Below is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RS 810 from April 15, 1999. This issue and the rest of the Rolling Stone archives are available via Rolling Stone Plus, Rolling Stone’s premium subscription plan. If you are already a subscriber, you can click here to see the full story. Not a member? Click here to learn more about Rolling Stone Plus.
Britney Spears Extents a honeyed thigh across the length of the sofa, keeping one foot on the floor as she does so. Her blond-streaked hair is piled high,exposing two little diamond earrings on each ear lobe; her face is fully made-up, down to carefully applied lip liner. The “Baby Phat” logo of Spears’ pink T-shirt is distended by her ample chest,and her silky white shorts — with dark blue piping — cling snugly to her hips. She cocks her head and smiles receptively.
But hold on. It’s not like that. You’re falling into the same trap as the lovelorn youths who call Spears’ local florist to send her long-stemmed roses and the randy fellows outside the MTV studios with prom invites scrawled on their chests. Admittedly, that trap is carefully baited by a debut video that shows the seventeen-year-old singer cavorting around like the naughtiest of schoolgirls. But, as Spears points out, nothing is actually revealed.
“All I did was tie up my shirt!” she says, addressing the critics who would hunt her down like a gay Teletubby. “I’m wearing a sports bra under it. Sure, I’m wearing thigh-highs, but kids wear those — it’s the style. Have you seen MTV — all those girls in thongs?”
Spears’ left thigh is presently adorned by several small plastic discs that are wired to a neuromuscular stimulator. A dance rehearsal accident has temporarily confined Spears to her parents’ ranch-style house in rural-burban Kentwood, Louisiana, when she should be out promoting her white-hot debut, … Baby One More Time, 1999’s biggest-selling pop album so far. Staying home has its compensations: As Spears holds forth, her mom, Lynne, a second-grade teacher, sits on the carpet in the wood-paneled living room, fluffing and folding the laundry. If it weren’t for the diamond-laden tennis bracelet that Britney just bought her, you’d think her daughter was a vacationing college kid and not a pop sensation with an eleventh-grade education.