By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Pitbull was humbled by a hot dog. Miami's most respected round-headed rapper had to wait in line along with everyone else at a concession stand in the American Airlines Arena during Sunday night's Video Music Awards, paying for his snacks and remaining relatively unrecognized, while a few yards away Kristin Cavalleri, a young player on MTV's faux-reality series Laguna Beach, was mobbed by teenage girls.
"I feel like I know you," a flushed fan half gasped, half sobbed, begging the California starlet for an autograph. And that was pretty much the Magic City's assumed identity for the weekend, as the out-of-town talent got the Potemkin treatment on a glittering South Beach while storm-ravaged residents circled in the darkness and heat outside the ring of light.
Even the most preeningly correct stars allowed themselves the luxury of corruption. Supergreen, ultrapolitical, anti-capitalist British-Sri Lankan grime darling Maya Arul -- who performs as M.I.A. -- advertised herself on the side of an eighteen-wheeler crawling along Washington Avenue as it chugged through gallons of noxious-fume-creating diesel fuel and burned enough halogen lights to illuminate entire blacked-out neighborhoods.
This is not to say the defiant profligacy set loose by the VMAs didn't produce amusing wonders. The Bitch had a ball chatting with one of her long-time idols, eternal club kid and Heatherette couture designer Richie Rich. "South Beach is everything I hoped it would be," enthused the artfully made-up, roller-skate-wearing Rich. "I feel like I'm six years old again."
The Bitch missed the excitement at the Shoot-'Em-Up Club Sunday morning, but she was there in the Red Room on Saturday to watch a newly platinum-headed (and very tiny) Jessica Simpson peek out from behind her half-dozen-strong security detail as Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas (he's the cute one) got retarded with some diners and was nearly ejected from the restaurant.
The VMA show itself has drifted from the unscripted freak fair that once saw Courtney Love lob her compact at Madonna and Kurt Loder. This awards show is now a wizened standard, complete with bloated, pointless production numbers, lavishly choreographed "It's a Small World" fireworks-and-water-balloon-chorus-girl-and-boy interludes, and a windy host who doesn't realize how unhip and hollow his patter sounds.
Over the months, The Bitch has learned celebrities aren't always the most articulate and sober people, but the scene at the white-carpet cattle line served as a new standard for preverbal communication. Not surprisingly, Exhibit A would be Atlanta hip-hoppers the Ying Yang Twins. Kaine tried to explain the duo's music, but his message was drowned out by partner D-Roc, who was emitting the type of loud moans and squeals associated with either having an orgasm or biting into the contents of an electricity-deprived refrigerator. This eruption forced reporters to lean closer to decipher Kaine, an equally difficult task given the pungent scent of liquor emanating from his blinging mouth.
And though the Ying Yang Twins may have been a little tipsy, Viva La Bam Margera and father Phil Margera were absolutely twisted. Margera fils grappled with the very large, loud, and intoxicated dad in an attempt to mute the old man's drunken yowls. Margera's posse also included an unidentified hanger-on who had a computer keyboard affixed over his genitalia and a single strip of duck tape not really covering his ass. The "outfit" may have disgusted some of the more sensitive observers, but no one looked more revolted than wrestler-turned-reality-show-specimen Hulk Hogan.
The prize for worst-dressed celebrity had to go to Miami's own Trina. Her lime dress appeared a size too big, and she was wearing way too much makeup -- something The Bitch is loathe to declare possible. Meanwhile porn pinup Coco won the annual Lil' Kim Award for figuring out how to wear the least clothing without being technically naked.
Seating hierarchy at the VMAs is more of a competition than the awards themselves. This year's surprise was an entire row of stageside chairs occupied by Houston's screw school: Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Bun B, and Mike Jonesdisplaced not only quick fades such as Mya, Pink, and Petey Pablo but also more prominent, and pushier, present-dayers (not that The Bitch is referring to "longest combined rap sheet" division winner G-Unit or anything).
As the dreamstate of the VMAs faded with the whirr of the last private jet, Mary Jackson, whose household in the 3100 block of Ohio Street in the West Grove includes a great-granddaughter, tugged the sleeve of reality.
"Have you got power?" Jackson called across a power-free street. "No? Wow, when Andrew came through this block, we were without electric for nearly a month. I hope that doesn't happen this time."
Jackson has been utilityless since last Thursday. "We lost a refrigerator full of food. Batteries are so expensive -- to keep putting them in the flashlights and radios is rough. Not having air conditioning ... the heat is so hard on the children. And on animals," Jackson said kindly, noting the bedraggled state of The Bitch and her pack.
Don't worry, Ms. Jackson, the electric will come back eventually, and maybe, between Katrina and Trina, the VMAs will blow another direction next year.