When Lady Gaga launches her hotly anticipated "Born This Way Ball" world tour Friday on what is expected to be an elaborate castle-like stage, fans in Asia will be the first to see it.
The singer kicks off her travels with sold-out shows from South Korea to Singapore in a striking upgrade of her Asia itinerary over a previous tour that included only Japan. Western pop stars are increasingly looking to the upwardly mobile region in search of new markets while financial malaise continues to afflict parts of the West — and Asian fans are ecstatic.
However, in South Korea, conservative groups complained that Lady Gaga's lyrics and costumes were too sexually provocative and authorities barred fans under the age of 18 from attending her gig at Seoul's Olympic Stadium.
Gaga will also perform in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Manila and Bangkok, but a senior official in Indonesia's top Islamic authority has reportedly urged fans in that country to shun Lady Gaga, saying her show is "intended to destroy the nation's morality."
Still, that hasn't stopped more than 30,000 "Little Monsters" — as Lady Gaga's fans call themselves — from purchasing tickets for her stop in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, including 25,000 in the first two hours of sales.
The controversies haven't dampened Lady Gaga's enthusiasm either. She flew into Seoul a week before her show and has immersed herself in rehearsals, tweeting her delight about receiving a "warm and exciting welcome" and whipping up fan anticipation for a stage that her publicity sketches depict as a medieval castle. Her only complaint so far has been a case of jet lag.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.