Aug 04 2012

“I laughed every day until he died”

Category: Art,Books,Friends,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 10:02 am


Michael to MLB: “I needed your help”

If you haven’t heard, Michael Lee Bush, Michael Jackson’s designer/costumer for 26 years, through the worst times of his life, and right up to the very end, has a book coming out.

The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson” is due out October 30th, and is undoubtedly a must-have for die-hard fans as well as the simply fashion-curious.


What most people don’t know about Jackson is he was a joker — a playful prankster who loved to laugh and often teased those closest to him the most.

[Michael Lee] Bush tells of meeting Jackson for the first time in 1983, when both men were 25. The King of Pop hadn’t retained a costumer yet, and Bush was up for consideration. Jackson had been holed up for hours in his trailer on the set of “Captain EO.” Bush could hear a monkey squealing as he approached. It was dark inside and “like 120 degrees.” Jackson was snacking.

Eager to please as he prepped the pop star’s clothes, Bush felt something hit him gently in the head. A cherry stem. A few seconds later, it happened again. When it happened a third time, Bush lobbed a cherry at the rising superstar. Jackson tossed a handful back, and thus began a close professional and personal relationship that spanned the remainder of Jackson’s life.

I think he wanted someone he could play with. He just wanted to see, ‘Am I going to have fun with this person?‘” said Bush, now 54, an almost sheepish, informally trained clothier from Ohio who learned his craft from his mom and grandmother, who made wedding gowns, prom dresses and quilts.

And I laughed every day until he died.

. . .

Jackson had a childlike fascination with rhinestones, Bush said.

Sometimes I’d drive three hours to retrieve loose rhinestones straight from the factory, just because looking at them in that raw form pleased Michael to no end. Every time I opened the swatch of white felt that encased the rhinestones, he’d gasp,” he writes. “He’d take them from me and delicately move them around with his fingertips and whisper… ‘Can you imagine being a pirate opening a treasure chest? And seeing all the glitter inside? What a fascinating life, to be a pirate like that.’

Speaking of pirate ships .. this portrait entitled “Peter Pan” was created in 1998 on Michael’s request and was presented to him in 1999. It is Michael’s very first commission from artist Céline Lavail. At first attracted by a preliminary sketch picturing him under the personification of JM Barrie’s famous character, Michael Jackson asked for a finalized portrait of him inspired by the Peter Pan theme. This artwork adorned Neverland Ranch’s walls and was reproduced upon Michael’s request on one of the golf carts he used to drive in his California property.

More about Céline Lavail and her Michael Jackson artwork here:  Below, a video of Michael Lee Bush at work with Michael Jackson during the HIStory tour:

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{ Thanks to my friends at UK Loves MJ for locating and sharing this article about MLB’s new book and to Angela for finding the video! -Seven }

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8 Responses to ““I laughed every day until he died””

  1. Ara says:


    You have such a valuable archive of people witnessing the effect Michael had on them. I’m wondering if you are aware of the article that appeared in The Advocate magazine on June 7, 2005. Allan Brocka, a contributor, wrote of his experience of meeting Michael as he was covering the 2005 trial for, as he writes, “rebel documentary production company World of Wonder.”

    I found the article after Michael died. I’d never paid any attention to Michael when he was alive but I fell in love with him the first time I watched him in the film “This Is It”. His pain-filled sweetness & fragility broke my heart. I felt, watching Michael, that I was witnessing something holy. Thus began a research journey into Michael that changed my life.

    Of the hundreds and hundreds of articles I read, this is one of the ones that affected me most—mostly because the author spoke of a spiritual experience he had in Michael’s presence.

    I thought you might want to read it and even possibly share it. Or share excerpts. As long as you cite the source (I’ve included the web link) I’m sure there would be no copyright infringement. Michael was an angel—I feel it strongly. There was a God-force about him. Below is the text of the article in its entirety:

    “A Stranger in Neverland” Brocka, Q Allan. The Advocate 940 (June 7, 2005): 56

    When Michael Jackson was indicted, something in my gut told me he was probably guilty. Pity, because I liked that he was becoming so freaky over the years. As a lifelong weirdo myself it’s always nice to have a talented celebrity join the club. But a child molester? Not the kind of company I need in my club.

    I left it at that and didn’t put much more thought into it.

    When jury selection began, rebel documentary production company World of Wonder asked me and my directing partner to shoot a film about the fans who were moving to Santa Maria, Calif., to voice support for Jackson during the trial. Brilliant! Telling the stories of those that most people dismiss as strange is my thing.

    But as I researched the case, I found it difficult to get facts free of editorial. Trusted news organizations peppered words like “weird” and “wacko” throughout their coverage and took knocks at his looks, voice, and manner. The jabs at his race and gender reminded me how far we have to go in acceptance not only of sexuality but of racial and gender diversity.

    I reexamined my initial hunch. Why had I thought he was “probably guilty”? Honestly? Because I thought he was a closeted gay man. And then—snap! I had made the leap from closeted gay to pedophile all on my very own. It is one of the most fundamental lies used to perpetuate homophobia, and on some level I fell for it.

    Ten years of raiding Neverland, Jackson’s home, have turned up nothing but two art books and a bunch of hetero porn. This trial could end proving nothing except that Michael Jackson is heterosexual. What if they’d found a Falcon video or even just a copy of The Advocate? It’s frightening to think that the discovery of one of those items could seal someone’s conviction as a child molester. I’ve got lots of both.

    Last month I filmed a young woman who approached Jackson’s SUV on his way home from court. She was struggling with cancer and afraid the accusation that Jackson had molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor might frighten Jackson from ever reaching out again. But Jackson held her hand tightly and gave her encouragement as she told him of her impending bone-marrow transplant. His simple gesture meant the world to her. With his own family hanging in the balance, Jackson still takes the time to make a difference to people. Every day.

    After we’d spent weeks outside Neverland filming the fans, Michael Jackson invited us all inside. There were about 70 of us, ranging in age from10 to 80. Leaving our camera behind, we walked with the fans right up to the porch, and Michael stepped out to greet us. He presented his children: Prince, Paris, and Prince II (a.k.a. Blanket). The kids waved, and the crowd screamed, “We love you!”

    Once inside, I looked at the faces around me, many of them so familiar. I knew what this moment meant to them. I knew all of them were right then experiencing one of the highlights of their lives.

    It was then I realized, so was I. Inside Neverland, Michael, his children, and his parents mingled with us, making a point to personally thank as many as possible. He smiled graciously as I passed him, and all I could think to say was, “Thank you for the music.” Later I kicked myself. I could’ve said anything, but I quoted ABBA to the King of Pop.

    Since then, I’ve been unable to describe the experience without thinking I sound like a lunatic. The happiness was overwhelming. Tears welled up in my eyes. There was something almost spiritual about it. I felt kinder, more generous, a better person. I looked around at my documentary subjects, giddy with excitement, and finally saw what they had in common: Michael Jackson brought out the best in them.

    My friends say I’m brainwashed, a wacko. I argue Jackson’s case every chance I get.

    But it wasn’t Neverland that changed me as much as the realization that homophobia and sexism play such large roles in the public’s perception that he’s “probably guilty.”

    Whatever the eventual verdict, two things I know: One, Michael Jackson has committed so much of himself to helping others that thousands of people are better off because of him. Two, Michael Jackson is an American citizen. Just one of those is enough to let him be innocent until proven guilty. Give him his day in court.

    Copyright Liberation Publications June 7, 2005

    P.S. (Hope it’s okay that I submit such a long post…)

  2. Seven says:

    I don’t know where the profits go. I suspect they go to the publisher + Michael Bush, but I’m not sure. I’ll see what I can find out about it.

  3. Jennifer Park says:

    Could you tell me the profit of this book’s sales go into the estate? Before I buy this book, I have to consider it.

  4. Seven says:

    I believe that is the case ie: the items are auctioned and the proceeds go to MusiCares. I don’t know who owns them. I wish all of MJ’s things would go into a museum or traveling exhibition then into a museum.

  5. Sina says:

    Seven, Branca is not on the board of MuciCares anymore, but probably still conected.
    Do you mean that the items will be auctioned and the proceeds go to Musicares? Who owns them ,are some not items Michael gave to Michael Bush?
    I hope they will stay as one collection and if they auction them it will be on the condition that they go to a museum or preferably a traveling exhibition. Its cultural heritage and should be treated as such.

  6. Seven says:

    Not coincidentally, Mr. Branca is on the board of MusiCares. It’s a good charity but I’d rather see Michael’s things in a museum where he wanted them.

  7. june says:

    Yes, Sina, I have read that some of Michael’s stage garments are to be auctioned, again through Julien’s! With some of the profits going to MusiCares. I have ordered Mr. Bush’s book and can’t wait for it’s arrival! In the History Tour, there were many images of Michael Bush helping Michael on and off with costumes; you can tell Mr. Bush loved his job working with Michael Jackson. Thank you Seven, for this uplifting story.

  8. Sina says:

    “It was hard to imagine anyone that projected fashion and style any better.”

    Seven thank you for a very much needed break.
    In the passed weeks I had a dejavu of the media atmosphere after the airing of the Bashir mocumentary and I like to have that out of my system.
    The book indeed looks like a must have. I love Michaels style and how it evolved through the years, and who best to tell the story than his personal costumer.
    I read somewhere that there is also an exhibition of Michaels original stage garments that will be auctioned. I really hope that wil not happen but that they make it a traveling exhibition.
    Maybe Michael Bush can start a line of MJ tshirt, Im still looking for something special and as there is none, Im customizing my own.
    After suffering his own personal loss, I hope it will give MLB some kind of consolation to still be involved with Michael and what he does best.