key. Be sure to let me know if my opinion on your gorgeous cakey dream is welcome or not!

      Smooch! Love, A*Fiend

  4. M is my nephew’s wife and C my nephew, funny thing C’s birthday is coming up on the September 25th, normally we just exchange barf-day e-mails, no cake or anything like that.

    It felt like the cake was for me– from them though– one of my favorites too Mocha butter cream, lemon cake (assuming now on the interior), and a chocolate ganache.

    Now a small delicious detour, a ramble, and bit off point & b/c I long for something sweet…. My very very favorite cake, is Strawberry Shortcake, whipped cream icing, fresh thinly sliced strawberries, nestled with even more whipped cream in-between layers of a vanilla cake, g-d! Almost a bit, sexy, the thought of it. Yum.

    But what is the *Be Safe*–that was profound, a bit spooky, really.

    Yes, chime in on the dream–all opinions welcome.


    PS– dream before that involved Tony Soprano, and a big black Gorilla, gently holding my face in his hands, and giving me a big sloppy smooch!

  5. alphabetfiend Says:

    You seem to be getting all these gifts, things that youvalue, things that you want (have wanted?) A glam cake in your favorite flavor, a dreamy house designed by a talented artist, a magnificent view. {I’m guessing this is to do with art or writing rather than cake or architecture. Maybe self transformation via art. I say this bc the gifts are sensory: vision, taste etc.} But then
    there’s a fear response… I say fear bc the
    warning was over-turned by loved ones whom
    you trust. So that “be safe” was maybe more about your distrust of gifts, goodness, compliments, love, receiving. But then the “Be Safe” becomes “Happy Birthday” which is relax, enjoy, it’s your day, you deserve this. So maybe you are mistrusting something or someone or both out of fear. S’pose it could even be the universe? But someone/something/life is trying to come to you in offering, with love, and you are resistant & suspicious but you needn’t be cause this is coming to you in love and the gifts are especially for you.

    That’s my take. Hope it’s helpful. I wanted to share with you my personal response to your gorilla dream but I’m outta juice. Been so sleepy these last few many nights. Was jealous of your pep last night. love, D

  6. Very insightful. So true. Yes, I want to enjoy every savoy morsel of life. Reawaken gifts, long unopened, see what’s inside, the tall tales, art, beauty, my song, my voice,truth & love.

    The last two are tricky, *Be Safe* part, still trying to figure that out, or rather work through that.

    Hopefully, someday I will see every thing clearly, perhaps?

    There is more but…..

  7. alphabetfiend Says:

    Just re-read your dream and noticed that smell wasn’t just implied but referenced out loud — the cake was sweet smelling. So the only senses that weren’t mentioned out-right were touch & sound but sound was present in the ocean and touch was there in all the texture such as the harlequin pattern on the cake. That it was a harlequin pattern is interesting bc that evokes clowns & New Orleans…a sort of unfurling of the id

  8. alphabetfiend Says:

    Cut me off there, punched publish by accident.

    Anyway New Orleans is a place people go to unloose themselves, to participate in uninhibited wilding. Lewis Hyde says Mardi Gras gives people a chance to experience the freedom of the trickster but has a built-in back to normal behavior end. I laughed at that bc my dad, who loved a good wilding, never went to mardi gras or New Years celebrations etc. Why? Too many amateurs! They weren’t practiced partiers and therefore dangerous, not knowing how to handle their new freedom. The violence that happens during Austin’s mardi gras festivities make mr think my papa was onto something.

    Harlequin patterns are also associated with clowns. Clowns and tricksters share some of the same territory. Clowns aren’t afraid to act the fool. They’re not afraid of being teased or laughed at. They have a beauty of their own. I love clowns and try to conjure the clowny fearlessness whenever I’m able. Dressing up as a clown altered my idea of what was pretty, suddenly societal ideas of perfection seemed laughable. It was awesome.

    Halloween is coming up, Alice. Do you usually dress up? You should do it this year for sure. Whaddaya think? Alice on W? Clown? Whatever you choose, you should plumb the depths of your psyche and choose something that reveals something that you usually hide or somehow struggle with.

    I decided last night to be a Mustachioed Beauty, a glittery sorta ballerina-clown-gypsy. I see a really dramatic stache on a hyper glam femme. Kinda like my bearded lady but with a mustache rather than a beard. I like the contrast and tweaking the idea of feminine beauty.

    So are you still thinking that the warning is a real warning?

  9. Sent you and e-mail….many goodies to follow, have been saving all the cool stuff I have seen on my phone, and some in my Nikon.

    About the *be safe*, have a piece to write in mind. wrote it a long time ago–a powerful one. It may put me in some danger, maybe not.

    Who knows.

    Cautiously optimistic.

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