Trying to describe this man is like trying to describe the Tooth Fairy. He has the tannest skin, bluest eyes and snuggest zebra pants. Jewels, ribbons, scarves and patterns amplify every inch of him, precision and abandon meeting somewhere between his impeccably curled mustache and the “Sex Cymbal” strapped to his back (not to mention the plastic necktie he made so he can wear his goldfish).
Sir Gaga has spent a dozen years clubbing up and down the Boulevard like it’s his job, to the point where he’s practically deaf. In return for his staggering dedication and style, he’s one of the most recognized and photographed characters in Vegas. We know his face, but the man behind the party animal is a mystery. So I devote a Saturday to getting under Sir Gaga’s pearl/lace/rhinestone hat to a spritely guy named Gary Fisher.
Gary is less tan. His eyes are brown, not blue. When we meet for coffee he wears khakis, an argyle sweater and a single scarf. Gary shows me hundreds of the thousands of photos his alter ego has taken with celebrities, models, porn stars and tourists drawn to Sir Gaga’s whimsy. The archive helps him avoid repeat outfits. He’s not afraid to rock women’s clothing if it’s fabulous, and he embellishes with everything from magazine clippings to wall clocks. “I like to set the trends,” he says. “I’m not a follower.”
He tells me that after earning a degree in archaeology and anthropology at Cal State Northridge, he studied design at UCLA and worked for an architect before moving to the cosmetics industry. In Vegas, he’s made a living as an actor and avant-garde fashion designer for his own label, Zantar Design Concepts (a cloak of sexy bras; custom 3D neckties for such clients as Stevie Wonder and Sylvester Stallone). By his tally, he’s appeared in 66 films, 32 TV shows and 20 commercials, playing everything from a one-eyed prisoner to an alien cult member. If a movie is shot here, Gary is somewhere in the frame.
As Sir Gaga, he’s always in the spotlight. At 10:30 p.m. we head to Tryst amid rampant gasps of delight, fist-bumps and photo requests. Sir Gaga doesn’t charge, but he does have rules: Purses and cocktails are not allowed in the shot; cameras must be held vertical for full effect; if he poses with you then he expects the same courtesy. Tryst to Surrender to XS, doormen wave us immediately to the VIP entrance, greeting Sir Gaga with genuine affection. It’s no surprise once you see the reaction he gets. Hot blondes to beefy bros, clubgoers love him. They invite him to their tables and offer him copious booze. He stays only a minute or so, and though he enjoys an occasional “sissy drink,” he keeps it classy in that department, too.
By 2 a.m. we’re in an XS cabana with Yeah-Yeah from The Sandlot, a hipster pimp and a bachelor party of sweet nerds (and the women drinking their vodka). Sir Gaga charms them all. He often lines his pockets with silk panties so he can whip them out like handkerchiefs and make people laugh. He sweats under the weight of his grin-inducing getups, stopping for anyone who wants a photo. Whatever validation he gets, he tirelessly gives joy—priceless mementos of how bananas visitors want Las Vegas to be. I think that’s why venues treat him like Michael Phelps.
I ask where his energy comes from. Gary says he doesn’t sleep much. When he does, he dreams of Sir Gaga’s next adventure. “One night he’s a rock star. Next night he’s a wild animal with his animal prints. Another time he’s a Popsicle with his bright pastel colors,” Gary muses. Somewhere, Liberace is beaming.