You expect a good deal of crotch grabbing, booty bouncing, and cleavage presentation at the VMAs. But tonight’s show messed with the stereotypes; those usually responsible for such actions weren’t the ones doing ‘em this year. Here are three memorable moments that involve underwear, no underwear, and strumming oneself.
Pink’s Nipple Slip
She looked great, and sounded strong. And as Pink‘s performance of “So What” made its way through the fake streets of the Paramount back lot, more and more clothes came off. By the time she jumped on stage to conclude the thing, her top was open enough to display the wealth of those lady lumps.
Everyone wants to win. Yet most people wouldn’t go as far as clobbering the competition into submission with a “collapsible metal baton.” But then most people aren’t as desperate or vicious as figure-skating pariah Tonya Harding.
In 1994, the 23-year-old World silver-medalist played a key role in the crude attack on Nancy Kerrigan, a gorgeous goody-goody who was the figure skating equivalent of Snow White, and who Harding believed was her biggest obstacle to Olympic gold. A thug, hired on behalf of the high-school dropout, pounded a club into Kerrigan’s knee as she exited the ice after an Olympic trials run-through in Detroit. After Harding’s bodyguard squealed that she and her creepy husband masterminded the attack, the press went ballistic, milking the good girl/bad girl stereotype for all it was worth.
Nothing good came of Harding’s malicious envy. Although she later dodged jail-time by pleading guilty, she was stripped of her title and banished from the sport. When we last saw Harding, she had traded in her skates for boxing gloves and was trading blows with the equally sleazy Paula Jones.
An heiress living her life as a student in the post-hippie stomping grounds of San Francisco, Patty Hearst seemed to be the picture of privilege. But when members of the Symbionese Liberation Army kicked in her door, mauled her boyfriend, and carried her away for ransom in February of 1974, the 19-year-old’s life was changed forever.
The radical SLA guerillas demanded that their captive’s father, son of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, feed the Bay Area poor–and he complied. But his daughter wasn’t released, and a stream of SLA-distributed audiotapes of her pleas for help began to take on a tone of indictment–she started to chastise her parents for not rescuing her, and sometimes sounded like she was even siding with her captors’ political goals. Hearst’s final tape fully condemned her family, declared her allegiance to the terrorists, and pronounced her rebirth as an SLA member named “Tania.” Soon she was photographed robbing a bank while sporting a beret and assault rifle, kicking off of a string of cross-country holdups in which she played a key role.
When the police finally caught up with Hearst, and a jury sentenced her to 25 years in jail, the public still didn’t know if she’d been a victim of brainwashing or a willing participant in SLA mayhem. It didn’t matter to Jimmy Carter and John Waters, however. The president commuted her sentence, and the director cast her in some of his silliest films. These days the gun-toting “Tania” is a soccer mom in suburban Connecticut.
Although he was best known for his soulful odes to racial harmony and sexual bliss, singer Marvin Gaye‘s personal life was anything but laid back. At age 44, Gaye publicly admitted he was long-time “drug addict and sex freak”, a Safe-for-Work version of one ex-wife’s accusations that Gaye was a porn fiend and chronic masturbator prone to violence and coke binges.
Gaye’s double life mirrored that of his father, Marvin Pence Gay Sr., a fundamentalist preacher in Washington, DC. Despite vowing to wipe out vice in all its guises, Gay Sr. was also a cross-dresser who whipped his children. Unsurprisingly, tension and arguments were common under his roof. Marvin and his father had fierce brawls, the singer later changing his last name to “Gaye” to distance himself.
In 1984, in a house filled with guns, booze, and blow, the Grammy-winning singer and his father had their final skirmish, this time over misplaced business papers. After Gaye knocked his father to the floor, 70-year-old Marvin Sr. got up, retrieved the pistol his son had given him for Christmas, and shot him twice at point blank range, killing him instantly. In a jailhouse interview, Gay Sr. was asked if he loved his son. He responded, “Let’s say that I didn’t dislike him.”
You can bump ‘n grind while simulating orgasm on MTV, and you can cram prime-time TV with cleavage galore, but you can’t bust out the right half of an R&B diva’s very substantial rack during the world’s most-watched sporting event. Justin Timberlake probably had no idea what kind of maelstrom he’d set off when, during the halftime show of the 2004 Superbowl, he ripped open Janet Jackson‘s bustier and her luscious boob popped out, replete with a sunburst nipple shield, The stunt – famously deemed a “wardrobe malfunction” – sparked over half a million complaints to the FCC, and framed Jackson a pop pariah.
The so-called Nipplegate scandal happened at a time when Jackson could have benefited from a little notoriety. But the dreary Damita Jo, released a few weeks later, kinda stiffed, and Jackson never pulled out of her career slump – a bummer. But perhaps the real bummer is that even the slightest whiff of sex has been banished from Superbowl acts ever since.