Every celebrity has a side of themselves that they don’t share with the public, but in the summer of 1993, it seemed like Michael Jackson had split into two entirely different people.
There was the King of Pop, the 12-time Grammy-winning artist behind albums like Thriller and Bad, who had given an incredible performance at Super Bowl XXVII just months earlier.
But there was also “Wacko Jacko,” the version of Jackson’s personality that sold millions of tabloids filled with lurid stories about his personal life.
Tabloid readers obsessed over whether or not Jackson was bleaching his skin (he probably was), if he had cosmetic surgery (he admitted to two nose jobs and a surgery adding a chin dimple), and why he seemed to be losing so much weight (Jackson’s closest friends and family say he struggled with anorexia).
But the most popular stories were the truly bizarre, like the wild claim that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric chamber designed to keep him looking youthful. Of course, the strangest story of all turned out to be 100 percent true: on the weekends, Jackson invited children to visit him at his $17 million mansion dubbed “Neverland Ranch” in Santa Ynez, California.
The massive property was Jackson’s home, but also his private amusement park where he invited a number of children he called his friends. He let them ride on his Ferris wheel, watch movies in his private theater, and - according to a number of parents - invited children for sleepovers, even sleeping in the same room with them.
Jackson became so close with one of those children, Jordan Chandler, that he invited him on his Dangerous World Tour, and was often photographed in public with Jordan and his family.
So it made national headlines when Jordan and his father, Evan, accused Jackson of sexual abuse, saying the singer had inappropriately touched the boy.
The public was shocked by news that police raided Neverland Ranch in late August, discovering nude photographs of children, which did not qualify as child pornography. Police also questioned 30 children who had stayed at Jackson’s home, including child star Macauley Culkin, but none accused the singer of being a child molester.
But things were about to go from bad to worse.