Straddling a midnight blue ball under her crotch and cupping her breasts against a collage of Botticelli’s’ The Birth of Venus, the diva of pop emerges in yet another avatar on her new album cover. But in spite of all the fuss and fanfare, the flamboyant launch party among Jeff Koons sculptures and Maria Abramovic videos, Artpop has plummeted the Billboard charts. While critics have all but trashed the lead single, and The Guardian went as far as to call it a ridiculous glam-rock song given a techno makeover, I love Applause because I love Lady Gaga. I love the multiple personas, the outlandish hair and freakish eyeliner, the burlesque wardrobe and surreal shoes. But I have to admit, it’s her that I love, not so much her music. To me, she is the quintessential avant-gardist, the ultimate satirist, a walking performance artist, a drag queen and a drama queen. But most of all, it’s her humanity that I love, her oddity, her fragility and her cry for unconditional acceptance. That’s what I applaud.