In 1987 I signed with a new agency, Joseph, Heldfond and Rix, at the time a fairly powerful group. Julie, my agent, sent me on an audition for a Michael Jackson video, "The Way You Make Me Feel." I wasn't told, though, whose video this was for. But I discovered later that two hundred other hopeful young actresses tested for that part.
When they called me, I was told to walk and show some attitude. The scene took place on a street in a rough area. A bunch of guys start hassling the character I was reading for, taunting her with lines like. "Hey baby, what's up?"
Coincidentally, the very same thing had happened to me as I was on my way to the audition. Some guys had hassled me on the street, so you might say I was prepared. I ran through the scene a few times, and my audition was put on videotape.
A few days later I was summoned to a small dress rehearsal. It was the first time I learned that the video was with Michael Jackson. I was brought into a room by the video's choreographer, Vince Patterson. Michael was there but I was too shy to even look at him at first. Patterson directed me to go through some moves, which I followed perfectly. Finally I glanced up at Michael. He was sitting there in a red shirt, bopping to the music with this big, happy grin on his face. I saw him turn to the person next to him and say something. I later found out from David Banks, one of the video's writers, that Michael had said, "She's the one. The rest are extras."
I will never forget when my agent called to tell me that I had the job. I screamed so loud that all of Hollywood must have heard me. It was such a milestone accomplishment for me. I felt like I had finally made it, and my career would soon be taking off.
The shoot lasted five days, with the fifth day devoted to outtakes and close-ups of me. By the second day the ice was broken between Michael and me. It happened in the middle of a scene where was chasing me, and I was supposed to run through a broken-down, beat-up car in the middle of a street. My dress was so tight that in order to cross to the other side of the car to get out, I had to turn around. During one take, in the process of turning, my high-heeled boot got caught in the upholstery, and I couldn't get it out. Michael put his hand on my calf and then on my upper thigh to help pull me out. I got a little overheated, I guess, and lost it. I fell out of the car, landing on my butt. We both cracked up as he wiped my butt off. Then we looked into each other's eyes for a moment. After that a warm and friendly connection started to develop between the two of us...
As we waited around on the set in the days after that scene, Michael began asking me questions about my life. A few times he was a little flirtatious, like when he told me I had an incredible walk. I said, "Well, it's just a walk." He looked at me and smiled. "No, you have a very sexy walk."
Not long after the video production was over, Michael's stand-in, Craig, who had become a friend of mine, called and said, "You know, Michael talks about you all the time. He asks me how you are and told me to tell you hello. I think he really likes you. He says stuff like how incredibly beautiful you are and how sweet you are."
Craig suggested that I come by and visit the set of another video Michael was shooting. I thought it was a great idea, so Craig asked Michael, and a few days later I was invited to drop by the set. It was fun being there and seeing Michael again. He showed me around the set, and then I watched the filming and had something to eat with him and his manager in his trailer. At the end of the day I realized I didn't have a ride home. Still a recent transplant from New York, I didn't drive yet. The cab to the studio had cost more than I had expected, and I didn't have enough cash for a cab home. Craig pushed me to ask Michael for a ride.
Too shy to go to Michael directly, I explained my situation to Miko Brando, Marlon Brando's son and Michael's right-hand man, and asked if he could lend me a few bucks or give me a ride. Miko offered to check it out with Michael but thought it would be no problem to give me a ride in the limo. A few minutes later I was on my way home, sitting next to Michael in his black stretch Mercedes, which Miko was driving. At first Michael seemed nervous and jittery like a kid. We talked a lot, mostly about our families. At one point we were sort of holding hands. When he dropped me off, I thanked him and said I hoped to see him again.
He said, "Oh, you will."
Shortly after that I was hired to go on Michael's Bad tour to perform the sketch from the video live in Kansas City and New York. If it worked out, there were to be more appearances in other cities on the tour. Naturally I was thrilled to be working with M.J. again.
We did the Kansas City shows and then arrived in New York where we had three dates at Madison Square Garden. I had an idea for the end of the performance that I thought would improve the piece. After Michael's hot, intense pursuit of the girl I played, all he did at the end was give me a hug. It was kind of a letdown for the audience. People would come up to me and say, "If Michael is so much in love with this girl, why does he just give her a hug at the end?" (that's what 1 of my friends said! )
I wanted to discuss this problem with Michael and ask him if it would be all right to give him a kiss instead of just the hug at the end. But during the busy tour I was not able to see him or speak to him except when we were actually onstage performing. So on the second night of the performance, at the end of the hug, I reached up and gave him a little kiss on the cheek. The crowd went ballistic, Michael seemed surprised, but he smiled. Afterward nothing was said by any of his handlers except the usual "Great show."
The next day was the last day I was scheduled to perform, and I called Michael's secretary to ask her if I could talk to him. She gave me his number but told me not to keep him on the phone for too long because he was very tired. I reached him and thanked him for giving me the opportunity to work with him. I also said that I hoped my little kiss did not throw him off.
Michael assured me that the kiss was okay. "Can I take it a step further tonight?" I asked him. "Yeah, that would be great." He said. I thanked him again and hung up.
I was very nervous that final night as I got onstage. I kept questioning whether or not I should really kiss him. I knew the crowd would love it. But I was also under the impression, both from my time with Michael and from what others in the production company had told me, that Michael had a crush on me. I had sensed it from our eye contact, from gestures, from hugs, from sweet little things he said or did.
We got to the end of the act, and I was standing in front of him. My hands were on his collar and I was looking right into his eyes. He had this very sexy look on his face. He bit his lip. I pulled myself forward, toward him, and he put both of his hands on my hips. We embraced, and then kissed each other full on the lips. The crowd freaked out. I pranced off the stage, and Michael went on singing and laughing, entertaining with more life in his voice than I had ever heard before.
When I got backstage, all of the dancers congratulated me on how great the show was and how happy Michael seemed to be. I loved the wonderful response to the show. But for me it was more than just a performance. I really liked him, and I knew that he liked me, too. I felt there was something there between us.
When we got back to the hotel, John Draper, the tour manager,(wasn't he tour manager 4 Madonna's Blond Ambition Tour as well? They work with all the same people!) came up to me, and I went with him to take care of my hotel bill. While we were standing at the registration desk, Miko Brando came out of nowhere and stared screaming at me at the top of his lungs. "How fuckin' dare ya do that to Michael?" he yelled. "You bitch, you fuckin' bitch, what were ya doin'? How can you take advantage of him like that in front of all those people?" He went on and on, obviously having no idea that Michael and I had talked beforehand. It seemed so off the wall.
Then Michael's manager, Frank Dileo, walked past. After every prior show, Frank would tap me on the shoulder and tell me how great I was. That night he didn't say a word but instead gave me the most evil look I have ever seen.
To this day I have no idea what I did that was so terrible, but that was the end of the tour for me. I was not asked back when the Bad tour went on to several cities. Sheryl Crow took my place.
I went home and cried incredibly hard, over both the lost opportunity and over losing Michael. His mother, Katherine, was also puzzled by what happened. She later invited me several times to the Jackson compound in Encino and we talked at length. She told me that when we were shooting the video, Michael had asked her what he should do with me. He had told her how much he liked me and that he had feeling for me. She had told him to express himself, to tell me about his feelings.
He never did tell me anything of the kind, although several others in his camp - bodyguards, secretaries, and writers - had let me know. The only explanation I could fathom was that Michael's top managers must have seen me as a threat. The Bad tour was one of the most successful promotions of his career, and the people working for him did not want anything to mess it up, especially a relationship with some girl they hardly knew.
Perhaps they thought of me as someone who, like a crazed fan, imagined herself being lovers with the superstar. Michael had done a music video of "Dirty Diana" with a similar storyline. To me, however, the feelings between us had always seemed very mutual. I felt a bond with him. Maybe it was because he, too, seemed to want to think of the world as color blind.
Perhaps, however, I was naïve or mistaken or read too much into some of the things that happened between Michael and me. Even if that is so, I always behaved in a completely professional manner. Unfortunately, being fired from that tour had terrible repercussions for me both psychologically and professionally. I hope I will be able to put the experience behind me someday and go on, but for years it has haunted me. Certainly it illustrates how show business, money, and greed can keep apart two people who care for each other.
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