Oct 17 2010

All that pretentiously theatrical hype: ‘Not quite the way it was’

Category: Justice,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 8:01 pm

If you remember, I wrote previously about that rather hideous “Sphinx” photo which was allegedly considered for the cover of “Invincible“, and which was part of a photo shoot done in Paris in 1999 by Arno Bani. Speaking of things being ‘not quite the way it was‘, these photos are ‘not quite‘ the way Michael was, or at least not the way he wanted to be seen.

Over-plasticized, overly-feminized, overly-photoshopped Michael

Michael, overtly feminized, by Arno Bani (and that Topolino guy with the bad breath)

The pretentious hype surrounding the Arno Bani photos continues, but the way the story is being told is not quite the way it was, according to insiders who were there. Key facts are being conveniently omitted from the hype. While Michael did ask for Bani to do the shoot and even allowed him to use his own make-up artist and clothing designers, as Karen Faye shared, the end result was not at all pleasing to Michael, or even to Sony, which is why another cover for the album was used.

As mentioned before too, Michael told his regular costume designer Michael Lee Bush, that he had destroyed the negatives from the photos because he disliked them so much. Regardless, Arno Bani now joins the long line of vultures seeking to profit off of Michael Jackson’s name and image now that he’s gone. Amidst all the hype about these slick, overly-photoshopped images, one detail is never mentioned: The reason these photos are so “exclusive” and have never before been been is because Michael Jackson did not want them seen. If he did, why would he have destroyed the negatives?

The pretentiously theatrical article being copy/pasted all over the internet states:

Bani brought along star hairstylist Seb Bascle, makeup innovator Topolino, and fashion trendsetters Frédérique Lorca and Maïda. It was summertime in Paris and everyone was in T-shirts and Bermuda shorts.

Topolino became the eccentric troublemaker of the bunch, Bani said. In an almost “diplomatic incident,” the makeup artist and his assistants spread vaseline around Jackson’s eye and softly blew the shiny blue glitter onto the singer’s face. “Jackson’s staff was shocked,” Bani remembered. “‘You can’t blow on Michael Jackson’s face,’ they protested.”

Topolino liked to have background music, so he brought a five-dollar radio with horrid sound and set it to French oldies and pop stations. “Michael Jackson was curious and wanted to know what this French music was. He was listening to (Joe Dassin’s) ‘Aux Champs Elysées’ and old Georges Brassens tunes,” Bani recalled.

The makeup artist also snuck into Jackson’s purpose-built shower that was always carefully sanitized and supplied with ultra-clean, plastic-wrapped towels. In the end, Jackson “didn’t care about any of that,” Bani remembered. There were no eccentric celebrity demands, no complaints about the food or the room temperature.

After seeing the article above, Michael’s regular make-up artist, Karen Faye (who was there),  says that is ‘not quite the way it was‘. She gave us a bit of admittedly amusing backstory on the photo shoot and the man named Topolino, including the reason why they protested so vehemently when he blew in Michael’s face. Karen says:

Not quite the way it was. Topolino insisted on blowing on MJ and his breath was so bad, it just about knocked him out. MJ was so uncomfortable with Toppolino because he was gay and kept touching Michael in very unnecessary ways. The make up artist even tried to come back to MJ’s hotel. Michael had to ask me to “run interference” to keep him at a distance. He did bring a little radio and played French rap which made MJ laugh. It was a very amusing scenario. MJ, MLB and I laughed so hard those two days.

The photos look so much better retouched. MJ had so many layers of make up on him. You should have seen MJ’s face when the make up artist started putting on moisturizer, starting at his waist! You can take a guess why MJ didn’t want to get into that “special shower” now, huh? I am laughing just remembering how it was….even the near car accidents the fans created, following us there. He was in the makeup chair for hours and hours, poor Michael, while the guy(?) in short shorts and flip flops put on layer & layer.  And being subjected to a cassette tape of French rap….it was hilarious! Ask MLB. I must admit they got mad at us for laughing so much, but if you saw MJ’s face during all this, you wouldn’t be able to contain it.

-Karen Faye

Anyone who still wants to believe Michael was gay might want to take note that he was evidently rather disgusted (as well as amused) at being hit upon by this gay man with garbage breath, Topolino. So much that he asked his friends to run interference to keep the guy at bay. It’s sad that even after suffering all this, the resulting photos were so terrifically undesirable to Michael.

A commenter on the previous piece about this asked if Bani had the right to sell the photos if Michael paid for them, and for the service to have them done. I am guessing that Bani does have that right, though I know nothing of such rights or agreements. Bani says he hid the photos away in a vault in France, evidently just waiting to pounce on the opportunity to sell them as an “exclusive never-before-seen” set, while conveniently failing to state exactly why they were “never-before-seen“.  Just personally, I’ve long since tired of all the vultures lined up to make a buck with their various wares and often fake (not to mention negative and sensationalist tabloid) stories now that Michael is gone.

The article continues:

Bani was bound by contract to keep the photographs out of public view for 10 years and kept them locked in a safe in southern France. The blockade expired three weeks after Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009. “We decided to take our time,” the photographer said. “We didn’t want to drown in everything that was being unearthed for sale following his death, to surf that somewhat morbid wave.”

Why was he bound to keep the photographs out of public view for 10 years?  See, that’s not mentioned at all anywhere in all the hype. It’s most likely because Michael did not like them and did not want them seen. Perhaps they should have taken some more time. A lot of it. As regards ‘surfing that somewhat morbid wave‘, that is exactly what I personally see Bani doing here still. While the backstory is amusing, the parasitic opportunism is not, no matter how much time has gone by.

Speaking of parasitic opportunism, don’t look now but there is yet another vulture in line. His name is Stuart Backerman and he is of course selling what he promises to be a salacious book about his time working as a PR wonk for Michael after the Bashir lynching. Backerman was only around for 20 months and left 7 years before Michael died. He was one of the media people hired specifically to deal with the aftermath of the Bashir documentary. Many of those people were later alleged to be (unindicted) co-conspirators. The hype for the book is as follows:

Backerman gives the reader Michael without his makeup in his riveting depiction of what happens when celebrity cracks up and damage-control starts. Packed with anecdotes and fascinating inside information, IN THE COURT OF THE KING is a unique and stylishly-written memoir, engaging and profound, a highly personal portrait of Jackson and his world that is unflinching in its honesty and disquieting in its implications.

Disquieting in its implications” … do we really need yet more sensationalist innuendo being published about Michael’s life? You know that if this were a positive book about Michael Jackson it would never get published. You know that publishers only want books full of sensationalized lies, innuendo, and shock sequences about Michael Jackson because that’s what sells. They have openly said so. This is the problem Aphrodite Jones had when trying to publish her book, “Conspiracy“. That is exactly what these publishers told her, almost verbatim. As for the truth about Michael, they’re not interested in that. The media and publishers have never been interested in the facts or the truth when it comes to Michael. And along with the truth – respect for a dead man’s wishes, his memory and legacy goes right out the window just as soon as the opportunity for money walks in the door.

Backerman’s self-written bio states that he is an “Award-winning theatrical producer“. And I’m sure this book is theatrical“, just like those Bani photos. Whether it tells the truth or not however, is in question. Or, at the very least what version of the truth it tells is in question, specifically what parts of the truth will be completely left out.  The hype surrounding the release of those photos does not tell the truth, and it’s doubtful that Backerman’s book will either, or it would have never been published.  In regards to both of them, it seems that what the public is being sold is ‘not quite the way it was‘, as is usually the case when it comes to Michael Jackson.

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22 Responses to “All that pretentiously theatrical hype: ‘Not quite the way it was’”

  1. allie468 says:

    I don’t like any of the photos….sorry.

  2. dimple says:

    yes i don’t like those photo either.poor michael, they still using him even in death,to make a buck! whatta shame.. 🙁

  3. Jeanne says:

    @ FF you are right ,, he does not look at all happy . Even in his serious face poses in the past he did not have this look . I think Michael is an open book with his feelings . In almost every single picture of him just by looking at his face you can read his thoughts. His energy ,,,,,,, need I say more.

  4. Karin says:

    Nah, I’m not a fan of the photos myself. I think in this one Michael looks like a cross between David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust and Prince. There were some shots of Michael in TII where it looked like he had little or no makeup on and I think he looked great without it.

  5. FF says:

    I don’t find them that offensive, I however don’t really like them because he doesn’t seem happy in them. There’s none of his energy in them. And the blue eye one makes him look like he’s been smacked in the face, so I don’t like that one particularly.

    It actually Michael’s rejection of these pictures that makes me realise the photos that he’s happy with are the one’s where an element of himself is present or reflected. These pics seem like someone else’s idea of him which is were it gets weird because it’s closer to the unrelatable oddity value that the tabloids push. He just doesn’t seem happy in them and knowing that he asked for them to be destroyed and the people involved agreed but lied makes it rather infuriating.

  6. Ieva says:

    I like all these photos! I think Michael is beautiful!
    But if Michael didn’t want to share these photos with all world, then photographer shoul respect his client opinion. Sad if people didn’t respect each other and of course the most sad if people didn’t respect people who ir dead.

  7. Maggie says:

    When I first saw the photo of the sphinx I felt it was too over the top, too fake like. The one with Michael standing alone in front of a red curtain, was rather a beautiful one, even though you don’t like them. I must admit the make up job is way out there and does make Michael look very feminine. It seems there is way too many things that Michael disapproved of that are now in the hands of the vultures trying to make money off of the golden egg still. It’s a pity and rather sad actually. Michael would be furious today if he knew.

  8. Raven says:

    I don’t like these photos at all. Michael “could” be androgynous at times, but it was always in a very manly kind of way (if that makes sense). In other words, you never doubted he was 100% redblooded male, even with lip color and eyeliner. I remember something Vince Neil from Motley Crue once said. “Just because we wear lipstick and eyeliner doesn’t eman we can’t kick your a__!” I think of Michael the same way. His makeup, hair styles and clothing choices accentuated a real man who wasn’t too insecure about his maculinity to be beautiful. Of course, as far back as I can remember, I was always attracted to “pretty” men. The things that some people label as effiminate never bothered me; in fact, they usually made a man more attractive to me. (Probably why I was always attracted to the skinny, long-haired, “pretty boy” lead singers).

    However, I have the same reaction ro these photos that I have to those unflaterring pics that the tabloids always insist on using. It’s as if they are trying to emphasize a Michael that isn’t really “Michael.” An exaggerated version of something they want him to be. When at least 50% of the battle is trying to change the perception that people have of Michael Jackson (gay, effiminate, pedophile, asexual, weirdo, etc) photos like this aren’t helping at all. I think they send the wrong message, and that is probably why Michael didn’t like them.

    Some of them ARE beautiful from an artistic standpoint. Maybe I just feel overprotective of Michael’s image and how people perceive him. I feel like a lot of what we’re doing now is damage control wrought by thirty years’ worth of media slander and lies. The image that is projected of him, via his photographs, is part of that. In the last ten years, the media loved nothing more than to either present him as “the freak” or “the tranny” (sorry, but that’s as polite as I know to put it). The public bought into those images; those images helped fuel the misconceptions people had of him. Michael was a beautiful man, both inside and out, and I don’t have any problems personally with any photo he ever did. But I know what the public’s reaction to these photos will be, and that’s what bothers me.

  9. Jackie says:

    I believe that all these Michael photos,even the Sphinx one,could have been even more beautiful.
    The Sphinx,is totally altered,absolutely not Michael Jackson,may other person,but for sure not MJ.
    The rest,in my opinion,are pretty beautiful,considering the fact,they are over-over photoshopped and twisted. So just imagine how the original photographs are?
    I already adore the above photograph of Michael,He is so beautiful. I am sure the original one is fantastic. Michael is beautiful however,whenever,wherever ALWAYS!

  10. Jeanne says:

    I agree , with the bad breath thing though as years I worked with the public as a cosmetologist and one thing you do make a point to do is make sure your oral hygiene is in tact , ,, you have to have a little respect when working with the public on a close contact scale . That includes your choice of food consumption, like no garlic pizza for lunch lol. If I had to do Michaels makeup ,,, I would make sure what he was looking at and smelling was as excellent as possible because that is and always was his expectations being a perfectionist . About the touching thing ,,again that was disrespectful , you don’t invade personal space like that unless invited. I think this guy may have not realized what a privilege it was to be able to be that close to Michael .

  11. Julie says:

    I think everyone affiliated with the “Not For Sale” documentary were all backstabbers. That includes Taraborelli. After Michael died, I read his book and it was just junk. The man wrote of conversations as if he were physically a part of them and there is no way that was the case. I can’t believe people don’t see him for what it is and call him some sort of an expert. Backerman disgusted me the minute he opened his mouth and I had to google him to see who he was.

  12. Seven says:

    @Jackie – that is a good point to make. Poor Michael. He can’t win with the medialoids no matter what he ever did. He was always damned if he did and damned if he did not!

    Of course Michael was not homophobic! He loved everyone and was very considerate of everyone regardless of sexuality, race, religion, etc. But then, he wasn’t gay either, like many want to believe. Now, I don’t care if he was – it wouldn’t matter to me, but I don’t like lies about Michael and the lies are what’s at issue for me when that allegation is made. It’s simply not true. And you’re right, nobody has a right to touch your body, especially unnecessarily, without your permission – no matter your sexuality (or theirs). That guy was just tacky, that’s all! Ick!

  13. Laura Isabel Gomez says:

    Thank You Seven for this fine piece of INFORMATION.
    Ur sentece:

    ” And a long with the truth – respect for a dead ‘s man wishes,his memory and legacy goes right out the window just as soon as the opportunity for money walks in the door ”

    It’s so TRUE and RIGHT Dear Seven … =/ It’s exactly how i feel …


    I always read your blog, i love what u do! =)

  14. Jackie says:

    To be honest,the first reaction I had when I saw the new Michael’s photograph,I thought it’s amazing.
    The only one I truly dislike and is totally over photoshopped and just like you said Simply Not Michael Jackson is the Sphinx.

    Hehehehhe The story behind the photograph is truly funny,I can imagine a little bit how the situation was,how Michael was embarrassed.
    What poor Michael had to deal with during his life time,and even after his passing is Character assassination. I don’t see it different then a Physical assassination of a human being. In fact there is a difference,A Big one,Character assassination is mental,it hurts human being’s personality,the pain and the suffer is not Immediate like in physical assassination.It’s long like and dry like a desert, and contains a lot of suffer and pain.That’s what Michael had to deal during all his life.
    By the way,the fact MJ felt uncomfortable with the gay man because he bellowed him and touched in unnecessary ways,and asked Karen try to keep the guy on distance doesn’t mean MJ was homophobic.
    Why I am say this? I think that if the medialoids would have published that story (If they even would do,which I don’t believe,because It’s will change all the multi millions times twisted stories they have invented about Michael For Years),I believe that would be the first they’d say.

    I believe that it’s doesn’t matter what your sexual preferences are-Hetero,Homo,Lesbians,or gender-Men or Women,nobody has the right to touch your body,especially unnecessary ways,on sensitive ares over the body without your permission.

    I know It’s a little off topic,but this is one of the most painful issues Michael had to face in his life,and I can’t not to open it.

    Now about your question why have been all those people waiting so many years,to publish this?
    I think it’s pretty clear.Because Michael Was ALIVE!
    Michael had voice,and he could have avoided it and sue them for that!
    They were afraid. Michael was here,and he definitely could have stopped them,from publishing this!
    Now that Michael is gone,who can stop those miserable blood suckers?

    What Makes Laugh That,Even Since The Planet Has Been Created Is How The Humanity Is Giving Importance To A Piece Of Colourful Paper.It Became So Important That People Are Killing,Robbing Each Other For That Little Piece Of Paper.

  15. june says:

    @Teva, yes I also watched the Not For Sale Documentary and remember thinking Backerman didn’t have any positive comments about Michael. If his book is “coming soon”, how about keeping an eye out for its release date and then by email and letter notifying Amazon, or whatever distributor has it, in a subtle fashion that this is NOT the type of book millions of Michael’s fans and supporters want to see on the market. Backerman was with Michael I believe during 2003-2004, an extremely tumultuous time in Michael’s life, and many elements of everyday occurrences could be easily twisted.

  16. Dialdancer says:

    One more time. It is a MJ market out there. Fans are the ones who gets to decide whether an itme will be commercially successful or not. Once we stop buying everything that comes out that has a pretty picture on it or is “highly” recommended by that new Poster who just “happened” to visit we will begin to get the message across. The number of “tribute” books with excellent photos or Michael and subtly and sometimes not so subtly untruthful and unflattering messages in them are more than most know, because they only see the Pictures.

    The number of people who say they’ve moved from Fan to Supporter or Advocate and who still quote Randy T at me is staggering. When we start taking a look at what we are buying, check out reviews and stop buying trash then those that follow will get the message. We will only accept genuine products of quality and substance. We don’t put money into the pocket of those who have stolen Michael’s money and peace of mind, seeks to distort his image…..or….which goes against Michael spoken wishes.

  17. Lauren says:

    Actually, I did like the blue eye photo. To me that was
    very Michael.

  18. Seven says:


    If Backerman said that he clearly didn’t know a thing about Michael. I see a whole lot of hypocrisy and projection goin on there! Michael didn’t care about money. He gave $300Mil of it away to charity. He cared about art, and love, and healing and saving the world and the children. Money was not his priority. So if Beckerman said that, he is very obviously clueless about Michael Jackson.


    I saw where the bodyguards posted that on Facebook – about the publishers wanting salacious dirt and they refused, so now they’re having trouble finding a publisher. That’s just what I mean – there’s no way Backerman’s book would be published if it wasn’t full of tabloid lies and full of the man speaking of which he knows nothing, like Teva above indicates. I can’t imagine how it could be a book that is full of fact, truth, or respect for Michael Jackson. I strongly doubt it. What changed? I suspect it was $$$$$$. Maybe that announcement is old. I hope to God it is and that the man never publishes that thing.

  19. Lauren says:

    The interview that Backerman gave last summer specifically
    quotes him as saying that he was not going to publish his book.
    What changed? Offered more money? Michael’s three former bodyguards revealed that they were offered mega bucks to include
    negative information in their book. They refused and they cannot
    find a publisher. I wonder if each lie, exaggeration,
    innuendo, judgemental comment, or skewering comment is counted
    and money doled out accordingly. Backerman’s interview is full
    of supposition, guess work and ‘I suppose so’ and a whole lot
    of ifs. Garbage. One day this feasting on a deceased person’s
    name and life will stop…

    I hope that people who know the truth and what really happened
    will stay vocal and set the record straight immediately, just
    as Karen Faye did with those silly photos.

  20. Seven says:

    @Jeanne – I like some of the photos myself. They’re OK except the Sphinx one. The one above in this piece makes Michael look too much like a woman, IMO. It’s beautiful in an artistic sense, but it’s not really Michael – looks too plastic and feminized. I think the blue eye one is my favorite. I just wish Michael didn’t have to put up with that icky dude blowing in his face to get it made.

    In the end though, I also think that out of respect for Michael, the photos should have never been released to the public. I guess money is more important to Bani than what Michael wanted, unfortunately.

  21. Teva says:

    I watched a documentary called Michael Jackson Not For Sale about the Julien auction that was called off in 2009 by MJ. Stuart Backerman was one of the interviewees. During the documentary he said money was Michael Jackson’s god. I don’t know what type of book it will be, but…..

  22. Jeanne says:

    Dont hate me for saying so but I find the pictures beautiful . But then , I find everything about Michael beautiful. I have seen many images of Michael , many different ones and I am sure there were many that Michael did not like himself . He was very clear of what he wanted people to see . He did not want people to see ,, gay , and not because he hated gay but because he was not . He wanted people to see a kind gentleman who cared about us and the world . So I can understand why he did not want anything out there that would have added to an image in the mind of those who were ready to make foul judgement and pounce. He had far too much of that in his life , and I too can not stand anyone who is using Michael for their own gain . I am very sad that to this day this is still happening . However I know that many are using Michaels name for one reason or another , but I would just hope that those who do use the name Michael Jackson for the right causes and one that he himself would approve of and give his signature thumbs up .