The pop star emerged on the dark, empty stage wearing a loose black suit and T-shirt with slicked-back dark hair and a lit cigarette. As Calderone, Gaga then started into an emotional, near four-minute monologue about his tortured relationship with the pop star. "Lady Gaga, she left me," he started. "She said it always starts out good. ... She said I'm just like the last one."
Gaga's creative director, Laurieann Gibson, was coy when asked if Calderone would appear at the VMAs. "Will Jo be at the VMAs? Hmmm, I'm trying to book him. I'm talking to his manager now, so I'll keep you posted," she told MTV News correspondent Jim Cantiello.
After the monologue, Gaga found herself in more familiar territory -- sitting at the piano -- to start into a jazzy take on "Yoü and I." But that didn't last long, as the pop star soon joined a group of male backup dancers in black pants and dirty T-shirts as the tempo kicked up to the single version of the rock ballad that is currently burning up radio.
Mother Monster had another very big trick up her sleeve in the form of guest Brian May, the Queen guitarist who is featured on her most recent album, Born This Way. May tore into his solo with rock-star abandon while Gaga-as-Calderone climbed on top of the piano and began spraying beer on the crowd.
While Gaga was hesitant to talk about the performance beforehand, saying she wanted it to be a "surprise," she did subtly reveal that she might not be quite herself on the VMA stage, telling MTV News she's interested in "all the different people we can become or have become in the past."
"Our potential for the future and how do we in our minds sort of compartmentalize our different personalities," she said. "So that's something that I'm fascinated with right now. It's almost as if I'm reviewing my life as a play" ... a play she definitely brought to the VMA stage!
She also let us know that the inspiration for the performance came to her quickly -- much as it did for her already legendary blood-soaked take on "Paparazzi" in 2009. "It came as quickly as the last one did," Gaga said. "Any good performance flows out easily. If I have to think about it too much, something is wrong."
And the audience was stunned: The reaction shots during the performance were priceless. Katy Perry looked positively shocked (but in the best possible way), while Justin Bieber sat stone-faced, seemingly not able to really get what was going on.
As always with Gaga, it was all about the performance, so she was excited that VMA producers asked her to open the show after she told them her plans for the performance. "I was just really excited and I was really happy because they asked me after I told them what I wanted to do," Gaga told MTV News. "So it was even more exciting because I knew that it was based off the performance idea and MTV believing in me as an artist and they have, and I appreciate that, from the beginning. They always allowed me to do my version of pop music and not someone else's."