When I say Lady Gaga is a total queen, it probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard that statement. And, that’s because it’s the truth. Lady Gaga is a total queen and everyone who watched the 2017 Super Bowl halftime show knows that. She slayed the halftime like the queen she is. But, there was a time before the 2017 Super Bowl, before American Horror Story: Hotel, and even before Lady Gaga’s debut album The Fame. There was a time when Lady Gaga was just… just like us. Well, not really just like us. She was always immensely talented. Or, as Lady Gaga puts it, “I have always been an artist and I’ve always been famous, you just didn’t know it yet.”
Back when none of us knew that Lady Gaga was famous yet, she had dropped out of the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts because she wanted to pursue her dreams. She was living in New York’s Lower East Side and trying to make it big, but trying to make it doesn’t pay the bills. So, Lady Gaga had to find a way to make money and that resulted in her working at go-go bars, where she would dance in very, very little clothing. In a way though, her jobs in the dark, shady little bars helped cultivate her sound, her look, and her brand. It may have been her experiences during this time in her life that really turned Stefani Germanotta into Lady Gaga.
Below are 16 racy photos of Lady Gaga before her fame, when she was simply a girl named Stefani who had to pay her bills. (Thank you, Internet, for these Gaga-rific photos.)
16. Bartender Gaga
Because, who wouldn’t love it if Lady Gaga was their bartender? Don’t you just feel like she’d be the most entertaining, friendliest bartender of all time? Like, you would end up telling Lady Gaga your entire life story as she occasionally did a shot with you, told you it was on the house, and then gave you a little wink. At least that’s how I imagine Bartender Gaga.
In this photo, Lady Gaga does look like she’s having a blast behind the bar. She’s either dancing or goofing around in this photo. Whichever it is, we love it and we wish she was our bartender. Saturday nights would be so much more interesting with Bartender Gaga. And, yes, that’s what we would all call her – Bartender Gaga. Of course, it’s doubtful that Lady Gaga will ever be serving up whiskey shots again, y’know after winning her six Grammy Awards and a Golden Globe…
15. Gaga Gone Wild
Oh My Lady Gaga! If this photo was of anyone else – Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Lopez, or any other famous person named Jennifer – our jaws would be on the floor. But, this isn’t too shocking because it’s Lady Gaga. I mean, we’ve all seen Lady Gaga wearing even less than this.
Though, it is a little surprising that she dressed like this before she was famous. Her costumes are often revealing and theatrical, but because they are worn on the stage or on the red carpet, we’re not too put off by her choices in fashion. Well, except when she wore that meat dress. That caught us off guard because the meat dress was… definitely something else.
The above photo shows that Gaga pushed the envelope with her wardrobe way before she was in the public eye. While having a beer with a friend, she’s rocking a bra-top and booty shorts. Oh, and these are booty shorts that make Margot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn look fully clothed. They are the bootiest of all the booty shorts. Alright, they’re probably just underwear.
14. Lady Gaga Drinks Bud Light, Guys!
Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen may have appeared in Bud Light’s commercial during the 2017 Super Bowl, but Lady Gaga was advertising Bud Light years before. Yeah, this isn’t exactly advertising but Lady Gaga is drinking a Bud Light, so you know what we mean.
In the above photo of Lady Gaga drinking Bud Light, she’s doing so while rocking a teeny, tiny bra top with fringe beading. While Lady Gaga may look different, she isn’t completely unrecognizable. Don’t worry, she’s still Lady Gaga under all that eyeliner. Her dark hair, heavy eyeliner, and mesh arm piece definitely do make her look much more rock and roll, rather than the pop queen she’d later be. In looking at many of Lady Gaga’s pre-fame photos though, this was her look. She was always more punk and rock, rather than pop princess.
If you had told us that the above woman would, in a few short years, become the reigning queen of pop music, we would have been shocked. And, while Lady Gaga did change her image a tad bit, she’s still held on to some of her rock roots.
13. Lady Gaga Also Drinks Heineken
And, now Lady Gaga is drinking a Heineken because apparently Pre-Fame Lady Gaga loved her beers.
With the dark bangs, leather jacket, and leopard and sequins onesie, Lady Gaga slays this look. On anyone else, it might feel trashy and weird, but not on Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga actually looks (dare we say) chic in this outfit. That’s the thing that makes Lady Gaga’s look so enviable. Not only does she wear the most insane clothing ever, but she also always look fashionable while wearing whatever it is she’s wearing.
While Lady Gaga may have been a fan of guzzling beer back in the day, it’s doubtful that she would be caught drinking a beer nowadays. Her body is tight… like really, really tight. (Again, you saw that halftime show, right?) While Lady Gaga’s physically intensive shows keep her in shape, she also follows a strict diet, in which she eats five times a day – two meals and three snacks. All of the food she eats must fall into the category of lean protein, low-glycemic carbs, healthy fats, fiber, and a sugar-free beverage. So, yeah. Lady Gaga probably no longer drinks calorie-heavy beer, but she may kick back with a dry martini once in a while because it’s less calories and more potent. Also, can’t you just envision Lady Gaga with a martini? It seems so right.
12. That’s One Plunging Neckline
In this photo, Lady Gaga is wearing a sequin dress that just so happens to be as low cut as it could possibly be cut. Not only it is showing off her chest, but it goes all the way down to her bellybutton. Actually, it goes way down past her bellybutton! It’s revealing, let’s just say that.
The cut of Lady Gaga’s dress is reminiscent of the green Versace dress that Jennifer Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammy Awards. JLo’s dress was so hot that they literally created Google Images because so many people were simply looking for the image of Jennifer Lopez in that dress. If you don’t remember JLo’s epic dress, Google it. It’s what Google Images was made for, guys.
While this Lady Gaga look didn’t revolutionize Google or anything, she still looks very sultry. I mean, it’s hard to keep your eyes off Lady Gaga when she’s wearing the deepest neckline known to mankind.
11. Lady Gaga Just Hanging With A Friend
Yes, that’s Lady Gaga under all that hair. She’s rocking a fringe, cheetah-print bikini top, which seems like it was 100% her style back in the day. Actually, we really wouldn’t be surprised to see Lady Gaga wearing something like this today.
So, we’re not completely sure who Lady Gaga’s friend in the picture is, but her eye makeup is pretty awesome. We’re also really jealous because, duh, she’s friends with Lady Gaga. While it seems like most people in the world would be down to be friends with Lady Gaga nowadays, it wasn’t always so easy for her to make friends. Her parents sent her to a catholic school in New York, where she dealt with bullies who would pick on her. Reportedly, she was picked on for her hair and the way she dressed. About her experience in school, Gaga has said, “I used to be called a slut, be called this, be called that. I didn’t even want to go to school sometimes.”
10. Lady Gaga’s Got Some Fists
It’s Lady Gaga with her dukes up, y’all. In this photo, Lady Gaga is sporting a bodysuit that is mostly cut out in the middle. But, whatever. It may not make a lot of sense as a piece of clothing, but we’re still super into it. While most of these photos were snapped at the bar or club she worked at, Lady Gaga looks more off-duty in this photo. Also, Lady Gaga was definitely friends with the dude in the background rocking that gigantic mohawk. Keep doing you, Mohawk Guy.
Lady Gaga had her eyes on stardom way before this photo was snapped. At just 11, she was training with Don Lawrence, a major vocal coach who also trained Christina Aguilera. Gaga still takes vocal lessons from Lawrence today. In fact, it’s been reported that in the time leading up to her Sound of Music tribute at the 2015 Oscars, Lady Gaga trained with Lawrence every single day for over a year. Also, remember after that performance when everyone was like “OMG, Gaga can really sing!” Uh, yeah. Gaga has always been able to sing.
9. This Awkward (But Still Totally Hot) Photoshoot
This photo comes from a very amateur photoshoot Lady Gaga did way back in the day. The look is… well, it’s a little different than how we’re used to seeing Lady Gaga. She’s wearing pink leggings, a pink bra, and white heels. Of course, this isn’t as glammed up and theatrical as Lady Gaga would later become, but it does seem like a midway point between her rock and roll look and her “Just Dance” look.
“Just Dance” was, of course, Lady Gaga’s first hit from her 2008 debut album The Fame. It was the song that launched her career. “LoveGame,” “Paparazzi,” and “Poker Face” were also huge singles that came from her stellar debut album. In their review, Billboard took notice of the amount of hits on the album stating, “It’d be easy to dismiss a 22-year-old debut artist sporting a blonde Cher wig, hooded Catwoman suit and glowing staff she calls the ‘disco stick’ — but not if she delivers an album full of hits.”
8. Another Awkward Photoshoot
This comes from yet another photoshoot Lady Gaga did before she exploded into mega fame. The picture is kind of hot… but also kind of creepy, right? Lady Gaga just doesn’t seem all that comfortable in this photo. Since this photoshoot though, Lady Gaga has clearly grown to feel much more comfortable in front of the camera, which is inevitable when you’re photographed all the time.
In the deep dark corners of the Internet, you can find a ton of pre-fame Lady Gaga images from this particular photoshoot. It’s considered to be the first photoshoots Lady Gaga posed for, as she was just 19 years old at the time. The piano that she’s lounging on is in her parent’s apartment and the photos were taken by Malforzata Saniewska, who was a bartender at the restaurant where Lady Gaga was a waitress. Saniewska had no idea that these images would, one day, become so popular and seen by so many.
7. Lady Gaga Living That Basic Life
Basic bitch isn’t a term I love, but I think you should embrace your inner basic bitch when she comes calling. Well, Lady Gaga’s inner basic bitch – because yes, even Lady Gaga has an inner basic bitch – was calling. I mean, drunkenly sitting down right in the middle of the sidewalk is a trademark move of a basic bitch and that’s exactly what Gaga is doing in this photo. Of course, I have no confirmation that Lady Gaga is drunk in this photo, but it’s an educated guess because only drunk people look this happy to be sitting on the sidewalk.
In this photo of Gaga being a party girl, she’s rocking some white leather boots, which are both very hot and very go-go. Lady Gaga also looks down to earth and approachable. She’s still probably just as friendly, but her look no longer screams “approachable.” I mean, she’s one of the biggest singers in the world. It’s like Beyonce. If you were to ever see either of them in real life, you’d probably just want to bow down.
6. That’s A Lot Of Lady Gaga
In this photo, Lady Gaga is wearing very, very little clothing and she looks completely flawless. Lady Gaga may be able to afford the best juice cleanses, hot yoga classes and physical trainers now that she’s a millionaire, but she always had a hot bod, even before she could afford the best help in the world.
It may seem like Lady Gaga shot into fame overnight, but her career took many unexpected turns. When she was 19, Lady Gaga signed to Def Jam records. After only three months though, Def Jam dropped her because her sound wasn’t for them. While working as a go-go dancer to pay her rent, Lady Gaga finally got her next big break. Interscope records brought in Lady Gaga to write songs for the likes of Fergie, the Pussycat Dolls, and Britney Spears.
Upon hearing her record a reference vocal for a song she wrote at Interscope, Akon signed Lady Gaga to his label. This was when the Lady Gaga roller coaster started going at full speed.
5. Go-Go Dancer Galore
If this photo doesn’t scream go-go dancer, I don’t know what does. I mean, that’s the basic go-go dancer uniform. And, let me just say this, Gaga is wearing that outfit with the most confidence anyone could wear that outfit with. When asked about this time in her life, Lady Gaga shared, “I was onstage in a thong, with a fringe hanging over my ass thinking that had covered it, lighting hairspray on fire, go-go dancing to Black Sabbath and singing songs about oral sex.” Um, did Lady Gaga just describe the perfect night out? Getting drunk while watching Lady Gaga light hairspray on fire and sing about oral sex is always the perfect night out.
One thing is clear about Lady Gaga – she has the ability to recreate herself. The above is not the same Lady Gaga we were introduced to with The Fame. And, the Lady Gaga we know now is much different from the “Just Dance” singer we first met. Her way of reinventing herself has helped keep her career as vibrant and busy as ever.
4. Lady Gaga Having More Fun Than Anyone Else Ever
Lady Gaga looks like she’s having a grand ol’ time. Like, the best time actually. We really just wish we were hanging out with Lady Gaga in this moment. Instead, the dude sitting next to Lady Gaga (who is actually acclaimed songwriter Justin Tranter, responsible for Bieber‘s “Sorry.” The more you know!) doesn’t seem to even notice what happiness Lady Gaga is in the middle of having. In typical tradition, Lady Gaga is wearing not too much clothing. But, if you were 20 years old and had a hot bod, wouldn’t you wear that outfit too?
Lady Gaga’s follow-up album, The Fame Monster, was met with the same reaction as her first album, meaning everyone friggin’ loved it. Hits on The Fame Monster included “Telephone,” “Alejandro,” and – of course – “Bad Romance.” Basically, everyone in the world had “rah rah ah-ah-ah ro mah ro-mah-mah” stuck in their head for about two years. Not only did “Bad Romance” top the charts, but the music video has since become a piece of pop culture history.
3. Of Course Lady Gaga Would Wear A Disco Bra
This is something we could totally imagine Lady Gaga possible wearing today. I mean, that bra that looks like disco ball is totally up Lady Gaga’s alley, am I right? Though, pairing that bra with green and leopard booty shorts may not match, but we’re sure no one is too concerned about Lady Gaga matching. She rocks whatever she wants to rock, whether it matches or not.
Lady Gaga’s next album, Born This Way, was released in 2011. It was yet another hit, selling one million copies in its first week. After this, Lady Gaga started exploring other artistic opportunities. She released a jazz album with Tony Bennett. She also made the leap to acting, starring in American Horror Story: Hotel, which received largely positive reviews. Lady Gaga even went on to win a Golden Globe for her performance in the show.
2. Lady Gaga Starring In A Bathroom Photoshoot
Honestly, we can’t tell if this was another one of her amateur photoshoots or just one of those drunken photoshoots you do in a bathroom with a group of girlfriends. (What, no one else does that?) Whatever the case, Lady Gaga is wearing those teal booty shorts. She’s also rocking a teal bra under her white shirt for a subtle, but sexy peek-a-boo effect.
It’s been reported that Lady Gaga will be appearing with Bradley Cooper in a remake of A Star is Born. This was the 1954 musical that scored the leading lady Judy Garland an Oscar nomination. (Garland lost out to Grace Kelly.) It’s also been reported that Lady Gaga will create new music specifically for this film. The expected release date is September 28, 2018, which seems like a long time away but that’s how Hollywood rolls these days. Some studios have their slate scheduled up until 2022. One thing is for sure, when it does finally come out, it seems like Lady Gaga will have her shot at an Oscar nomination as well.
1. Stefani Germanotta, The One And Only
We thought we’d end the article with this adorable photo of a young Lady Gaga because she wasn’t always so racy. In fact, she actually looks fairly wholesome and natural in this photo, which is a sweet change of pace. Adorbs!
Lady Gaga is undoubtedly one of the most successful singers today. She is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. She has won six Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, and one Golden Globe. She’s become a fashion icon, receiving a Fashion Icon Lifetime Achievement Award from the CFDA. (Guys, she received a lifetime achievement award before 31!) In Time’s 2013 poll, she was named the most influential person of the past ten years. Oh, and her half time show was the most viewed musical event in history – the most viewed musical event… ever.
Long story short, Lady Gaga is outrageously successful. But, it wasn’t always that way. Lady Gaga worked hard and remained persistent to get to where she is now. And in the meantime, she was never above slinging drinks or dancing for rent money. While her songs, her voice, her clothing, and her empowering message may all be things we love, it’s her work ethic that is really her best quality.
We love the Lady Gaga of 2017 and we especially love the Stefani Germanotta of 2008.