"Dear Michael" GUEST POST: Meeting Michael Jackson by saidjess.com

(This is a guest post by Jess at saidjess.com.)

Hi I'm Jess, you might remember me as one half of the http://Steady-Laughing.com website. You also might remember me from King Of Pop Forum and other MJ communities.

We started the website back in Feb 2002. I had been building an MJ site on and off for a few years but I became friends with my website partner, Vicky, on a forum and together we used our expertise to design a super site. Our site specialised in super rare pictures that we made sure to cross post to all corners of the Michael Jackson internets. We also had the latest up-to-date photos from MJs current trips. We loved to be first to share them. If I can be honest, Vicky took up a lot of the slack.

I tried to fill up the site with other content. The site ended after MJ passed. We both were in to our mid/late 20s and had work, school and other relationships to take care of. It was an end of an era but we loved every minute of it. I love to see photos with the http://s-l.com  logo on them still floating around :)

Meeting Michael Jackson 

I loved Michael Jackson as if he had always existed. There was no point in my life where I discovered who he was or that I felt an affinity toward him, I don’t really remember suddenly becoming ‘obsessed’ with him, it was always just the way that it was.

I am almost 34 years old and have been learned and collected many things about MJ for as far back as I can remember.

For me, it wasn’t just about the music. I was 13 years old when he arrived in Australia for the History World Tour – I didn’t have tickets because unfortunately that was the year I spent my longest (of many) bout in hospital and by the time November came around I was too unwell to see him.

Instead, I promised myself that when I was old enough I would see him.

At 17, I joined Internet forums and began to make friends with fans who had met him and seen him on multiple occasions. They seemed to make it sound so easy – that MJ was not the untouchable that all magazines and tabloids made him out to be.

When I turned 18, I got a passport and a plane ticket the second I found out MJ was going to be in one place for long enough.

On April 19, 2002, I was New York City bound on my own, having never traveled abroad before. Standing 4’8ft tall and expecting that I was going to be safe and knowing that I would be meeting Michael Jackson.

Of course, I didn’t know any of that for sure, but my arrogance or at least my lack of life experience outside of my very sheltered hospital and parent-protected bubble didn’t allow me to believe much else.

The day that I left for New York, I received news as I was heading to the airport to tell me that my grandfather had passed away and there was a moment where I had to truly reevaluate if this trip was worth it. However, strangely both of my parents pointed out that he would have been happy for me to go – he wouldn’t have wanted me to stay at home when I had an adventure waiting for me.

I saw Michael Jackson for the first time face-to-face on the second day that I was in New York City. He was arriving back from a fire alarm at The Palace Hotel where he had been staying. The road to the back entrance was not overly busy and I found myself standing in the middle of it with my jaw on the floor as I glimpsed a tiny peep of him through the crack of the open limousine door as his driver got out to ask everyone to clear out of the way.

He was wearing pajama pants and a red sweater and I was stunned. Apparently, also hard of hearing because there was a car that was beeping at me and I had to peel myself out of the way and on to the curb.

I was ready to go home. I saw MJ, huzzah!

The next few days were depressing. I’m not by any means a social person and given my limited social experiences with friends at 18, I had a high level of social anxiety. I felt like I didn’t truly fit in to any of the groups of fans. They already knew each other well (this is not to say they were cliquey, they were all very nice to me), I was exhausted and jetlagged from an over 24-hr flight to New York from Sydney and to top it off, my grandfather was gone.

Michael was scheduled to perform at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem for the Democrats convention on the 24th of April (I believe). My biggest heartbreak happened this night – I had been waiting to see him all night out the front of the venue and he never showed up so I sat at the curb and cried from exhaustion. Somebody convinced me to go back to the hotel to sleep. The performance as we had discovered was for American residents only and ID was needed to get in. So, I decided it was a good idea to get some sleep.

One thing nobody could have prepared me for in NYC was the amount of walking required. I have a crappy respiratory system, walking for me can be physically exhausting so by the time I got back to my room, I slept like a baby. In fact, I slept so like a baby that I didn’t hear one of the girls get back to the room ranting that everybody had been let inside to see Michael, including others from all different countries—something that Michael had organized.

I was quietly devastated. I got out of bed and remember trying to console her, but it was to no avail. Together we traveled back to The Palace Hotel where Michael had not yet arrived back. There were a lot more fans than just our small group who had been hanging out previously. Michael signed CDs, notes, guitars and everything that night while I questioned the reasons why I even bothered to try to see him when everyone was gearing up for my grandfather’s funeral back home.

The following day I got talking to a fan who was from England. We instantly hit it off, chatting. When she found out I had come all the way from Australia to see him, she told me with a decisiveness, “you are going to meet him!”. I thought it was nice of her to say, but by the end of the afternoon she had me convinced.

As a collective of about 20 fans, we had used that day (apparently Michael was sleeping?) to organize a small anti-Sony demonstration outside of the New York Sony building. We held signs and had someone from inside come and take photos of us, probably to show the big wigs upstairs – as far as I know that was the beginning of the Sony war with Michael based on their treatment toward him with Invincible and the ATV catalogue.

Another devastating moment was later in the evening. Michael took his children shopping to FAO Schwartz and fans chased down his car as fans do. Somewhere along the line, I was intimidated by a bodyguard who told a few of us we would be arrested if we followed (lol, in hindsight, this guy had no juristriction over where we went). So I stayed back at the hotel, not wanting to be arrested in a foreign country (lol!). Michael arrived back around an hour later and I thought luck had struck me. He was not in a limousine anymore, just an SUV with the window cranked all the way down, not a fan to be seen. He had Paris laying on his lap, her head resting on his chest and I kept my distance as the gates to the garage lifted. I smiled at him. He nodded in recognition and I held out a card I had for him that I’d been holding over the days hoping to give to him. I didn’t want to encroach on his personal space and was around 6ft from his window. He waved me over nodding at me as if to tell me it was okay.

I could barely figure out what was happening. I managed to say I love you in a tone that I was sure wouldn’t wake his sleeping child, but I felt like it spooked him as he took the card and the window began to roll up quickly. I felt embarrassed, as though he saw me as a threat, but seconds later, allaying my fears, was another fan (not part of the regular group I’d been hanging out with) knocking me over on to the road, screaming his name and banging on the window.

When I got up and dusted myself off, I realized his window didn’t come back down and that I wasn’t the reason for it going up.

Before I parted ways with my new English friend late that night, she told me that tomorrow would be the day. I thought it was very kind of her, but I wasn’t expecting anything after my disappointments.

Michael went shopping the following day and the group of rough fans flew home to their native country which made me feel calmer. I made Michael a sign that told him I had flown all the way to see him from Australia. It was a stupid, ratty sign but it was all I had time for. I made sure to carry something to sign and my camera was even in the pant-leg of my cargo pants, “just in case”.

Michael left the hotel and fans scattered. I can’t run, I end up running out of puff after about 6 strides to the point where I desaturate and can’t get air for a few moments; never-the-less, my English friend waited for me while fans ran after him – every man for himself –style. She had the patience of a saint.

First Michael went to a glasses shop. The same guard tried to tell us we would be arrested while Michael told us exactly where he was going so we could come… lol. He browsed glasses and watched a fan dance for him inside the store. I was able to see him directly through the glass. I held up my crappy sign for him managed to see him reading it. I gave him the thumbs up; to be honest, I don’t even remember his response.

Next he went to Sharper Image. There was a larger crowd that time. The bodyguard was allowing all the fans to flow inside and again, as I touched the door after my English friend entered, I was told there were too many people and I was not allowed inside. I could have cried, but I had a clever thought. In other experiences, Michael was made to leave to go to his car first before anyone was let out to follow him – for his safety. Since I stood in the doorway, surely I would be able to touch him or say hello?

After glumly watching everyone get a chance to hug him and speak with him inside, he walked out of the shop, as I thought, first, with his back to me.  He was paused, speaking to someone. He was literally touching me, his back against the sleeve of my ugly yellow hoodie. As soon as he was done, he began to walk the short distance from shop-to-curb.

I tapped him as gently as I knew how to get his attention twice. “Excuse me, Michael?” (Yep, I actually managed to use my manners, it seems so comical in retrospect). He didn’t even feel my tapping through the thickness of his black jacket so I tried again. He was almost away from arms reach but he turned around and stared straight at me.

I had the floor!

I didn’t know what to say. I was stunned. I felt someone grab my hand as the  other fans tried to file out of the shop. About three sentences left my mouth at the one time; I love you so much, I’m from Australia, you are the best!

I tried again, but he was being pushed toward the entryway of his car. He cupped a hand over his ear as if he was telling me to speak up. I didn’t bother because when I looked down I saw that it was him holding my hand.

His hand was cold and huge. Comically huge; totally engulfing mine (not that would be hard, I have creepy baby hands). He got pushed in to the limo at that point and I was over the moon. Could I say I met him? Not really, but I did manage to speak gibberish at him! Huzzah!

I was about 15ft away when I heard the other (nicer) bodyguard call out, “Where is the Australian girl?” from nowhere my English friend appeared beside me. She grabbed me by the arm and dragged me quickly toward the bodyguard, “here she is! Here she is!”.

The bodyguard smiled at me and said, “Mr Jackson would like to meet you.”

What. The….

I was literally shoved in Michael’s direction in the limousine. I was shaking and nervous and trying my best not to cry. He reached for my hand as I stood dumbly and asked me if I was okay. I nodded and finally found my voice.

“Thank you for meeting me!”

He said it was his honor. I know he said that probably to everyone, but I didn’t care, he was staring in to my eyes as he said it.

“Did you really travel all the way from Australia to see me?”
I said, “Yes Michael, I have been a fan for a long, long time.”
I told him all-in-all, including transit time and transfer flights, around 28 hours, but 24 hours all told for flights.
“Twenty for hours!? Wow!” he seemed quite impressed.
He went on to ask where in Australia I was from and told me about a theme park that he had visited when he went to Sydney in the 80s.

He said, “Wow, how long did it take?”

I would like to point out that I am still kind of convinced to this day that Michael thought he was dealing with a 12-14 year old child because at 18 I wasn’t 5ft tall, had no dress sense and was probably wearing all of the articles of clothing in my suitcase at the one time. From the way he spoke to me so fatherly, I believe he thought I had irresponsible parents that allowed a child to see him on their own.

He asked if I had seen him when he was in Australia in 1996. I said, “No, Michael, I was unwell – I was in the hospital at the time, I was devastated that’s why I’m here now.”

He asked if I was healthy, I said I was.

He even took my sign and smiled at it, on the bottom I had written, “Sony Sucks” with a big smiley. He said, “So… you think Sony Sucks?” he looked so serious for a moment that I was scared I had offended him – or was scared of giving him the wrong answer. I slowly nodded and said, “yes, I do…?”
He sat back and said, “I so agree!” (this is his exact wording even though my truthfulness regarding his response was questioned when I shared this with many later).

I was holding a very good condition of the TV Guide 1999 in my possession that I had yet to think to ask him to sign. He stared at it for a moment and then said, “would you like me to sign something?” I was glad he asked cos I’d have never remembered. I handed it to him and said, “please,” he glanced at himself on the cover and laughed.

Strangely, he said, “Am I in this?” I don’t know why he asked, he was clearly in it being that he was on the cover.

Before his question even finished, I snapped, “yes page 13,” (or whatever page, I’d only been looking at it earlier) to which caused laughter from him. I realized how I sounded and made a joke of it saying, “not that I have memorized it or anything…”

He signed my TV guide and handed it back to me. He grabbed on to my hand again and I knew if I didn’t say what I had rehearsed forever, I may never get another chance. So, I said to him, “Michael I love you so much…” I’m not a generally emotional person and saying those words to him was hard because it wasn’t an expression that ever really frequented from my mouth.

He squeezed my hand and said, “Ohh, I love you too…”

I got slightly emotional (no tears, just shaking). He stroked my hand and touched my face and said I was adorable. I told him something a little more personal, and he seemed inspired momentarily and said, “as long as one person believes in you, you can achieve anything, even if they are a stranger, I’m telling you that I believe in you. You can do anything.”

They were honestly words that changed my entire life.

I couldn’t thank him enough. I am sure we chatted briefly for a few more moments but some of those memories are lost now.

I do know that it was me who decided to wrap it up so I didn’t get a bodyguard giving me the heave-ho. I said, “Michael I love you, thank you for meeting me I can’t thank you enough”

He said, “oh no, no, I love you more, it was my honor…”

I said goodbye to him and had to literally peel myself away from his car. I had a couple of fans surrounding me (even ones who hadn’t been overly kind to me) wanting to know everything. I am sure my meeting lasted about two minutes, if that, but it felt like time completely stood still. 

My English friend engulfed me in a hug and I sobbed my little heart out and we rode a taxi back to the hotel while she directed me to write everything down in my journal so I didn’t forget a word of what was said.

I never asked for a photo. I didn’t think of it, but I don’t care because I don’t think he would have wanted to take one even if he would have never dared to say no to his fans (and I don’t think I’ve heard of him saying no), so I’m okay with not having one on that day.

I stayed on in NYC for another week and I had one more experience with Michael on that trip as he left a building. He walked past me and I touched his hand and told him that I loved him again (turns out, it wasn’t so hard to say it again and again!) and he said I love you more and touched my hair.

My trip to NYC was a sort-of coming of age trip. I met my idol, I did so independently despite what anyone else thought or said, and I survived in a foreign country on my own! More importantly, I was inspired to live my life again.

Surely that meant I was a fully-fledged adult, right?

You can read more from Jess by visiting www.saidjess.com or following her on Instagram @michaeljacksonfor365days 


  1. Uh I cried so much reading this. you are beyond lucky. I'm still crying...

    1. thank you for reading Jess' post! wasn't her story amazing? <3 <3

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. What an incredible memory! You're SO lucky! Thank you for sharing it.

    1. thank you for reading Jess' post! <3


thanks for commenting, #MJfam! xx

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