Understanding Neverland

And that’s my home where dreams are born,
And time is never planned.
Just think of lovely things.
And your heart will fly on wings,
Forever in Never Never Land.

You’ll have a treasure if you stay there,
More precious far than gold.
For once you have found your way there,
You can never, never grow old.

And that was the mindset in 1988 when I flew to Detroit to produce Michael Jackson’s trip to Detroit when he donated $125,000 to the Motown Museum.  Michael at 30 years old was peaking at super stardom driven by his magical belief of staying young and creative while he slowly changed things the way he wanted to see them. (i.e. In 1985, he invited me to work on “We are the World”) My entire production team worked on his inspirational fuel that seem to ignite whenever you were around Michael.  My son Stefan K. Gordy was eleven and he worked as a P.A. and handled a small video camera that kept a close watch on Michael. As the camera crew squeezed through the halls of the Hitsville Museum, Stefan stayed closed to Michael with even a closer angle on his face and his newly reduced nose. I think it made Michael uncomfortable because he kept touching his nose unconsciously so he soon befriended Stefan by sharing a secret with him.   During a break to reload tape, Michael took Stefan aside and showed him the secret of knowing every VIP’s name that was introduced to him.  With their back turned towards a corner, Michael revealed his tiny earbuds to Stefan. Michael was fed the names of the VIP’s from his publicist, Bob Jones, who was on the other side of the room with one eye on his list and the other on who was being introduced to Michael while he whispered in a small microphone that transmitted the names to MJ.   Michael made Stefan promise not to reveal his secret and immediately they bonded and magically Stefan put his camera down, and would never reveal the footage he shot of Michael.

We certainly experienced the charm of Michael that week and he even asked if he could be part of one of our “Peace Christmas Cards” that I had been sending out for the last 2 years. (Michael was on my Xmas Card list) Later he performed at the Palace in Auburn Hills and for the first time the entire Gordy Family experienced Michael’s Solo “Bad” show and we were all blown away…We discussed among ourselves on the way home…. how could this soft spoken, very shy young man, appear on stage and transform into this incredible charismatic entertainer!!!

By the end of 1988, I was back in L.A. and working on the documentary “Michael Jackson: “The Legend Continues”.  Michael proved to be a very involved, hard working consultant on his life story. I respected his work ethic and his genius in editing and mixing the final bio. I was introduced to his friendly pet chimp “Bubbles” and got a hint of why Bubbles was so prominent in his life at the time.  Michael was newly estranged from his family and left their Encino home and was in the process of looking for a place outside the city to buy. In 1988 he was 30 years, alone and purchasing the Neverland Ranch and Bubbles was the perfect “comfort creature” to make him laugh and give him hugs because after all who would ever get to cuddle or give pure love hugs to the King of Pop …Michael Jackson?

As many of you may know, I have worked & socialized with Michael Jackson for over 38 years of his life. I met him in LA when he was 13 years old and recording the Jackson 5 ABC album. He was a fun, touchy-feelee curious but quiet little fellow who was lorded over by his very loud and dominant father, Joe Jackson. In 1971, I was the editor of the Motown Newsletter, “Comotion” and little Michael graciously hand drew a pencil portrait of himself and his brothers for my cover. He often hid behind his drawings while his father ranted and raged when they couldn’t get their harmonies in 2 takes. Michael was always polite, as he looked for permission to exist, being number 8 of 10 children that his mother Katherine birthed. Many unique experiences and events happened between us during the next 12 years from family baseball games, taping commercials, Las Vegas family shows, his solo career singing “Ben” ( a song my friend Susan Pile and I had a hand in delivering to him) and finally his & his brothers departure from the Motown Label. In 1983 I worked on the Motown 25th and no one was more in “Wonderland” surprise when Michael performed “Billie Jean“introducing his famous “moon walk”!  So many lovely experiences we shared and yes Michael was eccentric and so very talented but never inappropriate.  I was honored after working, & off line editing his biography when Michael awarded me personally with the credit “Associate Director”. He noticed my sensitivity in my edits and he loved that I threw in enough water balloon fights with the “Make A Wish” kids.

So all these Michael precious flashbacks brings me to this recent HBO film “Leaving Neverland” and child molestation allegations made by Wade Robson and James Safechuck.  A very compelling film captured by Dan Reed and it has me thinking about Michael.  I took my Child Behavior classes at LSU in LaCrosse when I majored in child development and I was a LA “Suicide Prevention Counselor” and listened to all the horror stories which resulted in perverse behavior and end of life thoughts.  I realize the damaging effects that trusted adults can manifest upon  a young soul but no one has yet to mention or take the angle of what really happened to Michael growing up and what is the real sickness behind a pedophile.  I believe his years between 31 to 39 were his experimental & alone, lonely years when he built his Neverland Ranch, left his Jehovah Witness church and stopped touring.  He was a very health conscious dancer and an off & on vegetarian and when he was 39 he became a father to his first child “Prince”.  This talented being never had a camping experience, a casual walk down the street and  just imagine that every adult who ever met him most likely wanted something from him. He longed for an innocent child’s life with unconditional love from his parents….but with ten children his parents could only assign the older girls to parent and the father needed all of them to work at a young age.

I know Michael loved his own children and would never harm them in anyway. He did start taking pain pills when he got burned during the Pepsi commercial in 1984….It was a taste of a painless world through opioids, After he moved to Europe and his 1993 rehab to stop the opioids, he still struggled with his sleepless night and then he got turned on to propofol, the heaviest instant sleep elixir and he floated through his 2005 molestation trial.  Other than the trial, most of his previous confidents and family members were basically shut out of his life and his own children became his world. I vehemently defended Michael through his trial and was greatly relived when he was found innocent. But when I watched the 4 hour documentary and then OPRAH’s special “After Neverland” I witnessed 2 very damaged young men tell their stories of love, grooming and then sexual abuse from Michael, and I thought there could be a “possible” different side to Michael. Whether their experiences with Michael are true, his followers and fans have been effected and hopefully we will all see the bigger picture and warning from this #Me2 era that highlights self respect, caution and inner truth!

For me, after long discussions with my friends, my son, his girlfriend Jasmine and writing this blog, I am still processing all these new allegations.  And so far, my creative heart that spoke with Michael’s heart will always go back to a gentle pure experience from a soft spoken eccentric youthful man, who too has lived through an existence of fame & abuse that none of us could never even come close to imaging.  No one can ever take his talent for song and dance away and there will never be another Michael Jackson!!!  Thank you Michael, for touching my heart and teaching me to honor that child within and I invite your spirit to see the new Disney Movie, Dumbo….Yes, I bought my tickets last week already!!!!

Please recall this beautiful melodic song…..

Michael’s own amusement park….

11 Comments

  1. Reply
    Sunil March 22, 2019

    True there will never be another Michael!

  2. Reply
    Candy Conkwright March 22, 2019

    Nancy…. Beautifully expressed….I could feel how pure and heartfelt , all your comments were. I was ,and still am a huge fan of Michael Jackson, his talents, his vision for the world and his gifts to the world of music, will never be seen or replicated again. Whatever transpired during his childhood ,and his adult life, is not for us to judge, we will all have to stand before the true judge,God, at the end of this life. To me ,his life was a tragic story, so many levels of a child genius, beyond gifted, and yet reduced to a very damaged and confused adult, searching for a pure love , that he had never been given as a child. Michael was a victim, therefore ,alledgedily victimized others, Michael was abused , be it physically or emotuinally, therefore possisibly an abuser. These behaviors are repeated , a cycle that can continue for generations. Deplorable, tragic, sad and unfortunately, not able to be undone. I had no idea Nancy, you had an accurate and insightful view of this very eccentric , complicated , damaged ,yet incredibally talented person. My heart goes out to all those who were negitively affected by Michael Jackson, and bear scars from inappropriate encounters…but also to those who are robed of his untapped genius in the art of song and Entertainment‼️

  3. Reply
    Bliss March 22, 2019

    Hey Nancy! Great article. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. Awesome of you to be so open minded about it all. No one WANTS to believe a reality where these things are true; and especially with you being so close with him, it must take a lot to even consider the other side of it.

    Personally, I love Michael and all he did for the world. But I also think the allegations are true. But– I do believe that Michael really believed he was in a loving relationship with these children (in his mind) and cared about them. Any 7 year old child is still learning right from wrong in the world, so when the biggest (possibly most powerful) celebrity in the world tells you these things are “right”, why would you do anything but believe them? They take care of you, make you feel good, and this is one strange request they have. I love how Oprah calls it “child seduction”, because I would imagine it does not feel like “abuse” to the child, but rather probably feels a lot like love that for some reason you have to keep secret.

    That’s just my 2¢. It doesn’t take away from all the good Michael brought to the world, but rather highlights the perspective of child abuse victims, and how scary it must be to come forward and tell the truth. The backlash they are receiving really shows that, and it’s sad because it may make other child abuse victims confirm their fears and stay in hiding. ):

  4. Reply
    Nancy Leiviska March 23, 2019

    Thanks Bliss & Candy for posting your comments, it’s an important time in history and possibly the evolution of mankind!! We get a chance right now to go higher and clean up our acts!
    I must say Stef has influenced me the most with his constant questions because as a parent I always listen but always decide ultimately the right thing for the child. For many years Michael led the way in healing children contributing to many charities mostly the “Make a Wish” Foundation!! His intentions were pure and heartfelt. He could have changed just like the good intention Catholic Priests, the beloved teachers, the over friendly uncle or aunt who doesn’t mind babysitting for the weekend while you go away for the weekend .. he could have weaken to the “flesh”. And yes Candy the Parents have a 99% responsibility to monitor their kids and hold the power & respect from their children when they say no you can not spend the night with a 34 year old grown man!!
    Stefan’s dad would always say “ Respect is more valued & lasting than love”. You can love your husband in jail but respect goes out the jail window!!
    Let’s keep the conversation evolving!!!
    XxMomfoo

  5. Reply
    Karla March 23, 2019

    Hi Nancy. Your recap of your amazing years knowing Michael is special. I too shall hold dear my many memories growing up around Michael and our interactions together. The world is not aware of how his life really was growing up. We saw moments that cause us to understand him in a different way, and especially you know. Michael was very kind and gracious. No matter how nice, good and special a person is, if they did wrong to someone, it’s wrong. Sadly, Michael has passed on and talk and documentaries on what he did or didn’t do is one sided and will never be able to be proven either way, unless video exists to prove otherwise. He was a remarkable performer who’s music and legacy should live on. He was tried while alive and found to be not guilty. Again, thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts.

    • Reply
      Isabel Servera March 24, 2019

      Hi Momfoo!
      Very touching, make me feel sad, I think he was an angel, a special child that never grow up, I miss his music & talent, miss him.
      Thanks for sharing with all all your positives thoughts . XXXIsabel Servera

  6. Reply
    John Hudetz March 23, 2019

    Nancy, thank you for sharing.

  7. Reply
    Jerry McGeorge March 23, 2019

    Written from the heart, I got tears reading this. Everyone who has had the happy, secure childhood they deserve stolen from them spends the rest of their lives trying to find it.

  8. Reply
    Candace Mayeron March 24, 2019

    Beautifully written Nancy. Kudos. I know it took a lot for you to be able to express and process these memories.

  9. Reply
    Robin March 25, 2019

    Dear Nancy,
    WE spoke about this recently…I am glad you were able to put your thoughts and feelings into your blog. WE all need to remember what Michael meant to us and that the good for me will always be foremost in my mind. I tend to not believe all the claims brought against Michael. I do believe that he was a sensitive creature who never really had a childhood and try as he might…people just did not understand the depth of despair he lived with.

  10. Reply
    Sandy Leivisks March 25, 2019

    Plenty of opinions to go around for everyone concerning Michaels escapades with young boys
    Your personal experience was a wonderful memory for you to always treasure with the genius of Michael
    But the reality is that these relationships he enjoyed with the youngsters I believe as Bluss mentioned that
    Michael looked fir love where he could find it and
    Did find it with the boys who worshipped being in his presence- I find it very sad 😢

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