Getting Swagged at the VMAs
Welcome to Sin City, the land of poker chips, 24/7 cocktail service, Wayne Newton, and…free stuff!! Well, okay, free stuff only if you’re a celebrity in town for tonight’s MTV Video Music Awards.
On Saturday, I traveled up and down the Vegas strip to three gifting suites to see just how much (cool) stuff was being given out and who was partaking in it. Let me say that in 101 degree heat, it was no easy task, but I was happy to do it for you PopWatchers (after all, Red Bulls and margaritas were readily available to quench my thirst).
The first stop on my gift bag hunt was the Key Group’s and Rolling Stone’s Star Lounge. Lucky for me, this one was indoors (read: air conditioning!) at the Hard Rock Hotel. Here are some highlights:
• T-Bags gave away their colorfully patterned, super-soft rayon dresses (as seen on the likes of Jessica Simpson).
• New Trend alert: ’80s sunglasses are back. At the RayBan booth, the most requested style of sunglasses was the company’s classic Wayfarer (think Tom Cruise in Risky Business). But celebs don’t just want them in black: Most of them picked out red or white frames.
• One of the most random gifts I came across was a Victorian-inspired wine opener made out of — no joke — a warthog tusk. Sounds weird, yes, but very unique.
• Akon, the Shop Boys, and Derrick Phillips (who plays Tim Riggins’ brother on Friday Night Lights) all stopped by the Gibson Guitar booth to jam with their guitars.
• A gift I think every single celeb should be given: Zerosmoke’s magnetic acupressure device to help them quit smoking. The tiny magnet gets placed right on your ear, and it’s supposed to be a natural way to fight off the urge to puff. AJ Buckley of CSI fame said he was going to try it out.
• Cadillac offered a test ride in their new CTS model, which was probably a smart idea given that no one (especially celebrities) should be allowed to drive while in Vegas.
Next, I headed over to Caesar’s Palace (pictured) for The Style Villa, which took place poolside at the Venus Pool Club (felt very Grecian bath house). Here are a few tidbits:
• I spotted Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls getting a pair of Apple Bottom jeans.
• Alli Sims, the infamous cousin/assistant to Britney Spears, walked around getting presents for tonight’s surprise performer (I know, I was hoping to see Brit Brit in person myself, but no such luck). For her cuz, Allie created a customized T-shirt by zazzle.com, which read, “Stay out of our bubble” and a few pairs of Hanes’ Perfect Panty underwear, which, well, we all know Britney could definitely use.
• While you’re watching the VMA’s tonight, look for 50 Cent to be wearing the $60,000 (yes, you read that right) watch he received from Haimov watches. It has 3,500 stones and 21 carats. Wonder if it has an alarm system attached to it, too?
• At the Dermalogica cabana, Eve had her face mapped and analyzed and was given a few skincare products to try. But more importantly, she wasn’t wearing her SCRAM ankle bracelet.
• The Hills’ Brody Jenner, who is now apparently considered a celebrity, was walking around gathering free things and (go figure) downing a few beverages in the process. He stopped at the Svedka Vodka bar to try their Fembot Fatale drink made with Clementine vodka, and was shocked — shocked! — that he was drinking vodka with real gold flakes in it.
• Retro Sport offered T-shirts with vintage distressed sports team logos (New York Yankees ones were an obvious fave), and Gangstir Rock gave out shirts with a rock star feel to them. I love Gangstir’s creative labels, which read: ”Do not bleach your own thoughts. Wash gently any borrowed opinions. Do not wring or twist your emotions…”
• Most of the female VIPs were happy to receive CHI’s newest wet-to-dry flat iron, and who knew that CHI actually works with NASA to create new hair technology?
• I saw Mercedes Scelba-Shorte of America’s Next Top Model cycle 2 walking around — yeah, I don’t know why she was in Vegas either. She got a pair of $500 Sheiki jeans. Um, at that price, I’d be almost scared to wear them outside!
• Other cabanas: Zappos.com (ladies, it’s not just a place to shop for shoes anymore!), Lia Sophia Jewelry, Trago Classico tequila (the bottles looked like cologne bottles; great way to sneak alcohol around Vegas), LeSportsac handbags, and Luxottica’s collection of sunglasses.
Finally, after a long day, I ended up at the Venetian Hotel for the TAO Hospitality Suite. This stop was by far the craziest because it took place at TAO Beach, which is basically the daytime version of a nightclub at a pool. Here are some observations:
• Jennifer Hudson was giddy to get a white princess wrap bracelet by Kidada for Disney Couture.
• Singer Cassie got a Treesje white patent leather handbag (proving it is, in fact, okay to wear white after Labor Day!)
• Luxury Air Jets (who flew in VMAs maestro Timbaland to Vegas) gave celebs a $5,000 gift certificate toward their next flight with them, and I learned that the company would pick anybody up anywhere in the world within four to six hours after you call and request a jet. Well, that is if you can actually afford it.
• Bathing-suit-clad models walked around handing out delicious bags of Popcorn Indiana, which the members of Panic! At the Disco enjoyed after being kicked out of Tao Beach for being under 21 years old.
• The Hills’ Lauren Conrad ran into the cabanas, grabbed an Xbox console, among other goodies, and ran out before you could blink.
• It was rumored that Kate Hudson was seen at the Hypnotiq liquor table, but I’m not so sure I believe that.
• Ludacris and Ryan Cabrera both got gift certificates to get dental work done at VIP Smiles in NYC. Although I think Ryan could use a haircut more than teeth whitening. He looked so different than the pop star we once knew — he had tattoos, a black-dyed coif, and facial hair.
• Was excited to see Kevin Connolly of Entourage (yes, he is as short as he looks on TV),who grabbed some Kenneth Cole cologne.
Well, that’s all from the gifting front here in Sin City. I must go get prepared for an even bigger fete: the VMAs red carpet. In the meantime, I’m wondering what gift you, PopWatchers, would have picked up at the style lounges, and what you would have left on the table…