Lady Gaga: Straight, No Chaser

We observe Gaga in her natural habitat, with a good bottle of whiskey, in Bigger Than the Sound.

Lady Gaga is sitting down, which is probably a good thing, considering she's wearing 6-inch heels and has spent roughly seven hours drinking whiskey with dudes who look like they were roadies for Bang Tango.

Drinking wasn't the only thing she did, of course. She also danced, vamped, sang, bled and underwent more costume changes than Evander Berry Wall — all over the span of one very long day on one very big soundstage in New York City. I'm not allowed to write about exactly what she was shooting (at least not yet), but suffice it to say, Gaga certainly deserved a few minutes of rest. Especially since she had spent the first part of the day filming a guest appearance on "The View," wearing an outfit that could only be described as "houndstooth overdrive."

And yet, throughout the day, as the top-secret shoot went on and on, I never heard her complain — not even close. At one point, during a performance setup, when the director asked if she'd be willing to film another take, she joked, "My voice can only last for another hour and a half ... the rest of me can go all night."

Everyone laughed, and not just because it was a funny line. There was an air of astonishment mixed in too. Simply put, no one seemed to believe that a star of this caliber would be this willing to work. And then work some more.

While it was certainly amazing to watch Gaga come to life when the camera was rolling, her work ethic isn't exactly breaking news. In a way, it was even more fascinating to observe her in the moments when it wasn't. Last year, I followed her every step at the Video Music Awards and discovered that, beneath the 35 pounds of Argentinean beef, she was actually a pretty normal person. That was only amplified Monday, on this soundstage in New York, in the rare moments she wasn't wowing everyone in attendance. Surrounded by her closest friends — all of whom were extras in the shoot, and some of whom came dressed in their Steel Panther finery — she was decidedly down-to-earth. Shockingly average, even.

She cracked jokes, held hands, poured drinks. She danced and cooed with her old friend Lady Starlight while "Heavy Metal Lover," a standout track on her Born This Way album, blared overhead. She whooped for joy whenever someone she hadn't seen in a while (and given her schedule, that was pretty much everybody) appeared on set. In fact, she seemed very much like every 25-year-old you'd meet, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Getting to be a fly on the wall is certainly one of the perks of this job; it allows you to see the mega-famous at their least guarded — for better or (as is sometimes the case) much worse. But it's the few instances I've been able to hover around Gaga's inner circle that remain the most revelatory, mostly because, as I wrote last year, her public persona is somewhere along the lines of "a pneumatic lion tamer with a penchant for creative haberdashery, or a fire-breathing neo-Shiva in sunglasses." To see her unwind with her pals, well, let's just say it's the kind of thing you don't forget, mostly because it's the most normal thing imaginable. Which, given pretty much everything you think you know about her, is downright unimaginable.

So while I can't tell you what I watched being filmed, I can tell you that Lady Gaga enjoys Jameson and has excellent comedic timing. And that told me more about her than any of her videos ever could. To a certain extent, we all think we know who Gaga is, even if that's not really the case. At ease, with a glass of strong booze, enveloped by her confidants — that's the girl few of us get to meet, which is a shame. She seems like a really fun person to hang out with.

What do you imagine Lady Gaga is like behind the scenes? Let us know in the comments!