Michael Jackson's longtime makeup artist testifies about his good times, last days
Jackson "was acting like a person I didn't recognize" Karen Faye says
Jackson tried to avoid rehearsing for "This Is It," Faye testifies
"They had to make him rehearse," she says
Michael Jackson appeared paranoid, repeating himself and shivering from chills in his final days, his longtime makeup artist testified Thursday.
“This was not the man I knew,” Karen Faye testified. “He was acting like a person I didn’t recognize.”
Faye, who did Jackson’s makeup and hair for 27 years, was the sixth witness called by lawyers for Michael Jackson’s mother and children in their wrongful death lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live. She testified Thursday and will return to the stand Friday in a Los Angeles courtroom.
The Jacksons contend that AEG Live is liable in the pop icon’s June 25, 2009, death from an overdose of a surgical anesthetic because it negligently hired, retained or supervised the doctor treating him.
Michael Jackson’s brightest and darkest moments brought laughter and tears as Faye testified.
His last days
Faye, who traveled with Jackson on his “Bad,” “Dangerous” and “History” tours, said she was concerned when she first saw the schedule for Jackson’s 50 “This Is It” shows at London’s O2 arena.
“On looking at that, I said, ‘He can’t do this,’” Faye testified. “The shows are far too close together. I knew what he needed between shows. I thought he might last a week.”
When she raised the matter with show director Kenny Ortega, “he kind of fluffed it off,” she said.
“Michael’s adrenaline and what it takes for him to perform with that much effort and what he himself puts into a show, he needed a lot more time to at least get some rest and sleep, and to be healthy and maintain that kind of longevity,” she said.
He was “very upbeat, but he was on the thin side” when she saw him in April as preparations for the start of the shows in July were under way, she said. “I thought he had plenty of time to put on some body mass and muscle mass.”
Jackson appeared “very, very excited” in early production meetings, but “the first time he actually got up on stage and rehearsed, I saw the change in him.”
“The turning point was when he had to get up on stage and actually start performing,” she said.
Jackson hated live performances, she said. “It was just too hard on him.”
Eventually, “they had to make him rehearse,” she said. “They’re insisting to the point of going to his home.”
In Jackson’s last days, Faye was pressured to ignore what Jackson told her to do and instead take her direction from Randy Phillips, AEG’s CEO, she testified. She once was ordered to put Jackson on stage and place his earpiece in when he did not want it, she said.
“I was supposed to exhibit tough love” and not listen to what Jackson was telling her to do, Faye testified.
At one point, Jackson locked himself in a bathroom at his home, refusing to leave for rehearsals at the Forum. AEG Live Co-CEO Paul Gongaware, who was in charge of the production, was “angry and kind of desperate to get Michael to the Forum,” she said.
She overheard a phone call in which Gongaware was telling Jackson’s security guard “to get him out of the bathroom. Do you have a key? Do whatever it takes,” she said Gongaware screamed.
At a rehearsal in mid-June, Jackson was “very stoic” and seem “frightened.” He was talking to himself, she said. “When I was around, he was repeating himself an awful lot, saying the same thing over and over again.”
“He kept repeating, ‘why can’t I choose,’ it was one of the things he repeated over and over again,” she said.
A show producer testified Wednesday that Jackson told Ortega “God keeps talking to me.”
Faye said she suggested to Ortega that a psychologist should be brought in to assess Jackson.
Faye, who had to touch Jackson when she put on his makeup, said it was “like I was touching ice.” At one rehearsal, she covered him with blankets and put a space heater next to him, she said.
“I’ve never seen him so emaciated,” she said.
Faye said she raised her concerns once in June with Phillips. He told her, “Yeah, this is bad. It’s not so good. I had to scrape Michael off the floor in London at the announcement because he was so drunk,” she said.
Faye testified that Phillips told her at Jackson’s funeral that “he tried to do everything he could.”
Did she believe him, asked Jackson lawyer Brian Panish.
“Sir, Michael Jackson is lying in a casket only a few feet away from me,” she said. “I had no words to respond. That’s not everything you can do.”
The dark days
Michael Jackson endured pain for years caused by head burns suffered while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984 and a back injury from an onstage mishap during a concert in Munich, Germany, she said.
Faye, who witnessed both incidents, described them.
“His hair caught fire, but he kept dancing,” she said, as jurors watched the infamous video of pyrotechnics igniting Jackson’s head as he danced down stairs on a stage. “I was screaming and Miko (Brando) got through somehow and had to wrestle him to the ground, because he had no idea he was on fire. Miko put the fire out with his hand.”
The fire burned off a section of hair, which doctors tried to repair with surgery to stretch his scalp, she said. Jackson suffered migraine headaches after that, she said.
Later, a bridge suspended above a stage collapsed as Jackson danced on top of it during a show in Munich, she said.
“When I saw what happened, I thought he could be dead,” Faye testified. But Jackson held onto his microphone, stood up and finished the song. “He said ‘I can’t disappoint the audience,’” she said. So he finished the show finale but collapsed in the dressing room when it was over, she said.
“He suffered back pain from that moment on,” she said.
Along with the pain, Jackson had trouble sleeping on tour.
Jackson “was so buzzed by his own adrenaline after a show” it would “take him 24 hours to relax his body and, sometimes it would take two days to be able to sleep,” said Faye.
“As the tour went on, shows got closer and closer, and he would have trouble sleeping,” she said. “It would start out OK, but it would get worse and worse. He tried to find ways to deal with it.”
Dealing with it involved a series of doctors, she said.
“Michael always believed that a doctor had his best interest at heart,” Faye said. “He believed if he got something through a doctor that it was safe and OK for him to use it.”
Faye testified that nurse Debbie Rowe, who would later become Jackson’s second wife and the mother of his two oldest children, would travel with them on the “Dangerous” tour in 1992 with “a little bag” of medications.
“Debbie Rowe asked me to learn how to give injections,” she said. “I thought about it and said ‘No.’ I am not qualified to handle any kind of medications.”
When the tour was on its way to Bangkok, Thailand, Faye was asked to carry a package she was told contained medicine patches for Jackson’s pain, she testified. She refused to travel with it, she said.
Faye testified that the tour doctor, Dr. Stuart Finkelstein, later told her “I’m glad you weren’t carrying it. It has vials and syringes. If you had brought this in, you might not be here.” The implication was she could have been arrested for smuggling drugs.
Gongaware, now the Co-CEO of AEG Live, was in charge of logistics for the “Dangerous” tour and was involved in the incident, Faye said.
Finkelstein used “a balance of medications strong enough to overcome Michael’s pain,” Faye said.
Later in the tour in Singapore, Jackson stumbled into his dressing room before a show, she said. “He was having a very hard time walking,” she said. “He was glazed over. He fell over a tree.”
She told the tour doctor, whom she identified as Dr. David Forecast, that “Michael can’t go on.”
His show opened with him being thrust onto the stage by a “toaster,” which requires him to “curl up and be shot up” from a small enclosure under the stage, she said.
“His arm could be severed,” Faye said. “I feared for his safety, I feared for his life. I told Dr. Forecast, ‘You can’t make him go out. You can’t take him.’ And he said, ‘Yes, I can.’”
The doctor “backed me up against the wall and put his hands around my neck and said ‘You don’t know what your doing,’” she testified. “I nearly fainted, and he grabbed Michael and took him to the stage.”
The show, however, was eventually canceled, she said.
“Michael was under a lot of stress at that time because that’s when the first child allegations were made public,” Faye said. “Michael had to go on stage every night knowing that the whole world thought he was a pedophile. He had to stand up in front of all these audiences with the physical pain that he had and knowing that everybody in that audience is thinking that he was the vilest pedophile on earth. To this day I don’t know how he did that.”
The tour ended early when it reached Mexico City “because everybody knew Michael had a problem,” she said. Elizabeth Taylor came down to Mexico to get Jackson, and “we all went home.”
Faye later flew to England to join Michael at a rehab facility, which she described as a beautiful country home.
Michael’s brighter days
Before Faye’s darker testimony began, the courtroom was unusually relaxed with smiles and laughs throughout the jury box.
It started when Jackson lawyer Panish asked her “What is a makeup and hair artist?”
“Makeup and hair!” Faye responded, triggering loud laughter from jurors.
“Can you help me?” Panish joked.
Panish had Faye read to the jury the dedication note from the “Thriller” album: “This album is lovingly dedicated to Katherine Jackson.”
Faye and Jackson became “very close” starting in the early 1980s, she said. “It was almost like a brother and sister relationship. If I was having trouble, I could call him and he could call me. You talk, you share, you become very close and imagine that over 27 years.”
Jurors viewed a series of photos of Faye and Jackson together through the years, including one taken in January 1996, the day after Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce from Jackson.
Jackson was upset because just before filing, Presley called him and begged him not to file for divorce, she said.
“She begged and begged, saying please don’t file,” Faye said. Jackson promised not to file, only to see “the next morning it was all over the press that she filed before him.” The photo of Jackson out with Faye “was to give the press something to talk about” with Faye being “the mysterious blonde.”
Jurors watched several videos that showed Jackson’s talent and impact, a sharp contrast to all of the testimony about drug addiction and death.
They viewed several minutes of Jackson’s “Thriller,” which Faye pointed out was a short film, not just a music video.
Part of Jackson’s 1993 Super Bowl halftime show was viewed, including his rendition of “We Are the World.” “It was a very big deal, sir,” Faye said. “I think it started the trend of having a big artist at the Super Bowl.”
A clip from a Jackson concert in Bucharest, Romania, showed jurors how fanatical his fans were, dozens of them fainting as he sang “Man In the Mirror.”
When his 1995 MTV awards performance was shown, Faye noted, “He can moonwalk in a circle.”
Jackson’s stamina during a show was remarkable, she said. “Some dancers would pass out, but Michael would be fine. He was able to do it.”
Faye’s testimony took all day Thursday and was set to resume Friday morning.