Britney Spears Says She’s Growing Up

Is Britney Spears not a girl, and finally a woman?

The 20-year-old pop sensation who’s so successfully mixed squeaky-clean teen virtue with saucy sex appeal dropped some serious hints in the latest issue of People magazine, confessing that she no longer finds drinking, smoking or sex to be “such a big deal.”

Perhaps in the interest of leaving her days as a role model for her teen fans behind her, Spears told the magazine that she has grown into a more mature, less innocent image recently–and can anyone who saw her sexy, wet-down live HBO performance in Las Vegas disagree?

“Smoking, drinking, sex–why is it such a big deal for me?” asked the pop princess. “As you get to 20, you grow up, you experiment. You feel more comfortable in your own skin.”

“Who cares if I’ve had sex?” she added, despite the fact that’s the question everyone seems to ask her these days after her 1999 pledge to remain a virgin until her wedding day. “It’s nobody’s business. Trust me, I’m not going to have a press conference to announce it.”

Spears called her the breakup of her high-profile romance with N’Sync singer Justin Timberlake amid rumors of cheating by both parties “horrible.” According to Spears, Timberlake broke up with her first, they tried to get back together, then she broke up with him, but she denied that either side had cheated on the other. She described Timberlake as “my first real love…I doubt I’ll ever be able to love anyone like that ever again.”

The Crossroads star also denied that her current six-month hiatus from performing was the result of a Mariah Carey-esque emotional meltdown following several turbulent months that included the breakup and the marital split between her mother Lynn and father Jamie. Instead, she insisted it’s just a routine vacation after a long and exhausting stint in the spotlight.

“The first week, I was so excited I was off that I partied every night. I drink,” she told People, despite the fact she’s not yet of legal age to imbibe alcohol. “Everything in moderation,” she added. Spears was also recently snapped by paparazzi while she was apparently smoking a cigarette on the balcony of a hotel suite during her world tour.

Spears said she needed some time off to “rejuvenate spiritually and to just play” after working virtually nonstop since bursting on the scene with the 1998 hit “…Baby One More Time.” The hiatus followed a controversial end to her tour in which she was booed by fans after cutting short her final show in Mexico City and made an obscene gesture to paparazzi photographers besieging her car. Spears also took flack when she didn’t stop for fans waiting for her arrival outside her new Manhattan restaurant NYLA during the grand opening.

She’ll likely spend much of her hiatus hiding out at her 7.5-acre estate called “Serenity” in Kentwood, Lousiana, where she’ll read scripts and consider her next big-screen role while sipping Pepsi from her personal vending machine, according to her publicist Lisa Kasteler. “She is going to travel, write music and hang out with family and friends, whom she hasn’t been able to spend any real time with for a long time,” Kasteler told Reuters.

As for her parents’ recent divorce, the pop princess called it “the best thing that’s ever happened to my family…My mom and dad, bottom line, do not get along.”