Outside the Consol Energy Center Sunday night, you stood out if you didn't stand out.
In the crowd of people waiting to be admitted to the Lady Gaga concert, those wearing jeans and T-shirts were the strange ones. Sequins, spandex, cigarette sunglasses, lace, leather, tutus, wigs and bows, heels and bubbles, soda cans and fishnets -- that's what you wear to a Lady Gaga concert.
Lady Gaga's fans, or as she calls them, her little monsters, came out in full costume for the pop sensation's premiere performance in Pittsburgh, and it looked more like Halloween than the day before Labor Day outside the Uptown arena.
The singer is known as much for her songs, like "Paparazzi," "Bad Romance," and "Poker Face," as for her outrageous ensembles, like a gown orbited by plastic rings, a dress made entirely of plastic bubbles and gravity-defying heels.
As she tours around the country, her fans have arrived at her shows wearing their best Lady Gaga-imitation costumes in homage to her music videos, her award show performances or her photo shoots.
Even Lady Gaga's grandmother cannot believe the fandom her granddaughter (real name: Stefani Germanotta) has inspired, according to Janie Husek, who said she is friends with the grandmother, Ronnie Bissett of Glen Dale, W.Va., a town close to Shadyside, Ohio, where Ms. Husek lives.
Ms. Husek, who did stand out in her T-shirt and jeans, was running around taking pictures of fans in their costumes.
Paul and Ronnie Bissett were attending the Pittsburgh show, she said, but she wanted to take enough photos of the fans to make them a scrapbook.
"I just want them to see how much everyone loves their granddaughter," she said.
So, out of the thousands of fans who wore their Lady Gaga finest, a few for the scrapbook:
• Alexandra Tkach, 15, of West Mifflin, didn't have a ticket for the concert, but she did have high heels, spandex leggings, a yellow wig and gloves. She was walking around the sidewalks of Consol with her sister and her friends, holding a cup filled with hot tea.
"We didn't have tickets," she said. "We're supporting Gaga."
• Carnegie Mellon University student Angelina Gonzalez, and University of Pittsburgh student Eric Langberg, both 20, are big Lady Gaga fans, to put it lightly.
"Obsessed is a good word to use," Mr. Langberg said.
They did a service project putting together hygiene kits for homeless youth, and Virgin Mobile gave them two free Lady Gaga tickets for it.
Ms. Gonzalez wore fishnet stockings and a dress made completely out of bubble wrap that she had taped around herself.
"I work at a place where we get a lot of packing material, so I took a little of it," she said.
A dress made completely out of packing material makes sitting down loud and difficult, but they had standing-area tickets, and on the bus ride from Oakland, they said they stood.
"Going to the bathroom is not easy to do," she said.
Standing next to her, Mr. Langberg wore regular clothes but had wrapped himself in yellow caution tape in imitation of Lady Gaga's "Telephone" video.
• Down the line of ticket holders, Ashley Kesler, 21, of Ford City, and Nathan Bagoly, 21, of Kittanning, were wearing fangs. Ms. Kesler, apologizing for her temporary lisp, said she had gone shopping at a Halloween store to complete the rest of her costume: boots and spandex, a wig and a bow made out of hair.
"I think that Lady Gaga just expresses herself in an excellent way, and just makes you not afraid to express yourself," she said.
After accidentally poking Mr. Bagoly with her shoulder spikes made out of duct tape, she added:
"I'm married with two kids, so I usually tone it down. This is not my usual look."
• It took three days for Katie DeWitt, 17, of the North Hills, to fashion her costume. The hard part was the red wig containing five Pepsi cans, each one wrapped with hair as though it were a curler.
"A lot of people are pretending not to take pictures of me on their phones," she said.
• Molly Shirey, 22, of Monroeville, wore gold heels, silver leggings, a cheetah leotard, pink vest and sunglasses with 14 cigarettes she had attached, a look Lady Gaga wears at the beginning of her "Telephone" video. Her friends wore lace pantyhose, high heels and had made bows out of their hair.
"We knew we couldn't come here looking normal," Ms. Shirey said.
• Edwina Akins, 66, loves Lady Gaga, and she promised her granddaughter, Emily Nucci, 15, that if she ever came to Pittsburgh, they would go. There they were, with Ms. Akins' normally white hair dyed pink.
"I didn't want to dress like a floozy, but I wanted to look cute, and thought, what looks cuter than pink hair?" she said.
• Cameras flashed as Paige Culnan, 21, of Berea, Ky., made her way to the Consol entrance. She wore a skin-toned leotard covered in 58 clear Christmas bulbs that looked like bubbles. The costume, an imitation of a look Lady Gaga has worn in concerts, took her about a week to make, she said.
"She really is an artist and she inspires people," she said.
• And the final picture, for the scrapbook: Nick Ingels, 17, of New Haven, W.V., wearing a mask made of mirrors and sequins that his stepmother, Dee Ingels, had designed for him.
"It's my own version of the 'Poker Face' mask," he said. Dozens of people stopped him as he made his way to the entrance of Consol, asking to take a picture with the man wearing a mirrored mask and a full body spandex suit.
His explanation for why Lady Gaga concerts inspire such extravagant costumes?
"The passion for it, the obsession for her."
Kaitlynn Riely: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1707. First Published September 6, 2010 4:00 AM