Divas come alive in new video releases

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Margaret Cho. – Photo: Courtesy


From ''Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour.'' – Photo: Courtesy

We love our divas. Especially when they perform for us.

'Cho Dependent'

Filmed in December 2010 at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Margaret Cho's latest concert doc "Cho Dependent" combines her celebrated stand-up comedy/monologist style with music. Cho takes the audience on another of her characteristically side-splitting (and occasionally gross) journeys, beginning with the time she spent as a competitor on "Dancing with the Stars." Stressing the difficulty of the process, Cho delivers plenty of laughs, telling tales of her battle with homophobic Bristol Palin and her evil mother Sarah and her pronounced camel toe. She also reveals that her own mother (who often emitted a low-pitched moan of dread that only Margaret could detect) was at every show and the olive oil trick that she learned.

Cho also covers Provincetown, spending her money with LGBT businesses, what it's like to live in suburban Atlanta, attending Bonnaroo (and the detailed feces routine that it entailed), her family (including her strong bond with her grandfather), boyfriends, sexting, online sex and addictions. She performs a priceless Cyndi Lauper imitation.

The "Cho Dependent" tour was one of the star's gayest shows ever. Identifying as a member of the LGBT community as well as being a fag hag, Cho cemented her standing as a champion of queer community causes. The addition of music, with Cho performing the songs "I'm Sorry" (about a former crush who killed his wife), "My Puss" (a duet with gay comedian John Roberts, in which they sing as their respective mothers), "Your Dick" (on which she was joined by the Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus) and "No Offense" (performed as the encore) were pleasant additions to the show.

'Lady Gaga presents The Monster Ball Tour'

The concert DVD "Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour," filmed in early 2011, opens with black-and-white pre-concert footage a la "Truth or Dare," shot in a Lower East Side bodega and backstage at Madison Square Garden. Gaga gets emotional in front of the make-up mirror, saying that she still feels like "a fuckin' loser high school kid." But like Dorothy leaving Kansas, Gaga's concert stage Oz is in living color.

Lady Gaga's journey to the Monster Ball involves a broken-down car, an F train and a stroll through Central Park to get to the last of her five MSG shows. It also features elaborate sets (a subway car, a broken-down Rolls Royce with a keyboard under its hood, a fame monster) and almost a dozen costume changes, including killer shoulder pads; a Latex nun getup and the moving dress and headpiece for "So Happy I Could Die"; and a spark-firing brassiere and panties for "Paparazzi," among others.

There is lots of posing and strutting, as well as laughable but well-meaning dialogue. Lady Gaga's potty mouth earns her a parental advisory sticker. Her gratitude to her Little Monster fans is maybe a little too effusive, bordering on disingenuous. There's more than a bit of ego in her storytelling, which come off as the kind of showbiz war stories you'd expect from someone who's been at it far longer than La Gaga. But it's obvious that her fans (including Liza Minnelli and Marisa Tomei, who get shout-outs) worship her. When the Lady says jump, the Little Monsters ask, "How high?"

Unlike Donna Summer, who turned her back on the gay following that made her career in favor of "capital H-I-M.," Lady Gaga's devotion to her LGBT fans seems sincere and boundless. Throughout the show, she celebrates her Pride with infectious enthusiasm.

And there's real talent underneath all the distractions. Her vocals are never canned like Britney's or Fergie's. And when she sat at the piano for a couple of tunes, including the song "Speechless," one could glimpse her potential. DVD bonus content includes "Backstage at The Monster Ball," a photo gallery and more.

And don't forget about:

Adele's DVD/CD set "Live at the Royal Albert Hall" is almost too good to be true. A consummate professional,  Adele is so at ease on stage you'd think she was born there. The true story behind "Turning Tables" is worth the price of admission.

"Get Along" from lesbian twin sisters Tegan and Sara contains a 15-track live album as well as a DVD consisting of three short films. "States" by Danny O'Malley combines summer 2010 tour footage with interviews and more. Elinor Svoboda's "India" follows Tegan and Sara on their first concert tour of the country. "For The Most Part" by Salazar was filmed during two days of shows in Vancouver, B.C.

"VH1 Storytellers: Dixie Chicks" is a live DVD containing the full VH1 program performed by the outspoken country trio, along with previously unseen performances. 

The deluxe two-DVD concert film set "Beyonce: Live at Roseland-Elements of 4," features 26 live songs and a DVD anthology of videos from Beyonce's "4" disc.

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