A pop star at the mall is an eternal cause for happiness, especially on a Sunday afternoon in the Valley. One moment, shoppers in the Westfield Topanga mall are living in the real world, monotonously selecting a new shade of eye shadow or rubbing perfume on wrists, but upon the rapture of Britney Spears, they are giggling, laughing, orgasmic, already sharing their secret on cell phones. "Her legs are actually really skinny," an adolescent whispers into her Sidekick, as Britney beelines for the Betsey Johnson boutique, pseudo-punk designer of evening dresses and splashy heels worn to suburban high school proms. In person, Britney is shockingly beautiful — clear skin, ruby lips, a perfectly proportioned twenty-six-year-old porcelain doll with a nasty weave. She cuts through the crowd swiftly, the way she used to when 20,000 adoring fans mobbed her outside a concert, with her paparazzi boyfriend, Adnan Ghalib, trailing behind.
Only a few kids are in the store, a young girl with her brother and two blondes checking out fake-gold charm bracelets. Britney rifles the racks as the Cure's "Pictures of You" blasts into the airless pink boutique, grabbing a pink lace dress, a few tight black numbers and a frilly red crop top, the kind of shirt that Britney used to wear all the time at seventeen but isn't really appropriate for anyone over that age. Then she ducks into the dressing room with Ghalib. He emerges with her black Am Ex.
The card won't go through, but they keep trying it.
"Please," begs Ghalib, "get this done quickly."
One of the girls runs to Britney's dressing room, explaining the situation through a pink gauze curtain.
A wail emerges from the cubby — guttural, vile, the kind of base animalistic shriek only heard at a family member's deathbed. "Fuck these bitches," screams Britney, each word ringing out between sobs. "These idiots can't do anything right!"
Ghalib dashes over to console her, but she's already spitting, growling, throwing a big bottle of soda on the floor so that it begins to spill underneath the curtain, and then she's got a box of tissues and is throwing them on top of the wet floor along with piles of discarded merchandise. A new card finally goes through, but by then Britney is out the door, leaving her shirt on the ground and replacing it with the red top. "Fuck you, fuck people, fuck, fuck, fuck," she keeps screaming, her face splotchy and red as she crosses the interminable mall floor, the crowd behind her growing larger and larger. "Leave us alone!" yells Ghalib.
The siblings run after Britney to get a video to put up on YouTube, and some of the shopgirls run after her to hand off the merchandise she left behind, and there's an entire bridal party wearing yellow T-shirts who have pulled out camera phones too. A crush of managers in black shirts and gold name tags try to keep the peace, but the crowd running after Britney gets larger, and now the shopgirls have started to catch up to her, one of them slipping spectacularly in her platform shoes, grazing her elbow. She pulls herself up, mustering the strength to tap Britney's shoulder. "Um, I'm from the South too," she mumbles, "and I was wondering if I could get a picture with you for my little sister."
Britney turns to Ghalib and grabs his arm. "I don't want her talking to me!" she screams. She whirls around and stares the girl deep in the eyes, her lips almost vibrating with anger. "I don't know who you think I am, bitch," she snarls, "but I'm not that person."
Excerpt from Issue 1046
» Grigoriadis describes Britney as being "an inbred swamp thing who chain-smokes, doesn't do her nails, tells reporters to 'eat it, snort it, lick it, fuck it' and screams at people who want pictures for their little sisters."
» On the trip that she took to Vegas where she ended up marrying her high-school boyfriend Jason Alexander, "she packed her bags on a plane for three days of partying in Las Vegas - cocaine during the evening, Ecstasy in the early morning and Xanax to sleep, according to Alexander."
» Britney lost her virginity to a high school boyfriend named Reg Jones at 14, despite repetitive claims that Justin popped her sacred cherry. [Britney denies this]
» In 2000, Britney covered the Rolling Stones' classic "Satisfaction." But when "she found herself in an elevator with Mick Jagger, she had no idea who he was."
» In 2002, Justin Timberlake broke up with Britney after finding "a mash note" written by Wade Robson in her dressing room, just hours before they were set to perform on Saturday Night Live.
» Britney's original concept for the "Everytime" video was for her "to die in an overflowing bathtub with pills and booze strewn around, and get reincarnated as a baby."
» During the time that he was a fixture on the L.A. club scene, Kevin Federline's nickname was "Meat Pole."
» Britney asked for her divorce from Federline via text message, which prompted K. Fed to write this on a bathroom wall: "Today I'm a free man — Fuck a wife, give me my kids, bitch!"
» After the famous shaving her head incident, "she stayed up for 48 hours straight, driving around, sucking down dozens of Red Bulls, afraid that she was being followed by demons, or that a cell-phone charger was taping her thoughts."
» During rehearsals for the 2007 VMAs, Justin Timberlake tried to mend fences with Britney by knocking on her dressing room door. Britney "refused to come out", as she was "waiting for a wig [created] by master coiffeur Ken Paves."
» Britney hired Sam Lufti as her manager based on this line item from his resume -- he was Kevin Federline's private eye. He also endeared himself by revealing to Britney's assistant that there "was a tap on Britney's phones and a warrant to search her Malibu home for drugs."
» There are 20 members of the paparazzi assigned to follow Britney at all times.
To capsulize Rolling Stone's discoveries in one pointed conclusion, Grigoriadis summarizes Britney's current situation by saying, "she's the canary in the coal mine of our culture, the most vivid representation of the excesses of the past decade. She didn't think there was a tomorrow worth saving for, and neither did we."
Brit Brit Video Timeline