Thursday, May 23, 2024

Exclusive: Bodyguards Detail Michael Jackson’s Last 2 Years of Dwindling Finances, “Homelessness,” and Mysterious Lady Friends


In the last two years of his life, Michael Jackson entertained at least two mysterious lady friends. According to his bodyguards in their chock-full-of-stories book “Remember the Time,” the women simply showed up and Jackson knew them. Their code names were “Friend” and “Flower.”

The former was “drop dead gorgeous.” Jackson would meet her at a Hamptons Inn in Chantilly, Virginia in the summer of 2007 when he and his family were staying on the East Coast.  Was she a hooker? Did Jackson pay her? The guards don’t know. The girl named “Flower” stayed at a place called– I love this– the Red Fox Inn in Middleburg, Virginia. (You can almost hear Redd Foxx shouting “Here comes the big one!”)

Was there, uh, sex involved? With “Friend” in the car, one of the bodyguards drove them to see the Washington Monument at night. “All we heard was smackin’ lips behind the curtain,” Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard write. Cops in tactical uniforms eventually stopped them and ran the car’s plates. It was registered to Michael Jackson. No ticket. But they got autographs.

Two new Michael Jackson books hit stores next week. Only one of them is of much interest. “Remember the Time” is written by the two main bodyguards who were with Jackson from the time he returned from Bahrain in December 2006 until his death on June 25th, 2009. The book should be called “Adventures in Babysitting.” Whitfield and Beard have so many good stories that you can’t put the book down.

Even if half of them are true, the book is a page turning “Thriller.”

Unlike the other book, “Michael Jackson Inc..” which is largely a clip job with a lot of omissions and errors, “Remember the Time” is about as close and personal a collection of original observations that you can get about Jackson during that period. The two guards were with him in Las Vegas, on his circuitous trip to Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey, back to Vegas, and finally, Los Angeles for the preparation of the “This is It” tour.

All the traveling was because Jackson would not return to Neverland after the 2005 trial ended. “It’s contaminated by evil,” he told his kids.

Not only that, Whitfield and Beard (Whitfield especially) was there was for the arrival of “Doctor” Tohme, all the shenanigans of publicist- turned manager Raymone Bain, and even the recording of the famed Cascio tracks that turned up on the “Michael” album.

There’s a lot of great stuff. Michael, they say, was obsessed with Bobby Brown’s song “My Prerogative.” He wanted to cover it.

A lot of “Remember the Time” has to do with money. Jackson was running out of it, like gas leaking out of a car. The ironic part is that he always had cash stashed away even as his credit cards were being turned down on romps through malls and toy stores. For weeks on end, the men say, they weren’t paid, but held on out of loyalty.

The saga of their own paychecks not coming through dovetails with stories I was breaking at the time about Jackson allowing his parents’ mortgage to fall into the hands of strangers, of employees at Neverland not being paid, and so on.

A few things of interest to kick us off:

Jackson’s credit was so bad that AT&T asked for a $5,000 deposit when he tried to get a cell phone.

Despite refusing to see his family– and their many efforts to see him– Jackson still had father Joe Jackson on his mind. Whenever anyone wronged him, Michael would say: “I should have my father kick their asses,” he’d say repeatedly.

Jackson was insulated from bad press. The only paper he read every day was The Wall Street Journal because it was the only place he wouldn’t run into Michael Jackson stories. Manager Raymone Bain kept bad stories away from him, and Jackson himself didn’t go on the internet.

Jackson was surprised to learn after some time that Raymone Bain wasn’t running a big management office for him. Her HQ was her home in Washington DC.

During this period, Jackson relied heavily on L.A. attorney Peter Lopez (who committed suicide in 2010, a year after Jackson died). He would call Lopez and ask him, “Peter I don’t know where my money is. Or how much money I have. Can you help me?”

The other lawyer during this time was Greg Cross, of the venerable DC firm Venable LLC. Bain and Venable were constantly squabbling within earshot of the bodyguards about Jackson’s perilous finances.

The guards discovered that Jackson had been hoarding Tabasco sauce in his rented Las Vegas home. “A shitload of it,” they write. The entire pantry in the kitchen was wall to wall with it.

Michael carried a silver briefcase with him wherever he went containing two Oscars from “Gone with the Wind.” He’d paid $1.5 million for them in 1999. They were his “hard asset” in case his back was really against the wall.

They frequently took Michael and his kids out on expeditions. Jackson would be veiled or in costume. One time they passed him off as Prince, the singer. At a Chuck E. Cheese, wily daughter Paris responded “As if” when a parent asked her if her veiled father was Michael Jackson.

In Virginia, the bodyguards say they “lived” at Burlington Coat Factory, buying clothes for themselves and the kids because the summer 2007 trip had gone on longer than anyone imagined.

Michael was constantly asking the bodyguards to inquire about buying crap he saw in stores or malls. He had them plunk down $1,000 for a life size set of “Simpsons” characters he saw in a movie theater lobby.

More to come…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News