Rick Perry's 'Niggerhead' Ranch vs. Michael Jackson's 'Neverland' Ranch: Which is Stranger?

When we first wrote about Rick Perry's "Niggerhead" Ranch, we were struck by how it phonetically reminded us of another infamous getaway spot: Michael Jackson's "Neverland" Ranch.

Both were occupied by larger than life personalities. Both ranches had names that raised eyebrows, especially given who the occupants were.

How do the two size up against each other? Which one is more unsettling and strange?

Let's compare and see!

LOCATION Niggerhead: Throckmorton County, Texas Neverland: Santa Barbara County, California LOCAL COUNTY DEMOGRAPHICS Niggerhead: 95% white, 1% black, 9% Hispanic (who can cross identify) Neverland: 70% white, 2% black, 43% Hispanic (who can cross identify)

OCCUPANT(S) Niggerhead: Per the Washington Post, Joseph Ray Perry, the Governor's father, took over the lease in 1983; Rick Perry's name was also on the lease from 1997-1998 and from 2004-2007. Neverland: Michael Jackson lived there from 1998 to 2005; the ranch began foreclosure proceedings in 2008; the future of the property has been in doubt since Jackson's death in 2009.

OCCUPANT'S OCCUPATION Niggerhead: Texas House Representative (1985-1991), Agriculture Commissioner (1991-1999), Lt. Governor (1999-2000), Governor (2000-present) Neverland: King of Pop (about 1984 - disputed...either until "Black or White" in 1991, Jackson's death in 2009, or for eternity)

OCCUPANT'S HIGHEST ASPIRATION Niggerhead: President of the United States (next window: January, 2013) Neverland: King of Pop (achieved)

WHY THE RANCH NAME IS AWKWARD Niggerhead: It was called Niggerhead!!!!! (Noteworthy: Perry did not choose it, had sign painted over.) Neverland: The name refers to the island in Peter Pan where children go to never grow up; Jackson was repeatedly accused of and charged with molesting children. (Noteworthy: Jackson chose this name.)

WHAT THE RANCH WAS USED FOR Niggerhead: Hunting, entertaining politicos Neverland: Amusement park rides, a petting zoo, sleepovers with children with cancer.

MOST NOTORIOUS ATTRACTION Niggerhead: "Niggerhead" sign Neverland: Ferris wheel. Bumper cars. Statues of children.The bed Jackson reportedly shared with kids.

STRANGEST RACIAL QUAGMIRES FOR OCCUPANT Niggerhead: Governing a border state and needing a practical immigration stance to get the Hispanic vote in Texas, Perry now needs to demonize undocumented immigrants to get through the Tea Party and Republican base in the presidential primaries. (Also, leased ranch called "Niggerhead.") Neverland: Began life as a black male, ended up looking quite a bit like a white woman. (Also, allegedly fathered three seemingly white children.)

OCCUPANT'S STRANGEST SURGERY Niggerhead: Despite being against stem cell research, Perry underwent a highly experimental and ethically questionable stem cell procedure for back pain. Neverland: Jackson underwent so many plastic surgeries, this happened to him:

MOST CONTROVERSIAL COMMAND OCCUPANT GAVE TO CHILDREN Niggerhead:An executive order mandating girls receive a vaccination for HPV.Neverland: "Hey, kids, come spend the night!"

So, which one is more strange? Hard to say. "Niggerhead's" problems are more focused while "Neverland's" are more sprawling. Yet "Niggerhead's" problems involve someone on the rise, while "Neverland's" are about someone who is deceased and whose beloved music seems to have largely silenced much of the criticism about the other aspects of his life.

Most importantly, although "Neverland" is just a stone's throw from Ronald Reagan's Santa Barbara County Ranch, it is "Niggerhead" which could become the next Rancho del Cielo or Prairie Chapel Ranch as the next Western White House.

We're just happy that, when it comes to controversial language and black people, the talk is about Rick and not Tyler Perry for a change.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com | @steven_thrasher

Related: Rick Perry and the Curious Case of 'Niggerhead' Ranch

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