Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Lil Nas X shows off the pole dancing finale scuttled by his SNL wardrobe malfunction

Lil Nas X, Jimmy Fallon, Dave Grohl
Lil Nas X, Jimmy Fallon, Dave Grohl
Screenshot: The Tonight Show

Lil Nas X’s choice of a red tartan skirt for his appearance on Monday’s Tonight Show wasn’t necessarily a preventative measure against wardrobe troubles. The burgeoning superstar is renowned for wearing whatever he’s feeling on any particular day, after all. Still, when your entire undercarriage threatens to make its unintentional live television debut during a spotlight performance on this past weekend’s Saturday Night Live finale, it’s got to make a person think twice about restrictive garments and their structural integrity before hitting the TV stage, so a nice, flowing skirt seems a more manageable call.

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Waving away internet speculation that his SNL pants mishap was some sort of publicity stunt, the “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” singer told Jimmy Fallon (and Fallon’s co-host for the night, Dave Grohl) that he only knew he was in trouble when he “felt air.” (That’s the thing about a skirt—regulated, predictable air flow.) Explaining that he had to give a polite no thanks to the Saturday Night Live stagehands trying to rush him off so they could set up for the next segment until someone brought him a towel, Lil Nas X bemoaned the fact that his already spectacular, upside-down dance break had an even sexier pole dancing big finish that the live TV crowd never got to see. Thankfully, SNL tapes its dress rehearsals, as Fallon played the warm-up clip of the singer, mobile game provocateur, sneaker magnate, and expert conservative-baiter performing a truly impressive upside-down spinning maneuver.

Now, we’re no experts on pole dancing moves. (It may have been some sort of modified inverted ankle grip split?) But, as an impressed Grohl noted upon seeing the dress rehearsal clip, it’s pretty easy to see why Lil Nas X chose to abandon that particular finale, opting for an impressively in-rhythm modesty crotch-cupping instead. As the “Old Town Road” star elaborated, however, his loyal dancers didn’t know about his situation and dutifully proceeded with their part in the big finish, a simultaneous group-caress of the singer that involved a lot of perilous clothes-yanking. Trouper that the young performer is, Lil Nas X soldiered on, allowing the viewing public to assume that a demure, hands-over-privates pose was what he intended all along. He also noted that it was especially impressive that his dancers were so on-point since they were a 24-hour replacement for his original, heavily rehearsed crew, who had to go into covid quarantine the day before the big night. (Seriously, the pandemic is not over yet, people.)

Mishap aside, Lil Nas X told Fallon that the upcoming Montero album, coming out later this summer, will be, “my whole life.” “It’s honest,” said the singer, “It’s 100 percent me.” The proudly out gay performer told Fallon and Grohl, “I’m exploring my sexuality, myself, it’s like a coming of age story. My heartbreaks—there’s been a lot of those in the last couple of years. It’s everything, man.” And since the 22-year-old budding superstar has been both eloquent and stone-cold merciless when responding to those taking issue with his sexuality or boundary-pushing work, it’s likely a safe bet to think that Montero will continue Lil Nas X’s streak of pop cultural eminence. Plus, as he assured Fallon, “It’s something everybody can vibe along to.”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.