LOS ANGELES -- Security was tight outside the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday night (Sept. 10).
As tight as you could expect from a group of rock fans disguised as tough guys, that is.
The media were corralled into a trough-like area in front of bleachers stocked with fans. A red carpet looped in front, which the artists paraded along as they arrived at the Universal Amphitheatre.
Behind barricades, more fans pressed, waiting for their favorites to come close.
While some security guards were adamant, pushing the over-enthusiastic back into the sweaty crowds, others wore faded T-shirts and barely noticed people slipping through. Seems they were just as eager to catch a glimpse of supermodel/actress Tyra Banks as were the people they were assigned to hold back.
For the savvy fans who arrived early to secure a decent spot on the railing, there was a whole lot of waiting left to do.
A crew of impeccably dressed teens used the back of a local radio station promotional sign to hand-write a message to teen pop/rap group the Backstreet Boys. Girls perched on the fences and practiced screaming as cameras on long booms swooped in overhead.
There was a lot of shouting and hysteria -- and it didn't seem to matter for what. The crowd shouted for the news helicopters that whizzed by. They shouted for any group of large men passing who might be bodyguards for someone famous. They screamed as the MTV news crew trotted up, with head anchor Kurt Loder sagging in the heat. A thick-necked staffer stood by, holding a red, yellow and blue umbrella to give him shade.
The sun beat down desert-hot, and there were still hours to go before the event, scheduled to take place at 8 p.m. EDT, heated things up inside the amphitheatre.
Another MTV icon was falling victim to the heat: The two-story-high inflated moon man -- designed as a giant replica of the video award -- wheezed, sagged, and lost all his air. He had been poised directly behind and looming over the Universal globe that the red carpet encircled. Work crews dragged his deflated remains out of the way and allowed the crowd to fill in closer.
Eventually, the celebrities started to arrive. The crowd, not surprisingly, screamed. First, there was Usher. Decibels of enthusiasm. Then the stream began, slowly at first. Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl wore all black with a wide white tie. Soul singer Brian McKnight came in a dark red suit. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt smiled wanly. Ben Folds, leader of Ben Folds Five, even stopped in at MTV's House of Style set-up, and dropped his pants for their camera.
Then there was Marilyn Manson and his companion, actress Rose McGowan, who wore a sparse chain dress that had a thong and two thin strips in back. The not-made-for-television outfit nicely complemented Manson's multi-colored velvet pantsuit and fire-engine-red hair.
No Doubt's leading lady, Gwen Stefani, posed and turned to show off matching shoulder tattoos encrusted with stick-on rhinestones, which matched the rhinestones arcing over her eyebrows.
Even snot-nosed Green Day pop-punker Billy Joe Armstrong smirked for the cameras, posing like a preening starlet.
The only artist who actually reached out to touch the fans was piano songstress Tori Amos, who bypassed television cameras to grab arms and hug straining fans.
With a final peck on the cheek, Amos departed for the awards ceremony, leaving the hollering crowds to sweat it out in the waning sun.