Celebrity tour riders: The 9 most ridiculous demands
J. Lo prefers all-white decor, Mary J. Blige demands a fresh toilet seat... and M.I.A. would like 3 young women dancing in full-body burqas, thank you
During a 1982 world tour, Van Halen made the now-legendary stipulation that all brown M&Ms be removed from candy dishes in the rockers' dressing rooms. Ever since, fans and critics have made a hobby of perusing celebrities' often outlandish demands — called riders — for what venues must provide them during appearances. This week, "Paper Planes" singer/Super Bowl bird-flipper M.I.A.'s tour rider leaked — and it's a doozy. Buried among requests for Vitamin Water and European cheeses is the demand for "three women between the ages of 20 and 25 to dance on stage wearing full-body burqas." As heads spin from that peculiar request, here's a look back at eight of the most ridiculous items on other celebrity riders:
1. Kanye WestOn the same day M.I.A.'s ludicrous request surfaced, a rider leaked from Kanye West's recent visit to Australia. On the list: Imported and recut Versace towels, for starters. "What else would he wipe his brow with during a performance?" says Ray Rahman at Entertainment Weekly. But more unusual is his requirement that any chauffeur who drives him wear only 100 percent cotton clothes. "No man-made fibers."
2. Britney SpearsBritney demanded a veritable feast when she performed at London's 02 arena last year, requesting that the venue provide her with McDonald's cheeseburgers (no buns), 100 figs and prunes, and — fitting for the location — a fish-and-chips supper. But all that pales in comparison with her strangest dressing room request: A framed photo of Princess Diana. "Britney adores the monarchy," says the U.K.'s Mirror. "Diana was in many ways her inspiration."
3. Foo FightersThe Foo Fighters may have the most "hilarious" backstage rider of all time, says Simon Vozick-Levinson at Rolling Stone. The rockers are known for sneaking jokes into their list of demands, and topped themselves with a cheeky rider for their 2011 world tour. It included a coloring book, activity pages, and maxims for life: "No one likes a straight A student." The funniest page of the document provides an illustrated guide to the kind of catering the band expects. A drawing of a sandwich with a pile of rocks is branded "Lame Entree," while a steak and baked potato sketch is described as an "Awesome Entree."
4. Mary J. BligeThirty-five cities, 35 toilet seats. That's the takeaway from Mary J. Blige's 2006 tour rider, which demanded that each venue install a brand new toilet seat in the dressing room bathroom before she arrived. She also cherishes her privacy. Her request that housekeeping personnel at the hotels she stays at honor her "Do Not Disturb" sign is punctuated by 26 exclamation points.
5. Dustin DiamondDon't call him Screech. The former Saved by the Bell actor turned reality TV and amateur porn star demands that any event he is booked for refrain from any "Screech-centric" billing. Any venue that violates this stipulation by promoting the event using his ties to Saved by the Bell will be levied with a $100 fine for every offending ad, flyer, or marquee.
6. Katy PerryKanye West isn't the only entertainer to have special demands for his driver. For her 2011 U.S. tour, Katy Perry had a 23-point "principle driver policy" that specifically dictated the proper behavior of those tasked with carting her around. One explicit rule, according to the policy, is that drivers must not converse with Perry. The Smoking Gun reports that they "also are directed not to stare at the backseat through the rearview mirror."
7. Justin BieberThe current prince of pop's tour rider is suitably "squeaky clean," says The Smoking Gun, noting his reasonable requests for fruit platters and herbal teas. Apparently, he also requires his entourage's wardrobe be just as clean, as he also demands four packages of plain white tee shirts and three packages of lo-rise socks — all in various sizes — be stocked in his dressing room.
8. Jennifer Lopez Just because she was making a charity appearance doesn't mean Jennifer Lopez was going to ease up on her diva demands. While attending a recording session for the African AIDS charity single "What's Going On" in 2002, she submitted her standard tour rider, which demanded a 40-foot trailer furnished all in white from top to bottom — flowers, tablecloths, drapery, couches, candles… everything. "Love don't cost a thing," says Gary Susman at Entertainment Weekly. "But being a diva sure can be expensive."