netflix original documentary: lady gaga

Screenshot via Netflix/YouTube

How to recreate Netflix’s Lady Gaga-themed New York tour

Four miles, and so much Gaga.


Christine Friar


Posted on Sep 25, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 4:27 pm CDT

To support new documentary Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two, Netflix ran a double-decker bus tour of the singer’s biggest New York City landmarks on Friday. It had trivia, prizes, and an eclectic mix of people who shared one common goal: Learning more about our lord and savior Stefani Germanotta.

In case you haven’t seen the trailerFive Foot Two documents the months leading up to Lady Gaga‘s record-breaking Super Bowl halftime performance. It does a lot to humanize the pop star, whose meat dress-wearing, hatching-out-of-an-egg-on-the-red-carpet persona admittedly hasn’t been the most accessible over the years. In the doc we get to see her in jorts at her grandma’s house, dealing with chronic body pain, and checking the aisles of a Walmart for her new CD—in other words, she’s ready to be relatable.

So to give fans and press an extra peek behind the curtain (and into the artist’s life), the streaming service hosted two tours around Manhattan Friday afternoon. Two red New York City sightseeing buses were wrapped in full Lady Gaga promotional material, and on the top floor were a clutch of people decked out in pink Joanne cowboy hats, and applying temporary tattoos of the singer’s face to each other’s arms. As hits like “Poker Face” and “Born This Way” blared through the speakers, a tour guide pointed out formative landmarks from the singer’s career. It’s truly wild that in a four-mile radius, you’re able to track nearly everything from her birth to her current place of residence.

If you’re interested in recreating this tour, here’s a stop-by-stop recap of the Lady Gaga New York experience:

  1. Washington Square Park: This park is right in the middle of New York University’s campus, and since Gaga attended the school before dropping out to pursue her music career, it’s the perfect jumping-off point. Her dorm was a building called Third North.
  2. The Bitter End: A dive bar and venue where she played some of her earliest shows. NYU alums on the bus said they remembered seeing posters for these performances taped up around campus. It was around this time in her career that she started going by the moniker Lady Gaga—a nod to the Queen song “Radio Gaga.” The singer returned to the venue in 2016 as part of her Dive Bar tour, eventually moving to the roof to sing as fans mobbed the street outside.
  3. Arlene’s Grocery: Another Lower East Side dive bar where the singer honed her live show.
  4. Lady Gaga’s old apartment (176 Stanton Street): This is a one-bedroom, one-bathroom rent-stabilized (oooh) apartment that the singer rented for $2,000 a month while she was working as a songwriter. Before she recorded songs of her own for any major labels, she apprenticed by writing music for people like Britney Spears, the Pussycat Dolls, and New Kids On the Block.
  5. Electric Lady Sound Studios: The iconic recording studio founded by the late Jimi Hendrix still stands in its Greenwich Village location and has hosted recording sessions for Amy Winehouse, John Lennon, Erykah Badu, the Strokes, the Roots, as well as—you guessed it—Lady Gaga. In the documentary she’s seen exiting the studio to a crowd of excited fans.
  6. Lee Strasberg Theater Institute: This is an academic building Gaga would have frequented during her time at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. While she was there she studied acting—specifically method acting, which encourages you to inhabit your character even when you’re offstage.
  7. Rockefeller Center: This group of buildings has hosted a number of Lady Gaga memories—whether it’s Studio 8H from her SNL appearances, the Plaza where she’s performed during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, or Radio City Music Hall where she’s performed with Tony Bennett.
  8. Lady Gaga’s current apartment (40 Central Park South): The singer lives in a building that overlooks Central Park from its southernmost side, and it’s apparently popular among celebrities. Lance Armstrong and Liza Minelli have both lived there too. Gaga’s apartment is a duplex, and can only be entered through a keyed elevator. Plus the documentary corroborates: great views.
  9. Lincoln Center/Jazz at Lincoln Center: Another pair of venues where the singer has given some career milestone performances with Tony Bennett.
  10. Joanne Trattoria: This wasn’t the last stop on our tour (we circled back around to Columbus Circle because it’s a more central drop-off point), but if you’re recreating the tour I’d recommend ending here. Gaga’s parents own a family-style Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side named for the same late aunt as the pop star’s most recent album. We were given little desserts on the bus, and after the tour ended I went inside to try the Joanne spaghetti and meatball. All were delightful if not a little overpriced, but it was worth the expense just to say “the Joanne” in a restaurant called Joanne after taking a tour themed off of a documentary about… Joanne.

And that was it! It’s an easy loop to achieve over the course of the afternoon, you learn a lot about the pop star, and you inadvertently end up seeing some of the prettiest parts of Manhattan as you go.

Well played, Netflix.

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*First Published: Sep 25, 2017, 5:00 am CDT