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Lee Strasberg

Lee Strasberg

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Lady Gaga wants you to know she is not a Method actor.

The 23-year-old ingenue from Yonkers, with hits like "Poker Face" and "Paparazzi," believes in cultivating what thespians call "theatrical truth."But while devotees use the exercises developed by the late acting coach Lee Strasberg and others to go deep into character and pull themselves out again, Gaga has made artifice her permanent home."Hated Lee Strasberg," Gaga says on her Web site, reminiscing about her days at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts."You create sensory scenarios for yourself," she explains.

"Like, I'm gonna feel a coffee cup right now, or feel the rain, and when I feel rain, I feel this way.

Then you go into that state and you stay there.

And then you have to learn in the classes how to get out of that state.""But that's what I don't do," she says.

"I'm in a permanent state of Gaga."The former Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, who says that Lady Gaga is "not a character" and who gets offended when someone uses her given name, is the most insistent of pop artists questioning the value of an old artistic standard: authenticity.And it's working.

Lady Gaga's first album, "The Fame," has produced three No.

1 singles: "LoveGame," "Just Dance" and "Poker Face."The balance between "real" and "fake" in pop music runs in cycles.

Rawness and spontaneity come into fashion, then formalism and glitz.

In fact, both extremes are always present, with some artists expressing emotions in unstudied ways, others adopting a mannered style, and most combining both approaches.The nature of authenticity has been debated by pop artists, fans and critics.

Lately, though, the split between "real" and "fake" has closed, with all of pop in a permanent state of Gaga.

This isn't because authenticity has been abandoned; for some artists, fake is what feels real.
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