How did the opportunity to meet M.J. come about?
When I was thirteen, my stepdad’s co-worker (at the Ultramar refinery in Wilmington, CA - though they may have been Diamond Shamrock back then, I can’t remember when they changed names - and they ended up being Valero before he retired)/friend had a tragedy occur in his family. His young, mentally ill wife decided it’d be a great idea to toss her two young children off the side of a bridge, into the Los Angeles River, and then jump in herself. The youngest of the two boys, Craig, sadly didn’t survive. Mikey did survive, as did his mother.
The story got a lot of media attention in Los Angeles and Michael Jackson requested to attend the funeral, was welcomed, and did attend. I attended, as well, since my stepdad was close to the kids’ dad. Michael Jackson stood near my stepdad and I during the graveside service. I remember him being very thin and shorter than I had expected. He also smelled good, more manly that I’d expect. His voice was deeper and more “normal” than it was during interviews/public events.
Links to info about the murder/attempted murder + info Michael attending the funeral & helping the family:http://articles.latimes.com/1995-02-22/news/mn-34675_1_long-beach-bridge
Several months later, he invited Michael Sr. (the kids’ dad/my stepdad’s friend & co-worker) and his family & friends to visit Neverland Ranch. My stepdad asked if I wanted to go and said I could bring a friend or two. I asked my best friend if she wanted to go with me and bring her younger sister (who was a year younger than us). Their parents said it’d be okay. (Her sister ended up not going, as she got sick the day before we went.) A couple weeks later, just before Thanksgiving, we went!
How long and how well did you know Michael?
Didn’t. Met briefly, as stated above.
Did he ever act inappropriately towards you?
Nope, nor did he act inappropriately toward any of the kids who repeatedly went back to the ranch. He was also very kind, from what I heard, and never acted oddly.
How did your parents feel about you hanging out with/meeting M.J?
They thought it was a great opportunity and my stepdad actually accompanied me. Michael Jackson was not at the ranch while we visited, but it was during the time when he was married to Lisa Marie Presley. I remember a grey cat that was following me around and one of the staff members told me it was her cat. That was neat.
What did you do while there?
When we got there, the adults all had to sign consent forms and NDA paperwork. We had to check in all cameras (cell phones weren’t prevalent in 1995) and recording devices. No pictures or recordings were to be taken on the grounds. So, unfortunately, I can’t provide you with ~awesome photographic proof~ or anything. Sorry.
We were all loaded on a tram and taken along a winding tree-lined road to the main house.
First, we took a mini-tour of the house (holy memorabilia and art collection, Batman!), rode the train around the grounds (we didn’t get to go through “the zoo” area, but we did get to see an elephant getting a bath and see a staff member feed a giraffe from the train), spent time in the arcade before lunch (BBQ picnic out on the main lawn behind the house).
After lunch we watched Ace Ventura 2 in the private movie theater (there was a private room with a bed and a couch that had a window into the theater, so a few of us older kids hung out in there, got bored and ended up wandering out to the rides), then we all rode the rides a lot (spent a lot of time on the bumper cars) before we got to raid the candy “store” and “bakery” building, where I got a bunch of suckers and cookies that were branded with the Neverland Ranch logo (see pictures).
We were all taken in groups on tours of the house, while dinner was prepared. IT WAS AWESOME. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many video game cartridges in one area, outside of a game store. Like, seriously, an ENTIRE WALL FILLED. The entire group then had dinner in a formal dining area. I don’t remember what we had, though. Spaghetti or something like that.
After dinner, all the kids were given gifts. Younger kids were each given the new-at-the-time color-shell Gameboy and a few games, older kids were each given a top-of-the-line Sony Discman and a bunch of Michael Jackson CDs. My friend very humbly asked for a Gameboy for her little sister and they were happy to give her one and two games, which was very nice of the staff to oblige.
We then took the tram back to the parking area and drove home. Many people were invited back multiple times after that, but I never went again, due to always being busy with school or extracurricular activities. It was fun, though, and I have fond memories of the day.
FAQ: - Why didn’t I eat the cookies? They’re shortbread, I hate shortbread.
- Where did he touch me? He didn’t and molestation jokes are boring (especially after the first dozen).
- Did I meet his kids? No, this was prior to the kids being born (1995).
- How old was I? 14 at the funeral, 15 when I visited Neverland Ranch.
- Did I spend the night? Nope.
- Do I have more proof? Sorry, but due to the circumstances of the situation (NDAs, camera confiscation, etc.) you’re gonna have to just enjoy the cookie pics & the AMA or move on with your day :)
Michael at his Neverland Ranch in 1991. Such a beautiful set of photos by Dilip Mehta.