The Truth of Lust, Woman to Man

Joie:  Well, you asked for it, so here it is. As my girls, Salt-n-Pepa, would say … “Let’s talk about sex, baby!”  

So, three weeks ago, a discussion of They Don’t Care About Us somehow ventured into the realm of Michael Jackson’s incredible sex appeal (that may have been my fault) and the comments section went wild.

Willa:  Joie! Michael Jackson sexy? I’m truly shocked. My interest in Michael Jackson is purely academic, I assure you. I never once noticed those amazing eyes, or the incredible way he moved his body on stage, or that cute little tush in Thriller….

Joie:  Well, since you never noticed any of those things, Willa, how about those luscious lips? Or the seductive way his voice pulls you in? Or that sexy little laugh of his? Or the wonderful way he filled out those amazing gold pants on the History tour….

Willa:  I was wondering how long it would take you to mention those gold pants.

Joie:  What can I say; I’m a very visual person! Anyway, Willa and I obviously hit on a little discussed taboo of sorts with many of you commenting that this topic is kind of the ultimate elephant in the room. And since this blog is all about inviting those elephants onto the dance floor, we thought we’d start the new year off by cutting a rug with the biggest elephant of them all.

You know, to be completely honest, Willa, I was more than a little surprised when we received so many comments asking for this discussion. I mean … I always saw Michael as unbelievably sexy and very handsome, and I knew that I wasn’t the only one out there who felt this way about him. As Aldebaran pointed out in a comment after that post, all you have to do is go to YouTube and it’s very easy to find these really sensual, fan-made videos that showcase Michael’s sexy side – a little guilty pleasure I like to call ‘MJ porn.’ And it is all over YouTube; there must be at least a couple hundred of them out there. So, I knew I wasn’t alone. (And by the way, let me just take this opportunity to personally thank all of those who have created said videos and posted them on YouTube for my enjoyment; you have no idea how much I appreciate it!).

But, I guess what shocked me was that so many of our readers asked for a “serious” discussion about Michael’s sex appeal and how the media fought really hard to deny him the sex-symbol status that he so easily deserved.

Willa:  It’s an important question, but it’s difficult to talk about. Not only is it somewhat taboo, even now, it’s also very nebulous and subjective. It’s hard to identify what it is, exactly, that makes him so unbelievably hot.

Joie:  No it isn’t; have you looked at him?!

Willa:  I know, I know. But different people respond in different ways, and for different reasons. He was incredibly attractive, but not all attractive people are sexy. He was also very sensitive and kind, and passionate in his beliefs, and unbelievably smart, and very funny, and had that amazing voice, and could move like a panther, and have you noticed the veins in his forearms? I have to say, he has very nice veins….

Joie:  And nice hands too, really big and masculine….

Willa:  Anyway, it’s all very subjective, and for me personally it’s difficult to talk about simply because my own feelings are so complicated. They’re all mixed up with issues of race and deep cultural taboos and my own childhood, and it’s hard to sort that all out.

You know, from the first time I heard “Ben” on the radio, I felt this deep connection to Michael Jackson – just this overwhelming sense that he was a kindred spirit. It wasn’t sexual at all – I was 11 years old – it was just this comforting feeling that he was someone who looked at things the same way I did and felt about things the same way I did, and that he was someone I could talk to about things that were troubling me. And what was troubling me, for the most part, were the things I was seeing and hearing as they integrated the local schools. He really helped me through all that, and I still feel very grateful for that.

Then fast forward a few years, and suddenly he’s grown up into the sexiest guy you can imagine, and it was just stunning to me. I couldn’t believe it. It was like, Wow, you sure turned out well! That metamorphosis was amazing and wonderful, but also pretty confusing. He was gorgeous – the most handsome man I’d ever seen – but he was so gorgeous it was kind of alienating. He seemed so exotic somehow, with his sultry eyes and his hot bod and his boa constrictors.

But he was like my childhood friend and felt so familiar to me. So there was this weird conflict between the exotic and the familiar.

And then there was the ugly prejudice that White girls weren’t supposed to be attracted to Black boys. Especially in the South, White girls who dated Black boys were seen as disgusting, “white trash,” and even though I strongly disagreed with that, I couldn’t help but be aware of it. I knew what people thought of those girls. But he was incredibly sexy, and I was undeniably attracted to him – very attracted to him – and it didn’t feel wrong to me at all. Plus, as I said, he felt so familiar to me, and there was no way I could accept that the strong connection I felt to him was wrong. It was too important to me, and had been too much a part of me for too long to deny that connection.

So it was like this weird battle going on within me between the familiar and the exotic, the desirable and the taboo – between what my culture was telling me I should feel, and what I felt within myself.

Joie:  That’s very interesting to me because my own experience is way at the other end of the spectrum. I guess I can understand what a confusing situation that would be for you, but as a little Black girl I never had to go through any of that. For me it was just the opposite really. Michael and his brothers were the toast of the Black community, the pride of an entire race of people so, it was not only natural for me to love him but it was even encouraged in a way. All young Black kids were encouraged to look up to them. So when he suddenly became this ultra sexy, super hot grown up young man, it felt very natural to me. In fact, I can tell you exactly when I had my first real boy-girl “thing,” if you will. It was the very first time I saw the Rock With You video. I was just hitting puberty when the Off The Wall album came out and suddenly, I somehow understood that those lyrics – “I wanna ROCK with you, all night” – were not really about dancing at all! And then the video came out and seeing him in that tight, sparkly silver jumpsuit and boots….

it was the first time I ever thought of him (or anyone else, for that matter) in an actual “adult” way, if you know what I mean!

Willa:  Joie, seriously, you have revolutionized the way I feel about that song. It’s amazing. I can’t even listen to that song in the car any more. Talk about vivid imagery:  “Relax your mind / Lay back and groove with mine.” Oh my. I mean, really. My, oh my. And they say cell phones are distracting. That song should come with a warning label. Someone is going to be driving along all blissed out and have an accident.

Joie:  I know, right? And to this day, that song and video are still very special to me. But I understand completely when you talk about the “weird conflict between the exotic and the familiar” because I certainly experienced that as well. From as far back as I can remember, he was just always a part of my life – even as a very small child. And as you said, he was like the best friend that I could always talk to. But then, all of a sudden, he was A MAN, and making me keenly aware of the fact that I was now becoming a young woman! From that point on, my life-long obsession with Michael Jackson took on a whole new dimension; there was now this whole other facet to him and to my MJ mania. And over the years that mania only deepened as the songs and the videos got steamier and the pants got tighter.

Willa:  So we’re back to the gold pants again, are we? You are too funny!

Joie:  Oh, but it’s not just gold pants – there are also red leather pants like in Blood on the Dance Floor and red jeans like in Thriller, and various pairs of black pants – some of them even black patent leather like in the Come Together video and Scream – oh, and gray leather pants and also quite a few pairs of very nice looking blue jeans as well, so … uh … hmm? Um … what were we talking about … ?

Willa:  I have no idea. I’m feeling a little distracted. But as long as we’re on the topic, how about In the Closet? What a truly inspiring film that is….

Joie:  YES! Tight black jeans! Hair pulled back into a ponytail, form-fitting sleeveless t-shirt. Wonderful short film! Very … artistic!

Willa:  Absolutely. And I love the way you put that. It’s very … artistic … on many different levels. It’s smart and funny and visually interesting (I love the silhouettes) and incredibly steamy. We can’t possibly talk about Michael Jackson’s tremendous sex appeal and not mention In the Closet.

Joie:  Sex appeal! Right! That’s what we were talking about … is it hot in here?

Willa:  Don’t ask me – I’ve been fanning my face with a dishtowel since we started.

Joie:  Maybe we should open a window or something…. But, you know, the really intriguing thing about Michael’s sex appeal is that it is only spoken about in a sort of “hush-hush” way and only among fans.

Willa:  I don’t know – I’ve visited a few forums where his fans aren’t very hush-hush at all. In fact, they can get pretty worked up sometimes. But you’re right, it isn’t talked about much outside certain fan sites.

Joie:  Well that’s true, the fans can get a little bit raunchy sometimes (myself included). But, it’s not talked about outside of certain fan sites and I have never really understood that because he was such an incredibly sexy man and, at times, he was even what I would call overtly sexual – especially when he was onstage.

Willa:  That’s true, he could be very sensual on stage, but as he told Rabbi Boteach, “I don’t think I’ve ever done anything offensive on stage, ever,” and I agree.

Joie:  Oh, don’t get me wrong; I was not complaining!

Willa:  But to get back to what you were saying earlier, it’s really interesting to me that, for both of us, our attitudes toward Michael Jackson evolved as he grew up, and we grew up. And the ways our feelings evolved were very similar in some ways and very different in others.

Joie:  Yeah, I’d be interested to know how many others had a similar experience. And the fact that he was this undeniably, unbelievably sexy man – and that literally millions of women (and men) the world over felt this way about him – was completely and totally ignored by the media is really weird. Why was that? I think Ultravioletrae hit the nail on the head when she commented,

“The real issue is that society just couldn’t accept that he dared to challenge what a black man is ‘supposed’ to be. He just wouldn’t go and sit in that box. As a group we are completely blind to what happened and still won’t discuss it….  I think sexuality is at the heart of it. When J5 introduced their string of #1 hits, everyone went wild. But there was this uncomfortable dilemma that had to be dealt with – the tacit understanding that good little white girls do not fall in love with black boys. Without even having to be told, white girls knew this behavior wouldn’t be tolerated and they were directed to ‘more suitable’ white alternatives. The teen magazines of the day focused on Donny Osmond and David Cassidy.”

This is such a true statement and the “uncomfortable dilemma” that Ultravioletrae mentions only got worse over the years as Michael transitioned from this heartbreakingly adorable teen idol into this explosively sexy adult icon. And after the success of Thriller, he was literally the biggest, most influential artist of our time and that worried a lot of people. The establishment couldn’t let a Black man be rich, successful and sexually appealing to young White women too. That was just out of the question. So they did everything they could to convince the general public that he was freaky looking. He had altered his face by plastic surgery; what a weirdo! Getting a nose job? Oh my God, who does that?!

Willa:  Elvis, for one – a previous teen idol – but it was a much bigger issue for Michael Jackson because the shape of your nose has been designated a racial signifier. So when Elvis changed the shape of his nose, it was simply seen as an aesthetic decision. But when Michael Jackson changed the shape of his nose, it tapped into all these big unsettling questions about what it means to be Black, and it wasn’t seen as an aesthetic decision but as a commentary on how he situated himself in terms of race. Because everything he did was viewed through the lens of our racial history, everything was always so much more complicated for him.

Joie:  And because he was the biggest celebrity our society had ever seen, everything he did was always so much more exaggerated by the media as well.

Willa:  But I think you’re right:  the larger issue is the taboo against sexual attraction between White women and Black men, and it’s a taboo on both sides of the equation. Not only is it shameful for White women to be attracted to Black men; traditionally, it’s also been very dangerous for Black men to attract White women. Black men have been tortured and killed for that, with their bodies displayed as a warning to other Black men. And this taboo wasn’t enforced only during slave times. In Malcolm X’s autobiography, he talks about being caught committing a burglary and receiving an overly harsh prison term, and he suggests his real “crime” wasn’t petty theft but dating White women.

Joie:  Well you know, that whole sexual taboo surrounding the Black man’s size and prowess – that’s been the driving force behind lynchings throughout history. It makes me think of the lyrics to “Threatened,”

Every time your lady speaks she speaks of me, threatened
Half of me you’ll never be, so you should feel threatened by me  

You know I love that song; it’s one of my favorites but, I never really thought of it in terms of race before, but I recently read a comment from AnaisKarim where she suggested “Threatened” could be viewed through that racial lens. I think she could be on to something.

But even today, in 2012, it’s an issue. Of course, no one really likes to admit it but, there are still lots of people out there on both sides of the racial divide who either outright disapprove or secretly cringe every time they see a Black man with a White woman. Just last month, I read a news story online about a church in Kentucky that does not allow interracial couples to join their congregation. They don’t care if Black people join their church – that is fine. But interracial couples are not welcome!

Willa:  And there was an advice column in the newspaper a couple weeks ago with a letter from a Southern White woman. She was being shunned by her friends – people she had been close to her entire adult life – because they found out she dated a Black man a few times. It’s just unbelievable how entrenched some of those prejudices are, and how people mindlessly follow those prejudices.

And this taboo against sexual attraction between Black men and White women plays out in ways that can be very threatening and dangerous. In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, the main character is a successful high school student, and he’s invited to give a speech about race relations to the town’s White leaders. (As I remember, his speech talks about how Black men can succeed if they maintain a proper humility.) But when he arrives to give his speech, he finds himself in a boxing ring with a bunch of other young Black men, and then a White stripper begins dancing among them as the lecherous town leaders look on.

The emotions of that scene are absolutely electric as the protagonist describes what he and the other young Black men feel toward this woman:  desire, anger, compassion, hatred, and sheer terror that she will go too far and the White men will punish them for it. That dynamic Ralph Ellison describes so well of White men using White women as an excuse to punish and intimidate Black men has a very long and very ugly history.

Joie:  Yes it does. A history rooted in racial violence and the blood of way too many young Black men who were lynched, beaten and/or killed for the crime of attracting – or sometimes even just looking at – a White woman.

Willa:  Or sometimes the “crime” was political activism, but they were falsely accused of being a threat to White women to stir up a mob.

So how does that long-standing taboo against Black men being sexually attractive to White women play itself out when you’re the first Black teen idol and millions of women of all races think you’re the hottest thing ever? That’s a very complicated and very dangerous position to be in, and I think Michael Jackson was well aware of it. To Kill a Mockingbird was one of his favorite movies, and it’s the story of a lonely White woman who’s attracted to a Black man and kisses him, but when her father walks in and sees them, she claims the man accosted her. The story focuses on his trial, and even though his lawyer proves he’s innocent, the White jury finds him guilty. It does not have a happy ending.

Apparently, Michael Jackson watched that movie frequently during his 2005 trial to help steel himself for everything he had to endure, and the parallels and connections between that movie and his own life are chilling. I don’t think it’s coincidental that our nation’s first Black teen idol was falsely accused of sex crimes by an angry entitled White man. And I don’t think it’s coincidental that a White District Attorney blindly accepted that man’s accusations despite all the contrary evidence, and then used those false accusations as an excuse to hound and harass him for years. And I don’t think it’s coincidental that a largely White media (his self-appointed jury) repeatedly portrayed him as guilty even though the evidence clearly indicates he was innocent, and even though an actual jury weighed the evidence in the 2005 trial and found him innocent.

Joie:  You know, I honestly never thought about it in those terms before but, you are probably exactly right. It wasn’t coincidental, and certainly not surprising either given the very fact that he was our nation’s first Black teen idol and he did draw the adoration of millions of young girls around the world – more than half of whom were probably White. The only way his story could have played out was with him being falsely accused of sex crimes by a White individual. History always repeats itself and with a Black personality of his magnitude, how could it have played out any other way?

Willa:  You’re absolutely right, Joie. History does repeat itself, because we make it repeat itself. There are certain cultural narratives that we tell ourselves over and over again, and we keep forcing different people to fit into those same old stories again and again and again. So of course our nation’s first Black teen idol was falsely accused of sex crimes and attacked by an angry White mob – though in Michael Jackson’s case, the mob was equipped with cameras rather than ropes.

But the amazing thing is that, ultimately, the story did end differently this time because Michael Jackson subverted that narrative and tried to change it – he attempted to change that cultural narrative. It seems impossible, like moving a mountain, but he took it on. And while it’s still too early to tell how successful he was, the attempt itself is fascinating.

So next week we’ll look at a really huge topic:  the interconnections of race and sexuality in our nation’s history, and what the implications were for Michael Jackson, and how he fought back.

Joie:  For now here’s a little treat we recently came across and found fascinating. This is supposedly an alternate version of one of my favorite videos, Blood on the Dance Floor. Shot by Vincent Patterson, who also shot the version we all know and love, this one is said to have been done with a handheld 8mm camera and then purposely overexposed for the grainy result. The story is that Michael loved it but Sony was not pleased and rejected it. However, Willa and I want to point out that so far we have zero confirmation of any of that so, if you have any info that can shed some light, let us know. In the meantime, enjoy!

About Dancing with the Elephant contributors

Joie Collins is a founding member of the Michael Jackson Fan Club (MJFC). She has written extensively for MJFC, helping to create the original website back in 1999 and overseeing both the News and History sections of the website. Over the years she conducted numerous interviews on behalf of MJFC and also directed correspondence for the club. She also had the great fortune to be a guest at Neverland. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was three years old. Lisha McDuff is a classically trained professional musician who for 30 years made her living as a flutist, performing in orchestras and for major theatrical touring productions. Her passion for popular musicology led her to temporarily leave the orchestra pit and in June 2013 she received a Master’s degree in Popular Music Studies from the University of Liverpool. She’s continuing her studies at McMaster University, where she is working on a major research project about Michael Jackson, with Susan Fast as her director. Willa Stillwater is the author of M Poetica: Michael Jackson's Art of Connection and Defiance and "Rereading Michael Jackson," an article that summarizes some of the central ideas of M Poetica. She has a Ph.D. in English literature, and her doctoral research focused on the ways in which cultural narratives (such as racism) are made real for us by being "written" on our bodies. She sees this concept as an important element of Michael Jackson's work, part of what he called social conditioning. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was nine years old.

Posted on January 4, 2012, in Michael Jackson and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 51 Comments.

  1. I like the point you made about MJ’s changing his nose being considered a racial statement. I think he was incredibly hot in Come Together, but I don’t really get the hype about the gold pants. Sorry! I know that’s like heresy in the MJ fandom. I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘fan’ since I never cared til he died, but I do feel like he was treated unjustly and that his sex appeal was very downplayed. I especially love that interview he did with Ebony/Jet in 87. GORGEOUS

    • It’s ok Alicia, not everyone ‘gets’ the beauty of the gold pants – and that’s perfectly fine. But, I agree with you about that Ebony/Jet interview. YUM!

      Also, you are here on this blog reading and learning about Michael Jackson. I assume you are doing that because you’re interested either in Michael the man or in his art – his music and short films. I think that makes you a fan – it doesn’t matter that you came to the dance a little later than others. The only thing that matters is that you showed up. Welcome! We’re glad you’re here!

  2. Well–finally!! so glad we are getting down. I have thoroughly enjoyed many youtube videos that gave me a whole new appreciation not only of Michael but of his fans. I never saw him perform live and there are just amazing videos made by fans from everything to ‘Michael’s Assets” (hmmm) to dancing clips from his shows ( ‘Michael Jackson Dances Like James Brown’ and “Robot Dance’ clips are some of my favs). I love all the comments from fans–the appreciation, the way they ‘got’ Michael’s beauty and power. To see him perform live must have been such an experience and to see the videos and short films is the next best thing. I love watching both the official and the fan-made videos. I agree the ‘Come Together’ video is awesome–so very hot Michael, and a great cover of that song. Also his performance in ‘Dirty Diana’ was breath-taking. The best thing his costume designers did was put all those zippers in his pants so that they were skin tight (this is the appeal I think of the gold pants, as well as how good he looked in them). He also looked amazingly sexy in his last video ‘One More Chance.’ I agree he is very hot in ‘In the Closet’ too.

    Ok–back to a more serious comment. This gorgeous and sexy and beautiful MAN was called Wacko Jacko, demeaned as not masculine, a girl, and denied his power and sexuality–this was the equivalent of turning the whole thing upside down and it is amazing that people ‘bought’ this caricature of reality. I love the videos, by the way, of a ‘hot’ ‘older’ Mike–there are lots of fan videos showing how sexy Michael looked during the 2005 trial.

    Seriously, there is a book called ‘The White African American Body’ dealing with white fascination as it relates to blacks with vitiligo–this fascination goes back to the time of Thomas Jefferson. These black slaves with vitiligo were made into circus freaks. There was a special focus on their genitals. Now we come down to Michael and look what happened to him–the strip search where his penis, thighs, buttocks were photographed and videotaped. Reports say that Michael became emotional with anger and outrage and was so upset. He was like a slave on the block–naked–yes, naked–being examined by a room full of cops, photographers, and some of his own people too. I read that something like 30 photos were taken and a video and yet they wanted to come back for more (Michael refused). He settled the case shortly after that humiliation. Who can blame him? This is the culmination of the historical fascination with the black person who has vitiligo. Isn’t it interesting that even now people doubt he had vitiligo–even though he said it in 93, his dermatologist confirmed it, and the autopsy confirmed it. It’s as if we want to SEE it before believing.

    There was a fascination with his beautiful body–during the trial of Murray, Nancy Grace interviewed Michael’s trainer–Lou Ferragamo–and she kept asking him: ‘Did you see Michael without his clothes on?” And how was that relevant to the trial? The media fascination with his sexuality goes back at least as far as Oprah’s famous question: ‘Are you a virgin?’

    I have shed many tears over how Michael was treated and what he had to go through so when I go to the fans I feel so happy that they get it–they love him, they appreciate him, they SEE him. I love the videos that celebrate him, his dancing, which was really amazing–so graceful, so lithe, and so sexy. I think the media did try and emasculate him. The fan videos show they don’t have a chance. I love to read the fan comments. Yes, they are raunchy–and why not?

    Thanks for opening up the discussion to this topic.There is a youtube video on the book I mentioned showing photos of blacks with vitiligo in historical context.

    Looking forward to more on this very important topic. Thank you.

    • Alderbaran, you have hit on so many wonderful points in this comment. I especially liked the part where you talked about Michael being emasculated by the media and “denied his power and sexuality.” I agree with you, it is fascinating to me that the general public just ate everything the media was feeding them, despite seeing what was right before their eyes!

      I’ve never heard of the book you mention but, I will look for it at the library. You know, I really hate reading accounts of the ’93 strip search and what Michael was forced to go through then simply because it is so reminiscent of a slave being up on that block and being examined and humiliated before being sold as property. Heartbreaking.

      But I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who gets real pleasure out of watching the youtube videos. I can lose myself for hours searching for videos of Michael on youtube! Oh, and yes – Michael at 50 – very hot!

  3. I actually had several legitmate comments to make, however, I mistakenly viewed the “Blood on the Dance Floor” film before I did and I all I can think of to say are things like: I’m incredibly jealous of the lead female dancer who got to wrap herself around Michael and caress him and have him caress her in return, I always knew Michael had a very large Boa Constrictor, and last but not least I feel sorry for Alicia for not understanding the gold pants as she must not have studied them as thoroughly and intensely as she should have and I strongly recommend she does, as I still do (quite frequently) to fully understand the phenomenon of the gold pants, of course. Alicia, I’ll pray for you to overcome your Gold Pants impairment. O.K. I’ll come back later when I can conduct myself more appropriately.

    • cjg, you are crackin’ me up! But I feel you completely. I also am slightly dismayed at those fans that don’t get the gold pants but, you know they do require intense study to fully appreciate them, as you said. If someone just casually looked at them and then moved on, they wouldn’t get it. It’s like Shakespeare; you must fully immerse yourself in the proper study of it to really be able to appreciate it and understand it.

  4. Thank you both for bringing up this topic!!! It is long overdue. I don’t mind (oh,geez) the gold pants but it gets to be a little much after a while. He wore other pants!! I always wondered why we fans seemed to be the only ones who noticed how attractive he was-and why he never seemed to realize it himself and thought he was ugly.
    Enjoy your discussions, Sunny

    • Sunny! I know he wore other pants – I pointed that out in the blog post, remember? The red ones, the black ones, the jeans… (sigh). Glad you enjoyed the conversation!

  5. What a great topic! Just this morning while readying myself for work I was watching the Dangerous DVD for the umpteenth time. Just love how Michael related to that audience in Bucharest and OMG did they relate to him. While I realize some shots were out of sequence due to HBO filiming and wanting the best DVD it could get, some girls were absolutely spasmodic over MIchael. I wish I had seen him perform at concert, alas, but I do have tix for Immortal in a couple months; I know, not the same. In chatting just yesterday with some friends, one of them felt that Michael’s troubles began when he added sexually explicit moves to his routines, aka crotch grabbing, and the way he moved his body after the Thriller era; she opined (while she didn’t agree) that perhaps the world’s view of him changed for the worse, after all, what other entertainer did those things? (Now every one of them does worse, with or without clothing.) My own opinion is that Michael moved from the soul and in expressing himself in his music, his actions and emotions took over, not that he didn’t intend for it to happen on some level, of course! He said he thought of himself as an “instrument of nature”. Your article is so spot on regarding the racial issues; the powers couldn’t understand or accept white women falling all over themselves for a hot black sexy young powerful man, and again just my opinion but when Michael became more vocal against the way black artists were treated, is when media and corporate villification came into full swing against him through lies and manipulations. Well, just a bit too serious here; Michael’s sexuality? In his own words (per my memory) “I can’t help myself even if I should, wouldn’t help myself even if I could.” I loved his performance of DS (liar Sneddon) along with Come Together; he sang what he felt, and said what he meant. Gold pants, black leather, red leather, visually and in every other way, just the best ever. Miss him terribly. Thanks for this topic!

  6. Thanks for discussing this issue (and in such an entertaining format!). Willa, your comments really hit home because I, too, was a white girl growing up in the South when Michael emerged in the early 80’s as his very sexy, adult self. (Actually, my family is mixed Native American and white, but over the generations, that mixture just came to be naturally taken for granted). Although things have progressed a little since then, those old, deeply ingrained prejudices still exist. In my case, it was okay for me to like Michael and listen to his music, but I couldn’t in any way express any feelings of lust, without risking severe disapproval and shock. I could listen to his records, but I couldn’t hang his posters in my room. If I wanted to express my feelings about him, I would have to be very careful and preface my statements something like this: “I could really go for him if I was a Black girl!” The underlying message being, of course I am NOT a Black girl, so it’s out of the question. Well, to some extent, it was the nature of the times. We were still a country very uncomfortable with the notion of interracial relationships. Even on TV, you only saw either Black or White couples together, never mixed. So in my generation, we just sort of grew up assuming that’s the way the world was.

    Over the years, as vitiligo caused Michael to become “whiter” before our eyes, I started to notice that the lines were not so clearly drawn. This left me with a lot of confused and sometimes guilty feelings. Did Michael becoming “white” (note sarcastic quotation marks) make him more acceptable as an icon and sex symbol to girls like me, from backgrounds and families like mine? Obviously, I had always been attracted to him, black or white. But I saw with my own eyes how people around me became more accepting of him and open to him as his skin became lighter. Now my mother even makes jokes about how she wished I would have met and married him (but would she still make the same jokes if he had remained “black?”). It’s all very confusing…was confusing to me growing up; remains confusing still. I’ve always been fascinated by this topic and have wondered if other Caucasion females fans have had similar experiences. In a way, it’s a very touchy and sensitive topic-anytime you get into issues of race and sexuality it’s bound to push some buttons-but I think it’s a topic definitely worthy of serious discussion. Fortunately, I’ve become a lot more worldly and educated since my childhood and teenage years, and can now give myself full permission to appreciate Michael in every respect (including, yes, physically, lol!). But it took a lot of growing up and wading through a lot of unnecessary baggage to get there.

  7. PS: Just one more thing…you guys were talking about the song “Threatened.” Although Michael did not write “Thriller” I’ve heard some interesting debates as to whether that song, also, could be interpreted as a sexual song. When you think about some of the song’s lyrics in context, it sort of makes sense:

    It’s close to midnight
    something evil’s lurkin’ in the dark
    under the moonlight
    You see a sight that almost stops your heart
    You try to scream
    But terror takes the sound before you make it
    You start to freeze
    As horror looks you right between the eyes
    You’re paralyzed

    ‘Cause this is thriller
    Thriller night
    And no one’s gonna save you
    From the beast about to strike
    You know it’s thriller
    Thriller night
    You’re fighting for your life
    Inside a killer
    Thriller tonight, yeah

    Of course, since Michael was a strict Jehovah’s Witness at the time (and also, I believe, still very young and shy and not given at the time to expressing himself in an overtly sexual way) the whole demon/ghoul concept became for him a more creative and safer way to get the point of the song across.

    No one knows for sure, of course, but it’s an interesting theory.

    • Hi Raven. That’s a good point, and I absolutely think that type of interpretation is valid. While he didn’t write the lyrics to “Thriller,” the song, he co-authored the screenplay for the video, and was very involved with it from initial concept to final production – and Thriller, the film, is very much about sex. After all, it begins with a teenage couple out on a date, they run out of gas, they’re alone in the woods, he gives her a significant look, and …

      To me, that pretty much announces what the film’s going to be about. Specifically, it seems to be about a kind of taboo, “unspoken” sort of sex – and inter-racial desire was taboo, as you pointed out in your first comment. (And believe me, as a white girl growing up in the South, I know exactly what you’re talking about.) And the way Thriller negotiates that taboo is fascinating, I think.

      By the way, I’ve been enjoying your blog tremendously. If anyone hasn’t visited All for Love, you should definitely check it out.

  8. Very interesting topic ladies and I’m looking forward to the follow-up next week.

  9. My conflict over discussing or even acknowledging Michael’s sex appeal comes from an unease that I’m not really supposed to have any of those kind of feelings about him. And I’m not talking about the white girl black boy aspect.
    It’s just that Michael’s innocent persona is so prevalent that I feel somewhat like a dirty old woman whenever feelings of sexual attraction surface (and this is despite the fact that he is 20 years older than me!) And that he had cultivated, practiced, schemed, plotted and planned to illicit that response from us!

    • Hi Karen. I have conflicted feelings talking about his sex appeal too, but for a different reason – it’s because of the split between public and private. I keep thinking about something he told Randy Taraborrelli a long time ago:

      “I think it’s fun that girls think I’m sexy,” Michael told me in 1977. “But I don’t think that about myself. It’s all just fantasy, really. I like to make my fans happy so I might pose or dance in a way that makes them think I’m romantic. But really I guess I’m not that way.” (page 153)

      I don’t feel guilty talking about the sexy persona he created on stage or in videos because I figure he created it for our enjoyment, and I do enjoy it! And I think he enjoyed it too. As he says, “I think it’s fun that girls think I’m sexy.” But I try not to assume that his public persona is him – as he said, “But really I guess I’m not that way” – and I try not to speculate about him as a private person. In fact, I feel really uncomfortable when the conversation slips into a discussion of him as a private person. I feel like I don’t have a right to pry into that – that’s personal – and I try not to go there.

  10. J. Mason, New York, NY

    It infuriates me beyond reason that Michael Jackson — a human being of great value and so desperately needed in our world — was slowly, systematically, and brutally butchered and betrayed for his ‘way of being’. Kahlil Gibran said: The greatest souls are seared with scars. This is true. Clearly, God lavished gifts on Michael: prodigious creativity, imagination and virtuosity; a beautiful face, a lean, disciplined, expressive and responsive body; charm, allure, magic, bravery, intelligence, and sensitivity — mixed with a tender vulnerability, sweetness, and an iron determination to use his gifts for Good. He was that irresistible fusion of spiritual and carnal that melted hearts, energized spirits, and joined hands around the world. His ‘way of being’ cut through race, ethnicity, age, gender, language, socio-economics, culture, sexual orientation — all the artificial barriers that separate and breed fear, prejudice and ignorance.

    Michael Jackson’s road was strewn with diamonds but also with shards of cut glass and jagged rocks that tested his commitment, focus and endurance. The mortal blow to his heart was not just any accusation, but THE accusation guaranteed to strike at the root of what Michael Jackson was and held most dear — the rescue, nurture and protection of children everywhere from disease, hunger, poverty, hopelessness and war. We heard a tape (made by Murray) played in court of Michael Jackson, groggy after his ‘treatment’ but still focused on ‘giving the greatest show ever, and building the biggest children’s hospital in the world’. Had Michael Jackson lived to vigorously pursue his goals, he would have ultimately encountered and had to fight entrenched and parasitic entities that profit from children as sex objects, slave labor, and fodder for the military. This would be a battle of epic proportions and not for the faint hearted.

    And, he would have asked all of us to stand with him.

  11. In just about every photo and video I’ve watched, the top of Michael’s fly zipper is visible. When I first started noticing this, I thought it was accidental. Now I think it was deliberate. I love that man. I am white, female, and the same age as Michael would have been had he lived. I liked the “Thriller” album, but I did not become a serious fan until he died. His death stunned me – I felt almost driven to learn everything I could about him. I think he was handsome at every point in his life, outside and in. What saddens me the most is the thought that he was probably afraid to be intimate because vitiligo made his naked body so unusual looking. I recently read a blog post about Arthur Wright, another black entertainer that had vitiligo, and how he coped with it. Here is a very revealing quote:

    “I suffered a great deal because of the skin condition. I mean I suffered. I was a very outgoing person when this happened, always on the go, doing things and loving people. But after this I became that sort of hermit. I lost a lot of friends, and that hurt. I was afraid of people, afraid of being rejected. I had no sex life, for years and very little when I started back. I ran away from anybody who showed any interest in me. I didn’t want to be rejected, and I couldn’t know if they would accept me with those spots all over my body. I met people and they didn’t want to shake my hand because of the spots. I was a freak.”

    Here is a link to the blog post, it is fascinating and very sad.

  12. Roberta Dibley

    Well I put up videos on YouTube and I go on various other sites to do with Michael. Quite a few of the people I come across are very religious and they talk about what a kind, sweet person he was and a humanitarian and I agree and I love him for that. But sometimes I do feel as though I’m not allowed to talk about how much Michael turns me on. It does feel like the elephant in the room sometimes. I personally do think it was a great shame about the plastic surgery. He was such a beautiful young man and although he was still gorgeous later on it was a more sculpted beauty. The only people who should have plastic surgery are those who sadly have a disfigurement. Too many doctors are making a lot of money out of allowing perfectly nice, normal looking people to believe that they need it.

    Maybe it’s because I’m European not American but when I look at Michael, like it says in Black or White, I don’t see him as being a colour. I see him as a beautiful, sexy, talented, intelligent, compassionate man with the most gorgeous rear. It is sad that Michael had an inferiority complex about every aspect of himself except his talent and even that he saw as a gift that was nothing to do with him even though he worked incredibly hard to perfect it. But although offstage he was sweet and shy when he was performing he turned into a sexy beast and knew exactly the effect he was having. So I don’t think I should be made to feel ashamed for responding to that.

  13. @Roberta Dibley – Thanks for your comments. Michael’s plastic surgery is a really hard topic in the fan community. In my opinion sometimes fans act as if it was no big deal when it was. Other times they act as if it never happened. I hope, when the time is right, people will be able to be honest about that situation.

    Prior to reading Willa and Joie’s blog post today, I came across a photo of Michael in his teenaged years. The photo actually made me feel sad because as beautiful as Michael was then, and he was even before any surgery, he did not feel it. I think of Oprah’s comments about their 1993 interview and she said that the only request Michael had was for her not to show pictures of him as a teenager.

    Still, regardless of the plastic surgery or skin color, Michael couldn’t help but to be sexy, and for me that is part of the sex appeal. With all of the insecurities he had, I really don’t think he knew just how sexy he was. I think in his mind he might have felt that it was only because of him being “The Michael Jackson” and not just because he was, well, himself.

  14. Whatever issues he had with the disfiguring effects of vitiligo and lupus, Michael Jackson knew, to the core of his being, that his body was incredibly hot.

  15. I’m back. I think I’ve composed myself from before.
    I was always a Michael Jackson fan from the Jackson5 on. However, I was 16 when Thriller came out and there was Michael, who had obviously come into his own, and I said, “Hello, Michael” and that was it. Michael and I began anew our long relationship. Now, I see validity in almost everything people have said, but I just have to add this… Michael was a sweet, sensitive, compassionate, caring, intelligent, loving man – I always think of him as a big bundle of love spreading it everywhere he went, surrounding people with it as it flowed out of him. Yes, he had an aura of innocence, however, he was a MAN in every sense of the word. I don’t know if the media and world felt he was safer to deal with if they labeled him as this sweet, innocent, and almost simple (that’s how they almost presented him at times and I often wondered if Michael was so aware of the way he threatened them that that was why he took on the persona of the very soft-spoken, higher pitched, non-threatening man, as that was not his natural speaking voice which was actually deeper – in other words I think he was playing their game) man and when they tried to render him androgenous I thought they had to be kidding as Michael was an incredible manly man. There again I always felt in his Panther dance when it was first broadcast and his hands dared to go there ( thank you Michael! because my eyes went there!) I alwalys felt he was saying to the threatened, bigots of the media and world, “I am a beautiful, talented, gifted, successful, influential, and powerful BLACK man whose appeal knows no racial, religious, socioeconmic, political, or musical boundaries – deal with it!” Androgenous? Check this out, jealous? Aspects of Michael that are often pushed aside are the facts that he was highly intelligent, savvy and worldly. Michael very well knew what was what with the media and bigotry. Whoa! This is way too serious and what I really want to say is that Michael was ALL muscle and had a beautiful lithe dancer’s body which he could command to do his will and the truth is Michael could be performing, dancing, standing, or sitting and he oozed sexiness out of his pores because that was Michael, Mr. Sexiness (as I like to call him) Aww darn. I’ve gotten lost in flashes of Michael’s gorgeousness in my mind. Over and out, everyone!

  16. Wow listen, I am a late comer to obssessed fandom of Michael, but I am 60 and an out and proud Lesbian for the last 20 years, but those gold pants!!!!!!!!! not to mention all the others – almost enough to make me go straight again ha ha. I too am distressed that this truly beautiful man inside and outside didn’t know just how beautiful he was, but perhaps on one level he did as he saw his body as a ‘work of art’, and he had to know what he had sculpted was beautiful. Thank you for the discussion, and Willa at last got your book as an Xmas pressie to my laptop Kindle and thank you sooooooo much for writing it and widening my knowledge of Michael on that academic level. Also got Joe Vogel book which is also fantastic and enlightening.
    Looking forward to another year of as much Michael as I can get. Waiting for Immortal to come to South Africa, but loving the cd meantime – the way he says I love you at the end of planet earth………………………….whew. Cari

  17. wow. I am about speechless. I so feel you cjg. I would say the jeans in “They don’t care about us,” does me in every time, all i can say is it is so good it hurts. I remember my mom and I watching motown 25 and we both were very quiet with complete awe and a bit of an uncomfortable something… I was MJ’s age and well my mom, she wouldn’t have said a word… but all these years later I know exactly what that was. My dad had some real prejudicial issues and admonished me for having a black man’s picture above my bed, however that incident helped make me who i am as I began fighting for equal rights for all people, especially myself being able to enjoy the amazingness of MJ 😉 I think Michael was the most sexiest man that has ever lived for all the reasons I have read here and more. I remember when Diane Sawyer said to LMP, “you found him attractive?” like that was SO freakin weird, I am thinking, like duh?!, do you have any blood in your body woman???? And his OVER the TOP sexiness has had something weird attached to it, some taboo that I have felt in any overt expression of just HOW much… how much of an ecstatic shudder he could irrifutably produce from his teens on through the rest of his life.

  18. You know what the sexiest part in Michael for me is? His innocence.
    And I’m sorry for going a little off topic here, but I’m from another country and for me his race never played a significant role in his sex appeal. His innocence, on the other hand, is a completely different story.

    I think, Michael must be the only man in the world about whom a girl may have sexual fantasies without actual sex in them. Sometimes even imagining how it would be to hold hands with him may make be too much. 😉 You know, I understand why men are generally attracted to virgin girls – it’s because the innocence turns them on, the innocence is desirable. And this must be not a men-only kind of perception, because amazingly it worked the same way towards Michael. And I’m not talking necessarily about his lack of sexual experience (what do I know about it?), although his conservative views of the subject certainly played a part. But regardless of what happened in his private life, it’s this way he had about him that is important. The way he handled himself, always being such a gentleman, the way he envisioned his dream girl as a classy lady, the way he got so quiet and shy around women and blushed at any hints of dirty talk, the endearing childlike streaks he kept as a grown man… I can’t even explain the connection here, but these qualities make him extremely sexy!

    And this brings us to another quality of his – his sensitivity. I think Elizabeth Taylor put it best: “I love him,” she said. “There’s a vulnerability inside him which makes him the more dear.”
    Exactly. He has something inside him that makes you want to love him, hold him, caress him and protect him from the entire world. This instinct probably has to do with the mother instinct in every woman. It is known that woman’s attachment to her loved one is partially rooted in her instinct to love and protect her children. Often men try to appear more callous and masculine than they really are, protecting their insecurities, but Michael was brave enough to reveal them – even if mostly on stage and in songs. With this, he touched those strings in girls’ souls deeply.

    Of course, there is no denying that Michael was a very handsome and well-built man. But I’m pretty sure that ultimately it’s the inner light of kindness that shines through his eyes and smile combined with his innocence and sensitivity that makes him so sexy and desirable for women (and even some men) of all races around the world.

    And the gold pants? They are merely a bonus 🙂

    • Hi Morinen. I’ve been thinking about your comment, and the comments others have posted, and trying to figure out my own response. It’s difficult because it’s so complicated – but I think the very fact that it’s complicated is what makes him so compelling. He was never just a one-dimensional sex symbol – a Chippendale guy – and I think you’ve identified something really important. He was sexy and innocent, strong yet vulnerable, brilliant yet childlike, wise yet curious, compassionate and a trickster. He was a real human being, a complicated human being, and he had the courage to let us see him as a full human being with strengths and vulnerabilities.

  19. Thank you Willa and Joie for this wonderful discussion! I have loved reading all of the comments and just keep nodding my head in agreement. I wish I could be in the room when the two of you are discussing a topic, especially this one, because it just sounds like there is so much love and laughter filling the room or the “internet space” if you aren’t physically in the same room.
    I could probably spend hours writing about how sensual, sexy, adorable, breathtaking and gorgeous Michael has always and always will be to me but I think just about every aspect of what makes Michael so completely, uniquely, and mindblowingly sensual and sexy has already been covered very well by Joie(I completely agree with everything you described), Willa, and all of the wonderful comments above. Thank you all for giving me so much reading pleasure! I also found myself going back and revisiting some YouTube videos I hadn’t checked out for a while!!
    Just for statistical purposes, I am a 53 year old white (extremely white as I have had vitiligo since I was 17 and am now almost completely depigmented!)heterosexual woman. I don’t remember ever feeling that it was wrong to love Michael Jackson or the Jackson 5 when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. Maybe that was just the way my family was, I never really thought about it back then.
    Finally, I want to thank you for the interesting BOTDF video. I love that song and Michael’s original short film but this was an intersting version. I also love that the GOLD PANTS have there own “tag” at the end of your post. They so deserve it! I saw the Gold Pants up close at Fan Fest in Las Vegas and it was exciting to be so close to something that Michael wore so well!! I wish I could have gone to any of Michael’s concerts and seen him perform in any one of those amazing concert outfits. Thank heavens for video and photos!
    Thanks again for this fascinating topic!

  20. I read everyone’s comments here with great interest, and it’s as if the words came out of my own mouth regarding the enchantd time on earth that we got to spend with Michael before he left us physically. I have cried every day since Michael left this earth and life as I knew it ended on June 25, 2009. At times I thought I might lose my mind from despair and that gut wrenching physical pain of missing Michael. I still feel that lump in my throat like I might erupt into tears at any moment, and I guess I always will. In October of 2009 I came to realize that this is much more than grief. I realized that what I was feeling, was Michael’s love. I know that so many of us feel this all over the world and our numbers can’t be tabulated. I realized I was part of the world phenomenon of Michael uniting us as friends to support each other and continue his work. Michael was one man, and he did the work of millions. It will take millions of us working together to continue his work.

    I began to meet friends all over the world in tribute forums to Michael. Never in my life did I imagine such friendships were possible. I thank Michael every day of my new life knowing him. I talk about Michael to every one at every opportunity, and it is my purpose in life to make as many people as possible aware of who Michael really is. In my new friendships I learned of so many people living deprived of Michael’s beautiful music and image, and I began to send Michael anywhere in the world where he is needed. I also carry Michael’s cds in my Michael on the cover of Rolling Stone tote bag to give to people who comment that they love my bag. Friends will leave Michael’s cds in public places for strangers to find. Michael said it best in his words and his lyrics, so why not just give Michael himself to people? This is my way of righting the many wrongs done to Michael and to educate people of who Michael really is.

    In the 2 1/2 years since I started doing this, strangers have hugged me upon receiving Michael, even if it’s just a Michael button and we walk away as friends. Infants to the elderly have receivd my Michael gfts. One day kindness won’t be strange, but hatred will be. Every time I do anything courteous, or donate the smallest amount of money to someone collecting, I say “I do this in Michael Jackson’s name” and it starts a nice discussion every time. We can do so much with our voices for Michael that don’t cost anything.

    Speaking of our spiritual relationship with Michael, I’d love to hear about the dreams that people have had with Michael in them, or visions, or any spiritual experences that you know is Michael giving his message to us. I find them fascinating and the experiences are not discussed as openly and as often as I think they should be.

  21. Willa and Joie , you guys R O C K !! Everything I always thought about ” the silence ” , you guys opened in large ! Well , being Brazilian , I had to go through the American Culture a while , before “awake” on the real point . Although I knew it was the eternal “black and white prejudice” , what I missed was the “non bearable acknowledgment of THIS black man’ superiority ” ! ( BTW, Joie , I always was in doubt about if HE really meant what you said , on that phrase of “Threatened” ! OMG ! Never thought MJ could be so explicit !! ). But , since I read what He answered his mother about “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” … I though ” I ” was the one with the “dirty mind” ( my poor Baby…). In Brazil , there is no this thing of “black and white” , when the issue is sex ! Our culture has the prejudice on the “social” instead of the “race” , which is ugly same way … But relating to sex , baby … unh , unh , no prejudice ! I think that’s why we are a mixed people. Yeah, we like to mix ! We know that a good cake is made with flower and cocoa ! But is no true we are promiscuous ! The thing is, having a large territory in the tropical area , we’re used to have the skin exposed , doing this without malice . So , when you go the a beach in Rio , please , do not use a full body bathingsuit , because people will look at you thinking ” what a hell that weirdo is hiding ?!” But… hellooo ! What did I come here to talk about ? Oh , yes , about “the silence” ! I have been around in USA since 1990 . Well , I’ve been silent , too ! Because my mother told me that ” in land of frogs , croak and crotch with them”. Oh , is sooooo good to have my tongue/mouth loose again ! YES , WE ALL LUST ON HIM . And many , since when he was just a kid ( who’s the pedophile ?). Me ? Since 1979 , with … guess… ” Rock With You ” ! Boy ! I agree completely with you , Willa ! That song should come with a warning label ! It didn’t come and HIT ME deep ! That Album is SO wonderful , it was my preferred until ” Invincible “. The 2nd best song of it , for me , is ” It’s the Falling in Love”. From that time on, I start thinking of him , as Joie said , ” in an adult way”… And I wasn’t a teenager any more !! I was in my 27 and mother of three !! And married !!! Geez ! Am I reveling too much ? Girls , do not feel guilty ! I don’t think any women who would pay a cent of attention to Him , could ever help themselves ! It’s TOO MUCH SEX APPEAL ! Now , after his death , I really feel uncomfortable when I think of him ” in an adult way “… ( Which is whenever I see any of his videos ) . Because I wonder if He is feeling/watching my thoughts from wherever He is . Isn’t this embarrassing ? May you talk about this issue , since we’re here to open ? Thanks ! L.O.V.E. Nora.

  22. I have to agree with everyone. I became a fan of Michael’s when he was in his early 20’s and thought he was awesome. I have to agree that he, indeed, was very sexy and I think the older he became the sexier he was. He may not have thought he was good looking, but all of his fans certainly did. He had a certain something about him, besides his looks, that made you want to be near him. We all felt a closeness to him. I think his children realize what a wonderful father they had and how much he loved them. His death has left such an emptiness. Even to this day, his death is difficult to deal with.

  23. I agree the Gold Pants need deep and careful study a la Shakespeare to appreciate fully–you guys are AMAZING! I certainly have analyzed them on many occasions–I guess it’s what’s called a ‘close reading.’ Thanks cjg for your insights. As Keats said, ‘ a thing of beauty is a joy forever.’ and Roberta–that does mean his gorgeous rear. I also learned some interesting new vocabulary words on youtube–such as ‘Mikegasm.’

    Re the plastic surgery–was that exaggerated, as Michael claimed it was? I recently got hold of an original photo of Michael taken during the 1973 Japan tour–he was 14 going on 15, but he is unmistakably Michael. The eyes, the shape of his face–all the same, except for color of skin and of course a smaller nose–otherwise the same. Re the shame he felt about his body–Lisa Marie was reported to have said he did not want the light on when they were in bed together. She once turned it on thinking it was ok, and he ran out of the room, went to the bathroom, and returned in full make-up.

    Regarding his masculinity, I once saw a video clip of a concert where a fan came up on stage and fainted while dancing with him–he picked her up and carried her to a security person who took her. He was strong–for sure. Diane Sawyer is an idiot for not seeing his sensuality and attractiveness, at least as it related to his multitude of fans, if not to her personally–I think most of the well known media people who interviewed him did virtually no research. The most shoddy work ever to not prepare for an interview of such interest to the public. They apparently could not be bothered.

    To J. Mason–thank you for your beautiful and heartfelt words–I love the way you write about Michael’s many gifts and his hard path in this world. I see the work being done here on this site and others and by many fans and true students as a great unveiling–a revelation–about this wonderful man, Michael Jackson.

  24. I read a comment that when Michael died there was a global shift–a light went out –and the energy field of the planet changed. Maybe the light went out in one sense but in another sense it changed form and actually became more powerful.

    I figure that Michael performed in 50 countries, gave between 500-800 concerts, and was seen live by about 10 million people. He had an enormous influence–the enchanted time on earth of MJ indeed.

  25. I don´t think he wasn’t aware of his sexiness or was insecure about his beauty or his body or even thought of himself as ugly. Watching him perform leaves no doubt. But we know he himself claimed children to be his most important audience. He knew about the impact that “sex, drugs and rock´n´roll” – pop culture had on little children and he didn’t like that. He just did not want to be that kind of role model for them. And he is so right, that is not what life or love is all about.

  26. All the things you said about the media denying or playing the blind eye about MJ’s inmense sexual appeal because of race issues are absolutely truth but there is this other aspect why some fans deny his sexual/adult side and want to see him as some asexual angel, and that comes from this Peter Pan character the he wanted to create for himself, and these fans just can’t accept that the Peter Pan Michael was just one side of him. They believe seeing MJ as an adult is betrayal of the Peter Pan Michael, so his sexuality is taboo for them. I have talked with some fans that just can’t accept MJ was an adult. Absurd to me but I can see where did they get that idea from, Michael himself.

  27. From the looks of it, I’d say the “Blood on the Dance Floor” film was indeed shot on Super-8 film and then digitized or blown up in some way to emphasize the grainy look of the film. I like it quite a lot.

    Thanks so much for this splendid topic! While I think the gold pants are great, I wouldn’t shortchange the glitter suit in “Rock With You.” I’m one of those fans whose love affair with Michael didn’t begin until he died. In the days following his death, his appeal—on so very many levels—hit me with full force. Viewing this video, where Michael’s voice trembles slightly as he sings certain choice words, his young, lithe body slithering in a sparkling “catsuit” convinced me, for the first time in my life (at the tender age of 52), that it was in fact possible to lust after someone I had never met. I made an artistic tribute to this sparkling jewel (in the form of several collages) at:

    Quite awhile back, too, I quipped on another online forum that I needed help putting together a committee for a “dissertation” I was writing on Michael Jackson (purely academic interest, mind you)!. I titled the manuscript “The Erotic Gaze and the Lissome Movements of Michael Jackson: A Study in the Sexual Economies of Pop Performance Modes.” Pretty dry. But here are my proposed chapter titles:

    1. “Buckles and Zippers: Pop’s ‘Ambassador of Excess’ Enters his ‘Bad’ 
    2. “From Thigh to Ankle: Jackson’s Jangling Buckles and Lithe Torso During the ‘Bad’ tour, 1987-1988.”
    3. “Heaving thighs, glistening loins: HIStory is made in 1997, the year of the shining Golden Pants”
    4. “The Liquefaction of his Hips: Glittering Belt Buckles Undulate Through Specatators’ Sensoria”
    5. “ ‘Sweet, Seducing Sighs:’ Caresses of Golden Honey Through Jackson’s Lachrymose Larynx”
    6. “Fine and Dandy: Jackson’s Languid Poses and Moon-Drenched Eyes”
    7. “Jackson Girds his Loins: the Use of Wide Leather Straps from Front to Back (‘Bad’ Tour, 1987)”
    8. “Enticement / Incitement / Seduction: Jackson ‘Whooooos’ His Spectators as He Fondles his Nether Reaches”
    9. “Visible Desires: Pelvic Undulations, Private Parts, and Spectatorial Frenzy”
    10. “Tender, Wide Eyes, Rippling Muscles, and Shimmering Loins: His or Ours?”
    11. “The Implosion of the ‘Force’: Orgasmic Consciousness and the ‘Never-Enough’ of MJ“
    12. “Tongues of Fire, Human Nature and the Dissolution of the Self/Other Through Jackson’s Undulating Pelvis.”
    13. “Pools of Resplendent Fury: Jackson’s Soft and Fulsome Pouting Lips”
    14. “Jackson’s Ferociously Erotic Netherworlds: ‘I Feel a Faintness Coming On When I Look at You’ “
    15. “The Ventriloquist of Eros: the Way He Looks, the Way He Makes Us Feel”
    16. “The Erotic Register of the Uvula and the Magisterial Spell of Jackson’s Immense Vocal Range”
    17. “Heeee-heeeees, Sighs, Moans, and Grunts: Wanting Access to Jackson’s Glottis”
    18. “ ‘I was a Michael Jackson Voluptuary’: the Memory of Tender Pouts, Glistening Perspiration, and Woozy Dreams”
    19. “Wanting Michael: Intensities of Encounter with Jackson During Fans’ Onstage Caresses”
    20. “Languorous Longings in the ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’ Eras: Silks, Snakes, and Skins”
    21. “Captain EO Disrobes: Throwing off His Cape of Inhibition and Rising to the Occasion”
    22. “Shimmering Sequins and Desire-Drunk Eyes: Jackson Rocks With His Admirers All Night. “
    23. “Eros or Dionysus? Seeking the Roots of Greek Cosmologies in the Performance of ‘Off the Wall’ “
    24. “The Lanky Swagger of Jackson’s Supple Stage Presence: Performing Amorous Grooves”
    25. “ ‘If it Aches You Got to Rub It’: the Divan in Jackson’s Plush, Velvet-Lined Backstage ‘Closet’ ”
    26. “He Wants to Give It …. and it Ain’t Too Much For Me”
    27. “Smooth, Gentle Undulations: the Liquefaction of Jackson’s Waist and Midsection”
    28. Yellow Shirts and How a Crowd ‘Came Together‘ Through Michael Jackson’s ‘Open to the Waist’ Look”
    29: “Textures of Muscles and Veins: Long, Sinewy Arms and Skin-Hugging Bodysuits.”
    30.”Just ‘Human Nature’: Taking a Bite Out of Jackson’s Succulent Apple ”
    31. “ ‘Why, Why Does He Do Me This Way?’ Interrogating the Nimble Agility of Jackson’s Precise Dance Moves”

    • Nina, if you are still working on your “dissertation” I’m sure that I could be available to discuss many of your proposed topics of intrest. If however your acedemic study is already complete, I would love to read your reasearch! Sounds fascinating! 😉

    • As both a research junkie and a Michael Jackson junkie, I also applaud the expansion of Michael’s legacy into academia. Let us know when you are done- I also would LOVE to read your work!

  28. How about “Let’s talk about straps baby!” One of my favorite looks of Michael’s are the black leather pants from the Bad tour, with the belt that had a metal arc of some sort that came down about half way over his umm, ahem, (blushing) zipper, yeah, that’s it, his zipper was covered by this curved metal piece as part of, or in addition to the belt. Do you know what I mean? I don’t know the right name for this metal piece is, and perhaps Michael invented it so maybe only he knows. It’s truly something only Michael can wear. I love to study footage of Michael wearing this. It’s something I just can’t conjure up the words to describe either what it is, or my reaction to this, it just leaves me stunned and in awe of this. The way that Michael dressed is truly a lost art.

    When Michael first passed and someone from a network walked through Neverland and gave a tour on camera, I couldn’t shrug off the awesomeness of Michael’s rambling cedar closet space. Long after that scene ended I kept imagining the closet full of clothes, and all I could think of was wanting to walk up to it, lift a shirt of Michael’s on it’s hanger from the rod and hold it close and breathe in it’s scent. I can imagine how wonderful Michael smelled, and I like to learn about his favorite scents, ranging from woodsy, to vanilla, to some women’s perfume and more. There again Michael could be both male and female in his choice of fragrance. If only those clothes from the magnificent jackets to his comfy pajamas and robes were still hanging there, just awaiting Michael’s return from London…or somewhere beyond, wherever his tour would have taken him …OHH if only…

  29. Willa and Joie- you guys are amazing!

    Michael’s sexuality and his external expression vs verbal innocence have always been so very mesmerizing. And the more you think about it- the more his “cultural castration” is thought provoking on so many levels. For black males, even looking at white women was for such a long time mortal danger. I never forget when I first saw a video about the murder of Emmett Till in grad school. And to think this has happened in not so distant past.
    Michael, I believe was well aware of what he evoked and how “dangerous” he was on so many levels to the majority culture. His portrayed innocence I think was designed as sort of a passive aggressive defense mechanism. While outwardly his sexuality was very much “in your face.”
    Not for ONE moment, do I believe a man so utterly self-aware and analytic of his every move and performance did NOT know how his movements, his clothing (his open zippers..swoon) etc came across.

    So- why was his sexuality denied over and over by mainstream culture? Why was it easier to make a joke of his relationship with Lisa Marie Presley than to acknowledge that she was sexually attracted to her husband. How many other couples do you know where one or the other FOR YEARS is asked “and you really slept with him???” “you REALLY found him attractive???”- and all that with a face as if we are talking about someone having sex with an alien.Diana Sawyer was the master of that face- and that question, btw.

    After reading your post and the comments it does make sense… What better way to deny power to a man (and what better man to deny power to a black man) than to “neuter” him. Wow…
    Possibly, the extreme reaction the fan community has to this was the oversexualisation of Michael. And our extreme focus on his pants (btw- Jeans and red leather are MY personal favorite) …and barely contained contents.

  30. MariaElisabethMJ

    I`m kinda new with this whole thing so bear with me if I say something stupid! I`ve been reading almost the entire section with this Michael and sex and being sexually attractive. I wasn`t really a fan before Michael died, so everything I have come to know about him, I have achieved in the 2 and a half year since his passing, and things have really changed for me during that period of time. I started out hardly knowing any of his music or what he did for the world, to being a regular Michael fanatic…LOL…!! No, seriously, I knew NOTHING about him. But in the beginning of it all, I didn`t think about him as being sexually attractive – I thought he was very handsome and good-looking, but Michael and sex didn`t enter my mind tell some time later on. (when I started youtubing him like crazy and saw other fans describing him in VERY sexy terms to say the least!!!) I at first had some trouble with it – for a long time I thought it was disrespectful and out of order to lay all those sexy, hot comments on him. Because I thought that was not what he was all about. I felt like the focus on Michael`s music was missing BIG TIME, and I wanted to defend Michael from that. But I realized that it was in vain to try and defend him like that. People are always gonna have very different views on everything concerning him, and my opinion is just ONE out of many fans.
    But the more time went by, the more I thought of Michael as a man of many and varied qualities and facets. This man`s personality is incredible, absolutely incredible. First of all, this whole racial thing is something that still astonishes me, how people still seem to care an awful lot about whether or not Michael was proud to be black etc. etc. His changing appearences. Which we all know now was due to vitiligo and other skin conditions he had. I do not understand why some people would think that he was not proud of his race. When I look at Michael I see the most proud, black man ever. Michael was definately proud of his race; and…every other race in the world. I don`t think he ever changed his looks for the sake of pleasing anyone…race, religion, beliefs, values etc…I think Michael just simply were so creative and had such a vivid imagination and fantasy, that he thought it fun and innovative to change his looks and appearences in sync`with his music, so to speak. Michael didn`t change his looks to get away from his race and please an audience. He had a skin disorder, and regardless of plastic surgery, he always maintained an incredible amount of dignity and grace and wholeness. If Michael changed his nose to be able to hit higher notes; so what? By being who he was, he gave people escapism and magic. But…sorry, back to the topic! I think Michael knew fans found him sexy and attractive, and I think he played with it and experimented with it. He may not on personal level have found HIMSELF sexy or handsome, but Michael most surely knew the effect he could have on…well, fangirls!! I think he knew and then maybe not always…and it is that factor of him not being aware of just how alluringly and irresistably sexy he is on stage, that I find to be the most sexy thing in the world! Michael is like embracing ALL possible emotions – from the “all motherly” feelings of wanting to take care of him and protect him, to the more dangerous of feeling like you wanna have him NOW, of feeling sexual. He is like an Angel, a little boy, Peter Pan, just wanting to play and have fun, a man who adored kids and loved them more than anything in the world. And you feel so much like wanting to carry on his legacy of charity and humanity. AND….at the same time you`ve got this man, who is so shy and introvert and embarressed so easily – but as soon as he gets on a stage, he transforms into this sweaty, hot, sexy, masculine man, moving that gorgeous body of his in mysterious ways, that you never thought possible in your life you would see. Not to mention his voice, that will take you to “far away hot islands”!! This transformation and this paradox and this complexity of his, those very different sides to him and his personality, is what makes Michael so unique and so attractive, so appealing. Michael played on every single string he could find, to improve and better himself constantly. I think he very much in full consciousness was using those paradox of being shy and innocent, well, to stay in the subject here, sexually innocent, and at the same time exploring his range of creativity and depths, including the sensual and sexual. Sometimes deliberate, sometimes without him knowing himself. But I see it when I look at him. What makes Michael sexy to me is his way of always keeping it all somewhat “in the closet”, but at the same time letting us know, that he is human, that he has human desires and longings like every other man, and he wants to be recognized for it and accepted for it. Michael is alway very elegant and beautiful to me; no matter how hot and steamy, he always keeps a balance of things. “In the closet” is a sexy video for sure. But Michael is “doing it” with grace. He is NEVER vulgar or “too much”. Absolutely this film is about sex between a man and a woman, but it is not porn – it’s Michael using the universe of sex to explore himself in his music. Letting it be a part of his amazing musical universe. Michael used the pleasures of life in his music as a way of, I think, “letting go” of tensions and hardships. He used his brains and talents to achieve magic and wonder, and that makes him the most sexy man ever.

  31. I’m SOOOOOOOOOO GLAD, THAT MJ, IS starting to get THE credit he should Have BEEN Given For HIS SEX Appeal. I THINK the Media Blinded Many Women Away From His Sexiness with ALL The Stories they kept Printing about Him Being weird, gay, having plastic surgery, and bleaching His skin , as a result many of Us became prejudice, and ignorant towards His Sexuall Appeal. I Think IF Women really thought about it, Most of them could find a time when They Thought MJ was Super Hot!!! Unfortunately, Just like you said in your post it’s still a little taboo to opendly admit it, But the Good news is that, all of that is starting to change. Michael has gained millions of new fans since his Death, who aren’t ashamed of Him, and even write fanfics about Him. So I Think it won’t be so taboo, in the future for one to admit opendly, that they find Him attractive.

  32. @ MariaElizabeth : you are absolutely right !

  33. I always liked Michael Jackson, but didn’t become a big fan until after his death, which makes me very sad. Didn’t realize that we would lose him so soon and now since his death I have learned so much about him and his beautiful music, so wished that I could have met him or seen at least one live concert. I know that I am not alone in this when I say that we have lost a Great Treasure, an Angel that was given to us for 50 years, but he did leave us some wonderful music to listen to, short films to watch and some Youtube videos to check out from time to time.

  34. Some responses to the GREAT comments here: I would love to roam through Michael’s closet too and smell his clothes– I read that his favorite perfume was Bal a Versailles (via Karen Faye)–of course, I had to have it–it has oriental fragrances (sandalwood) and is also a bit floral. I hope someone does something on his costumes–a really good book on that would be excellent. I loved his clothes, his style–from the military, princely style–to the simple shirts and black pants. What he wore to the 05 trial was amazing–very dignified and yet elegant and distinguished (even though it was mocked by the media); his clothes for the TII rehearsals were also wonderful–what a fashion sense he had.

    It is interesting that MJ’s death awakened so many people to him–I loved him before but ‘lost touch’ as I, and he, got older–I wanted him to succeed so much with the TII tour–was shocked when he died and then was amazed by my own and the world’s grief. Then all the replays showed me songs, videos, concerts that I had not known before. Then all the internet sites sprang up–just MJ blooming all over the world.

    Re his innocence vs. his sexiness–yes, he seemed shy and innocent and reserved–but one thing the trial showed was that at NL he had stacks of pornography–magazines, dvd’s–I mean lots of heterosexual porn. Hmmm. I for one do not feel at all guilty for admiring his beauty–his sex appeal. One thing I notice is that in interviews his body is remarkably still–the only time he really fidgeted was when Bashir was giving him the 3rd degree–mostly he had a beautiful stillness. When performing he could be incredible fluid, dynamic, as fast as a hummingbird–but then even in performing there was a stillness–who else could stand still (SuperBowl) for 3 minutes in the opening of their act?

  35. @ Aldebaran

    “What he wore to the 05 trial was amazing–very dignified and yet elegant and distinguished (even though it was mocked by the media); “

    Yeah, I have read some tabloid mocked him for his clothing during the trial, but they were obviously jealous idiots who were looking for any excuse to mock and ridicule him. Here are some of the clothes he was wearing:

    To ridicule and mock these? These are BEAUTIFUL clothes, so elegant, yet so unique! I wish he’d have kept wearing them, but they probably reminded him of this bad period, so I understand why he stopped wearing these after the trial.

    “I for one do not feel at all guilty for admiring his beauty–his sex appeal.”

    I don’t feel guilty either. Michael was totally aware of the effect he had on women. No one can tell me he didn’t know what he was doing when he put on those gold pants! He was totally aware and he had fun with women admiring him, so why should I feel bad about it? Actually he used to attend the MJJC forum sometimes. The moderators knew his screen name and whenever he showed up they bumped up certain topics for him that he liked. Guess which were his favorites? One was the gold pants topic, where girls were drooling over his gold pants and the other was a topic about his curls. So he totally enjoyed this game, we shouldn’t feel bad about it.

  36. Hi, Jacksonaktak–thanks for the link re his 05 clothes. There is also a youtube video of him wearing white to the trial–set to the salt-n-pepper song ‘What a Man’–really he looks great. Of course, this was early on in the trial. Other youtube vids about ‘older Mike’ also show his various outfits. Thanks also for telling me about how he enjoyed the ‘gold pants’ topic–I’m glad he got a kick out of that. Another reason not to feel guilty!

    Hi, Willa and Joie–one thought that came up for me while reading the comments–maybe you guys could talk about how MJ’s death affected people and how it led to a reaffirmation of his work and a rediscovery of who he was. I suggest this b/c of the comments from people who say that until his death, they did not know much about him. Just an idea. I think his death galvanized the world and has led to this massive re-imaging.

    • I agree that his death really shocked people into taking a new look. It would be a very good topic. Before he died I was a very casual fan who had forgotten about him. His death affected me deeply. I didn’t understand why I felt so sad about this man that I hadn’t thought about for years. I felt driven to learn everything about him, to try and understand why. Perhaps he had touched me in ways I never realized, and it took his death to shock me into awareness of what he meant to me.

  37. Finally, I find other fans who are like minded as I. I know exactly what you mean when you say that Michael was never a love interest at first. I have been a fan as far back as I remember and while I always thought he was gorgeous, it was never an attraction thing for me. I remember as a little girl, during the 93 trials, people saying he was ugly and a freak. But I never saw it, I always saw other worldly beauty that was Michael. I kept getting glimpses of the sexiness of Michael but never put it together. Then when I was 19 I looked and saw his lithe body, his eyes, his lips and finally had to take a moment and appreciate how sexy this man was. It was a powerful moment that had an huge effect on me and sad to say that no man has been able to even come close to what Michael has done but the love I have for Michael Jackson is something I am grateful to have had. Thank you for this article

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