Throwing Dice With T-Pain, Flying With Lil Mama & More VMA Inside Info, In Bigger Than The Sound

Our reporter also digs up some fun facts about R. Kelly, including his love for Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and his own music.

On The Record: The Vegas/VMA Hangover Edition

So, like the rest of you, I’m trying my best to work through a blinding hangover. Unlike the rest of you, I didn’t get this way by pounding Rumple Minze shooters up at the Wing House during the “Two-for-Tuesday Wing-stravaganza.” Rather, I’m suffering from an acute overload of both Las Vegas and the Video Music Awards , a one-two punch that’s left my body ravaged and my brain bludgeoned. For 120 hours, I barely slept, made terrible decisions, ate $7 sirloin steaks and smoked roughly 4,768 cigarettes. Honestly, at this point, it’s sort of like my soul is hung over.

Anyone who’s been to Vegas already knows what I’m talking about. After a day or two there, you enter some sort of bizarre realm where time ceases to exist. You’re never outside, ever, so you never know what time it is, and you begin to forget about little things like sunlight, wind and/or trees. You can eat, drink, shop, smoke, dance, gamble, get married and die in the casino, so there’s no real reason to leave. Plus, it’s always like 108 degrees and dusty in Vegas, so the thought of venturing out of the casino doors conjures up images of flesh-devouring sandworms. No one ever tells you “No” in Vegas, so you can pretty much do whatever you want, whenever you want, a proposition that gets more and more terrifying depending on just how long it’s been since you last slept, which, given the fact that you’re in Vegas, was probably, like, Thursday.

Now, take all that and throw in the VMAs, a party that only spawns more parties, most of which are crawling with celebrities and sponsored by the good people at Belvedere Vodka or the Miller Brewing Company (“Woooo!”). It’s most certainly a marathon, only you’re forced to treat it like a sprint. And, needless to say, after five days of it all, I am physically, morally and spiritually corrupt.

Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t have a blast (though you probably can’t tell in this picture), one that started the minute I hit the ground on September 5 and didn’t let up until I crashed out at McCarran Airport on Monday. And somewhere in between my morning steak-and-eggs buffet and my 3 a.m. steak-and-eggs dinner, I managed to have my fair share of rather surreal moments, the majority of which just so happened to involve members of bands I write about regularly here at BTTS (convenient!). I’ve compiled some of them below to give you a look at the inner workings of both Vegas and the VMA machine.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think my soul’s gonna go barf up some chimichurri sauce.

» During one amazing 30-minute van ride, a driver tells me and a rather terrified cameraman that: A) He could’ve predicted Owen Wilson’s suicide attempt because when he was working transportation for “You, Me and Dupree” he had several conversations with Wilson and “the guy is troubled”; B) Snoop Dogg is a great guy; C) Despite working as a driver during the 2006 Adult Video News awards, he prefers amateur porn, since “those professionals just do it for the money”; D) He is a Vietnam vet and has “been shot several times”; and E) He once poured off-camera shots during a “Girls Gone Wild” shoot and “even [his] ears got hard.” I try to hide under my seat and wonder if I’m about to be buried in the desert.

» While working on a shoot in Gym Class Heroes frontman Travis McCoy’s suite, I accidentally ask McCoy’s cousin, a 17-year-old rapper named Tyga, if the song playing on the stereo is him. He tells me it’s Lil Wayne, which leads to about one minute of silence in which I can’t tell if he wants to punch me or if he’s genuinely flattered by my mistake. That awkwardness continues through each of the roughly 26 times I see him during VMA weekend. I move one step closer to cementing my status as the whitest dude in the game.

» At various points throughout the weekend, members of Cobra Starship tell me they’re not mad at me for what I wrote about their upcoming album in the edition of BTTS that’s since disappeared from the Internet . The same cannot be said about keytarist Vicky T, who stares daggers at me thanks to the story I wrote about the whole “Ashlee-Simpson-helped-me-write-this-song, no-wait-she-didn’t” fiasco of a few weeks back. Also, the guys in Panic! at the Disco ignore me throughout the weekend, either because they don’t remember me or because they want to kill me. I can’t say I really blame them either way.

» Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse “The Devil” Hughes probably deserves a spot in the Mustache Hall of Fame, and at no point during VMA weekend do I not see him holding a drink.

» T-Pain shows me the proper technique for tossing dice (it’s all in the wrist, never left-handed) and talks about his inexplicable fear of the Plain White T’s, all while sitting behind a drum kit, producing a track with Jennifer Hudson and having a speakerphone conversation with E-40 about the evils of playing craps. Amazing.

» At Friday night’s Decaydance party, I meet former MTV VJ Ray Munns, who lives in Las Vegas and regales me with stories of partying down in LV and his heyday as a club DJ, then gives me his Century 21 Realtor card. There is roughly a 50 percent chance I am imagining this.

» Lemmy is awesome and smells like a dinosaur who just smoked 1,000 cigarettes in a whiskey distillery.

» Someone (I am not at liberty to say who) tells me an amazing story about hanging out with R. Kelly, the best parts of which cannot be printed here. Suffice to say, if you are ever invited to a party at Robert’s house, you should get divorced (and perhaps get a Tetanus shot) before attending. Also: Kelly allegedly has a driver named Junebug, only listens to his own music and eats two McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches every day. Seriously.

» I am having a conversation with a publicist in the hallway between Fall Out Boy and Foo Fighters’ Party Suites when suddenly, Mastodon lead guitarist Brent Hinds grabs said publicist, spins her around and screams “Bunny?!?” in her face. He then sprints into a nearby elevator bank. The conversation continues unabated. Also, a Palms security guard continuously calls former Foo guitarist Pat Smear “Pap Smear” about 12 times. To his face. Smear sort of smiles and slinks away.

» Things I learned on my flight back to NYC: Mark Ronson and Cassie fly first class; Lil Mama does not. Just one more thing Mama and I have in common.

B-Sides: Other Stories I’m Following This Week

“Wide Stance With Your Hammer Pants Down” is my new favorite euphemism for “gay” (see “Jon Stewart Spoofs R. Kelly, Senator Craig With ‘R. Party: Trapped In The Closet’ “ ).

I don’t know who these 50 Cent and Kanye characters are; I’m just heading out to my local Coconuts to pick up a copy of Enuff Z’Nuff’s Tonight, Sold Out (see “50 Cent And Kanye West: The Main Event Is Finally Here, In New Releases ).

Tommy Lee: abuser of the ellipsis, neglector of the hyphen (see “Tommy Lee Explains His Side Of The VMA Scuffle, Apologizes To Alicia Keys” ).

Questions? Concerns? Vegas anecdotes? Hit me up at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.

So are the VMAs hot or what?! But there’s much more Vegas riches to share: For a wealth of updates and info on performers, presenters and voting, check out www.VMA.MTV.com. For reports, photos, video and much, much more from previous VMAs, dive into the VMA archives.