To commemorate Britney Spears’ glimmery return to the spotlight, I’m reposting an essay I wrote for SF Weekly in 2011 — right before the Brit machine came to San Francisco.
I wasn’t always a Britney Spears fan, but then again, I wasn’t always openly gay. Despite the fact that she has never marched for us like Gaga, or praised our lifestyle like Madonna, Britney has been an influence to sexually confused young boys all over the world since the turn of the century.
Part of the Britney allure is how she keeps us aroused without ever really making us climax. And oops… with the announcement this week that her performance on Sunday will, indeed, not take place outdoors in the Castro but inside the Bill Graham Auditorium, well… she did it again.
It’s easy to dismiss Britney Spears as trashy and talentless, but she is an icon in the purest sense of the word — an object signifying much more. She signifies the machine that created her, the concept that made her a superstar and a fascination that resurrected her to the top of the charts.
“I remember signing online everyday to see what she was doing during her meltdown. Never have I done that for anyone else,” said Preston Burford, who hosts Wet & Wild as Lady Tatas. “She didn’t even show up to one of her video shoots!”
The concept was simple: erect an entire economy out of encouraging young girls to pierce their belly buttons, flirt with their teachers and flash their panties. In short, to exploit their sexuality before they could understand it. And it wasn’t just young girls who were listening.
“The first time I saw Britney, the little slut was sprawled out on her back, begging for it on the cover of Rolling Stone,” said Joshua J, who will be throwing a Britney after-party at QBar this Sunday. “I was horrified and fascinated at the same time.”
In her wet dream within a dream, hyper-real in its bizarre extension of reckless adolescence, Britney is both a sexual aggressor and victim to her own uncontrollable urges. Her lyrics suggest a nice but naughty duality, straddling somewhere between Nickelodeon and soft-core porn. Her pulsating music is the quintessential gay club soundtrack, both in sound and in subject matter — going out to find a trick to take home without worrying about the morning after. “That’s speaking the language of most gay men,” Preston said.
In high school, I lied to my mother and told her I had purchased a Britney album as a gift to my best friend (who grew up to be a lesbian and enthralled by Britney for completely different reasons). At the time, I wasn’t a part of the pop star’s girl demographic, so owning the album was even more of a shameful pleasure. I’d go into my room, lock the door, put on my headphones and blare Britney.
Impressionable, confused by my own uncontrollable urges, I wanted to be like her: desirous of everything and desired by everyone. I wanted to writhe up to a sweaty stranger, moan suggestively and ask, “baby, don’t you want to dance upon me?” with enough sexual prowess to know the answer would be a resounding, “yes.” That winter, at sixteen years old, I lost my virginity to Britney Spears.
So if the thought of her having gay fans still boggles your mind, have a bag of Cheeto’s while you munch on this: how is it possible that we’ve allowed this minimally talented, almost brain dead female pop star teach a whole generation of gay men everything they know about sexual expression?
Should we hold that against you?
Watch Britney’s latest video for her single “Work Bitch.”