Lynn Crosbie

Crazy Michael Jackson Fan

The Jackson Five, “Ben” (1974)

I am writing this in the days following the death of Michael Jackson, thinking about those dreadful shrines people put on dead stars’ doorsteps, or any number of loci significant enough to bear the weight of crazed portraiture, sentimental plush, guttered votive candles and personal notes that invariably make assertions about immortality.

The shrines, which were once randomly, and idiosyncratically, assembled, are now curated according to modern tradition: One may, for example, write I LOVE YOU MICHAEL with a glitter-pen; but one may not leave a suicide note written in blood on the back of a Gund toy. One may leave cheap cellophane-wrapped daisies, but not a spangled blood orange; one may not set fire to the shrine while howling about its tawdry sentimentality that likely disgusts the ravening, entirely-too-tasteful monster, Death.

The aesthetics of these shrines ensures that order and goodness prevail, while guaranteeing an absence of authentic regard for the deceased.

Michael Jackson, that sublime arbiter of taste, and peerless artist, has nothing to do with piles of garbage on street-corners: This is a man who was seldom seen without a surgical (or, occasionally, comical) mask in public; without bandage-wrapped fingers or pitch-black glasses, as though the world offended his senses and sensibilities.

Yet, he had a great deal to do with the maudlin effusions of fans. For all of his reserve, his seemingly phobic behaviors, he was unfailingly kind to, and open with, fans. While healthy celebrities routinely treat their public in the manner of Marie Antoinette, as contagions and threats to be swiftly dispatched of by their handlers, Jackson, who was genuinely fragile (in every sense of the word) would allow fans to kiss, hug, touch and even maul him.

When he said, “I love you all so much” at his last press conference to his delirious, screaming fans, he actually meant it.

And why not? Having spent his life despising and deforming The Man in the Mirror; having so few friends, he looked out, and, astonishingly, saw us looking back.

Look at this video of a Munich concert where a young woman rushes him, and he holds her, while singing “You Are Not Alone.” He holds her like a friend, like a brother, and like a lover, and he does not let go until she is dragged away screaming.

Michael Jackson, “You Are Not Alone” (Live in Munich)

In this Bucharest concert, yet another young woman seizes him during “She’s Out of My Life,” and he not only holds her back, he plants a brief, smoking hot kiss on her. When she is dragged away, she is in a state of sexual frenzy. That lucky girl, reads much of the commentary. I feel the same way, except paralyzed with violent jealousy.

Michael Jackson, “She’s Out of My Life” (Live in Bucharest, 1996)

Jackson was so sexy, something so few ever speak of, and the objects of his sexual attention were so arcane, so unknowable, a mere touch from him must have been explosive (this precise paradigm drives the fans of “Twilight,” who yearn so terribly for the leading man because he is also inscrutable and highly selective he is a hundred-year-old Vampire virgin.)

When Jackson came out hard, around the time of “Black or White,” with his new, crotch-grabbing move (which was promptly stolen by Madonna, the woman Jackson called “That heifer”), he became an even greater threat — brilliant, and dangerously, so strangely sexual.

Strangely, in part, because we knew we would never grab that; or for that matter, know of anyone who did.

Michael Jackson, “Black or White” (1991)

By making his genitals so central to his mid-career performances, he implied, through gesture, that his sexuality was the key to the music, the dancing, the heat he put out (compare one swipe of Jackson’s graceful, dirty hand to the Mick Jagger’s laborious insistence, in “She’s So Cold” — ‘Put your hand on the heat, your hand on the heat and come on baby let’s go!”: black and white)

I used to want to buy posters of Jackson and rape them, I loved him so much.

And still do.

A few months ago, I went on a blind date with a surprisingly suave little man, who lives in a basement, has no job and likes to smoke pot all day.

He had been writing me ardent letters for weeks, and on the phone one night, he choked up: “This is it. You’re the one. I… I love you.”

And even as he clung to me as if I were a colossus made of sugar, his tiny legs and arms moving like insect feelers, I thought, “He is a nice man, I should give him a chance.”

He called me the next day to say I was “too angry” for him to deal with.

I called a friend and after laughing a lot about me caring what the cruel midget thought, he said, “When someone loves you, they love all of you.”

I feel that way about Michael Jackson. I love his music, his performing; I love his beauty and brilliance.

I also love the nylon wigs worn slightly askew, the painfully chic pairing of cotton pyjamas and garish haute couture, the messed up, make-out lipstick, the huge, black irises, the sexy taint of scandal, his curatorial practices, the name “Blanket“, the way he jumped on cars, or smashed up cars then turned into a proud black panther.

His startling innocence, his dope; how he felt his way through self-analysis saying “Childhood” a song and video that Stanley Kubrick seems to have made is his purest autobiography—his constant assertion that he was deprived of a childhood (true, and tortured during it also), which is why he is always with children.

Michael Jackson, “Childhood” (1995)

I love that he sang the most beautiful love song, “Ben,” to a rat.

I love him for playing through the pain, the pain he said was “thunder.”

I love meeting a young gay friend and watching huge projections of his videos, watching him play with his then-wife Lisa Marie Presley in “You Are Not Alone,” because you can see a flash of his obviously enormous penis, something very clearly missing from the art of Jordy Chandler.

Michael Jackson, “You Are Not Alone” (1995)

My friend once told me he used to fantasize that the rumours were true and wished he could meet and be ravished by Michael Jackson when he was 13.

But it was hard to fantasize about Jackson, whose sexuality was, ultimately, part of his mystery, part of the burlesque nature of some of his work. The man who was so complex that to have erotic thoughts about him is like making a pin-up of Picasso’s Dora Maar.

I love also, the crazy fans who attacked him on stage, for their ardent and innocent belief that if they held on to him, he would not let go.

He never did.

Death would have his way with my narcotic beauty, and, like so those driven to near-madness by this profound intimacy, would not release him.

- Lynn Crosbie

  • Jowita Bydlowska

    I understand. When I was 12 I recorded “Remember the time” on a VHS and edited the part where Michael kisses Iman. I put it on a loop and played it endlessly ( – 5:54). It totally turned me on. Great essay. Thank you.

  • madboy

    Intense. These clips leave us with an ocean of questions about the nature of desire. Thanks, Lynn.

  • alanTdot

    Lynn, I haven’t read anything better about MJ’s death. Fabulous column.

  • Julia

    My God. At this moment I want to hold YOU and not let go. Thank you for speaking our unconventional desires. Imprinted in my memory since childhood is the clip from “Dirty Diana” in which he tears his t-shirt in half. What sort of frenzy inspired it? A. Anger. B. Lust. C. The need to truly bare oneself. D. All of the above, simultaneously. I choose D, and that is why I choose Michael Jackson.

  • Mary Gaitskill

    Hi Lynn. I’m an ogre who doesn’t especially connect with Michael Jackson, though I like some of his songs–what you wrote made me understand why he means so much to people, never saw him as brilliant before, but now I get it. Thanks!

  • Darcy

    “People who don’t appreciate “Ben” don’t really appreciate pop culture and remain clueless about MJ. His tender, profound emotionality taught teenagers everywhere that they could feel more deeply than they realized.” A must-read article on Jackson…

  • Mitchell Graves

    I actually used to enjoy reading Lynn Crosbie. How can I continue to do so, given her ardour for junkie pedophiles?

    • Sean Dixon

      It strikes me as perfectly reasonable to condemn a junkie pedophile. But to sit in judgment of someone who loves a junkie pedophile? I’m not so sure about that.

  • Neena

    You just nailed it Lynn. Wonderfully written. Thank you.

  • Bella

    The embrace between Jackson and the fan during “You Are Not Alone” is exquisite. But it is one of desperation and impossibility. Each is desperate for the attention of the other. The fan craves Jackson. He craves her as the emblem of a multitude. It is impossible that this individual union could continue. So it remains pure. Its appeal rests on fantasy. There is no real element of sex, only of desire.

    Jackson’s posturing crotch-grab was a gesture of sexual selfishness, containment, a display of what could not, would not be shared. This fostering of desire with no possibility of fulfillment fuels the imaginations of teenage girls. The desire is an end in itself. Fulfillment would entail loss of control and then terrifying vulnerability. I think that if women cherish Jackson’s stage persona as sexy, it indicates a longing for protected childhood and puberty and for relief from the complexities of maturity.

  • John

    I watched these videos and read your column, and I cried and cried. To have kissed the mouth that produced such sweet music…

  • Hamster

    Michael Jackson all over Montreal:

  • Capucine0512

    I agree with all yuou have said, even now,

    I cannot get enough of looking at him. The Argentina girl while kissing him on stage, I kept playing it over and over looking at his lips and struting closer to kiss her.

    I love hikm soo and at the same time upset with im for doing this to himself so I cannot get more of him…

    I keep looking for more compilations from fans put together with his music it makes me cry and seek more of him struting on stage, talking, waving, looking at fans, anything, it looks soo GORGEOUS with his black hair and ruby lips and the looks befor this…I LOVE HIM SOOO!!!

  • Jenn

    Oh man you are not alone at 1:11 in high def. HOLY CRAP. I can’t begin to thank you for the heads up! Oh adn you’re a great writer. If you wrote a book on anything I’d read it.


    Very well said. You just summed up how we (his die-hard FEMALE fans) feel for him. I would have written the same if I’m equipped with the right words. Upto now, I’m having a hard time wrapping up my confused feelings after his death, and because of this, having difficulty letting go and moving on.

    I love him. want him, need him so much and don’t quite know how to express it.

    Thank you for this.

  • A. Beveridge

    If MJ had to choose between a mature, intelligent woman and a naive, pre-pubescent minor for a sexual encounter, we all know what his choice would be. How is that arousing?

    • Karlo

      He’s sexy and you know nothing, any sex with him is great.

  • LILY

    Thank you, Lynn Crosbie. That was truly AMAZING.

  • Anon

    I was born on his birthday in 2000, 29 August…

  • Vassago Gamori

    “…the sexy taint of scandal…”

    ah, yes…Lil’ Bobby Scandal.

Ryeberg Curator Bio

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Lynn Crosbie is the author of a book length poem entitled “Liar” and is the coolest poet in Canada. She has published two novels with House of Anansi Press, "Life Is About Losing Everything" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" Lynn is an English Literature Ph.D. She has lectured on and written about visual art at the AGO, the Power Plant, and OCAD University where she taught for six years. She is an award-winning journalist with a regular column in the Globe and Mail called "Pop Rocks." She is also an ardent admirer, and fan of Michael Jackson.