Britney Spears has said her 2001 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) performance with a Burmese python was “even more terrifying than it appeared”.
The American singer has written about the experience in her new memoir, The Woman In Me, which will be published this month and is billed as a “brave and astonishingly moving story about freedom, fame, motherhood, survival, faith and hope”.
In passages from the book, published by US publication People, the singer talks about the moment she performed at the VMAs with an albino Burmese python named Banana wrapped around her shoulders.
The 41-year-old writes: “The plan was for me to sing I’m A Slave 4 U, and we decided I would use a snake as a prop.
“It’s become an iconic moment in VMAs history, but it was even more terrifying than it appeared.”
She added: “All I knew was to look down, because I felt if I looked up and caught its eye, it would kill me.”
Revealing what was going through her mind at the time, Spears said: “In my head I was saying, just perform, just use your legs and perform. But what nobody knows is that as I was singing, the snake brought its head right around to my face, right up to me, and started hissing.”
She added: “I was thinking, Are you f****** serious right now? The f****** goddamn snake’s tongue is flicking out at me. Right. Now. Finally, I got to the part where I handed it back, thank God.”
The singer also spoke about her conservatorship and said she felt like she was “never good enough” for her father Jamie Spears.
Usually reserved for the very ill, the conservatorship was terminated by a judge in Los Angeles after 13 years in November 2021.
Spears writes: “I became a robot. But not just a robot – a sort of child-robot. I had been so infantilised that I was losing pieces of what made me feel like myself.
“The conservatorship stripped me of my womanhood, made me into a child. I became more of an entity than a person onstage. I had always felt music in my bones and my blood; they stole that from me.”
In the book, Spears will cover her speaking in court and the “impact sharing her voice – her truth” had on her and “countless others”, along with the “power of music and love”.
Five-time Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams, known for Blue Valentine and My Week With Marilyn, will narrate the audio edition of The Woman In Me, with Spears voicing the introduction.
In a statement to People, Spears said: “This book has been a labour of love and all the emotions that come with… Reliving everything has been exciting, heart-wrenching and emotional to say the least.
“For those reasons, I will only be reading a small part of my audiobook. I am so grateful to the amazing Michelle Williams for reading the rest of it.”
The Woman In Me will be published by Gallery Books, an imprint of publishing company Simon & Schuster, on October 24.
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