Britney Spears has undergone a tumultuous few decades of soaring pop heights and personal lows since she began her career on The Mickey Mouse Club with Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Ryan Gosling back in the early ‘90s. But as if to say, “It’s Britney, bitch,” next week, on August 26, she will release Glory (RCA Records), her 9th full-length studio album. Only two days later, on August 28, she’ll perform at the VMAs, and one can only hope a memorable performance—think 2000’s bejeweled “Oops!… I Did It Again” routine or the 2003 Madonna kiss.
Back in August 2005, the Southern pop princess graced the pages of Interview with then-husband Kevin Federline. They did a maid inspired photo shoot as they released their reality show, Britney & Kevin: Chaotic, and the interview has some cringeworthy moments (Spears and Federline learn they aren’t on the cover mid-interview). The pair, who split after two years of marriage, also talk about how they’re portrayed in the media, and being equals in their relationship.
Britney Spears and Kevin Federline By Ingrid Sischy
Interview‘s editor in chief and one of pop’s friskiest couples have a phone date to talk about the images that follow, and on cue at that appointed time the telephone rings.
INGRID SISCHY: Hello, Britney.
BRITNEY SPEARS: Hi!
SISCHY: How are you?
SPEARS: I’m good, how are you?
SISCHY: I’m good, thanks. So, let’s go straight to those hilarious pictures. They’re like performance art, and I love how they take the mickey out of the media. What led you to go down this path?
SPEARS: I knew we were coming out with our reality show, and I wanted to capture [something about all this] in art form. Through photography I wanted me and Kevin to do some kind of character pieces, with a fun essence that didn’t really take things too seriously.
SISCHY: What makes the pictures so playful is that they’re really picking up on social stereotypes in general but also on stereotypes of you, stereotypes of Kevin, and stereotypes of your relationship.
SPEARS: Right. I think we both have the sense of wanting to serve the other person. He has that for me, and I have that for him.
KEVIN FEDERLINE: Not to mention that you’re serving a “white trash” man. [Spears laughs]
SISCHY: Who is that? Kevin? I didn’t know you’d arrived. I’m glad you’re on the line, too.
FEDERLINE: Oh, yeah, I’ve been listening.
SISCHY: Okay. So, have you both done these kinds of set-up, conceptual photos before?
FEDERLINE: No, not like this. It was her idea.
SISCHY: And then you commissioned Michelle Kole, the photographer, to capture your vision. Well, you seem to be having a hoot in the pictures.
SPEARS: Instead of trying to deny what the public says or what they think our personas are, we—
FEDERLINE: Make fun of it!
SPEARS: You know, when you present it to their eyes blatantly and up-front, then it’s just where do you go from there?
SISCHY: Which image did you plan first?
SPEARS: Me in the maid outfit.
FEDERLINE: Yeah, we wanted that for the cover. We were kind of confused about who was gonna be the server on the cover. [laughs] We were both saying that we were gonna have to do a flip cover so we would both feel like it was equal.
SISCHY: Hey, guys…
SPEARS: We’re not on the cover?! [Federline laughs]
SISCHY: Oops. [laughs]
SPEARS: Why am I even on the phone with you right now?! [Federline laughs]
SISCHY: You should hang up on me!
SPEARS: I know!
FEDERLINE: No, I think it’s better off that way that it’s not on the cover because it’s more of an artistic statement.
SISCHY: Yes, it’s like buried treasure.
SPEARS: Ooh, I like that.
SISCHY: You must have had a ball doing these shots.
FEDERLINE: Of course. We always have fun.
SISCHY: Britney, you’ve conceptualized things before for your albums and videos. Is this the first time you’ve made pop art out of your life?
SPEARS: I’ve worked this way with my videos and photo shoots, but I’ve never done a whole out-there concept that is not attached to a movie or an album.
SISCHY: The images attracted me because there’s this huge tradition in art for this kind of performance photography, you know? Cindy Sherman is the best known of these artists, but there have been plenty others. I’m curious, how did you feel when the media started doing its thing with your relationship and bringing out all the stereotypes? What was your reaction?
FEDERLINE: I laughed.
SPEARS: We both laughed. But we never really said or did anything during that whole period before we got married. We were on the cover of a magazine, like, every other week. A lot of times when that happens, you’re out there working, and you’re out in front of the cameras, able to defend yourself. Not that you have to defend yourself, but you’re having some response. But I was nowhere to be found. Our reality series and these pictures really gave me the opportunity to let the public and the fans see the way things really are.
SISCHY: And I imagine also to let people see that you both have a total sense of humor about it all.
SISCHY: If a guy married a woman and the guy was more famous, the world wouldn’t deem it an inequal relationship. But if you have a guy marrying a woman who is more well-known, more, in quotes, “powerful,” more wealthy, then there’s a kind of reverse sexism that comes out, right?
FEDERLINE: You’re speaking pretty highly of my wife there, aren’t you? [Sischy laughs]
SPEARS: Keep going! He loves it!
SISCHY: So, Kevin, do you experience this reverse sexism?
SPEARS: Sexi— [everybody starts talking at once]
FEDERLINE: I don’t really experience it. I’ll tell you why—because in our relationship we’re equal. The photographs demonstrate that this is a 50-50 thing between us, even though she’s a goddess. Now she’s my goddess.
SISCHY: Photography—the great democratizer… So, when your kid is born, what are you going to say when you show him or her these photographs?
FEDERLINE: This is how we were perceived in a moment of time.
SISCHY: And you wanted to show the world what?
FEDERLINE: That we don’t care!!! [Spears and Federline laugh]
THIS INTERVIEW ORIGINALLY RAN IN THE AUGUST 2005 ISSUE OF INTERVIEW.