NEW YORK — Madonna smooching two pretty young things, 50 Cent showing up with Vivica A. Fox and then bringing out Snoop Dogg and Archbishop Don “Magic” Juan during his performance. And who could forget that dapper Justin Timberlake, logging a plethora of camera time with constant cutaways and three acceptance speeches.
The theme of the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards was obviously “Pimps up!” (see “Madonna Smooches With Britney And Christina; Justin, Coldplay Win Big At VMAs” ).
Backstage and in the basement hallways of Radio City Music Hall, the pimp juice was flowing just as fluently, as attendees, presenters and performers made new acquaintances and chilled with old homies.
Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon was definitely treated like a pimp as he walked topless through a backstage holding area, waiting for a talent wrangler to steam his shirt. “Oh my, it’s going to be hot,” he said to the woman as she tried to get the wrinkles out. “I know it’s going to be too hot with that steam. Oh well.”
It was getting hot for Don Juan as well. As a few of Beyoncé’s dancers practiced their hydraulic booty shake by an elevator, a car carrying Don Juan and a few of his crew stopped on the floor. The Don lowered his green Elton John-like spectacles and stepped out of the elevator, intent on spitting his game, no doubt. Just as the pimp began his rap, a husky bodyguard told him he was on the wrong floor. Magic’s face shriveled in disappointment as the doors closed.
Earlier in the night, P. Diddy was yelling, “Chuuch, chuuch, chuuch!” to Don and Snoop as he stood outside their dressing room. Diddy had planned to go back into the auditorium, but it was clear he’d had second thoughts and decided to stop and see his friends. Moments later all you could hear was laughter coming from the room. “I’mma see you,” P.D. shouted to the goblet-toting duo, walking out of the room later. “I’ll be in my seat.”
King of crunk music Lil Jon was walking around holding a platinum pimp cup that bore his name in diamonds. But while the pimp juice holders and Don Juan’s iced-out staff — which stood at almost six feet tall — had celebs like Chris Rock and Adam Sandler taking a second look, the most magnetic eye candy was 50 Cent carrying around his Moonmen.
Serena and Venus Williams spent time smiling and laughing with 50 shortly after he came offstage from his second VMA win, for Best New Artist. When the giddy sisters congratulated the beefy MC it was clear their admiration was shared, as Cent gave the millionaire athletes props on their shoes. Maybe he was thinking he’d found a couple of spokesmodels for his G-Unit footwear.
Christina Aguilera might also have a moonlighting job on the horizon — as a psychic. When the Olsen twins and David Spade announced Justin Timberlake as one of the nominees for Best Pop Video, Christina told her small crew, “Justin is going to win.”
Before Christina took the stage with Redman, the backstage area was bustling as Nelly and Murphy Lee came out of a dressing room with Outkast to announce the performance. Dre and Big Boi spent some time with fellow presenter Iggy Pop, who engaged the duo in an animated discussion off to the side, waving his arms as if he were explaining something important.
Another odd Outkast pairing occurred later on, this time with AFI. As the G-Unit would do later in the evening, the two groups took time to pay homage to Run-DMC and shower them with handshakes.
“The originals,” Dre and Big Boi said about the legendary rappers.
“The original rudeboys,” Big Boi continued.
Meanwhile, a few feet away, David Spade kept the Olsen twins laughing out loud, and when the pyro in Christina’s set went off and startled everyone backstage, he alerted everyone in jest, “I’m OK. I’m OK.”
Last year’s VMA host, Jimmy Fallon, was a big fan of his “Saturday Night Live” buddy Chris Rock’s hysterical conduct as this year’s master of ceremonies. “Fallon!” Chris yelled, pointing to Jimmy as he walked toward his friend. They hugged, and then Fallon spoke of how much he was enjoying the night’s proceedings. “The show is unbelievable,” he said with a smile. “You motherf—–! Unbelievable.”
Fallon made the most of his time in the hallway, shaking hands with Duran Duran and congratulating them on their recent New York performance, and then chatting with Kelly Osbourne. “Break your leg,” he joked before she went onstage with Avril Lavigne to present Best Dance Video. Those two ladies spent a lot of time together throughout the night.
Good Charlotte were also popular backstage. After they engaged in some mutual admiration with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington (“You guys are f—ing awesome,” Chester exclaimed), they invited him to come to their after-party, where they were to share a table with Metallica. Later, the rockers engaged in a group hug offstage after accepting the Viewer’s Choice Award. Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore kissed on the cheek and hugged right next to them. Benji Madden told the Hollywood twosome he loved both of them.
“Thanks, I know you rigged it,” Benji told Drew after she congratulated his group.
“Oh,” a confused Barrymore answered. “Yeah, thanks.”
Although Justin Timberlake played it cool during his three acceptance speeches, as he came offstage following his last win he had a wide Kool-Aid grin. Timberlake playfully punched his bodyguard and laughed as he went into a dressing room where Pharrell Williams was watching the show.
His “Cry Me a River” co-conspirator Timbaland was jovial as well when Missy Elliott won her first-ever award for Best Hip-Hop Video. “I told you so,” Timbo told his jubilant friend before they went onstage to accept it.
Most of Missy’s opening-act cohorts were nowhere to be seen during the show. Britney Spears arrived around 5:15 p.m. to get ready for her big kiss, and Madonna showed up shortly before show time. However, after their headline-making performance, both seemed to have vanished in the wind.
Even though Madonna, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy and Jay-Z were among those hosting after-parties, it didn’t seem like anyone was in a hurry to break out of Radio City after the show.
Justin and Pharrell had one last bit of politicking to do before they left. J.T. hollered at rap legend Doug E. Fresh about a possible collaboration. While DJ Clue, Fabolous and Joe Budden cracked jokes in front of Radio City, the Black Eyed Peas talked to fans and Bad Boy’s Da Band played to the crowd that was outside stargazing. Jay-Z chatted and posed for photos with Eminem before walking into the street to get in a limo. “Jay-Z! Jay-Z! Jay-Z!” the crowd cheered.
The coolest exit of the night, however, belonged to the surprise tandem of Avril and Kelly. A Hummer H2 was the chosen mode of transportation as the two sat on the top, smiling, yelling and dangling their feet inside the sunroof.
Catch all the sizzlin’, star-packed VMA action direct from Miami on August 28. MTV News’ preshow kicks things off at 6:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the big show at 8 p.m.