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MTV Video Music Awards

Flasher, profanity, cosmonauts highlight MTV awards

September 5, 1996
Web posted at: 5:45 a.m. EDT

All photos courtesy of the Associated Press.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Some bare skin, profanity from Dennis Miller and an awkward interview from outer space -- it was just another night at the MTV Video Awards.

The year's most unpredictable awards show, where exhibitionism and outrageousness carry more clout than taking home a statuette, invaded Manhattan for the 13th time Wednesday.

Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins were the night's big winners, followed by Alanis Morissette and Coolio.

Host Dennis Miller and David Lee Roth were the big swearers and Rosie O'Donnell had the night's biggest vocal chords for her screeching impersonation of Morissette's "Ironic".

By MTV standards, it was a quiet night for the yellow-haired Rodman, except for a lewd aside to fans of the hometown New York Knicks.

"He seemed to be very respectful," said singer Toni Braxton, who presented an award with Rodman. "He didn't strip or anything like that."

Instead, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers took to flashing, exposing himself in a tribute to the first form of dance -- the strip tease -- as supermodel Claudia Schiffer shrieked and turned away.

Miller sweated through an interview with cosmonauts from the Russian space station Mir. Flustered by the language barrier, he finally looked into the camera and swore.

"Has anything ever gone this poorly?" he asked. "I will be haunted by this for the rest of my life."

Alanis Beck Coolio

And then there were the awards.

The Pumpkins took home seven, including the year's best video for a video homage to a 1902 silent film, "A Trip to the Moon" set to their hit song, "Tonight, Tonight."

It was a triumph after tragedy for the Chicago band, which lost a backup member to a drug overdose and fired its drummer for drug abuse in July.

"It's been a year where it's like we've had to continually come back to what we're in it for -- which is our music," said Billy Corgan, lead singer for the Pumpkins.

Foo Fighters

Still, the bald-pated Corgan couldn't resist biting the hand that saluted him.

"I think, in the end, all videos kind of ruin the song," he said afterwards.

The Pumpkins left it to veteran Neil Young to address rock's heroin epidemic. Surrounded by pictures of drug casualties Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, Young performed a poignant "The Needle and the Damage Done."

Of course, MTV quickly let the moment dissipate when an announcer cut in to say, "Coming up next, Jenny McCarthy."

Modesty was the fashion for other winners. Morissette, who won best female video and best new artist for "Ironic," said it was unfortunate artists had to be judged against one another. Her modesty continued backstage where she declined to give interviews or talk about the impact she's had in such a short time.

Coolio seemed genuinely surprised to beat 2 Pac and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in the best rap video category.

"I just try to use the whole circumference of what I am and what everyone is," Coolio said.


2 Pac, however, seemed to take losing badly. The rapper, a year removed from a prison sentence, joined his entourage for a rather menacing argument with several men in Radio City Music Hall's foyer, drawing police. It did not come to blows.

Still, it was a night of reunions and reconfigurations with the Smashing Pumpkins introducing the drummer who joined the band after Jimmy Chamberlain's arrest for heroin possession. The notorious fighting Gallagher brothers of Oasis were together again. And surprise guests Van Halen showed off Roth, the once and future frontman.

In the end, the night wasn't so much about winning or losing as it was about making sure rock 'n' roll remains fresh, lively, even dangerous.

CNN Correspondent Mark Scheerer and The Associated Press contributed.


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