Backbeat: Mary J. Blige Rocks Paper Mag's Nightlife Awards With Spectacular Set
Backbeat: Mary J. Blige Rocks Paper Mag's Nightlife Awards With Spectacular Set

Mary J Blige
Mary J. Blige performs at the Paper Magazine Nightlife Awards in New York Tuesday night
(Photo: Rebecca Smeyne)

There was no hateration at Paper Magazine's 7th Annual Nightlife Awards on Tuesday night, where all things nightlife were celebrated in extravagant fashion and the evening was capped by a brief but spectacular five-song set from none other than the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige.

Dubbed the "Oscars of New York City Nightlife," this year's event was hosted by daytime talk-show diva Wendy Williams. Her entrance onto the stage was accompanied by Europe's "Final Countdown."

"What I love about daytime is that it's so different from nighttime," Williams said, with tongue in cheek. "A girl likes to dip it and do it."

This year, Paper introduced a number of new categories to the nomination list, including Best Door Person, Best Nightlife Tweeter, Best Museum with a Party Scene and Best Night to Go Out -- the latter of which caused a frenzied debate among the fans and spectators taking in the show from the mezzanine. (Thursday won the hotly contested prize; Williams accepted the award in Thursday's absence.)

On the floor, presenters and nominees mingled and sipped stong cocktails courtesy of event sponsor Hennessey. Sitting with Swizz Beatz, the lovely Estelle told Billboard.biz that she was excited to be presenting the Best Restaurant With Nightlife award at her first Nightlife Awards.

estelle
Swizz Beatz with Estelle (Photo: Lauretta Charlton)

Elsewhere, scantily clad transgenders from hot spots like Ghe20 Gothik and Sugarland held court (along with at least one topless female) while party animals Andrew WK, Amanda Lepore, Becka Diamond and Patricia Field could be seen looking for trouble in all the right places.

And what would a New York awards show be without some shameless shilling and stage crashing? Veteran nightlife reporter Michael Musto took the opportunity to give his new book "Fork on the Left Knife in the Back" a plug while presenting the nominees for Best Bartender. When the winner missed his cue to accept the award, femme queen rapper/cross-dressing poet extraordinaire Mykki Blanco decided to accept it for him and casually announce the new mixtape, "Cosmic Angel," on DIS Magazine.

Billboard.biz asked Blanco: If you were actually nominated for an award, what would it be? "I would [like to] be nominated for Best New Nightlife Artist," Blanco said (although "Best Stage Crasher" would also be a strong possibility) …

Finally, Mary J. Blige, Paper's October cover girl, brought the entire house to its feet with a high-energy set to cap off the night. Accompanied by a full eight-piece band, Mary took the stage - probably the smallest one she's performed on in some time - with a rousing "Real Love" before reeling off a stellar half hour of hits: "Just Fine," a soaring take on U2's "One," her new single "25/8" and of course "Family Affair."

Nancy Whang
LCD Soundsystem's Nancy Whang accepting the Best DJ award (Photo: Rebecca Smeyne)

"Mary J. Blige was the highlight" of the night, Nancy Whang, formerly of LCD Soundsystem, told Billboard.biz - which is saying something, because she won the Best DJ award earlier in the evening.

Paper Magazine's 7th Annual Nightlife Award Winners

Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige (Photo: Rebecca Smeyne)
Swizz Beatz
Swizz Beatz (Photo: Rebecca Smeyne)
Andrew WK
Andrew WK with his wife Cherie Lily (Photo: Rebecca Smeyne)
Paper
The scene at Hiro Ballroom Tuesday night (Photo: Rebecca Smeyne)
Mary J Blige
Mary (Photo: Rebecca Smeyne)

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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