Illustration by Marc Lostracco/Torontoist.
The passing of the King of Pop last Thursday inspired different reactions. Tweeting about it and frantically downloading his discography were two popular ones. In Toronto, rather than mourn, people celebrated his legacy by moonwalking all over Yonge-Dundas Square. And we suspect a slew of tribute shows are already in the works. Torontoist got in touch with some well-known local fans who were eager to share their tales of MJ worship with us.
Luther Mallory, Crush Luther: “When I was fourteen or fifteen, I had rented Moonwalker so many times from my local video store that they gave it to me. They were like, ‘Nobody else rents this; you spent a billion dollars renting it for some reason—you can just have it.’ I spent a lot of time trying to learn the dance part in ‘Smooth Criminal’ where he does the big forward lean thing. I spent a lot of time in my mom’s basement learning the choreography—pretty poorly though.”
Lex Vaughn, artist: “My friend Andrew Harwood had his unauthorized biography and said, ‘You have to read this.’ It was so fascinating and crazy and disturbing. We decided to curate an art show and ask twenty-five other artists to submit work of their interpretation of what Michael meant to them. What we got was an incredible range of submissions, from whole screenprinted bedsheets and pillowcases to a beautiful painting of a young Jackson Five-era Michael with vitiligo.”
Pete Carmichael, the Diableros: “When I turned seven, I had a Michael Jackson-themed birthday party. My mom even made me a glove. I wore it to school for days afterwards. A few kids asked me ‘Why are you wearing one glove?’ and I would respond by doing the moonwalk.”
Joshua Reichmann, Josh Reichmann Oracle Band: “I saw the Jackson Five when I was young, during their reunion tour. A giant druid-like creature opened the show, spewing light from its mouth. That, and the nonstop hysterics coming from all around, screaming, high energy disbelief, almost frightened me out of my mom’s tight hippy red leather jacket. The show was at Exhibition Stadium. A real spectacle.”
Sara D’Amato, Four Seasons sommelier: “As a little kid I remember listening to Thriller on my Fisher-Price record player. I loved to dance and wanted to get into dance because of him. In high school, everyone knew I was a huge fan because I had the T-shirts and the glove, and recently I’ve been getting all these emails from people I went to high school sending their condolences. It’s been really neat getting in touch with all these people. I remember in history class, my teacher said he would give me an A on a paper if I did the moonwalk. So someone brought in a ghetto blaster and played ‘Billie Jean’ and I did the moonwalk.”
Joseph Shabason, Loving in the Name Of DJ/musician: “I was at my bubbie’s condo in Florida and I saw the ‘Black or White’ video on MTV. Since I didn’t even have cable at the time and had never seen MTV before, I completely lost my shit. It really couldn’t have been a more perfect video for ten-year-old me. It had Macaulay Culkin, Norm from Cheers, Slash, and all those dances and changing faces (they had me at Macaulay Culkin). Anyway, after I saw that I went out and bought the tape and listened to it non-stop. I also got my friend who had cable to tape the video off of Much Music and we promptly started learning the dances whilst singing along. I learned the whole album off by heart and belted out ‘Will You Be There’ in my room alone…a lot.”
Chris Locke, comedian: “When I was six, I was a freak for Thriller just like everyone else and my parents took me to the concert at Exhibition Stadium. I had my own little white shiny glove on my right hand. I’m pretty sure it was a glove my mom used to wear for figure skating. When it came time for the actual ‘Thriller’ song, I’m pretty sure there were zombies on stage or some sort of monsters, but I can hardly remember because I was cowering in my mom’s arms with so much fear. I got really scared and started crying a lot. My parents tried to calm me down, probably thinking, “Geez, we have a stupid, sensitive son.'”