RIP Michael

I remember Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, just newly and surprisingly married, standing backstage at the 1994 MTV music awards. It must have been Radio City Music Hall, but when I think about the stage, somehow it doesn’t seem like it was there. Memory is funny how it changes places and details and names to protect the innocent.

He was dressed in black, in the effete military style he’d always been known for, a five star general in a glitter glam army, and they were both beautiful, in the way the incredibly rich and famous always are. I was neither rich nor famous, and maybe not yet beautiful then, not yet anyway, and standing stiffly in a too tight neon pink satin Betsey Johnson miniskirt and black Lip Service vinyl corset top and chunky heels, I waited backstage as the newlyweds kissed for millions upon millions of viewers. My manager at the time also represented Michael Jackson, and I don’t remember why I was there really except that I was part of a very, very, very extended entourage, like an extremely distant relative by marriage, at the kiddie table of fame. When I was younger I tried to go to any kind of awards show or gala. It felt like what I imagine a royal ball must have been like to attend. It was very princess adjacent, and I got to watch the true royalty brush by me, and it seemed as if they were almost real.

He had lipstick on his face, and he was seized with a bad case of giggles. It would have been adorably cute, if it were not so surreal. Maybe our eyes met. I couldn’t tell behind the dark glasses. He was pale and lean, but still gorgeous, not yet oddly disfigured by countless surgical procedures, not yet completely demonized by a relentless and seemingly heartless media. This is when he was still a man and not yet a myth, not yet a showbusiness allegory turned rotten and lurid, not yet a morality lesson on what not to be, what not to become. This was a time before all the talk of the young terminally ill boys, the dark and sinister rumors that became synonymous with his music and turned the legacy of the once fantastical and dreamlike majesty of the Neverland Ranch into something unspeakable and evil.

He loved his chimp. He loved the elephant man. He was in love with Elvis’ daughter. And when I saw him, I held my breath, and the scent he left behind was like vanilla and honey and the laughter of angels. I had loved him so as a child, playing my LP of “Off The Wall” on my Mickey Mouse Club record player until the grooves ran smooth and the songs skipped. I love him still.

8 thoughts on “RIP Michael

  1. Man, I sure hope in the deepest chamber of my heart that he did nothing evil with the children in his home. He was one hell of a performer, and he was a bright light of inspiration and generosity who left the world too soon. Thank you for a beautiful tribute to a man who may have died, but whose memory has touched millions around the world, and will continue to do so for years to come.

  2. Ms. Cho,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful memory. As the news swirls around the cause of his death with so much speculation and rumor, I like you choose to remember the Michael of my youth. I remember kissing his poster on my wall. I remember waiting for his song to be played on the radio so I could record it to a cassette (no mp3s to download for all you youngsters).

    I remember seeing him here in Houston when he came with his brothers for the Victory tour. I remember (yes I will admit it) not being able to get my jheri curl quite “Michael Jackson” right!I remember rushing home from the school bus to catch his videos on MTV. Dancing across the living room floor. He was amazing!

    No matter what image the media tries to leave us with, I think we should all hold on to the one that Michael whose music and dancing gave us joy. I love him still as well!

  3. I been in love with Michael since I was little. I remember staying up late to see the premeire of “Remember the Time” “Black or While “and “In the Closet” in our little townhouse in Virginia. My mother was a huge fan of Michael from when he was in the Jacksons 5 back in the. She ever had poster with there signature on it. Then one day she decided to give them away for something, now she wishes she kept them.

    My very first tape I bought was “Dangerous” in Elementry School and I were the shit out that thing! Me and two other girls I went to school would listen to it before and after school. Every album he came out with, i had to have it! I stood up for him when family and friends make smart comments about him, I never believe and still don’t believe that he touch those boys. If that one thing Michael was gulity of, it would of been being too kind. Sometimes, you just have to say to people and he learn that four years ago. When I learn this sad, a peace of my heart must of died because it’s hard for me to believe that he died over a heart attack. This man who was doing well at rehersels just two days before just up and died. Something about that doesn’t stick too well with me but it’s okey becuase the true will come out soon. We may have lost hin in the flesh but his music and achevements will never died! He is the one and only King of Pop. He has earn that title and have use it very well!

  4. yes memory is flawed. we remember what we want to remember. at the point that Michael married Elvis’ daughter, he had already paid $20. million to settle a sex abuse case. he married Elvis’ daughter to salvage his reputation and convince the world of his normalcy. you remember him as normal. mission accomplished.

  5. As a big Cho and MJ supporter, thanks for calling him beautiful and for saying something nice. I do want to correct you though and say that having been a fan for nearly two decades, at that time, he was already being bashed tremendously and the court case was already in effect as it was 2004 which was part of the reason people didn’t believe their marriage was real (which it was in fact). I’d like to think this was during a nice time when everyone appreciated him, but that wasn’t the case. I became a fan in 1991 and by then it was already massively taboo, even prior to the allegations. Of course I never cared what people thought and always believed in the people I saw good in regardless, so he was a hero to me nonetheless. Rock on with your bad self, Margaret.

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