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Articles on this Page
- 08/18/15--05:00: _Pre-Gaming With Jak...
- 08/18/15--06:00: _Peaches' New "Close...
- 08/18/15--09:34: _The Raw Rebellion o...
- 08/18/15--11:00: _Israeli Shoegazers ...
- 08/20/15--03:00: _Seth Meyers and Key...
- 08/20/15--05:56: _Patti Smith Writes ...
- 08/21/15--01:58: _Introducing "Pooduc...
- 08/24/15--03:55: _Introducing Our Sep...
- 08/24/15--05:00: _Scenes from the Afr...
- 08/24/15--10:00: _All Our Favorite Lo...
- 08/25/15--08:20: _The 5 Best Kanye We...
- 08/26/15--02:00: _Premiere: Slim Twig...
- 08/26/15--02:54: _Jeremy Scott and CL...
- 08/26/15--10:00: _The 15 Most Influen...
- 08/28/15--07:00: _Nicki, Taylor, and ...
- 08/28/15--09:30: _Talking to the Dire...
- 08/30/15--16:45: _Listen to Miley Cyr...
- 08/31/15--02:00: _Kim and Kanye Are N...
- 08/31/15--03:30: _ 2015 VMAs Mark MTV...
- 08/31/15--07:05: _VMAs 2015: The Best...
- 08/18/15--05:00: Pre-Gaming With Jake Levy, Club Kid And "Mario Puzo Fanboy/Stylist"
- 08/20/15--05:56: Patti Smith Writes A Finale Ode For "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"
- 08/24/15--05:00: Scenes from the Afropunk Fancy Dress Ball
- 08/24/15--10:00: All Our Favorite Looks From AFROPUNK Fest
- 08/25/15--08:20: The 5 Best Kanye West Videos That Got Snubbed by the VMAs
- 08/26/15--02:00: Premiere: Slim Twig Goes Slow-Mo On "Fadeout Killer"
- 08/26/15--02:54: Jeremy Scott and CL On Moschino, Pop Culture and the Power Of Girls
- 08/26/15--10:00: The 15 Most Influential Moments of the VMAs
- 08/28/15--07:00: Nicki, Taylor, and Miley Have a High Bar to Clear For Best VMA Beefs
- 08/30/15--16:45: Listen to Miley Cyrus' New Album, "Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz"
- 08/31/15--02:00: Kim and Kanye Are Now Kidney Philanthropists
- 08/31/15--03:30: 2015 VMAs Mark MTV's Comeback to Cool
- 08/31/15--07:05: VMAs 2015: The Best and Worst Red Carpet Fashion
Clad in oversized Calvin Klein boxer briefs and mismatched stockings, Jake Levy is smoking an American Spirit as he fingers through a clothing rack in his Flatbush apartment. Jake's friends, a beautiful, well-dressed bunch that look like they could be cast in a Harmony Korine movie, are strewn on a mattress listening to Ciara and critiquing his outfits.
The 24-year-old stylist opts for a vintage Moschino button-down covered in phrases like "Non-conformist" and "Attention" before converting it into a makeshift pencil skirt to pair with a sheer gold tank top. This is his look for "Thotlandia," a rager he's co-hosting tonight at Bushwick's Club Republic.
While Jake's often spotted at NYC's of-the-moment parties, the LA transplant has had a diverse array of day jobs that include working in a birthing clinic to babysitting to note-taking for focus groups. Fashion, however, is his main love. After a modeling scout found him on Instagram, he was cast in shows for Vaquera and 69 Worldwide during NYFW this past February. And what began as a vacation ended up being a permanent stay. "I had to be [in New York] to realize 'Oh wait, it's all here.' I needed to come here to have it smacked into me that 'you will continue to be a nanny forever unless you change your location'," he explains between sips of white wine. So he cancelled his flight back to LAX, moved to Brooklyn, and here we are. Recently, he's been making the transition from model to stylist and has styled shoots for Editorial Magazine, Novembre Magazine and Bullett Media. He was also one of the forces behind Instagram trend #HeelConcept.
As Jake continues to get ready, he lets us talk to him about everything from thot culture, Marc Jacobs, and political theory. Read his thoughts, and check out Rebecca Smeyne's photos, below.
"I'm surprisingly influenced by rock 'n' roll... D.I.Y. Carrie Bradshaw...Oh! And The Sopranos. I'm very influenced by American mafia cinema. Sopranos, The Godfather, Goodfellas, Casino."
"[My dad] brought me to work one day [to his office at the Virgin Records headquarters] and it turned out the Spice Girls were coming in. And they were obsessed with me...There's photos of Ginger and Scary Spice playing tug-of-war with me and they were like 'He's my boyfriend!''No, he's MY boyfriend!' I'm not humble about it."
"I don't identify as trans. I'm sort of a transvestite in that I wear women's clothing...I wouldn't refer to it as drag. Drag is definitely performing a gender, and when I wear a dress I'm not trying to perform a specific gender. It's what I think looks good on my body."
"My favorite episode of Sex and the City is 'Splat!' when that woman falls out the window. The reason why that's my favorite episode, besides the fact that the woman falls out the window, is because Carrie Bradshaw wore the most amazing Marc Jacobs dress from the fall 2002 ready-to-wear collection in that scene."
"I [first visited NYC] when I was seventeen...I didn't do anything touristy. I was trying to be underground about it except that I wasn't. I was, like, going to Soho."
"When Rich Homie Quan's 'Flex' comes on, I go off. That is my song right now. 'Walked in, 30 thousand in my pocket...'"
"My dream is to be Rihanna's creative director. Like, fire Mel. And don't take that off the record. I'd really like her to wear brands like Vetements and Grace Wales Bonner."
"As fashionable as I am, I hate being fashionably late."
"By the time I was 10, I had a crazy knowledge of the history of movies. Most of the movies I wasn't allowed to see but one of the fun things about that is I'd imagine what those movies were based on information, so I'd fill in the blanks. I think that's still so much a part of me. I feel like, even as a stylist now, I like having certain limitations and filling in certain blank spaces that aren't immediately present."
"I have my own idea of what thots are. It refers to a lot of girlfriends or wives of powerful people but also people who are powerful in and of themselves. And some people might be like 'It's a hoe,' but I'm sorry because a thot is a caretaker. Not in a negative, demeaning way but in a loving way."
"Here, the nightlife situation is very much related to the fashion industry and other media industries. It's a more multifaceted scene [compared to Los Angeles]. You can be a nightlife person and be a stylist."
Peaches tapped Kim Gordon to sing the hook on her new track, "Close Up," off her forthcoming album, Rub (out September 25), and today we get to see the two team up again in the bonkers new video. In the clip we see the rapper playing a wrestler and Gordon as her vape pen-puffing coach who rolls her eyes and grumbles as Peaches faces off against a slew of female wrestlers and IRL luchadores with monikers like Dirty Sanchez (who, trigger warning, lives up to his name). The montage of competitors is pretty hypnotic -- that is, until copious amounts of various bodily fluids enter the picture. We won't spoil the what happens but watch the insane, slightly NSFW video above.
Despite the Lower East Side's head-spinning changes over the past twenty years, one of its defining 'downtown' characteristics has managed to endure: It's still a magnet for skateboarders. Thanks in part to the Les Coleman skatepark on Pike Street under the Manhattan Bridge and the rebirth of art bar and skater mecca Max Fish last year, ollies and kickflips are as ubiquitous as the neighborhood's high-rise luxury condos. Fashion photographer David Paul Larson has devoted a new portfolio on his website documenting the boys and girls of the LES skate scene, and his black-and-white images have a timeless quality that wonderfully underlines the scrappy punk spirit of any skate scene, in any neighborhood. Per Larson, who grew up skating,"I've always loved the culture, diversity and the rebellious nature of the sport -- it's never been mainstream. These people skate because they love the sport. Its dirty, raw and dangerous. I wanted to portray this community as a raw, un-retouched, document of this culture." Scroll through for Larson's work below and see the rest here. (And, yes, that's Madonna's son Rocco Ritchie in the first photo.)
While news reports in America might give a lot of people the impression that life in Tel Aviv is full of excitement -- both of the good and the bad variety -- Israeli shoegaze band Vaadat Charigim say otherwise. Their newest video is for their song "Hashiamum Shokea" (or "The Boredom Sinks In"), the title track off their sophomore album (whose direct English translation is Sinking As A Stone). According to the band, the song aims to tackle the title's idea sonically "through plateau-like compositions that draw from the repetitiveness of ambient music" and lyrically with lines that relate what it's like to grow up in TLV amidst "repeated situations of war, demonstrations, injustice, prejudice...the endless drag of hopelessness in the region." To that end, the clip shows lead singer Juval Haring looking pensive and frustrated while local Tel Aviv artists and Haring's bandmates dance, swirl and eat in the background. "The protagonist is going nowhere, pondering boredom, god, and death," they tell us. We're excited to be premiering the video, above, and you can peep the group's tour dates HERE.
Last night Key & Peele's Keegan-Michael Key came on Late Night With Seth Meyers and he and Seth did a fun (if cringe-inducing) segment on 1am flirting tips ("from two married guys who have been out of the game for a while"). Start your day by watching their cascade of awful pick-up lines like "Hello beautiful. Do you come here often and, if so, do you know where the toilets are?" and "If you were a vegetable, you'd be a cute-cumber. I'd be an eggplant -- no, zucchini! No, eggplant! Eggplant! Final answer, eggplant!"
Our cover stars Olivier Rousteing and Jeremy Scott, posing with their muses Jennifer Lopez and rising K-Pop star CL, have brought new energy and life to the fashion houses Balmain and Moschino and taken luxury to the masses while modernizing their brands.
Elsewhere in the issue, we talk to Riccardo Tisci, who is moving his Givenchy fashion show to New York Fashion Week this year as the brand sets to open a flagship in Manhattan. We also check in with Alexander Wang, who resigned from Balenciaga to focus on his namesake company as we were shipping this issue, about his luxury legacy. You'll also find interviews with design duos Proenza Schouler and Dan and Dean Caten of Dsquared2 as well as a striking photo spread on luxury and all of its outrageous iterations with famed architect-designers Roman & Williams.
But this issue goes far beyond the limitations of luxury as it applies to fashion. We've got a hilarious essay by Kathy Griffin on the luxury of time; Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to us about the California drought and water conservation; and we take a trip to Cuba and reflect on the luxury of freedom and travel without restriction. The issue also includes a powerful interview with Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning conducted via snail mail from her jail cell with musician Holly Herndon about the luxury of privacy and how it applies to art, activism and gender.
And that's only the half of it. Stay tuned Wednesday for our cover stories with Rousteing, J.Lo, Scott and CL and look for our issues on stand Monday, August 31st.
AFROPUNK Festival returned to Brooklyn this weekend and this year a new event was added to the much-anticipated line-up: a Friday night Fancy Dress ball, held at the festival grounds inside Commodore Barry Park and headlined by fest star Grace Jones with other performances by Cakes da Killa, Mike Q and Bill Coleman. The party raised funds for the AFROPUNK Global Initiative, which, according to the site "dedicates itself to the promotion of diversity in media and the arts in addition to volunteer service." Much like the festival itself, the party's guests did not skimp on the A++ outfits and our photographer, Rebecca Smeyne, spotted everything from "funerary chic" looks to fantastic headwear (think: turbans, headwraps, giant bows and more) and feathers, flowers, and eye-catching prints galore. Take a peek at photos from the night, below.
AFROPUNK Festival once again returned to Brooklyn's Commodore Barry Park this past weekend, featuring an epic line-up that included Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, Kelis, Danny Brown, SZA and so much more. Friday night saw a Fancy Dress Ball take over the park that also saw Jones headlining (along with Cakes Da Killa, Mike Q and Bill Coleman) -- see pics HERE -- and both the pre-party and the main event were full of spectacularly on-point fashion both on-and-off-stage. We sent a photographer to shoot some of the best street style out there and hear attendees' thoughts on everything from how they put together their look to the meaning of 'AFROPUNK' and why the fest has become such a beacon of inclusivity and acceptance. Take a look at photos, which also include shots of Grace Jones' performance, below.
"This is my natural style -- I'm a bohemian kind of guy. [I'm excited to say] Lenny Kravitz -- he's my idol. I remember seeing one of his videos when I was twelve and I was like, 'You can be black and do rock 'n roll?' He changed my life."
"I believe it's impossible to embody AFROPUNK [but] everybody is here and experiencing it and we're all contributing to this one, weird amalgamation of awesomeness. My tribute to Sandra Bland [during my performance] as a black woman was stating, 'You know what? I'm not safe.' I felt that everything that was happening with police brutality couldn't happen to me because I was a 'good girl' that's as beautiful and articulate as Sandra Bland and they snuffed her out. I like like now nobody is safe. Your skin makes you a target and I felt like I needed to bare witness to what's happening and I need everyone [to do so], too. I believe we can put a stop to this if we speak of truth and power so I felt compelled to speak her name."
"My normal look is very punk and pink. I hate anything that's normal. I'm constantly going against the grain and since I work in a corporate job, I'm constantly fighting to be myself."
“You are speaking with Em, nothing but a gem. Let me tell y’all, get them M’s. I’m here to represent. Shout out to all the people black with melanin, because they’re here, and not to pretend. I write a lot of poetry. AFROPUNK is a beautiful collage of different shades of beautiful black women, and black men...For my outfit, I wanted a black-out outfit to represent all of the beautiful souls that are here, that has melanin. Shout out to all the Queens, no matter what shade you be. I’m here because I’m a witness and I see."
"I embody AFROPUNK because I fit in here, but I am an outsider.”
"This is my first year, and I traveled from Seattle just to see Grace Jones. I am really upset I missed out on her performance and Cakes Da Killa’s performance last night at the Fancy Dress ball. My outfit was implemented by the heat, but its ethereal, and fun! I embody AFROPUNK because it’s so inclusive, but it’s amazing to be here as a trans person and support trans issues.”
"My outfit came from how I dress day-to-day. I always mix feminine silhouettes with a twist of tomboy-ish style."
"My look was inspired by Egyptian art and history."
"I traveled all the way from Chicago for AFROPUNK but I like to look at it as Afro-Futurism -- not AFROPUNK. I feel like a lion -- someone told me I look like Scar from the Lion King."
"I feel Afro-centric by sporting a dashiki-inspired top and bottom and tribal face paint."
"This is a place where I can actually come and fit in since I grew up not really knowing where to go. My outfit was inspired by Erykah Badu as I grew up listening to her."
Ryan Drake and Alex Brooklyn
"We're trying to hear some good music, soak up all this melanin richness and beauty...We hope Lenny's pants rip again!"
"I am AFROPUNK. I am glad there is finally a title for who I am and what I stand for. It’s not just about being black, but also being any ethnicity and just embracing it. The inspiration for today’s outfit is Lenny Kravitz, as he is playing tonight. I am sporting a thigh high boot which is dedicated to Lenny Kravitz, because I believe in Lenny Kravitz and I believe in his crotch."
"AFROPUNK is self-acceptance and celebrating who I am, it’s a coming home or meet in the middle, a place where I can come and breathe and enjoy other peoples presence while they bask in being themselves."
DJ Kitty Cash
"The detail on my booty is a sticker that says 'Very Black' I just love what it says and what it stands for.”
"I'm from Fort Worth, Texas...my crew and I were pulled by AFROPUNK and had to attend. I perform so my outfit is what I can be found usually wearing. It's Ethiopian wedding garb and a fellow Ethiopian recognized it!"
A dancer during Grace Jones set
Grace Jones and a dancer
Today, MTV announced Kanye West as the recipient of the Video Vanguard Award at this year's Video Music Awards. This is well-deserved, but also pretty funny for a number of reasons -- in addition to Kanye's checkered past at the VMAs, he's barely been recognized by the body that bestows the awards. Only two West music videos have taken home statues at the ceremony (for "Jesus Walks" and "Good Life"), but that's nothing compared to the many, many pieces of visual art that were snubbed. Here are the five most noteworthy exclusions from VMAs past.
5. "Through the Wire"
One of the best early Kanye videos, "Through the Wire" is good precisely because of how simple it is. It might not have the visual flair of the "Jesus Walks" video (one of Kanye's first expensive pieces of visual bombast), but the "Jesus Walks" visuals point toward where Kanye wanted to go in his career. "Through the Wire," with its corkboard-Polaroid looks at Kanye's post-accident jaw surgery and attendant warm images from his life in Chicago, paints a more accurate picture of where he was.
4. "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (with Zach Galifianakis)
Somehow, the only one of these videos to not actually feature Kanye is also one of the best (and weirdest). There was a standard "Can't Tell Me Nothing" video, but the version that includes Zach Galifianakis and Will Oldham lip-syncing the lyrics and wandering through a field, with lots of surreal imagery, manages to tap into a something bizarre and funny because of how very un-Kanye it is.
3. "Bound 2"
Remember when people thought this video was bad? Remember when James Franco and Seth Rogen made a not-great parody that mocked the actual parody (and reclamation) of Americana happening in the original? It's crazy that people ever labored under the delusion that Kanye would make a video and somehow not realize it looked corny and low-budget. That's the whole point.
Yes, the epic version of "Runaway," a film unto itself, should count -- it tells the whole story of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and is just beautiful to look at and rich. At the very least, the shortened cut could have been nominated. (Astute Ye observers will note that "Runaway" was nominated for Best Male Video at the 2011 Japan VMAs, but let's not give that ceremony's astuteness the opportunity to let the VMAs proper off the hook.)
1. "Flashing Lights"
Did you know that this video, directed by Spike Jonze, wasn't nominated for a VMA? Are you as angry as I am about that? Aren't you excited to rewatch the sparse, abstract, and violent video where a woman beats Kanye to death with a shovel? Do you know what was nominated from Graduation instead? "Homecoming."
Jeremy, can you tell me who CL is and why you love her?
Jeremy Scott: To me, she is one of my best friends; to her fans, she's the Baddest Female. So yeah, it's a dichotomy. I know she also has an image, and I'm aware of the image -- I contribute to the image. But when I think of her, I don't think of that. I think of who I love and who I know, and it's a very loyal, very sincere and very smart person.
How did you guys meet?
CL: Well, I wore his Adidas shoes in my very first video, and you [Jeremy] saw it on the Internet, and someone from Adidas contacted you?
Scott: I was coming to Korea for Adidas and I said, "I want to do a shoot with her. I want to meet her. I love her. I'm obsessed!" They set up a photo shoot for us so we could meet and do something.Actually, the first video was "Fire"?
Scott: So there were pieces from my own collection in the video and we just instantly clicked. I came dancing into the studio...
CL: We had so much fun. I still remember that day.
Scott: And somehow she coaxed me within a few days to go onstage with her to perform in Korean -- which I don't speak!
CL: You were good!
Scott: And I somehow rapped or sang in Korean.
CL: Yeah. The youngest girl in my band, because we were performing at a club, couldn't come in.
Scott: She was underage so I took her part. It was a lot of fun. We have many good memories, and we've had many, many, many since then -- not with me onstage though!
Jeremy, what is your definition of luxury?
Scott: For me, the things that are luxurious are things that are rare. It's not really about how much something costs or whether it's "limited edition"; it's about how special it is. It could be a mass-produced thing. It doesn't need to be expensive. And maybe that's why it has changed: it's not so much about the most expensive materials and the most expensive workmanship and the most amount of time you can say something took to make. Of course I realize that's not a bad thing, but it can also just become heavy and old. You can make something that's very "all that" but still ugly and not special.
Do you see changes in the luxury market in terms of newer designers moving in?
Scott: I never really thought about it. There's obviously a younger crop of designers, and I think that means a younger crop of clientele. There's a generational shift of what someone 20-35 thinks is special, beautiful, rare, unique and luxurious versus someone who's 45, 55, 60, who's been that customer for a while. That's why, when I make things, I try to make something that you've never seen before. Even if it's using things you are familiar with. I'm all about that, because that's iconography -- a way to communicate with the masses. You can speak to more people while making hybrids of things that are special and unique.
What you've been doing with Moschino is so fun. How do you balance that playfulness with luxury?
Scott: Honestly, I have the best manufacturing and the best quality at my fingertips, so it's just like, "I'm going to make that giant milkshake into a purse." I can do it and make it with beautiful quality. I can take these very pop ideas and then they have this dichotomy: the way they're made does follow the tradition of "luxury." I'm just giving it a new image, to a degree; a different take, as opposed to an alligator purse.
Do you feel like you need a celebrity or a recognizable face for a luxury line these days?
Scott: I have such an affinity for musicians especially. I'm not really an actress' designer. I love musicians because, if their job is to personify a part of their personality, then I can come in and help turn up the volume on it. I love that, because it is really being with a unique person and creating with a unique person, and that's why I have these strong female relationships like I do with CL, Katy, Rih, Miley. I'm lucky I have those relationships with people I feel so inspired by. I am the musicians' designer because I do things that are stronger and more eccentric. I get it: actresses have to blend and become other people all the time. I'm not that person. My design stands out, it personifies. It's like a megaphone. And I love that [CL et al] can carry my message further.
CL, as a pop star, how do you see that relationship between music and fashion?
It always goes together. But I feel full when I wear Jeremy's stuff. Sometimes it could get boring if you just wear all black, but his all black is a whole different thing. So whatever I wear, I feel like I could play this character onstage; it gets me into that zone. I started wearing his stuff when I started my career, so it's always been there.
What is it about Jeremy's work that speaks to Korean audiences?
CL: It's not only Korea; I'd say it's the whole Asian market. A lot of his fans show up when I'm there in Asia, and vice versa. I think they love it because it's just good! How else can I explain that? In Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, we're more into colorful, cute, very animated, so I think we're more connected to that too.
Scott: I feel like Asia has always been super open to "new." Maybe because there's already such an ancient culture, anything new is exciting. I feel like that's why it's always been so quickly embraced there. I do think my clothes set you apart, and that is something that is great in Asia. There is less hair-color difference, unless you input it yourself, and there are things that are already keeping people more similar, so you can set yourself apart easier.
Is Korea a major force in luxury?
CL: I think a lot of the young kids right now are looking for something new,and they want to look different. Especially girls, and this is why I'm trying to come out here -- to set an example of an Asian girl. A lot of Asian girls love being basic because it's safe. But the thing is, a lot of my fans are those girls, and they want to be bolder, but there's no one they could look up to and be like, It's OK to be that way. There's no one out here who will do that, and I feel like I have done enough for Asia and changed a lot of girls. Even if it's a phone case, they try. Girls in Asia are very obedient, shy, timid, quiet, but I can tell that it's changing, and I want them to be stronger and tell them that it's OK to be different. Being special is a luxury, and I don't think we have that. Yet.
Hair by Danilo (Jeremy Scott) and Marcy Harmon (CL), makeup by David Hernandez for NARS (Scott) and PONY (CL); photographer assistant: Kevin Kozicki; digital assistant: Alex de la Hidalga; style assistant: Marc Eram
See Our Double Covers! Olivier Rousteing & J.Lo and Jeremy Scott and CL
Read Our Cover Story with Olivier Rousteing and J.Lo
The VMAs are an odd awards ceremony. In contrast to, say, songs, movies, TV shows, books, Broadway plays, etc., people aren't quite as invested in music videos as an art form. (Have you ever watched a music video and thought, "Wow, that was totally VMA bait"?) But that doesn't mean they're not a cultural institution like similar entertainment industry pageants. In fact, by stripping the objective "recognition" of "artistry" from the VMAs, they've been freed to become a bizarre yearly ritual of delightful pop insanity, an event that has spawned more than its fair share of iconic and influential moments -- many of which you might have forgotten even happened there. Today, we run through the history of the VMAs to remember the sheer breadth of things that have happened there, and remind you: Yes, that happened at the VMAs.
Madonna's White Wedding (1984)
The MTV Video Music Awards started in 1984, and appropriately enough, the entire evening was stolen by Madonna, arguably the greatest music video artist of all time. Wearing a combination wedding dress/bustier and a "boy toy" belt buckle, she writhed around onstage while performing "Like a Virgin," the single that cemented her status as an icon. During an era when MTV was still shiny and new, the inaugural awards show was truly a can't miss event, and Madonna seized the moment to demand our complete attention. She hasn't relinquished it since. -- Michael Tedder
Bon Jovi Inspires MTV Unplugged (1989)
Taking a slightly different sonic tack than you would expect from Bon Jovi, this acoustic performance is largely credited with inspiring the MTV Unplugged series -- which, you know, went on to be kind of a big deal. -- Eric Thurm
Michael Stipe Schools Everyone (1991)
Things Were Different In The '90s, Part One. The late '80s and early '90s saw a number of artists raised on countercultural ideas publicly wrestling with how to square their beliefs with superstardom. In 1991, R.E.M.'s video for "Losing My Religion" broke the Athens alternative-rock pioneers into the mainstream, and frontman Michael Stipe used the occasion to expose the MTV audience to some ideas that were important to him. (This was a moment when being politically aware was de rigueur for hip rock bands.) R.E.M. and director Tarsem Singh pretty much ran the table that night, and every time Stipe collected an award he wore a brightly colored t-shirt that sported a socially-aware slogan, including "Wear A Condom,""Handgun Control" and "Love Knows No Color," which was emblazoned on a pink shirt accessorized with a red AIDS awareness ribbon. Preachy? Maybe a little, but it was still a brave move by a mainstream figure in 1991, during an era when people were both deeply afraid of yet deeply ill-informed about AIDS, and mainstream acceptance of homosexuality was far in the future. It's very unlikely that anyone at this year's ceremony will follow Stipe's lead and have the courage to use their moment to call for gun safety, but we can always hope. -- MT
Krist Novoselic's Bass Face (1992)
Things Were Different In The '90s, Part Two. A year after R.E.M's coronation, Nirvana crashed the mainstream in much less time, but Kurt Cobain was determined to prove he would only play by his own rules. He refused to perform "Smells Like Teen Spirit," much to the consternation of the event's organizers, and pushed instead for a new composition titled "Rape Me." They settled on a powerhouse run through of "Lithium," though the band goaded MTV executives with a few introductory bars of "Rape Me." Towards the end of the performance bassist Krist Novoselic, frustrated by equipment problems, threw his bass into the air. He misjudged the return, however, and ended up with a bass in the face for his efforts. As he stumbled off the stage in a daze, drummer Dave Grohl stepped up to the microphone and began taunting Axl Rose ("Hi Axl! Where's Axl?"), as retaliation for the Guns N' Roses vocalist boorish backstage behavior earlier in the evening. -- MT
Fiona Apple Calls Out the World (1997)
Things Were Different In The '90s, Part Three. Fiona Apple won the Moonman for Best New Artist, largely on the success of her breakthrough video for "Criminal." Perhaps conflicted that she had to make a video in her underwear to people to pay attention to her and wary of mainstream success, she gave one of the most inflammatory speeches in the history of award shows. It started with a shout out to Maya Angelou and the opening salvo "This world is bullshit," and from there she proceeded to tear into the star machine. The speech incurred an immediate backlash (Et tu, Janeane Garofalo?) with many quick to accuse Apple of being a hypocrite, but it's not like she was wrong about a single thing. Go with yourself always, Fiona. -- MT
The Beastie Boys Decry Rape Culture (1999)
Things Were Different In The '90s, Part Four. In 1999, MTV rewarded the Beastie Boys for a decade plus of iconic clips with the Video Vanguard Award (basically the MTV equivalent of a lifetime achievement). But the Beastie Boys had bigger things on their mind. In the wake of the sexual assaults of Woodstock 1999, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz took the opportunity to denounce the sexism of the music industry and called for musicians and concert promoters to work harder to ensure "the safety of all the girls and the women who come to our shows." The audience, which included such notable feminists at Metallica, Kid Rock and Fred Durst, was not at all pleased to be put on blast. Horovitz's wife, iconic riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna, later said "we left 5 minutes after this because it was so far beyond the 'who farted?' feeling, it felt like people were gonna kill us." -- MT
Macy Gray's Hard Sell (2001)
In 2001, presenter Macy Gray really, really, really wanted people to know that her new album The Id was coming out soon. At that point, she was two years away from her hit "I Try," and was eager to prove to the world she was no one-hit wonder. Not afraid to be obvious, she wrote a blue, metallic-looking dress that night that read "My New Album Drops Sept. 18, 2001." Just so no one missed the point, the back of her dress urged viewers: "Buy It." The tactic didn't do all that much for her sales, but hey, we'll always have "My Nutmeg Phantasy." -- MT
Eminem Gets Mad at a Puppet (2002)
If you're looking for the moment when people started to turn on Eminem, that time he lost his shit at the 2002 VMAs because Triumph the Insult Comic Dog poked fun at him is a pretty solid tipping point for when the rapper's tough guy shtick finally got old for all but the diehards. But, perhaps worrying that he wasn't appearing humorless enough that night, during an acceptance speech, Eminem later told his rival Moby (who had criticized Eminem in 2000 for homophobic and sexist lyrics) that "I will hit a man with glasses" if he didn't stop hurting his feelings. Classy. -- MT
Madonna, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera Kiss (2003)
Madonna, queen of the VMAs, gets another entry on this list. She used her accumulated political capital to help Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera vault into adult pop stardom using the awards ceremony as a staging ground, something that's happened several times over the years. -- ET
Lil Kim Shows Up Fresh From Prison (2006)
Having just been released from jail, Lil Kim appears at the ceremony in a prison jumpsuit, ostensibly escorted by guards. Her speech before presenting the award for Best Male Video is just full of excitement (for obvious reasons), making it the rare VMA moment to be purely enjoyable without even a touch of awkwardness. -- ET
Kanye Interrupts Taylor Swift (2009)
Perhaps the most famous VMAs moment in recent history, "I'mma let you finish" might also be one of the most important. Sticking up for his friend (and deserving artist) Beyoncé, Video Vanguard recipient Kanye West found himself at the apex of the popular "foot in mouth" narrative that had coalesced around him. With his reputation on the rocks, Kanye retreated to record My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, an album for which we can at least partly thank the VMAs. -- ET
Lady Gaga's Meat Dress (2010)
...and Morrissey wept. -- MT
"Trap Lord in Stores Now" (2013)
When Jason Collins -- who had recently come out as the first openly gay male athlete in a major professional sport -- signed up to present at the VMAs, he surely didn't expect to be faced with the sheer awkwardness and obliviousness of A$AP Rocky. Flacko clearly has no idea how to deal with being on the stage with Collins, following up a heartfelt speech with a plug for A$AP Ferg's album and an off-handed wave indicating that, yes, he is aware that Collins is gay. Trap Lord is in stores now. Never forget it. -- ET
Miley Cyrus Twerks on Robin Thicke (2013)
Lots of people just don't get Miley Cyrus like we do. She's always been comfortable with herself, but getting to the point where she's as public and unabashed about it as she is now necessitated a few bumps in the road, including this performance with creepy older man Robin Thicke. At the time, the spectacle brought down a hail of thinkpieces about everything from cultural appropriation to discussions of Miley's sexuality to complaints about Thicke. -- ET
This was a banner moment both for Bey and for the mainstream success of the current version of the feminist movement -- or at least one part of it. No matter what you think of the performance, or of the ideas (watered-down or otherwise) it tried to convey, it's pretty incredible that a massive pop star did something like this at all. And it could only have happened at the VMAs. -- ET
Taylor Swift's awkward Twitter feud with Nicki Minaj over the institutional racism of the VMAs/everything was thiiiis close to being successfully resolved -- Swift apologized, and Nicki accepted the apology. Sadly, VMAs host Miley Cyrus -- as great as she is -- has tried to insert herself into the conversation, claiming in an interview with The New York Times that Minaj was "unkind" and not approaching Taylor Swift in the right way. Many people decried it as an attempt to tell a black woman how she should deal with institutional racism, and contributes to the music industry's history of whitewashing (or, in this case, 'whitesplaining'). But it's also not even close to the best beef leading up to and/or resulting from the VMAs.
Because the VMAs are designed to produce so much pageantry, it's not surprising that they also lead to conflict. Some of these conflicts are captured in our look at the awards' most memorable moments, like Moby and Eminem's fight in 2002 or the Kanye West-Taylor Swift interruption of 2009.
Sometimes, there are just extreme tensions and heat between players at the awards, like the conflict at the heart of the attempted Van Halen reunion in 1996.
But there's also been physical violence at the ceremony, like in 1991, when Bret Michaels got into a fistfight with once and future Poison bandmate C.C. DeVille. In 2007, Kid Rock slapped Tommy Lee, leading to a fight that got both dudes thrown out of the venue. None of this, however, compares to the sniping between RuPaul and Milton Berle. "You used to wear gowns and now you wear diapers" is a stone-cold classic.
Miley, Taylor, Nicki -- if you're planning anything for the VMAs, you probably shouldn't do it. But if you do, put in the effort to make sure you clear this high, insane, soapy bar.
With New York millennial parodies practically becoming a tired trope at this point, Fort Tilden arrives as a refreshing reminder that there are still so many things to make fun of Generation Y about. The dark, independent comedy, written and directed by Charles Rogers and Sarah-Violet Bliss, follows two Brooklyn trust-fund hipster girls as they play hooky (from what? we're not sure) on a summer day and head to Fort Tilden beach to pursue some cute bros they met at a terrible party. Their unnecessarily difficult journey to the beach is a hilarious dissection of the familiar, but always shocking, entitlement often displayed by twenty-somethings, while also bringing new, profound commentary to the surface that's so on point, it's hard to watch.
"It's a satire of people's bullshit," Rogers said of his film, which has won accolades from film festivals including the Grand Jury prize at SXSW last year, and has helped the staff land dreams jobs writing for Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer.
Indeed, bullshit runs high with the film's central characters, Harper and Allie (brilliantly played by Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty), two romper-wearing, Williamsburg roommates/frenemies.
Harper is a self-proclaimed "artist," who spends more time ripping apart other people's passions and hitting her wealthy father up for money than on her own, mediocre paintings. Allie, outwardly more sensitive than Harper, is joining the Peace Corps in Liberia to "do something valuable," which is just an attempt to prove to others (especially Harper) that she's capable of following through with a commitment.
Rogers explains his and Bliss's inspiration for these two ladies, who are mixtures of themselves, as well as "intense artist-types" they encountered in film school at NYU. "It was never our mission to write a social statement," Rogers said. "We just wanted to tell the story as we understood it, with two complicated, funny, and sympathetic characters."
At first glance, it's hard to feel any sympathy for Harper and Allie, who pay $200 (in written check) for a "rustic" barrel surrounded by garbage on the street, complacently watch a kid steal one of their bikes from afar, then leave the other bike they borrowed from a lonely neighbor next to a dumpster in Flatbush to get an Uber. "He must have bad karma and that's why this is happening," Harper suggests while they cover the bike in trash bags to hide it in a glimpse of the total lack of accountability these two display. Allie guiltily dodges phone calls from her Peace Corps officer, Cabiria (Allyson Kaye Daniel), who needs her to finish her induction process. "Cabiria is just too real," Allie says later by way of explanation. The originality of these quips and scenarios (which come off like the worst sound bites you hear on the L Train) is what makes Fort Tilden worth watching. "We were just following our instincts on what felt right," Rogers said of the dialogue.
Harper and Allie aren't the only bad eggs. There's also studly Benji (Peter Vack), Harper's arrogant, Charles Manson-y sex buddy whom she clearly has strong feelings for. Benji surrounds himself with a crew of gays (the amazing Max Jenkins, John Early and Evan Hoyt Thompson) who feed into his ego. "Oh my god, I had a dream that you died!" Max tells Harper, threatened by her presence. Rogers (who is gay himself) humorously observed, "There is an epidemic of straight men who thrive on gay male attention."
Then we meet Marin and Amanda (Desiree Nash, Becky Yamamoto), Allie's Ann Taylor Loft-y friends in Teach For America, whose searing, holier than thou attitudes will give you PTSD from every conversation with someone you went to college with who was accepted into that program.
While the movie skewers Brooklyn youth culture, it also celebrates the vast borough's beautiful, melancholy neighborhoods during the dog days of summer, especially when the duo finally makes it to the alien world of Fort Tilden beach -- the sweeping shots of Manhattan's skyline resting in the distance provide a reminder that you are truly out here.
"You grow up watching You've Got Mail," Roger said, "and have this perception of what New York City is, but that is literally just a 10 block radius; the outer borough is so amazing and weird."
It's there on the desolate beach where Harper and Allie hit rock bottom, discovering that the dudes they came all that way for (the hilarious Griffin Newman, Jeffrey Scaperotta) are actually dorky seniors in high school who arrive in tow with two topless, dreadful teen girls (Hallie Haas, Christine Spang) who just got back from Thailand and write poetry. The dudes even take the molly our heroines bought for the trip without asking. Fuck that shit.
"Don't worry about that woman, she just needs to suffer with herself," one of the ~groovy~ teen girls later tells Allie to comfort her about Cabiria's disappointment in her flakiness. "How do old people buy drugs?" the other girl asks meanwhile as the teens walk off the beach. By the end of the movie, you can't help but feel major kinship with Harper and Allie, exhausted and defeated in a $100 cab back to Williamsburg (paid for with a check, of course.)
These depressing moments in the story, however, didn't faze Rogers. When I asked if he ever felt like he and Bliss were going too far, he said no. "I could've kept going. I feel like the parent of a shitty kid -- despite evidence that they're a monster, I still think they're amazing."
Will we ever get a follow-up to Harper and Allie's misadventures? "Maybe revisit them down the line, when they're going through a mid-life crisis," Rogers said. "But that means I'll have to have one myself first, so we'll see."
During a head-exploding performance on the Video Music Awards tonight, VMAs host Miley Cyrus announced that her new album, "Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz," is free and on Soundcloud. Listen above, y'all. RIP Pablow the blow fish.
Gone are the days that you looked to MTV to watch music videos, we have YouTube for that. Carson Daly isn't there anymore to debut new artists or introduce us to things that made headlines.
But finally last night, MTV seemed cool again. They turned their famous, "I want my MTV" on its head and asked, what do fans want from MTV? -- and then they gave it to us in two and a half jam-packed hours of controversy, nostalgia, and performances that were a modern iteration of the network's heyday.
We have been watching across social media as Miley Cyrus, the host of this year's awards, prepared for the big night. We knew that Pharrell, the Weeknd, and Nicki Minaj were going to perform, but what we didn't know is that this year the producers and wizards behind the VMAs really had their modern thinking caps on.
Jeremy Scott (one of PAPER's Current Cover Boys) designed the Moon Man and the red carpet, feuds would be fueled and disbanded between Cyrus, Minaj, and Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber would fly, a hip artist like Jen Stark would make trippy graphics, Snoop would bake pot edibles, and last but not least, Kanye West would announce his Presidential candidacy for 2020. Everything about it seemed young and on point as opposed to a bunch of old people trying to pander to young people. They didn't make announcements about the hashtags that you should use for the show, cause young people already knew them. They mixed in iconic footage from years past to remind us who watched those moments live, back in the day -- the heritage of the brand. Even the sponsorships made sense. Pepsi seemed cool for helping to put a stage in the hip part of Downtown LA.
Every moment of the show had you on the edge of your seat or gunning to read the tweets and wanting more. I am not sure what this means for the music video industry, but I can tell you that MTV finally has the pop culture joystick back in their hands and they are firing with all cylinders. MTV was changing culture with these VMAs, they were bringing something new to the social conversation as opposed to filling their most important night with bad mashups of bands that seemed like they bought their way onto the bill. The fans came first this year, and this was like an MTV LSD funhouse of familiar faces.
While you can see all these musicians and artists everyday online, and you don't have to wait for a video to premiere, it was fun to watch as the world saw the madness unfold all at once. I guess I once again want my MTV.
With much fanfare, the VMAs came careening back onto your airwaves (or computer screens) last night, hosted by none other than our summer cover star, Miley Cyrus. The show had a lot of good, a lot of bad, a lot of ugly and awkward but it never failed to be entertaining. Not surprisingly, the night's big winner was Taylor Swift, who took home awards for Video of the Year and Best Collaboration and Best Pop Video and Best Female Video for "Bad Blood" and "Blank Space," respectively, and Nicki Minaj nabbed Best Hip-Hop video for "Anaconda," Fetty Wap was named Artist to Watch for "Trap Queen," Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars scored the Best Male Video award with "Uptown Funk" and Big Sean got Video With a Social Message for his track with Kanye and John Legend, "One Man Can Change the World." And, of course, #YeezyFor2020. But while there was a lot to dissect onstage, there was just as much happening on the red carpet. Below, we rate all the fun n' fugly fashion at the VMAs.
"Miley looked like Blonde Ambition-era Madonna beamed down to Planet Earth from Xanadu in the best way possible. (Although I probably would've ditched the unnecessary dreads.)"-- Abby
"Is it 1905? Like, you can show some skin and take risks Miley."-- Elizabeth
"Nicki looks like a Cleopatra goddess. I don't love the belly button peeking out but she makes it work."-- Abby
"This is sex fire on a stick. It makes me want to pray with Pastor Lydia."--Elizabeth
"Props to Taylor for going 'peak Taylor' with a crop top look. She's feelin' herself."-- Abby
"I thought this was appropriate millennial sparkle fug. Taylor always mixes it up for the VMAs, which is technically an awards show for 12-year-olds, so, like, what? She's going to go full Ellie Saab-floor-length-snooze-gown?"--Elizabeth
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West
"Kim's Balmain dress is very Private Benjamin-chic and I like that they're doing a quasi-matching couples' outfit with the tan-on-tan-on-sand-on-sand palette. That said, I miss the days when Kanye used to show up to awards shows looking like this."-- Abby
"Sometimes people need to grow up and start thinking about sleeve lengths and pockets. Kim K loves a front pocket on a red carpet right now and I support her, as women's clothing is bullshit when it comes to pockets.POCKET JUSTICE.--Elizabeth
"We said it first: Justin's rocking the Kate Gosselin haircut, against better judgment. The rest of the look is totally fine though -- exactly what a young man going to the VMAs should be wearing. In other words, he looks like Miguel."-- Abby
"It's very Lincoln Hawk-chic/Malibu-chainsaw-artist/Harley-lover-raising-two-tween-daughters-on-his-own-but-getting-back-into-dating-but-not-looking-for-hookups and I like that. It's a good look for Bieber."-- -- Elizabeth
"Kylie's dress reminds me of those rope courses you have to climb in "team building" exercises that "companies" do on "corporate retreats." She looks pretty otherwise but I think the hair and makeup slightly ages her -- she's 18 and should own it!"-- Abby
"I liked this ropey little thing and generally feel that long-sleeved shift dresses + a heavy bang = slam-dunk '60s sultriness, but I agree that it's a little much in this case."-- Elizabeth
"This is a pretty demure look for Cara -- especially considering the freakshow that is the VMAs. It's very pretty though and her hair's never looked better."-- Abby
"Cara does a 'fuck-yourself-to-the-darkest-depths-of-the-universe' scowl like no other. It's art. It's beauty. I thought this dress was fine."-- Elizabeth
"Gigi's so pretty but this dress and the spray tan makes her look like a Palm Springs divorcée whose kids are in college and is taking some time to enjoy her alimony and live her life, you know? She drinks Chardonnay over ice every day with lunch and has a hairstylist named Fausto, formerly Freddie Schwartz from Thousand Oaks, who comes to her house and gives her blow-outs before she hits Palm Canyon Drive for a night out with her girlfriends."-- Abby
"Yeah, I agree that maybe Gigi is too young to pull off the parched sun-goddess, Benson & Hedges 100s-grandeur that this look could have been. This is really Lana's game and Lana's game only."-- Elizabeth
Helen Lasichanh and Pharrell Williams
"I miss the hat."-- Abby
"Cute and fun."-- Elizabeth
"Jeremy looks like a Ken doll circus ringmaster -- in other words, he looks amazing."-- Abby
"Agreed. When in doubt, just don't wear a shirt under a tux. It gives the slightest whisper of Chippendales and makes people think of Patrick Swayze, who is someone people should be thinking about once or twice a week anyway."-- Elizabeth
"I love this -- Hailee looks very sophisticated but still cool and fun."-- Abby
"Agreed. She looks very intergalactic, twenty-something SoHo Art Gallery owner who is not just using her family's money to add to the problem. She actually cares about giving platforms to artists whose voices matter and it's not always just about this pedigreed, blue-chip bullshit. Also, that clutch is a dream."-- Elizabeth
"I'm getting sick of all these feather skirts and cut-outs. Rita's body looks amazing but I'm ready to see her in something new."-- Abby
"I feel that everyone's general look should be "boobs Ostrich," so I really loved this."-- Elizabeth
"Two's a trend! (See Nicki Minaj's gold, sparkly, sheer and navel-baring dress.) But the expression she has on her face is exactly how I imagine it must feel like to wear that dress and those shoes."-- Abby
"I wanted this dress to be long, but that's it. She looked awesome and everyone thought about her naked. Good job to all. -- Elizabeth"
"Kris looks great although that extra silk on those sleeves is crusin' for a bruisin' from the Kim K. book of 'no more pilgrim adams family outfits.'"-- Abby
"Kris will serve all-black and a shattered bang until the end of time. It works. She works it. She's worth it. "-- Elizabeth
"It seems like whatever's peeking out underneath those fringe-y scarf things is OK but I'm really not vibing with this look otherwise. Not her best although the hair and makeup looks fantastic."-- Abby
"I like that MTV went with a checkered carpet in bold colors this year."-- Elizabeth
"Emily's stance is very 'I'm out here' but her face says, 'Fuck my stylist who made me wear this terrible look.' She reminds me of a nineteenth century saloon girl who got teleported into a late-80s party at the Trump Tower."-- Abby
"I like that the step-and-repeat backdrops were made to look like giant TVs. I like the big nobs and buttons!"-- Elizabeth
"twigs is giving me young Helena Bonham Carter vibes and it's fabulous."-- Abby
"Agreed, Twigs is serving full-on avant-sex-dungeon-dominatrix, which is exactly how you should dress at an awards show mostly watched by children."-- Elizabeth
"I almost dislike this outfit as much as her 'stripper police' bit."-- Abby
"Same. I like those pink bits but I'm not sure about the collar/top half."-- Elizabeth
"I don't know who Z LaLa is but she should do a duet with Kayvon Zand."-- Abby
"Best dressed of the night. You should always look like a partially deflated mylar balloon and give off a vibe that screams 'hell.' Loved this."-- Elizabeth
"Baddie Winkle stole the whole damn carpet -- love the dress that looks like Oblina from '90s Nickelodeon show Aaahh!!! Real Monsters."-- Abby
"Cutest shoes of the night."-- Elizabeth