Between performances on his whirlwind European tour Dangerous, Michael Jackson agreed to this rare interview with Glenn Plaskin. An emissary was sent to hand-deliver the questions to Jackson in Germany after his Munich concert, whereupon he dictated his answers, which were then transmitted to his literary agent in Washington, D.C. The answers were typed and faxed to Plaskin for publication.
I like that you care, drawing attention in your new book “Dancing the Dream” to “a child crying in Ethiopia, a sea gull struggling pathetically in an oil spill, a teen-age soldier trembling with terror…” Do you think we’ve become numb to all this?
“No, I don`t think we have become numb to these tragedies. We are seeing a worldwide resurgence and restoration of basic human values and concern for the sacredness of all life on our planet.”
Your book is filled with an old soul’s wisdom about life. Do you think of yourself as a philosopher?
“I don`t think of myself as a philosopher. I think I have a purpose, as does everyone else on Earth. To find that purpose and to live to express it is to ignite the spark of divinity within us.”
Did all the poems and essays in the book come from a daily journal?
“I don`t keep a journal. Ideas gestate and incubate in my mind.”
You always say dreaming is so important. Have you realized all your dreams?
“No. I haven’t. Without dreams there is no creativity. The creative urge in us comes from discontent-a divine discontent that seeks to change, to transform, to fill the world with more magic. My priority in life is to make a difference, to tread unfamiliar, uncharted territory and to leave some trails behind.”
What do you like about kids and how do they revive you when you feel burdened?
“Children are innocent and they are non-judgmental. They revive me, because they help me find my own inner child, without whom I would be lost. From children we can learn to love, to forgive, to create anew in everything and to heal the world.”
When you’re alone, do you feel lonely or contented?
“I know how to experience solitude. Loneliness can be a harsh experience, but solitude is love and consciousness with all of life.”
“I don`t consider myself religious in the sense of subscribing to a particular dogma. I would consider myself spiritual-in that I believe there is a domain of awareness in which we can experience our universality. I read all kinds of religious literature, because I believe there is truth in all of them.”
In your book`s essay “Trust,” you write: “We think separating ourselves from others will protect us, but that doesn’t work. It leaves us feeling alone and unloved.” Do you feel imprisoned by your fame?
“Yes. Fame can be imprisoning. But the best part of being Michael Jackson is that I know I can interact with millions of people; and in that interaction we exchange something.”
“Love. It is exhilarating. It is magic.”
I bet you could have been a great ballet dancer. Your mother once said you could imitate almost any dance move by the time you were 5. When you’re dancing onstage, how does it feel and how hard do you work at it?
“I dance to express my bliss. I do not strain at practice when I’m dancing. I just feel that the dance is dancing itself through me. I’m an instrument for the expression of ecstasy.”
Give us a few secrets: What do you eat, how do you exercise?
“My life is not constrained by special diets or exercise routines! I have fun with my friends or by myself. I like to see movies, read books, dance-and sometimes do nothing.”
You write so much about animals. What can we all learn from them?
“Animals do not kill out of cruelty, greed or jealousy. And most do not kill their own kind. We are the only animals that plunder and destroy the Earth! But we are learning, and it is not too late.”
Speaking of animals, after the sexy, violent “panther” section of “Black or White” created so much controversy, amateur psychologists speculated that you were letting off tremendous feelings of anger about…
Your videos are state-of-the-art, like a mini-motion picture. Would you like to make feature-length films?
“I`m going to produce and direct many feature films; movies that bring out the magic of life-that entertain but also make people think.”
In the meantime, when you`re composing songs for your next album, do the words come first or the music?
“I first hear the music and feel the dance, and then the words come spontaneously.”
In your essay “On Children of the World,” you say so many children have had their childhoods stolen from them. As a child star, did you feel that way?
“I certainly did not have a routine childhood. But the magic was always there.”
We’ve all seen Elizabeth Taylor fight so passionately for AIDS funding and compassion. What quality do you like most about her as a friend?
“Elizabeth has passion for life. We must live with passion.”
Having hosted Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding last October, do you dream that one day you might have a wedding of your own?
“My life is the present. And the excitement of life is to step into the unknown every morning. I look forward to the future-whatever it brings.”
Originally published in Chicago Tribune