I first met 17-year-old Britney Spears backstage at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom in 1999. I was a young Rolling Stone reporter and she was beginning the tour for her first studio album, …Baby One More Time. She was sweet, charming, and—surrounded by handlers—completely inaccessible.
One year later, we met again when I had become the entertainment editor at Seventeen magazine. By then she was an even more unimaginably huge star, but as sweet and unassuming as ever, with the infectious confidence of a child performer whose every move was calculated by the grownups around her.
When I left Rolling Stone for Seventeen, everyone thought I was crazy. But it was the best way to meet Britney: The 17-year-old reader follows the same stars, only without a trace of irony. Britney was loved. Almost 15 years later, Britney Spears—multi-platinum recording artist, fragrance tycoon, Madonna kisser, tabloid staple, mom, and now artist-in-residence at Planet Hollywood—still dazzles me with the energy and innocence of a high school cheerleader.
Britney's Hope to "Live a Normal Life"
Life for Britney is markedly different now. On a typical day, she drops off her two sons at school, heads over to a dance studio for five hours of rehearsal, picks up the kids, then drives home in time to cook dinner. “It’s a grueling schedule,” she admits. It might seem that taking on a two-year commitment to perform some 50 shows per year would add even more strain to an already packed schedule, but the singer imagines that life during her run of Britney: Piece of Me will be—as much as it can be for someone who has sold 100 million albums—rather ordinary. “I think I’ll be able to live a normal life with my kids,” Spears says from her home in Los Angeles with a tinge of optimism in her teenager sweet voice. “I will have some nights where I’ll come back to LA after the show and some when I’ll stay over in Las Vegas.” One activity she’ll be certain to squeeze in during those overnights: pampering. “They have the best spas in Las Vegas—oxygen facials at every one!”