In August 1993, I was on the beach in Nantucket when I was told that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter was trying to reach me: Michael Jackson had just been accused of child molestation by a 13-year-old boy. Thus began an odyssey of 12 years in which I wrote five lengthy articles for the magazine about the trials and tribulations of this music icon whose fame had literally deformed him. I spoke to hundreds of people who knew Jackson and, in the course of my reporting, found families who had given their sons up to him and paid dearly for it. I found people who had been asked to supply him with drugs. I even found the business manager who told me on-the-record how he had had to wire $150,000 to a voodoo chief in Mali who had 42 cows ritually sacrificed in order to put a curse on David Geffen, Steven Spielberg, and 23 others on Jackson’s enemies list. I sat through two trials and watched his bizarre behavior on the stand when he said he did not recognize his publicist of a decade. One of the reasons I endured this not-fun circus was that, when I began, I was the mother of a boy roughly the same age as the ones Jackson was so interested in spending the night with. His behavior truly troubled me. Understandably, in the wake of his death, there are those who do not want to hear these sad facts. Yet nothing that Vanity Fair printed was ever challenged legally by Jackson or his associates.
A man who made great music and entertained brilliantly has died. I’ve been told that he had endured an eight-hour rehearsal and was in rare form on the stage the night before his death. I’ve also been told that the lawyers swooped in yesterday to retrieve all the videos that had been made of these rehearsals. I believe the aftermath of his death will probably be as messy as his life was. I loved his music. Offstage, he could not escape his tragic flaw.
Original Publication: vf.com, June 2009.