NEW YORK (AFP) – Animal rights activists stuck a fork in Lady Gaga's meat dress Tuesday but supporters rallied around the bizarre singer, saying her outfit was absolutely sizzling.
The professional provocateur upstaged the MTV music video awards late Sunday not just by walking away with eight prizes, but taking that walk in enormous shoes and a nifty dress made entirely of raw steak.
Now Lady Gaga, whose "Bad Romance" hit swept the awards, stands accused of bad taste.
"Lady Gaga has a hard time being 'over the top,'" said People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "Someone should whisper in her ear that there are more people upset by butchery than impressed by it."
"Meat is the decomposing flesh of an abused animal who didn't want to die, and after time spent under the TV lights, it would smell like the rotting flesh that it is and likely be crawling in maggots."
The singer is known for her theatrical sartorial taste so it was no surprise when she shuffled awkwardly across the MTV stage in Los Angeles in what appeared to television viewers to be simply an uncomfortable and oversized pair of boots bound in string.
The only reference Lady Gaga made to what she was wearing was a mysterious comment while collecting her Video of the Year gong about handing her "meat purse" to '80s icon Cher.
The purse, it turned out, really was a big chunk of meat -- cheap cuts and trimmings, not sirloin, according to butchers. And so was her hat.
Lady Gaga explained later that the fleshy look -- which she repeats with a meat swimming suit on the October cover of Vogue Hommes in Japan -- "has many interpretations."
The most common theory is that her steak-powered statement referenced her support for gays in the US military and opposition to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the ranks.
"Well, it is certainly no disrespect to anyone that is vegan or vegetarian," she told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who is a vegan.
"If we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones. And I am not a piece of meat."
Whatever it meant, the stunt ensured Lady Gaga's continued notoriety -- and a long menu of meaty jokes.
"She's Lady Tartare in this moo-moo!" screamed the New York Daily News. "Gaga in all her 'gory'" punned the rival New York Post.
And far from everyone felt disgusted.
Designer Franc Fernandez proudly posted pictures of the project on his website, http://francfernandez.blogspot.com, and fans congratulated him on his workmanship.
"You are a cut above the rest," one wrote on the blog.
Cher, who certainly got close enough to know whether there were really maggots, also applauded the skirt steak.
"The way it was cut and fitted to her body was AMAZING! Meat purse was genius! As Art piece it was astonishing! No moral Judgment!" tweeted the singer.
Rich Hanley, professor of communications at Quinnipiac University, said Lady Gaga showed perfect media savvy in how she unveiled her stunt -- showing up in the attention-grabbing outfit, but not talking about it.
"If she'd said 'look at me, I'm wearing meat,' it would have destroyed any build up in the eco system of the web," Hanley said. "You just let Facebook and Twitter do the heavy lifting for you."
"It shows how high the bar is -- or how low the bar is -- in this media environment," he said.