5 Feb 2012

My Friend Michael - Frank Cascio's Version

Michael Jackson's death provoked a new huge wave of interest to his incredible person. Following this wave a lot of people started to write books about him - researchers, relatives, friends, etc.
Recently I completed reading of Frank Cascio's book "My Friend Michael".
I'm extremely bad in writing reviews. When I started writing this post I realised that actually I need to re-read the book!
Then I decided that this post will be not a review, but a list of things that I found interesting and worth mentioning.
Frank Cascio himself puts a huge red flag in the very beginning of his memoir:
From a very young age, I trained myself not to talk freely. I kept everything inside and suppressed most of my reactions and emotions. I was never one hundred percent open or free. That’s not to say I lied—except, I’ll admit, when I was working for Michael and told people I’d just met that I was a door-to-door Tupperware salesman and that I was very proud of the plastic we manufactured. Or that my family was from Switzerland and was in the chocolate business. With my close friends and family, I never lied, but when it came to my experiences with Michael, I chose every word I said carefully. Michael was a private person, and so am I. I didn’t want to call attention to myself or to have people look at me differently because of my connection to Michael, and I certainly didn’t want to be the source of any gossip about him. There was plenty of that already. Speaking is revealing. It’s still hard for me to talk freely: I always think, and think again, before speaking.

To me as a reader this was a warning: don't take everything written in the book as a gospel truth. Some things were probably omitted. Some things were probably softened. Etc.
Truth, nothing but the truth apparently is not a motto of most of those who were around Michael Jackson.
Frank Cascio got acquainted with MJ at a very young age through his father whom MJ befriended in the middle of 80-s. Since then MJ became a family friend of Cascios, someone who will spend holidays with the family and even live in their house for a while.
At age 12 or 13 Frank Cascio and his younger brother even spent several months with Michael
on his 'Dangerous' tour (it is peculiar that it happened after MJ was accused of being a child molester by Chandlers). MJ gave them a chance to see the huge world and became a surrogate father to both brothers, helping them doing their homework and taking care of them.
Before the tour Frank and his family visited Neverland and even got acquainted with Jordan Chandler who he describes as an ordinary boy. According to Frank Cascio Jordan complained that his father Evan was jealous of Michael and that MJ's relationship with Jordy and the rest of his family was a problem for Evan.
Throughout the book Frank Cascio strongly denies any wrongdoings on MJ's part which could be considered "molestation".
Frank and his brother Eddie were with Michael when he cancelled his 'Dangerous' tour and went to rehab.
at night, a doctor always came in right before he went to sleep to give him what he called “medicine.” I was a kid. All I knew was that the doctor gave him this medicine to help him fall asleep. Only later would I learn that it was Demerol.
Frank never identifies the doctor (in case he himself knew his name).
At the time Frank Cascio was too young and inexperienced to understand influence of drugs on MJ, though there were a couple of episodes when Michael's behaviour was strange - perhaps aftereffects of Demerol.
Later Frank had a chance to develop a pretty good idea of when he was on something and when he wasn’t.
But according to Frank the main reason MJ cancelled his tour was not his drug addiction:
In later years, Michael would explain to me that the cancellation of the tour had had nothing to do with drug addiction. It was because his next tour date was in Puerto Rico, on American soil, and if he had entered the United States at this time, there was a very real chance that he would have been arrested on the allegations of child molestation. ... The only way to guarantee that the part of the tour that was cancelled would be covered by insurance would be if Michael opted out because of a medical problem.
(But Michael really went to a rehab).
Frank also explains why MJ settled with the Chandlers (though he doesn't go into much details, but I believe he simply doesn't know those details too well).
The fact was that Michael was a money machine, and nobody wanted him to stop being one. If he took time off from his career for a two-to three-year trial, he would stop producing the billions of dollars worldwide that made him an industry. Because the legal fees of a trial would cost far more than any settlement, his insurance company, who would bear those losses, was determined to settle.
The settlement was finalised before MJ returned to U.S. according to Frank, as far as I know it was signed soon after MJ had to undergo the infamous strip search.
None of Cascios knew that MJ married Lisa Marie Presley. Michael told them that he got married for business reasons:
At the time, he was doing business with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who was known as “the Arabian Warren Buffett.” They were business partners in a newly formed company called Kingdom Entertainment. According to Michael, the prince and his colleagues liked to do business with family men, and so he wanted Michael, as his partner, to be married. Especially after the allegations in 1993. The prince was investing a lot of money in Kingdom Entertainment, and he believed that by marrying, Michael would restore his tarnished image.

So basically he confirms that MJ married Lisa Marie mostly for image purposes (well, that was MJ's explanation. Why does a marriage needs an explanation at all?..).
However Michael informed Frank about his future fatherhood before all the world learnt about it.  But he gave the same explanation for marrying Debbie Rowe as he gave for his marriage with Lisa Marie:
Once again he told me that the powerful Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal had influenced his decision. When the prince found out that Michael was going to have a child, he wanted him to be married. Michael didn’t want to jeopardize his working relationship with bin Talal, so he married Debbie. Or so his story went.

According to Frank: There was no romance or intimacy between them, but Michael truly loved Debbie as a friend.
When Frank was about 18 Michael offered him to become his personal assistant, it included a lot of random things to do.
Frank became a witness of an accident that happened during a concert in Munich, when a bridge on which MJ was singing "Earth Song" fall instead of slowly coming down, and Michael's back was injured. It caused chronic pain in his back which led to abusing of painkillers. It was the first time that Frank Cascio witnessed MJ about to receive propofol (he realised it only much later). At least it was his assumption.
Michael felt a little bit of jealousy towards Grace Rwaramba, nanny of his kids.
Frank wrote that once he and Michael went to a kosher Chinese restaurant.
I couldn't even imagine that there could be such restaurants!..
Frank  mentions 3 women who (possibly) had some kind of a romantic relationship/interaction with MJ: a fan who MJ kissed in a car, a friend who spent an hour in MJ's bedroom (and MJ went out of bedroom with unbuttoned pants) and a woman who Frank named Emily who was hanging in Neverland for about a year, though Frank was unable to say for sure what was the true nature of their relationship:
The question as to whether Michael was intimate with Debbie Rowe came up often. People seemed to think that they could make sense of Michael if they could only unravel the mystery of his relationships with women, but Michael was his own man. There were no simple answers. I know he was sexually intimate with Lisa Marie when they were together—he told me so. With Emily, to be honest, I’m not sure, but I know in her he found a companion, a friend.

To be continued.

1 comment:

  1. having just read this book, I hope you continue soon! :)