Jewel and MTV's 15th Annual Video Music Awards made news the week of September 25, 1998

BEAU JEST Jewel embittered a lot of long-suffering poets with the megabucks she snagged for A Night Without Armor, and now Beau Sia’s striking back. The 22-year-old NYU graduate recently published A Night Without Armor II: The Revenge, a volume of ”Jewel-inspired” blank verse that borrows its jacket design and poem titles from this summer’s HarperCollins best-seller. Sia’s deadpan parodies of such Jewel gems as ”God Exists Quietly” (”inside my underwear/why don’t you come over/and say hello”) and ”Dionne and I” (”I do not/call her psychic line”) have quickly won a following: Mouth Almighty Records’ new literary imprint is about to triple their 1,000-copy initial pressrun. ”A lot of her poems are too long. If they were chopped in half they’d be better,” opines Sia. ”But I’m kind of pleased that there have got to be millions of kids getting into poetry now, because of Jewel. Maybe on their own they’ll develop interest in Frank O’Hara, or William Carlos Williams, or me.”

FLASH DANCE This month’s broadcast of MTV’s 15th-annual Video Music Awards was a personal-injury lawyer’s dream of high-visibility disasters: Ben Stiller’s strenuously unfunny turn as emcee; Madonna’s tone-deaf assault on ”Ray of Light”; Joe Perry’s facial hair. But only eagle-eyed viewers caught the most spine-tingling near calamity. Just as the Fugees’ Pras was wrapping his blistering rendition of ”Ghetto Supastar,” guest vocalist Ol’ Dirty Bastard — the new crown prince of public spectacles — drifted perilously close to one of the exploding flash pots. Only a last-second rescue effort by Pras spelled the difference between ODB and DOA. ”ODB almost got killed,” said Pras a day after the show. ”The people who were doing the pyro weren’t watching.” Pras, obviously still feeling the strain, is convinced that a dark day for ODB would have been even darker for the industry. ”If something had happened to him, no one would ever be able to use pyro again in the history of music on MTV. It would’ve messed it up for everyone. I don’t even want to think about it, man.”