Excerpts from her book, The Way He Made Me Feel, 2005
TR: What year did you return to New York City?
TT: I returned in 1984 and while going on one of many casting calls , who did I find pounding the pavements of New York City at just a mere five feet away from me? It was Michael Jackson!
This was before he had taken on the title ”The King Of Pop” I could not believe it! I just could not believe my luck. I kept following him and checking him out. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with a cap pulled down low on his face but I could tell it was Michael Jackson. I wanted so bad to stop and talk to him but I just could not figure out what to say. I was thinking of a way to stop and talk, I thought that maybe I could pretend to ask him for directions, but then I thought what to do after that? I just could not do it! I got shy and froze at the thought of talking to him. I followed him for about five blocks before it hit me that I was going to be late for my audition.
In 1987 I signed with a new agency, Joseph, Heldfond and Rix, at the time a fairly powerful group. Julie, my agent, sent me on an audition for a Michael Jackson video, “The Way You Make Me Feel.” I wasn’t told, though, whose video this was for. But I discovered later that two hundred other hopeful young actresses tested for that part.
When they called me, I was told to walk and show some attitude. The scene took place on a street in a rough area. A bunch of guys start hassling the character I was reading for, taunting her with lines like. “Hey baby, what’s up?”
Coincidentally, the very same thing had happened to me as I was on my way to the audition. Some guys had hassled me on the street, so you might say I was prepared. I ran through the scene a few times, and my audition was put on videotape.
A few days later I was summoned to a small dress rehearsal. It was the first time I learned that the video was with Michael Jackson. I was brought into a room by the video’s choreographer, Vince Patterson. Michael was there but I was too shy to even look at him at first. Patterson directed me to go through some moves, which I followed perfectly. Finally I glanced up at Michael. He was sitting there in a red shirt, bopping to the music with this big, happy grin on his face. I saw him turn to the person next to him and say something. I later found out from David Banks, one of the video’s writers, that Michael had said, “She’s the one. The rest are extras.”
I will never forget when my agent called to tell me that I had the job. I screamed so loud that all of Hollywood must have heard me. It was such a milestone accomplishment for me. I felt like I had finally made it, and my career would soon be taking off.
The shoot lasted five days, with the fifth day devoted to outtakes and close-ups of me.
TT: The time had come when a slim Michael came walking out through an alley. this particular alley is the one that I run down in the video that is a ‘dead end’. I stood trying to control myself and keep my cool. I could not look directly at him, but I could feel his presence within the group of people that surrounded him. His manager Frank Dileo, was to his left, and his photographer, Sam Emerson, was to his right. Michael stopped and stood five feet away from me. I could not believe the artist I most admired and loved stood just before me. It was more than a professional moment: he was the only one for me whom i secretly held a big crush.
I just could not bring myself to look up at him! Instead, I focused on Vince Patterson who stood to my left. Vince greeted Michael and they shared a few words. I didn’t know for a fact but sensed that the two had a rapport. Vince turned to me and introduced me to Michael. He said, ” Michael, this is Tatiana, and Tatiana this is Michael.” Michael extended his hand to me, and I extended mine. I looked into his eyes and managed a quick nervous smile. For some reason, I could not look into his eyes longer than a split second or two. His stare was so intense. His eyes were piercing right through my soul. Michael’s presence was more powerful then words could ever express.
TT: The stylist and director had me go through the wardrobe. Although we agreed on the look the previous day, we tested other looks just to make sure we were satisfied with the wardrobe. We agreed on the black dress.
It was the exact look that I put together myself for the original audition taping with Leeland. There was only one difference in my dress and their dress. Danskin made mine and theirs was an expensive Azzedine Alaia that was priced at around (UNREADABLE).
The boots were mine, and the bracelets were too. I created my own look for the video and I was proud of that creative control, and that Michael liked what he saw. The only thing they added was something that I did not considered. It was a track of hair weaves to add more length to my own hair. They told me it was Michael’s idea.
What was Michael planning to wear?
I remember asking him “What are you going to wear?”
He said in a sweet and soft voice, “This is what I’m wearing.”
I felt so embarrassed because I appeared to be very overdressed compared to his costume. I thought , how silly, I am dressed up like a working girl and here he is dressed casually. I did not get it and I felt that someone needed to change. Since I liked my outfit, it should be him. However, when I was around Michael, I soon forgot about costumes, hair, or make-up. I did not care. I was in bliss. I assume that this boy genius knew what was right. After all, he had that video Midas touch.
Once we started the routine I felt a little bit more at ease but the whole time I still felt as if I was dreaming. The day progressed and I flew higher and higher into the clouds.
TR:How did the routine play out?
TT:In the beginning of the routine Vince went over the scene with me saying, ”Now Michael is going to sing live and when he sings his part you are to walk in this direction.”
I agreed and I knew my cue, but when the time came, no such luck. I went into shock. Michael is very powerful live. All I could think of was that he was so small and thin so where the hell does that voice come from? How did he do that?
As I stood in shock wondering all of this, Vince was screaming his his head off at me, saying, ”Tatiana, Go! React, Go, Go, Now!” Finally, something snapped and I woke up. I thought, I have to perform as well.
I had a look on my face that reminded me of that Pepsi commercial. It is the commercial with little Alfonzo Ribeiro. It came out around 1986 or 1987. In the commercial, Alfonzo turns around and finds Michael standing behind him. He is full of shock, surprise and his mouth drops open.
After the initial shock, I was able to get on with my character. Then Michael yelled ”Hey” to get my attention.
Then he starts singing ”You knock me off my feet, now baby.” I start walking off ignoring him, but then a gang that did not let me pass through stops me. Michael follows me from behind continuing his pursuit.
TR: What happened at the end of your first day on the set? Did you talk to Michael before you left?
TT: Before going home he said, “Drive safe.” I told him that I do not drive, I do not know how to. Someone drove me here.”
He said, “Tell the driver to be safe.”
I said, “Okay, I’ll tell him.”
TR: What did you do when you get home?
TT: When I got home, I was so wired mentally that sleep was far off my mind.
For those four days, sleep and food were not a big part of my agenda. I was running on excitement and adrenaline. My normal weight of one hundred and one pounds was down to only ninety-eight pounds. Not such a big difference, but on my small frame a few pounds does make a difference. I looked forward to the next day as I had the first.
Were you less nervous then you were the first day?
Unfortunately, by next morning my nerves had not improved any.
I got up, dressed myself, did my hair and make-up and I was off to the set. I could not wait to see Michael again. I never wanted this job to end.
TR: What did you and Michael talk about the second day of shooting?
Did you talk to the rest of the cast?
With both of us being extremely shy, we did not talk much at first. We did smile and stare at each other many times though. The wole crew was great and the writer David Banks was wonderful.It was a primo gig. It was the gig of “all gigs.” Even the real gang members that he hired were pleasant. I guess being on a (unreadable) set can bring out kindness in almost anyone.
(Michael and his stand in, Craig Parks)
The one person that I became close to on the set was Michael’s stand in Craig Parks. We sat and talked about how awesome the set was and how wild it was-being such a perfect replica of New York. We also talked about how the guys were real gang members.
I told him how excited I was to work with my idol. Craig had worked with Michael several times before. He told me about his experiences with Michael and how he loved practical jokes. The last days of the shoot with Michael for me had gotten better. Everyone became more relaxed and natural. That is when Michael and I shared a special moment. The icebreaker. This was the same morning that the director, treated me a way that I would have never expected.He took me by total surprise.
TR:What did the director do that surprise you?
TT: I reported to the set. I stood across from Joe waiting for his direction as he yelled at one of the grips
I remember thinking, my God, this is how he treats his people? That is terrible. I had no idea that mine was coming soon. As I started my routine, he snapped! I do not even know what I did to receive such treatment, not even this day.
He started yelling, “You stupid fucking bitch? What’s your fucking problem? Didn’t you have your fucking coffee yet?” My eyes got big. my ears grew red and my heart became pained. I could not believe that he was treating me like this.
I stood frozen in my footsteps. I felt tears welling up in my eyes and I was chocked up with so many emotions that I couldn’t control the tears that were about to flow from my eyes. I heard him say ” Let me know when you are ready to work.” I became determined not to let his negative aura get the best of me. I replied ”No, let me know when you’re ready to work” and I ran off the set.
I ran into the dressing room and I cried for about five minutes. I poured out all the pain his words caused. A few of the guys and the stylists asked me what was wrong, and why I was crying. My emotions took over so I could not reply.
I just could not speak at all. I was balling my eyes and heart out to the extreme. Joe Pytka is known for this behavior, and I was slowly learning this. Someone told me he had a lawsuit against him because of it.
Cindy Crawford had admitted to his temperamental personality when she made her Pepsi Cola commercial years ago. She said he called models names like (Unreadable). She admitted to him calling others girls names, but never her. Of course he did not dare try to do this to Cindy Crawford. She was too famous!
I just could not figure out the mind-set of his treatment. I do feel that I can honestly say, I am and have remained humble throughout all the Hollywood weirdness. I feel that I am as real as they come. After all, I am only a human being.
He was physically abusive towards a grip. It was amazing to me that he treated me this way, and I could not believe that he worked with such negative energy. I mean people noted him to be the best at his craft.
TR:Did you get back to the set?
TT:Yes and when I reported on the set I was willing to forget about it. Just for the sake of professionalism, but I will never forget it.
It was surprising that Joe’s attitude changed suddenly once I returned. He was a bit kinder.
TR: Why do you think her change his attitude? Do you think he realized what he did?
TT: I later learned that Sam Emerson watched him yell at me and went back to Michael to report it. Frank Dileo, was the one who spoke to Joe. Whatever he said, it helped, Joe never openly attacked me again. There were little comments like, “You’re not a star! Tatiana Petitze, the model is a star”. Tatiana Petitze was a famous supermodel at that time. He whispered that in my ear. I thought this must be his way of making me stay humble or something
Did Michael say anything to you about what had happened?
TT: By this time. Michael arrived on the set and seemed concerned about me. I could see it in his eyes. He even brought it up. He asked ”Are you okay?”
I expressed that I did not understand why Joe used that language. It was not so much him yelling at me as much as the language and tone he used. I told Michael that I was a lady and I did not expect treatment like that from anyone. We soon forgot about it.
I was just happy that Michael arrived. A bit later La Toya, Michael’s sister, and mother Katherine arrived. I wanted to meet them. The thought of meeting more Jacksons was exciting. I remember thinking how close LaToya were in size. She disagreed and said I was even smaller. I did not learn until a year later that we both shared the same middle name, Yvonne. We talked a bit and I discovered that our favorite vegetable was broccoli as we waited to shoot our group shots.
I met Michael’s mother at lunchtime
TR: How did you meet his mother
TT: There I was standing near the end of the buffet line waiting for it to move. I saw Mrs. Jackson at a distance with a friend. Janet seems who later became my hairdresser They started walking towards me. I remember thinking Oh MY God! She is coming towards me. Michael’s mother and is coming towards me. what do I say? I just could not help but be start struck by her.
A s she stood next tome, i only mustered up a shy smile. Janet, introduced us. she said, ” Mrs. Jackson this is the girl Michael’s working with Tatiana. ” I said, ” ¸Hi nice to meet you. ” Then she went to look at the buffet but never walked away with anything. To be honest, I could not help but to think that she was checking me out. She wanted to see the girl she had heard about. The girl that had captivated Michael’s interest or tweaked Michael’s curiosity, and I eventually found out I was correct about her suspicion. She admitted it to me later.
tr:Michael talked about you to his mother?
TT:Yes and later in the day, there as an incident that has become a fond memory
We were shooting the scene in which I run from Michael by going through this beat-up car, and he follows me. It was the second take and by that time I was having much fun with the scene. I made faces at him in the car and then ran out leaving him stunned.
By our fourth take, the heel of my boot was caught in the cars upholstery and Michael put his hand on my leg to help pull it out. It blew my mind that he had actually touched my leg, which I pulled away and began to tumble out of the car falling on my butt and hard too! Michael started laughing hysterically as Joe Pytka yelled, “Get up, keep it going, keep it going, and don’t stop.” As I did, Michael got out of the car and started wiping my butt off.
I could not believe it! Michael was flirting with me. I thought if anyone questioned his manhood, here was his or her answer. This was a guy who didn’t care about expressing his likeness or attraction to me in front of others. It broke the ice of our shyness between each other and it gave me a rush. We laughed about that one for a while.
The fall caused a run in my stockings and the stylist wanted me to change. I started walking of the set and Michael asked, ” Where are you going?” I explained that she wanted me to change my stockings. He disapproved by saying. “No, I like it. I think the run is neat. It’s sexy.” I found that comment was a masculine statement, and personally, I did not think the run would matter.
However, that one moment was the most memorable of the shoot except for the final scene when we hug. It made me realize that my dreams had come true. Michael also said that he loved my walk and that it was very sexy. This I felt for sure was a compliment from a heterosexual male.
Did you two continue talking?
Between the break, I admitted to him that I saw him years ago in New York walking ahead of me and that I followed him a few blocks.
He said, ”Oh really? Why didn’t you say something? You should have said something.” Because I was too shy and couldn’t think of what to say.
This was truly ironic: I had followed him several years before on the streets of New York and now here he was chasing me in his video.
What happened the rest of the day on the set?
As we continued shooting the car scene, I was choreographed to run towards my girls, while we laughed and made gestures at them:making fun of Michael and the guys. I then walked off, like ”Yeah right,” and walked around to another car: a Volkswagen where Michael started a game of hide-and-seek.
Next I walked up to a street bench and sat down while he tried to get my attention I tried not to focus on the fact that we were coming close toward the end of the video and I kept trying not to think about it.
How were you feeling that night knowing that the following day would be the last day of the shoot and maybe the last day you would see Michael?
That night as I was lying in bed. It was very sad for me. All I could think about was that tomorrow would be my last, I fell asleep with much sadness in my heart. The morning sun came and I awoke with excitement of seeing Michael’s face again.
So how did the last day go?
TT: We began a scene in which I run up to an apartment building, avoiding him again, and then I run back down stairs. Michael told me, “Whatever you do, don’t fall down the stairs or I will start cracking up.” I was thinking what a brat. During a quick break from the scene, Michael pointed out two birds high above us perched on a ledge — they were making love. He said, “Look,” while pointing up. I became embarrassed and shy and I looked away blushing. Michael stood gazing at me with this sweet smirk on his face that was somehow naughty.
what was it like watching Michael dance live and up close?
Watching Michael dance with his group was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever experienced, My dance experience gave me a deep level of appreciation for the opportunity to have been part of all this. I had already seen some of the greatest acclaimed dancers ever-Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Edward (unreadable). Michael was a perfectionist. I admired
how he emulated the mood of the legendary work West Side Story but in his original and completely fresh version.
didn’t realize it then but I was falling for him. My heart was growing and my emotions were becoming wrapped up in him.
what are your other memories
Michael had some interesting and exciting guests visit the set. I met Corey Feldman, Emanuel Lewis, and Kidada Jones; Quincy Jones’ daughter. When we were introduced, she was not friendly at all and the only thing I could not figure was that she would have disapproved of any girl Michael chose for his video.
TR: What happened as you approached the last scene?
Michael had requested a closed set for the final scene in which we hugged, no one was allowed other than people necessary to th shoot. No dancers, visitors, or extras.
It was quietly rumored that we were supposed to kiss at the end of the video scene but Joe came up to me and whispered in my ear, ”Don’t kiss him, he’s too shy for that, don’t kiss him!” Therefore, of course I respected his direction.
I would never question an order from the director. As I stood and turned to my right, I looked out to see Michael. He approached me we stared deeply into one another’s eyes. I felt as though he could see my sadness and could hear my heart.He placed his arms around me and mine around him. I remember him stroking my back up and down as to say, ”I care for you too.” You can see this in the video. I felt it was all happening too quickly.
The weirdest thing about that scene was the way the light hits the water. It actually made the shape of a heart behind us. Between the scenes, Michael said to me, ”I heard you wanted to dance in this video.” I admitted it was true and I said ”I thought I would get the opportunity to dance with you.”
Michael replied in a soft and sweet voice, “Don’t worry, we’ll work together again.” Suddenly I felt content and confident that his words were true, and my hear felt with joy. However, it did not linger in my mind for long after his promise. I settled for what I got. I mean, how many people even get that close to a dream? I was fortunate, in starring side by side with him. It was the Fred and Ginger of the 80′s as far as videos are concerned.
I was thankful to Jesus a million times over, and I knew then that dreams do come true. I have lived a few and I hope many more to come.
TR: Did anyone on the set notice there was something going on between the two of you?
TT: One of the actors said to me, ”You like him don’t you? I can tell you both like each other. Bet you’ll end up married and have ten kids.”-I remember thinking,… with my little body I don’t think so!…
One of Michael’s own security guards even asked me during a break if I had a boyfriend. He asked as if he was asking for Michael. Michael stood by doing some out takes and I waited around and watched with my new buddy Craig
TR: How did you feel at the end of the day?
TT:When his final shot came I was sad and a bit depressed knowing the end was near, as we walked Michael off to his trailer. He thanked me for being so professional and I remember being a bit surprised.
Those were golden words to my ear as I expressed how great it had been working with him and then he asked me if his team had my number. I floated out of the trailer. As I left, I could hear Michael say to Frank :
”Aren’t you going to give it to her?”
Frank replied, “No, why don’t you give it to her? It’s from you.”
They were bickering like kids and before I knew it Frank tossed one of Michael’s hats to me. A black fedora with his name embroidered in gold inside the rim that he used in the Bad Tour. I caught the hat as if on cue and as I walked off I recall saying ”I love you Michael” I guess the fan was coming out of me.
Or maybe I could just not admit that my comment was much more personal. I did not own one Michael Jackson album or tape at that time so my feelings were based on respect for him as an artist and what I came to know of him as a person rather than being a fan.
Of course. I owned the Bad LP when we finished the project. I was honored to have been a part of the history and the making of the video. Several days later, I finally got my appetite and my sleep back on schedule but working with Michael been the greatest natural highs that I ever experienced.
TR: Did you see or talk to Michael after you shot the video with him?
TT: Not long after the video production was over, Michael’s stand-in, Craig, who had become a friend of mine, called and said, “You know, Michael talks about you all the time. He asks me how you are and told me to tell you hello. I think he really likes you. He says stuff like how incredibly beautiful you are and how sweet you are.”
In January, Michael was shooting a new video entitled Leave Me Alone. To my utter surprise, Craig called to say that Michael invited me to come and visit him but that I would need to clear my visit with Michael’s personal secretary Joli.
I was ecstatic at the thought of seeing Michael again. My heart raced with the warmest and
happiest of feelings. The location was in Culver City and I only had forty dollars with me which I knew wasn’t enough to get there and back but I figured I would worry about that later. I just could not pass up the opportunity to see Michael again especially since he had invited me.
When I arrived I was just so nervous and excited to see him. I remember taking a big breath as I pulled open the studio door. To my left, Michael stood on a platform that was about four to five feet off the ground. He wore a yellow Hawaiian print shirt with a ball and chain wrapped around his leg. It was the funniest site. I had arrived between takes and Michael seemed genuinely pleased to see me. For the rest of my visit he was full of smiles. Craig and I hung out while Michael did his scenes and for a short break. Sam Emerson, Michael’s photographer, asked that Michael and I pair up to do some photos. He took a full roll and film and they gave me two of the Polaroid’s as a gift. In one of the shots Michael was cuddling me and in another I was wearing his long black coat.Craig (Michael’s stand in) and I hung out whole Michael did his scenes and for a short break. Sam Emerson, Michael’s photographer, asked that Michael and I pair up and so some photos. He took a full roll of film and they gave me two of the Polaroids as a gift. In one of the shots Michael was cuddling me and in another I was wearing his long black coat.
He told me that The Way You Make Me Feel had charted number one that day and Michael complimented on the earrings I was wearing. They were of a little boy and girl engaged in a kiss. As we finished the photos, Michael’s manager Frank Dileo arrived. Michael joined him in his trailer and a few minutes later they asked me to join them, When I stepped into the trailer Frank took control, as Michael seemed to be a little uncomfortable and at a loss for words. He kindly asked me to have a seat and join them for some pie.
Michael sat next to the window and I sat beside him as Dileo took the containers out of the bag. Michael impatiently, like a kid, opened his up and started to chow down. Frank asked ”So, how is it going?” I started telling them about my interview for Hour magazine. Michael was inquisitive and seemed to know nothing about it. Frank, on the other hand, was aware of the interview and began to explain the scenario to Michael. Frank then offered me some of his banana cream pie which I later learned is one of Michael’s favorite. When I dove in to get a piece somehow I ended up with a larger slice than Frank and I jokingly remarked that I needed more of it than he did anyway. Frank was taken aback by my comment and his face turned red.
After a few minutes of small chitchat, Frank told me that he and Michael needed to discuss business
TR:Did you think that Frank’s statement was to dismiss you because of your comment?
TT:I wished I had not made the remark but I had not said it with any bad intent.
Michael just kept laughing like a kid. In fact, Frank laughed it off too as well. Nevertheless, I do not think he said he had to discuss business because of my comment. They left soon after. Frank was always rushing off somewhere.
It was not long after that Frank approached me about representing me. So I don’t think he was offended by my pie remark.
TR: what happened next?
I returned to the studio to hang out with Craig while Michael continued his shots, Craig and I stood nearby with Michael’s makeup artist Karen Faye. Michael and Craig were laughing about something between them, like a private joke as I stood next to Karen. She asked me what was going on — why were they laughing? I replied that I did not know, and I didn’t. I was simply smiling from the joy of being there. I was on cloud nine. I could feel Karen’s negative energy – probably because she felt I was holding something back from her. The rumor floating around was that Karen had feelings for Michael so it would complete the sense that she despised me and she did not try to hide it. You can feel a person’s heart when you look into their eyes.
Anyone could tell that Michael and I had chemistry when we were together. It was obvious to the eye and there was talk of his feelings about me going around. Craig was constantly telling me that Michael was asking about me and Michael would ask him to relay hellos to me. It was fun being there and seeing Michael again.
At the end of the day I realized I didn’t have a ride home. Still a recent transplant from New York, I didn’t drive yet. The cab to the studio had cost more than I had expected, and I didn’t have enough cash for a cab home. Craig pushed me to ask Michael for a ride.
Too shy to go to Michael directly, I explained my situation to Miko Brando, Marlon Brando’s son and Michael’s right-hand man, and asked if he could lend me a few bucks or give me a ride. Miko offered to check it out with Michael but thought it would be no problem to give me a ride in the limo. A few minutes later I was on my way home, sitting next to Michael in his black stretch Mercedes, which Miko was driving. At first Michael seemed nervous and jittery like a kid. We talked a lot, mostly about our families.
I asked Michael why he always wore tape wrapped around his fingertips during his performances. he explained that the tape gives an illusion of extension for dramatics. I thought how ingenious and I told him “You are a genius!” Michael loved this compliment and he smiled from ear to ear. He sweetly said “Oh thank you.” I placed my hand on top of one of his hands and then I picked it up and put it in both of my hands holding it gently. I could feel his nervousness. Then suddenly he picked up the phone as a call came in from his secretary Joli. I let go of his other hand so that he could manage the phone. He remarked that my hand has a roughness to it like his sister’s or members in his family. he didn’t say this in a bad or insulting way and it’s true. My hands are of an old soul, and other people have noticed this before. I felt that Michael liked me touching him but that somehow he just did not know how to deal with it.
When he dropped me off, I thanked him and said I hoped to see him again.
He said, “Oh, you will.”
One of the big Jobs Nina booked me on was a Billy Dee Williams eye-wear campaign. It was exciting to know that I was about to work with Diana Ross’ leading man from the film “Mahogany.” To my surprise Billy Dee arrived to the studio a bit liquored up. It was only 10:00 a.m. and we could all smell the liquor on him. he was frustrated and preoccupied with a personal problem, mumbling on about something. Still, I was excited about this day and working with him. When we got to work, the mood in the studio was fun and light. I did get a surprise though. The photographer positioned us with Billy Dee seated and me standing behind hovering over his light shoulder. The shot was a tight frame. Out of nowhere, his hand grabbed my lower private parts. I am certain that a shocked expression flashed across my face as I let a little scream out and jumped back. We did finish the shoot and the photographer called out a traditional ending, “That’s a wrap.”
I lost respect and admiration for Billie Dee that day. He hurt and disappointed me with his behavior. For a moment, I considered telling my agent Nina about it, but honestly, I did not want to cause a scandal or problem. I felt it was better to let it go and forget it.
The following month I sent Michael a valentine card. I wanted it to be special so I enclosed one of the earrings that he said he liked; the one with the little boy and girl engaged in a kiss. I thought for sure that would make my card stand out from the norm. I wanted it to have a romantic overtone. I contacted Joli for the mission.
On February 8th Frank Dileo, requested we meet at his office in Ventura. I remember being very excited until I got there and realized that Michael was not there and he was not going to be there. Frank told me that he had been Michael’s manager for a while, and confided that his luck could change any day. Michael could move on and get new representation so he had to think about future prospects and other clients. He expressed that he wanted to represent me. He told me how he could tell I had a thing for Michael and advised me to move on for my affection for him. he told me to focus on my career instead. he confused me. I did not understand his comments or his advise. he said that Michael and I would still be working together, and he gave me a tour jacket as a gift but he never came right out and told me I would be apart of the Bad Tour. Somehow, I just did not trust Frank. I guess because he was telling me something I just did not want to hear, as far as me moving on with my affections for Michael. He also made a comment about having me over and see his new home someday, but without mention of Michael being around or his own family being there.
We then discussed the request I had received from Michael’s office to audition for his upcoming Dirty Diana video and he disagreed with the idea of me doing another video for Michael. He said “You don’t want to be known for doing too many videos, and the role is a negative character. Just leave it be.”
(Tatiana talks about being invited to do the Bad Tour. She talks about the hotel she stayed in and how fabulous it was.)
When the management (of the hotel) told me that they were honored at having me as a guest, the truth was, I was honored at being their guest. Most of all, I was impressed with their hospitality. Unfortunately, When we returned to L.A, I heard someone say that Karen Faye had started a rumor that I complained about the service at the hotel and that I had demanded a suite. I was stunned, to say the least, but I knew that Karen did not like me. I could sense it whenever she was near.
That night I joined up was the final show in Kansas City followed by 5 days off. I spent most of my time in my room watching movies and I was bored. The only person that was socializing with me was Miko.
Why was he the only person you socialized with?
I came to learn, through one of the band members that Michael told them to stay away from me and not to bother me. I thought this was respectful of him to do and my mother especially liked it!
Why do you think he told them to stay away from you?
The way I perceived it, then, was he being protective. Michael knew that men could be dogs and the tour scenario just invited trouble. On tour, he wanted them to know that I was his personal interest.
4. On the 29th, we were off to New York City — the city of dreams and my home away from home. I could not help but remember the creative visualization I had done leaving New York for L.A. The words that ran through my head were, “Someday New York, I’ll be back in style.” I guess you could say that creative visualization does exist and I am a strong believer in it. With that, and a good amount of willpower, you can accomplish anything in life.
he next day on the 3rd, it was off to Madison Square Garden
This was our first date in New York City and still I had not had the opportunity to speak to Michael. I wanted a one-on-one with him. I wanted to thank him personally for making me a part of his tour. There were such brief verbal exchanges during our rehearsals and somehow, I just did not think it was too much to ask for.
So, you had not spoken with him yet?
The only time I saw Michael was onstage, or on television.
I was usually alone in my room watching movies or wondering what Michael was doing. Being on tour can be a bit boring especially if other members had been told to stay away from you
Honestly, this rule lead me to believe that Michael was going to spend some of his down time of his down time with me. I mean… Why not? Everyone was passing all these little mentions and comments from him to me. I often asked Miko about him.
On the 4th, we had down time and I once again spent part of my day off in my room with Miko. On the 5th I wrote in my diary that I was depressed and wanted to go back to L.A.
Did you finally get a response?
The following day was our day off. Once again, Miko was entertaining me. We had lunch, and yes I asked him about Michael.
Walking home from lunch, I saw my old friend Vanity on the cover of Playboy magazine. Suddenly, Miko and I were in a heated discussion about whether or not I would consider appearing in Playboy. Miko argued that I would and I argued that I would not
He insisted that I would do it for the right price. Later that night we took another walk. I told Miko that I wished I could take a horse and carriage ride with Michael.He asked me if I were crazy. He said, ”Mike could never do that! He would be recognized.” I argued with him that he would not. I mentioned how he could disguise himself, as he is known to do. In my mind Miko was losing the argument.
One of Hugh Hefner’s assistants told me Hef was good friend of Michael and that he did not want to involve himself with anything that was not ”Pro-Michael Jackson”.-Never did I consider my story against Michael in any way
(The PM Magazine was a magazine that Tatiana did an interview for after the TWYMMF video. Michael’s PR team set up the interview but surprisingly Michael did NOT know anything about it until later. That just goes to show you that Michael’s business team had more control than most people thought. They were doing things that Michael was unaware of.)
On March 1st, the PM Magazine piece aired. To my surprise, but not to my dismay, the story read as though Michael had found his soul mate in me. On this day, I left a message with Michael’s secretary Joli, and I told her that I wanted to speak to him. She explained how busy he was, but she said that she would give my message to him.
The following day, March 2nd, we performed for the 1988 Grammy awards at the famed Radio City Music Hall. Now I really felt on top of the world. This was history in the making. When we ran through the rehearsal I was so happy to see Michael again since it had been six days since the last time I had seen him.
TR: So what happened during the rehearsal?
TT: Our routine was going to be different for this special performance. Michael started singing, The Way You Make Me Feel, then he went in The Man In The Mirror, combining the two songs.
During a short break, Quincy Jones played a practical joke on Michael. He placed a photo of Prince on the seat next to him. Michael nodded his head as to say, “No Way!” While the rehearsal continued, I had some off time so I sat in Michael’s seat watching. I caught Michael smiling at me with approval and a gleam in his eye.
At one point, as I was powdering my face, I realized that he was watching me. Before I blushed or even had a chance to get embarrassed, he asked if he could use some. I could not believe he was asking me this, but I was honored to share it with him and wee were going on stage so it was a natural thing. I watched him use it and it was a site to see. He was going to town with the stuff. I almost cracked up about it, but of course, I did not for fear that he would take offense. I treasured that compact with sweet memories. Unfortunately, a so-called friend of mine stole it from me.
After a couple of hours, it was back to our hotel, The Parker Meridian. I couldn’t resist calling my parents and keeping them informed on the day’s events. It was sad to me that they were not there to share this joyful time in my life but I kept thinking they would join me in another city.
TR: How did it feel to depart for a performance at Radio City Music Hall?
TT: We piled into the tour bus, and as they escorted us to the entrance and to my complete surprise fans were yelling my name. I could not believe it! One of the dancers even made a comment saying, ”Oh, so they know your name now huh?” This comment was sarcastic and made me feel a little uneasy. All I could think of was how weird this all was. Four years earlier, I had cried about not being able to attend a Michael Jackson concert and now here I was a special feature in one.
I was overwhelmed with my blessings. It was wild! Limos and celebrities were everywhere. As we gathered in one room waiting for our cue, I heard Michael through the door of a private room going through his vocal warm up. I noted how powerful his voice was! One of his security guys remarked to Michael that I looked beautiful and I heard Michael reply, ”I know. ”
He did not even see me yet.
Before I knew it, the incredible Stevie Wonder and his entourage were escorted inside. Yes, I was in awe.
TR: Did you get a chance to meet Stevie?
TT: Yes, someone introduced us and when he asked for something from the buffet. I was more than happy to hand him an apple. When I did, I told him how much I admired his music, and I told him that he was ”Bad’, which really meant good in 80s slang
Stevie laughed and told me, “No. this apple is Bad. That is what’s bad because you gave it to me. You are Bad.
TR: What an event even before the show time!
TT: It was!
Finally, we were escorted through the many hallways and the stairs of the music hall that lead to the stage. As we took our positions, the audience went silent in anticipation of us coming onstage. Peaking out from a curtain, I saw the faces lost in Michael’s magic. They were in a trance. I suddenly heard the familiar beat and signal for my cue.
When I stepped out onto the stage, I passed Mike and heard him say,
”Work it! Work it! That’s it!”
A comment like that inspired me even more. We had decided during rehearsal that I was going to catch his black fedora hat but ultimately the idea was nixed, Instead, I walked off the stage and I blew him a kiss.
TR:What happened off stage?
TT: I stood in the wings watching the rest of Michael’s performance. I was deeply lost in a trance like everyone else. Someone walked in front of me and as I shifted my position the woman turned to me and said,”Oh! Excuse me!” It was the one and only Miss Diana Ross. She was the woman that Michael admired as he grew up. Well, so had I.
TR: Did you talk to Diana?
TT: Yes. I even shared with her that people told me many, many times that I looked like her. She had this expression of surprise on her face and had no comment whatsoever. Then we both stood watching Michael’s performance and I focused on the monitor set up nearby
I sang every lyric and Herb Alpert who was standing near me said, ”I see you know every word don’t you?” I smiled and continued to sing.
TR: What happened when Michael finished his performance?
TT: They rushed Michael backstage. He stood nearly five feet away from me covered in a black cape with a white towel around his neck. There were many people around him talking to him and I didn’t dare get near him. I did not even try. I just watched from where I stood. I did yell ”You were great Michael!” At first, I did not think he heard me but he did a few moments later say, ”Oh! Thank you.” in his soft Jackson voice. I was thrilled that he acknowledged me and before I knew it, he was whisked away like Zoro.
TR: Did you watched the rest of the show?
TT:I watched with some of the dancers. I was enthralled with seeing my second live music show-the first being Herbie Hancock appearance following the video we had done.
5. On the 5th, I wrote in my diary that I was depressed and wanted to go back to L.A. I was receiving regular phone calls from a reporter asking me all sorts of questions about me and Michael. I put him off by saying, “I gotta go” and quickly hanging up. He would call right back and eventually I relented when he asked, “What’s it like working with Michael?” I finally gave in and replied, “I love it, it’s great!” Well, that was my first TABLOID experience. What was printed was that I said, “I love him.” It was true but I never, ever, have said such a thing. After his call, I was out the door to get ready for a show.
While Karen Faye was doing my makeup before the show, I found myself trying to make small talk. I had a feeling that she did not want to talk — she had such a bad vibe with me. I asked her “Do you really think there is resemblance between Michael and me? People are always saying we look a bit alike. Even the PM Magazine piece compared us calling us “Soul mate look a likes.” She replied bitterly saying, “Oh! Not at all! You two look nothing alike.” her tone was of such disgust and negativity that I did not say a word. I let the conversation go, stood up to go to the bathroom and pushed onto a swinging door. As I was pushing in, someone was pushing out. To my shock and surprise it was Michael’s little sister Janet.
(Tatiana talks about how she told Janet that she was a fan of hers and how she chatted with Madonna.)
My boot hit the stage and the roar of the audience greeted me. It was massive! Leave it to the New Yorkers to let you know how they feel. I walked out of character making fun of Michael and his homeboys while making hand gestures at him; basically, making fun of them. Strutting back and forth across the stage, I stopped, grabbed his collar and said, “Come on Mr. Big Shot.” I was calling his bluff, changing up the routine a bit. As I grabbed his collar, I landed a big wet one on his cheek. I kissed him. I did not think anything of it, and I did not think he would be ticked off. I just thought that it would add some excitement to our performance.
The fans went berserk! they loved it. After I left the stage, I heard a laugh in every note Michael sang. I figured from his laughter that he enjoyed the surprise. the dancers told me that he was happy and excited about the kiss. Telling me, “OOHHH, Boy! You just made Michael’s day! He was happy!” I pretty much thought it was a good thing.
In the dressing room, I wanted to take off my makeup, but there were celebrities everywhere! One of the reporters teamed me up with a very tall Brooke Shields. I saw La Toya, Michael’s sister from a distance and I decided to join her. We stood talking, and someone from the press asked us to pose for a photo which was later published in Rolling Stone. That magazine photo was one of the coolest experiences in my life.
After the photo, Frank came over to me and said, “Good show kid,” while patting me on the back. Meanwhile, I was overwhelmed by the entire thing. There were so many stars waiting backstage. They were all hoping to see Michael. I doubted that most of them would get to see him, because he usually did his Zorro act and disappeared. I never saw him after a show.
(Tatiana talks about how her and Miko had lunch the next day. Miko wanted her to do Playboy magazine but she declined.)
March 5th we had another great show. Afterwards CBS threw a party in Michael’s honor. I remember seeing one of my favorite actors, Christopher Walken from a distance and being star struck. Joli, Michael’s secretary joined me. She told me that she knew Michael had feelings for me, because he spoke of me often. Yet, she said that she was confused to why he had not responded to my request to speak with him yet. She promised me that she would make the call happen. I was fed up with everyone else telling me that Michael liked me. Everyone but the man himself was telling me that he liked me. I did not get it. It was just not making sense to me. Of course, it felt odd that I could not speak to the guy that supposedly liked me. Still I was thankful for the wonderful experience I was having, and I remained hopeful.
(Tatiana talks about the next day would be her last day in New York and how John Draper said they wanted to rejoin the tour and Atlanta.)
The next day was the last day I was scheduled to perform, and I called Michael’s secretary to ask her if I could talk to him. She gave me his number but told me not to keep him on the phone for too long because he was very tired.
6. As I dialed his number, I felt like I had the worlds winning lotto digits. When I called him, Michael answered the phone, not Bill Bray. It was as if Michael had been expecting my call. I asked him how was he doing and he answered; “Oh fine, I’m just a little tired.” I told him to take it easy and to take care of himself. I brought up our last show together. I apologized to him because I had kissed him on the cheek. I said, “I am sorry if I threw you off in any way,” Mike intervened by saying, “OH! NO! NO! It was fine! It was great! I liked it!.” Then I asked him, “Well would it be all right then if I did it again, and perhaps take it a step further?” He said “Oh sure! That’ll be great!” After all, he would sometimes pull a girl out of the audience and embrace her. Why would a kiss from someone you like be a big deal? I explained to him that fans were always asking, “Why does Michael chase you through this entire video only for a hug?” I then said to Michael, “Well thank you so much for inviting me to be apart of the shows. It has been so exciting. I love being out there with you. It’s a blast.”
When I stepped on-stage, there was there was that roar from the audience again, they were fired up. They truly liked me too, I thought. When I approached Michael, my heart was fluttering. For a few brief seconds, I thought about whether or not I should follow through on the kiss. For some reason I was questioning myself. As I stepped up to him and put my arms around his collar, he looked deep into my eyes, almost as though he was challenging me. Then he did this sexy little thing where he bit his bottom lip. I placed my arm around his waist, and I landed a kiss right on his smacker!
Never for a moment did I feel this was one-sided, as he at this point, put his left hand on my rear. Anyone witnessing this historical event saw that this was a mutual effort. I nearly fell off the stage because of the adrenaline rush in my body.
I walked towards the dressing room and down the hallway afterwards and I ran into Frank Dileo. He had this expression of hard disappointment on his face. His eyes said to me, you have done it now. It was an evil look. Until this day, I bare a scar on my soul from this look, and from the entire experience. He did not say one word to me, and in the past he always said, “Great show kid,” and gave me a pat on the back.
I stood frozen. knowing that something was wrong. Then I reminded myself about the conversation that we had, and that Michael agreed to the kiss.
The next person to greet me was Michael’s mother Katherine. She walked towards me and gave me a big bear hug. I was so touched by this and, for the moment, I forgot about Franks cold evil stare. She actually hugged me. Katherine Jackson put both her arms around me and very warmly hugged me. This meant a lot to me. She later admitted to me that she saw absolutely nothing wrong with us kissing. She approved.
At the hotel after the show, John Draper, the tour coordinator, approached me about signing some forms for the bill and told me that I was to rejoin the tour later. I was standing with John and Miko came at me from no where. He was yelling at the top of his lungs. John and I stood frozen and in shock. Miko was in a rage. He yelled, “How dare you f****** take advantage of him like that! You f****** b****! Who the f*** do you think you are? I cannot believe you are f****** took advantage of him like that in front of all those people.” He kept on and on, and I could hardly get a word in but finally I said as calmly as possible, “Michael and I spoke about it over the phone before the concert. He said it was okay.” He eased up a bit. Then I said, “I would never take advantage of him. It take two to tango you know!” I ran to the elevator, choking up and about to explode in tears. I had never, been so humiliated and embarrassed in my entire life. He showed no diplomacy or class by approaching me in the manner he did. I guess he yelled at me because he thought it was my fault. I could not believe the tabloids did not write about this incident. They love this stuff. Miko apologized to me later that night ans asked me to give him a call before my flight that evening.
7. (Tatiana talks about being hurt by Miko’s remarks but assures herself that everything is fine. She does an interview with Ebony and how she met Rebbie Jackson when she got on the wrong flight. She talks about how she met David Copperfield and danced with him.)
Someone showed me a 45-single of The Way You Make Me Feel with my picture on it. After finding that out I heard about a 1988 Michael Jackson calendar. Again my picture graced the month of May. I was not paid for the use of my picture and image. I asked Julie about it and she had no comment, questions, or professional advise of that matter.
My pal David Banks felt I was being taken advantage of from all around. I’ll never know the facts, but several professional people led me to know that my own agent had not had my best interest at heart, and suggested that she might have taken more of her cut. He could not believe I was paid $5,000 for the tour and a little less than that for the video.
(Tatiana talks about developing Alopecia, a condition caused by trauma and stress and how her hair was falling out)
On April 11th, I appeared on the Tonight Show with host Ross Schaffer. Ross was the host before Jay Leno took over. He asked me, “So are you and Mike really dating?” I replied, “No we’re not. Our relationship is strictly professional.” He insisted, “Oh come on!” I repeated my answer and once again, he insisted with the point that we were dating. I thought I would add a little humor and some mystery so I responded by saying, “No we’re not. Not yet anyway.” It got back to me that Michael did not like my response. Suddenly I was some plotting broad and I was up to no good. I could not believe it. I just could not win.
Two days later, the tour moved to Atlanta, Georgia. That is where I was to join the tour. I was expecting a call.
(Tatiana talks about receiving a cameo appearance in the movie Identity Crisis.)
When I returned to L.A., I received a phone call from John Draper. He wished me a happy birthday and then said, “I’m sorry about what happened to you.” I had no idea what he meant, so I asked “What do you mean what happened to me?” I sensed he was caught off guard. He continued saying I was a sweet girl and he wished me good luck. I still had no idea what he was trying to say to me. I started to worry and think about it everyday. I kept calling Frank Dileo, but he never returned my calls. I called MJJ productions, and they did not return my calls either.
He was basically saying “sorry, you’re fired” without fully coming out and saying it to me. He thought somebody else had already told me. He thought that I knew.
The following week on the 25th, I did a two-day shoot for Elle Magazine. During my interview for the piece, the writer, who shall remain nameless, told me that a friend of his wanted to hire me for a clothing line campaign. He said that his friend had contacted MJJ records to get in touch with me but was told that I was booked, unavailable, and in Europe. Well my friends, I have never been to Europe.
This not only devastated me, I felt as if a knife went through my heart. To think that my idol would do something so cruel was impossible to believe. Could he really be responsible? Would he do something that would damage my life and my career forever? Could it have been people from his camp? Was he aware of what they were doing? I pondered these thoughts for so many months. Of course, I wondered if I had lost other jobs or possible clients like the clothing line without even knowing it. What could I do? What had I done to deserve this? Yet, I could not ignore some of the rumors that floated my way. Someone told me they heard that I was being blackballed. That one really played with my mind.
My agent who had represented me for the tour had nothing constructive to offer about why I was not going back. I had been ”added” to the tour as a trial and Julie had not required any type of contract. She made so many mistakes along this road.
I went through a great battle with depression. I cried often and extremely hard. Then to top it off, I was bombarded with questions “about why someone else was doing my part ?“ People asked me , ”Why aren’t you out there?” ”Why did Michael replace you with her?” All kind of comments came my way, and it hurt so BAD. It hurt too much to be questioned about it as often as I was. It got to where I hated leaving my house. I felt as though I did not want to live.
However, I did experienced many more lessons in the land of Hollyweird.
Later that evening, the telephone rang again. This time I was really surprised. It was the matriarch of the Jackson family.
Michael’s mother called me saying she was very interested and concerned about me. I first spoke with Rebbie for a few minutes and she said that they were concerned about me. They wanted to know why I was fired from Michael’s tour and she stated that her mother wanted to speak with me herself.
Mrs. Jackson got on the line and her voice and sweet yet: it was filled with an enormous amount of concern and anger about the situation. She told me she and the family were going to investigate some things with Michael’s camp.
She comforted me and reassured me that she was going to look into this and some other things. She invited me to her home in Encino. That very day I sent a birthday card to Michael at his office.
The MTV Awards were on September 7th, and I was preparing for Michael because he was nominated for an award but would not be present to accept it as he was still on tour. An MTV producer had received the okay for me to accept an award on Michael’s behalf if he won.
I thought this was weird! I mean, they had just unprofessionally fired me and now agreed for me to accept an award on his behalf. Even thought it was odd , I was absolutely thrilled
Terri took me shopping for the event and bought me the most beautiful dress. I felt like Cinderella, and when that evening rolled around Michael did win the award. As I prepared to go onstage and accept for him, the announcer said , ”Since he could not be here tonight as he’s still on tour, we accept this on his behalf” Well, so much for that! No one informed me of
TR: Did anyone even give you some idea about why you were fired from the tour?
TT: On September 14th I read an article that disturbed me. It basically read:
“Michael ditched his traveling companion, a leggy namely Tatiana because she talked about their friendship to a European publication. Silence, she learned too late, is golden where Michael is concerned”
I knew better than to believe what was written in a tabloid but it bothered me. Anything I ever said about Michael was good or positive. Michael was my hero and my idol, after all. My friend Marie Gabriel sent me another article from the SUN which is Britain’s answer to the National Enquirer. The headline read: “Love shock for Jackson -Sexy sizzler drives Michael wild”.
The story itself read as though we were in love.
Including photos from the famous or should I say, infamous, kiss they copied the National Enquirer story. The quote that Michael gave to the press really blew me away.According to one report they quoted him saying; Jackson stunned concert fans by locking himself into his first public kiss with Thumbzten ”I love her because she’s warm, caring and exciting.” Michael said. This led me to believe that he was falling in love with me.
On the 9th Michael was back in town and I spoke again with Mrs. Jackson on the 14th. She assured me and comforted me once again. She said that I would get an opportunity to speak with Mike and find out what the problem or confusion was. Michael’s family felt this was Frank Dileo’s doing. It was clear: they did not trust his manager. Michael’s mother put me on the telephone with someone working with her and Joseph. He was a real character, named Jerome Howard.
He took an interest in helping me with with my career. My own parents felt some form of relief and hope from all the promises the Jacksons and Jerome Howard made. He talked about the things I should be doing to capitalize on my success-like having my own clothing line, my own calendar, or my own doll. He told me how perfect my face was for a doll and the great success I could have, he promised it would all happen if I stuck with him.
He told me that he was working with them and helping them with their investigation. He admitted to me that Michael’s own parents could not get in touch with him when they wanted to and was there to help find out what happened. Jerome picked me up for my first visit to the compound.
My mother advised me to write Michael a letter during this time and to pass it through my new contacts within the family. I was constantly in touch with Jerome. He called me almost everyday.
When I finally went to the Jackson family home. I could barely believe that I was there.
I had seen photos in magazines like Ebony and Life, and now I was actually there! I was hanging out in the kitchen with Michael’s mother and his sister Rebbie telling them how lonely I was and how I only saw Michael onstage.
Then I told them how Frank and Miko had treated me after the kiss. I expressed everything I had endured and I told them some of the things that I thought were odd. Katherine listened to me with great interest.
She said that she knew her son had real feelings for me because he told her so when we were making our video together. She said that one morning, before the shoot, she found Michael sitting on his bed. He looked troubled about something. She asked him what was wrong.
Michael told her he had real feelings for me and he wanted to know what he should do about it. Katherine said to him, ”Just tell her, and let her know.” She asked me if he had ever told me anything about this or his feelings for me.
I told her no, but everyone told me that he had feelings for me. It was clear to me that she was sad about the situation. She felt that Frank Dileo had something to do with it all. I brought up the fact that Michael had sent A request to my agency for me to audition for the Dirty Diana video, and that Frank discouraged me from doing so. Her response was of more or less ”Ah, ha, you see! You are a threat to him
If Michael falls in love and wants to marry you, then Dileo fears the person Michael is close to could have more value and credibility than he does with Michael.” She made a point I never considered myself. It was interesting that my parents and the Jackson family shared the same theory.
Katherine encouraged me to tour the grounds and she warned me to be careful of the swans out back, telling me that if I go too close they would bite. I remember standing on a little bridge staring down at these swans as the glided in (unreadable) and wishing Michael was there with me.
David Banks told me I was living in a fantasy world but I did not see it yet.
I had a dinner date with the hilarious and talented Eddie Murphy. While on telephone with him I spilled my drink and said, ”Oh hold on I just spilled my Pepsi”.
Why did I say Pepsi? I don’t know because it was a coke. I did not drink Pepsi.
Eddie replied in that distinctive voice ”Oh, You are just all Jackson-ed out”. This was during Michael’s big Pepsi campaign.
In truth, he was right with his analogy, because I was crazy about him.