The time I chased the Pussycat Dolls at the VMAs
If you are ever forced to work as a talent escort at the MTV VMAs, you will have a keen, first-hand understanding of what Dickens meant by, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In the music & talent department it is considered an honor to be selected to work with show talent — not everyone is invited/assigned to. Then the lucky chosen ones complain about it A LOT because it is basically babysitting famous people to make sure they show up on stage when they are supposed to during the live broadcast, which is so much more stressful than I could possibly explain.
In my tenure I mostly got off lightly, working with Kylie Minogue (who I requested and who was lovely and accommodating), Mark Ronson (also lovely but he was in that show so much that I think we rehearsed all day, every day for like a week) and the Ting Tings (so demure and easy that I had all sorts of time to closely observe how badly behaved certain other artists were that year but those are stories I simply cannot tell you).
One of my most interesting years was in 2005 at the VMAs in Miami, when I ended up shadowing the top talent exec for the show at the last minute, wearing her headset and carrying her Blackberry. She was the person everyone called when they had a problem, which made for a very fascinating night for me! Two favorite moments included finding myself in a hallway with most of the Miami police force & an army of personal security when 50 Cent and Fat Joe started some beef and watching a group of handlers try to explain to a certain female artist why she couldn’t go on TV in a completely see-through shirt because the truth of that situation was not self-evident to her.
HOWEVER! The weirdest and most hectic year I worked at the VMAs was in 2006, when we tried to clear all the performances in the show the night of in order to make them available to buy on Rhapsody in time for the “enhanced” re-airing of it the following evening. I had execs running all night between MTV’s Times Square offices and Radio City Music Hall to bring me the latest burned CD of their audio. I was ushered into Beyonce’s dressing room to get her father/manager’s approval and given the “do not speak to Beyonce!” stare of death when she unexpectedly returned (because that was exactly what I was burning to do obviously). I was shot down by Christina Aguilera. I was offered excited beers by that hot guy who sings for the All-American Rejects (they were very excited to have won a VMA for whatthehellever, you never have time to actually SEE any of the show when you’re working). I got a phone call from Billy Gibbs of ZZ Top, who has the most amazing voice EVER. And, at one point, I literally had to run after the Pussycat Dolls, who were about to hop in a limo and leave, to get a CD of the single verse (they were lip synching) they did in T.I.’s performance that night into their hands. Nicole Scherzinger looked at me like I was a crazy person and said something to the effect of, “Uh I’m sure it’s fine honey.”
I think we might have sold a dozen downloads.
And that was when I knew for sure: there is no dignity in the music industry. But I had fun, just the same.
Photo via: MTV News