Britney Spears had to brave her fears for her famous performance with an albino boa at the 2001 MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS - because she's terrified of snakes.

The pop superstar created headlines with her performance of I'M A SLAVE 4 U with a snake draped around her bikini-clad body at the event - but her steamy routine covered up the fact Britney nearly pulled out of the show at the last minute.

The singer's assistant FELICIA CULOTTA reveals, "Nobody realised that that was such a source of absolute fright for her.

"The snake comes in this gigantic ice chest and she looks over at me and she says, 'I can't do it.'"

Culotta adds that the 21-year-old, then 19, was unaware her snake dance would create controversy for its supposed sexual overtones.

She adds, "It's just Britney with the snake and they referenced it as being something very sexual. We didn't think about that. It was just part of the act."

11/11/2003 13:48