A crowd of people — many in unfortunate Madonna-themed attire — wait outside the Waldorf-Astoria, hoping to catch a photo of her on her way into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame's induction ceremony. Lots of the Saturday Night Live ladies are here, all glammed up with shiny hair, like Kristen Wiig and newcomer Casey Wilson. Tom Hanks in person is cuter, younger-looking, and has more hair than I'd thought. Flashes go off and cameras clack, with the photographers screaming: Mr. Hanks! Tom! Tom! Up, chin up! To the left! This way! Here, Tom! Right, look right! Down here, Tommy! Tom tells us he got stuck in elevator for 15 minutes on the way down here and everyone laughs.
A light is on fire! The whole rooms smells like a burnt out hairdryer. Announcer reassures us that the smell is actually melted carpet from too-hot light. Richard Belzer comes out in his trademark stupid sunglasses. Oh, Patti LaBelle — what are you wearing? A bright red satiny, poufy, knee-length dress over matching pants? With Easter-egg-turquoise nails? And didn't anyone tell you chandelier earrings aren't supposed to be, you know, actual chandeliers? Then she breaks into "If You Don't Know Me By Now," and I remember her voice is so great that I can forgive any sartorial errors. Then she breezes in wearing six-inch Versace heels ("They're killing me!") and tells us that 50 Cent and Kanye's "Gold Digger" get her dancing, despite not liking the dirty lyrics.
Funny that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan used to be romantic leads together, because she's sooo scary in person. Her face looks like it was vacuum-sealed. Ben Harper comes on stage and looks super-cute in a white jacket, grey pants, and cool blue tie. When someone asks who he's voting for, Harper wins major points by saying, passionately, with his hand over his heart, that it used to be "private, sacred" information—before revealing he's "in full support of Barack Obama." Oh well. He gets back on my good side by saying "Dress You Up in My Love" is his favorite Madonna song, one of my top picks.
Lou Reed comes out in a black (shiny!) leather jacket and hot pink shirt, old-man glasses and old-man shaky hands holding his script to induct Leonard Cohen, whose haunting voice always scared me. I can't stop staring at Reed's silly, Muppet-like hair. "You think that's his real hair?" I say to the person next to me. The guy on the other side, an agitated guy from MTV must've misheard me, because he leans over and says, in the most over-articulated, condescending way possible, "Yeah, um, that's Lou Reed. The lead singer of the Velvet Un-der-ground." Thanks for that, buddy.
Luckily, Damien Rice comes on stage to distract me with a gorgeous rendition of Cohen's "Hallelujah." He's so hot that he radiates hotness despite wearing a '70s prom-kitsch maroon velvet suit. I'm shocked to see Justin Timberlake come out looking like a drugged-out zombie with the flu. Tuck in your shirt! He tells the audience to "shut up" when they catcall him. His speech for Madonna is all tactless seventh grade innuendo — and you know you're not hitting the funny bulls eye when you have to shrug and say "they're jokes." Eesh. He says Madge has had 47 top-40 hits; I'm a bif fan, but can I even name that many of her songs? JT winds down with a story about getting a B12 shot in the butt from Madonna, who carries the syringes in a Ziploc in her designer purse. The moment I've been waiting for — she comes on stage. Her arms are like she's injecting HGH! In typical Madonna blending of the sacred and profane, she quoted from the Talmud and then drops the F-bomb twice on the live broadcast.
She gives a rambling speech and then brings out fellow Detroit-rocker Iggy Pop, who's tanned and shirtless as usual — kind of like a Matthew Mcconaughey prototype. And....he just stuck the mic down his incredibly tight pants. His second Madonna cover is "Ray of Light," and I can't tell if this is depressing or funny. Iggy would make a good pirate: angry, tan, shirtless, likely wasted and crotchety but could somehow still kick your ass in a fight.
Joan Jett looks great and rocks out, and John Mellencamp gets that song "Small Town" stuck in my head all night, even though I only know the words to the first line or two. Christy Turlington and Ed Burns walk by like a parade of perfection. It's midnight, time to fight my way through the Madonna fans outside and get a taxi home.