Britney fans do it one more time.
PORTLAND - Let's begin with the outfit - Nathan's, not Britney's. We'll get to her in just a minute.
Picture skin-tight jeans with spiraling studs and sequins going up the legs with glitter all around. Picture the pants ratted and torn. Now picture the skin-tight, black-fishnet, stocking shirt, and see the face and hair sprinkled with glitter, too.
"It's very Britney," says Nathan Boozer, a senior at Churchill High School and the self-proclaimed No. 1 Britney Spears fan in all the universe, of the outfit he put together especially for Spears' Onyx Hotel Tour show Thursday night at the Rose Garden.
Boozer paid $455.50 on eBay for two tickets in the fourth row. He tried to borrow $2,500 from his parents for a backstage pass that would allow him to meet his idol - the pop diva with a grip so powerful, Boozer says, she even played a role in bringing him back from severe despair.
Boozer even told his parents he'd make monthly payments on the backstage pass, but they didn't go for it. "We have done enough expenses for his concerts," Judy Boozer, Nathan's mother, says with a grin, standing in the family's upscale home in Eugene's southwest hills earlier this week.
If there is a bigger Britney fan out there, we'd like to know. Because - and read our lips here - they ... need ...help. As for Boozer, 17, who came to see Spears live at the Rose Garden for the third time in four years, he says he is just fine. But don't you believe him.
"He's obsessive," says Julie Stelle, a secretary at Churchill.
"I think he's way past obsessed," says Corey Rusco, a custodian at the school.
Everything in Boozer's life is Britney. She's the No. 1 thing he talks about at school. Or anywhere. It's just a known fact. And his admitted obsession with her is evidence of the power, and influence, Spears has on teen lives.
Speaking of sequins, Spears appeared on the Rose Garden stage during one set wearing a white terry-cloth robe that was soon on the floor, leaving her standing in nothing but a see-through, sequin-covered body stocking. All around her were silhouettes of men and women in suggestive poses framed by hotel-like windows.
This is what Boozer and other teens came to see: Not a musical act so much as a show.
"I think she is just an overall performer," says Boozer, who's been in love with Britney since he was 12 and her debut single "Baby One More Time" came out in 1999.
Spears' latest tour, which kicked off March 2 in San Diego and hits Seattle tonight, is more of a circus than anything else. It's multiple sets and costume changes, and techno-grinding dance numbers and, in all likelihood, mostly lip-synched.
"Which is totally understandable if she's dancing like crazy," said another Britney, Brittany McGrath, a senior from Aloha High School in Beaverton.
The 22-year-old Spears has gone from fresh-faced Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel's All-New Mickey Mouse Club in the early 1990s, to innocent teenage pop star, to her present-day controversial self. Her image has taken a beating during the past year with her much-publicized kiss with Madonna, her mentor, at the MTV Video Music Awards last summer.
That move was rehearsed and surely did nothing but help her sell records. Then, on Jan. 3, she married childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander in a spur-of-the moment bit of nuttiness at a Las Vegas wedding chapel. The marriage was annulled within 55 hours.
None of this, mind you, has done anything but strengthen her fans' devotion to her.
"I don't care what anyone else thinks," said 21-year-old Sundi Fake of Springfield who also saw Thursday's show, "she's an inspiration. She's just making the best of her life. And she's very gorgeous. I'm sure if anyone was put in that position ... you'd do it, too," she said of Spears' passionate smooch with Madonna.
Boozer and his friend, University of Oregon freshman Haley Calkins, waited with other fans for hours at the Rose Garden loading dock Thursday afternoon for a chance to see Spears and get an autograph.
"I would, like, bathe in her sweat," said Meredith Bedrick, a friend of McGrath's and fellow senior at Aloha High School waiting for Spears. "I would, like, lick the sweat off her arm."
Alas, Boozer and Calkins left the crowd to get ready for the 7:30 p.m. show and missed the arrival of Spears' tour bus at 2:30 p.m.
Although she is worshiped by many teens, Spears is loathed by others, much like Madonna was in her heyday.
"Britney says she's a role model, but she doesn't realize what she's doing to these young girls (by) exposing the skin," Eugene's John Zacharias says. His high-school-age daughter has been corrupted by Spears' influence, changing her attitudes about dress, sex and morals for the worse since middle school, he says.
Zacharias, a devout Christian who has tried to teach his children the lessons of the Bible, despises Spears so much he has a picture of her posted in his garage - for throwing darts at in times of parental frustration.
"It's just an incredible influence," he says. "As a parent, it's just devastating."
It's not devastating for 15-year-old Amber Calhoun of Eugene, another concert-goer Thursday. The Willamette High School student's bedroom walls are covered with images of Spears.
"I just really like her music," Calhoun says. "And she doesn't care what other people think." Calhoun idolizes Spears not only for her music and dancing abilities, but because she donates money to charity and holds talent camps for kids who otherwise wouldn't get a shot at making it in the cutthroat entertainment world.
For Boozer, whose bedroom is also a shrine - we're talking 25 posters, wall-to-wall - to "Brit-Brit," his pet name for his idol, she was there for him as an inspiration when nothing else was, he says. Two years ago, Boozer, depressed because of the harassment he says he received from classmates as an openly gay student at Marist High School, tried to kill himself with an overdose of pills and alcohol. Listening to Spears' music, he says, helped him recover.
"I was really depressed for a long time," he says, "and she kept me going."
Nathan Boozer sits in his room, a shrine to Britney Spears. He attended his third Spears concert in four years Thursday night in Portland.
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|Title Annotation:||Entertainment; Her biggest - some would say obsessed - local fans head to Portland to watch the superstar|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Mar 12, 2004|
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