Michael Jackson’s Love for Disguise: How He Used it to Maintain Privacy and Enjoy Public Life
Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, is still loved and remembered for his signature dance style and record-breaking songs even after his sad demise in 2009. But many of his fans might not know that Jackson was also known for wearing disguises. Michael Jackson used disguises quite often to evade the eyes of his fans in public and enjoy and experience a normal life.
Jackson even went on a date wearing a disguise!
Michael Jackson’s first-ever public appearance wearing a disguise was when he went out to enjoy a concert with his girlfriend, Tatum O’Neal, in 1982. Tatum, who is said to be Michael’s first girlfriend, went to a Kool and the Gang concert with Michael, who was wearing a bushy beard and a huge afro as a disguise.
Michael did not want to be spotted at the concert, so he called Rick Backer, an Oscar-winning special effects artist, to help put on the facade. The disguise made Michael look a lot older and so different that no one could recognize him at the concert. After that, Michael made several public appearances with blissful anonymity wearing disguises.
He would often disguise himself in bizarre ways.
Although it had its perks, being the superstar was sometimes challenging for Michael Jackson. He was so popular that his every public visit had to be planned in advance with stringent security measures. Not just that, Jacko often remained locked up in his hotel room to avoid the crowds that used to gather around just to have a mere glimpse of him. So, whenever the star felt like going incognito, he would resort to wearing a disguise.
The King of Pop resorted to a wide variety of disguises throughout his life. Sometimes it used to be to save himself from fans, and other times to get close to them without being recognized. Once Michael, wearing a torn shirt and a pair of dirty shoes, buck teeth, and an afro, was spotted in a records store masquerading as a beggar.
Michael even accepted wearing disguises on record in an interview and confessed that he wore bat suits, glasses, buck teeth, prosthetics, make-up, etc.; at times to be in the audience and experience what it feels like.
Nonetheless, Jacko’s disguises were not always as convincing as they used to be earlier. He was once spotted in California at a gift shop wearing a wig, stick-on mustache, and fake teeth, a disguise so shabby that it gave him away. Jackson’s disguises became less convincing and more bizarre with time. He often wore masks, scarves, and even heaps of fabric on his face. Michael was once even seen wearing a black veil in Bahrain!
Michael Jackson’s disguises were not limited to his looks only.
Besides wearing disguises and masks, Michael was also known for disguising voices. His shape-shifting voice skills were excellent, but he was caught on record speaking in a much deeper voice several times.
Michael was said to have a masculine speaking voice which he, arguably, did not use on purpose. He also showcased a deeper speaking voice during his 1993 Superbowl halftime performance. Nonetheless, in 2000, he also dubbed his character for a video game called “Ready to Rumble Round Two” in a deeper voice, further strengthening the speculation. Even Russell Crowe admitted that Michael would often prank call him at hotels using different variations of voices.
Other than disguising voices, Michael also hired an impersonator named Navi, who worked with him for 17 years! Navi used to make public appearances as MJ to lure the crowd and media away, while the real MJ would sneak out without being caught.
Other than Michael’s hilarious disguises, here are some more intriguing facts about him!
1 Michael Jackson was a virtuoso composer, even without being able to read music.
Although Michael Jackson could not read music or play instruments skillfully, he was still an expert music composer with no composition training at all. He sang his songs with chords, bass, and rhythm through beatboxing and recorded them in a tape recorder. Michael could even sing the entire string arrangement. A team of music producers and sound engineers would then work on this piece to produce the final music.
2 Michael Jackson had a troubled relationship with his father.
Joe Jackson, Michael’s father, never had a healthy relationship with him or any of his siblings. Joe often hit Michael and his siblings with a belt if they stepped out of the line during their practice sessions as the Jackson 5. In fact, Jacko hated his father for beating him. However, Joe Jackson maintained that there was no such thing as beating, and it was just mere whipping to teach the children not to repeat a mistake.
3 Michael Jackson was not the first one to perform the moonwalk.
While Michael Jackson popularized the moonwalk by performing it for the first time in 1983 in the music video of his song “Billie Jean,” he certainly did not invent it. The moonwalk had already been invented almost 50 years before Michael performed it. Cab Calloway, an American singer and dancer, had invented the move back in the 1930s and called it “the buzz.”
4 Michael Jackson had a patent on the famous “anti-gravity” shoes he used in Smooth Criminal.
Michael Jackson had the patent for the “anti gravity” shoes that allowed him to lean forward at an impossible angle of 45°. The shoes had a slot in their heel to be engaged with a protrusible peg on the stage. It prevented Michael from falling when performing the lean. He first used these shoes in his music video “Smooth Criminal” and subsequently in several of his upcoming performances.
5 The music video for “Beat It” by Michael Jackson featured 80 real gangsters.
Michael Jackson’s music video “Beat It,” which showed gangs fighting and feuding, featured members of real rival gangs from Los Angeles. Besides hiring background dancers, Michael Jackson also united the city’s rival gangs. Not just that, 80 members from these gangs were even featured in his music video. Michael did it all to give out a strong message of non-violence.
6 MJ was partially bald and wore a wig.
While filming a TV commercial for Pepsi in 1984, a pyrotechnic failure set Michael’s hair on fire, resulting in a second-degree burn on the back of his head. It scarred the hair follicles of the affected area and caused a huge bald patch on MJ’s head.
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