rock hall opens up about lady gaga's infamous meat dress

Lady Gaga's now-infamous meat dress sizzled when the pop diva stepped beneath the hot lights of L.A.'s Nokia Theatre for the MTV Music Awards on Sept. 12, 2010. That stunning premiere only marked the beginning of the dress's long trip to Cleveland, which ended on June 16 when it ultimately arrived for display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Fashioned entirely from cuts of raw meat, the dress's Cleveland debut was a rare event in every sense of the word. For the Rock Hall, however, the singular fashion statement spells pure pop culture gold.

"Lady Gaga puts this meat dress out there almost as a spectacle," says Todd Mesek, Rock Hall Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "It's an instant pop culture phenomenon, but what she's really trying to do is draw attention to herself and convey a message about standing up for your rights."

"Similarly, we're displaying the meat dress," adds Mesek, "which we know is like throwing meat to sharks -- the media -- and we know they're going to latch onto it."

To that end, more than 500 local, national and international news outlets have taken the bait and covered the story. Just like Gaga, Mesek intends to parlay this media feeding frenzy into a broader opportunity for the Rock Hall.

"Once we have their attention, we'll use it to tell them about the 'Women Who Rock' exhibit and educate people about Ma Rainey or Linda Ronstadt or some other female artist that really defined Rock and Roll."

Make no mistake, the dress is the very same one Gaga slid onto her slinky self some nine months ago, It will be on display through February 2012 as part of the "Women Who Rock" exhibit.

That's a tall order for a perishable product like raw steak. But don't worry – a team of professionals have carefully preserved the dress into a form of "beef jerky" for future generations of shock stars.

"There's no odor," assures Mesek. "It's actually very clean and it will last for a long, long time."

But if the dress is a figurative Yellow Brick Road to the Rock Hall, might it lead to points beyond? Absolutely.

"The opportunity is to use the dress as a catalyst and shed light on Cleveland," says Mesek, "to bring visitors to all the other assets and attractions that exist in this city."

Maybe Gaga's meat dress isn't so unpalatable after all.

Photo credit: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit for complete profile information.