Britney Spears’s infamous head shaving incident is back in the news this week because Katy Perry maybe shaded the blonde at the Grammys over it and Brit-Brit maybe shaded her back with a Bible verse — or maybe neither happened, as it’s all so speculative. But what definitely did happen, we remember well, was the “I’m a Slave 4 U” singer, now 35, buzzing off those locks and, coincidentally, it took place 10 years ago today.
We’re taking you back to 2007, when Lindsay Lohan was busted for cocaine possession and DUI, Paris Hilton spent 23 long days in jail, Anna Nicole Smith was laid to rest, and Britney’s infamous bald, umbrella-wielding mega-meltdown took place. By then, the pop tart was a superstar, but after a quickie marriage (and split) from Kevin Federline and two kids, she was on a downward spiral — Partying with no panties! Collapsed in a club! Investigated by L.A. Department of Children & Family Services! — and in the beginning of a bitter custody battle with K-Fed over her young boys. Everyone wanted a piece of the paparazzi magnet (“Piece of Me” came out that year), and she wasn’t equipped to handle it. She wasn’t ready for help either; Spears had checked into Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Centre rehab facility in Antigua the week before, but left after just one day.
That’s where we were on Feb. 16 when the recently dyed brunette, who couldn’t make a move without a trail of ’razzi following her, walked into Esther’s Haircutting Studio in Tarzana, Calif. (which is still in business, for the record), borrowed a stylist’s clippers and shaved her head bald while photographers and onlookers gawked through the window. Her demeanor went back and forth from smiling to sullen while she did the deed.
The L.A. Times interviewed salon owner Esther Tognozzi right after and she recalled Britney walking in with two bodyguards. “I thought she was trying to run away or hide or something, not get a haircut,” she told the paper. When Brit asked for a buzz, the hairstylist tried to talk her out of it (“We all have these hormonal things. … You might regret it in the morning,” she says she told the star), so the singer grabbed a trimmer and started doing it herself. Tognozzi cleaned up Britney’s work when she was done. Upon completion, Spears, whom the shop owner described as “emotionless,” said, “Oh my God, my mom is going to be so upset at me.”
Tognozzi later put up the hair on eBay — for $1 million — but the auction company removed it. She then started a website called buybritneyshair.com — for the sale of the hair, clippers, and a blue lighter and can of Red Bull that Britney left behind. It’s unclear how much she made off it, but, again, Tognozzi’s salon is still open, so it likely didn’t net her a fortune. (The website now is a bunch of Japanese text.)
After Britney’s bodyguard handed Tognozzi $50 cash for the $45 haircut, Britney moved over to Body & Soul tattoo parlor in Sherman Oaks (which is no longer in business). She walked in wearing a hoodie (covering her noggin), which she promptly pulled up to get two new tattoos on her hip and wrist.
Her tattoo artist was someone named Emily Wynne-Hughes, who went on to compete on American Idol. At the time, she told Us Weekly that Britney was agitated following the hair-shaving incident. When she asked Spears why she cut her hair, the songstress said, “I don’t want anyone touching me, I’m tired of everybody touching me. … She wasn’t making any sense at all and you could tell she’s not in a good place at all, and that she is totally freaking out.” As for having Britney as a client, “She was a nightmare to deal with. … She was screaming and flipping out from the pain and wiggling her body all around.”
Her behavior in the days following was equally erratic. On Feb. 20, she checked into Promises Malibu drug and alcohol rehabilitation, but left the same day. The next day — after she she attacked a paparazzi’s SUV with a green umbrella — she returned to the facility and stayed for 30 days. (Several months after the ‘brella incident, she wrote on her website that the attack was for a movie role — no joke! — adding, “Unfortunately I didn’t get the part.” Perhaps she got that bad idea from Winona Ryder.)
We’d like to say that rehab cured Spears of her issues, but they got worse before they got better. (MTV VMAs debacle, anyone? She was also estranged from her mother, Lynne Spears.) A year later, Brit, who by then was wearing different wigs to cover her bald head, was removed from her home and hospitalized after she locked herself in a room with one of her sons and refused to turn him over to Federline at the time of the scheduled custody changeover. That led to a psych hold and losing custody of Preston and Jayden. Finally a conservatorship put her father, Jamie Spears, in charge (it’s still in place today), and that ultimately got her on the road to recovery.
Court papers from the 2012 lawsuit filed by Sam Lufti, the creepy guy who was either drugging and manipulating the celebrity or managing her career (depending on whose side you were on!), against Britney and her parents revealed that the reason the pop star shaved her head in 2007 was, as long rumored, she was using drugs (he said crystal meth) and was concerned a judge would drug test her hair. A judge tossed out Lufti’s lawsuit, so take that with a grain of salt.
Of course, Britney has gotten her $%^& together in the last decade. While the conservatorship is still in place, she has regained custody of her kids, a cordial relationship with her ex, and is by all accounts a good mom. (And have you seen her new boyfriend? Um hmm.)
While her latest album, Glory, which came out last fall, was a flop, she’s still raking in the bucks with her $35 million residency at Planet Hollywood in Vegas. She also released her 20th fragrance (no joke) and has a mobile game, which helped her earn a spot on Forbes‘s highest-paid entertainers list last year.
After a very dramatic week-plus with her family (her niece, Maddie, was seriously injured in an off-roading incident, but is now recovering at home), Brit attended a pre-Grammys party over the weekend, but skipped the actual awards show. (Again, her album didn’t do great, so she wasn’t a must-have talent at the show.) It was on the Grammys red carpet that Katy Perry seemingly dissed her. When Nancy O’Dell asked the pop star about her new blond ’do, Perry replied, “It’s like the last color in the spectrum. I’ve done all of ’em. The only thing left to do is shave my head, which I’m really saving for a public breakdown.” Perry also later told Ryan Seacrest, “Well, that’s called taking care of my mental health … I haven’t shaved my head yet!”
The Internet inferred it was a Spears diss. Commenters also thought this paraphrase of a Bible passage was a response to Perry’s comments.
We kind of can’t imagine Britney caring too much about what Katy maybe, possibly, could have said about her. She’s been through much worse — and found her way back to the top.
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