R.I.P. my king – my Michael Jackson story

Posted on July 17th, 2009 @ 22:07 in Uncategorized

[originally written early July, last third or so added today]

So here’s my MJ story. Why? Because I think I am ready to write it, and this whole thing would seem incomplete if I didn’t. This life, all the years I’ve spent with him. 21 in total you see.

I became a fan in 1988, through my brother, who brought the Bad album to one of our common visits to my father. I was pretty much hooked from that point onwards. We used to pretend to be MJ’s samurais or something like that. And tell each other stories about how we knew him personally (after all, what did we know the other one got up to when we weren’t at my father’s together?).

However I was little more than a run of the mill fan, buying his albums and recording his videos off MTV (ah! Michael Jackson weekends!) for many years. I remember the first time I watched Thriller, hidden behind my friend’s couch. I wasn’t able to properly watch it until after I’d ordered the VHS from some place in Germany (from a paper catalogue!) and watched the Making Of where I could verify these were normal people being turned into terrifying zombies (I’m still scared of horror movies you see).

But mainly I just liked the music. Wow, the day Dangerous came out! I lived on tapes then, I went into town and I still have a memory of sitting on the bus on my way back listening to the tape in my walkman. Dangerous would always remain my favourite album. Off The Wall I had to buy twice though cuz my brother stole one of my copies. (of course this was long before I turned into the kind of fan who bought five different editions of each album *lol*)

Things changed when the HIStory tour came to Luxembourg. By then I actually thought of myself as a slightly estranged fan. I’d since been to Brian May and Guns’n’Roses concerts, MJ was my childhood hero (and I did own and like the HIStory album), but the idea was to go to this concert as a sort of final touch to years of fanship.

How wrong I was. That concert started a completely new phase in my adoration for Michael. I went to see another two HIStory concerts, Hockenheim and Oostende. Oostende was rescheduled because of Diana’s death, and I missed half of my grandad’s funeral (who died the same night as Di) because it was on the same day as the reschedule. I faked a headache, jumped into my car and raced to the Belgian coast at an average speed of 160kmh / 100 mph (I kid you not, this was my average, not my max speed). The next day I had to face the extended family pretending to be well rested when in fact I’d barely slept because I’d driven through half the night (at a more reasonable speed this time). My mum didn’t forgive me that stunt for a while, heh (but my dad had ok’d it! I think she didn’t forgive him either lol).

I also started making friends through MJ. This was around the same time I discovered the Internet, and it was the days of the MJIFC and their newsletter. Some of these friends remained online friends, and some I actually met up with – most famously Chris, who I was massively infatuated with, and who I went to MJ & Friends with in Munich in 1999. Weird looking back on that, there were so many people at that concert that would later on become really close friends, but then of course I didn’t know them. MJ & Friends was also my first “hanging out in front of his hotel” experience which I would later become so addicted to.

When was the MJ at Oxford thing? I went to that too, and made another really good friend when my car broke down and she took me in. And the next day I went to the fan event at the Apollo (by bus, since no car…). I actually had to sneak in cuz Chris the bastard who I should’ve been going with didn’t bother to come out and get me (he had the tickets). But I got in for free anyway and saw him.

My most intense MJ phase started after MSG of course. The friends I made there, the experience I had, was really quite life-changing. This is where I met my slore you know. And this is where I really started to get into the full blown fan experience, including the absolute craziness. This is also what got me into the online MJ world again – KOP and MJNI mainly. Ah the hours and days I’ve wasted on those boards! And let’s not forget the infamous Sex God site – I even made it into the Yahoo directory as a hot site!! Those were the days.

The MSG trip was in a league of its own. To start with, I’d decided pretty last minute to go completely on my own (quite uncharacteristic for me at the time – I didn’t know a single person there!). I booked through MJNI and was put into a room with Arica, who I did spend most of the time with, at least until after 9/11.

Ah yes, 9/11. It has been said in the media and in conversation that “MJ’s death is one of those defining moments, you will always remember where you were when you heard, like Princess Diana’s death and 9/11.” Funny that. When I heard about Di’s death I was queuing in Oostende to see MJ. When I heard about the attack on the WTC I was being woken up by the radio alarm clock in the hotel room of MJ’s then beloved “assistant” (what were their names? the sth-or-other brothers) who’d taken pity on us at 2am the night before cuz we were still sitting outside the hotel (not because we were homeless tho, but because we’d been chatting for ages and forgot the time). MJ’s camp put up a lot of fans in their rooms for the next night as well (incl us). When I first phoned my mum after 9/11 to tell her I was ok, MJ paid the bill. How’s that for a story.

And then there’s those other deaths in my life. As I said, I missed most of my grandad’s funeral cuz I had to go see MJ. My dad died in June 2002, which you may remember was when there was the whole MJNI fan party and the “boycott Sony” demo. I went to that a mere week after my dad’s death, and it was the most amazingly wonderful thing that could happen to me at that time to take my mind off my dad’s awful death for a bit (but hey, he made it to 52, Michael only made it to 50. Ugh).

That trip was pretty intense as well. It included “the Paddington episode”, which was the first time I got really scared and worried about MJ because of the crowds, and I was in the midst of it. I remember him breaking down on the platform and some of us at the front trying to push back the masses – hundreds of fans – to give him space. These experiences – there would be more – have always shaken me and I have always felt ambivalent about them. On the one hand it was horrendous, the hysteria, the insanity. On the other hand he invited it, knowingly or unknowingly, and therefore only made it worse. And, introspectively, I know only too well that I would always get drawn in as well. It was easy enough being at the very front and trying to push back the others screaming “are you insane???? give him some space!!!!!” I knew from experience that when I wasn’t at the front, I would be one of those pushing.

But I don’t really want to dwell on that too much, I’ve mentioned it on here before. The 2002 demo was surreal, that whole trip was surreal, we stayed outside his hotel for many nights, and I made so many friends there (and yes, Mel showed me the way to easy Internet café!). Chasing him across London in my tiny Mazda was dangerous and insane, but also an experience of a lifetime – we drove parallel to his car for a while on The Mall and he took Tiff’s friggin’ mobile through the car window and spoke to her mum!!! He was such an amazing guy! Her mum was crying when we got the phone back (even tho she officially didn’t like Michael, heh).

There were other London events after that, to be honest I don’t remember them all. I remember being at the Dorchester and freezing cold, I remember eating Dominos pizza he had delivered for us, I remember running around Harrods and missing him, I remember running after him, waiting for him, having no idea where he was, and many many hours spent outside hotels.

I remember standing outside the theatre when he went to see Billy Elliott and going through a similar ordeal as in Paddington, with us in the front row trying to make a chain to hold people back, and the whole thing just collapsing as soon as he got out of the car (with Prince!). I cried after that, I couldn’t understand how one could live like that, I hated all the fans including myself and just wanted to go home and hide away. And yet I stayed, made my peace with what we were doing, and carried on.

I remember the WMAs in London, I had won like 4 tickets or something, and there we were again, waiting for hours, being shoved back and forth in a narrow underground corridor, and all for a few glimpses of Michael. I had my PR exam the next day and all my notes with me (I got a distinction). It was great to meet all the beloved fans again who’d come from all over. And it was great to see him again.

And then I remember the O2 announcement. Again, we waited for hours and hours, and we saw a minute of Michael. Of course we bitched – “typical Michael!” But of course it was still worth it. Especially looking back. The last time we ever saw him.

This summer was going to be special, and it turned out to be emptiness. He’s gone and I am yet to get used to this new world without Michael Jackson. But his death doesn’t mean any of us stop being fans. And it doesn’t mean any of us stop being friends. Looking back now, over those years, over all those memories, the same faces pop up again and again – this strong network of friends that he has given us, this means so much to me. Probably just as much, maybe even more than the music and the magic. Without my friends I wouldn’t be the fan I am today. Of course, without Michael I wouldn’t have the friends I have today.

And so we come full circle. It is not even possible to say what my life would be now without Michael Jackson. Would I even live in the UK? I would probably never have known Norway, or Glasgow and Edinburgh, or D.C., or Stockholm…. and so it seems that “my Michael Jackson story” may have had a precise beginning – that one holiday when my brother brought the BAD album to our father’s – but from then onwards it became intertwined with almost every aspect of my life. Michael Jackson IS my life. I think it always comes back to that. Even now he’s gone. Always, forever in my life. Thank you so much for everything Michael.


Vega said on Jul 18, 2009 at 8:19 am

And I promised myself I wasnt gonna cry today, and then you post THIS.

Clarissa said on Jul 18, 2009 at 8:51 am

*ahem* Sorry :hug

JarJarJar said on Jul 18, 2009 at 9:59 am

It’s funny how different your “MJ-story” is from mine. Well it’s not really that strange but it IS. Like because you’re the crazy-MJ-fan I know best I somehow feel our stories should be very similar. :)) We weren’t even really ever intense at the same time (well I guess I knew that, but became more clear again when reading this).

Clarissa said on Jul 18, 2009 at 10:06 am

Yeah I know, I realized when I wrote this that you (& squi) are not in any of this even tho out of all the MJ fans you’re the most important one(s).

ChrisPR said on Jul 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Hey you. It’s me. I loved your story – it really moved me. I’m sorry I was such an idiot at the Apollo all those years ago – you were such a good friend to me and that was no way to repay you. You know, I still have the newspaper with that picture of us outside the hotel in Munich. They were great days.

Still can’t believe Michael’s gone *sigh*.

Clarissa said on Jul 24, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Well hello you. 😛

L.J. said on Jul 25, 2009 at 12:29 am

This made me cry.

Clarissa said on Jul 25, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Sowwee :hug

Sara, formerly GRUDGEGOTHHIPPI said on Jul 29, 2009 at 3:36 am

After his death, it seems it wasn’t just him I missed, but the fans I used to know. If only those I knew from brief interactions or those that have traded/sold me footage over the years. So many I’ve lost touch with, but that seems to be the norm with people I get to know online. Even now when I visit the active MJ forums I can’t seem to recognize any of the usernames from days gone.

And damnit I DO miss those times! Getting excited with others over new music, tv specials, concerts. Something I couldn’t do with anyone in my high school, work place or family, just those lovely souls online whom were just as nuts over the guy as I was!

But atleast I have those memories, at a time when it was ok for my dizty teenage self to giggle at fan-made ‘crotch-collages’ & indulge in reading sleazy real-person fan fiction. Dare I say I’ve *gasp* grown up (but not enough to give up my stuffed animals..no Sir) to the point where I can separate obsession from fascination for a most interesting entertainer. Leaving me with the respect for the music & the idea that he was such an enchanting mystery of person most likely because he wanted it that way: He was a showman til the end.

Now I can only hope that he is in peace. And will remain the icon he was meant to be in the public’s eyes.

Clarissa said on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:28 am

🙁 Now you’ve made ME cry!


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