Gerard: My dad actually took me to my first ballet class. Of course we went to the footballs games and basketball games but, you know, he saw me getting up and shish boom bahing and he never questioned me about it. My mom was totally against it so, her role was more like a father would be, “oh no you can’t do that,” because it wasn’t manly enough. She said that she didn’t want her son in tights dancin’ around like no girl. My dad stood up for me. So, my mom threw her hands up.
So, my first job out of high school was working on Michael Jackson’s Bad video. I was nineteen, the youngest one in the video. Of course, I’m going to school to be a ballet dancer when I got the job with all of these older, hip-hop dancers. Michael never learned how to dance [formally] so, we had to learn how to dance like he did.
I didn’t know what I was auditioning for. We had just finished class for the day and I was jumping on the bus to go back to New Jersey. My friend said, “you’re taking all these classes and you’re in all the high levels. Why don’t you just go audition? You’re gonna have to get used to it anyway.” I wasn’t dressed for an audition. I had ballet slippers, black tights, white t-shirt.
I got there and it was this huge studio. Huge, huge, huge. There were like 500 people on the list to audition. I thought, “oh my God, this is gonna take all day.” I went in and auditioned and do what I do and I guess because I was the only one who looked like a kid, amongst these older guys… I think it all worked to my advantage. A week or two later, my grandmother gets a phone call. She said, “there’s a guy on the phone named Michael Jackson.”
So, I picked up the phone and said, “hello?” He said, “this is Michael Jackson, you auditioned for a video…” He sounded very professional. He had that high pitched voice but I couldn’t tell. I wasn’t really sure. I’d never spoken to Michael Jackson before. My grandmother was listening on the other phone. She started to question him, “now, what is this for?”
He said, “This is for a Michael Jackson video that’s being filmed in New York.”
She said, “Michael Jackson? Now, the only Michael Jackson I know is from the Jackson five. BaBoomBoomBaBoom” *laughing*
He said, “yeah” and he started singing this song, “oh baby…” I could see her across the room. Her mouth dropped open and she hung up the phone. Michael asked “what happened, what happened” and then he told me that I got the job.
So, I told everybody that day. Eveeeeerybody! I went to rehearsal and he wasn’t there. He wasn’t there for weeks! And there are no words in the music that we’re rehearsing to, just the beat and I’m thinking, “this is a fraud!” But he finally did show up in the 4th week.
BW: Did you have any personal interaction with him?
Gerard: He had to put up with me jumping up and putting my butt in his face a thousand times until I got it right. The day we finished, they fed us again that evening and Michael came up to me and said, “I have something to say to you, Mr. Gerard.” He handed me something and he turned and giggled, in the little kiddish way he would do. It was a plane ticket. I didn’t get it. I thought maybe it was to take my family somewhere. He said, “we’re going out to L.A. after this and you’re coming with us to rehearse for The Way You Make Me Feel. He whispered, “Just be there.”
Part of these collections: Coming Out