09/25/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
The most surprising news from the MTV Video Music Awards
? Triple winner Eminem kept his cool. Strutting into Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall Sept.7 with an entourage of bleached-lock lookalikes, the controversy-courting rapper sang a milder version of his hit "The Real Slim Shady" to avoid lyrics that diss pop diva Christina Aguilera
and MTV's Carson Daly. Perhaps sensing an opening for a bad boy, Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim C climbed a tall stage decoration and had to be pulled down by security men. "Good thing he wasn't a brother," joked comic Marlon Wayans, who cohosted with his brother Shawn. "They might have shot him."
The affair's fashion sense was as edgy as its humor. Britney Spears
performed her hit "Oops!...I Did It Again" in sequined, flesh-colored, skin-tight pants and bikini top. Madonna
, home in L.A. with new son Rocco, phoned in her outfit to MTV: "A G-string, a feather boa and the diamond ring my boyfriend [director Guy Ritchie] gave me." Black-clad Survivor
Richard Hatch admitted that part of him wanted to come naked, "but Gucci works." Veteran Sting, 48, never quite caught the spirit, however. Asked what he was looking forward to, he replied, "Going home and going to bed."