VH1 News Presents: Michael Jackson’s Secret Childhood.
Part Two Home
Narrator Dave Walsh: He claims he’s a harmless victim.
Clip of Michael Jackson, publicity statement
Michael jackson: I ask all of you to wait and hear the truth before you label or condemn me.
Dave Walsh: Others say he’s a dangerous predator.
Clip of press conference:
Attorney (possibly): A warrant for Mr. Jackson’s arrest has been issued on multiple counts of child molestation.
Dave Walsh: While the question of Michael Jackson’s guilt or innocence is furiously debated,he remains seemingly unfazed.
Clip of Barbara Walters interview with Michael Jackson:
Barbara Walters:Do you want more children?
Michael Jackson: Yes.
Dave Walsh: Despite accusations and indictments, this self-proclaimed king continues to rule the world where the bizarre is commonplace and truth is lost in a cloud of fantasy. How is it possible that a middle-aged man can make such a profound break with reality and be so oblivious to the storm surrounding him? The answers may lie in Michael Jackson’s secret childhood. In the next ninety minutes, the people who know Michael best offer clues to his complex character, sending you deep inside the mind of a man who refused to grow up. The neighbor who witnesses his Steeltown youth.
Sheryl Price: Michael didn’t get a chance to have a normal childhood. Michael’s been working since he was seven years old.
Dave Walsh: The reporter who’s known him for three decades.
J. R andy Taraborelli: I actually saw the brothers actually ribbing him about his nose, and they used to call him ‘Big Nose’.
Dave Walsh: The teen-aged girl who pursued him.
Teresa Gonsalves, Michael’s pen pal:I recall this one lady saying, ‘You gonna get on birth control before you go see him?
Dave Walsh: The beautiful dancer whom he rejected.
Tatiana Thumbtzen: What did I do to deserve the treatment that I endured and the pain that I felt?
Dave Walsh: The boy who became the object of his affection.
Rodney Allen Rippy, Michael’s friend: I was five, and my mom said that “I wonder why he doesn’t have many riends his own age?”
Dave Walsh: And the cameraman who captured everything on film.
Steven Howell: He’d have a lot of parties, and that’s all you would see, is like little kids, primarily little boys.
Dave Walsh: We’ll unravel the story of how Michael Jackson became a man, and how the man became this.
Dick Gregory: Where else but in Amercia could a poor Black boy born in utter poverty end up being a rich White man?
Dave Walsh: VH1 News presents ‘Michael Jackson’s Secret Childhood’.
Clip of news conferences:
The service of the warrants was part of an ongoing investigation alleging criminal misconduct on the part of Michael Jackson.
Mr. Jackson has been booked, into the county jail.
Amidst allegations about his relationships with young boys.
Dave Walsh: Today, Michael Jackson stands accused of terrible crimes. Guilty or innocent, this much is true: This is a man who believes sleeping in the same bed with other’s children is normal. Who uses his own kids as bizarre publicity props. And who has isolated himself in a multi-million dollar fantasy land to recapture a youth he claims he never had.
Clip of Michael Jackson speaking
My childhood was completely taken away from me. There was no Christmas, there was no birthdays, it was not a normal childhood.
Dave Walsh: The story of Michael Jackson’s secret childhood foretells the trouble he’s in today. During our journey into Michael’s psyche, we’ll hear from friends, confidants, authors and experts, who will shed light on the mental and emotional growth of a man who was once just a boy named Mike. The path into Michael Jackson’s mind begins in Gary, Indiana the tarnished buckle on America’s ‘Rust Belt’.
Sheryl Price, Michael’s neighbor: Gary looks like a town that’s had a war. People are moving out, schools are closing, the economy is nonexistant.
Dave Walsh: Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29th, 1958 and was raised in a tiny two-bedroom house behind Gary’s Roosevelt High with his mother Katherine, his father Joseph, and eight brothers and sisters.
Clip of interview with Joseph and Katherine Jackson
We were in a little house on 2300 Jackson Street and that’s where we moved in January of 1949.
Dave Walsh: The cramped quarters was a pressure cooker for Mike’s genius, and a breeding ground for family problems.
Sheryl Price: Well, the Jackson family, my impression of them was that they were poorer than the rest of us because there were so many children in that small house. And where did they sleep, that was the big mystery; where did they all sleep?
Dave Walsh: Michael was a middle child, jammed between brothers in his quest for his parent’s attention and for space in a triple-decker bunk bed.
Jermaine Jackson, Michael’s brother: Well, the sleeping arrangements in our home was: we had triple-decker bunk beds. Tito and I sleep on the top; Michael and Marlon slept in the middle; and Jackie slept at the bottom.
Dave Walsh: The Jackson boys would share beds well into their teens at the insistance of their father, Joe. Like almost every man in Gary, Joseph Jackson toiled in the steel mills.
Jimmy Calinski, Joe Jackson’s co-worker: The conditions were very bad. It was dirty, it was cruel, all you are is a number on a schedule, do what you’re told, or else. This is the kind of work that Joe had to do.
Dave Walsh: Michael’s father may have been a slave to the steel mill, but at 2300 Jackson Street, he ruled with an iron fist.
J. R andy Taraborelli, When I was a young reporter, covering the Jacksons, I can tell you that Joseph Jackson was this fearsome character that you really didn’t want to cross and you kind of didn’t want to be in the same room with him because he was so intimidating.
Steven Ivory, writer, Soul magazine: Anytime I was around the Jacksons I was struck by the fact that they called their father by his name. They called him ‘Joe’. Sometimes they called him ‘Papa Joe’.
Sheryl Price: He would stand out front with his arms folded: ‘Get off our lawn’., and we’d scoot around the corner, and to this day I think there’s a permanent groove in that yard because of all the generations of children since they’ve moved who have just cut the corner.
Dave Walsh: If his ‘Papa Joe’ was a tyrant, Michael’s ‘Mama Kate’ seemed like a saint.
Sheryl Price: Mrs. Jackson was a very gentle woman. I never saw her lose her temper, I never saw her raise her voice.
Carole Lieberman, M.D., M.P.H. :Michael was always closer to his mother than his father, partly out of wanting her protection from him.
Dave Walsh: Carole Lieberman was the first psychiatrist to make a formal child abuse complaint against Michael Jackson.
Carole Lieberman: I think he just wanted to grow up to be someone who was softer like that, as opposed to his father who represented this tyrant.
Dave Walsh: In 1965 Katherine Jackson became a devout Jehovah’s Witness, a Christian sect with strict rules against sin, and a ban on childhood celebrations.
Bill Bowen: Jehovah’s Witness are prohibited from celebrating birthdays, they are prohibited from Christmas, Halloween, even Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or anything associated even with Easter if it’s outside the actual commemoration of Christ’s death.
Dave Walsh: William Bowen is a former Jehovah’s Witness elder and president of ‘Silentlambs’, an orgnaization that exposes child abuse within the secretive sect.
Bill Bowen: In many cases, Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to submit to abuse, to cover up abuse and to let it go and if they do anything about I, then it shows a lack of faith in God.
Dave Walsh: At the age of 7 a wide-eyed Mike was indoctrinated into the Witnesses’ world. He learned to fear the wrath of Jehovah, especially when it came to sex.
Bill Bowen: Sex outside the mariage is absolutely forbidden. That is a disfellowshiping offense. Disfellowshiped, in Jehovah’s Witness terminology is death. That means, when Armegeddon comes, you will be destroyed by God. And you’re dead to everyone else in the Jehovah’s Witness community; including your family, and everyone that you’ve known.
Dave Walsh: While Michael’s mother gave him a moral code to live by, Papa Joe enforced his rules with the business end of a belt.
Sheryl Price: He was raising six sons, nine children all together. Land back in the days of corporal punishment being legal, he applied it.
Bill Bowen: Children are told the expression, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child. If you beat them with the rod they will not die’.
Clip of interview with Joe and Katherine Jackson and Jermaine jackson
Joe Jackson: In raising these guys, they all got whippings. They didn’t get no beatings you know, they got whippings,
Jermaine Jackson: A whipping is a swat and sometimes you would get spanked on the back.
Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D, family therapist: Appropriate punishment for a child, such as a spanking, as in not leaving bruises can very quickly cross that line into physical abuse where there are injuries.
Dave Walsh: According to he boys, Joe’s justice was cruel and unusual. From whippings with an electrical cord, to pouring salt in the wounds- literally. In 2003 Mike told journalist Martin Bashir of his childhood trauma.
Clip of Martin Bahsir interviewing Michael Jackson
Martin Bashir: You remember when you said to me you just wanted to run away from your father.
Michael Jackson: I hated, I used to hide.
J. R andy Taraborelli: Michael has been very clear, and he insists he was physically abused by his father and that it was very bad and traumatic.
Dave Walsh: Joe Jackson’s anger may have flowed from his humiliation in the mills, and the frustration of a musical career cut short by the needs of his nine children.
Benny Dorsey, Jackson boys’ teacher: Joe ruled with an iron hand. And consequently, this probably effected Michael the most, he probably didn’t have that mental fortitude to fight back.
Dave Walsh: Michael was the most sensitive of Joe’s kids and the most gifted.
Katherine Jackson: When Joe’d go to work we’d just sing folk songs, we sing together but I heard them singing, in the bathroom singing one of the Temptation’s songs. It was so beautiful.
Dave Walsh: Every time Joe heard Michael sing, he may have been reminded of his own failure.
Carole Lieberman: He was very jealous of Michael, he was the most jealous of Michael, because his father really wanted to be a performer.
Dave Walsh: Ater school, Joe kept his sons locked down in the Jackson home. But when he worked the night shift, Mike and his brothers picked up Joe’s abandoned guitar and with the help of neighbor Reynard Jones, jammed on the sly.
Reynaud D. Jones, Michael’s neighbor and bandmate: The Jacksons spent a lot of time inside, those were Joseph’s rules. So if I thought that it was time to practice, I could give out that whistle and they would come to the window and then we would walk over to my house.
Dave Walsh: Fearing Joe’s jealous rage, the boys hid in Reynaud’s basement and sowed the seeds of a pop music dynasty.
Reynaud Jones: Joe Jackson did not even know we were practicing. At some point we thought that we were ready to perform. And we wanted to go on the road at the high school talent show.
Dave Walsh: Seven year old Michael’s coming-out party took place in 1966 at the Roosevelt High Talent Show, held right behind the Jackson Family home. Joe knew his boys were up to something, but instead of stepping in, he allowed them to prove their potential for profit.
Reynaud Jones: We won that talent show. The crowd went wild that night. They were very impressed.
Dave Walsh: Joe Jackson was also impressed. Before, he whipped Tito for playing his guitar, but now he threw himself into managing the boys’ careers.
Joseph Jackson: We had to know that they were good, we had to know that they could win talent shows and we rehearsed them so they could be the best.
Sheryl Price: In the summer time, when the Jacksons would rehearse in their living room, they’d move all the furniture back, and they would open the windows, and all the neighborhood came around to stand. That’s the one time Mr. Jackson didn’t say anything about us being on his lawn.
Dave Walsh: Joe Jackson would soon escape the steel mills of Gary Indiana by riding out on the back of a boy named Mike. At the tender age of seven, Michael Jackson knew what he wanted too: to be rich, famous and free from his Papa Joe.
Reynaud Jones: I can remember a time when we were practicing, and I can’t remember exactly what was being said, but Michael’s response was: “This group would be nothing without me.” Here’s a kid, seven years old but the ironic part about it is that it probably was correct.
Dave Walsh: Coming up: An eleven-year-old learns to lie. And later, Michael’s first little friend.
Rodney Allen Rippy: At the time, I was five, and my mom said that “I wonder why he doesn’t have many friends his own age?”
Narrater: The roots of Michael Jackson’s bizarre behavior lie in the shuttered steel mills of Gary, Indiana and the ambition he shared with his abusive Papa Joe. In 1967 Joe Jackson wanted to get the hell out of Gary, and nine-year old Mike wanted to make the beatings stop.
J. R andy Taraborelli: Joseph was chasing him around the room saying, you know, the choreography goes that way, and Joseph would throw his shoe at him or something. And Michael would say, "If you ever throw anything at me again I’ll never sing again, another note. So don’t push me.”
Dave Walsh: The combination of Michael’s nine-year-old ego, and Joe’s attacks on his son’s self-esteem, was explosive. Little Mike Jackson quickly became the hardest working kid in show business.
Ben Brown, Jackson 5 producer: Michael as a child would always make ‘one more spin,’ you know. He would run all the way to the edge of the stage; slide, stop, just do things that were cutting edge and risky almost.
Wilton Crump, Jackson 5 musician: Even at five or six years old, he had really been studying Jackie Wilson, he had been studying James Brown.
Raynaud D. Jones: Not only he would move his feet like James Brown, but he’d keep on moving, he’d keep on moving, he’d move and you’d almost have to say “That’s enough Mike”. He wouldn’t stop. He just kept dancing.
Dave Walsh: Joe Jackson stripped Michael of things most kids take for granted. Late-night gigs kept them up on school nights. Rehearsals kept him away from his friends.
Benny Dorsey, Jackson boy’s teacher: And in doing so he probably restricted some of the things, outside things that Michael should have been enjoying as a normal boy coming up. This was an ordeal. This is something that most kids just don’t do.
Sheryl Price: He pushed, and pushed him hard. LaToya would tell us that her brothers had performed either downtown Gary or in Chicago or somewhere the night before and that they were really tired and they had driven all night.
Jermaine Jackson: I mean we woke up singing and went to bed singing, we rehearsed all during the day.
Dave Walsh: Joe Jackson’s master plan was to get Mike as much exposure as he could wherever he could. He booked his boys at seedy bars and strip clubs, from Detroit to Chicago.
Sheryl Price: I don’t know how they allowed five underaged boys to perform in a place that served liquor and had strippers. I thought it was bizarre but apparently Mr. Jackson was so intent on getting his boys heard, he took any gig that they were offered.
Dave Walsh: Young Michael’s show business education began with an age-old lesson: sex sells.
Ben Brown: Michael was performing at a club and he walked right to the edge of the stage, looked right at a young lady in the audience, and started singing this romantic love song. And this young lady just didn’t really know just how to take it, couldn’t believe that this voice and these lyrics were coming from a child.
J. R andy Taraborelli : And he realized at a very early age that if you wanted to play it out all you had to sort of appeal to their purient side.
Dave Walsh:But for Michael, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, a conflict was brewing between doing what his father wanted, and what his mother told him was God’s will. Sex, ambition, and music were ‘works of the devil’, and Mike was wallowing in all three.
Bill Bowen: Jehovah’s Witnesses have put forth many directives when it comes to music. If there’s any reference to sex, anything that conflicts with their belief, that opens them up to Satan.
Dave Walsh: While the Devil’s music troubled Michael’s soul, it caught the ear of Motown’s Barry Gordy. In 1969, the Jacksons traded the gray of Gary for the sunshine of L.A. thrusting eleven-year-old Mike on a stage bigger than any he’d been on before.
Clip of Dick Clark Show
Dick Clark: I would like to find out the difference between Gary Indiana and living in Los Angeles. You moved here now?
Michael Jackson: Yes, well uh it’s really sunny out here. I like it a little bit better.
Dick Clark: Do you dig it?
Michael Jackson: Yeah, it’s cold in Indiana.
Dave Walsh: Katherine Jackson knew that Michael’s music violated Jehovah’s law. But once she felt the warmth of Los Angeles, she wanted to get out of Gary as much as her husband Joe.
Katherine Jackson: When we moved it was in October. And it was really cold in Gary. And I came here and the sun was shining, birds singing, flowers in bloom, like a paradise.
Dave Walsh: But along with a fairy-tale life, came a mandate to tell fairy tales. Katherine stood by while Motown marketers taught her eleven-year-old son to lie, beginning with his age.
Clip from Dick Clark Show
Dick Clark:Was I right, are you nine or ten, I’ve forgotten
Michael Jackson: Nine.
Dave Walsh: Sudenly, eleven-year-old Mike became the most precocious nine-year-old on the planet.
Carole Lieberman, M.D.: At first, Michael didn’t understand that and then it was explained, “Well, this is public relations, and it’s not a lie if you’re talking about your image”. And this little boy grasped onto that idea, that it’s okay to tell a lie if it’s called ‘public relations’.
Dave Walsh: Coming up, the press questions Michael’s sexuality.
Steven Ivory: I asked him about the rumors that he was gay.
Dave Walsh: And later, Mike is tempted by the vices of ‘Studio 54’.
xxx People doing lots of drugs, and there was unprotected promicuous sex.
Dave Walsh: In 1970, Michael Jackson was lead singer of the hottest bubblegum band in America. And his childhood was officially over.
Henry Farag, Music Historain , Gary, Indiana: The oldest siblings all had normal lives at least up untill the teens. Whereas Michael had no childhood.
Ben Brown: There was no childhood at all, just a full time professional performer.
Narator: In LA, Michael tried to go to school like a normal kid, but his fame got in the way.
Laura Gerson, Michael’s sixth grade teacher: He did perform for us on the table, he danced and sang for us on the table on our—was it graduaton or was it Christmas or something?
Dave Walsh: At the age of twelve, Michael’s last best chance to socialize with children his own age was taken away. He would never graduate from high school, never go to a prom, never earn a college degree. He enetered a world of private tutors and full-time performance.
Sam Brown III, Michael’s music director: Most biographers of Mozart and child prodigys, will tell you they don’t have a lot of social graces. ‘Cause where do you learn it—around your peers. And classrooms, that’s where you learn social skills. But Michael did not have child peers.
Dave Walsh: Michael’s formal schooling may have ended, but his sexual education had just begun. After Jackson Five concerts, Michael and his brother Marlon hit the sack while the older boys hit the jackpot.
J. R andy Taraborelli: Michael and Marlon, they were still little kids, but Jermaine and Jackie and Tito they were older and they had become teen idols. And they had a lot of groupies.
Flo Anthony, Jackson family friend: Jackie’s wife Enid, actually told me that when they were teenagers, they had a bunch of women just up in the room.
J. R andy Taraborelli :The boys would have sex with the groupies, while Michael and Marlon were in bed acting as if they were sleeping when actually they were you know listening, maybe even watching.
Flo Anthony: I think that’s the cleaned-up version of what Enid told me.
Dave Walsh: While the older Jacksons considered it ‘good clean fun’, for Michael the ‘group gropes’ had lasting effects.
Carole Lieberman: This was a kind of sexual abuse. Because when he saw them having sex, so up close and personal, it is something that for any little boy, would have a lasting psychological impact.
Dave Walsh: Not only did Papa Joe Jackson condone his sons’ sexual escapades, he did them one better, or worse.
Carole Lieberman: What was also particularly traumatic for Michael was the fact that his father was having sex with these women.
J. R andy Taraborelli: The father would take sort of the leftovers, taking some of these Jackson groupies for himself. And the boys didn’t like that at all.
Dave Walsh: According to Michael’s brother Marlon, late at night, Joe Jackson would sneak girls into the boys’ room and show off his sons. But the price of admission was steep.
J. R andy Taraborelli: Joseph wanted to show some of these young ladies that he was a family man, that you know, ‘here are my kids, they’re famous, and I did that, and now I’m gonna do you.”
Dave Walsh: Joseph warned his boys not to tell their mother about his secret. And no matter how much Michael may have wanted to expose Papa Joe, for the young Jehovah’s Witness his father’s word was gospel.
Bill Bowen: A key scripture that’s read over and over again is, to honor your father and your mother, if a child was to question their parent, or not submit to their direction, then it would be viewed as a sin against God. And so it creates this atmosphere that’s it’s best just to stay quiet.
Dave Walsh: Michael was torn. Disobey his dad, and his God, or lie to his beloved mother. It was an impossible choice.
J. R andy Taraborelli : Especially for Michael, because he was so tremendously sensitive to have that experience on the road and then go back to their God-fearing mother and not be honest with her. You know there was this dual thing going on in Michael Jackson’s life from a very early age.
Dave Walsh: In the end, Michael chose to protect his abusive Papa Joe and lie to the one woman he trusted—his Mama Kate.
Katherine Jackson: And when they’d come home off a tour, and they’d be gone about a month or so, we’d make a big dinner for them like a celebration when they were coming home.
Narator: Michael’s guilty conscience may have been eased by the lessons of Motown 101: a lie isn’t a lie, if it helps your career.
Carole Lieberman: I think he had some sense, even at that young age, that if he did tell the secret, and he did destroy his family, it might well destroy his chance of becoming a star.
Dave Walsh: By 1972 Michael Jackson was a deeply confused fourteen-year-old.
Yvonne Thomas: A lot of people that have been abused, are stuck around the age when so much of the trauma has happened and they stop really emotionally developing.
Carole Lieberman: Michael has been stunted at the level of a pre-adolescent boy because of the sexual abuse, the exposure, to his brothers and father having sex over and over again with groupies in their hotel room when he was so young.
Dave Walsh: Michael’s arrested development was made worse by the flip side of his dysfunctional family. While his Papa Joe groped groupies on the road, at home his mother Katherine preached the Puritan ways of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Bill Bowen: Jehovah’s Witnesses are the most sexually repressed people on the face of the earth. That’s just plain and simple and I think any Witness that you would ask that question would agree.
Dave Walsh: The combination of seeing too much sex too soon, while being told that even a glimpse would send him to hell, may have flipped a switch in Michael’s psyche.
J. R andy Taraborelli: It desensitized him to the importance of sexuality in your life. He became really, in my view, asexual.
Dave Walsh: The change in Michael was profound. As a child, he was a precocious flirt with an angel’s face and mojo to spare.
Clip of Dick Clark Show
Dick Clark: Are you shy?
Michael Jackson: No.
Dick Clark: You know it’s very difficult—what’s with the oh’s and the ah’s, there’s a few girls over there that want to take you home with them, and uh..who knows..?
Sheryl Price: Michael always seemed to be very fond of women, he was a little charmer. There was nothing strange about Michael there was nothing weird about Michael.
Steven Ivory: Mike kept flirting with these girls. Flaunting at them, and winking at them, and trying to get them to come down front and say hello.
Dave Walsh: But at an age when most teens craved puppy love, Mike seemed to fear the female touch. And the more he shied away from girls, the more frenzied his fans became.
Steven ivory: I think that girls represented, you know, ‘having my hair pulled’, represented someone screaming suddenly at the top of their lungs, aaahhh, you know just suddenly screaming.
Clip of young Michael
Michael Jacskon: Fans would be hanging around, we’d hear a knock on the door, and say “room service”, we’d open the door, and fans would be there.
J. R andy Taraborelli: It’s what rock stars go through though, and most of the guys like it, you never heard Jermaine complaining about it, you never heard Jackie complaining about it, but Michael didn’t, Michael didn’t like to be touched and handled and pulled at; oh he really hated it, he just really hated it.
Dave Walsh: Behind the scenes, God-fearing Katherine tried to guide her sensitive son.
J. R andy Taraborelli: There were fans who had some special status. If you’d write a letter to Michael Jackson, and you’d actually get a response or you’d get a phone call from Katherine saying “You know, why don’t you come to Las Vegas and hang out with us?
Theresa Gonsalves: I was in the seventh grade, and I just was in love with him, so I started writing him letters everyday. And in 1974, he’s going to be in Las Vegas for my sixteenth birthday.
Dave Walsh: In 1974 Katherine Jackson arranged a date between Michael and Theresa Gonsalves, a sixteen-year-old fan from Boston, even though Theresa’s presence violated Jehovah’s rules.
Bill Bowen: Teenagers are only allowed to date if they’re ready to get married. So if a person wants to date someone, and they say “I just want to have fun”, this is strictly forbidden in church literature. Even a telephone conversation was a date, they can find themselves disfellowshiped. So you have this fear, this actual fear, of experiencing death.
Dave Walsh: The older Jackson boys seemed to sense Michael was afraid of girls. So after a show at the MGM Grand, they playfully pushed him on Theresa.
Theresa Gonsalves: One holding me, and you know one brother holding him, holding Michael, and just trying to make us kiss. “Here, kiss her, kiss her”. And we’re both you know, putting our heads down, and trying to stop it. And we ended up in a room together and it was just me and him. And that’s when we had our first one-on-one.
Dave Walsh: But when it came time to make a move, fifteen-year-old Mike resisted temptation.
Theresa Gonsalves: I’m sitting down about oh, two feet away from him, and I’m shy, he’s shy, and who’s gonna start this conversation. So finally Michael begins the conversation by saying, “Do you believe in the Devil?” And that just kind of scared me, “Like, where’s he going with this?” And that’s how he started witnessing to me, he discussed the Jehovah’s Witness religion with me for about an hour. And he showed me, he had his Jehovah’s Witness books and stuff. The amazing thing to me was, when I got home, the next day, Jehovah’s Witnesss rang my bell.
Dave Walsh: Michael’s sexuality was everyone’s business but his own. His close call with Theresa was nothing compared to what came next. Because according to published reports, male members of his family had decided it was time to make Mike a man.
J. R andy Taraborelli: Time for Michael to start getting busy, you know and locked him in a room with—you know what, I can’t even believe it’s true now. But, locked him in a room with some prostitutes, and just hope for the best.
Dave Walsh: But instead of losing his virginity, Michael reportedly whipped out his scripture and read the ladies of ill repute a sermon from Jehovah. As Michael grew older, his distaste for sex was perceived in a different way. When Michael pushed girls away, members of the press pushed back, speculating on his lack of female friends.
J. R andy Taraborelli: You’d you know, be told by your editor “you gotta ask him if he’s gay in real life”. Wha..? I mean, how are you gonna ask Michael Jackson if he’s gay?
Steven Ivory: I asked him about the rumor that he was gay. And he looked at me and he said, “You know what I need you to do? I need you to turn off that tape recorder”. And I said, “Okay.” He said “No, I’m not gay.” And I said, well “Why did you ask me to turn of the tape recorder?” And he said, “Well, because I know that we have many fans that are gay, and I don’t want to offend any of these people.”
J. R andy Taraborelli: Imagine that when you’re a kid. Imagine, and you don’t even want to address those issues with your family members, let alone a guy like me sitting across from you in a baseball cap saying, “So listen dude; are you gay?” None of us ever thought Michael was going to turn out to be as conflicted as he is.
Dave Walsh: Hounded by reporters and tormented by his family, late in 1974 a lonely and confused Michael turned to those who seemed most like him; little boys.
Rodney Allen Rippy, Michael’s friend: I met Michael back in the early seveinties at the American Music Awards.
Dave Walsh: The very first in Michael’s long line of young male companions was adorable hamburger spokeskid Rodney Allen Rippy. They met when Michael was sixteen, Rodney was five.
Rodney Allen Rippy: And I’m like, “Can we be friends?” And it’s like, “sure we can be friends, Mike”. “Can I give you my number?” And like, “Sure you can. You want my number, Mike?” “Yeah!” Michael used to call my house every single Saturday and talk to me on the phone. My mom, wonders; said “You know, I wonder why he doesn’t have many friends his own age,you know”?
Yvonne Thomas: Why would somebody’s who’s a teenager want to hang around with somebody so much younger? If somebody was abused, physically, sexually, emotionally, they may feel more comfortable with somebody they feel can’t hurt them. People that have been regressed in their emotional growth may not feel like a teenager, they still may feel like they’re five years old themselves for instance. And then sometimes there’s a more sinsiter side of things. Maybe they’re attracted to children, maybe they get some kind of pleasure sexually being around a child, and sometimes they actually do want to engage in sexual acts with a child, and it’s not innocent anymore at all then.
Dave Walsh: Coming up: Theresa puts a move on Mike.
Theresa Gonsalves: I’m a young woman, I’m no longer the virgin he knew.
Dave Walsh: And later, Michael’s taste for fantasy becomes an addiction.
Dave Walsh: xxx seasoned performer, and the awkward eighteen-year-old. Uninterested in women, intrigued by little boys, and in constant fear of offending God, Michael was a prisoner of his own psyche. The only place he felt free was on stage.
Clip of Dinah Shore Show
Dinah Shore: Do you rmember any time in your whole life when you weren’t performing?
Michael Jackson: Well, not really.
Dinah Shore: No?
Michael Jackson: We’ve always performed, yeah.
Walter Yetnikoff: And he once said to me, he said “You don’t understand, I was a star at six, and I do not feel alive unless I’m performing or making a record, there is nothing else.”
Clip from interview:
Michael Jackson: I love performing,
Interviewer:But that’s not-
Michael Jackson: ?I wish I could sleep once late…?
Interviewer: But that’s not Michael Jackson the person?
Dave Walsh: After a decade of being jealously guarded by his father, and educated by tutors, Michael was a boy in a bubble. At an age when mosst young men were thinking of college, he had the mindset of a child.
J. R andy Taraborelli: He didn’t know who was president of the United States, didn’t know anything about the government, or how the country was run.
Steven Ivory: I remember him telling me, “Listen, I’ve beeen all around the world, but as a child I never saw any of these places, Chicago looked the same as Dallas to me.”
Clip from Dinah Shore Show
Michael Jacskon: In my life I’ve really had one vacation, that was last Christmas. Outside of that, let me think what I did, I just stayed home, I watched televison, I read a lot.”
Steven Ivory: I think the effect of being on the road that way, created a very lonely person.
Dave Walsh: When Michael turned nineteen, fate struck in the form of Diana Ross. Once Mike’s Motown mentor, Diana was now in New York, starring in a film called ‘The Whiz’. And she wanted her protégé to join the cast.
J. R andy Taraborelli: The first time Michael really had a chance to really stretch out and be on his own, was when he went to New York to do ‘The Whiz’.
Dave Walsh: Michael had never before been away from his family. But in 1977 he tore himself from their grip. Papa Joe reluctantly let him go, but on one condition.
J. R andy Taraborelli: Of course, you know, they sent LaToya with him, but at least they let him go.
Dave Walsh: In New York, Michael was finally free from his abusive father and suffocating brothers. It was also the first time he’d been away from his beloved mother and the all-seeing eyes of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Bill Bowen: When you have that strict environment, it creates a group of kids that lead what Jehovah’s Witnesses call ‘double lives’; the Jehovah’s Witness life, and then the other life when they get away from those within the church--sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, you know. And when you’ve been completely repressed, if you’ve never had a date till you’re eighteen, it’s hard to resist.
Dave Walsh: The first test of Michael’s faith took place at New York’s version of Sodom and Gomorrah: Studio 54. Mike felt at home among the disco’s star-studded clientele and was fascinated by its vices.
Vinny Zufante:People doing lots of drugs, I mean lots of drugs. And upstairs was unprotected, promiscuous sex.
Dave Walsh: Celebrity photographer Vinny Zufante shadowed Micahel during his New York days. But at Studio54, Vinny never saw Mike partake in the partying. Instead, Mike liked to watch, and gossip, with a posse of disco queens.
Vinny Zufante: He had Andy Warhol on one side, Liza Minelli on the other, Liz Taylor on one side, Betty Ford on the other. But I never saw him upstairs or downstairs. I never saw him with a drink.
Sam Brown III: Well everybody has a thing. Everybody’s got one. It wasn’t his thing.
Dave Walsh: Another temptation Michael encountered in Manhatten was his old friend, Theresa Gonsalves. Once she was his shy pen pal, but in 1977, she had come of age.
Theresa Gonsalves: Forget about the sixteen-year-old in Vegas. He’s a young man, I’m a young woman, I’m no longer the virgin he knew.
Dave Walsh: Theresa came to visit Michael in New York. But unlike their arranged date in Las Vegas four years earlier, this time twenty-year-old Theresa took control.
Theresa Gonsalves: We were just in the room alone, and we were just close enough at that point to kiss, just about to kiss, when LaToya came in the room.
Dave Walsh: When LaToya intercepted Theresa’s pass, Michael seemed relieved. The reason why gave Theresa an unexpected glimpse into Michael’s tortured soul. Michael told Theresa a secret. That a trauma in his past prevented him from sharing himself romantically with anyone.
Theresa Gonsalves: There was no names, it was just not a good time in his life. He wasn’t interested in anyone, you know, not anyone he was just in his own little world.
Dave Walsh: Though Theresa suspected Mike has more to admit, she would never learn the details of his despair. Michael may have held back because of his religon’s rules about seeking help.
Bill Bowen: They would use the ‘Bible Story’ books. In this entire chapter that deals with child sexual abuse in very great detail, describing even the sex organs themselves, not one word is mentioned about going to the police. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that anything outside the organization is part of Satan’s world. So why would you go to Satan’s world to get help?
Dave Walsh: In New York, Michael had a chance to become a different man. But instead of seeking help, his abused inner child seemed to go deeper underground, determined not to let his pain stand in the way of the twenty-year-old pop star’s success. It was a choice that would haunt Michael’s adulthood.
Carole Lieberman: A lot of times when children are abused they separate themselves, they disassociate themselves from themselves, as a way of surviving. But later on it can become a more serious problem.
Dave Walsh: In 1978, the strength of Michael’s psyche would be tested. Soon he’d be on a plane back to LA. Back to his old rooom, his old life, and the same old Papa Joe.
Clip of interview with Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson: A lot of people think I’m really really mean. But the problem is, they don’t know me.
Dave Walsh: Coming up, Joe Jackson takes desperate measures to protect his power.
Next thing I know, he says “What you doing in here”, and he had an Uzi. He had an Uzi in his hand.
Dave Walsh: And later, Emmanuel becomes the apple of Michael’s eye.