After I heard about Michael, I started thinking about this guy ‘Bev’ I worked for years ago who helped organise The Crossroads Festival. For those not ‘down’, this is a very famous get together for Transvestites and Transsexuals. People come from all over the country for the a totally swank party where the only rule is: Ya Gotta Look Fabulous.
As I said, I worked for the festival. They would put a call out for musicians to play in a big band at their big Gala Ball and it was a gig that was coveted by almost everyone in the biz… In addition to being paid an UNFUCKIN’ BELIEVABLE amount of money for a 4 hr. job of really excellent charts, we were all fed scrumptously and generally had a total blast.
The common thing about all these gals (?) in their Halston gowns was that all of them wish they were someone or something other than what they were. And this ball was a chance for them, if only once a year, to live the dream. Looking around at all their feminine beauty, you’d feel a tinge of sadness because they were all so perfect.
…er… except for the ginormous lump that would occasional mar the curve of the Versace cocktail dress. And …er… the adam’s apples might temporarily blow the illusion of femininity. Oh yeah, and sometimes the body hair might bring me back to reality for a second. But except for the baritone voices and the odd bald spot? They were ALL WOOOOOOOOOOOOMAN.
Unlike most of us, Michael got a chance to live out his dream 24/7/365. But inside? He just wasn’t what he tried to be. And no matter how hard ya try? Every ball comes to an end. No surgery makes ya what you ain’t.
Having limits on our dreams and fantasies is what keeps most of us grounded. As much as the ladies of Crossroads dream of a world where they can wear capri’s and floral scarves any ol’ time without anyone batting an eye, the fact is, they know they can’t. Or rather, they can, but they have to develop a pretty thick skin. (Moisturise, ladies!)
If you were Michael? You could afford to have people tell you all the time how fabulous you were but you’d never develop the inner toughness that the ladies of Crossroads take for granted. Evidently he paid through the nose to maintain his little world.
I wish that he could’ve been happy with his manifold accomplishments. He did so much that was real. Why does the human heart so often want and need what it cannot have?
Regardless of your feelings about the guy’s persona, stop for a moment and think how damaged he must have been; to have so much that was real and still it was never enough. Is that genetic? Or did something happen from which he couldn’t recover? I’ve had friends who were survivors of Auschwitz. And these people were genuinely happy! What have they got that Michael didn’t?
So, me being me, I gotta bring this round to me, of course. And here it is:
I think about how much crap I gotta put up with in order to sell my pathetic lot of records; how much pressure there is to ‘go straight’ and get a ‘real’ job. Then I think about how much crap the ladies of Crossroads have to put up with to proudly live their lifestyle and all my whining goes out the window.
At the end of the day? I really cannot mourn Michael all that much. He had it all. If he coulda been ‘fixed’ (ie. made to be happy and stable–not what you were thinking!) he coulda done it. He had opportunities that you or I will never have.
I salute the ladies of Crossroads. If they can be happy, I can be happy. And Michael sure as shit shoulda been able to be happy.
I’ll continue to listen to his stuff, fer sure. Like Charlie Parker or Wagner have aptly demonstrated, you don’t have to have a high level of moral fiber in order to make great art.Â But to me the takeaway is a cautionary tale about a lack of personal responsibility. He shoulda found a way to be happy without all the silly crap. Forget all the pedophile junk and the giraffes and mansions. To me he was emblematic of many of my fellow baby boomers—he just never had the stones to grow up.