While the rest of the world ridiculed Lady Gaga for smoking pot on stage in Amsterdam, marijuana legalization activists were cheering her on as their latest poster girl.
At noon Monday, about a dozen activists gathered on the steps of Manhattan's City Hall to call for the resignation of Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, who recently ranted against Lady Gaga and called her a slut for using marijuana.
"We have to understand that there’s a tremendous influence with our youth, which I didn’t have as a youth. And there’s the influence right there. Stop glorifying the drug use," the 81-year-old politician said last week. "There’s Gaga. Here’s this … this … I would call her a slut. This slut is influencing many, many children." (Meanwhile Gaga has spoken out about how marijuana helped her cut down on drinking and improve her career.)
"Lady Gaga is not Staten Island's problem! Lady Gaga is not Staten Island's problem!" the protesters chanted for a lone local news camera. "No to Molinaro! Yes To Lady Gaga! No To Molinaro! Yes to Lady Gaga!" they went on.
These demonstrators weren't exactly the sequin-clad 14-year-olds you'd expect to see at one of her concerts.
Aron Kay is perhaps the world's most famous pie-in-the-face thrower. Kay was active in the free-speech and anti-War Yippie youth movement of the late 1960s, and has been pieing politicians for the last forty or so years. The Yippies are credited with inventing the idea of throwing pies in the faces of politicians, and Kay is credited with being the most active pie thrower. He still maintains a website called PieMan.org. Today, he's an advocate for legalizing marijuana.
"Who the hell is Molinaro to judge Lady Gaga?" he said. "He's freaking out because she's a culture hero among kids."
"I've been smoking pot since I was 16 years old. Pot helps me get around," he explained. "Pharmaceuticals don't cut it for me. I have arthritis and a bad back.
Kay might not know all the words to "Just Dance," but he appreciates what Lady Gaga stands for: "I have different culture heros, it's a different generation. She's a culture hero for the youth of today."
Arlene Williams is known among legalization activists as "The Ganga Granny." She's in her late 70s, and a survivor of Stage 3 breast cancer who used marijuana to get through chemo. She was in surgery for four and a half hours on Thursday, but she still made the lengthy trek down here from her Upper East Side apartment.
She noted that according to Molinaro, she'd be a "slut," too: "I had to use cannabis and it saved my life."
Williams wishes more marijuana users would become activists. "I had hoped for a bigger turnout today, but I don't expect so many people to turn out for this. Legal or not, they're going to smoke no matter what," she said. "That's been going on forever. My war cry is, come out of your smoke-filled closets!"
Molinaro is a Gaga fan. "It took me a while to get used to her, but I think she's got great marketing ability, and she's original and different," she said. "That's what Mr. Molinaro couldn't handle." (Her favorite song is "Born This Way.")
Laura Notini, 24, is perhaps a more expected Gaga fan. She's a director of New York's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, as well as for the organization's new women's alliance. She's glad to see a female celebrity advocating for marijuana.
"Lady Gaga has recently come out to say that marijuana was effective in combatting her eating disorders, which is something that a lot of young women in this country struggle with." she said. "That's not something that should have you labeled in this sexist, disgusting way."
She hopes that Gaga's words have a domino effect: "There are a lot of people who have yet to come out of the cannabis closet, so to speak, and her move in doing so is quite admirable."
She continued, "Women are somewhat underrepresented in this community, but hey, women ended Prohibition of alcohol."