Beards, Blazers & Britney
"I am the envy of every 14 year-old girl in America," I mumble to myself, eyes rolled, approaching the House of Blues-Sunset, Thursday night. Britney Spears is launching her official "comeback" tour, but I'm not sure sure what she's coming back from. It's not like she left the public eye, after all the last two years have been nothing but an endless media Spearing. Spears getting married. Spears getting knocked up. Spears getting divorced. Spears spearing macho stuffed tacos and scarfing them like whole goldfish at Del Taco. Not to mention various head-shaving excursions in the Valley, or the infamous flashing of her unmentionables that have best been described as loose like the sleeve of a wizard. Norma Desmond she is not.
But I am on Sunset Blvd at the moment, where pandemonium rules outside the HOB. Not just paparazzi and celeb magazines, but ABC News, Entertainment Tonight, and the History Channel, there for a very special Natural Disasters segment. The latter might not be true, but the vultures are circling in the form of the scalpers skulking the grounds
whispering outlandish prices for tickets. $200. $300. Several Cambodian children. I almost took the latter, but it was a bit too reminiscent of Angelina Joleezie (Jay-Z will burn in hell for putting that phrase in my vocab.)
No cell phones are allowed, required to be checked into a massive HOB repository. This is Britney Spears all. If god forbid, someone snaps an amateur cell phone pic and it winds up on Perez Hilton, it is a matter of our national security. Liberty is at stake. Our soldiers in Iraq fight for freedom and the right of the American people to know whether or not their pop stars are wearing underwear.
Giving New Meaning to the Word "Wigger"Inside, the crowd is blood-thirsty, demanding booze and Britney with ruthless demand. Chanting her name periodically, at levels that could raise Debbie Gibson from the dead (she's dead right?)Their lust is briefly sated by a DJ spinning Journey, Bon Jovi and worst of all, "Fergielicious." I continue to wonder why Fergie not yet been sued for false advertising, considering she is neither "delicious" nor do any of the boys want what she's got. However, I am certain that if you cruise Santa Monica Blvd. round 4:00 a.m., looking for street-walkers with an Adam's Apple, you may be able to approximate the true meaning of "Fergielicious."
Around , the lights dim. Accompanied by four leggy, scantily clad, and impossibly hot blonde dancers, Britney struts on-stage, surprisingly well toned legs peeking out of a skimpy mini-skirt. The noise is loud and furious. Don't believe what you read, people still love this woman. “Hit me Baby One More Time” is on and she's lip-syncing badly. She seems timid and nervous, the other dancers are sharper and more on-beat. But by song two, the Neptunes produced electronic hiccuping of “I’m a Slave 4 U,” Britney starts to get more confident, getting sexier, sultrier, reminding you of a time when she wasn't a punch-line. I hate to admit it, but didn't look half-bad. Not peak, Britney-with-the-snake-over-her shoulders good, but the best she's looked in years.
In the middle of the third track, “Breathe,” Britney and her dancers dragged some salivating doofus out of the crowd and gave him a lap-dance. It was really corny and the guys face was so frozen he looked like Tarzana, I mean Encino Man. The crowd ate it up. The last song of the 13-minute performance was “Toxic.” At the song’s coda, Britney and the rest of the dancers dropped to their knees and writhed and crawled to the front of the stage. The crowd went beserk. With all pre-recorded music, the show was 100% theater in the first place, so it wasn't a surprise that the crowd appreciated this last most raunchy gesture, erupting in a cacophony of cat-calls, whistles and genuinely sincere applause.
Ms. Hairstylist, I'm Ready for My Close-Cut
But more remarkable than the effusive reception she received inside, was the atmosphere outside the venue. A good portion of the fans had been whipped into an ecstatic frenzy, looking wildly for television cameras to blab to and tell their happiness. 14 year old girls to 40 year old women wore blinding smiles, gossiping to themselves about how "hot Britney looked," murmering that a comeback was in the bag. Amazingly, after two years in which Britney Spears has seemed hell-bent on destroying any respect or esteem that people had for her, thousands of people's lives were briefly brighter, thanks to a raunchy 13-minutes of lip syncing.
It all makes sense if a way. In her soap opera life of the past few years, Britney has become an every-woman for hundreds of thousands of women. Her fans (and there really are fans) identify with her, relate their struggles to hers, subliminally and not subliminally believe that if she too can comeback, than their obstacles will be equally surmountable. The rise of reality shows and celeb magazines over this decade has really just been a result of American egocentricity and our compulsive need to watch ourselves and our enemies reflected in the heroes and villains of the mass media. Just as Britney's girl next door innocence vibe fit the wide-eyed optimism of the Dot com years, her raunchy, tabloid, freak show fits the weird polluted undercurrent of life in the Bush administration.
Seeing the live traveling carnival of Britney Spears humanizes the whole ordeal in a very strange way. You're sort of able to grasp exactly why millions of otherwise sane women (and men) obsess over her divorce trials and tribulations. She radiates the undeniable normalcy of a scared 25-year old girl. The best cheerleader on the high school squad made good than made bad. You kind of had to root for her in a way, just the way you'd root for the underdog. Even if sometimes the underdog forgets to wear underwear.