Michael Jackson was a gamer, he wanted me to come up to Neverland and talk to him about games. The first time I went up and after walking in the door, he handed me a black plastic trash bag and told me to put it on. I was like, "HUH?" He started putting his trash bag on. Then one of his staff walked in with a giant PILE of eggs. A bunch of his friends came in (wearing the requisite black trash bags) and we all went into the garden area and started a giant egg fight. I threw my first egg FULL FORCE (I have long arms), then the world went into slow motion, I thought, "Oh No!", as I saw the egg flying full speed towards his son's face, and I noticed they were filming everything for Michael's home video collection (so they'd know who did it!) What a great start to make his son cry. Luckily, it whizzed right by his ear missing him by millimeters. I then went into "Here, take this" as I performed the lamest egg throws you've ever seen. So everyone survived, and I was invited to stay.
I had a damn good time in his arcade, check out the stuff it had: CLICK HERE
There were always celebrities there, Marlon Brando was staying there for a while (this was when he was really ill and was there to escape the media), Brett Ratner (Director - Rush Hour / X-Men) was there just hanging out.
I was given complete free roam, and took advantage of it, I've played his arcade machines, been on all his rides, I even fired up his go-karts, and drove his bumper cars (while listening to Michael Jackson music turned up to 11.)
As I wandered around, I walked into his movie theater and watched him play with his kids, he was an amazing father to them. I watched him quietly from the shadows at the back, he had no idea I was there. They were watching the Three Stooges but had given up on that and instead were just having fun. Anytime anything turned serious, he'd fight it, one time his chef was cooking me something, and he walked in. He saw that the chef had turned the news on the TV, and he said to the chef, "Please turn that off, this is why people come here, to get away from all that." I guess the point is that he was always surrounded with the pressures from the real world, but was trying hard to provide an escape, not just for himself, but for everyone else too.
I hated that people would say negative stuff about him as they had never met him.
I was invited back a few times and always saw interesting things, like the road would be blocked as they were exercising an elephant, my wife came up and fed his bear. I made some dumb mistakes too, like he was totally into magic, so I showed him that leviation trick but got the angles wrong, he didn't say it was the most lame magic he'd ever seen, but you could tell he was thinking it, as then he started talking about David Blaine being a friend of his. Let's just say, I gave up on the magic.
Our discussions lead us to plan for him to release his next music album as a video game FIRST, then as an album. This would have introduced many new players to video games. He was incredibly interested in the idea, and we got quite far down that road, working on the story, mechanics etc. We were excited about the press potential, I remember saying to him, "Oprah never talks about video games", to which he replied, "Oprah is a friend of mine". This was a theme I learned, he had so many friends, and actually spent time with them all. It was really impressive.
So I feel lucky to have spent time with him, I think the music industry lost a major part of its history yesterday, I know his children will be devastated, and for people like me that spent time with him, that got to see the "real" guy, (outside of his celebrity) the world lost a really great person too.
OH, one other thing, I have another quick Michael Jackson story from the other side... I used to know the head of security for Wembley Stadium in the UK. He gave me one of those reflective security staff jackets to wear so I could go anywhere I wanted. So I went to see tons of famous acts (Madonna, David Bowie, Prince, everyone), and literally would stand at the side of the stage and watch the show. I did this with Michael Jackson, and it was the worst show ever! Why? Well everyone kept bloody fainting! "Mister!!! My girlfriend just fainted, help me save her, PLEASE!" I spent most of the concert carrying sweaty-crushed-passed-out women to the medical crews. I'd NEVER seen that many at any concert before. There are tons of great bands out there, but it's a whole new level when your fans can't remain conscious! He rocked.
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