Aspiring space chanteuse and pasta bloat victim Lady Gaga will soon be schooling residents in drought-stricken California on the not-so-mysterious ways of home water conservation in a recently filmed public service announcement.


So how’d the aggressively idiosyncratic pop star manage to become, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, “the new face of drought awareness?”

Long story short, it's because she was allowed to shoot a music video at Hearst Castle, emptied swimming pools and all.

Towering above California’s Central Coast roughly equidistant between Los Angeles and San Francisco, legendary publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst's absolutely bonkers San Simeon estate —a National Historic Landmark, the Mediterranean Revival-style mansion and its expansive grounds are operated as a park by the state of California — isn’t exactly the kind of place that you can just swoop into with a 100-person film crew for a couple of days and take over the joint. It’s nearly impossible given that when the Hearst Corporation bestowed the art-filled mansion to the state in the late 1950s, the Deed of Gift explicitly prohibited commercial shooting on the grounds of the estate. And park officials have been respectful of that with a small number of exceptions.

“We’ve turned down every single thing. We have never allowed a commercial shoot. The general rule has been ‘no,’” longtime Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation board member Remar Sutton tells the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

In exchange for her “big deal” shoot on the grounds of one of America’s most spectacular historic properties, Gaga donated a quarter of a million dollars to the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation on top of a mandatory $22,000 special events fee. Any additional expenses incurred during the production by the state will be reimbursed by Team Gaga.

Neptune pool at the Hearst estate

And since a music video filmed at Hearst Castle just wouldn’t be complete without a prominent appearance from the famed Neptune Pool, Gaga paid to have the leaky, statuary-flanked swimming pool — drained since January due to California's historic drought — refilled from an on-site irrigation storage facility. The pool will be drained again after the shoot and the water transferred back to the storage facility to be used for irrigation. The tab for that will, once again, be picked up by Gaga.

Part of Gaga's $250,000 donation to the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation will be used to repair cracks in the aging pool which, when filled, was leaking up to 5,000 gallons of water daily. An additional $25,000 donated by Gaga is being used to underwrite a water supply study in the nearby town of Cambria, according to the Times.

And don’t forget the water conservation PSA that will also be filmed alongside a preservation-minded promo video for the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation. Because if anyone can get the youngins' interested in historic preservation and/or saving water, the lady in the meat dress with 5 bajillion Twitter followers can do it.

The video filmed at Hearst Castle is for Lady Gaga's upcoming single, “G.U.Y.” In addition to the marble-lined Neptune pool and equally opulent indoor Roman Pool, the Lady Gaga co-directed shoot also involved “spray-painted plastic swans, fake flowers and a giant-plastered seashell” along with a gaggle of Real Housewives, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The shoot took place in the evening and during periods of low attendance as to not interfer with regularly scheduled public tours of the castle. Perched atop Enchanted Hill in a sparsely populated stretch of San Luis Obispo County, the storied estate attracts about 1 million visitors a year.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a man who is no stranger to pop star romances bad or otherwise, was smitten with Gaga’s preservation- and conservation-minded actions at the Hearst Castle. He wrote her a personal note of thanks:

I want to personally thank you for the aide and assistance you are providing to Hearst Castle, the communities surrounding San Simeon and the state as a whole. The state is experiencing a historic drought which threatens our farms, our communities and increases fire danger in both urban and rural areas. I’ve called on all Californians to conserve water in every way possible and the assistance you are providing will aide in that effort. I hope you have a memorable time at San Simeon and wish you every future success.

Good on Gaga.

Via [THR], [L.A. Times], [San Luis Obispo Chronicle]

Neptune pool photo: Averain/Flickr

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Lady Gaga's latest do-gooding gig: California drought spokeswoman
Lady Gaga films a water conservation PSA after filming a music video in the drought-affected swimming pools at California's Hearst Castle.