Okay. Here's the deal. You grow up in an amusement park without a mother, but surrounded by nannies, nurses and heavy handed security staff. Your father is a pop star who is obsessed with plastic surgery and (some say) young boys. But, then, you are not even certain he is your biological father. You don't get out into the real world much, are told to wear masks and your eating utensils are sterilized. So, do you have a chance of being a "normal" balanced human being? Good question. By the time his kids came along, some have said Michael Jackson was decidedly Wacko Jacko. He and his kids lived in the weird world of Jackson's California ranch/amusement park, Neverland, complete with pet chimps and amusement park rides. Plus, in the background are the many, many Jacksons who want to be as rich and famous as Michael, but aren't. They hate each other. They hate Michael. Getting the dysfunctional picture? And what about the kids? There's soon-to-be 20 Michael Jr. (aka Prince Jackson), 18-year-old Paris and 14-year-old "Blanket". Blanket? And what kind of dad was Michael Jackson? Erratic, at best, a kind of child- man who many said had no business being a father. Blanket was only three when Jackson died in 2005. And since then, his kids, his entire family, have been bombarded with lurid tales of child abuse and drug use. Here are 15 facts about the Jackson kids' dysfunctional childhood and their not-always-happy teen years that they probably don't want you to know about.
15 He Needed A Father, Not Children
The first child abuse accusations against Michael Jackson came out in 1993. A year later, probably not coincidentally, Jackson attempted "normal" and married Lisa Marie Presley. After all, he was obsessed by her dad, Elvis, and Lisa Marie was the spitting image of "The King". Jackson was desperate to have children. But she flat out refused to have children with him. Why? Well, according to The Daily Mail, she said he was "too emotionally immature to raise a child... I think he needs a parent," she reportedly said. And Martin Bashir, an English journalist who lived with Jackson for months and made a not very flattering documentary about his life, said he was "broken, childish and self-obsessed". And who can forget Jackson dangling baby Blanket from a hotel balcony? Some said he was high at the time. After divorcing Lisa Marie, Jackson went on to marry Debbie Rowe, already pregnant with Prince. She was essentially the "surrogate" who gave him Prince and Paris.
14 An Isolated Life Behind The Walls Of Neverland
The kids lived in isolation, walled away from the world in Neverland. A case in point: From day one, Prince had six nannies and six nurses, who worked in shifts to insure 24/7 coverage. The Daily Mail quoted one nanny as saying, "We had to measure the air quality in his room once an hour. When we fed him, all the utensils had to be boiled and were all thrown away after a single use." Even Prince's toys were thrown away each night and replaced with brand new sterilized ones in the morning. And their school friends? Forget it. They seldom got outside the Neverland walls. Tutors came to them. And they were surrounded by the adult members of Jackson's large staff. That's why they learned swear words so early. They knew nothing of the real world. Nothing at all. And the real world didn't even really know what they looked like. A total disconnect.
13 Happy 8th Birthday: Daddy's On Trial For Child Abuse
What's it like being the child of a man whose life is pretty much a trainwreck? You're 8-years-old and your dad is on trial in California for sexually abusing children. There's even talk he abused his own nephews. And, by the way, there's a plan to sneak him (and presumably you) out of the country to an unofficial asylum in Bahrain if he is convicted. This was Prince's world in 2005. And Paris was only a year younger. Only Blanket was too young to know what the heck was going on. Seems dad has an offer from some sheikh to live in the lap of luxury that he can't refuse 'cause he is pretty much broke. And, over the next four years until Jackson's death in 2009, it only get worse and worse. They were about to become part of the trainwreck.
12 An Angry Young Man
Prince Jackson has a lot to be angry about. From a dead father, to the toxic and dysfunctional Jackson family, to a mother he believes abandoned him. Even worse, many say that Jackson was not his (or indeed Paris' or Blanket's) father. A former Jackson friend, child actor Mark Lester, confirms that Jackson asked many of his male friends to donate sperm to help him start a family. The list included Marlon Brando, Lester himself and child star Corey Feldman. Some say even the teenage child star Macaulay Culkin may have done his stuff and donated. Why? Well some have said Jackson may not have been able to father a child. Shooting blanks? Maybe. In fact, Woman's Day reports that Lester said that Brando may well have been Prince's father. And Lester has also said Paris looks a lot like one of his daughters. So? Who knows. But even poor old Prince himself has said that Michael may not have been his biological father. And what does that do to your head? Nothing good.
11 The Creepy Nanny
What was life inside Neverland like for the kids? In a word, bizarre. Grace Rwaramba worked for Michael Jackson as a kind of nanny to the kids. Some said she and Jackson had a relationship. You know. That kind of relationship. And the kids were in the middle of it all. And there's more. Seems the nanny was obsessed with Jacko. Paris creeped out a room full of lawyers when she was being deposed in connection with a lawsuit. She told them that the nanny would wait for Jackson to fall asleep and then sneak into bed with him when they stayed in hotels. So, the nanny, the kids and Jackson all in the same room? What a strange childhood that must have been. "This is gonna freak you out," she told the lawyers. And it did.
10 In A World Of Their Own
People who saw Michael Jackson very occasionally out and about with his young kids talked about two remarkable things: Firstly, not surprisingly considering their virtual confinement within Neverland, the kids seemed to be in a world of their own, cut off from the real world. Their universe was Michael Jackson and Neverland. And second? They all wore masks. Usually surgical masks. Why on earth? Well, Jackson once said something that made absolutely no sense at all, commenting that he insisted his kids wear masks so they could have their own identity. We don't understand it either. It's a Wacko Jacko mystery. It probably had more to do with Jackson's obsessive fear of germs. Remember all that sterilizing of toys and eating utensils?
9 Michael's Final Days
What could it have been like for the kids during the summer of 2005? It must have been sheer hell. They were holed up with a back-biting entourage intent on getting the sick and barely mobile Jackson out on tour once again. The uncertainty. The rumors. The screams of their father after nightmares of being murdered. The last time Prince saw his father alive, "My dad was hanging halfway off the bed and his eyes were rolling back in his head. My sister was screaming the whole time saying she wants her daddy." And at the hospital, he tried to calm a hysterical Paris, telling her they had angels watching over them. And then the news: Michael Jackson was dead.
8 The Unholy Battle For Custody (And Control Of The Estate)
It's just a fact: Michael Jackson is worth more dead than when he was alive. Some say his estate is worth $500 million. And the beneficiaries? Mostly the kids. So, here's the deal. Get custody of the minor kids and get access to all that lovely money. Debbie Rowe had a go and failed. Michael's mother Katherine, was named their guardian in Jackson's will. So, she was in charge. Then cousin Tito Joe ("TJ") goes to court and nabs the prize. Namely the kids. Then Katherine is back in court. Then Tito's back in court. Then another cousin named Anthony rolls up to court to try his luck. It was a mess, but totally typical in the screwed-up Jackson family. See, they all hate one another almost as much as they love money. It's less something than it was, as Prince and Paris have both reached the magic 1 -8. Here's an interesting TJ fact: Kim Kardashian reportedly lost her virginity to Tito at the age of 14. He was all of 16 and less "large" at the time.
7 Grandma Kidnapped And Kids Repel Home Invasion
So, after Michael Jackson's death, the Jacksons put on black and pretended to bond at the funeral. Prince, Paris and Blanket went to live with Katherine Jackson in Encino, California. And for the first time the older two got to go to school. So, normal. Right? Well not quite. At one point in 2012, The Telegraph reported that Prince took to Twitter to report that his grandma Katherine had been kidnapped and that the kids were prevented from contacting her. Then the paper went on to detail a bizarre home invasion in which Jermaine and Janet Jackson swooped into Katherine's home in her absence and tried to force Prince, Paris and Blanket to go with them. They refused and, reportedly, there was a bit of a scuffle. Then Katherine surfaces and says she's not kidnapped, but at a spa in Arizona. Totally weird. After the weirdness stopped and Katherine was back, Prince once again took to Twitter to say his gran had been lied to. And Janet and Jermaine? Banned from granny's house big time. It's beyond dysfunctional.
6 Cyber Bullying, Attempted Suicide And Bonding With Debbie
It was Paris who gave a tearful eulogy to her father at his funeral. And it is Paris that has probably had the toughest time going from seclusion to celebrity. After her dad's death, she took to social media and pretty quickly the novice "celebrity" attracted nasty trolls that harassed her, insulted her father and made her life hell. Plus, she was drinking and doing drugs. In June of 2013, a frightened and upset Paris called 9/11 after she had cut her arms with a meat cleaver and swallowed a number of painkillers in an apparent attempt at suicide. And, desperate for a family and understandably wary of the toxic Jacksons, it was Paris who reached out to her mother Debbie Rowe, talking to her over the phone and spending time with her at her ranch. And Prince? In fact, The Telegraph reported that an angry Prince had fallen out with Paris out over Paris' contact with Rowe.
5 Watching Aunt Rebbie Deck The Nanny
Back to the wacko, dysfunctional Jackson family. See? They all pretend to be singing stars when they aren't. Reportedly, good old Grace Rwaramba criticized Katherine Jackson's "parenting skills", saying she just wasn't up to raising Michael's three young children after the singer died. So, what happened? In August of 2009, less than a month after Jackson died, Grace rolled up to Katherine's Encino home to check on the kids and goes berserk, criticizing just about everything granny was doing. So, your dad dies and your ex-nanny is shouting at your gran? Bad vibes. But it gets worse. Michael's older sister Rebbie, was there and jumps in to defend poor old Katherine. One thing leads to another and before you know it the two women are trading punches. Welcome to the real world, kids. Take us back to Neverland, please. We just can't be related to these people.
4 From LaLa Land To The Limelight
Before Michael Jackson died, very few people even knew what his kids looked like. When they went out, they wore masks or veils. Their life was Neverland. It was virtually their whole world. Some say Michael Jackson failed to prepare them for the real world. They were locked up, protected and kept away from prying eyes. Then in 2009, Jackson died and Prince, Paris and Blanket roll up to the funeral. Hey, the world says. Is that what they look like? Then, literally, the walls come tumbling down and they go from being "invisible" to constantly being in the spotlight, their every move and Tweet followed. Add to that the nasty world of the family Jackson, disputes over Jackson's will and those persistent rumors about Jackson's "thing" for little boys and it is not hard to see how heads could be f*cked up big time.
3 The Racist Boyfriend
Why do attractive blondes go for ugly, seedy rockers? Is it a bad boy thing? Maybe. But it's a fact: Paris is all loved up with drummer Michael Snoddy. And the sh*t hit the fan when he posted a picture to Instagram of him proudly displaying a Confederate flag tattoo on his forearm. He's wanted one since middle school. Southern pride said some. Racism said others. Well the post reportedly disappeared and Michael said something really dumb like "how can I be racist and dating a black girl?" Well, the thing is, she probably isn't. Black, that is. Some say they hope the young Paris develops better taste in men. Somehow, we doubt it.
2 Negativity Will Always Sell
The older Jackson children spend life on the defensive. They are constantly forced to defend their dad and his reputation. The child abuse civil suits are still filed by men (and sometimes women) who claim they were abused by Jackson when they were children. Jackson's doctor has written a book about what he claims were Jackson's obsession with certain young girls, including Harry Potter star Emma Watson. Recently, a story broke that nearly melted down the Internet: "Reportedly" investigators had found child p*rn and instruments of bondage at Neverland. Paris took to Twitter to defend her father, saying "negativity will always sell". Do the kids have a stake in it? Of course they do. Further damage to Jackson's already tarnished reputation means damage to the estate's bottom line. The Daily Mail ran a story in 2014 saying the Jackson siblings got $8 million a year "allowance". That's worth defending, we think.
1 Which Way To Normal?
The kids never had a mother. Oh, Jackson married Debbie Rowe, the mother of Prince and Paris, because his mother Katherine, a devout Jehovah's Witness, insisted. But she was paid off, given her own mansion and only showed up occasionally for a photo opportunity. Prince's and Paris' formative years were spent in the claustrophobic world of Neverland, shut off from the rest of the world. And no one even knows who the surrogate who gave birth to Blanket was. And there are doubts over whether Jackson was actually the kids' biological father. Add to that the noxious Jackson clan, the glare of the media spotlight, the continuing accusations of child abuse and personal issues with anger and insecurity, and you might well ask what the future holds for the young Jackson siblings. We hope happy. We hope normal.