By Stephen M. Silverman Alicia Dennis
January 15, 2004 11:15 AM

Breaking the silence that has enshrouded her since her Jan. 3 Las Vegas wedding and ensuing 55-hour marriage, Britney Spears told MTV’s “Total Request Live” in a telephone interview Wednesday, “I do believe in the sanctity of marriage, I totally do.”

But, she confessed, “I was in Vegas, and it took over me, and, you know, things got out of hand.”

Spears and childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander, both 22, married at a 24-hour chapel, had the union annulled two days later, and created headlines around the world — much to Spears’s amazement, she claims.

“It’s crazy,” she said with a laugh, adding: “We landed on Mars that day — why aren’t they talking about that?”

Spears said she and her momentary mate, whom she described as “my friend,” “hit it off completely,” but when asked by MTV’s Damien Fahey whether she had true feelings for Alexander, she curtly replied, “That’s a personal question,” before shifting the subject to promote her new video, “Toxic.”

While Spears conducted the MTV interview over the phone, leaving her exact whereabouts open to question, reps for the pop princess deny she’s in rehab — adding that the singer is simply plunging back into work, PEOPLE reports in its latest issue, on newsstands Friday.

Once Spears’s marriage to Alexander was over, the uncoupled pair retreated to separate corners in search of privacy. Britney was photographed leaving Las Vegas after the wedding, then didn’t pop up in public until Jan. 8 in Tampa, where she took in a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from a private press box with three female friends. And no, she wasn’t scouting locations for her own three-ring circus, the magazine reports.

According to her reps, Spears is preparing for a concert tour and an upcoming Showtime special (to air March 28). Spears also will have a role in the film version of “A Mother’s Gift,” a book she wrote with her mother, Lynne.

Alexander was lying low too, not that he seemed all broken up by the end of his brief marriage. Alexander has used his Camaro as a decoy to help him dodge the media spotlight, but he has been spotted out at his usual bar haunts in Hammond, La., playing pool, dancing and laughing with pals.

Wearing a brown suede jacket, striped shirt, jeans, earring, gold necklace and sandals, Alexander joked with friends and strangers alike at one of his favorite hangouts recently. “I wore flip-flops to my wedding!” Alexander laughed. Says good buddy Jared Prescott: “He’s a great guy and he’s been though a lot, but he’s doing great.”

That said, Alexander has also been consulting with an agent and an adviser, former pro football player Michael Jackson, who says Alexander won’t be talking to the press until there is a “meeting of minds of all parties.” Stay tuned.