One of my dearest friends, Angela, and I used to dance on a TV show called The Party Machine with Nia Peeples. We weren’t featured dancers, it was full of people dancing, like American Bandstand, and it was hella fun. Because we were on this show we were able to attend the 1991 MTV Music Awards and it was a night to remember.
We arrived at the Universal Amphitheatre and met a bunch of starts outside of the entrance. Notably Will Smith and Ian Ziering (which leads to another story later). Both were super nice and approachable, and we were stoked to meet them.
Once in the theatre we ran to the front row and stood against the stage for the next three to four hours. It was the very first show to have a standing crowd in the front of the stage and set a precedence for most music award shows moving forward. I didn’t even take a bathroom break the whole time! This now seems like an impossibility, but back then my teenage bladder was good to go for the entire night.
There were a bunch of random acts like Poison, Queensryche, Paula Abdul, EMF, and Don Henley. We were able to see amazing performances from Van Halen, Mariah Carey, LL Cool J and Metallica. We talked to Cher during the commercial break while she showed us her tattoos, and we swooned at Christian Slater and Lenny Kravitz while they presented awards. It was all so Hollywood, and there was one last surprise, the finale; Prince and the New Power Generation’s performance of “Gett Off”.
Do you remember Prince wearing that canary yellow, lace suit, with the butt cheeks cut out? Well I will remember it for the rest of my life. Prince’s tiny tush was right up in front of us, while dancers writhed all over the place. Believe me, what you saw on TV was nothing, not even close to what we saw with our impressionable eyes, just inches from the stage. Their performance brought down the house and ended the award show with a bang, pun intended.
The coolest thing was 50 of us were handed a tambourine to shake during the song with the Prince symbol on it – this was when he was just going by a symbol – and we were able to keep them. As we exited the theatre that night people were offering us money for them, but there was no way we were going to part with “Prince” tambourines. I still have it hanging on my childhood wall, next to a poster of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean riding on a motorcycle, and it’s one of my most treasured keepsakes. I’ll always look at it and remember the night we were so close to the stage I could have reached out and grabbed the ass of a legend.