Fact Check

No Evidence Lady Gaga Held 'Slave Auction'-Themed Event in Germany

After performing a concert in Berlin in 2010, Gaga headed to a male-only hardcore sex club, where the photo was reportedly captured.

Published May 11, 2024

 (@QueenBarbDoja/X)
Image courtesy of @QueenBarbDoja/X
Claim:
A photo shows Lady Gaga holding a "slave auction"-themed event in Berlin.
Context

There is no evidence to support the claim that Lady Gaga hosted an event with a slave auction theme at the Berlin nightclub where the photo was taken. Contemporaneous accounts say she visited the club after performing at a concert.

A controversial image that has circulated online for years purportedly shows pop singer Lady Gaga hosting a "slave auction"-themed event in Berlin, with some partygoers allegedly wearing blackface.

In May 2024, a user on X shared the photo along with the claim that Gaga hosted the event, calling it "a horrifying display of racism and blackface where Gaga posed for photos with individuals who were dressed as slaves and also talked using AAVE the whole time."

In 2019, a user on X published the same photo, asserting that "in 2011, Lady Gaga hosted a gay slave auction in Berlin…She posed for cute pictures with the 'slaves' and talked in a Southern accent the whole night. whether the 'Slave auction' is true or not, your home girl posed happily beside 2 queens in blackface."

The photo has resurfaced online over the years, sparking outrage and calls for Gaga's cancellation. However, the image lacks context and is miscaptioned.

After performing a concert at the O2 World Berlin arena on May 11, 2010, Gaga, then 24, and her entourage reportedly visited the underground nightclub Berghain, which also hosts Lab.Oratory, a male-only and fetish-friendly hardcore sex club in its basement, where the photo was reportedly taken.

While some sources claimed the image originated from an event in 2011, other outlets have confirmed the party took place in May 2010.

Journalist Caitlin Moran covered Gaga's visit to the Berlin sex club for The Times. In her story, Moran, who accompanied the singer on her night out in the German capital, made no mention of a slave-auction theme at the club that night, or of seeing club-goers sporting blackface. Per Moran's article:

"You should come out with us tonight," she says, warmly. "Actually, I've never had a journalist come out with me, so you'd be the first. It's going to be fun. It's like an old sex club, in Berlin. Come party with Gaga!"

...

The club – the Lab.Oratory – is an industrial, maze-like building. To get to the dancefloor, you have to pass a series of tiny, cell-like booths, decked out with a selection of beds, bathtubs, hoists and chains.

...

The booth becomes by way of a shrine to her – between now and 4am, fully two-thirds of the club come over to pay obeisance to her: drag queens and tom girls and superfreaks, all acknowledging the current definitive pop-cultural salon keeper.

According to a May 2010 post from the celebrity-themed Livejournal page Oh No They Didn't, Gaga mingled with clubbers and posed for photos, including with two men wearing chocolate body paint:

A well-placed mole told us: "There's no VIP treatment and no guestlist so she was hanging out with all the semi-naked clubbers and drag queens.

"She was happy to pose for pictures with everyone, including two guys who had covered their faces in chocolate body paint.

"The club is like a sex dungeon in a basement and has a cult following, so what goes on inside tends to remain a closely-guarded secret."

Snopes reached out to Gaga's team, who did not immediately respond.

Gaga later revealed that her inspiration for the song "Scheiße" came from her experience, tweeting in 2011 that she "went to a dirty party in Berlin, and wrote Sheibe the next day. It's about wanting to be bad without permission." Interestingly, the German word "scheiße" translates to "s***."

Though some guests at the club apparently wore chocolate body paint that some online commenters suggested could be indicative of blackface, it's likely these individuals were not engaged in a "slave auction" hosted by Gaga. There is no evidence Gaga hosted such an event, only that she visited a sex club and was photographed with patrons. As such, we rate this claim "Miscaptioned."

Snopes has previously reported on Lady Gaga, including allegations that her college classmates created a Facebook page to insult her and rumors of her arrest for attacking Melania Trump online.

Sources

A.f. "Lady Gaga Racist: Spread The Message: Lady Gaga Is A Bigot." Lady Gaga Racist, 27 Aug. 2015, https://ladygagaracist.blogspot.com/2015/08/hello-my-name-is-antonio-fuentes.html.

"Berghain." Gagapedia, https://ladygaga.fandom.com/wiki/Berghain. Accessed 3 May 2024.

"Come Party with Lady Gaga (Caitlin Moran's Times Interview)." Nietzsche Said It Best, 22 May 2010, https://saiditbest.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/come-party-with-lady-gaga-caitlin-morans-times-interview/.

"Could Lady Gaga Be Cancelled for Blackface and a 'Slave Auction'?" Broke-Ass Stuart's Website, https://brokeassstuart.com/2021/01/04/could-lady-gaga-be-the-first-celebrity-cancelled-in-2021/. Accessed 3 May 2024.

Das, Amrita. "Fact Check: Is the Picture of Lady Gaga at a Berlin Party in 2011 Real? Berghain Event Explored." Sportskeeda, 19 Aug. 2023, https://www.sportskeeda.com/pop-culture/fact-check-is-picture-lady-gaga-berlin-party-2011-real-berghain-event-explored.

Deino, Daryl. "Lady Gaga: David Bowie Tribute Causes Controversy After Bowie 'Blackface' Photos Reappear On Twitter." The Inquisitr, 15 Feb. 2016, https://www.inquisitr.com/2799140/lady-gaga-david-bowie-tribute-causes-controversy-after-bowie-blackface-photos-reappear-on-twitter.

"Https://Twitter.Com/QueenBarbDoja/Status/1098663609348116480." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/QueenBarbDoja/status/1098663609348116480. Accessed 3 May 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/Styledinred/Status/1785760597742694875." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/styledinred/status/1785760597742694875. Accessed 3 May 2024.

"Lady Gaga and Pals Party down in Berlin Dungeon." Ohnotheydidnt, ohnotheydidnt, 2010, https://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/46835054.html.

Lady Gaga Dresses Gay Men in Slave "Blackface," Mainstream Media Silent. https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/09/lady_gaga_dresses_gay_men_in_slave_blackface_mainstream_media_silent.html. Accessed 3 May 2024.

May 11 - Laboratory Club, Berlin - 012 - Lady Gaga Photos - Gaga Pictures - Lady Gaga Photo Archive | Lady Gaga Photo Gallery. https://gagapictures.com/displayimage.php?album=1443&pid=52599. Accessed 3 May 2024.

"Sign the Petition." Change.Org, https://www.change.org/p/boycott-fx-and-advertisers-for-hiring-lady-gaga-after-blackface-controversy. Accessed 3 May 2024.

Nikki Dobrin is based in Los Angeles and has previously worked at The Walt Disney Company, as well as written and edited for People, USA Today and The Hill.