Backstage, it was nice knowing you. Well, very few of us really got a chance to know you, but we're sure you were nice. Anyway, R.I.P.

With Thursday's live webcast of the MTV Video Music Awards from behind the curtain, what was previously known as backstage became center stage.

(Missed it? Want to see that again? Watch the biggest moments from onstage and backstage at tonight's VMAs.)

More than 30 cameras captured an uncensored, up-to-the-second look at what's never been televised before, treating viewers to ... um, Al Gore hanging out in the "Jackass" dressing room, for one ("I'm so nervous my balls are shrinking into my stomach," Steve-O joked as the former vice president laughed along).

Here are a few other highlights, in case you missed out:

»Chris Brown caught Vanessa Minnillo off-guard mid-interview when he kindly asked the MTV VJ out. "Sorry, I'm taken," she replied ... without naming names.

»The constantly packed hallways cleared suddenly when a pack of policemen, some in riot gear, raced through. Calmness came soon after when they turned out to be Beyoncé's dancers.

»As Miss Knowles rang the alarm on the main stage, Evanescence's Amy Lee showed some of her own moves to co-presenter Jared Leto, who watched in awe.

»50 Cent expressed relief when he finally arrived in his dressing room. "They treat me like a terrorist when I come in," he said. "There's so many security checkpoints."

»While OK Go used their elevator ride to the stage to rehearse for their intricate dance number, Pharrell decided to see if the webcast was truly uncensored. He looked into the camera (which most passengers never spotted) and ran through several swear words.

»Early in the night, backstage basically belonged to Lil Jon and Andre 3000, who made their ways (separately) from one room to another, chatting up fellow celebs like LL Cool J. Once Jon found the control room, he managed to convince a camera operator to zoom in on Paris Hilton's "booty."

»Although her star makeup artist was standing at Jessica Simpson's side, she chose to do a touch-up herself. Meanwhile, just as she took the stage, Nick Lachey entered the waiting area with co-presenter Nicole Richie, just missing a potentially awkward — or not (see "Nick Lachey Explains 'Awkwardness' With Jessica Simpson") — moment.

»Pink cracked up her entourage by keeping her ditzy-girl impersonation up backstage, getting serious only to express her shock in winning Best Female Video. "I wanted to lose to Shakira," she said.

»Equally stunned backstage were Best New Artist winners Avenged Sevenfold. "We're only 8 years old," M. Shadows joked. "I didn't think we'd have a chance." When asked where their Moonman would go, guitarist Synyster Gates replied, "Up my ass." Nice.

»As Christina Aguilera prepared to take the stage, husband Jordan Bratman sat alone in the crowd looking bored. Later, after losing Video of the Year to Panic! at the Disco, Christina found Jordan backstage and hugged him tightly as they quickly exited.

»Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz might have some new pictures to circulate. Just before his monkey climbed on Amy Lee, he stopped Shakira and asked for a pic.

»There was plenty of drinking going on behind the scenes, which explains why Pink spent so much time in the "Jackass" dressing room, but it wasn't all a party. Kanye West and Rihanna were among the stars seen in a serious zone as they studied their lines.

»Shaun White talked snowboarding with Montel Williams, while Johnny Knoxville chatted with "Dukes of Hazzard" co-star Seann William Scott.

»John Norris scored the interview of the night when Axl Rose came out of his dressing room early. Although Rose called Guns N' Roses' surprise VMA performance a few years back "a catastrophe," he said their recent European tour was a blast and a North American outing will launch around October 24. As for Chinese Democracy: "This year for sure." Yeah, sure.

The show might be over but the action isn't! Check out all the backstage, uncensored action right here.

Check out all the latest news and pictures from the big show, and reports from previous VMAs, at our VMA news archive.

For everything we've got on the 2006 VMAs, vma.mtv.com.