I’ve been a fan of Michael Jackson since I was four years old, and I’ll never forget the first moment I heard “Beat It.”
I loved the song so much that I wanted to dance to the song at a party when I was four. There was a sort of “dance competition” for all of the kids at the party, and when the lady who was in charge of the competition asked me what I wanted to dance to, I immediately said “Beat It.” When she told me that she didn’t have the music for the song, I was so angry. How could you not have the music for one of the greatest songs on the planet? What wound up happening was my mom kept singing “Beat It” as I danced. She didn’t sound like Michael Jackson, but it’s still sweet that she tried to make me happy by repeatedly singing a line of the song. I wound up winning the competition because I thought that everyone loved my dance moves. One girl told me I won because I was the youngest person there. What a liar she was!
I was crushed the day I heard Michael Jackson had passed away in 2009. In fact, I didn’t want to believe the news when I first heard about it. How could someone that has always had a special place in my heart no longer be here? I mean, there were so many things he had left to show the world. Why did his life have to be taken away so soon?
I still play his music often to this day, and every time I hear one of his songs on the radio I get a big smile on my face. When I heard that there was going to be a new album of his released in May I was beyond excited, and then when I found out that I would have a chance to interview Flo Anthony I was over the moon. She is a close family friend of the Jacksons, and I can not thank her enough for speaking with me. We had such a wonderful conversation about his new album, his future plans, what gave him the most peace in life, and so much more. This is an interview you don’t want to miss!
MC: I know that the news broke about a new album that is coming out in May. It will have eight unreleased songs. What can you tell me about it?
FA: Well, I haven’t actually heard any of the music on it. I can only actually go by what I read, of course. It’s called “Xscape.” The executive producer on it, of course, is L.A. Reid who is just magnificent. He said that those tracks were out there. They got producers that Michael had either worked with or that he wanted to work with. They’re also gonna do a deluxe edition that is gonna I believe have the songs on them in their original form before they were actually made into the record. When Michael died there were a lot of tracks that were found. It was music found on his computer. He was somebody that every single day was rehearsing, performing, and dancing. He loved to videotape himself, so I’m sure there’s endless music out there that was never released.
MC: So, you think that there will be more albums after this?
FA: I don’t think it will be the last one. I wouldn’t bet on it being the last one. I think that he did a lot of recording. You have to remember every time he recorded an album you don’t put a lot of stuff on the album. So, there’s gonna be all that music out there, too.
MC: Would Michael often call you and say, “Flo, you gotta hear this song I just came up with”?
FA: No, he never did that. But I did talk to him on the phone a lot. And then I was on various sets with him…video sets. And I’ve also been in the studio when he’s recording.
MC: Did he talk about his future plans with you?
FA: He always talked about the future. With him, one of the things that Michael never accomplished…well, he did do it at some point. He did The Wiz and then he did small roles in other films. He really wanted to do more acting. That was something that he really had planned to do later on in life. That’s something he was actually working on and meeting with people about.
MC: I guess he really enjoyed working on The Wiz.
FA: Yeah, he was young then and he was with his idol Diana Ross, [and] great legends Nipsey Russell and Richard Pryor. You couldn’t beat a cast like that.
MC: What types of movies did he enjoy watching?
FA: All kinds of movies and all kinds of funny stuff. He liked cartoons a lot [and] he really liked animated stuff a lot. He’s a huge Three Stooges fan; he had a club called the Apple Heads that was like a Three Stooges club. I think being such a versatile performer…one of the greatest performers of all time…I would think that any genre of film would be something that Michael would’ve liked.
MC: What was his personality like when he wasn’t performing on stage?
FA: A jokester. People thought he was somebody that was very quiet and he wasn’t. He liked to have fun; he was a big kid. That’s really who he was. A prankster, also.
MC: How long have you known the Jacksons?
FA: I met Michael, LaToya, Janet, and Randy in 1976 at Disney World.
MC: Did you just run up to them?
FA: They were standing in line just like us, and years later I found out from LaToya that that was also their first time going to Disney World. I didn’t know that at the time. All they had at that point in Orlando was the Magic Kingdom.
MC: I guess Michael didn’t really get to have a childhood, right?
FA: I kind of disagree with ‘he didn’t have a childhood.’ He was a child so he had a childhood. He worked as a child, yes, and it was a different childhood, but it was still a childhood.
There were aspects that he didn’t like. Even though he still when he died was a Jehovah’s Witness he didn’t like the fact that that religion didn’t have holidays and celebrate birthdays and Christmas, and things like that. He would sneak down to his sister-in-law’s house, Enid, and Jackie where they had a Christmas tree so he could see the Christmas tree.
MC: What do you think gave Michael the most peace in life?
FA: Probably when he had his children; I think that was a big blessing for him.
MC: Where do you think he felt the most at peace?
FA: Well, of course it used to be Neverland but that switched up after all the allegations and when the AD and everybody came and trashed it. He built Neverland as an oasis.
MC: I guess you went there often?
FA: I wasn’t there as much as I would’ve liked to have been. I was just there a few times. I went to London with him…to Mexico with him. Neverland is kind of hard to get to. It’s in the desert. It’s not exactly in Santa Barbara; it’s in Santa Ynez. It’s not the easiest place to get to.
MC: What did Michael feel the most misunderstood about in life?
FA: Probably his love of young children and why he wanted to be around young people.
MC: My favorite song of his is “Beat It” because that’s the first song of his I remember hearing. Did Michael ever talk about his favorite song that he had sang?
FA: I never heard him say a song that he had liked the most, to be honest.
MC: I was always amazed by his music videos like “Thriller” and “Smooth Criminal.”
FA: They were small movies; they were not music videos. He revolutionized the whole music video world with “Thriller.” It was a short film. He single-handedly made MTV what it was.
MC: How involved was he in the creative process of these small movies?
FA: He was totally involved from the writing to the choreography to the music. The concepts…everything.
MC: Who do you think he was the closest to out of his siblings?
FA: I would say growing up it would be Marlon because they were so close in age. I think it was just 9 or 10 months between them or something. They were very, very close. I would say Marlon and, of course, growing up Jermaine, LaToya, and Janet. As an adult, I don’t think he was really that close to any of them. He was close to them and he talked to them, but it wasn’t like it was when they were children.
MC: Do you see a lot of his personality in his children?
FA: I kind of see it in all of them. They all seem to be very independent. He was always independent from a little kid. He always went the other way with all that creativity.
MC: Do you think they will follow in his footsteps with music and acting?
FA: I definitely do. They all want to do something in the performing arts. I don’t know so much about Blanket; he’s small. But I know that both Prince and Paris do. He [Blanket] does karate and everything.
MC: What will you miss the most about Michael?
FA: Everything. Even if I didn’t see him or talk to him every day I know that he was there somewhere. But now he’s not there somewhere. I miss everything about Michael. There’s nothing that I don’t miss.
MC: Do you ever feel his presence around you?
FA: My house is a living shrine; his presence is around me as we speak.
MC: Is there a favorite memory of yours that you can share?
FA: I think it was my birthday and I went with them to the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB). I was in the rehearsal thing earlier. My greatest memory was when Michael was on the dais for that because he was getting honored. He didn’t sit on it the whole time but right before he got honored he came and sat on the dais and the silence that went through that room that the great Michael Jackson was sitting there before them…it still sends chills through me. It was just unbelievable. But it was always great memories. Great memories of hugging him…great memories of him baking cookies for me. He got me fried chicken. Every memory is always great. Just to see a whole room go silent like that is hard to forget.
MC: I guess he was like a regular person?
FA: He was real regular. But you know there’s 9 children in that family. All these Jacksons are very regular and down to earth. A lot of people don’t realize that. You got 9 kids and there ain’t really no time for anyone to be spoiled.
You can say what you want about Joe but he’s also pretty nice. I got an award from a Pocono Mountains Film Festival and he happened to be in New York and somebody mentioned this and he came down to the Poconos to support me.
MC: Who did Michael really admire or look up to?
FA: Well, of course, Diana Ross…Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John, The Bee Gees were all good friends of his. In fact, I think Maurice Gibb…Michael was the godfather of his son. He [Michael] was very close to Julio Iglesias, of course, Lionel Richie, [and] Berry Gordy. He loved everybody. The people that he was very close to would kind of surprise you. You would never think he was good friends with the Bee Gees.
MC: Now I’ll move on to questions about your latest book, Deadly Stuff Players.
FA: Michael is in the book. I can’t have a book without having Michael in the book. I’ve got several references to him in there.
MC: Would people clearly know it’s him?
FA: I have used his name. With famous people you can get away with using the name because it’s public domain. As long as it’s on a positive level. LaToya is in the book. Because it’s a Black Hollywood murder mystery and it takes place in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, I actually have most of my favorite celebrities somewhere in there…if it’s just like a scene in a restaurant or something like that.
MC: On a scale of 1 – 10, how steamy is your second book?
FA: It has a sexy juiciness to it…it’s not graphic.
MC: Besides the people that you know in the book, is your book inspired by real events?
FA: Yeah, a lot of real events. Those names have been changed to protect the innocent. Some characters in there are based on real people or incidents that actually happened.
Valerie is a lead character and a lot of things that have happened to Valerie have happened to me in my life. Other than her ending up with a billionaire. A lot of incidents that Valerie talks about…and I have the names of those people…those things have actually happened to me.
MC: Did it take you a long time to come up with the concept for your second book?
FA: No, it didn’t. I actually wrote it, once I had the deal, in three months because I had a deadline.
MC: Are you working on anymore books?
FA: Yes, I’m working on a sequel to this called One Last Deadly Play. One of the characters, Royale, is not who he seems. This particular character is based on a real life incident that happened. I’m gonna bring the real Royale back in the sequel. He’s gonna have a connection to Valerie that she never gave up before. She had this connection and she knew a little more about Royale Jones than she was telling anybody. That’s all gonna come out in this book…it’s looking late 2015 into 2016.
MC: Did Michael read your first book?
FA: He had it, so I’m not quite sure. I hope he did.
MC: I guess he was a big reader.
FA: Yeah, he read a lot. He watched TV a lot; listened to music a lot. He was very aware of everything happening.
MC: Is there a message that you want to give to his fans?
FA: The new record coming out May 13 proves he’s always gonna be with us.
MC: We’ll always be listening to something or watching something of him, and he’ll never die in that respect. It’s sad, though, that physically we lost him.
FA: Yes, physically he’s not there but it’s a wonderful thing that this record is coming out.
And with that, this wonderful interview came to a close. I had always wished I could’ve seen Michael in concert, and sadly, that will never happen. What did happen was I got to speak to an amazing woman who was so nice in answering all of my questions about him. I never thought I would have this opportunity, and it was an honor for me to speak to someone who was so close to someone that I’m a big fan of. Definitely pick up both of her books!