By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
He's the international symbol of conflicting values and a walking testament to the perils of plastic surgery, but people still love them some Michael Jackson.
I discovered this fact at the rally outside the Sony Building on Madison and 59th Street, where the Michael Jackson Fan Club had organized a protest. "We believe that Sony Music is purposely sabotaging Invincible," they wrote in a statement, outlining how the label was limiting distribution and cutting off promotion of the aging pop dowager's latest release.
A pack of mostly teens and middle-aged black mothers screamed from a corral as a fan club official spit out slogans from a megaphone for them to chant in chorus. "Down with Tommy Mottola!" he yelled. "Say it loud for when Mr. Jackson comes up the street in that bus!" Jackson was going to roll by in a double-decker to show his support; tons of passersby were waiting for a chance to see him.
"I think there's going to be a revolution in how artists are treated," said Deanna, a girl holding a "Sony Sucks" sign. "The labels don't give them any respect."
"It's terrible," said Marie, a woman who had come with her sisters and children. "He's worked so hard for them for so many years and now they're sweeping the carpet out from under him."
A bus drove up the block with Jackson standing and waving from the upper level, bangs and sunglasses obscuring his sepulchral, china-white face. The crowd stampeded toward him, screaming. Jackson reached down to grab a sign that read, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," holding it up and pointing to a fang-toothed photo of Tommy Mottola.
It was a startling break from the constant distance he's maintained with his fans. He even showed up at the Webster Hallafter-party held by the fan club, where local black youth dance troupes and Michael Jackson impersonators praised the Gloved One with onstage performances of his past hits.
E'Casanova, an impersonator who's appeared on VH1, crooned a wrenchingly melodramatic devotional ballad before segueing into a rap poem: "He surpassed their heroes, and they're jealous/They never thought a black man could beat Elvis!" The King of Pop pumped his fist and blew kisses to him in approval.
As the crowd shouted "Sony Sucks!" Michael came onstage accompanied by a phalanx of bodyguards to accept an award from the fan club. "I don't have much more to say about [Sony]," he said, as he held up a sign telling Mottola to go back to hell. "This says it all."
Some freaks don't have to be the unfortunate victims of bad nose jobs and melanin deficiencies to get love. At the Black & White on July 10, Moby surprised a roomful of people when he splashed a drink in the face of a loudmouthed girl. The looks of horror dissipated when partygoers realized that the culprit was, after all, Señor Moby, and they laughed it off as if it had been part of some good-natured prank. Must be nice to have carte blanche to dispense with all class and have people applaud you for it.
Nothingnot even premature laborcan stop Kimora Lee Simmonsfrom scoring a magazine cover. The Baby Phat top cat has been laid up in the maternity ward, her second daughter on her way a full two months early, but she practically jumped out of her hospital bed to shoot the cover of Fit Pregnancy magazine.
At 450 Studios on July 2, she pondered meditation while a stylist jerked up a zipper on her dress. "Is it 'still the breath and mind the body'?" she called to husband Russell Simmons.
"It's 'still the body and watch the breath,' " he corrected.
"I have to call my guru to make sure."
"I really wanted to do [the shoot] so I brought my nurse with me," said Kimora, caressing her ever sloping girth. "There's a baby bag packed in the car should it pop, but we're hoping it won't come until October."
The July 11 Women's Wear Daily reports that the new Baby Phat campaign shot by photographer Terry Richardson will be out this Friday, with Devon Aoki rocking the line's new Asian-inspired fall collection; WWDalso mentions the impending opening of a Baby Phat shop once Simmons gives birth.
Apparently the pains of labor for an urban fashion queen don't preclude high heels. Simmons had brought six pairs of four-inch Manolo Blahnik stilettos to wear for the shoot, traipsing around in them like they were tennis shoes. "I'll deliver in my Manolos," she said.