Pop princess Britney Spears unleashed her magic on San Francisco Sunday in what had to be one of the season’s flashiest media events.
So, how did Brit do during the much-hyped mini-concert at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium? Nobody will hold it against her.
Femme fatale indeed.
Sure, Spears, 29, looked fit surrounded by a throng of hot dancers. But she also proved that her magnetic pull is fierce as ever to her undyingly loyal fans.
The titillating performance, perfectly timed for the release of her seventh studio album, “Femme Fatale,” airs Tuesday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The hour-long Brit-fest began with a gaggle of colorful local drag queens — from Heklina to Pollo del Mar — who tag-teamed with the cheerleading troupe San Francisco Cheer as the opening act. “GMA” anchors Robin Roberts and Sam Champion also were on hand, revving up the packed house of thousands.
After a fiery video segment highlighting Spears’ top hits, Brit emerged center stage beneath a large, brightly lit metal superstructure to perform her current hit, “Hold It Against Me.” Clad in a form-fitting silver sequined one-piece that showed off plenty of leg underneath fishnet stockings, she was met with resounding cheers.
It didn’t hurt that she had eight leather-clad male dancers in tow. But even in the limited performance space, Brit had her dance moves down, delivering her signature arms and footwork — hip, modern, staccato.
Next up: “Big Fat Bass” — the album version is a collaboration with Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas — in which the Blonde One sprung out of a neon-orange speaker, donning a black shiny train engineer’s hat, amber bracelets and a black bustier. The explosive piece contained plenty of deep bass thumps and tight street-dance moves from Spears and her creative milieu. Uproarious screams emerged from the house whenever Brit thrust atop the pounding speakers.
Closing with “Till The World Ends” (although the performance will be the second one shown during the “GMA” broadcast) Spears delivered her No. 1 pulse-pounding dance anthem to winning ends, sending the energy in the packed house farther north.
In her stellar vinyl bustier and elbow-length black gloves, this was clearly the gal the crowd came to experience — in perfect dance sync with her gruff-looking entourage. Collectively, they were a breathtaking tour-de-force reminiscent of the Janet Jackson of yore.
Glitzy as it was, the event solidified one thing: Spears has survived the brutal, fickle winds of fame.
Set list for the no-charge show:
“Hold It Against Me”
“Big Fat Bass”
“Till The World Ends”
Britney Spears’ new gay target audience still swarmed to Bill Graham Auditorium on Sunday despite having felt a bit disappointed when it was announced she was not performing in the Castro.
Thousands of fans — young girls, older gay men and everyone in between — lined up as early as 5:30 a.m. to watch a noon performance that lasted a total of about 15 minutes.
“I really wanted it to be in the Castro because Britney is really trying to get to the gay community,” said Chris Zachos, a man who dressed as a fallen Spears with smeared mascara and ragged clothes. “But she still did her thing.”
Following a prologue from five well-known drag queens — Heklina, Donna Sachet, Sister Roma, Juanita More! and Pollo Del Mar — Spears performed three songs for an episode of “Good Morning America” set to air Tuesday.
“‘Good Morning America,’” said Donna Sachet, dressed in a shimmering, red ballroom gown and a diamond tiara, minutes before the performance. “You’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Needless to say, there were swells of devoted teenagers and women in their early 20s who grew up with Spears singing what they embrace as anthems to their lives.
“I remember listening to her when I was 8 years old, and she’s just gone through so much and has been able to bounce back from it,” said Mallory Bueno, 21, from Merced.
And then there were the gay men who honestly have followed her since she came out with her high school hit in 1999.
“It’s almost embarrassing how much I love Britney,” said Karl Kuehn, 26, who showed up at 5:30 a.m. for general admission.
But the drag queens certainly made little attempt to censor themselves, possibly in an abrupt effort to introduce her familiar, adolescent audience to the new drag one. Heklina, said one profane, five-letter word at least twice.
“Sorry, girls,” she told the audience. “I meant a female dog.”
Some, including Heklina, have said Spears’ new fixation on a transgender and gay crowd seems contrived.
At the end of the show, Spears was awarded a certificate from The City and County of San Francisco declaring Sunday “Britney Spears Day.”
“I love it,” she said. “I love music. It’s my world.” — Kamala Kelkar
A flock of young women secured their spots in the front row by owning Britney’s history on radio station Wild 94.9.
Kristin Costello, 21, said she sang Spears’ songs, one after another, for two hours straight in exchange for two VIP tickets.
“I was blowing up Twitter and everything, talking about how excited I was,” said Costello, of Danville, who got in line with her sister around 6:30 a.m. “They called me and asked me if I’d do it. I couldn’t believe it.”
Two other 18-year-old women who were dressed in matching hot-pink tank tops and high heels said they answered a fit of Britney trivia.
Neda Hefzi, 18, called in and identified six Britney songs with only one second of track time.
Then, when “Good Morning America” host Sam Champion was taping an interview with Hefzi in between songs, she asked Champion if he had touched Spears, and if so, could she touch him, too.
“This is the best day of my life,” Hefzi yelled after Spears’ first song. — Kamala Kelkar