NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 25: Rihanna and Harry Styles attend the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Center on August 25
Kevin Mazur/WireImage for MTV

Ever wonder what it'd be like to go to the MTV VMAs? Me too! And this year, I found out.

After making the trek down to Brooklyn's Barclays Center (which is beautiful and serves delicious food, BTW) and wading through a sea of fans who'd been waiting for nearly 12 hours outside the arena, I found my seat inside and watched the iconic award show IRL. (And I made sure to tell everyone on Facebook about it. Because come on.)

As expected, seeing the VMAs live is an entirely different experience than seeing it on TV. First and foremost, celebrities are so much shorter in real life! Also, they make them sit in standard stadium seating, just like us plebeians. 

But what happens during the commercial break? How stunning is Rihanna when she's feet from your face? What does Justin Timberlake's breath smell like? Find out the answers to all of those questions (except the last one) below.

1. Lady Gaga's outfit from behind. The show started with an extreme close-up of Gaga's minimally made-up face surrounded by a white canvas. But we in the audience mostly saw the whole thing from behind—a woman dressed in a white robe singing to a camera with a box on her head. Uh, security?

2. Iggy Azalea hugging Lil Kim. Iggy shouted her out when they presented on stage, but I saw them waiting together during the commercial break. Iggy gave Lil Kim a big reassuring hug, almost like she was calming her nerves. It was so sweet!

3. Lil Kim's butt. You only saw her present from the front. Those pants? They were mesh: OMFG.

4. Miley Cyrus' plushies before the lights were on. Exactly. Imagine that—a whole sleuth of giant teddy bears lined up during the commercial break, waiting patiently for their cue while the lights were down. It was like the creepiest kindergarten graduation pageant ever.

5. Justin Timberlake really is that good. That's no TV magic, folks. JT had the standout performance of the night (shout out to Kanye West's cinematic rendition of "Blood on the Leaves," though) and all of that is 100 percent, genuine American craftsmanship and skill. He danced and sang from stage to stage like the seasoned pro that he is, and we almost forgot we were at the VMAs—it was more like a Justin Timberlake concert featuring guests.

6. The decibel level when NSYNC came out. You and your friends might have shrieked in your living room, but multiply that by about 17,000. Almost everyone in Barclays Center found the 14-year-old girl inside of them and let her scream at the top of her lungs!

7. Macklemore's gratitude. His decision to perform "Same Love" (and the surprise addition of Jennifer Hudson) was enough to earn him some brownie points with me. But after they cut to commercial, Macklemore high-fived everyone near the stage whose hand he could reach. Crush status.

8. Rihanna's off-camera persona. Everyone's talking about how pissed/bored RiRi looked during the show. And I can assure you as someone who literally almost bumped into her on the concourse outside of section 17, that was not an act. I'M SORRY, RIHANNA. CALL ME. Which brings me to...

9. VH1's Big Ang! She was there! Did they show her on TV? She is every bit as glorious in real life as she is on TV. I know because I got a pic with her! (I had to!) Actually, so did Rihanna—she was the only thing that cheered her up.

Check out performance highlights from the 2013 MTV VMAs: