| Beyonce Knowles performs at the half-time of the NBA All-Star Game on Monday. (AFP)
|Janet Jackson watches from the courtside. (Reuters)
Los Angeles, Feb. 16: Beyonce Knowles didn’t take a chance with “wardrobe malfunction”. Her wardrobe, in fact, functioned only too well.
In the half-time break during the National Basketball Association’s annual showpiece — the All-Star Game, where a selection of the best players from America’s east coast takes on its counterpart from the west — Beyonce danced provocatively.
The show was broadcast with a 10-second tape delay by cable network TNT in the US, but it needn’t have bothered taking that precaution because Beyonce was careful. She left something, even if only a wee bit, to the imagination.
At the Super Bowl a fortnight ago — another giant event on the American sports calendar — her compatriot Janet Jackson had made the mistake of leaving nothing to the imagination at the half-time show when Justin Timberlake, her co-performer, tore apart her leather bustier.
The show’s producer, MTV, heaved in indignation. The network CBS, which beamed it live, was bursting with betrayed trust and is now facing possible regulatory sanction for the broadcast. America was aghast.
With her stunt, Jackson may have forever ended the concept of live telecast of half-time shows by female singers. She did, however, give birth to the concept of “wardrobe malfunction”, as an apologetic Timberlake later described the incident.
Turning out in a deep V-neck halter dress that left her sides and back uncovered, Beyonce achieved almost similar display — the bread and butter of music videos — without drawing shrieks of protest about indecent exposure.
Beyonce descended from the ceiling on a platform above a glittering disco ball singing part of the old Donna Summer hit Love to love you baby, following it up with some vigorous dancing that tugged and pulled at her thin dress.
No one complained. And everyone was there. Jack Nicholson, the Oscar-winning actor who’s an avid basketball fan, sat in his customary courtside seat. Fellow stars Denzel Washington and Will Smith, supermodel Naomi Campbell and boxer Lennox Lewis were there, too. So was California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, looking pygmy-sized as he posed with giant Chinese player Yao Ming.
Famous members of the crowd arrived to an Oscar-style red-carpet welcome and the players were presented as though in a music awards ceremony.
A spokesman for TNT said the network did not edit any of the half-time show.
Even Christina Aguilera, known for her skimpy dresses, performed the national anthem in jeans and an athletic jacket, the most clothing she has perhaps been seen in for some time at any show.
Jackson was there, too. She sat on the courtside swaying to the music. Holding a small bouquet of red roses, she sat quietly through the game. The only things visible about her were three burly security guards looming nearby.
She wore a furry, brown hat, sunglasses and a brown suede jacket with a white T-shirt underneath. Even her face could be barely seen.