In late 2000, Limp Bizkit were on a stratospheric career trajectory. Riding high on the success of their 1999 album, Significant Other, the Jacksonville nu metal pioneers had once again teamed up with producer Terry Date and released Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water the following year.
Somehow, Limp Bizkit topped their sophomore release and two singles simultaneously dominated radio airwaves: Rollin’ and My Way. The first single from the album, Take a Look Around, was featured in Mission: Impossible 2, the biggest movie of the summer which starred Tom Cruise. On the track, guitarist Wes Borland offers a clever heavy twist on the traditional Mission Impossible riff while frontman Fred Durst belts out “Now I know why you want to hate me, cause hate is all the world has ever seen lately.”
It was a very special moment to be a Limp Bizkit fan; the hype was palpable and the band were everywhere. There was only one venue appropriate enough for a celebration of the album’s release – the Playboy mansion. Set in Los Angeles’ Holmby Hills, it was the home to Playboy magazine founder and dressing gown enthusiast Hugh Hefner.
The 70-room estate was famous for featuring models known as the “Playboy bunnies” running around the home, and as such, it was the ultimate heterosexual male fantasy destination and the perfect place for the band to party. MTV made sure to send some cameras and aired a primetime one-hour special documenting the event and peppered in a top 10 countdown of Limp Bizkit moments on MTV.
A motley crew (pun very much intended) of celebrities attended the party including Mötley Crüe drummer himself, Tommy Lee, along with members of Korn, Deftones, Incubus, Rob Zombie, Xzibit, Warren G, Verne ‘Mini-Me’ Troyer, Ashton Kutcher, Mark McGrath, Sisqó, Courtney Love, American Pie actresses Shannon Elizabeth and Alyson Hannigan, Debbie Harry and even the Backstreet Boys’ Howie Dorough. It was the party to attend in Los Angeles that evening.
Naturally, the star of the special was Fred Durst himself. This footage is very much of its time, with the frontman spending significant time onscreen ogling some of the Playboy bunnies, in a scene that wouldn’t fly today.
During the special, Wes Borland reveals to the show’s host Ananda Lewis how the title of the album came to be, with ‘Chocolate Starfish’ being Fred’s nickname for himself and ‘hot dog flavoured water’ being an inside joke that the guitarist coined at a service station. Of course, ‘chocolate starfish’ is slang for an anus. Borland would later tell Guitar World that he saw bottles of Crystal Geyser flavoured water, and delighted in the possibility of meat or hot dog options.
The alcohol was clearly flowing in Holmby Hills, as evidenced by the MTV special. Former Korn drummer David Silveria reveals that during a tour of Europe, Korn dared Durst to go on stage and perform Faith completely “butt naked.” When questioned if he actually did it, the Limp Bizkit frontman replied cheekily, “of course I did it, I was starving.” Seeing as this was the era before smartphone cameras, Silveria was soliciting the audience to see if there was any bootleg footage.
The party got a little too loud, and the Los Angeles Police Department arrived and duly turned the music off before the climax of the event, a Limp Bizkit performance with Xzibit of Getcha Groove On. MTV made the most of the situation by grabbing a boom box and having Fred and X to the Z (or Alvin Joiner) perform to the pre-recorded track, surrounded by the MTV VJs and Hefner’s staff.
The album would go on to be Limp Bizkit’s most successful album ever, and went platinum in the United States in its first week of release. It was the largest first-week album sales debut by a rock band since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking albums in 1991. Over six million records were sold in the States alone.
Unfortunately, during the three-year gap between Starfish and its follow-up, things began to slowly deteriorate in the Bizkit camp. In October 2001, Wes Borland left the band, after constant disagreements with Durst.
“I could have probably gone on and still played the part of the guitar player of Limp Bizkit, but musically, I was kind of bored,” the guitarist later told MTV. “If I was to continue, it would have been about the money and not about the true music, and I don’t want to lie to myself, or to them or to fans of Limp Bizkit.”
His replacement was Snot guitarist Mike Smith, who played on the 2003 album Results May Vary. However, the chemistry and magic of their previous albums was in short supply and Smith left the following year.
Borland would eventually rejoin the band, but Limp Bizkit failed return to the peak of their popularity, with the band’s sound becoming passé. But everything that is old can be new again, and Limp Bizkit are riding a solid wave of nostalgia with the release of their sixth album Still Sucks in late 2021 and headline shows and festival appearances.
Watch the fun unfold in the YouTube clip below and remember, it was truly a different time.