We count down MTV's wildest VMA moments
Image credit: Eminem: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect
Outrageous for Tunes
Who can forget Michael Jackson’s smooch with Lisa Marie Presley or Courtney Love’s fight with Madonna? We can’t — as we count down the 10 wildest Video Music Award moments
Eminem’s wild VMA moment
Based on the antics from previous years, MTV’s 2003 Video Music Awards (8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28; preshow at 6:30) should include plenty of memorable moments. The three-hour show at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Chris Rock, will feature performances by Christina Aguilera, Good Charlotte, 50 Cent, Coldplay, and many others. To help get you in the right frame of mind, here’s a countdown of the 10 most outrageous moments from the past 19 years — with the behind-the-scenes story from the show’s executive producer, Salli Frattini.
EMINEM RAPS WITH MORE THAN 100 LOOK-ALIKES (2000)
WHAT HAPPENED The always controversial Marshall Mathers kicked off his performance of ”The Real Slim Shady” street-side in front of Radio City with more than 100 Eminem look-alikes. His show-stopping arrival was announced by an eager Jim Carrey, who made his own unique entrance, letting audience members grab his bum on the way to the mic.
WHY IT MATTERED Who would’ve guessed that dissing fellow artists like Christina Aguilera and Fred Durst to their faces and grabbing his crotch would win Eminem serious attention from Hollywood? But the baggy-clothed rapper’s VMA stunt caught the attention of Oscar winner Brian Grazer, who gave Eminem a starring debut in the critically acclaimed movie ”8 Mile.”
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini: ”Talking to the chief of police about shutting down the street for about 150 men who looked like Eminem was quite comical. They were like, ‘You’re gonna do what?’ We told them we would do all this within a 15-minute window. As it turns out, it was about a 21-minute window, as the police [later] informed me.”
Image credit: Pee Wee Herman: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect
PEE-WEE HERMAN’S RETURN FROM SERVING TIME (1991)
WHAT HAPPENED Paul Reubens, the artist formerly known as Pee-Wee Herman, was known for his nerdy, bow-tied children’s TV persona until his arrest in a Florida movie theater for indecent exposure won him an unexpected kind of fame. Appearing soon afterward as a surprise opener at the VMAs, he exposed his…still intact sense of humor. His opening line: ”Heard any good jokes lately?”
WHY IT MATTERED Proving he had the gumption to poke fun at himself, Reubens soon won small roles in ”Batman Returns” and ”Mystery Men.” Four years later, he earned an Emmy nod for an appearance on ”Murphy Brown,” then took his first departure from comedy with a dramatic role in ”Blow” (starring Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz) — Pee-Wee had escaped from the stigma of being a punchline.
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini: ”It took a lot to convince Mr. Paul to do this. It had to be a surprise, it couldn’t be announced, and if people knew about it, he wasn’t going to show up. We snuck him in the back door to a private holding area down below the stage. I think there were probably 4 or 5 people in our entire crew of 500 who actually knew this was going to happen. We never rehearsed it. We had given him a few ideas of what to say, but those were really his words.”
Image credit: Andrew Dice Clay: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect
ANDREW DICE CLAY’S EXPLETIVES GET HIM BANNED FROM MTV (1989)
WHAT HAPPENED When chain-smoking funnyman Clay was asked to perform a short comedy routine before introducing Cher, he himself became a legend at MTV. Lines like ”Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree top, your mother’s a whore, I ain’t your pop” were followed by even raunchier one-liners. However, before exiting the stage Clay did do what he was asked, introducing Cher as ”a personal friend of mine” and ”the last puritan.”
WHY IT MATTERED In the three-minute set, Clay got himself banned from appearing again on MTV.
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini: ”He had some copy we had written for him, but he veered from it. A lot of people were [saying] he’ll never work on this show again, he’ll never do anything with the channel again. But we’ve all moved on, we don’t begrudge anybody. I don’t even know where Andrew Dice Clay is now. Where IS Andrew Dice Clay?”
Image credit: Ross & Lil’ Kim: David Drapkin/ImageDirect
DIANA ROSS GRABS LIL’ KIM’S BREAST (1999)
WHAT HAPPENED Scantily clad Lil’ Kim, who was not known as an attention-getter at the time, caused a stir when she walked the red carpet wearing a purple wig and dressed in a purple sequined pantsuit, minus one half of her top. (Well, she WAS modest enough to cover her exposed breast with a matching purple pasty.) Later, when Mary J. Blige and Kim presented an award with Ross, Ross opted to greet Kim not by shaking her hand but by jiggling her breast.
WHY IT MATTERED Kim’s risqué attire turned out to be an eye opener. Since that revealing eve we’ve seen a whole other side of the pint-sized rapper, who is now known for sporting different colored wigs practically every day and outfits that range from lingerie to zipper-driven ensembles.
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini: ”When Lil’ Kim showed up in that outfit, I remember watching her from the video truck and everyone was like, ‘Look at Lil’ Kim.’ Diana Ross did something that most people wanted to do.”
Image credit: Howard Stern: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect
HOWARD STERN INTRODUCES FARTMAN (1992)
WHAT HAPPENED Flying onto the stage to present an award with ”90210”’s Luke Perry, the King of All Media was outfitted in a yellow spandex half shirt that read ”Fartman” across the chest, a red cape with the letter ”F” on the back, and yellow spandex pants with the butt cut out. He yelled to the crowd below, ”I’m Fartman. Behold, the most beautiful of sights, it is this.” Turning to reveal his naked rear, he asked, ”Is the camera getting a good shot of my beautiful ass? Look at it, touch it for power.” After a hesitant Perry touched it, Stern wanted to get more action so he called a female audience member onstage to do the same.
WHY IT MATTERED Well, it was a revealing moment. But the radio jockey wasn’t the first celeb to bare his butt at the VMAs. A year earlier during a performance of ”Get Off” with the New Power Generation, Prince turned around to show the butt holes cut out of the back of his unitard.
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini: ”It was another one of those timely events. I think Stern’s somebody who doesn’t like to really talk about it that much anymore. He’s kind of like a new Howard now.”
Image credit: Love & Madonna: MTV
COURTNEY LOVE’S PRESHOW RUN-IN WITH MADONNA (1995)
WHAT HAPPENED While the Hole singer made her way down the red carpet she noticed Madonna perched above, conducting a live interview with MTV VJ Kurt Loder. In an attempt to catch Madonna’s eye (and get on camera) Love threw a compact from her purse. Not knowing what else to do, Loder invited her up, as she asked, ”Am I fully interruptus?” Love (outfitted in a miniskirt and lace top) continued on a tirade while Madonna suggested that Love was on something. Love then gave new meaning to the word ”bum-rush” when she fell off her chair headfirst while talking to Loder and VJ Tabitha Soren.
WHY IT MATTERED Loder admits, ”Madonna’s publicist started hissing that under no circumstances should Love be allowed to elbow her way in. But a producer was chortling into my ear that — in the interests of ‘good TV’ — that was exactly what we did have to do.”
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini: ”The timing just couldn’t have been better. People were trying to hang on to Courtney, knowing that Madonna was up there live in this interview with Kurt. But Courtney started creating such a scene, she threw her shoe up there and that’s when Madonna looked over. I think one of the big concerns was Madonna. Did we aggravate her? Is she okay? Was she pissed? For the most part, the word back was that she had a sense of humor. She knew it wasn’t MTV, it was just Courtney being Courtney.”
Image credit: Britney Spears: Dave Hogan/ImageDirect
BRITNEY SPEARS STRIPS TO ”OOPS!…I DID IT AGAIN” (2000)
WHAT HAPPENED The ”Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” started off in a tear-away pinstripe suit, top hat, and cane while singing a soulful rendition of ”Satisfaction,” then she stripped down to a flesh-colored bra top and jeweled see-through pants. Afterward, hosts Marlon and Shawn Wayans commented, ”She went from ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ to the strip club.”
WHY IT MATTERED After that famous frolic onstage, the public started seeing more of Britney’s midriff and less of her clothes. The pop princess attributed it to ”growing up,” but the only thing that seemed to be growing was the nation’s craze with stripping. Crunch started a Cardio Strip class that has pulled in such celebs as Carmen Electra.
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini: ”When we first saw the outfit, there was a lot of conversation between her management, her mother, the record label, the production team, the stylist team. There was a moment onstage where we all just huddled and looked at it. The first time anyone had seen it was in an off-site rehearsal. I remember the director coming back and saying, ‘You know Britney’s going to wear a suit and then she has a change and her change is quite extravagant.”’
Image credit: Tim Commerford: Dave Hogan/ImageDirect
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE’S BASSIST, TIM COMMERFORD, CLIMBS THE SET (2000)
WHAT HAPPENED While Limp Bizkit’s frontman Fred Durst was giving thanks for the band’s Best Rock Video win for ”Break Stuff,” another rocker decided to do just that. Bassist Commerford, who had performed with his band, felt the need to do a little more raging after losing out to Durst and Co. Commerford hopped onto the stage and scaled the set behind the podium. Durst, who was in midsentence, proceeded to lead the audience in a chant of ”Jump, jump.” Commerford was later removed from the premises by security and spent the next night behind bars.
WHY IT MATTERED Rage’s lead singer, Zack de la Rocha, quit the band a month after the VMAs, blaming the split on the group’s inability to work together. MTV.com cites sources close to the band as saying that the incident angered de la Rocha (who walked out of Radio City Music Hall after the set stunt), possibly to the point where it snapped the singer’s working relationship with the rest of the group.
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini: ”Oh, God, that was a very scary moment. The set director was standing behind me and said, ‘Well, that set’s not really built to have any sort of weight capacity standing on it.’ There were monitors up there and lights and electricity. We were in the truck saying, ‘Get Limp Bizkit out of there, move everybody away.’ The head carpenter ended up climbing up and talking him down. I think he was nervous to get down after he got up. There were police kindly waiting for him outside the stage door. But he was released — no one pressed any charges or anything.”
Image credit: Jackson & Presley: MTV
MICHAEL JACKSON KISSES NEW BRIDE LISA MARIE PRESLEY (1994)
WHAT HAPPENED After being married for only three months, lovebirds Jackson and Presley kicked off the festivities at Radio City by welcoming the crowd. The twosome entered holding hands while the King of Pop told the audience, ”Just think, nobody thought this would last.” He then proceeded to plant a big, fat, weird wet one on the lips of the King’s only daughter.
WHY IT MATTERED The newlyweds were under much speculation from the press about the validity of their marriage. They even went so far as to appear together (quasi-nude) in Jackson’s ”You Are Not Alone” video. But after receiving little reaction, music’s weirdest couple decided to go for a major Public Display of Affection. Nonetheless, they called it quits less than two years later.
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini: ”We were all surprised they would actually do it. We had come to them with the whole concept [including the kiss], but I’m sure Michael ad-libbed. We brought them in a private door and held them in a private area. We kept it very quiet. They came down, did their thing, and when that was over, they left.”
Image credit: Madonna: MTV
MADONNA PERFORMS ”LIKE A VIRGIN” (1984)
WHAT HAPPENED MTV’s new awards show wouldn’t have been what it is today without an outrageous performance to set the precedent. Pre-”Sex”-crazed Madonna awed the audience by cavorting to her tongue-in-cheek song ”Like a Virgin.” Dressed in a risqué wedding gown, complete with white lace gloves and high-heeled pumps, she let the crowd see the garter-belt lingerie underneath her ensemble as she gyrated in seeming ecstasy around a giant wedding cake.
WHY IT MATTERED Well, like the lyric says, ”I’ve nothing to hide” — especially not when the show coincided with the release of her sophomore album, ”Like a Virgin.” The album’s rise to the top was the beginning of a successful career that included more than a dozen albums and plenty of awe-inspiring moments.
BEHIND THE SCENES Frattini wasn’t there, but EW.com Executive Editor Michael Small was: ”When Madonna started rolling around in that wedding dress, the place went nuts. It was so funny, sexy, and completely over the top. It felt as if we were witnessing something that people would talk about for a long time. Which turned out to be right.”