district of Los Angeles was followed by a trip to a tattoo parlor where the 25-year-old mother of two young sons added two designs to her body. The transformation came on the same day People magazine and other entertainment media reported that Spears recently entered a rehabilitation center in the Caribbean island of Antigua and checked out a day later. The reports were denied by Spears' representatives.
Spears' busy Friday night began in the salon of Esther Tognozzi, who told the syndicated television gossip show Extra that she was afraid to shave Spears' head in case she was sued for ruining the singer's image.
"I tried to talk her out of it. I said, 'Are you sure you're not having a bad day and tomorrow you'll feel differently about it? Why don't we wait a little bit?'" Tognozzi said.
"She said 'No, I absolutely want it shaved off now.' Next thing I know, she grabbed the buzzer and she went to the back of my salon and she was shaving off her own hair... I just cleaned it up when she was done with it" she said.
Tognozzi said Spears seemed to be "just there in body and not really emotionally there," but did get "a little bit teary-eyed" when she realized her mother might get upset.
The whereabouts of the hair was a mystery, although an enterprising person in Pennsylvania was selling 10 lots of the purported locks on eBay at $50 per lot.
After Spears' bodyguard paid Tognozzi a tip, the party headed to the Body and Soul parlor in the suburb of Sherman Oaks in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles, where she spent $80 for a black-white-and-pink cross on her lower hip and red-and-pink lips on her wrist.
An artist at the parlor, Emily Wynne Hughes, said Spears appeared "distraught and disturbed," and was difficult to work with.
"She was screaming and flipping out from the pain and wiggling her body all around," Hughes told reporters.
"She just wanted something real small on her wrist, something dainty," Max Gott, the tattoo artist at Body and Soul in Sherman Oaks, told the KABC-TV station. "She got some cute little lips on her wrist."
Derrik Snell, who works at the tattoo parlor, said Spears showed up without notice and stayed for about 90 minutes as about 60 fans, photographers and gawkers gathered outside.
"She seemed fine," Snell said. "I didn't really notice (the hairdo) at first, she had a hood on when she showed up."
The appearance came the same day as reports on TV and Web sites that Spears, who has drawn criticism for her recent partying and sloppy behaviour, had briefly checked into rehab.
Larry Rudolph, Spears' manager, couldn't be reached for comment.
Syndicated entertainment TV show Extra first reported that Spears had entered a treatment facility. Celebrity Web site TMZ.com then said the singer had entered a treatment center but had checked out one day later. Neither revealed their sources.
People magazine's Web site, citing "a source," said Spears had gone in and out of rehab, and identified the facility as Eric Clapton's Crossroads center in Antigua, in the Caribbean.
Access Hollywood then said the reports weren't true, but didn't cite a source.
A woman who answered the phone at Crossroads told The Associated Press that she couldn't confirm or deny anyone's presence at the facility.
Angelique Uram, a Spears fan who stood on the tattoo parlor's sidewalk for Friday night's spectacle, was aghast at the singer's new look.
"We could see her in the mirror, and her head is completely shaved," she told KABC. "It looks terrible."
Police arrived to control the crowd and helped Spears' bodyguards guide her into a waiting SUV, her head covered by a hooded sweatshirt.
Spears rose to fame eight years ago in the guise of a virginal schoolgirl and had hits with tunes such as Oops!... I Did it Again and the Grammy-winning Toxic. As little girls around the world clamored to mimic their idol, Spears ditched the clean-cut image by kissing Madonna at an awards show, using public restrooms in bare feet and marrying a childhood friend for two days.
She has become a fixture on the nightclub circuit since her split in November from her second husband, Kevin Federline, a former backup dancer.
Spears was repeatedly photographed in December climbing out of automobiles without wearing underpants while in the company of celebrity Paris Hilton.
Spears and Hilton recently made the cover of Newsweek magazine with a story headlined The Girls Gone Wild Effect and a poll of readers who said celebrities like them were having too much influence on young girls.
In January, Spears posted a message on her Web site acknowledging the negative publicity, while writing, "I look forward to coming back this year bigger and better than ever and to reaching out to my fans on a more personal level."Her Web site, http://www.britneyspears.com, was down Saturday, evidently also undergoing a makeover.
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