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It's manliness unplugged at Spike TV's Guys Choice awards

'Honors' for Clint Eastwood, Mickey Rourke and Halle Berry highlight the bawdy, brawny testosterone-tinged affair.

June 20, 2009|T.L. Stanley

In case there is any confusion, here's what guys love, according to cable channel Spike TV: gorgeous starlets in thigh-grazing mini-dresses, Eddie Van Halen, free-flowing beer, AstroTurf, taxidermy, ultra-violent action movies and man-child comedies. So why not roll those things together and call it an award show?

This is definitely not the Oscars. In fact, it's not even the MTV Movie Awards. It's the aggressively hetero Guys Choice, where school-of-hard-knocks graduate Mickey Rourke beat the Ivy League-educated president of the United States for guy of the year, Clint Eastwood won a pair of brass balls meant to signify his, well, courage, and girlie vampire saga "Twilight" got a single shout-out -- in completely unprintable language.

The show airs on Spike Sunday night, but results aren't spoilers because they're already on the network's website. (Sample: the hottest Mila/Milla is Kunis, not Jovovich.)

Spike, home to a million James Bond movie marathons and battle royale shows like "Deadliest Warrior," continues its tradition of proudly wearing its testosterone on its sleeve. How else to explain giving away trophies shaped like antlers, dubbed Mantlers; singling out the world's biggest . . . kicker (Jason Statham, for the record); and throwing the awards' after-party at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles?

For the third annual Guys Choice, the network tossed together porn queens, ultimate fighters, professional athletes and music, TV and film stars for a raucous hostless show taped at Sony Studios in Culver City late last month. Attendees walked a green AstroTurf carpet to a hunting lodge-like set decorated with stuffed big game and a roaring fire. But grandpa smoking a pipe was nowhere to be found. Instead, there was Mel Gibson on horseback, subbing in male body parts in strategic places of the iconic "They'll never take . . . our freedom!" speech from "Braveheart."

The event had the feel of a high-end frat party that, without deft editing for TV, could be punctuated by so many beeps it'll sound like an 18-wheeler stuck in reverse.

The A-list stars who took part clearly understood the Spike young-male demographic: Halle Berry, given the decade of hotness honor, planted a half-dozen passionate kisses on presenter Jamie Foxx while the crowd of 700 whistled and hooted. She said it was in response to the surprise lip-lock she got from Adrien Brody at the 2003 Academy Awards -- except this time, there was groping because, hey, guys like that kind of thing.

Sacha Baron Cohen, on the night before his now-infamous MTV Movie Awards stunt with rapper Eminem, showed up as his character Bruno, from the upcoming feature film of the same name, in leopard-print briefs and tight T-shirt to accept a comedy award. He toyed with some soldiers in the crowd -- the U.S. Army is one of the show's sponsors.

Writer-producer-director Judd Apatow, accepting the mankind award, took credit for what he called Christopher Mintz-Plasse's burgeoning love life after "Superbad," which he broke down by specific sex act and number of conquests. Viewers, you'll just have to read his lips or use your imagination on that one (or check YouTube the next day).

A few touching moments emerged in the midst of all that bawdiness and bravado, like when Van Halen choked up accepting the guitar god honor and Rourke called Army Sgt. Marcelo Calderon to the stage and handed over his guy of the year award. Rourke said he'd rather see the antlers "on the front of a tank kicking . . . in Iraq" than sitting in his house.

Calderon said later that he'd bumped into Rourke in the hallway and the Oscar nominee said he wanted to show his appreciation to the troops. "He wrote my name on his hand and said he would give me the award as a representative," Calderon said. "It felt so good that he acknowledged the military."

Casey Patterson, executive producer and senior vice president of event production and talent development at Spike, said Guys Choice is designed to hail red-blooded guydom and not apologize for it.

"This feels like one sacred night, just for guys," she said. "It's not precious or stuffy, there's no pomp and circumstance. It's just meant to be irreverent and fun."

Even guys' guys were awe-struck by the assembly of maleness backstage, with Quentin Tarantino gushing over the heavy metal band Anvil. Those rockers, the subject of a Sundance-darling documentary now making the art-house rounds, were floored to meet Hollywood legend Eastwood.

"That's such a highlight for us," said lead singer Steve "Lips" Kudlow. "We're soaking up every minute of this experience."

Actress Leslie Mann, who's married to Apatow, said she didn't feel out of place at such a male-centric event. "I love being around men, I grew up with men," she said. "I'd probably learn more if I was in a giant group of women. But I think if we did an awards show all about what women love, it would be even raunchier than this one."

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calendar@latimes.com

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