Image: AP

Twenty years ago, Britney Spears released one of the greatest bops of all time, “Baby, One More Time...”. In honor of the anniversary, Variety re-released an 1999 interview between Spears and music journalist Karen Bliss.

Att first blush, nothing contained within is super-revealing. At the time, Spears was a teenager with a huge, chart-topping song, but she was still a teenager nonetheless. She answers Bliss’s questions with the kind of generic but earnest enthusiasm we’re used to hearing from first-time celebrities. Everything is “really, really sweet” and “really nice,” and the truth is, I believe her. She might have been on tour with N*SYNC, but back then, she was still just a high schooler from Louisiana, as evidenced by the number of time she says “oh my goodness.”

The interview, then, is interesting because it shows gives us a look at a young person grappling with fame who still doesn’t know how much more is yet to come. Bliss brings up the question of fanmail, which Spears describes as “sweet” and “flattering”:

Do you have a lot of young girls approaching you for your autograph and wanting to know how you got into music?

When I go to places, they’re really, really, really sweet and really nice. They’re like, “We love you” and stuff like that. And I get a bunch of emails saying, “How did you get started?,” and I explain to them.

Do you respond to fanmail yourself?

Some of them. It got to the point where I was doing a lot of them at the very beginning, like four or five months ago. Then it got kind of overwhelming and there was no way. So now I do like one email and send it to all of them. But I try. Some of the letters, I definitely write back because they’re really, really sweet and I just think it’s really nice that they’re taking out time in their day to say they totally admire me. It’s really flattering.

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Likewise, when asked whether people come up to her on the street, Spears says it happens, but not to the point where it’s annoying or difficult to deal with:

Are you getting recognized in the street?

Sometimes I do, but it’s not really overwhelming. It’s at the point where it’s okay. It doesn’t get on my nerves. It’s cool.

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But when Bliss gets a little more specific and asks Spears about whether she gets more attention from guys as a result of her work, we hear Spears start to show some trepidation:

Are you getting more attention from the guys now?

Yeah, actually. I did a show in Philadelphia and I was like, “Oh my goodness.” I was so thrown because it was a radio show for ‘Nsync, and there were a lot of guys and they were all waiting outside. It was like, “Oh my goodness, these guys are, like, old.”

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And that opens another door, at which point Spears shares a story about an older man who staked outside her house and asked Spears’s mother if he could meet her:

How old? 18 or 19?

No, like 24 — like old, and I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is not good.” It was kind of freaky. And actually, one guy came to my house when I was home. Thank goodness I wasn’t home by myself. It was so weird because he parked like half a block away from my house and was snooping up on me. And he asked my mom, “Can I meet her?” And my mom was like, “She’s busy right now,” because I was freaked out, especially if you’re a senior in high school. If you’re going to drive that far — he [lives] like two hours away from me — you would bring someone along with you, right? I could see myself, if there was someone I totally admired and I even thought of going there, I’d bring a couple of friends with me. So for him to do that, I was totally freaked out.

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I don’t know what else Spears or her mom could have possibly done in that scenario, but it makes me a bit sad to hear Britney try to rationalize the episode, offering that maybe she would do this herself if she was such a big fan, and ultimately realize that she can’t explain this man’s straight-up creepy behavior. Bliss follows up by asking Spears if anyone on her team has told her what to do in these situations, and if she has a boyfriend. Spears says no to both. Reading this now, I feel a little worried and protective of the rising superstar, even though I know that in the end, she turns out fine. “I don’t need a bodyguard or anything,” she says.

Read the full interview here.