Nicki Minaj's Backup Dancer Explains What Happened With Rocky The Snake Before the VMAs

The Friday before last Sunday's VMAs, something scaly, er, scary went down during award show prep: A snake bit one of Nicki Minaj's backup dancers during a rehearsal of the first live performance of "Anaconda." YIKES. In an interview with, backup dancer/contortionist Genise Ruidiaz recounts the pre-VMAs snakebite incident.

At one point during Friday's rehearsal, Ruidiaz sensed that Rocky the snake—who was wrapped around Ruidiaz's body as she practiced tricks—was getting tired and "didn't want to hold on much." Trainers told Ruidiaz that the six-foot boa constrictor would only attack if he felt unsafe, so she decided to adjust the way he was positioned in order to make the critter feel more comfortable. However, Rocky did not like whatever it was she did. So, he bit her. And he didn’t release for 45 seconds. YIIIIIIKES.

Ruidiaz handled the chomp like a champ: Though she was shocked (I mean, hi. A giant snake clamped down on her arm. I probably would've vomited out of fear), she remained calm and called an animal trainer over. The trainer squeezed Rocky’s jaw open, and Rocky finally let go of Ruidiaz's arm.

So, did it hurt?

To be honest, it really didn’t hurt at all. It literally felt like getting a shot, but imagine 40 needles sticking you at once and then leaving.

Maybe I'm a wuss, but that sounds hella painful.

If you watched the performance, you might've noticed the lack of slithery reptiles. Well, after Ruidiaz was discharged from the hospital, she was asked to rehearse with a snake named Archie. Archie immediately bit a trainer. That's when Viacom was like, "NO SNAKES."

The dancer and the snake shared a rough moment, but Ruidiaz doesn't harbor any ill-will toward Rocky:

I would work with Rocky again – he was awesome to work with. He adjusted to my body when I needed to move him from a position that I didn’t want him to be in, he easily went to where he had to go. You can’t train a reptile fully. There’s only so much that you can do when it comes to working with any kind of animal, so I was glad that I have the opportunity to work with such a professional animal.


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