MTV Awards: Garish and Grand

“Welcome to the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards,” the event’s host Chris Rock said in New York Thursday night. “We’re here at the Metropolitan Opera. Nothing but opera here. So do you know what that means? I may be the first black man in history to be on the stage of the Met without a mop.” Well, the fat lady didn’t sing at the opera house, but British dance artist Fatboy Slim did — he also won three awards for his “Praise You” video. Other multiple winners were Lauryn Hill (best video, female video, R&B video and art direction) and Ricky Martin (who won five for his ubiquitous “Livin’ La Vida Loca”). Ricky also bore the brunt of a lot of Chris Rock’s barbs. Not that Lauryn Hill didn’t get a dig tossed her way, too. The svelte hip hop artist graciously accepted the evening’s final award — for best video, for her “Doo Wop (That Thing)” — after surprise presenter Paul McCartney inexplicably introduced her as “some guy named Lawrence Hill.”

  • The MTV crowd, renowned in the past for rude and lascivious behavior, toned down its act at the tony setting. (Radio City Music Hall, the usual venue, is currently closed for renovations.) A rainy downpour miraculously gave way to dry skies as arriving guests strolled across a red carpet and up the Met’s grand spiral staircase.
  • Also worth noting: When Blink 182 performed outside the opera house before the show, Lincoln Center hosted its first mosh pit.
  • For complete PEOPLE Online coverage of the MTV Awards, click here.
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