Lady Gaga launches 'Artpop' at VIP New York party

NEW YORK CITY - Multi-platinum selling diva Lady Gaga electrified several thousand handpicked groupies with a live performance at the Brooklyn docks, kicking off the global release Monday of her third album.

Strutting and writhing across the stage dressed in a white leotard and white whig, Gaga late Sunday performed tracks from her new album "Artpop," launched in collaboration with US artist Jeff Koons.

Fans in fishnets, men in sequined drag and lipstick, girls in stilettos, gay men in platforms, older men in kilts and the odd grandmother, the crowd was as eclectic as they were die-hard Gaga fans, mobbing her with cell phone cameras and dancing madly.

"Artpop" signals a return to the limelight for Stefani Germanotta, the 27-year-old privately educated New Yorker best known as Lady Gaga, after she was forced to tone down her wall-to-wall engagements to undergo hip surgery.

She has collaborated with several world famous contemporary artists, including Koons, who portrayed her as a post-modern Botticellian Venus for the album artwork.

"I just want 11/11 to be a time for us all to really open our minds and project a brand-new future in communication, in technology, in visual art," Gaga told a packed press conference ahead of the VIP launch party, in reference to the date.

"Artpop" is a return to the danceable synthpop of Gaga's massively successful 2008 debut album "The Fame" after she experimented with other styles on her second album, "Born This Way."

Gaga established her reputation with chart-topping songs and outlandish costumes, and has surrounded herself with a constant media buzz.

Critics however gave the hotly-anticipated new album only lukewarm reception.

Even though some tired audience members drifted away from the event before it was over, most fans seemed smitten.

Gaga sang "Aura" in front of Koons' enormous white statue of her sitting naked, legs splayed, and holding a giant blue ball in front of her crotch.

She sashayed through the room to the stage and powered through the explicit lyrics to "Sex Dreams," then made an emotional dedication to Koons.

Gaga has a fight on her hands to retain her "Queen of Pop" crown after Katy Perry supplanted her as most followed person on Twitter, and with a twerking Miley Cyrus stealing the headlines.

Before assembled journalists Gaga took off in a custom-made flying dress to proclaim a new cultural revolution.

She strapped into the fly suit and buckled her helmet wearing a cut-out black leotard and knee-high sparkly white stiletto boots. She then took off and propelled through the air.

"I think that anytime you have a voice in the world and you're a public figure if you have the potential to start a revolution I feel it is your duty to do so," she said.

Gaga called the battery-operated flying dress Volantis, and an "early prototype" for what she said could be a new dawn in travel.

She presented the device as part philosophy, part science, and part metaphor for herself, but was vague on what use it could ever have.

But instead of gliding from the back of a Brooklyn warehouse to a small platform in front of the cameras, Gaga hovered for a few seconds several times. The device came to juddering halts, and she walked the last few steps towards the podium.

"Most importantly today we just wanted you to feel inspired," she said.

Unveiling a smartphone app that accompanies the album, she finished by saying: "I hope today is a change in pop culture."

A dashing Koons, kitted out in an elegant midnight blue Christian Dior suit, explained why he agreed to work with Gaga.

"I think she's really a very, very generous person. As human beings we all have a freedom of gesture and it's whether we exercise it or not," he told AFP at the launch party.

"Gaga's exercising it and is trying to communicate to her fans that they can exercise that freedom too and so as an artist that's what I'm involved with also so I think we appreciate that in each other."