Ask a stupid question...

... and you'll be in good company at the Brit Awards where banality reigns backstage
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Backstage at the Brit Awards, pop stars may choose dullness, niceness or pain. On the dull side, one band is doing station IDs: "Hallo, I'm Jason, I'm Robbie, I'm Howard," six or seven times for Japanese television, Middle East television, Brazilian television. Take That's brown and gelled faces are taut with derision.

By white Portakabins that passed for dressing rooms, Elton John does the niceness thing, signing cards for charity auction. Madonna stares at herself in a mirror as an assistant adjusts the wig. Cyndi Lauper puts on a shawl of aquamarine feathers. Bob Mortimer cleans his shoes on the back of his trousers.

It's a slow start, and slow it will stay - famous people yawning and pacing and playing bad pool, waiting for that moment when someone will nod and escort them through white drapes to stand before hopping fans and businessmen in bow ties, and 68 countries taking it on tape. They will say how exciting it is to be here tonight.

So when someone approaches them with a headset and a pen on a chain, and asks them politely if they wouldn't mind answering a few questions from the media - just some stuff about what it's like to be here tonight - how could they possibly say no?

In another small capsule backstage, media people from South America and Asia and the Scottish Highlands have been watching Madonna's performance on a monitor, shouting at her and laughing as her hair licked her face. One Englishman said: "Come on, Madonna, say fuck off. Save our front pages, say Fergie's a slag, say you're going out with Bob Geldof."

Madonna would have been unaware of this as she enters the media room a few minutes after leaving the stage. She says "Hi" as she twists the end of her wig round her fingers. Someone shouts "Nice hair!" She tugs her microphone up on a stand.

A Scotsman asks what she thinks about British rock, and whether she will marry him, and she laughs: "Heehahaerrhahahaerrr". This is how it begins - a rapid descent into banality. But we should stick around, because here we may learn more about our pop stars, and the process of their exposure, than from any number of edited acceptance speeches.

A woman receives the roving mike. "I read in the papers today about you landing the Evita role. Can you tell us about that, please?"

"Well, Alan Parker is directing it, and all I know right now is he's out trying to find a location to shoot it in."

"If you could choose it, where would it be?"

"Buenos Aires."

The microphone passes. "Toby from The O-Zone. What made you decide to perform at the Brits this year?"

"Hmmmm," says Madonna.

"It's a tough one," says Toby.

A man announces himself as "Dennis, BBC". He says: "You've had most of your anatomy photographed. I wonder if you've thought of maybe bringing out a book and letting us see a few internal organs, possibly your kidneys or a fallopian tube?"

Madonna: "Hmmmm." A Brit PR man says we don't want those sorts of questions here. "If not here, where?" someone asks.

The man from the Sun says: "Could you just clear up a little bit of confusion for us? We're not absolutely sure at the moment."

"I'm not pregnant."

"Oh, thank you for answering that one, but that wasn't really my question. Who are you dating at the moment? There are two guys you are linked to fairly regularly."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"Hmmm."

"Put it this way - is he a basketball player?"

"Nnn-nnn."

"He's not a basketball player?"

"Nnn-nnn. He's not a bullfighter, either."

"Right. So would we be right in thinking it's Carlos?"

"Who?"

"Well, you're seen jogging with this guy."

"He's my trainer."

"Right. So he's not the guy you're dating at the moment."

Madonna giggles, asks for the next question.

"Yes Madonna, from Colombia, South America. You're not pregnant, but maybe some day you will be. When your kid or your daughter or your son will be 20 or 25, what things would you like that kid to know about Madonna, and what things wouldn't you like him to know about Madonna?"

"I wouldn't hide anything."

The PR man says, "Last one, I'm afraid." A man asks whether she saw the Bruno fight on Saturday.

On the edge of the room, a woman is shouting into her mobile. "Let's call it Rapunzel-like. Her hair. Rapunzel-ish... Of course they'll know - it's a fairytale. Hello? I can hear you. She's not going out with her trainer, I don't think. Hello?"

Now here's Sting. "Yes!" he says, instantly regretting his decision to appear. This was the evening's pain - to do, and to watch.

"How important do you think these awards are for the British music industry?"

"Er... it's nice to meet your friends. I don't know. I think it's important."

"What's it like to be nominated for best male artist?"

"I'm not nominated tonight, am I?" (He wasn't.)

"You are!"

"Oh, well. I'd love to win."

"Sting, why don't you ask that guy from Colombia to ask you one? He was really funny."

"That guy from Colombia, where are you?" Sting says.

He had gone. Someone then asked Sting whether a girl should kiss on her first date. He said, "What?".

Then: "Who's going to win the FA Cup?"

"What?"

"The FA Cup!"

"Who's going to win the FA Cup?" Sting repeats. "Newcastle United!"

After Sting, we had Eternal, dressed as the Supremes and talking of how they weren't disappointed not to have won anything, because it was a privilege just to be nominated. Then kd lang, who, asked what she related to in Europe, replied she related to the coffee.

Next Cyndi Lauper, who was asked if she had heard of Rod Hull and Emu. She answered no, but she said changing her hair colour helped her with her songwriting. And Eddi Reader, who said the award was lovely, but meant absolutely nothing.

Blur swept on at the end, swigging champagne, grasping four awards. The man from Colombia was back and asked a tricky one. The group leered, insulted a reporter from the Daily Star, hid their cigarettes when answering questions from Children's Newsround. Someone wondered where Blur went swimming when they were boys. The Newsround man asked whether they would be teaming up with Eternal.

"What, shag them, you mean?" the drummer said.

As they left, Blur waved and shrugged and forgot their statuettes. Later, the singer said he thought it had all gone pretty well.

"It was our biggest press conference ever, and I think we pissed on them."

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