MEDIA MONKEY BUSINESS around MICHAEL JACKSON’S BAD TOUR
The previous post required a follow-up as one of its points was left unanswered. Someone kept trolling me about the monkey at the top of the Dangerous album cover (which I regard as a symbol of the circus created around Michael Jackson) and wondered with feigned naivety:
Well, the picture on Dangerous is not about Michael’s own perception of himself – it is about the way he was perceived and treated by others.
For me a monkey is mostly associated with a circus and some monkey business, often of a questionable type. Monkeys resemble human beings and even behave like them, but are still animals and no equal to humans. Due to their resemblance to human beings they may be a great source of entertainment for the public – in a circus, zoo or as home pets, but they are also often kept in a cage, used for medical experiments, for testing dangerous drugs, observing their reaction to different stimuli and even as a food to eat.
All of the above was done to Michael Jackson – in the figurative meaning of the word, of course. And if Michael felt that he was treated like a monkey in a vile show arranged for him by others, it wasn’t a play of imagination on his part – it was simply a statement of fact.
Because the fact is that the media and public indeed behaved shamelessly, treated him like a toy to entertain themselves with and even today keep trashing him, just out of sheer habit, despite overwhelming proof that most of what was said about him was a lie – as if he, of all human beings, does not deserve respect for his dignity, justice and understanding, or at least the desire to know what he was really like.
One of possible reasons for that could indeed be racism, but on the other hand some of his worst harassers are also blacks (remember Stacy Brown, for example), so naming it only racism wouldn’t be conclusive enough, in my opinion.
To me the witch hunt people arranged for Michael Jackson looks more like an allergy the society has for someone who doesn’t fit their standard pattern – someone who is mega-successful, but also has a big, kind and trusting heart, sincere and generous ways, an innocent and childlike look at the outside world.
The cynical simply can’t believe that all of it can be true, especially in case of a thunderous success, so “something must be wrong here”, and when the suspicious crowd turns aggressive, the innocent cannot survive – human history abides in numerous examples of that.
Years ago I came across an archive of newspaper articles dating back to the time of Michael’s ‘Bad’ tour in Japan, and it provided impressive proof that already in 1987 the cruel game against Michael was already in full swing.
THE CHRONICLES OF MEDIA FRENZY
This archive is no longer available online, however since I downloaded it on my computer I will post here some of its pieces – for you to decide whether the media did indeed treat Michael like a monkey in a circus, or whether it was an exemplary case of civilized behavior towards another human being.
For your convenience some pieces from these newspapers will be retyped.
September 12, 1987
Going ape! Japan’s £58m yen for Jacko
Michael Jackson launches a concert tour of Japan tonight – for which he’s being paid a staggering £58 million. The superstar singer is receiving a reported £4.5 million for each of 13 shows in a country which has gone crazy over him. Tickets costing £30 are changing hands for up to £500 after selling out within 100 minutes of going on sale.
But the bizarre rock tycoon couldn’t hear to leave one companion back home in America …so he’s brought along Bubbles his pet chimpanzee. […]
Next day, a Tokyo toy company marketing Jackson products threw a party for local children – and Bubbles, representing his master, went along as guest of honour.
The star’s other animal favourite, a python called Crusher, had to stay behind in America. […]
But, while the Japanese are fanatical in their devotion to Jackson, they are also polite about it, content to form an orderly gathering around his hotel rather than try to mob him.
And their hero’s odd habits don’t strike them as strange.
In a country where teenagers so want to look European they have operations to make their eyes more round, Jackson’s plastic surgery is accepted as normal.
As if “going ape” weren’t enough for us, the tabloid added a note to Michael’s photo to be interpreted by the public via their own bias and prejudices: “Jackson… monkey business”
The article by a certain Gill Pringle is headlined: “On tour with the weirdest show on earth. Michael Jackson’s flying circus starring Bubbles the chimp and Crusher the python”. Her big coverage of the tour is almost totally a fantasy from beginning to end – Michael’s python, for example, was not travelling with him at all and there was certainly no “oxygen tent” either.
She starts her story as follows:
“Bubbles adjusted his new trousers and twanged his braces. He looked kind of nervous. Crusher just lay there giving the servants a cold look.
They were both waiting in the luxury suite of Tokyo’s premier Capital Hotel for their best friend to join them … the world’s wackiest superstar, Michael Jackson.
But Michael, with his unerring sense of the weird, refuses to be parted from them. And when the Jackson circus comes to town anything and everything goes.
Bubbles and Crusher were air-freighted to Tokyo so they could welcome him. It took three men to carry the python to his room.
The eccentric star has arrived in Japan for the start of his near year-long world tour with a 60-strong entourage which includes four beefy bodyguards, Marlon Brando’s son, one Osmond, members of his family and his chef.
Everything has been prepared with military precision.
An oxygen tent has been installed because Michael refuses to sleep in anything else.
Gallons of Evian mineral water have been reserved for his twice-daily baths – he refuses to wash in the stuff that comes out of taps.
People who meet Michael have to wear face masked because of his germ phobia.
Bubbles feasts on a similar vegetarian diet to Michael, while freshly-killed mice are regularly delivered to the suite for Crusher.
Producer Quincy Jones – who worked both on Thriller and Bad – defends the odd-ball behaviour of the 29-year-old star. He told me: “He is the oldest man I know and the youngest kid I know. Most people, if they had enjoyed the success Michael has had, wouldn’t know how to handle it.” “I would rather have a kid who was talking about the Elephant Man’s bones than one who was chasing the next bag of cocaine. I wish he was my kid brother.”
Jones and Dileo are united in their distaste for Michael’s obsession with staying young. Dileo says: “I don’t have to agree with these things if I don’t want to. I don’t even want to talk about the hyperbaric chamber (the oxygen tent). I am 100 per cent against that. I’ve told Michael that I do not want the thing around. He respects my opinion …. Although he doesn’t always listen.”
Michael flew in with his new friend Jimmy Osmond, now 19, the youngest of the Mormon singing clan. Latest recruit to Michael’s wacky entourage is 23-year-old Miko Brando, son of actor Marlon.
Dileo says: “Michael feels too uncomfortable being away from home. He wants to concentrate on albums and movies. The tour hasn’t began yet, and already he’s feeling the strain”
Michael Jackson hasn’t yet started holding conversations with the furniture. But give him time…
Another article includes niceties like the chimp having a passport and bearing the name of Bubbles Jackson and Michael sending the monkey to official parties as his stand-in:
CHIMP’S CONCERT DATE
JACKO’S pet chimp Bubbles watched the concert from the wings – dressed in a leather jacket like his owner’s!
Bubbles had flown in from Los Angeles first class after a wrangle over quarantine rules. Officials found a way round the regulations after Jackson warned: “No Bubbles, no show!”
A chartered Jumbo jet flew in 22 truck-loads of equipment for the star’s 13 Japanese dates which sold 367,500 tickets in an hour.
Also on board was his 132-strong entourage, including a minder for Bubbles and Jacko’s Sikh vegetarian chef Mani.
The chimp had his own passport, bearing the name Bubbles Jackson, and a specially made kimono. Jacko snubbed an official party in Tokyo – and sent Bubbles instead! The Japanese have been shocked by other examples of the singer’s bizarre behaviour.
He forked out £200,000 to have Tokyo’s Disneyland to himself for two hours.
Another piece is somewhat of a mystery to me. Those who have a better command of English please help – what is the implication of the question “Or had his plastic surgeon found time to turn Bubbles into a double?” To me Bubbles’ “double” sounds as a reference to Michael.
SUPERSTAR Michael Jackson turned up in person yesterday during his Japanese tour. Quite an event after the times he has sent along his pet chimpanzee Bubbles as his stand-in. But Jackson was clearly ready to make an exception for Tokyo’s Disneyland. Or has his plastic surgeon found time to turn Bubbles into a double?
The archive has much more of it, but with little variation too as almost every paper presents Michael Jackson’s tour as a circus and the chimp being its central character.
Funny, but if you come to think of it, the cover of the Dangerous album will look to you like a direct illustration of the way the 1987 tour was covered by the media. This media nastiness was surely not lost on Michael as several years later he turned it into the main concept of his Dangerous album.
The piece below even uses the same imagery as the one on its cover – “a circus”, “ringmaster”, etc. and when it declares that “Bubbles the chimp reigns in Jacko’s Japanese court” you suddenly recall the chimp with a crown on the Dangerous album placed there as a symbol of the media perception of Michael.
Bubbles the chimp reigns at Jacko’s Japanese court
MICHAEL JACKSON quietly prepared for his biggest showbiz role yesterday as the reclusive ringmaster of rock’s most expensive and eccentric circus.
He has hired £30,000 worth of furniture to keep himself in even greater luxury – and he’s had a £400-a-night suite redecorated for his monkey, Bubbles. “The chimp doesn’t like cigarette smoke,” said one hotel worker, “so Michael has had all the wallpaper and carpets changed.”
Bubbles is a gent. One member of Jackson’s five-strong costume design team claimed that the pet waddles across his suite and offers a handshake to anyone he doesn’t instantly recognise.
He also wears designer overalls and can use the toilet – on his own. All of which makes the monkey the most charismatic member of the Jackson entourage.
The £30,000 stated in one paper quickly turns into £300,000 in another. The latter one claims that Michael had his hotel suite fully renovated with new bathroom equipment and wallpaper changed (imagine a hotel guest who re-equips the suite at his own cost and also pays for the stay there!).
The renovation allegedly included air conditioners with ionizers (so the best room in one of the best hotels in Japan’s capital had no up-to-date air-conditioning??) and Michael’s desire to have a ‘continuous supply of fresh air was called by the media ‘Jacko’s “paranoid whim’.
In their opinion ‘crazy’ demands like that sent his Japanese hosts into a ‘panic’ – which, considering that Michael was in Japan and not in the jungles, is quite hilarious.
ODDBALL pop star Michael Jackson is waging a weirdo war on germs during his sell-out Japanese tour.
Whacko Jacko is so terrified about being contaminated that he wants everything in his Tokyo hotel suite to be ripped out and replaced … including the wallpaper!”
The health-barmy star wants:
- Fittings in all the bathrooms replaced with new baths, showers, bidets and toilets as well as special mineral-spring Jacuzzis.
- All the windows on the entire floor hermetically sealed with antiseptically-treated industrial masking tape to stop even the slightest bit of Tokyo’s notorious pollution from seeping in.
- A continuous supply of filtered fresh air pumped into his suite.
- Five ionisers fitter to flood the room’s atmosphere with health-giving negative ions.
- The entire top floor reserved exclusively for his use for the sake of hygiene, while his entourage occupy the floor below.
- His rooms to be cleaned only by his personal staff. […]
Jacko’s crazy demands have sent his Japanese hosts into a panic.
Anxious to cater to every paranoid whim of the health-mad megastar, they have:
STACKED one room of his hotel suite with Perrier water after being told he like to bathe in it.
ORDERED daily supplies of fresh seaweed – a well-known Japanese remedy for stimulating circulation and eliminating body poisons – for Michael to munch …
The medical theme was taken up by a certain “top London skin doctor” who, like others, delivered his learned opinion about things he had no idea of:
DEADLY HEALTH KICK
“Michael Jackson’s obsession to look like a white man could kill him.
A top London skin doctor has warned that the singer is in danger of getting cancer from the deadly bleaches he uses on his face.
Dr. Tony Chu, consultant dermatologist at Hammersmith Hospital, says: “He could do a great deal of damage to himself because so many of the de-pigmenting creams contain poison. They could give him either skin cancer or a serious allergy.
“He should throw all those creams into the bin before he kills himself”.
“The most common bleach is hydroquinone. It slows down production of pigment which leaves the skin unprotected from cancer-causing ultra-violet rays.”
When Michael said that he was upset by the murder of a five-year old Japanese boy that took place while Michael was in Japan and that he was dedicating his tour to that boy, the media reported that the fans were “stunned” (What’s so stunning about so human a reaction?)
Michael’s tears for little murder victim
MICHAEL JACKSON has dedicated his Japanese tour to a five-year-old boy who was kidnapped and murdered there.
The vicious killing shocked Jacko and stunned a nation where child attacks are rare. The superstar has sent flowers and a letter of sympathy to Yoshioka Hagiwara’s parents and plans to meet them before he leaves Japan.
The boy was snatched on September 14 and a 200,000 ransom demanded from his fireman father.
But his strangled, naked body was found in the Usui River a few days later.
A friend of Jacko’s in Tokyo said last night: “Michael cried when he heard.
“At his Osaka concert yesterday he stunned fans by saying it upset him”
One of Jacko’s Japanese aides said: “Such crimes occur three times a year.”
And when he donated £15,000 to the family of the murdered boy the media mentioned it somewhat in passing, but focused instead on “Wacky pop star donating his T-shirt and glasses to charity” in an obvious effort to downplay Michael’s generosity.
JACKO’S SPECS APPEAL
WACKY pop idol Michael Jackson has donated T-shirts and glasses he wore on stage to charity, it was revealed last night.
He gave 30 personal items to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization at the end of the tour of Japan. The cash raised will help educate children in developing nations.
In September, Jackson donated £15,000 to the family of a five-year old boy who was kidnapped and murdered in Japan.
The media’s luckiest hour came when the mayor of Osaka city presented Michael Jackson with the key to the city and Michael arrived at the ceremony with his pet chimp. Now the media was focusing its full attention on Michael as a ‘chump’ and was still not saying a word about the smashing success of his shows.
The dictionary defines ‘chump’ as ‘a fool, dupe, dolt, idiot, someone who does not understand the basics of life on earth, a thick heavy block of wood’.
CHUMP’S TEA PARTY
Jackson and Bubbles drop in on the mayor
Rock star Michael Jackson paid a social call yesterday with his best pal – Bubbles the chimpanzee.
Wacko Jackson popped in for tea with the mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka, where he is performing on a concert tour. And his funky monkey sat beside him politely sipping green tea while mayor Yasushi Oshima looked suitable inscrutable. A Town Hall official said” “We were surprised to see the chimpanzee, but we understand he is Jackson’s good friend.
“This is the first tie an animal has ever come in here”
Mayor Oshima gave Jackson the key to the city, the official said.
Shy Jacko spends a fortune on his pets. He dresses Bubbles in top designer sportswear, including Nike tracksuit trousers and Lacoste shirts.
He often says he prefers animals to people – and the menagerie at his Los Angeles home includes a Llama, a sheep, two deer and a boa constrictor. Jackson, sporting his familiar white gloves, played to sold-out crowds in Tokyo before moving on to Osaka this week.
The performance kicked off Jackson’s first concert tour since 1984.
More than 300,000 people are expected to see him during 13 concerts in Japan ending on October 10.
The first shows in Tokyo left the media divided in their opinion. The concerts were a roaring success, so the reviews depended only on the degree of the reporters’ sincerity. For some it was ‘THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH’, for others the show went ‘FROM BAD TO WORSE’, and some grudgingly admitted that it was ‘NOT TOO BAD’.
The success was also described in terms of magic as ‘MAGICAL MICHAEL HAS HIS FANS IN SPELL’ and the all-too-familiar language of ‘whacko-jacko’ – ‘JAPS GO WACKO OVER RAUNCHY JACKO’.
JAPS GO WACKO OVER RAUNCHY JACKO
Megastar Michael Jackson rocked the pop-world last night with a sexy, shocking performance that sent 40,000 Japanese fans just whacko over Jacko.
He took Tokyo by storm with a raunchy routine that had the audience screaming for more – and their mums protesting in horror.
The temperature, already in the 90s, went off the scale as the singer appeared in a blaze of neon at the steamy Kurakuen stadium.
Jackson, given a new face by surgeons, also had a new super-macho image to launch his marathon world tour.
The star’s outrageously sexy act angered Japanese parents who took younger children to see him, expecting a clean-cut, Disney-style show.
One British rock industry observer said: “This was the show when Peter Pan turned into Dirty Dan.
“It could have made Mick Jagger in his heyday blush”
The question that occupied the media most was how Michael could be so sexy if he was still a virgin? (He wasn’t – a knowledgeable insider who was really close to Michael said that his ‘first’ was Diana Ross).
However since Michael never bragged about his sex escapades his ‘virginity’ looked to others like an indisputable fact and was a source of media’s endless speculation and ridicule.
Jackson is thinking of joining the Mormons after talks with his pal Jimmy Osmond another former child star. Mormon men are allowed to have several wives – not that that will interest Jackson.
He is still a VIRGIN at 29, his closest aides revealed yesterday. His tour manager Chris Telvitt, said: “He’s is not interested in finding a girlfriend – or a boyfriend. He certainly isn’t gay. He is asexual.
Glaswegian Christ said: ‘Michael is frightened of gold diggers. He can’t just go into a bar and pick up a girl.
“He finds it impossible to relate to either women or men of his own age.
“He thinks he’s too boring despite the fact that he is immensely talented and fantastically successful”.
Producer Quincy Jones, the man behind Jackson’s hit records and stage spectaculars, agreed.
He said: “The truth is that Michael is not interested in girls and sex.
“He is definitely still a virgin and doesn’t believe he has missed anything.
“I suppose being Michael Jackson is compensation enough in itself”
A more Michael-friendly piece quotes Quincy Jones saying the opposite – that finding the right girl is “something he wants to do very much”.
THE VIRGIN’S OUT TO BREAK NO-SEX HABIT
THE VIRGIN superstar is planning to break the no-sex habit of a lifetime.
Michael, 29 and never bedded, is now ready to settle down and find the girl of his dreams.
His producer Quincy Jones told me: “I know Michael is finally getting to the stage where he will soon find the right girl.
“It’s something that he wants to do very much.”
But Michael is determined to wait until his tour ends in Britain next summer before he begins bonking.
A tour aide said last night: “He believes that if he started having sex it would ruin the shows.
“But when we wind up the tour in Britain things will be different.
“We reckon it will help his music. How can he perform all those sexy songs and not have a clue what they’re about?”
As to the show itself the media was awed with money ‘rolling in’ for Michael Jackson and called it a £100 million ‘bonanza’.
Well, bonanza is defined as ‘a rich mine’, ‘a source of great and sudden wealth or luck’, ‘a spectacular windfall’, and was probably sort of a subtle message sent by the media to their audience that Michael’s success was more due to ‘luck’ or his sex appeal than the quality of the show and Michael’s hard work on it.
The previously mentioned fantasy reporter Gill Pringle was impressed, and even said that the show was “not too bad”. But a drop of her poison still transpired here and there, as if skepticism and irony towards Michael was an indispensable part of any news about him.
NOT TOO BAD
The extraordinary Michael Jackson blasted off his world tour last night – and spun a web of pure fantasy.
Before 40,000 ecstatic fans in Tokyo he “vanished” in mid-air, swung over the audience from a gantry and frequently broke down in tears.
The 29-year-old star may have little experience of the opposite sex, but he oozed passion as he swaggers about in leather bondage trousers and a steel codpiece. His hand constantly flickered across his groin as he thrust out his hip explicitly.
Making a dramatic entrance from beneath the stage he slowly rose as a silhouette into a back drop of 700 pure white lights.
Forget the plastic surgery and the private menagerie, Jacko proved that little of it really matters alongside his remarkable talents. [..]
Jacko slept through the pre-show commotion in his special chamber pumped with pure oxygen.
Alongside in a specially-built crib dozed his pet chimp Bubbles.
An aide said: “Michael can’t unwind the way other stars do – it’s not like he has a girlfriend or anything”.
The article headlined “From Bad to Worse” is unfortunately not readable enough to see what was so horrible about the show. Its only clear paragraph reveals that the article is a highly philosophical piece claiming that Michael fails to live his life the way the media wants it (“be young, foolish and happy”) and therefore he is allegedly responsible for “the world creaking with the sound of splintery bones and empty hearts grown old before their time”.
FROM BAD TO WORSE
…When Jackson embarks on “Shake Your Body”, he gets there, he stretches fingers and touches something beautiful. When he whimpers through the cod-masculinity of “Bad”, you feel like you’re seeing the class creep getting bullied in the playground. Dancing gets the girls, moonwalking in circles gets only the spotlight. When Michael learns the difference he’ll be halfway out of his self-imposed solitude.
The Tams once told us to “be young, be foolish, be happy.” If only Jackson could offer something as hedonistically simple, the world might stop creaking with the sound of splintery bones and empty hearts grown old before their time.
This last newspaper clip reveals another big complaint the media had against Jackson – the so-called ‘self-imposed solitude’ they accused him of.
You see, they wanted him on a 24/7 basis, and his desire to keep his private life private was evidently considered an affront. Apparently, the universal media verdict was that he was arrogant, so he should be snubbed and brought down at every possible chance. Well, the truth of the matter was exactly the opposite – Michael Jackson wasn’t arrogant, he was simply extremely and painfully shy.
THE JACKO HACKOS
Paul Du Noyer, who wrote an article about Michael’s Bad tour in Japan years later (in 2014) explained the behavior of the 100-strong media crowd following Michael in 1987 and disclosed their little secrets.
The first secret is that the media crowd contained a big contingent of British journalists who christened themselves “the Jacko Hackos” and thus almost openly declared that they were there with an agenda to “hack” Michael. In case you don’t know, ‘hacking’ means ‘chopping’.
And the second secret is that those journalists had absolutely no information about Michael, but it left them undeterred and they continued to file the “Wacko Jacko” type of stories they had been writing about him for three years prior to that.
The article is an interesting read (provided here in excerpts only):
Bad In Japan: Michael Jackson’s epic tour
Posted on: Friday, October 31, 2014
by Paul Du Noyer
In 1987 I flew out to Tokyo with a large party of British journalists (“the Jacko Hackos”) to cover the start of Michael Jackson’s Bad tour. While nobody was allowed to meet Michael, I did get a backstage interview with his then manager, Frank DiLeo, and attended a press conference by his producer Quincy Jones. The shows themselves were astonishing.
….Covering his visit to Japan – the first stage of a tour that takes in four continents – are at least 100 foreign journalists. About ten of these are British, in a party which has christened itself the Jacko Hackos. With them are press officers from CBS/Epic in London, the head of CBS UK, and four prizewinners – two apiece from the Daily Mirror and Sun, who have won places on the trip in competitions run by the two newspapers.
The tour manager is a Glaswegian, Chris Tervit, whose previous experience goes back to Deep Purple, Curved Air and Kilburn & The High Roads. His partner is American production manager Benny Collins, who recently completed Bowie’s Glass Spider tour. Together the quit the Victory tour because “it was not organised to our liking”, so they were gratified to be asked back for this one.
Chris Tervit is unstinting in his praise for his employer: “He’s interested in everything that goes on here, from soup to nuts. Other artists don’t seem to have the time. Michael is such a hard worker, it frightens ME sometimes. I used to work in a shipyard and I never worked as hard as this kid works.
“He’s a nice guy. He’s such a great artist you have respect for him. Anything he asks you to do, you go out there and bleeding do it for him, just because he’s such a talent… I’ve caught him making jokes about my Scottish accent, just the relaxing stuff that goes on between people. He’s a pretty ‘regular guy’ – I know that sounds strange but it’s true. Except his talent is amazing.”
Benny Collins nods in agreement. Like Chris Tervit he can’t reconcile the Michael Jackson he works for (“both a boss and a friend”) with the weirdo he reads about in UK tabloids and America’s National Enquirer magazine.
Tervit: “It does get annoying in that he really doesn’t deserve it, the things they say about him. When you know the kid: he understands exactly what he wants to do, he understands the mechanics of it, and he never asks for anything outrageous.
[Michael Jackson’s manager] DiLeo readily agrees to go through a list of the most lurid stories about Jackson, to confirm or deny them one by one.
Of all the press that you read about Michael, what percentage is true?
“The things that are true are when they say that he’s a great entertainer, a great dancer. And I think he is, by far. I’ve been in the record business for 20 years, y’know, and I have a little knowledge of entertainers. He is by far the greatest I have ever seen. And I’ve seen the Tony Bennetts, I’ve worked with them, the Sinatras and everybody. In their era they were great. But in this era, he is it. There’s no two ways about it.
“The things I hate they print – if that’s your next question, which it probably is – is when they discuss his plastic surgery. Because it’s bullshit. The man has had two operations in his life: to fix his nose and to put a cleft in his chin.
“Everybody in the world strives to look better. If you get up at 6.30 tomorrow, you’ll see 80 million people jogging, exercising. Why? They wanna look better, y’know? Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, there’s not a person in Hollywood or in this business that hasn’t had a nose job.
“And the difference in his face, in the way he looks – I mean, the point is, if you took a picture of yourself every 10 years and lined them up, you would look different. Nine years ago he became a vegetarian, which also changes the way you look. The guy went from being maybe 150 lbs to weighing 125 lbs. If I lost 40 lbs I’d look a lot different: my face goes down, my features become more prominent. That’s what it is.
“I’m probably gonna take some legal action at some point to stop that, y’know? The most important thing to the fans is the music. Even though they read that, it doesn’t hinder them from buying his records.”
Does he take Bubbles the chimpanzee with him everywhere, and even sleep in the same room?
“He doesn’t come with him everywhere. Bubbles is a pet, it’s not like it’s his best friend in the world. I hope I’m his best friend in the world. I go with him everywhere. I don’t sleep with him, I just go with him. We have separate rooms. Bubbles is a pet and occasionally he brings him out; he likes to have him do things with the kids, and what a great thing! Naturally if you could afford to keep a monkey, I think everybody in the world would like to own one. It’s no big deal.”
Is Michael having his face tinted?
“Absolute 100 per cent garbage.”
What about the oxygen chamber he’s supposed to sleep in (apparently believing it will prolong his life to 150 or so)?
“What it is, is a bed in a chamber. I’m not for it, I’d rather not discuss it, and it’s not something that he necessarily does every day. I’m on the record as saying I hate it, and I do.”
Has he brought it on tour with him?
“No, I wouldn’t let him bring it.”
Does he really wear that face mask?
“Well, sometimes. This whole country wears masks. (True: they’re a not uncommon sight on the streets of Tokyo.) And they’re the smartest people in the world. He wears it to prevent people from getting a cold, and he doesn’t want to catch one either.”
Along with Frank DiLeo, the other key figure in Michael Jackson’s scheme of things is Quincy Jones, the producer who shaped all three of the solo LPs.
A dapper, quietly self-possessed man, Quincy Jones is just along for the ride here in Japan, with no particular role except to enjoy the shows and watch Michael work. On the morning of the first show, however, he gives a press conference somewhere deep inside a vast hotel. He begins by recalling the time he spent with Michael Jackson on the recently completed Bad.
“I’ve been in the studio with him for 12 months, and you see this little guy, it’s hard to believe that this is the same little guy who gets up on the stage and changes so much. You really do forget he’s a performer in the studio.
“He never throws his weight around, he’s courteous, we have a lot of fun and joking. And it’s a real test of a relationship when you’re in the studio 12 months.
“When he used to sing new songs to me he’d make me turn the other way, and he’d get behind the couch and he’d turn the lights out. But he has a totally opposite personality when he gets on stage, and all this energy and straightforward aggression comes out. It’s like meeting another person.
Does Quincy ever worry that Jackson’s lifestyle is rather unreal?
“He’s been in this business since five years old, and it’s difficult when you’re that successful and famous, that young, to get a realistic point of view about life. But I think, just considering what he’s all about, and his stature in the business, Michael’s overwhelmingly sane and normal. Because, I’ve seen a few that have just had one record they go absolutely nuts, to the point where they can’t even get to their next record.
“The music business is a little unreal anyway. Nobody deserves as much attention as most of the people get, or as much money or adulation. So you have to have a pretty strong centre to hold on to your balance. And I think he has that – he astounds me that he’s so balanced.”
So how does Quincy explain the eccentricities, the animals in the studio and so on?
“I don’t think it’s so eccentric. It’s a little off-the-wall. But it could be cocaine, y’know? (Meaning, it could be worse.) And Bubbles is a funny little guy, he’s fun to be around. I’m not crazy about that python – he’s friendly, but I just don’t like snakes. But the chimp is a lot of fun, great sense of humour, very polite, great table manners… You’re in a studio for a year, you get desperate for entertainment!
“He loves children and he loves animals, and my guess is that because he’s very connected to his soul, he likes the idea of the truth involved – and when you deal with an animal you don’t have to go through any games, that’s for sure. I think he trusts children and animals more than adults.”
Why does Quincy call him Smelly?
“Because he doesn’t use profanity at all, and where most musicians will say, Man, that music is FUNKY, he says smelly. Smelly Jelly.”
Smelly himself was not, alas, in ready supply for the journalists assembled in his honour over the opening days of the tour. Undeterred, the British contingent of Jacko Hackos continued to file the type of Wacko Jacko stories they’ve been writing for the past three years.
Even Robert Maxwell, in Tokyo on business, was to be cruelly disappointed in his hope of meeting the star. More fortunate were the CBS executives who’d arrived from every territory in their company’s empire. Excitedly they lined up at exclusive receptions to shake the great hand and bear such glad tidings as they were able to summon up.
It is reported that his favourite remarks were “Thank you” and “That’s wonderful. He seems happy enough, in his own unknowable way. And Quincy Jones says, “I can see him doing Billie Jean at 70.”
A QUICK REMINDER
As a quick note on how overwhelmingly sane and normal Michael indeed was in relation to the circumstances he had to live in, let me remind you of the health problems he had to face during the three years between the Victory tour in 1984 and the Bad tour in 1987-88. This was the period when the media and public didn’t see much of Jackson and accused him of “self-imposed solitude”, though Michael had very big reasons for staying out of the public eye.
In January 1984 his hair caught fire while he was filming a Pepsi commercial and the severe 2nd and 3rd degree burns left a bald spot on his head. When the burns healed, the baldness was treated with an operation on Michael’s skull involving stretching his skin and cutting out the burned area.
This video tells more about the accident and provides a clip from the documentary “Michael Jackson: Life of an Icon” by David Gest that shows a computer animation for the ballooning procedure used for Michael’s scalp surgeries:
At around the same time Michael was also diagnosed with lupus and this diagnosis explained why his skin-stretching operation was no success. As an autoimmune disease lupus prevents tissues from healing and instead of solving the problem the skin-stretching operation (or several of them) only exacerbated the problem – see Arnold Klein speaking about it at about 3:50.
The scar from the operation on Michael’s head didn’t properly heal and spread over other tissues, so the bald spot only grew larger and he had to wear a hair piece to cover his injury, thus adding a new trouble to the already highly troublesome mix of vitiligo and lupus he had, especially for a young and handsome man who was a show-business mega star.
Lupus evidently also meddled with the scar on Michael’s nose. We remember that Dr. Strick reviewed Michael’s medical records in 1993 and said that after the initial nose job all other medical procedures in that area were a way to deal with the consequences of the first operation. These consequences surely made Michael even more vulnerable and shy than he initially was.
And stress is an aggravating factor for vitiligo. When vitiligo starts spreading over big patches of body the only way to cope with it is to use Benoquin to even out the skin – so when Michael reappeared again in public view three years after the burn accident, he had a lighter skin, and this was widely attributed to his “massive” plastic surgery which some ridiculously considered to be the result of “skin replacement” over his whole body.
The People magazine, for example, stated that Michael Jackson was accused of “transforming his entire body with plastic surgery”:
“The August release of Bad, his first album in five years, brought with it a flood of wild rumors. Jackson has been accused—and, despite his denials, accused again—of using chemicals to make his skin lighter, of transforming his entire body with plastic surgery, of taking female hormones to keep his voice high and of refusing to bathe in anything but Evian water. Having said no more than a few words to the press since 1983, Jackson left it to his stogie-chomping manager, Frank Dileo, to explain away his plastic surgeries (just the nose and chin were done, he said) and his attempt to purchase the bones of the Elephant Man (“Well, everyone has a skeleton in their closet,” Dileo told PEOPLE).
Probably the tall tales only enhanced sales of Bad, which has already zoomed to the top of the charts in at least eight countries. But the rumors’ effect on Jackson, 29, has been anything but salutary. “It’s really horrible to have these lies printed about me,” he says. “It hurts.”
Could the media have reacted differently to Michael’s changing looks or were all those accusations inevitable?
Well, the lighter skin would have sparked off people’s curiosity anyway, however if the media hadn’t thrown accusations at Michael and handled those questions with politeness and respect, there is a very big chance that he wouldn’t have been afraid to be more open with the public and disclose his vitiligo as a real reason for his changing looks. The vicious circus of forced silence on his part and heavy criticism on the other wouldn’t have spiraled into a hostile frenzy and wouldn’t have forced Michael to retreat into his solitude even more.
However the media had a goal to ‘hack’ Michael Jackson as they themselves openly declared it, and when facing their relentless mockery Michael was in an impasse – the more the media frenzy was, the less was the chance that he could ever venture to explain anything to anyone.
In fact he did try to explain, only it landed him in even more trouble – and this takes us again to the press archive.
“I’VE BEEN BLEEDING A LONG TIME NOW”
Harassed by the team of Jacko Hackos Michael wrote a message begging the media to have mercy on him. He said that all that criticism made him cry very, very often and that he had been bleeding long enough.
In his somewhat naive faith in human goodness Michael hoped to reach for those journalists as human beings and thought that if they knew that they were inflicting him too much pain it would restrain them from his further harassment.
However the effect was the opposite one. With a cold smile the media labeled his message “Michael’s first epistle” (drawing a mocking analogy with Apostles’ epistles) and showed him his place by telling him to stick to singing instead.
Why Michael Jackson, King of Pop, should stick to singing
After Bad this is all just too sad
Michael Jackson, letter writer extraordinary: ‘I’ve been bleeding a long time now’
From Richard Lay in New York
Pop king Michael Jackson has written a bizarre letter in answer to his critics – and left them more mystified about his personality than ever.
The letter, with spelling mistakes and haphazard punctuation, was written in Japan while Jackson was on a world tour.
The letter is printed in today’s People magazine, which says it reveals ‘a sorely troubled man’.
Jackson-watchers are trying to work out what he really means. Some think Jackson, whose album Bad is topping the charts, is saying to those who accuse him of a weird life-style, ‘Give me a break.’
He is known to be angry for being accused of lightening his skin with chemicals and tales that he has reconstructed his body with plastic surgery.
And he hates the derision that came when it leaked that he was trying to buy the bones of the Elephant Man.
Jackson’s nickname among Americans these days is the ‘Wizard of Odd’. His idols are Peter Pan and Howard Hughes. He has a shrine in his Los Angeles mansion to Elizabeth [Taylor] and he has started of collection of Egyptian mummies.
In another room the 28-year-old has an oxygen chamber, which he [thinks] ‘purifies’ his body and will help him to live to be at least 150.
Since 1983 Jackson has barely bled a few words to the media. [Now he] is having his say with the letter.
The People magazine, where the original publication appeared, pretended that Michael’s letter had nothing to do with the media and was written to his fans, though fans were naturally the only ones who never accused him of anything.
The plea and message of his letter were fully ignored, while the text and handwriting were dissected under the microscope. Spelling mistakes were found in words “which”, “worry” and “moccasins” – which is no wonder for a self-taught man like Michael. He had to work since early childhood, was always on the move and received only scraps of formal education.
The punctuation and even Michael’s handwriting were not to the media’s liking either. To make the letter look even more “bizarre” the magazine imitated Michael’s handwriting and randomly threw capital letters all over it.
What’s interesting is that the People magazine comment reveals that they knew that what they were doing to Michael was a huge exaggeration, to say the very least – only for them it was a thrilling game made just for the fun of it.
Here is Michael’s letter and the ‘People weekly’ introduction to it. Please remember that it was only 1987 and much more of it was yet to come:
October 12, 1987
THE MICHAEL JACKSON COLUMN
This week singer and dancer Michael Jackson starts a regular column in Smash Hits giving his news’n’views on the forthnight’s events. (That’s not strictly true, is it? – Ed.) Er, no, actually. Though the letter on the left is from Michael Jackson. Apparently.
It is all very strange. Michael, sick and tired of the bizarre things people have been saying and writing about him – i.e.he wants to live to be two billion years old, he sleeps in an oxygen tent with a flock of tap-dancing rhinos, he hires teams of top plastic surgeons to perform unusual experiments on his face etc. etc. – sat down at the desk in his Tokyo hotel room, whilst on his recent tour in Japan, and wrote what he said would be his only discussion of his private life, as a message to his fans via People magazine. And this is what little Michael wrote:
“Like the old Indian proverb SAYS DO not judge a Man UNTil youv’e walked 2 moons in his MOCCOSINS. MOST people don’t KNOW Me, that is WHY they write such things in wich MOST is not TRUE I cry very very often Because it HURts and I wory about the children all my children all over the World. I live for them. If a Man could SAY nothing AGAINST a character what he can prove, HISTORY COULD NOT Be Written. Animals STRike not from Malice, But because they want to live, it is the same with those who CRITICIZE, the desire our BLOOD, NOT our pain. But Still I MUST achieve I must seek Truth in all things. I must endure for the power I was sent forth, for the world for The children BUT HAVe Mercy, for I’ve been Bleeding a long Time NOW. MJ”
Goodness. What can we make of this, readers? Certain facts emerge from this untoward missive:
- Michael isn’t much good at spelling.
- Michael’s handwriting isn’t very nice – or very American.
- Michael’s a bit cheesed off about something.
- It is all very strange.
At that time all these jokes probably looked funny, but now you feel nothing but shame and awkwardness for these people.
The headlines of other papers said:
I’M NOT MAD SAYS JACKO’S DAFT LETTER
Have mercy, he begs
Tormented superstar Michael Jackson has penned an anguished letter to his critics – pleading with them to lay off.
LAY OFF ME, BEGS WACKO JACKO
Critics makes him cry
Rock superstar Michael Jackson, who keeps changing his face with surgery, and whose best friend is a chimp, is upset because people think he’s a tiny bit wacky.
No, despite Michael’s plea, the media had absolutely no mercy on him and in their ridiculous game against him even deliberately misspelt his letter further. Their obvious goal was not only to portray him as a complete ‘weirdo’, but also as a completely ‘ignorant weirdo’.
In this piece, for example, they misspelt the word ‘because’ twice, though the original had nothing of the kind:
Jacko pens a bizarre plea
Pop megastar Michael Jackson has written a bizarre letter – denying that he’s a weirdo. The singer broke four years of silence to produce a baffling message that is badly spelt and punctuated. Jackson, accused of being obsessed with Plastic surgery and extending his life, wrote down his thoughts in Tokyo where he’s on tour. And he says it will be his only comment ever on his lifestyle.
HERE IS HIS LETTER:
“like the old Indian proverb says,
Do not judge a Man until you’ve walked 2 moons in his Moccosins.
Most people don’t know me, that is why they write such things in wich most is not True.
I cry very very often Becos it hurts and I wory about the children. All my children all over the world. I live for them. If a Man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not Be written.
Animals strike, not from Malice but Becos they want to live, it is the same with them who criticise, they desire our blood, not ourpain. But still I must achieve I must seek Truth in allthings. I must endure for the power I was sent for, for the world for the children.
But have Mercy for I’ve been Bleeding a long time now”
The note under the photo says: Bad speller… Jackson
And when the media noticed that Michael wrote “I must endure for the power I was sent for, for the world, for the children” they had a field day with it, mocking at what they called his “divine mission to save the world”.
I WAS SENT TO SAVE THE WORLD, SAYS WACKO JACKO
SUPERSTAR Michael Jackson thinks he has a divine mission.
A bizarre letter he has sent to a magazine shows Jackon is very wacko.
In it he wrote: “I must endure for the power I was sent forth, for the world, for the children. But have mercy for I have been bleeding a long time now”.
The letter, filled with spelling mistakes and muddled grammar was written on branded notepaper from the Capitol hotel in Tokyo during Jackson’s current tour of Japan. […] Jacko sent the letter to America’s People magazine, because he said he would not [speak] to a reporter about his personal life.
Well, a divine mission it was – Michael was sent to the world to make people more humane and unfreeze their cold and calculating hearts, to help them reconsider their values and realize that truth is more important than money gained by slander and vile gossip, and that one of the worst evils on earth are lies, and that we should seek the truth in all things – like Michael Jackson was doing it.
But the media drew another conclusion from Michael’s message. Their general verdict could probably be worded as Michael Jackson being “Bad, Mad and Dangerous” – for them and their value system, of course.
Incidentally, this was the headline of a rather positive article about MJ, written at the very beginning of the tour, probably well before his message – however its symbolism and unintended prophecy are absolutely stunning.
Bad, Mad & Dangerous
The Tokyo concert meant a lot more than just the start of Jackson’s world tour. Before the show, when he flew into Japan to be met by around 300 reporters and photographers, he was, in the eyes of the world’s press, the familiar Wacko Jacko. The tabloids eagerly ran stories on his visit to Kiddyland (a famous Japanese toyshop which opened specially for Jackson), the separate hotel room hired for Bubbles, his pet chimpanzee, at a cost of 1,200 pounds a night, and his irrational dislike of his own hotel suite. He was variously reported to have ordered the furniture including the carpet to be changed, for the room to be fumigated and for a special mineral water tank to be provided, which he used for drinking, bathing and flushing his toilet.
He was ridiculed as mad, out of touch and hopelessly over the hill. The new tour was the perfect chance to watch Jackson fell flat on his painstakingly redesigned face. But the mega-sellout success of the new album BAD and the new, hard, pure-sex, don’t-mess-with-me Michael Jackson on display in the Martin Scorsese-directed BAD video and now live on Korakuen stadium, has wrongfooted the press.
Michael Jackson is now 29, works with respected serious directors like Scorsese and recently met the chief of America’s National Association For The Advancement Of Coloured People to discuss ways of contesting racism in the music biz.
Forced into a lightening-quick and ludicrous U-turn, the tabloids are now dubbing him macho Jacko, the pets and the plastic surgery conveniently forgotten. Now he’s just a good-looking regular black guy with a nose job.
If the final statement isn’t the reporters’ subtle irony, then it was wishful thinking on their part. All that plastic surgery and similar ridiculous accusations against Michael have not been forgotten even until today – thirty years later.
The show is going on?
Like the old Indian proverb says
Do not judge a man until you’ve walked 2 moons in his moccasins.
Most people don’t know me, that is why they write such (crossed out) things in which most is not true.
I cry very, very often because it hurts and I worry about the children, all my children all over the world, I live for them.
If a man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not be written.
Animals strike, not from malice, but because they want to live, it is the same with those who criticize, they desire our blood, not our pain. But still I must achieve. I must seek truth in all things. I must endure for the power I was sent forth, for the world, for
my the children.
But have mercy, for I’ve been bleeding a long time now.