Exhausted Americans everywhere might be anxiously waiting to find out whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump won the presidency, but it appears Lady Gaga’s father is running a campaign of his own—to become the mascot for disappointing boomer parents everywhere.
Trump has long relished a public feud with Lady Gaga and recently made her, as my colleague Kevin Fallon put it, his “celebrity nemesis du jour” after she released a voting PSA and promoted her appearance at a Biden rally in Pennsylvania. The singer did not back down and delivered a rousing speech at the campaign event. But her father, who has donated thousands to Republican fundraisers and the president himself since last year, still appears to be riding the Trump train.
As the votes rolled in and lit up the TV maps across the country on Tuesday night, Joe Germanotta fired off a pair of odd, cryptic tweets that he appears to have since deleted. The first simply read “@realdonaldtrump 2020.” And the second? “You may have noticed my political and spiritual beliefs are different,” he wrote. “liberty and freedom of choice would not be political.”
Perhaps Papa Gaga was simply concerned about the widespread voter suppression and intimidation we’ve seen amid Trump’s re-election bid and wanted to give the president a piece of his mind. A charitable reader could certainly make such a case! But since last year, Germanotta has donated thousands to the National Republican Congressional Committee, WinRed, and Trump himself. So maybe the more natural read is correct: Despite his daughter’s campaign efforts and the bullying she herself has faced at the hands of the president’s campaign, Joe Germanotta might just have remained on Team Trump.
Even putting the presidential election aside, it appears Germanotta has had an... interesting year.
In February CNN reported that Germanotta had refused to pay more than $260,000 in rent and fees for his Art Bird & Whiskey Bar in Grand Central Terminal. His reason? Allegedly, dirty bathrooms, a rodent infestation, and too many homeless people had eroded his business since he bought the location in 2018, forcing him to lay off seven workers. “Some days, there are more homeless people down there than there is foot traffic in the early morning,” Germanotta told CNN, adding later, “The homeless guys are in there washing their hair in the sink. Imagine you’re a tourist and you walk in there and see that. You’d leave.”
Tim Minton, communications director for the MTA, countered that Grand Central “is a terrific place to do business... There is another business 40 feet away in a similar pavilion that is thriving.”
Just as the novel coronavirus pandemic began to shut down New York and its courts in March, the MTA began proceedings against Germanotta to secure the unpaid rent. Days later the entrepreneur shared a GoFundMe for another of his restaurants—Joanne Trattoria, which Lady Gaga partially owns—asking patrons and “fans” to help raise $50,000 to pay staff amid COVID-19 closures.
“Our amazing staff is made up of primarily hourly workers who depend on our payroll, and who overwhelmingly live paycheck to paycheck,” the page read, per Newsweek. “As our doors remain closed longer than anticipated, our staff is finding it increasingly difficult to finance the daily necessities to keep them healthy, like groceries and insurance costs – to say nothing of rent, utilities, and other recurring bills.”
The campaign claimed that Joanne Trattoria had laid off almost 30 workers. Today reported at the time that the page raised only $541 before backlash prompted Germanotta to shut it down. As critics noted, one would think that the entrepreneur who first brought Wi-Fi to hotel chains and father of a multi-millionaire could easily find the money to pay his workers himself.
Sources told Page Six that neither Lady Gaga nor her mother, Cynthia, were aware that Germanotta had been planning to create the page, and that the “idea would have been shot down before he even finished bringing it up.” (“[A]nd the worst part is,” the source added, “it’s her birthday!”)
“It was a stupid, embarrassing mistake,” another source told Page Six. “He saw other people getting into the spirit of giving and generosity and somehow thought that applied here. It had more to do with the spirit than a belief that he needed or deserved financial help to pass on to his employees. He was acting on impulse.”
Germanotta has since joined the hundreds of restaurant owners suing New York City over its ban on indoor dining.
The Trump drama, however, started over the weekend. As Lady Gaga rallied her Little Monsters behind Biden over the weekend, the Trump campaign responded with a disgruntled press release calling the singer an “anti-fracking activist.” (Translation: Eight years ago, she joined a group of 146 artists brought together by Yoko Ono to oppose fracking in New York state.)
But at the rally Monday, Gaga stayed on target, delivering a speech that met honks of approval from the rally’s drive-in audience: “To all the women and all the men with daughters and sisters and mothers, everybody, no matter how you identify, now is your chance to vote against Donald Trump, a man who believes his fame gives him the right to grab one of your daughters or sisters or mothers or wives by any part of their bodies,” she said. “Vote for Joe. He’s a good person. Thank you.”
Trump kicked off his own Monday rally by disparaging both Lady Gaga and Jon Bon Jovi, who performed at a Biden rally last month. “Lady Gaga is not too good,” he said. “I could tell you plenty of stories; I could tell you stories about Lady Gaga. I know a lot of stories about Lady Gaga.” (The real takeaway from that event, however, was just how grating it is to hear the president say the words “Laydee Gah-Gah.”)
What else can one say, as our nation wearily waits to find out which direction our collective nightmare is about to take? It appears Lady Gaga, like so many of her fans, might be in for an awkward, exhausting, infuriating Thanksgiving.