Walter Mencken 4 p.m., May 3
Why Britney Spears Hates San Diego (and we're not fond of her, either)
The Access Hollywood promo showed Britney Spears flashing flesh, as a hyperactive voiceover announced “Britney is willing to do anything to top Janet, even if it takes getting nasty in the Onyx Hotel! Coming up – sex in San Diego!”
It was late February 2004, between Mousekateer and motherhood, just before the trainwreck that is Britney Spears first slipped a couple wheels offtrack ----------
The TV show was announcing the kick-off of Spears’ theatrical production “The Onyx Hotel Tour,” which was set to open at the Sports Arena March 2. “A swarm of invading paparazzi and other showbiz swarm promises to descend on the city, anxious to check out this debut performance of the 21 year old’s reportedly R-rated sensual extravaganza. The stage set, according to tour director Kevin Tancharoen, is a hotel powered by a mysterious stone which, when guests shine a light on it, makes their fantasies come to life…and the darkest of secrets are revealed.”
See, you think I made that up, but that’s actually what Nancy O’Dell said, and with an admirably straight face, I might add.
Access Hollywood intimated that nipples might be revealed too, at least among the backup dancers. “Don’t be surprised if some [dancers] bare more than their souls,” intoned Miss O’Dell. “The performers have been rehearsing since July 2003, and hundreds of costumes were specially created and fitted for the show.”
State of the art special effects were said to include pyrotechnics that drove the cost-per-show up by tens of thousands of dollars, due to cost and complication of permit-gathering in this post-Great-White-world.
Just before the March ’04 debut at the Sports Arena, sandiegotickets.com was selling front row seats for $1,300. Nobody knew yet how disastrous the tour would be, and how all the bad luck would start in San Diego -----
“You’d think it was Super Bowl, almost all the cars are taken and I hear most of the hotels are already booked,” informed a clerk at Alamo Car Rental, interviewed at the time for Blurt. “People from Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, Extra, some guy from [the] Howard Stern [show], we’re getting slammed with VIP reservations.”
The majority of Spears’ setlist were songs from her new album In the Zone, a title that would get her sued in San Diego, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Over the course of eight costume changes, Spears modeled everything from a black catsuit to an Egyptian goddess costume and – eventually – nothing but her bikini underwear. Many dancers were dressed so shear as to appear nude, performing explicit routines that seemed more suited for the nearby Les Girls than the Sports Arena. Especially given the number of young school-age fans in the audience.
A few review snippets after the San Diego Show: “The stage looked for all the world like a Roman orgy, with so many bodies writhing in undulating mounds that they may well have been having actual sex.” (pitchfork.com)
“The simulated masturbation [during] Touch of my Hand was a virtual primer in self gratification…countless mothers could be seen steering their young charges hurriedly toward the exits while [Spears’] fondled her jewels.” (The Onion Online – the jewels were sparkly gemstones attached to her flesh-colored tights and strategically covering her naughty bits)
“It’s official: Britney Spears is a porn star. Or at least she soon will be, if this opening concert is any indication.” (MTV Day in Rock)
Just over two weeks later, in Moline Illinois, Spears fell on stage and injured her knee, bringing the show to a halt. This caused shows in Detroit and Chicago to be rescheduled, as well as a show in Cleveland that never ended up happening on the new date either.
Then, while shooting a video for “Outrageous” in NYC, Spears took another tumble, injuring her knee so badly this time that the entire remaining tour was scrapped. Included among the canceled dates was Coors Amphitheatre on August 13th, for which ticket scalpers were asking $1,000 and up for the first five rows.
A couple more wheels spun off the track when she went right from that debacle to marrying Kevin Federline. Of such nightmares are the most gawdawful reality shows made, y’aaallll.
Britney Spears would not appear on a stage again until her “surprise” show at the San Diego House of Blues in 2007. The big surprise for some, tho, was that she’d resurface here, of all places, given that she was sued in San Diego and had to make at least two local appearances in court.
In June 2004, Spears was being sued by a San Diego firm for $10 Million, in a trademark infringement action connected to her “In The Zone” CD and concert tour. Local Sportswear company Lite Breeze uses the brand name “In The Zone” for a line of clothing and sports team uniforms, as well for promoting live music and sports events.
Lite Breeze alleged that Spears’ unauthorized use of its trademark was causing confusion in the marketplace harming its trademark.
“We have spent over 12 years building name recognition and brand loyalty with [our] trademark,” said Rodd Garner, President of Lite Breeze at the time. “In The Zone is as wholesome and All-American as hotdogs and apple pie. We are associated with sporting and musical events throughout the country.”
“By releasing her CD entitled In The Zone and its promotional tour, now entitled The Oynx Hotel Tour, Ms. Spears has taken Lite Breeze’s brand and equated it with what Rolling Stone Magazine has stated ‘offers strip-club, 1-900 sex, accommodating and hollow.’”
Lite Breeze attorney Kathleen Walker gave Spears’ camp until June 14th to file a response to the allegations. Meanwhile, Lite Breeze sought an injunction to be placed against the tour’s and CD’s profits, for possible attachment by Lite Breeze.
“Either the public will believe that Lite Breeze has licensed Ms. Spears’ use of the trademark,” said Walker, “or the public will believe the opposite – that Ms. Spears owns the rights to In The Zone and that Lite Breeze has received a license from Ms. Spears. Either option is unacceptable…her use of the mark does not represent the values, morals and ethics of In The Zone and Lite Breeze.”
It’s Lite Breeze, Britbitch!
Ms. Spears and three other defendants (involved in ticket, CD and merchandise sales) stood to lose all profits earned for the In The Zone CD and tour as well as paying damages to Lite Breeze. Those damages can be tripled if the Court rules an infringement to be intentional.
One of the defendants, Signatures Network, had publicly stated that the first leg of Ms. Spears Onyx Hotel concert tour earned more the $30 million. Whoops! Britney’s new babies are gonna need new shoes, and momma needs underwear and a wig……….
Around the same time, local band Monsters From Mars earned some national and blogger press, for their cover of Spears’ “Toxic,” from their seven-inch vinyl Surfing Through A Creepy Castle record.
“It gets requested every gig, and not everyone realizes it’s a Britney song,” says operator (and bassist) Scott Jones. “We joke that she’s probably getting two cent royalty checks and saying ‘what the hell.’ Someday, we’d love to be her backing band and play it, which by the looks of her career could become a reality.”
The song’s spacey sound comes courtesy of a Theremin, an electronic musical device first popularized in the 1951 sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still. “It sure is a head turner,” says Jones. “Ours is homemade, like a lot of our DIY equipment. We try not to over-use it by just making flying saucer noise with it. We run it through a delay pedal, to give a thick psychedelic sound for certain parts, and we actually play melodies with it in songs like the Britney cover.” An actual Theremin built by inventor Léon Theremin is on display at the Museum Of Making Music in Carlsbad.
"She's been at it since the age of sixteen
By now you'd think that she'd have a clue
Now that she's standing on top of the world...
Everybody's wet dream/Save it for the big scene
It's headed for the big screen…Doesn't make a difference to me.”
In January, “She Won’t Stop” hit number one on the Big 50 list at aicmusic.com.
“Independent Artists Company is a website that features indie musicians, and has a number of radio stations on the site,” says Wilson. “You can sell your downloads with no upfront cost, and you get a hundred percent of the profits, unlike on Snocap, which takes 39 cents out of every sale.” The Big 50 is a list of songs on the IAC site with the highest traffic.
Says Wilson, “I personally think that there's a spiritual dimension to all of this. Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, and even Paris Hilton were studying Kabbalah shortly before all this stuff went down for all of them, and I think it's a dangerous cocktail to be messing around with the power of God when you're involved in the kinds of antics that those three are up to.”
Local songstress Amber Ojeda told the Reader "I have only compassion for Britney. I can't imagine the amount of pressure, scrutiny, and self-doubt she's dealing with. It's amazing how, within a few months, your whole life can spin out of control. I would love to see her turn it around."
Nautical Disaster drummer/singer Grimis Apparatus said “Keep up with that commando [no underwear] style, it’s really working for you, girl.”
Soooooooo ---- ten fender benders, one divorce, two interventions, four more lawsuits, and countless Taco Bell burritos later, word surfaced last year that Her Nibs would be gracing downtown’s House of Blues, performing under the pseudonym “The M&Ms” with tickets priced at $35. The press seemed to arrive by the busload, at least if you counts the Paps as Press.
Videos of the short four-song lip-synch were appearing on YouTube even before Ms. Spears could change from her stage underwear to her street skivvies.
A few HOB patrons were seen raving about Spears, albeit more about how hot she looked than how she sounded, but most everyone else looked pissed. Especially the poor pinheads who paid $100 and up for the 14 minute Solid Gold dancer routine.
TV shows really picked apart her San Diego performance, with many shows openly mocking her set, including the aforementioned Access Hollywood, where lovely two-faced Nancy O’Dell could be seen gasping in mock astonishment “Is this the end of the line for Britney Spears?”
And to think we saw the beginning of the long tumble downward right here at the Sports Arena. Perhaps the ill-fated Onyx Hotel and its “mysterious stones” came with a curse………….
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford
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- Painting Rock Stars, plus Behind the Scenes: Overheard in San Diego & Famous Former Neighbors — May 8, 2008
- 25 Local Musicians Reveal “My Favorite Twilight Zone,” plus Local-Produced Zone Comic Books — April 3, 2008
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