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Britney Spears Is Finally Sober. So Why Does She Seem So Sad?

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Acting out is no longer consistent with Britney's billion-dollar brand.

By Sam Lansky

06/08/11

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(page 4)

“Do you think Matt could get us in Britney’s good graces?” Ella wondered.

“After this stunt? He’s probably lost all of his cachet with the Britney camp,” I said.

“Fuck. There goes my chance of becoming Britney’s sponsor.”

Sponsoring Britney, though, would have required a commitment of sobriety on my part, and I was incapable of such a measure. I returned to treatment, then promptly relapsed shortly after I left. Drunk and horrified, I watched Britney clumsily stumble through a poorly lip-synched rendition of her new single, “Gimme More,” at the MTV Video Music Awards, the choreography uninspired and passionless, her swollen gut drooping sadly over a pair of black panties.

As my consumption of narcotics escalated, so my mental health deteriorated. I regressed into childhood fantasy, retreating deeper into delusions of grandeur, assuming imagined personae. Strangers wandered in and out of my apartment. In the mornings, I peeked out the windows, reduced to a cliché of drug-addled paranoia. I wasn’t afraid of the police. I was afraid of the paparazzi.

Bested by a near-fatal overdose, I sobered up yet again, moving back to my Pacific Northwest hometown with the hope of quietly rebuilding my life. As my track marks healed, photographs began to surface of Britney, running errands, exiting the recording studio. She looked healthier. In some pictures, she was even smiling. It was the wary half-smile that I had seen on the faces of patients in rehabs and psych wards, the broken smile that’s more evocative of some mysterious sadness than it is of actual joy—but still, it was a smile.

That spring, I went to see Britney during the Circus Tour when she performed in Tacoma, Washington. I carpooled to the show with my best friend Jeffrey and a troupe of fashionable gays. One of them, Thomas, worked at the MAC counter at a department store and was attending the concert in full face: cheeks violently rouged, smoky eye, strawberry lip gloss, covered in a thin patina of glitter from head to toe. He told me that he had planned to drink several gallons of water mixed with glitter and then projectile vomit sparkles onto the stage as soon as Britney appeared, but he had decided to abandon this plot in the eleventh hour out of concern for his health.

“Britney wouldn’t want you to get sick,” Jeffrey said.

“Britney’s going to fucking lurve Tacoma,” Thomas said. “She’s just going to get a doublewide and some Ecstasy and a jumbo bag of Cheetos and a case of Red Bull for Small Fry and Tater Tot, and she’s just going to, like, hang out in Tacoma forever and ever until she overdoses and fucking dies.”

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