When the annual MTV glitzfest of the Video Music Awards begins with Britney slipping Madonna some Louisiana tongue, you can feel certain that your night in front of the TV is going to be quality time. Indeed, this year's VMAs had many moments of greatness, from that opening "Like a Virgin" number onward. The Roots' Ahmir Thompson summed it up best. "Nothing beats the lesbo action," he said backstage. "But if Madonna made out with Missy [Elliott], I would have shot a wad from the seventieth row."
Chris Rock was his usual sacred-cow-humping self, praising Serena and Venus Williams for beating "the crap out of more white girls than Rick James" and dissing Good Charlotte as "more like a mediocre Green Day."
Elsewhere during the show at New York's Radio City Music Hall on August 28th: Puffy with a bottle of Hennessy stashed under his seat; White Stripes drummer Meg White puffing cigarettes in the ladies' lounge and saying, "I hope Johnny Cash wins everything" (alas, it was not to be); Linkin Park's Chester Bennington admitting that he smuggled herb through security in his underwear. Yes!
After the show, Mya filed a police report about a $45,000 watch that was stolen from her dressing room, Iggy Pop went back to his hotel to take care of his dog and everyone else partied. First stop: Justin Timberlake's after-show concert at Roseland. It was an all-star affair, with Pharrell Williams and Timbaland re-creating their cameos from Justified, along with guest guitarist John Mayer. After he finished the Britney-breakup ballad "Cry Me a River," Timberlake started to sing, "You're so vain/I bet you think this song is about you . . . because it is." Ouch!
Downtown, Good Charlotte threw a party at Lotus for a few hundred of their closest friends. Kelly Osbourne, Avril Lavigne and members of Green Day, Evanescence and Linkin Park played one of the most popular games of the post-VMA festivities: Avoid the Hilton sisters. While the boys were running away from Nicky and Paris, Osbourne and Lavigne reportedly skipped out on their bar bill — though it must have been soda, since they're both underage.
It was wall-to-wall sex at Maverick chieftain Guy Oseary's bash at the Four Seasons restaurant. Gisele! Jessica Alba! Nicole Kidman! Britney getting down to Madonna's "Holiday"! Models dancing on tables and hiking up skirts! Everywhere you looked, there was another freakishly beautiful woman in skimpy clothing. Also, Q-Tip, Metallica, Rob Zombie and Ben Stiller were there, but no one noticed.
P. Diddy stopped by for inspiration before hitting his own soiree at Show, which kicked off at 2 A.M. Confetti exploded above the dance floor after every song, as Diddy presided over a throng of celebs. By 3:30, it was so crowded that cops on horseback had the place surrounded, turning away the crowd. Among those shut out: Pharrell Williams. "I'm late, man," he lamented. "I know it's jumpin' in there."
This story is from the October 2nd, 2003 issue of Rolling Stone.