Lady Gaga's new video Bad Romance confirms my suspicions that she's transforming herself into a poor man's Leigh Bowery. Her repertoire of PVC catsuits, blindfolds, and clubfooted heels clearly harken back to the work of the legendary performance artist. I don't disapprove of her choice of role models-in fact, I hope she moves on to Divine next-but her imitation drains the power and meaning from Bowery's original work. Leigh Bowery's costumess were spectacular and grotesue, but more importantly, they signalled his refusal to assimilate or adopt an acceptable gender identity. Lady Gaga appropriates his look without taking any risks; as a thin, generic blonde (whose videos always include bland hetero love interests), she can try on transgressive personas without actually threatening established cultural hierarchies. Bowery died in 1994 because the government allowed AIDS to ravage the country unchecked. For him, the act of putting on a catsuit took genuine courage; for Lady Gaga, it's just opportunism.