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See the loot MTV's video music stars get for free!

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Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera: Michelle Roberts/ Retna

MTV’s Video Music Awards (airing Thursday, Aug. 28, 6:30-11 p.m.) may be as different from the Oscars as Christina Aguilera’s ”Dirrty” video is from ”Chicago,” but there’s at least one similarity between the two: The presenters and performers at both ceremonies get loads of free stuff.

This year, MTV hired Backstage Creations to work its magic on a ”gift retreat room” where performers and presenters such as Aguilera, BeyoncĂ©, 50 Cent, Britney Spears, Missy Elliott, the Olsen twins, ”Queer Eye”’s Fab 5, and the Neptunes’ Pharrell Williams are invited to choose from more than $20,000 worth of apparel, accessories, and other luxe swag. Karen Wood, owner of Backstage Creations, says, ”It’s a personal experience for them. They come down and shop for themselves; it’s customized to their needs.”

Some of the loot a star can take home in a Gibson guitar case (which will serve as this year’s tote) includes:
• A six-day trip to a Pearl Resort in Tahiti ($5,000)
• Round-trip helicopter ride from NYC to the Hamptons from Blue Star Jets ($1,900-$3,000)
• Reed Evins custom-made shoes ($1,200)
• PhatNoise Car Audio System ($1,000)
• Four hours’ limo transport from Empire International Ltd. ($600)
• Fendi eyewear ($400)
• Tommy Hilfiger leather jacket ($395)
• Delphi XM SKYFi Satellite Radio ($350)
• Calvin Klein watch ($300)
• iRiver MP3 player ($179.99)
• Havaianas sandals ($150)

But why all the freebies? It’s a win-win all around. Artists get cool stuff without opening their wallets, companies get free advertising when stars use or wear their products, and, says Wood, ”It’s a way for MTV to say thanks for being on the show.” What, nobody sends thank-you cards anymore?