Friday, July 10, 2009
Continuing Moshe Alon’s recollections of Michael Jackson [please see the previous entry if you haven’t]:
Moshe never heard Michael Jackson raise his voice or give a command. “He was very shy,” he says, confirming widely held perceptions. At an event where Moshe wore a black tux, he heard Michael whispering softly from behind him. When he realized the words were for him, he heard Michael trying to tell him, “There’s something on your shoulder.” Had he been facing Moshe, he probably would have been silent rather than helpful.
Shy as he was offstage, when Michael Jackson was anywhere near a stage, according to Moshe, “He controlled everything. He was a showman,” says Moshe unstintingly, as if in admiration of an amalgam of P.T. Barnum and Al Jolson. During performances of super-stellar clients, Moshe is on the front line protecting them from fans who rush the stage. But Jackson selectively discouraged him from stopping them. “He let fans run onto the stage. He knew what they wanted.”
He was shy, he was savvy. He was in control or out of control.
“Other than his music and concerts, kids meant the most to him. He would take them to record stores, clothing stores, where they’d buy them up… anything they wanted.” On Jackson’s credit cards.
The kids Moshe had in mind traveled with them to Taiwan and Israel. “Kids ran around with bodyguards like kings and queens.” Moshe is critical of the parents who sent their kids unaccompanied—but for Jackson and his bodyguards—for three months. “Kids didn’t recognize their parents after that.”
As for the man whose care they were under, “He was like a child. He loved games”—so much, he had pinball games around the stage. Moshe recalled when Jackson was in group therapy. “His job was to vacuum-clean, but he didn’t know how to use a vacuum! My men had to teach him how. He went around vacuuming… vacuuming everything. He had such a good time.”
“He was not comfortable around adults. He was comfortable around Elizabeth Taylor. She understood… she was a child star too.” And the kids around him, I asked? Moshe’s answer was unequivocal. “I don’t believe he did anything wrong.”
“He trusted people.” And according to Moshe, they all took advantage of him. Not only the kids, but older people who were supposed to be friends. Not only them, but “managers and agents… anyone… everyone ripped him off.”
Moshe rented a helicopter for him for $10,000. Jackson’s representatives said, “No, Moshe, it’s $100,000.” Moshe corrected them, but they repeated the price was $100,000. Moshe told them he wouldn’t go along with them, he didn’t do things that way. They said his cut would be $20- or $30,000. When Moshe said no to them again, they said it doesn’t matter what you say, his cost is still going to be $100,000.
He said it was the same with Jackson’s doctor bills. Inflated. The same with his credit cards—they’d load charges for their own purchases on them. Those so-called friends of Jackson’s would get pills in their names to supply him with. Getting pain killers for him in places like Mexico was much easier, he added. I asked what they gained from it. “Power. And loads of money.”
Moshe says he has nothing against stars. But the people around them—“they make you sick.”
Moshe’s credibility? Elizabeth Taylor told him, “I’m never gonna ask you how I look because you tell me the truth.”