By David Rolland
By David Von Bader
By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
Terror alert levels were high at the Miami Arena for the Billboard Latin Music Awards. Helicopters zoomed overhead and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled diligently, searching for potential evildoers.
The closest thing to a bomb, however, was when cute rocker chick JD Natasha appeared on a stage behind the arena for an early-evening preshow. The lackluster crowd squirmed uncomfortably when the Miami-born teenager opened her mouth and let loose nothing but nails-on-blackboard feedback. With a little audio tweaking, she turned it around and delivered one of the most enthusiastic performances of the night, tossing her trademark guitar around like a rag doll.
Backstage at the talent tent, FuzionVJ Johanna kept Pitbull gawking as her breasts threatened to pop out of her dress. Speaking of Pit, it seems as if going into business with P. Diddy for the latter's new Bad Boy Latino venture has already started to rub off on him. Like Puffy -- oops, Diddy -- Pit was accompanied by a Latin version of Farnsworth Bentley. The anonymous lackey, immaculately dressed in a tan pinstripe suit with a papaya-colored shirt and sporting a cliché fade, preceded the rapper everywhere he went, stopping at times to shine Pitbull's sunglasses or dropping his name to get people's attention.
"Never fails," said the errand boy when a few people turned around at the mention of his master's moniker.
The afterparties were a bastion of superstars and industry types as well. During the Ocean Drive-sponsored party at the Sagamore Hotel, a green carpet emblazoned with Heineken logos was trod by everyone from Emilio Estefan to Adam Gaynor, guitarist for Matchbox Twenty (and former Hit Factory Criteria employee). The latter chastised New Times for insinuating that people didn't associate his band with Latin music. "Yes they do! How dare you? Are you kidding? Que dios te vendiga, español," said Gaynor, who probably didn't realize that his relatively meaningless phrase translates as "God bless you, Spanish."
Down the street at Skybar, the star-studded night began its descent into history as the Telemundo afterparty perpetuated cirrhosis with an open bar and a bevy of inebriated executives. How do we know they were drunk? There was open talk of a Pitbull reality show but no mention of Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (or the tattoo on the back of his head), who was smoothly cascading across the dance floor nearby.