Interview with Craig J. Baxter – Part 2
Author of Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told the World
October 18, 2012
You can read Part 1 of this interview here:
SGAA: What was Michael’s baseline? (normal behaviour or conversational habit of an individual) I have done research from your website and other body language sites and it states you can get a good baseline from people when they are in a non-stressed situation and in a calm environment. How did you get a baseline for Michael when he was always so stressed in these interviews?
CJB: That is a very good point. That was hard to do. I watched many of his interviews, there were so many interviews that I didn’t cover in the book because I didn’t want to make it too long. Obviously trying to get someone’s baseline when they are not experiencing stress or discomfort is tough but his baseline behavior was very relaxed, I mean he had a lot of precision gestures where he placed his thumb and forefinger together and that was a particular favorite of his also the fist gesture, he used that one a lot, he also liked placing his hand toward his heart and that was repeated constantly. Those are little snippets of behavior that we all fall into. I’m trying to think of other gestures that he did … oh there is one where he shakes his head one way because where he says “he’s not gay” and he shakes his head in the yes position. We do this to add intensity to what you are saying. That’s an idiosyncrasy not him being deceptive. That’s called the “Brohawk Hazard” where you misinterpret signs of body language for guilt where they are just idiosyncrasies of that person.
SGAA: So that’s why it is important to know someone’s baseline beforehand?
CJB: Yes, because if you did not realize that was Michael’s normal behavior you would think he was telling people he was silently gay because he’s nodding his head yes when he verbally denies that he is gay. He also did it at the Neverland Ranch Interview when he said “I am totally innocent” and again, he’s shaking his head in the wrong direction.
SGAA: I’m sure that when you began to analyze Michael’s body language on you tube and now with the book you have had the opportunity to speak with many fans and advocate groups, etc. Has it been enlightening for you to see how much this man was truly loved around the world?
CJB: Oh yes, and very humbling as well. It’s amazing because his fan base is global. I mean I’ve got people all over the world sending me messages, asking me to join their groups.
SGAA: It’s billions…
CJB: Yes it’s fantastic, I had no idea that he had the fan base he had. He passed three years ago and his popularity has not waned, likely it’s grown. He’s still always trending here in the UK on Twitter and when I tell people about the book, I always ask them “What do you think about Michael Jackson” and they say “I loved his music but also talk about all the negative things and I think it’s because of the Bashir interview and I tell them to read my book and they go and read it they say “God, I didn’t know that about Michael Jackson” So my book does help the young people to see who Michael Jackson really was.
SGAA: Is there anything you are working on at the moment?
CJB: No, not at the moment. The next step is get the book out in paperback.
SGAA: That was my next question, everyone wants to know when it will be coming out in paperback.
CJB: I know, it’s out on Kindle at the moment, but not everyone has a Kindle.
You can download Kindle for your PC here
SGAA: I know I’m “old school” and I certainly love a good book to hold in my hands. So we would all love to know when that will be happening.
CJB: Well I spoke to my business partner this morning and we are in the process of getting it sorted out and we are going to have pictures in the book, that’s what is taking us a while. We are not using Michael Jackson’s image. It will be me mimicking the poses Michael did. We are very conscious of any copyright issues. So that’s why anything Michael says in the book I can verify with quotes from here, there and everywhere and I have not added anything that Michael didn’t say.
SGAA: When you are not writing, analyzing or working at your day job what do you like to do?
CJB: Well, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junky to be honest with you. I’ve skydived, bungee jumped, white water rafted, been in a hot air balloon, indoor skydiving, you name it, I’ve done it. I used to weight lift, and used to be a long distance runner. However, I’m nearly 30 now so my high adrenaline days are just about over.
SGAA: I doubt that very much, you have a long road ahead of you to do many things. To do so much at such a young age, I congratulate you.
CJB: Yes, thank you very much and now I can add best-selling author to the list.
SGAA: That’s incredible, I am so happy for you. I wanted to know if you are inspired by any books or authors and what is on your bookshelf at the moment?
CJB: Wow I have thousands of books. I think from a body language point of view, Dr. Desmond Morris, a very famous zoologist here in Great Britain and who is a pioneer.
SGAA: Who you quote in your book quite a bit.
CJB: Oh yes, quoting Desmond Morris is like the Holy Grail of nonverbal communication, he is considered the very best. His background is studying animals, apes, chimpanzees and monkeys. He’s a big believer in the Darwinian approach of how we have evolved from apes and we are a species of primate. His book is fantastic and he’s written about ten books about non verbal communication and I do feature Desmond Morris’ work heavily in the book because I do consider it to be the very best. So he would be number one. Dr. Paul Ekman, who is the pioneer behind the TV show “Lie to Me” and I have spoken to him personally and I owe a lot to him as well because he takes the study of body language to new areas where he does micro-expressions. Whereas Dr. Morris didn’t cover these things in his book he was more anatomy based because Ekman was more about emotions and how they take an integral role in our everyday communications. So I’m forever indebted to Dr. Ekman and his tireless research as well.
SGAA: (Laughing) Do you do any light reading?
CJB: No, most my reading is based on non verbal communication and I like police interrogation books just to hone my skills basically. I’m not really big on novels. I would prefer to watch a film based on a novel rather than sit down and read one. I am a big reader but on non verbal communication. As an aside, I must thank John Navarro, I quote him a lot in the book. He is a legend. Former FBI and founder of the Behavioral Unit in the US and he was first into the interrogation of terrorists, murderers and suspects and again, he is considered one of the very best. So it was a real honor to quote directly from Navarro. I speak to him often and amazingly enough he has given me a wonderful review of the book, he really enjoyed it. I was very pleased about that.
SGAA: I was looking on the Amazon reviews of your book and everyone has enjoyed it.
CJB: Yes, I am really blessed, I think I got eight 5-star reviews or something like that so I am very pleased that people are buying it and leaving a good review. I have had a couple of reviews where people say it wasn’t long enough but it was 33,000 words so it was half of a PhD thesis and I thought that was long enough. That’s really the only criticism I have had so far and I did have someone who rated a 3-star stating that body language wasn’t an exact science and how I got things wrong, but you can’t please everyone.
SGAA: I think people just want to read everything they can about Michael so any book might be too short and you’re absolutely right you can’t please everyone.
I wanted to ask you if you would find it interesting to analyze the “journalists” and I use this term loosely, that tormented Michael throughout his life like Martin Bashir, Maureen Orth and Diane Diamond to name a few. Any thoughts or interest of doing this even on your you tube page or in a book in the future?
CJB: Possibly, I did do the Oprah Winfrey interview and I did touch on Martin Bashir, how he was very condescending to Michael both verbal and non verbal. I think, if I was to write another book about Michael I would include more body language from the presenters and the interviewers and how Michael judged that body language and acted accordingly. So I think there is an area there where I could look at if I was to do a sequel to “Behind the Mask.”
SGAA: Well there’s a lot of time to think about that, since you just finished this book.
CJB: It took me a long time to write this book and do the research behind Michael’s life. In my bibliography I must have thirty books that I have used and all of them I had to read extensively to get the best out of them and try to get the right quotes. Oh that was tough, really tough, because when I would write something down I would need to back it up with something so I would have to go find the book in the attic or in a box in the spare room in a wardrobe. My books are littered all around my home. I do not have a book shelf (laughs). When you go through 33,000 words and you need to find a quote it’s difficult. I spent hours writing something and then spent more hours trying to find the right quote and see if it would fit in with what I was writing about. It was tough, it was really tough!
SGAA: Is there anything else you would like people to know about your book and what it means.
CJB: Just to get the message out there that my book is unlike any other book written about Michael Jackson. I’m a very neutral observer and I cover everything. I don’t write everything glowing about Michael and where I think he is being deceptive and I show you why, through his body language and I can back that up with the quotes. It’s a refreshing new look about his life and there is a lot more to Michael Jackson then just those five interviews. Like I mentioned in the book there are other areas in his life that I might address in the future like his brief marriage to Lisa Marie Presley. I want to promote this book and get the message out but I think in time I might be writing a sequel to “Behind the Mask” but before that I want to look at other aspects of body language. I want to write about all my you tube tutorials and condense them and put them into a kindle book as well so that could be my next step.
SGAA: Well Craig, I would like to thank you for taking so much of your time and doing such an in-depth interview with SGAA. It was an honor and I would like to thank you on behalf of the MJ community for letting the truth be told and we love you for this.
CJB: Well, thank you and thank you to the MJ Community, It’s wonderful to be appreciated by such wonderful fans. We’re all in this together and we need to support Michael and get the message out and get the book out, because he was honest and my book shows that and the more people read it the better and that’s what it’s all about.
SGAA: Well I wish you much success with this and hope “Behind the Mask” reaches number one all across the world.
Interviews covered in Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told the World:
1993 Oprah Winfrey Interview
1993 Statement from Neverland Ranch
1996 Police Interview
2003 Martin Bashir: Living With Michael Jackson
2003 Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant To See (Martin Bashir Rebuttal Video)
You can purchase Craig’s book here
Craig Body Language Facebook Page
Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told the World Facebook Page