The sugar-dipped blonde pop princess who conquered the world in a PVC catsuit is gone, and in her place is a super-confident, stronger-than-ever Britney Spears. Here, she talks exclusively to Jane Bussmann about her career, her naughtiest-ever secret and that naked statue.
In the last two years, the world’s sauciest sex kitten fell in love, got married (twice) and had a baby. But just when it looked like Britney Spears had abandoned us for a life of marital bliss, she’s back with a bang. And there’s a surprise in store when I meet the woman officially recognised as the most successful female singer of all time: she’s also possible the sanest.
In person, Britney has a sexy Southern accent and calls everyone “honey”. Dressed in tracksuit bottoms and a pink sweatshirt, she’s friendly and warn – and surprisingly self-depreciating. But what you really notice is Britney’s natural, human quality in a world of shrinking, unhappy divas.
“I feel great on the inside; cosy and good,” she says. Why? “My pink sweatshirt,” she deadpans. That and naked domestic happiness. “Every day it gets better and better,” she says, unselfconsciously.
At just 24, Britney is already seven years into her solo career, having sold over 60 million albums and become the only female artist in history to have four consecutive number one albums, whupping Madonna and Beyoncé. She could easily retire, but something makes her come back to work: “I live in a really nice neighbourhood in Malibu, and I’d love to jut go shopping and be normal – considering I’m 24,” she quips. “But I know I can’t, because I have 20 cars following me everywhere and I’m known as ‘there’s that girl!’”
And of course, there’s what drives her: “I genuinely love to sing and dance,” she says. “When I get in a creative mood, I can’t shut up; it’s the craziest thing. At one point I was thinking of being a home mum, but when my son sees me dance he lights up. Then I know what I’m supposed to be doing – if Mum’s happy, baby’s happy!”
It’s not been all plain sailing though. The tabloids took Britney’s career break as an opportunity to attack her: everything from her weight, to her husband – outraged that a sex symbol liked to wear comfy clothes occasionally. She admits that criticism hurts – in fact she reveals, it’s the hardest part of her job. “I do care about what people think, but you have to take it in your stride and not let things affect you. Let yourself shine and forget it!”
Ironically, Brad and Jen’s break-up gave her some rest: “The papers stopped talking about me,” she remarks wryly. This respite gave her the freedom to concentrate on doing up her house with Kevin and doting on their baby. Right now, she’s going Old English. “Kind of vintage, antique-ish,” she explains. “I want it to be like my mum’s home in Louisiana, very cosy. My grandma is from London and my mum’s taste reflects that. We have a courtyard that’s like an English garden with fountains.”
If anything, her time at home as cemented her future career. In a town full of ‘troubled stars’, Britney is a megastar who will never become one of the sad, wasted creatures. “I come from a really small town – we’re rooted in the ground, honey!” she laughs. “You have to be – and my family and especially my son are really going to keep me grounded.”
Britney proudly refers to Kevin as “my husband” and Sean Preston as “my son”. Born romantic, she always dreamed about the perfect wedding, husband and baby, christening her little boy Sean Preston, “the name I’d planned to give my son since I was a girl.”
Her conversation keeps going back to the baby, and while gossip mags would love her marriage to be on the rocks, Kevin is clearly no “him indoors”. And if his pets are anything to go by, Mr Federline is no pushover: take his shark tank, for example. “His sharks are the size of my arm. My husband feeds them tons of shrimp and they’re getting bigger. I’m scared! They’re white sharks… but they’re not Great Whites.” Here’s hoping.
Britney has recently been the subject of America’s most talked- about piece of artwork, a sculpture of her on all fours on a bearskin rug, giving birth, no less. You have to wonder how it feels to have the world looking up your business end, albeit a resin version. Luckily, Britney’s Southern sense of humour can handle it: “I think it’s the most hysterical thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” she exclaims. “Me and my assistant, Felicia, were totally dumfounded when we saw it, we couldn’t believe somebody did this.” So no plans to buy it, then? “No, thanks! They can display it somewhere, but not in my beautiful home!”
Britney approaches her job with the same sense of humour. Her reality show Britney & Kevin: Chaotic showed a new side of the sex siren as she belly-surfed across hotel tables and announced that a fellow limo passenger had farted. “Yes, it was a very ‘independent film’,” she acknowledges. “I think it was the security guy. We never found out who it was.” You can’t help thinking she’s always been a secretly naughty though.
“I don’t want to tell you the naughtiest thing I ever did; I did it on my boyfriend,” she says, breaking into a dirty chuckle.
You wonder what goes through the mind of someone so down-to-earth as she steps in front of a crowd at Wembley Arena. “It’s an overwhelming, exciting adrenaline rush. You can’t believe all those people are there to see you. It’s like your birthday! And the best thing about going back to work is you get to express your own opinions.”
And from the sounds of things, we can expect life on the road to be even more high-octane this time: “The last tour bus with the sunbed was two years ago. If I had a bus now, it would be two stories high,” she laughs. She also reveals that the PVC catsuits take some getting into. “Felicia helps me, using powder,” she says, and yes, it’s pretty hot in there, “but we have a fan under the stage.”
While she’s dancing, is she secretly worried the catsuit will rip?
“Yes! And it’s happened! Right in the spot where you don’t want it to rip, too! On stage and we were filming!” she wails. “We had to stop and go fix it. So humiliating!”
There’s no word yet on whether to expect kitten or vixen next. “I like mixing it up, some days rosy cheeks and pink lipgloss, but light because I’m a mum now and I don’t like to overdo things. But when I go out, I’ve always loved smoky eyes. I don’t wear as much eyeliner as I used to though.”
Britney has taken a lot of flak for dressing however she wants. Most stars toe the line, adopting the uniform of giant sunglasses, giant handbags and stick-thin bodies. Britney, however, is refreshingly self-effacing about fashion: “I’ve been in my home writing music in my sweatpants and I’m really comfortable right now,” she says. “I probably need to go to a fashion show to be reinspired for clothes. As for her figure, Britney has one diet tip. “Have a child – you’re running around all day.”
Britney also has big career plans outside of music. Audiences who remember her from the teen flick Crossroads were surprised by her slick comic turn in Will
& Grace, in which her character was far from innocent. “I played a Southern girl; nice, but she had secrets, like porn.”
And Britney wants to take her movie career somewhere just as racy. “I’d like to do something with George Clooney.” She confides. “He’s pretty cute, but don’t tell my husband!”
Would she do a role that was seriously sexy or even nude?
“Yes,” she states, without hesitation. “And I’d love to play a superhero. That would be really cool. Maybe Supermum; my powers would be knowing what someday is saying about me in a different room… and invisibility. That would be awesome.”
In her non-existent spare time, Britney creates perfumes. After her Elizabeth Arden perfume Curious became a top seller, she up with a new, “crème brulee-scented” version herself, called Fantasy. “It’s really good and they have a lotion too… a soufflé,” she says in a posh accent. “I think it’s sexier than Curious, a little more mysterious.
Whatever her next career move is though, it’s as a working mum. “I’ve been meeting with different people to work on the album and looking at different scripts. But I’ve mainly been concentrating on my son,” she explains. Indeed, Britney adores her baby so much that he even reduced her to tears during this photo session. “The shoot was wonderful but my favourite picture is the one that you guys won’t be able to see – a picture of my baby for my home, because I haven’t had a professional picture of him taken yet. So this was wonderful. Thank you.”
As a new mum, Britney likes spoiling her baby. “He loves ice cream – it makes him sleep better. But I definitely want rules in my house. I’m from the South and we’re very strict; you have to say ‘Yes, ma’am’. But at the same time, the way of raising kids in LA is too strict. Some people won’t let their kids go outside and get dirty. The South is more laid-back. I want my son to get dirty; he’s a boy. Sean Preston hasn’t started talking yet, but he has one thing in common with his mum, “he listens to music all the time.”
So, right now things look good for Britney Spears: “I have so many things to do,” she says. “But being a mum is one thing I can’t get enough of. It’s the best thing I could have done. If she was editor of Glamour, the headline for this interview would be positive, she says. “New journeys, new horizon, going for it, a whole new beginning.” And the world’s most fancied woman gets positively bashful if you ask her if she’s feeling beautiful these days. “I think so… I hope so! I want to be a pretty mum,” she says. How fabulous is she on a scale of one to ten? “Honey, I’d give myself a nine,” she laughs.
What’s on your iPod? “You know, my husband has an iPod and my sister has one in hot pink – we need to get me an iPod! Everybody has one but me!”
So, what’s on your CD player? “I’m takin’ it way back, honey – I’m listening to the old Dixie Chicks live CD, it’s great.
What are your favourite beauty products? “Tigi Bedhead have an awesome shampoo and conditioner that smells like strawberry cheesecake. I’m a junkie for make-up. I love Laura Mercier lipstick because it comes in an old fashioned tube.”
What’s your favourite scent? “Apart from my perfume, Burberry New York and a scented oil from Fred Segal called Child.”
Your favourite shoes? “The new Nikes! I used to have jazz boots when I was younger, really thin and light and easy to dance in – Nike have brought out a new shoe that’s identical.”
Your wardrobe sample? “My True Religion jeans, they fit just right and make your butt feel good.”
Your favourite book? “Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, it’s about a woman’s trip to India, Indonesia and Italy. I can’t get away from it.”
Are you starring in a new movie about drug addict rocker Janis Joplin? “No! How many rumours about me are untrue? How long have you got? A tabloid even wrote that I’m an alien.”
Would you move to Britain, like Madonna and Gwyneth? “I’d like to spend more time there, but I don’t know about living there. The people are very polite and that’s refreshing.”
What’s your life motto? “Go beyond reason to love, it’s the only true safety.”
What’s the best thing about being Britney Spears? “My baby.”
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