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Lady Gaga Would Approve

My night at the Berlin Music Video Awards

Author Boyd Farrow Illustration Marc Rosenthal

dispatches3BERLIN – Watching a death metal band play on an Oculus Rift headset can be alarming, not least because of the constant fear you’re about to be stabbed by a guitar. So it was I found myself weaving through this year’s Berlin Music Video Awards, having been given a free trial of the gadget.

As it turned out, a virtual rocker poking his digital tongue in my face was not the night’s most startling spectacle. Berlin has always had a knack for pushing boundaries, so inviting people to “get exposure” was really throwing down the gauntlet. Some attendees were dressed for a party in Marilyn Manson’s dungeon; others were not dressed at all.

“I guess when you see a category called ‘Most Trashy,’ you shouldn’t come expecting The Lion King,” mused my Californian friend Jeff, a producer on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” A woman dressed as a bear approached us. “Hi,” she said in accented English. “I’m the Trophy Bear. I come bearing trophies.”

We saw her again later, handing a statuette to the winner of the “Most Bizarre” category (a stop-start animation that’s still giving me nightmares). Next, there was a cabaret act that explored the many uses of clothespins. Then came a show from artist Grausame Töchter that defies description—at least in a family-friendly publication.

At 5 a.m., a few of us stood outside smoking and reviewing the night. “Could you point that thing somewhere else?” a rubber-clad American woman said, waving the smoke away.

“It’s disgusting.”

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