Ashes, cheese and sex toys: the wildest things fans have thrown at performers on stage

An image composite featuring Pink, Lil Nas X and One Direction.

The era of weird – to say the least – audience behaviour has well and truly taken over.

Theatre audiences have been criticised for singing at the top of their voices, chatting and using their phones during performances.

In London recently, members of the audience were condemned for taking photos of James Norton during nude scenes as he performed in A Little Life.

Things aren’t any better at concerts. In terms of artist safety, in fact, they’re possibly worse.

In the past few weeks alone, Lil Nas X and Pink have had items thrown at them while – and in a recent case, a phone was seemingly thrown at Bebe Rexha, causing redness, swelling, bruising, a laceration to her eye and substantial pain, according to court papers where a man faces misdemeanour charges of harassment and assault.

Some have put the recent unruly audience behaviour down to the years we spent away from concerts during the pandemic, while others have suggested fans are now more inclined to seek attention from their favourite artists.

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The reality, though, is that fans have been launching peculiar, miscellaneous items on stage for a long time. Here’s a breakdown of some of the strangest things stars have had thrown their way.

Harry Styles, Skittles

Everyone loves Skittles, just not when they’re being pelted unexpectedly at your skull. When Harry Styles‘ tour hit Los Angeles in November, the “Watermelon Sugar” singer and My Policeman actor received a lot of love from the 17,500-strong audience members, although one person wanted to go the extra mile in showing their affection.

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As Styles wrapped up the concert, someone seemingly launched a handful of the sweets in his direction, with one, presumably accidentally, hitting him in the eye.

After taking the blow, Styles doubled over and clutched his face – before saying goodnight to the crowd, his eyes still scrunched up.

Lady Gaga, a cuddly toy

More than often than not, a fan may throw something on stage that they intend as a gift, rather than as an attempt to hurt anyone. Still, that doesn’t make it OK.

Take Lady Gaga, for example: while performing at her eagerly anticipated Chromatica Ball tour in Toronto last year, one fan wanted to tell their idol how much they loved her by hurling a teddy bear on stage.

But things could have gone hideously wrong, as one video shows the stuffed toy narrowly missing Mother Monster’s head.

Pink, a wheel of cheese and a bag of ashes

Pink’s concerts are known for her wild, acrobatic antics – anyone searching for tour videos will see her being flung into the air or precariously spinning around an arena on an aerial hoop.

But none of her shows will top the wild events of her recent BST Hyde Park performance in London.

In two separate moments that immediately went viral, the star was first given a bag containing a fan’s mother’s ashes. Looking perturbed, Pink responded gracefully by saying “I don’t know how to feel about this,” before gently putting the bag down.

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At the same concert, another fan gave the “A Million Dreams” singer a wheel of cheese, which she accepted with a genuine look of appreciation. It’s difficult to imagine the cheese ended up anywhere other than in the bin, but at least the memes were stellar.

Mr Bungle, more ashes

But Pink was not the first music star to receive human remains while trying to sing. For experimental rock band Mr. Bungle, though, the delivery of the remains was a little less graceful than simply being handed them.

According to NME, one fan at a concert in Brooklyn in 2020 snuck in the remains of another fan who had purchased a ticket to the concert before they died. The ashes were reportedly concealed in the deceased fan’s own underwear, before being launched at Mr. Bungle frontman Mike Patton.

As the undies flew through the air, the ashes scattered across the stage. Lovely.

Kanye West, coins

While Kanye West, known as Ye, might appreciate coins being thrown at him now – following the collapse of his mega-rich partnership with adidas after the “Power” star was condemned for making antisemitic remarks – he hasn’t always been thrilled at receiving money.

At a show in Dublin in 2012, West stopped his performance after a fan appeared to throw a coin at him.

“Don’t throw no hard sh*t up here while we’re performing, seriously,” the singer fumed. “You f****d it up for everybody. I was having a perfect show, flawless victory. Don’t throw no s**t on the stage, please.”

One Direction, tampons

Yes, really. And it’s happened more than once. 

During a 2012 performance while on tour in Nottingham, One Direction had just finished singing their debut single “What Makes You Beautiful” when someone decided to launch a handful of tampons at their faces.

Harry Styles flinched as they appear to hit him in the face and bounce to the ground, with his bandmates Zayn Malik and Niall Horan looking on – shocked and amused.

According to The Mirror, a similar incident occurred a year later while the band was in San Jose, in California – and Malik did not appear too happy about it.

Lil Nas X, a sex toy 

While on stage in Sweden earlier this week (1 July), “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” star and “professional troll” Lil Nas X was surprised to see a sex toy fly past him.

Casually walking up to the silicone item, the queer rapper picked it, turned to the crowd and, in typical Lil Nas X fashion, asked: “Who threw their p*ssy on stage?”

Adam Lambert, also a sex toy

Perhaps unsurprisingly at this point, Lil Nas X was not the first queer megastar to have a sex toy launched at him mid-performance.

In 2009, following Adam Lambert’s American Idol win, while performing at the subsequent tour, one fan decided to throw a “giant dildo” on stage. He instantly kicked it back.

Reflecting on the incident earlier this week (3 July), Lambert told Metro that it “wasn’t aimed at my head, it was aimed at my shins, and it sort of bounced off my leg and landed on the floor and flopped once or twice”.

He added: “I was like, ‘What is that?’ Then I was like, ‘Oh, God’, then without missing a beat, I kicked it back in the direction it came from, and I think it might have hit the woman who threw it at me.”

Bonus: Charli XCX, oestrogen, ashes, douches and poppers

OK, so none of these items were lobbed at Charli XCX’s head on stage, but they are simply too wild not to mention.

At various fan meet-and-greets over the past few years, the “I Got It” singer has endured a number of strange requests from fans – including being asked to sign a fan’s poppers, another’s douche and a trans fan’s oestrogen, while someone even wanted her to pose with their dead mother’s ashes.

The various incidents all went viral, but it was the ashes that sparked the biggest debate – with even Charli herself saying she was “afraid” at the request. “Holding the ashes was… new, and hopefully a one-time thing,” she told i-D after the incident.

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