Waiting for a swarm of major pop-music superstars to enter the Shrine Auditorium for the Grammy Awards is a lot like the harmonic convergence. There is a big buildup of expectation, then nothing much happens.
For one thing, most of the stars are discharged from their limousines at the rear entrance. For another, many of the most celebrated artists have been inside the Shrine for several hours before the 5 p.m. show time, preparing for their roles in the program.
That left most of the attention Wednesday focused not on musicians but on the Guardian Angels. About 10 of the self-styled anti-crime crusaders marched on Jefferson Boulevard, protesting the Grammy nominations of Guns N’ Roses and Public Enemy. They carried signs that read “Grammys Award Bigotry” and “No Grammys for Hate Rockers.”
Paul Barrera, the organization’s Southern California regional coordinator, said that the lyrics in Public Enemy’s rap song “Welcome to the Terrordome” and Guns N’ Roses’ “One in a Million” were “racist and promoted violence and hate.”
“We’ve come too far in our civil rights movement for this. It is like taking two steps forward and three steps back,” he said.
Backstage at the Shrine, Mike Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, defended the nominations.
“We’re not promoting anything. We’re honoring excellence in music and recording,” he said. “As long as music is the mouthpiece of society and it’s documenting what’s going on in the ghetto and in the bedrooms of teen-agers listening to heavy metal, it’s doing its job.”
On a less militant level, Nancy Tietz had brought two friends from New York, Kristina Mullin and Kim Cojnacki, to the Shrine in hopes of seeing New Kids on the Block. The three arrived at noon but were too late. The Kids had already come in through the back door, leaving a horde of screaming teen-age girls hanging on the security fence that surrounds the back parking lot at the Shrine.
Eva Soto of Compton was a one-woman screaming machine as she waited with handmade signs for Chayanne to arrive. She was one of the few fans who did not go home disappointed. As the Latin music star climbed out of his limousine in front of the Shrine, he heard her screams, turned around and danced her a thank-you jig.
It was a big night for tuxedos--even the security guards dressed in Pierre Cardin tux. Garry Shandling, who usually wears sweaters a la Andy Williams, was sporting a tux by Italian designer Gianni Versace.
Men outshone the women at the event. Their choices of silver-striped morning coats and rich brocade vests under black tuxedo jackets looked much more sophisticated than the skin-tight, black sequined dresses so many of the women opted for. The bright afternoon sun mercilessly showed every tiny overweight ripple under the gowns.
Those women who dressed like the men stood out. Presenter Natalie Cole showed up in a black silk tux with sequined collar by Thierry Mugler from Fred Hayman Beverly Hills. k.d. lang opted for the cross-dressing look too, except she went straight to the men’s resource, Sqwear, for her cobalt blue suit with gold and silver embroidery.
So pitiful was the turnout in front of the Shrine that Susan Anton and Tommy Hearnes got the big ovations of the afternoon from the more than 400 fans in attendance. Five minutes before the broadcast was to begin, the B52’s and George Michael showed up, and for one brief instant it felt like the Oscar arrivals. The moment passed too soon.