LOS ANGELES -- Metal rocker Rob Zombie comes accompanied by three jester devils; Gwen Stefani arrives dressed as a blue-haired Judy Jetson, of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon show "The Jetsons"; and rapper Wyclef Jean, clad in a solid white suit, looks like he raided Michael Jackson's dressing room for the "Smooth Criminal" video.
As the stars arrive at the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday (Sept. 10), some look more like they're going to a Halloween party than to an awards show. And even sample-heavy folkie Beck, standing on the red carpet dressed in a gray suit, has one potent twist to his ensemble: bright orange sunglasses.
"The Lord gave them to me," says Beck, who is up for Best Video for a Film for "Deadweight." "He dropped them in my mailbox."
Even with some of the night's biggest stars locked out of sight, inside Universal Ampitheatre, no one could say the arrivals for the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards weren't an exciting affair.
As the limos come in droves and empty out some of today's hottest music artists, the hundreds of fans who are roped off in sections go nuts, often having trouble deciding just who to go nuts over at the moment.
At one point, they're screaming for shock-rocker Marilyn Manson, but as soon as ambient-pop singer Sarah McLachlan comes around the corner, they launch into a chant, "Sar-ah! Sar-ah! Sar-ah!"
"This is our Super Bowl," rapper Chuck D says.
The fact is the 15th annual awards ceremony brings together some of the most popular and talented artists in music for an evening of glamour and friendly competition to see who will take home the coveted silver astronaut statues for "best" in their nominated category.
Wearing a baseball cap, T-shirt and jeans, Chuck D, leader of the groundbreaking rap group Public Enemy, looks like he is going to the Super Bowl. D says he's most excited to see punk-rap trio the Beastie Boys. "They got me signed, took us out on our first tour," D says.
D shares his enthusiasm over the Beasties with Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage, who says she's more thrilled about this year's performances, including Master P, Hole and the Beasties, than she is about her band's nomination. Garbage were nominated for Best Group Video for "Push It."
"I'm psyched to see the Beastie Boys and Hole," says Shirley Manson, who is clad in a bright orange suede dress.
The agendas range as much as the styles. "We're here to be inspired by everyone else, since we're still making our album," says No Doubt frontwoman Stefani, dressed in a blue bikini-top to match her sky-blue hair.
Stefani did have one complaint, however: the heat. "My nose always sweats like a dog," she says. "You know how a dog's nose sweats?"
But when it came to complaining, Stefani had nothing on macabre metalhead Rob Zombie, who's sounding grouchy as ever. "I don't like anything," Zombie says. "But I wanna see Brian Setzer."