From David Gests Autobiography "Simply the Gest”
Michael used to love calling people up. He would do it when he came over to my house. He would just pick up the phone, dial a random number and start horsing around.
The person at the other end would pick up the phone and Michael would say, “Who’s this?”
They would reply something like, “It’s Lenore.”
He would go, “Oh, Lenore, listen, we’re going to have to get a divorce. I can’t carry on like this.”
“She would go, “No, no, you have the wrong…”
Michael would interrupt and say, “No, Lenore, don’t even try that on me. I’ve just had it with you. We’ll divide the property evenly and everything but it’s got to be this way.”
Then he would hang up, leaving the person on the other end of the line wondering what the hell had just happened.
(sometime in the 80s)
Michael was staying at my place on Dohney and was happy to come along. He really respected Burt (Bacharach) but wondered, as we all did, what made him tick.
Burt had ordered a bottle of expensive French red wine, which he, Carole (Bayer Sager) and I were drinking. Michael never drank but that night he got interested in wine. Unbelievably; he didn’t even know what wine was.
‘What’s it made of?’ he asked me.
‘Grapes’, I said.
‘I like grapes,’ Michael said. ‘I think I’ll try some.’
So we poured Michael a glass and he drank it. He obviously liked it because he drank another one. We were drinking a 1982 Pomerol that tasted like candy, so he was bound to like it.
By this time, we all had a glass or two and the bottle was finished. So Burt ordered a second bottle. This time, Michael drank virtually the whole bottle. He had really aquired a taste for wine, fine wine at that, and was guzzling the stuff down.
So we ordered a third bottle and Michael drank most of that as well. That’s when I knew we were going to have a problem that night.
The evening came to an end and I drove Michael back to my place. He was, understandbly, happy. In fact, he was flying high, very high. In the car he was talking and laughing. He was singing ‘I Want To Be Where You Are’ and ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’.
Then he started singing more of his hit songs like ‘Ben’. He was giggling away all the time.
‘You’re going to be in trouble,’ he said. ‘I’m going to tell Joesph what you did.’
I wasn’t taking the bait. ‘I didn’t do it, you did,’ I said.
It took us a few minutes to get back to my place. The minute I parked the car and opened the door for him, Michael leaned out and threw up all over the place. He spent the rest of the night hanging over the toilet. He was as sick as a dog. I was up all night with him.
He kept saying, ‘I’m going to tell Joe you corrupted me,’ I was kinda worried he would but he never did.
It was his first taste of wine, something he would come to love a little too much in later years. I always felt bad about that night but it sure was funny!
We would go to Disneyland. We both loved rollercoasters. Sometimes we would go on them twenty times in a row.
Often, Michael would wear disguises. Once, he was a sheikh and I was his translator. We would go into a place called Carnation Restaurant in Disneyland where they served great tuna salad and sandwiches. Michael was eating organic food only, although, at that time, he had a rather strange idea of what organic was. We would go to KFC, Michael reckoned if you took off the skin it became organic.
Anyhow, at Carnation on this particular day, there were two elderly women and a gentleman in their eighties from Croydon. We started talking in our mock Arabic to each other.
When the two ladies looked over, I turned to one of them and explained, “The Sheikh Majolini wanted me to tell you that you are a beautiful woman and so is your friend,” I said.
These two ladies probably hadn’t been paid a compliment like that in the last couple of decades so they started smiling. We then got talking. They asked what the Sheikh was doing here and I said he had just got divorced from his 97th wife and was now on his 154th child.
“He has 154 children?” they asked, looking shocked.
“That he knows of,” I said. “He has had 97 wives…” and I started naming them, “Jada, Jami, Shakira, Vera…” with Michael saying them in mock Arabic.
There was nothing malacious in it. In fact, Michael picked up their bill. He was like that, always pulling practical jokes on people.
Sometimes though, the joke would be on us. The funniest thing that ever happened to us was when we went for pancakes one night. It was after 1am and our regular haunt, Dupars, was closed, so we went to another pancake house that we knew on Ventura Boulevard. There was only one couple in there; normally it held 150 people.
The waitress who served us was in her late sixties or early seventies. This was around 1979, when Off The Wall came out. Michael was the no. 1 artist in the world. She didn’t recognize him at all.
We got to the table and she come over and asked us what we wanted to order. I put on a Saudi accent and went “Yamaka fallesh.”
Michael started laughing. The waitress slapped him across the face with the back of her hand. She said, “This is not funny. Your friend is from a foreign country and you have respect for people from foreign countries.”
Michael got nervous. He wasn’t used to being treated like that in public. He slid further inside the booth so he couldn’t get slapped again.
I asked, “What is pancake? Explain please.”
The waitress started miming a pressing motion. She said, “It’s like a cake that you press down.”
Michael started to laugh again and she started to put her hand up again, so he slid further away.
She then said, “Ok, I’m going to take you back to the kitchen.” She and the cook showed us how to make pancakes. I ordered some.
When the pancakes came to our table, I took the syrup bottle and emptied the whole bottle all over the pancakes. She immediately slapped me across the face. It hurt.
“Not funny,” she said. Michael was laughing again.
She brought me a new batch and I ate them. When we left, Michael left her a $200 tip.
We were in the car park, heading back to Michael’s Rolls Royce, when the waitress came running after us.
“I’m not taking this. You boys are probably working your way through college and you need the money,” she said, not even noticing the car he was driving.
Michael insisted but she said, “No, I’m not taking it.” We couldn’t believe it.
We’d get in the car and sing songs together. He used to tell me I was the worst singer he’d ever heard! He always made me laugh. Michael had a great sense of humour which most people never saw. We loved to go antiquing for furniture and paintings as well as memorabilia. Our favourite thing to do was walk into a store and go, “Do you have any John LeCockah paintings?”
The antique dealer would respond, “We’ve just sold the last one for $100,000.” I’d say to Michael, “Oh no, he’s just sold the last John LeCockah painting.” We would plead for him to get another in and he’d respond, “They are just too hard to find.” We’d walk out and go, “We’ll never buy from that dealer because there’s no such painter!” Michael would be laughing so hard. He had a laugh that was like a cackle: Hhk hhk hhk hhk hhk.
We’d do very normal things. We’d go out for pancakes and French toast and I’d drive his Rolls-Royce. When we stopped for gas, I’d ask him to fill the tank. He’d say, “I’m the star here. I can’t believe you’re making me put gas in the car.” And I’d tell him, “When we’re together, there’s only one star.” That was the reason our friendship was so good. I never treated him like he was a big deal.
(at the 7th Annual American Cinema Awards where Michael was honoured, 1990)
When Michael Jackson came on stage to take his final bow at the end of the evening with Celia (Lipton Ferris – she was the executive producer of the show), she got even more excited. At one point, she wrapped herself around Michael shouting, ‘He’s the greatest, he’s the greatest!’ Finally the musical conductor danced with Celia and Michael could free himself. It was very funny. Even Michael enjoyed it.
I remember we once went to Disneyland. He was in disguise and we watched Captain EO, a Disney 3D movie which he starred in.
When we came out I said, ‘You were brilliant’ and he went, ‘Oh thanks, have you only just realised?’. Then when we got home I made him Moonwalk in my kitchen — then I tried it and fell flat on my face!?
The Michael Jackson I will remember was smart, articulate and made me laugh. His death was a huge shock but it brought back so many happy memories.Michael Jackson the Real Man
David Gest, one of the people who knew the King Of Pop Michael Jackson best, (In the second part of his exclusive interview with The Sun) reflected on his 40-year friendship with Michael. He was a loyal friend who made him laugh and gave him memories to treasure.
"There is nobody who knew Michael like I did. He was so gifted, it’s hard for me to picture him gone. There is a whole side to him people never saw.
For instance, people always think of him as talking in that high, soft voice, but he didn’t really speak like that — it was a facade.
"Still to this day I am not sure why he did it. The Michael I knew talked like a real man, acted like a real man and shook a hand like a real man."
David, who has made millions as a concert promoter and TV personality, was 16 when the Jacksons family moved into a mansion only a short drive from his own family home in Encino, California.
He first got to know Michael Jackson when he called at the house to take the "Thriller" star’s sister, La Toya, on a date.
“It was just puppy love, nothing serious. La Toya had the flu so Michael — who was nearly 12 at the time — asked me to drive him to a memorabilia sale. I had no clue what memorabilia even was at that time.”
The outing proved to be the start of a life-long friendship — and a shared love of shopping, collecting and eating in fast food restaurants.
And despite the huge personal wealth Michael enjoyed at the height of his career, David revealed that the superstar always loved a bargain.
“He loved haggling over the price in stores. If something was $4,000 (£2,400), he would cheekily start them at $200 (£120). He was an arch negotiator. People thought he was absolutely nuts but he actually got away with it sometimes.”
David told how Michael was always incredibly generous with his friends.
“One time when we went to Disneyland he bought me more than 200,000 dollars-worth of rare memorabilia, spent about the same on himself and had three limousines come and collect it all.”
David added that he and Michael were inseparable as young men.
“We were best friends — always staying over at each other’s houses, living in sleeping bags or going on trips together.
We both loved music and would often play a game where we tested each other on which artists had sung which songs. If I won I got to keep one of Michael’s stage costumes. If he won he got some of my film posters or a rare piece of Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix memorabilia.”
David, who called Michael ‘M’, told how the star always kept up to date with music and revealed his favorite contemporary artists were Beyonce, Eminem and Dr Dre, the Black Eyed Peas and Kelly Rowland — whom he had a crush on.
“His all-time favorite vocalist was Whitney Houston. Michael always said she could sing the Yellow Pages and it would sound great.”
Fans of the singer will no doubt be fascinated to learn that "Man in the Mirror" and "Heal the World" were Michael’s favorite songs from his own body of work.
“'She’s Out of My Life' and 'One Day in Your Life' were his favorite of the ballads.”
In the late Seventies, David and his pal embarked on another shared hobby — plastic surgery.
David, who found fame in the UK on the 2006 series of TV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, said: “Michael and I had always felt insecure about the way we looked.
Michael became obsessed with the idea of having plastic surgery. He would say to me, ‘Don’t you want to look better?’
So I went for it in grand style — even though I have a huge ego I have always felt I was never good-looking — so I got a nose job, cheek bone implants, a second nose job, even bigger cheek implants, and the removal of those cheek implants when I ended up looking like a chipmunk!
After each operation Michael would always come over to my apartment in Beverly Hills and look after me.
He would play me music, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and burn the toast unmercifully.”
David explained that the key to his enduring friendship with Michael was he always treated him like a “normal” person.
“When we would take a trip together, I would always make Michael get out of the car and fill up with gas. He would say, ‘Who is the star here?’ and I would say, ‘When you are with me, I am!’
We would always go to McDonald’s, Michael loved their French fries, or KFC. He loved that chicken, although he would take the skin off because he thought that made it organic — that would crack me up.
David also revealed that Michael was a voracious reader with a passion for classic literature.
“What a lot of people don’t know about Michael is that he was always reading. He was an intelligent man. His favorite poet was Robert Burns and he was obsessed with the novels of Charles Dickens.
He would scour antique bookstores looking for first editions of his work.
He loved Shakespeare and got me into the plays too. He was also fascinated by English history, especially Henry VIII, and loved collecting costumes from that period.”
David told how Michael passed this love of books on to his own children Prince Michael Jr., 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II.
“He home-schooled the children and always had them reading the right books. He was a great father, but he was strict. He believed in manners and showing respect to adults and behaving properly. Michael loved being a dad, he should have done it years before he did.
The Michael Jackson I will remember was smart, articulate and made me laugh. His death was a huge shock but it brought back so many happy memories.
Michael famously acted as best man when David wed his now ex-wife, the singer Liza Minnelli.
“Michael, Liza, Elizabeth Taylor and I looked like the friggin’ Adams Family in those wedding pictures. They are really scary to look at, but Michael made a very touching speech.”
One signed photograph carries the poignant hand-written message: ‘To David Gest. Remember, unbounded immortality is yours, just create it. Michael Jackson, 1998.’
David said: “There will never be another Michael Jackson — he was a musical innovator, a great dancer and you know what else? He was one hell of a friend.”