If there’s greater joy in life than getting to nose around a celebrity’s palatial pad, then we’re yet to find it. And launched at the turn of the Millennium, MTV Cribs was an immediate hit because it played to exactly this impulse – suddenly, here was a place where such nosiness wasn’t just welcomed, but actively encouraged.
The premise was simple: each episode, a different celeb swung open the door and went into tour guide mode after uttering the show’s obligatory catchphrase: “Hello, MTV – and welcome to my crib”. Inevitably, ludicrously positioned jacuzzis, garish sports cars and hideous chandeliers awaited within – along with a few surprises.
And now, 20 years after its first airing, MTV Cribs is back – with Selling Sunset’s resident ice-queen Christine Quinn, TOWIE icon Gemma Collins, musician Stefflon Don and Caitlyn Jenner among the sporting stars lined up to fling open their front doors to the cameras.
With that in mind, what better time than the present to revisit some of the snoopy show’s most memorable moments: the good, the bad and the ugly alike.
Destiny’s Child (2000)
Up there with the most deliciously awkward episodes of all time, Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams finds herself in the position of giving a tour of a house she doesn’t even live in – while Kelly Rowland has her own bedroom at the Knowles’ family home complete with a giant telly and four-poster bed, Michelle’s lodgings are nowhere to be seen. A pre-fame Solange, meanwhile, lives in the garage, and earnestly informs the cameraman that she’s looking forward to getting her own fridge and microwave.
Most extra moment: the slow-motion replay of Beyoncé falling into her ‘songwriting nook’ – which resembles the inside of a tent in the outer reaches of Glastonbury’s Healing Fields.
Mariah Carey (2002)
Where do you even begin with Mariah Carey’s New York apartment? Walking into her ‘closet’ is comparable to stepping inside Narnia – it’s essentially a self-contained house, the wardrobe alone larger than most people’s flats. In the gym, there’s a mannequin that Mariah loves to beat up, though she adds: I can’t get my gloves on right now because there’s no one to help me do it.” And in the kitchen, her dog and cat start having a scrap. It’s a lot to take in.
Most extra moment: It’s sort of impossible to pick, but doing a literal costume change mid-house tour to “keep momentum” is surely peak Mariah Carey. That and the fact that she does a half-hearted workout in four-inch stilettos.
50 Cent (2007)
A pair of yellow trainers that he’ll never have cause to wear, a boxfresh oven with the instructions still inside, an $80,000 chandelier in a dining room he’s never eaten in, and a fridge filled with nothing but vitamin water. Such impracticality is a recurring theme of 50 Cent’s ridiculous Connecticut home, and to be honest, it’s hard to believe that he’s even been into every single room: there are 19 bedrooms, and 35 bathrooms, by the way.
Most extra moment: The three women inexplicably bobbing around the swimming pool. Who are they? How long have they been there? Why does nobody acknowledge them?
Ja Rule (2004)
To quote Talking Heads: “this is not my beautiful house!” It’s a sentiment that applies to Ja Rule’s infamous episode of Cribs, filmed in a house that doesn’t even belong to him. Though Ja does briefly point out it’s a rental at the beginning, the tale thickened after his tour aired – the actual owner ended up suing, alleging unauthorised filming and partying-related damages.
Most extra moment: “You’re probably looking round saying it’s real feminine in here, but that’s cool” Ja Rule explains of the master bathroom decor. “But that’s ok ‘cause you know, the ladies like stuff like that”. Such a trailblazer.
Gene Simmons (2002)
Within moments of stepping into Gene Simmons’ house, we learn that he effectively lives in a bespoke property built for giants – all the furniture is scaled-up in proportion with the six-foot-two musician and his equally tall son: “Everything has to be made bigger”. His ‘man-cave’ meanwhile, is essentially the world’s most comprehensive museum dedicated to all things KISS.
Most extra moment: When Gene pointedly refuses to play ball, and greets the cameras with a decidedly off-brand “welcome to my home”.
Amid the glitz and the glamour, Blue’s episode of Cribs is surprisingly wholesome. Anthony Costa still lives with his parents, and proudly shows off a photo of ‘the boys’ and their hero Tom Jones. Simon Webbe doesn’t have a crib at all because he’s crashing at Lee Ryan’s mum’s house during filming. And Duncan James – an aspiring Jamie Oliver – lives with three flatmates and a goldfish called Melanie.
Most extra moment: When Anthony starts waving around a bottle of ‘Ladykiller’ – “I use this when the ladies come in here, and I splash it on and see what happens”. Phwoar!
Naomi Campbell’s episode of Cribs is notable because it features one of the few houses that might actually be pleasant to live in – tasteful interior design, an outdoor shower (very I’m A Celebrity…), and practical furnishings to suit the humidity. And the mini-forest where every house guest plants something “for memory” is a nice eco-touch. Fair play, Naomi.
Most extra moment: The steps leading to “the best swimming pool in the world”. Otherwise known as a river.
Missy Elliott has been on MTV Cribs twice – and for her first appearance, perhaps she should’ve had a quick scoot around with the anti-bac before letting the cameras in. Literally all of her most beloved possessions – ranging from a signed picture of Oprah, to a wooden ornament – are “a bit dusty”.
Most extra moment: Missy’s love of statues, which apparently transform any space big or small. “You see a lot of Greek people around,” Missy says, gesticulating at the various arm-less busts surrounding her indoor pool, “they think they’re on a nude beach.”
Cash Money Records (2002)
Having a couple of sofas in your living room? So passé! At record label Cash Money’s place, the centrepiece of their front room is a truly enormous jacuzzi – to be honest the prospect of wallowing in a tub of lukewarm water in front of the telly doesn’t sound particularly enticing, but no judgement. And Lil Wayne and Birdman clearly love water so much that they’ve tailored their entire hexagonally shaped home around it – there’s also a gigantic swimming pool with inbuilt bass speakers, though Lil Wayne has never swum in it.
Most extra moment: The tiny little dollar sign rug – why is it so small?!
An integral aspect of Cribs is the way that it provides a platform for celebs to, essentially, brag about their possessions – and you can’t always trust what you’re being shown. 50 Cent’s selection of expensive “whips” were actually borrowed from a private collector, and Robbie Williams pretended to live in Jane Seymour’s house. None of these accusations can be levelled at the US rapper Redman, who was still in bed when the camera crew turned up. Instead of a chest of drawers, the bedroom features a collection of overspilling storage containers wedged into a corner with a giant clock. Technically, there also is also a walk-in wardrobe – in that there is just about space to stand up in there. At least it’s realistic.
Most extra moment: Less extra, more wholesome: there’s something very touching about the miscellaneous gift corner where Redman chucks all his godson’s Christmas presents.