Entertainment

John Travolta Almost Gave Away Taylor Swift's VMA to Her Drag Lookalike

vmas 2019
A deranged look of confidence before blowing it. | Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images for MTV
A deranged look of confidence before blowing it. | Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images for MTV

The MTV Video Music Awards have a reputation for being the wildest (ie. most controversial and unhinged) night in pop music. It's where Madonna smooched with Xtina and Britney Spears in 2003, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech in 2009, Miley Cyrus twerked with Robin Thicke in 2013… and the list goes on. 

Of course, the 2019 VMAs couldn't go on without at least one blunder, and this year was (un)surprisingly at the hands of none other than known award show clutz John Travolta.

Like the 2015 Academy Awards moment before it -- when Travolta introduced Frozen star and Broadway performer Idina Menzel as "Adele Dazeem" -- this year the Gotti actor and titular creepy fanatic of the Fred Durst directorial vehicle The Fanatic nearly handed off one of Taylor Swift's many wins to not Taylor Swift. He and Queen Latifah co-presented the award for Video of the Year, and once they announced that Swift won for her LGBTQ/ally anthem "You Need to Calm Down," he mistook one of the video's co-stars, drag queen (she's a RuPaul alum) and Swift impersonator Jade Jolie, for the pop star herself. 

Sure, it was a little confusing, given that Swift rushed up to accept the Moon Person with the video's large cast, and Jolie is a dead-ringer for the recording artist who literally played Swift in the video, but it was the perfect kind of moment only John Travolta could fumble to cap off the night. It's like it was almost destined to happen, as the actor called back his Adele Dazeem moment in his presentation with Queen Latifah, telling her to read the winner's name aloud because he would "fuck it up." And fuck it up, he did!

It's hard to say whether Swift noticed or not, but she took home the Moon Person like a champ, coming off the recent release of her seventh album Lover. The singer was among this year's most-nominated artists, tied with Ariana Grande for 10. In addition to Video the Year, she also took home Moon Persons for the VMA's social cause award, Video for Good, for "You Need to Calm Down" and Best Visual Effects for "ME!" It may not have been as drastic as the infamous Kanye and Taylor moment of 10 years ago, but leave it to Travolta to steal the pop star's VMAs thunder. 

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She tweets about music at @mssadiebell.