Archive for category Book Review
I’d like to welcome Andy Healy the author of the wonderful MJ 101 series: MJ 101 Greatest Songs and MJ 101 The Short Films. His new e-book MJ 101 The Remixes is being released on June 21 and if it is as well written and researched as the others I know it will be well worth the read . Hello Andy welcome and thank you for talking with me.
I’d like to first ask you why MJ? Why did you decide to focus your e-books only on his music and art?
I’ve been a fan of Michael’s since Off The Wall and like many of us grew up with his music. It’s cliché to say but his music was very much a soundtrack of my life and as a fan I wanted to pay tribute to the wealth of music and material he left us. Also I felt that Michael’s work often got overshadowed by press coverage of other things – it felt like people saw the superstar but forgot about the artist, so I wanted to in my small way bring the focus back on what matters most – his music and artistry.
After reading through your selections of both the 20 Greatest Short Films and 101 Greatest Songs, I wondered how you decided where to place his songs on the list. Was it personal preference or were there a number of other things that you focused on?
I set myself a criteria for both. Obviously it’s an imperfect process and personal likes do come into play but I did try to review and rank the works both on artistic evolution and career development. I paid little mind to chart success and looked at the works solely on their own merit. For 101 Greatest Songs I just focused on the songs from a musical creation point of view, the obvious impact they had on the industry but also, and more importantly, the impact they had on Michael’s evolution as an artist. I also didn’t want it to just be hits, hits, hits. I wanted to create a list that truly reflected his whole career.
I love the way you broke down each song that you selected and then poured your heart into writing about each one both emotionally and musically, it made me want to go back and listen to each song as I went down your list and pick up on all the nuances I had missed. Do you have a musical or arts background?
I’m not formally trained in any aspect (and for those out there that are, it’s probably glaringly obvious) but I do have a great appreciation for music. I write music and lyrics myself so I tend to delve deep into a track’s composition and arrangement, really get inside it to see what makes it work, how things are mixed. And I love songs that have richness to them that reveal themselves over repeated listening. Michael was a master at that. There are little things buried in the mix that you might not really grasp onto until the third or sometimes thirty-third listen. And I’m glad it made you want to go back and revisit some songs. I had hoped that people might listen to the songs while reading it and I actually tried to pace the writing in a way that when something was being discussed you would hear it or at least be able to listen out for it. I think that’s when the book is potentially most helpful and useful. I’ve had people tell me they’ve created a MJ101 playlist that matches the book, but more importantly I hope it inspires them to create their own 101 playlist and really explore the music.
Well you certainly succeeded in allowing the reader to do so. While reading I began to wonder how hard was it to select the top 10 songs for your book After all MJ had so many wonderful, magical songs I can’t imagine trying to pick even my top 10.
Well initially I imported every track of Michael’s from the Jackson 5 to the Jacksons through to his Solo Career into a playlist and then just started sorting through it. Billie Jean for me was the obvious top spot as it is such a career defining song, but more importantly it is such a musically rich song. The composition is sublime – so many hooks, and the production is as near perfect as you are ever likely to hear. But after that all bets were off. I kept shuffling songs up and down the playlist. Is this song better than that and why? I had to give up my own personal top 3 for example and go with songs that truly met my selection criteria. And you’d think after you cracked the top 20 it would be easier but it wasn’t. I would play each track and shift it up or down based on what was around it. iTunes was a saving grace. And I would listen to songs on different formats – vinyl, old cassettes, CDs and digital copies to see what each format revealed. And this would also have some bearing on the ranking.
When I went through your selection of the 20 Best Short Films, I obviously knew what number 1 was before looking but I was, at first, undecided on the order you chose them just by skimming through the list, but after reading in more detail I understood why you selected them in that order and it made sense to me. You reference the lighting, the direction, the choreography, the still images and so much more and it really makes you, once again, want to look at each of these films in a different way. They aren’t just song and dance films, they are so much more. Can you elaborate on why it is everyone’s number 1 short film “Thriller” and explain to us why you believe it is such a classic?
There’s no denying the overall creative leap Thriller made. No one had really done anything as epic or adventurous up until that stage. Michael led the way and it was truly an event. People gathered around the TV to see it when it aired. It was a true watershed moment for the way music videos were forever going to be seen and made. But more than that, the actual imagery was immediately iconic, from the Werewolf transformation to the red jacket to the zombie transformation to the sublime choreography. And then it’s all wrapped up in a narrative that keeps you entertained and firmly planted in your seat. Also the inventive way it restructured the song to be all verses showed a strong sense of narrative. I can’t recall any music video since that messed with the actual structure of the song in lieu of a stronger story. And it holds up 30 years later and is still as fresh and exciting. Oh and you might be surprised, for my own tastes and styling Scream is my personal number 1 short film, but there is no denying the truly zeitgeist moment Thriller was and for that it rightfully sits on top of all charts. Also it should be noted these aren’t meant to be the be all and end all of the discussion either. I love it when people tell me their own top 10. These books are just intended to start a discussion rather than be the final word.
Your new e-book MJ 101 The Remixes will be released on June 21st. As you know there is a lot of debate among fans on whether he wanted his music to be remixed and whether he actually liked them at all. What is your theory on that and why did you decide to focus on his remixes for your new book?
As a fan I was always interested in the remixes and extended mixes that were produced of Michael’s music either by his own studio team or others. For me remixes offer a chance to see a song in a new light. It’s not always a better light mind you, but sometimes it will uncover something in the original that makes you go back and appreciate it all over again. I don’t see them as being in place of the original song, but rather a complimentary reworking. Now I don’t like every remix, and there are certain styles that I just can’t get my head around – like taking a ballad and turning it into a dance track – but when done right it can add an extra dimension or alternate take on a song that is worthy of listening to. For me I remember the rush of buying a new 12” and hearing the extended mix of a track like Bad or Smooth Criminal. Then with the release of Dangerous came the first real wave of remixes with the C&C remixes of Black or White. For me as a fan it was great to buy the 12” or CD single and get all these extra gems alongside the real jewel.
As for if Michael even liked remixes, I’m not 100% sure one way or the other. I’m aware of his statements in Black or White magazine following the release of Blood On The Dance Floor : HIStory in the Mix and that he didn’t like them. But then I’m also aware that he included the IHS remix of Who Is It on The Ultimate Collection in place of the album mix, and that he sought out Jay-Z for the You Rock My World remix, and according to some reports sought out the guests and remixers on Thriller 25. He also had a long history of having his producers doing remixes such as Teddy, Dallas, Jam & Lewis, even getting Bruce to do extended mixes for the tracks off Thriller and Bad. I think while he may not always have appreciated them, he knew the power of a good remix in being able to extend the reach of the original song in clubs and on radio, and as a way of keeping a song charting. Ultimately I’m just a fan writing about the music and art of Michael’s that interests me, and if remixes interests you then I think you’ll enjoy The Remixes which explores his 20 best.
Thanks for your openness on that question. I know you have seen Michael live on tour 5 times, I can’t imagine what an experience that must have been for you. Can you compare his shows to any other entertainer today or was it a once in a lifetime experience?
For me seeing Michael live was a true concert event. The first ever concert I saw was KISS when I was 8 years old and it was a rock’n’roll spectacle. And in the lead up to seeing Michael’s BAD tour I had seen other shows but BAD set the benchmark for me. It was all MJ, pure energy, pure vocals and non-stop dancing for the entire set. There were people of all ages, all races in that crowd and every one of them was captivated by every little move of Michael’s. There was even a rawness to it that got removed over the years that made it unstoppable. The next tour of his I got to see was HIStory and it held special moments for me and was a bigger more theatrical production. For all its precision there was still room for Michael to make each show a little different – for example seeing him perform D.S. and Come Together was a complete surprise. As great as HIStory Tour was (and I loved its set list) the BAD tour was, for me, Michael at his purest talent live. I’ve seen over 350 live shows of different artists including many of today’s greats and there’s only a handful that truly deliver like Michael did – they come close but don’t match it.
You consider these e-books as being for the fans by a fan. Why did you decide to make these ebooks free? Well the cost is really only the price of a tweet or a share on Facebook, which I think is wonderful idea.
My intent was never to make money off this series so giving them away for free was always the plan. I actually started working on MJ 101 – Greatest Songs prior to 2009. Then when Michael passed I shelved it for a few years as I didn’t want to be seen as cashing in on the tragedy of his death. Then a few years later I started working on it again, finally releasing it in June of last year. As I just wanted to share a love of Michael’s music and art, and get the discussion back on his music where it belonged I thought the best way to distribute it was as a free e-book. A gift from one fan to another. The e-book format made it immediately accessible to fans all over the world. And it’s been fun seeing fans from Italy, Spain, England, China, Thailand and so on reach out and email me their thoughts on the books. The free for a tweet or Facebook post was something new I just implemented last month as a trial. I saw it as a fair way to try to get awareness for the works if people felt they were of value.
With the release of The Remixes will that be it for the series, or do you have others planned?
I do have a few more ideas for the series, more in the supplement format like Short Films or Remixes so we will see how things pan out, and how the series is received.
I know we will be anticipating your new Remixes e-book that will be out on June 21st and I encourage everyone to download the MJ101 Series as they give insight and a better understanding of Michael’s songs and his Short Films. They are written with utmost respect and you can feel this by reading them that it’s all about the music and the artistry of Michael Jackson.
You can download the MJ 101 Series here
Follow on Twitter https://twitter.com/MJ_1_0_1
I’d like to welcome author, artist and humanitarian Siren back with us to talk about her new book “The Seven Virtues”. Siren is well-known within the community and her beautiful work speaks for itself. I have always said that Siren captures Michael’s aura and am a big fan. Please view my previous interview about her book “Art and Soul: A Spiritual Journey” here and my review of the book here . I think everyone can probably notice from my logo that Siren was the one that painted and designed it and am so grateful for her talents.
Welcome back Siren, I would like first to thank you for speaking with SGAA and to let you know that “The Seven Virtues” and “Art and Soul: A Spiritual Tribute” is sitting by my bedside table so I can read and reread it.
Siren: I’m humbled and so happy to hear that. Thank you.
Why did you create this second book and how did you come up with the idea?
Siren: Actually, “The Seven Virtues” evolved on it’s own, and was not created with the initial intent of becoming a book. It began with a gift of seven blank canvases, given to me by a friend. For some reason I felt that because they came together, that they should remain that way, and decided to use them to do a grouping of related paintings. As they were being created, I mused about what to title the series, when the concept of the seven virtues came to mind. I really had no idea what the seven virtues were so I had to research them, which is when I discovered their meanings (courtesy Wikipedia) and how profoundly they mirrored the qualities that Michael demonstrated in his own life. I felt like I was reading his biography.
How long did you spend on “The Seven Virtues”, from inception to publishing?
Siren: It’s hard to say… I invest a huge amount of hours into my paintings. Once I start one I am pretty committed to it… I basically devote all my time to it until it’s complete. To do seven at once was quite an undertaking. I’d guess the paintings took over 200 hours in total to complete. It felt good when they were finally finished. The book itself came together more quickly of course, as it was just a matter of layout and design. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible so as not to detract from the artwork, but you will notice the sketch outline for each painting is included as a backdrop behind the definitions. The intent is to suggest how the creation of a painting in it’s commitment, faith, and sacrifice, is much like the development of the soul, and that enlightenment and true beauty are the result of an evolution that materializes from within.
I love how you have used Michael’s “Scream” look for each virtue but each picture has MJ with different, beautiful expressions. Why did you choose “Scream”?
Siren: There is something about “Scream” that pulls me. It’s very expressive, and somehow spiritual… and of course Michael is extremely beautiful. His energy is so palpable and his lines have such fluidity and softness. I find it irresistible.
When I read through the book, Michael’s expressions match exactly what the virtue is, I commend you for getting it perfect. Was that a difficult thing to do?
Siren: I had already decided upon and sketched the outline of all seven images before I discovered the seven virtues, so the fact that the definitions expressed themselves within the paintings was the work of something other than myself. Personally, I think that art is essentially a Divine expression, and that is ultimately what I believe is responsible for mine. I don’t really understand how emotion becomes visible in art. That is the element that intrigues and excites me the most – that simply connecting with the energy of what one is creating causes it to take form within the work. I love how Michael describes this in his poem “God” from Dancing The Dream: “My songs and dances are outlines for Him to come in and fill. I hold out the form, She puts in the sweetness.” What a romantic way to explain the process. It’s what it feels like for me exactly.
I know that you constantly sell your artwork and now books on your website but can you tell us where most of the profits go?
Siren: Well up until now I have been selecting different charities quarterly. I love to support organizations within the fan community, but currently I am working on a charitable project of my own which will ultimately become the direction of my future proceeds. I will be revealing the details of it soon. It’s something very close to my heart, and Michael’s too, so I am excited about it.
That sounds wonderful, and can’t wait to hear more about it when you reveal your new idea.
How has Michael inspired you in your artwork?
Siren: Wow… that’s a book all by itself.
Michael is the reason I paint. He is my inspiration for everything. To me, he is the completeness of what we all should aspire to be. Michael made enormous sacrifices with the pure intent of changing the world through Love and Creativity. His example is meant to inspire us to seek, to believe, and to become. I want to follow that example in every way possible… including devotion, expansion, authenticity, and the pursuit of perfection in my artwork, and in everything that I do. I am indebted and extremely grateful to him. He changed my life.
You have decided to publish this book in different sizes, why did you take this approach?
Siren: Ideally, the book should be large format, because it really is about the paintings (unlike my first book, which is intended to be a presentation of my journey), but unfortunately my publishing costs for “The Seven Virtues” is very high, and so the price has had to reflect that. I decided to make it available in a smaller size so that it would be more accessible.
Siren: I wanted the cover to have a serenity and softness to it that would reflect the nature of the content, yet still make a statement. The crown is representative of more than the obvious “King Of Pop”, but is intended to symbolize what I view as Michael’s greater position on our planet as both a leader and protector of humanity. It’s what I believe he was here for, and certainly how he lived. I wanted to acknowledge that. It’s what “The Seven Virtues” is all about.
Well, I urge everyone to go out and buy Siren’s book(s), they are wonderful gifts and perfect not only for MJ fans but for anyone who loves great art. Siren truly is a beautiful spirit. Thank you Siren once again for speaking with me.
Siren: Thank you so much for inviting me to talk about my art with you. I am so grateful for your time and interest. Major LOVE.
Art and Soul: A Spiritual Tribute is Siren’s first book, and what a wonderful book it is. It is approximately 40 pages long but it’s Siren’s artwork and poetry that she has continually worked on for many years that makes it seems much bigger as it is filled with beauty and pure love.
I was blessed to get one of the first copies of this book and when I opened to read it, I was instantly taken in by the beautiful portraits of Michael that stand out on each page These pictures could have been a book on their own, but Siren’s beautifully selected artwork and poetry make the combination perfect and one can see that each page is heartfelt and personal to her. The poems are uplifting and thoughtful especially during this time of pain and frustration for Michael and his children, this little book lifted my heart and spirits high and made me forget about all these things for that moment and want to read it all over again.
This book is one that can be kept by a bedside table or a nearby bookshelf to be opened and enjoyed when you have a frustrated heart or just miss Michael. Siren’s words resonate the meaning of love and honesty that Michael spread worldwide, his respect for nature, his integrity and especially his love shine through because of her interpretation, feelings and love for Michael in each of her seven poems. When reading through this book you can sense her love and connection with him and it makes you smile. The weaving of poetry and artwork flourish on each page and it would make an excellent gift to brighten up anyone’s day.
Another bonus is that all proceeds for every book sold go to children’s charity in Michael’s name. Siren continues to do this with her artwork sales as well. Please browse her website and help a child by purchasing one of her pieces or this lovely book.
I highly recommend this book to any Michael Jackson fan and anyone who appreciates poetry and art at it’s highest.
SGAA gives Art & Soul: A Spiritual Tribute by Siren 5 out of 5 stars
Please view the interview Siren gave SGAA and see what an inspiration she is to other artists and Michael fans.
Note: Siren was the creator of Stop Global Airwave Abuse’s logo and I am forever grateful for her love and integrity while we were discussing our mission and our love for Michael.
Transcript of Interview with Stop Global Airwave Abuse and Craig J. Baxter
For Recorded Interview please visit Craig’s You Tube Channel
SGAA: I would like to welcome back Craig J. Baxter to Stop Global Airwave Abuse. We are very grateful Craig that you have taken given us the opportunity to talk to you once again about your wonderful new book Unmasked: A Revealing Look at the Fascinating World of Body Language. I first want to congratulate you on the success of your first book Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told The World as it has reached #1 on Amazon and it’s reached this across 5 countries is that right?
CJB: Yes, that’s correct it’s reached #1 in it’s category in 5 countries and it’s been overwhelming the success of the book and it’s brought together the Michael Jackson community and that is something I’m eternally grateful for. There was a lot of divide about Michael Jackson and I’m glad my book sets the record straight about what his life and what his body language was revealing when he was talking about those allegations of child abuse and what he was revealing when he was asked difficult questions by Oprah and Martin Bashir. Yeah, I’m overwhelmed by the success it has had and #1 in five countries is beautiful. I am really blessed.
SGAA: So it really is an international bestseller, not many people can say that so I congratulate you, the community is grateful, I’m grateful and you wrote just a fantastic book. Your new book Unmasked: A Revealing Look at the Fascinating World of Body Language has reached #1 as well, you must be thrilled about that because it has nothing to do with Michael Jackson, it’s totally body language?
CJB: Absolutely. As we speak it is #1 in the UK in behavioral theory and I’m overwhelmed at the success it is doing in the short space of time. I mean it’s only been out a month and it’s already taken the world by storm. It was always my aim to write a second book about body language because people were leaving me reviews on Amazon saying I’m thoroughly interested in body language and where can I learn more? I directed them to my websites and my you tube videos but I was conscious that I wanted to get some literature available on the topic because I use a lot of research from people like Dr. Desmond Morris and Paul Ekman so I assigned people onto their works because I wanted to contribute something else to the field of non-verbal communication because not everybody has an interest in Michael Jackson or his life but people have an interest in body language as well so I think it is a good way of having a balance between the two.
It was a masterstroke really because I wanted to condense the subject down and that’s why my book is under a hundred pages because I must have read 50 to 100 books on non-verbal communication and they are quite heavy, especially if they are filled with a lot of technical jargon, so I decided to do a little bit of research on the psychology of people who buy books and what kind of books they like to read and the research I was doing was about the people that enjoy reading books that are under 100 pages long so I thought that was my starting point, trying to condense a very sizeable subject into bite sized chunks as well as a make a practical guide and I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s doing so well because it’s not a heavy thick textbook and it doesn’t blind you with science. It gives you practical examples on how to use your new-found skills and apply them into real life.
SGAA: Absolutely. I loved reading it and it’s a very easy to read book and it’s very simple like you said. I really got a lot out of it and when I look at people now, I kind of look twice. You have quite a following now and you have worked extremely hard to get it to where it is, why do you think the interest of non-verbal communication and/or body language is becoming so popular?
CJB: Excellent question. I think that people tend to forget that there is a thing called “Body Language” and I think once they read up on the subject they are instantly hooked because who doesn’t want to know when someone is happy, sad, angry or frustrated without having to ask them? All those signs will be there, being leaked out by that person’s body language by either their posture, their movement, expressions, or gestures and all these movements have a specific meaning. It’s all about educating yourself to what these meanings are and that’s the beauty of body language because throughout your daily life you have to interact with other people and that is the beauty of human behaviour and when you engage others int non-verbal communication, they themselves get hooked because it is a fascinating subject about learning and educating those who have difficulty in communicating verbally. A lot of introverts have great difficulty in communicating verbally with others but they can do it on a subconscious level with body language with things like mirroring techniques and others as well. Once you’re hooked you instantly try to find people who you can “people watch” . The TV show “Lie to Me” has also helped with the popularity, especially in the modern era with body language, but I have concerns with “Lie to Me” that I will cover later on but the beauty of body language is once you understand the meaning of what’s behind certain expressions and gestures it’s quite remarkable how similar everyone else’s behavior is like to ourselves. We are generally speaking from the same race, Homo sapiens, we display a lot of universal behaviors but we also display behaviors which are idiosyncratic which would be in our quirks and our mannerisms and once we understand what those mean in our conversation we can better understand them on a verbal and a non verbal level. I think that’s why it is becoming so popular and I’m so glad I’ve been able to contribute to this wonderful subject and the success has been unbelievable and humbling.
SGAA: Yes, it’s wonderful. So was that your main reason for writing Unmasked? Was it to to get the layperson to understand the language?
CJB: Absolutely, the main reason for writing Unmasked was to contribute to the field of human behaviour & human body language. My intention was to write a short guide where could utilize the techniques immediately, like I said before there’s a lot of literature on human behaviour and body language which is listed either myths, misconceptions, a lot of filler and a lot of unnecessary information. After speaking with friends and family and those who are already in the profession, like Joe Navarro who I will speak about later, gave me some great advice he says, that “trying to condense a subject down will bring in a new audience” and he was absolutely right so that was the master stroke of writing Unmasked.
SGAA: It makes so much sense.
CJB: It does, and that’s the best part of it. I could have avoided that advice and just wrote a book about human behavior that was 500 – 600 pages long and that would have been a problem for me because that would have taken me a lot longer to write. So I wanted to get Unmasked out because Behind the Mask had come out in October and I was conscious that people wanted more and had really enjoyed Behind the Mask and they wanted me to write another book and I didn’t want to leave it too long because they would forget the name so I was conscious of while the going was good — you know, it’s a snowball effect .
SGAA: It is. I question, is that why the word “Umasked/Behind the Mask” ? You use the word Mask as title of both books, is that something that you’re going to continue if you do other books?
CJB: I don’t know yet.
SGAA: It’s a great idea.
CJB: Yeah, I think you’re right calling it Unmasked is a master stroke again because it forms an association with people with the mask thing, it’s like “Oh, Craig James Baxter? Did you read Behind the Mask, oh did you read the other one on mask? People remember that whole association, I don’t know if I will do it for the third time. I’m currently writing another book which will be out in a couple of months but I’ve not christened the title yet, I don’t know whether I’ll cover the mask theme because I don’t want people to think that I’ve got some sort of fetishes with masks, my credibility will be down the tubes. It’s interesting because it was one of my clients that actually named the book because I had great difficulty with the title for the second book and I had finished the book, it was edited and it was ready to go off to the publishers and I didn’t have the name for the flipping thing and it was sleepless nights. Then one of my clients that I see on a regular basis said, “Oh Craig, you should use the mask theme” and I said, “I hadn’t even thought about that, you’re right” and we did some brainstorming and then it just hit me “Unmasked” and I thought that’s exactly what I’m going to call this book. So it wasn’t my idea it was somebody else’s. It just goes to show when you ask for help, you receive it… you take the advice and it’s worth it.
SGAA: The thing I loved about this book was it almost seemed at the beginning very personal to you. It was a very personal book and I loved in the preface you tell a wonderful story of how your meeting with a young deaf woman during your college years brought you to the realization of how interested you were in the art of non-verbal communication. I was wondering why and how the effect of this lovely girl has changed your life and what would you say to her today if you were able to meet up with her once again?
CJB: Wow, that’s a very interesting question because every time I think back to my college years that reminds me of my starting point in behavior and human body language, obviously I didn’t know it at the time because I was only 16 and I didn’t realize the significance of observing of this lady communicate via a series of hand signals and facial expressions and quite frankly, she changed my life because if I hadn’t met that woman, and I think her name was Katy by the way, we only spoke for a few months and it was a long time ago, I mean it was over 12 – 13 years ago, but I’ll never forget her face and I’ll never forget those hand signals and those body language gestures she gave off to communicate because obviously she was hearing impaired. She changed the way I watched people and I listened to them and I changed the way I communicate as well through my body language and it was her behavior that sparked my curiosity and now I’m a two-time best-selling author which is quite unbelievable considering I have only been in this profession for 10 years.
If I was to meet up with her — I wouldn’t know what I would do to be honest with you because I would have to sign to her because she wouldn’t be able to understand me but I have done a course in sign language many years ago, which I really enjoyed but the repetitiveness of what we forget is astonishing because I can’t remember half of what I’ve learned in the sign language course because I don’t utilize those skills and I don’t know anyone who is hearing impaired so I can’t utilize the learning I once had. If I was to meet that girl, I think her name was Katy, I can’t be sure, it was a long time ago, it was one of the most significant moments of my life. She has literally changed my life.
SGAA: It’s a wonderful story, I loved it.
CJB: Thank you very much.
SGAA: It would take a very long interview to discuss all the interesting parts of body language, I think the one and most important question is the beginning of analyzing a person’s actions/reactions to find out their baseline, can you explain that a little bit?
CJB: Absolutely. A baseline is wear you can confidently predict the behavior of somebody because you are acutely aware of the behavior they display when they experience any given emotion or whether they are experiencing any emotions at all. We have a remarkable style of personal body actions that we always display and, figuratively speaking, we don’t often change our body language day in and day out. We do the same things over again, we flash the same series of gesticulation we use in our communication with other people and the vast majority come from our subconscious mind, meaning that these are very reliable indicators of what we are thinking or feeling or what we are intending to do. A baseline comes from watching and remembering the behavior of someone you know quite well and that is where, for instance Kat’s (Craig’s partner) baseline is when she is feeling quite sad she will withdraw her hands quite a lot and she’ll avoid eye contact which is a classic indicator of sadness as well so I’ll know when Kat comes home from work if she’s had a really bad day, I will know straight away because of the behavior she’s displaying is linked is with the feeling of sadness because I have seen that behavior before you see. If you remember the situation of why it happens – that is her baseline – just like I will have my baseline – when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m frustrated, when I’m angry and it’s how you predict behavior and how you communicate with that person because you know what that baseline is and you will know if they want support or want to be left alone, whether they will want a hug or a kiss and that is part of the baseline and it’s about how you respond to the non verbal behavior that they are sending out to you and as long as you know what that non verbal behaviour means, you’re in a better place to help them with their situation or if they need space and that’s the importance of the baseline, it stops you from asking if there’s an issue because you know if an issue is present by the behavior that you see in them.
We’re always aware of baselines because whenever I talk about this with my friends, and I’ll say “what kind of behavior does Chris do”? My friend Erik will say, “Oh, he does this kind of thing, what does this mean”? and I’ll say, “well that means, this and this and this… but it’s good that you’ve noticed that.” So on an subconscious level we are always scanning our surroundings and our friends and family and it’s amazing what kind of behavior you pick up from them that the display all the time and you might realize it or you might not but that their baseline behavior, that’s their behavior they display when things are normal.
SGAA: Right and that takes you into figuring things about them at certain times.
CJB: Absolutely. When that behavior deviates from what they do normally that’s when, generally speaking, issues are present and that’s the beauty of the baseline.
SGAA: You also talk about in your book some of the myths in the realm of non-verbal communication. Many of these are what people believe to be truth, can you explain one of the most common myths?
CJB: Yes absolutely. From the most recent research I did here in West Lancashire, it was still the eye contact myth associated with lying and deception.
SGAA: That’s a big one.
CJB: Yeah, that is a big one. The research that I did here in West Lancashire is that there is a firm belief that people look away when they are lying. Of all the questions that I asked people that was the one that came to first. It’s when someone looks away that means they are lying. This myth has grown in popularity over the years, not just here in West Lancashire but all over the world and it’s not true, it’s exactly the opposite way around and I don’t know why that school of thought has become popular because the actual truth of this is that a liar is more likely to give you greater eye contact because he wants to see if his lies are being believed so naturally they will start to increase eye contact during the lie so they can weigh up whether that their lie is being taken in by yourself by either a verbal or non verbal reaction so to speak. A liar will consciously avoid looking away because that behavior looks suspicious so they will purposely avoid looking away, they will purposely increase eye contact with you because they want to see if you’re taking in their lies and that’s another interesting point of view. People don’t remember that, they are looking for people who are looking away and it’s not that, it’s the other way around and a great training provider in the U.S.has done a lot of research on this this and Dr. Frank, Dr. Masimoto and Dr. Ekman have done a lot of research on this as well as many others. It’s interesting because the eyes communicate so much, we make less eye contact with people who invade our personal space and we certainly make less eye contact when we’re embarrassed. On the other side to this we make greater eye contact with those who we perceive to be of a higher status then ourselves, if we are at work and there is a hierarchy you know I’ll engage with greater eye contact with my boss and his boss.
Another myth associated with eye direction which has become quite popular is where a liar looks up and left or up and right when they are fabricating a story opposed to recalling information. Again there is no evidence that it suggests that is the case either. This is the myth that I got sucked into many years ago because I read a lot of literature on NLP which is Neuro-Linguistics and it looked so convincing. It wasn’t until I started to delve into the subject on a technical scale of body language and I realized that there is actual no evidence at all that liars look at a certain direction. There was a study done from the University of Edinburgh last year that validates that claim. There is no association between truth telling and deception in the direction the eyes go. Another myth I found is that people often thought that looking up and left and up and right was a sign of deception where there is no single indicator of deceit. There are clusters of behaviour that have an association with deception but nothing is certain in everybody.
SGAA: You discuss the TV show “Lie to Me” briefly in your book, I was wondering whether or not you felt this was an accurate portrayal of non verbal communication, liars and facial expressions?
CJB: This is a great question, I thoroughly enjoyed the show and was sad to hear it was cancelled but I kind of understood why it was cancelled. To answer your question “Yes and No” It was a great show because it brought the reading of human body language into a modern era and the science that is actually used in “Lie to Me” is the research from Dr. Paul Ekman, who is the very famous facial expert in the U.S. and the actual lead character Dr. Cal Lightman is loosely based around Dr. Ekman himself, so the show starts well and the research that is used in the show … there is something called Facial Action Coding System and that is something that Dr. Cal Lightman is very adept in his reading of the micro expressions of people. I think that the area that it falls down in “Lie to Me” is that Micro expressions have an association with deception, meaning that everyone that flashes a micro expression is lying and that isn’t the case. All micro expressions are is signs of issues present or concealments in the body. They can be concealing any given emotion, which is not necessarily linked to lying and deception and I think that’s one of the reasons why “Lie to Me” — well I know the ratings dropped in Season 3 and I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Dr. Paul Ekman last year about his involvement in the show and he was telling me that for the first two years that the Director of the show was very well versed in Dr. Ekman’s research on human emotion and human body language on the face, but I think in the Third Season that particular Director left and the show started to rely on unscientific research that wasn’t of Dr. Ekman’s and I think that was one of the reasons the show was cancelled. The show deviated from the science and the structure that the first two seasons had and I think the third season, and I have not watched it in a long time, it wasn’t as good on a scientific level then the first two seasons and I think that’s one of the reasons why it was shelved. I think the show also made the mistake of having the association with the facial expression of contempt has an association of deception as well. Although that is true in one regard but also the smirk can be present when you feel someone is being incompetent or you feel superior to somebody else which is not necessarily 100% reliable in deception detection and I think thats another area where I think the show failed. I think the show was great and the first two seasons I was really interested in micro expressions and fleeting expressions of the face are very interesting. Take it with a pinch of salt, that’s all I would say it’s not, well I didn’t put this in the book but Dr Maureen O’Sullivan — If you type her name into you tube you will find her work with the TV show “Lie to Me” she is quite critical of the show but I won’t get into that too much but it’s available for you to look at on You Tube if you’re interested in learning more about the show.
SGAA: In your chapter on Cultural Differences, I loved your analysis of these non-verbal differences while visiting Ground Zero in New York City wonderful and fascinating, can you tell us a little about that visit and what you discovered while being there?
CJB: Yeah, that’s an excellent question. I went to NYC in December of 2010, so three years this year and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and if you remember from my book Behind the Mask I put in the acknowledgements that I would take my Mrs. to New York because I took a lot of time away from our relationship to work on Behind the Mask so she reminds me daily that she wants to go to New York. I’ll have to deliver on that promise soon or she might leave me. (laughs)
It was very interesting especially with the heightened emotions of being at Ground Zero which was a very sad time for everybody there. I was conscious of my emotions and I also wanted to get an understanding of the emotions of others and see what they were displaying. I was quite thankful that on that particular day there was a variety of different cultures at Ground Zero and I remember seeing a Chinese family huddled together and lowering their heads and that display is very much in keeping with the cultural keeping in China and in he Orient where it is a sign of submission, a body lowering thing and a sign of respect which I thought was very interesting. I could also hear the American accents and I could hear one particular family and there was a lot of anger there a lot of lip biting. One thing I didn’t put in the book because it was a bit controversial is while I was there watching this, there were a few street vendors selling calendars believe or not — and the pictures on the calendars were of the plane hitting the twin towers and a fight nearly broke out. It was unbelievable, I had never seen anything like it and the anger in people’s faces, I mean I myself felt disgusted and angry and I was in the grips of an emotion at that point because I had never seen anything like. Here I am trying to pay my respects without being too obvious looking at other people’s behavior and engage their reaction into what’s happening and there’s these street vendors selling these deeply offensive calendars of the plane hitting the twin towers, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t put that in the book because I didn’t want to upset or offend anyone because that wasn’t my intention but it was something that was deeply appalling and then I felt my emotions heightened then you see, I was already experiencing a great sadness at being at Ground Zero because at the back of the Twin Towers there is a church there as well, and one lady was telling me that during the aftermath the church was undamaged. The devastation on that day and they were telling me this, it was just so humbling I almost felt like crying because so many people died in the spot that I stood in.
SGAA: It is amazing. I’ve never been to Ground Zero and I guess there is a reason why I don’t want to go but I can imagine it must be horrifying.
CJB: Yeah it is. You think back to what happened on that day, I mean I will never forget what happened on that day. That was twelve years ago and it’s still fresh in my mind and I’ll never forget that and being at that place where it happened and my emotions were just on overload. It’s any wonder that I saw a lot of anger from the American people and the Chinese family bowing their heads. It was very significant behaviour. It was very sad.
SGAA: I loved the way you added this portion into your book, with this chapter I thought it was very well done and respectful.
CJB: Thank you very much. I had another problem on the subway as well, which was more comical than anything else. Being on the New York subway really opened my eyes to the wonderment of New York city and I remember having a little too much to drink one evening and we were getting the subway home to our hotel and it was jammed and I remember these two humungous guys got on the subway and I’m quite a big guy, I’m 6’2″ and these two guys got on and they dwarfed me and made me look like a midget. They came and stood right next to me and I remember one of them flashing me a really forced smile and acknowledgement that he was going to have literally as close as Kat would stand to me to kiss me, that’s how close he was and this guy was humungous and I thought if this guy started a fight, I wouldn’t last a second because he was like a body builder, he was massive and my instinct was to make a territorial display of literally widening my stance so I could take up more room so he wouldn’t hurt me. That was my subconscious kicking in but once I couldn’t do that because of the space I was in, I found myself hunching down which is called a “turtle effect” where you lower the head and raise your shoulders up, where you are subconsciously trying to make yourself smaller but if he was thinking of attacking me, that’s the perfect behaviour an attacker is looking for, somebody who looks weak, who look submissive and looks like that they are unable to defend themselves so my subconscious is almost letting me down in some regard but thankfully nothing happened and everything passed off well and I think they got off on the next stop but it’s something that triggered in my mind that I consciously tried to make myself bigger but I couldn’t because I was pinned in like a sardine on that subway.
SGAA: In your book, you developed case studies which I thought were unbelievable, they were so well done and made it so easy to understand. You developed case studies on certain scenarios to figure out that one must be able to look at a situation before making any type of analysis. It’s not just about reading a person’s eyes, body, etc, it’s also about being aware of things around you. Why did you decide to go the route of case studies and did you feel it would be the simplest way to get the reader to understand the scenarios?
CJB: Yes, you’re right. I added the case studies in there because I knew people were itching to use their new found skills immediately and I felt the best way to do that was to put practical examples in the book. As soon as you would put the book down you could go utilize the skills you just read in the book to practical and applicable use and that is the reason why because I have read many books on human behavior and it’s amazing how none of them give real life examples of how you can go use the skills you have learned so I thought that was a master stroke of doing that. I also thought that it would be a redundant subject if I just wrote about human behavior and human body language and didn’t give any examples that it would be redundant. You would read it and think it interesting but then you would put it down and wouldn’t think to utilize the skills. It would be an interesting read but that’s not what I’m after, I’m after you to utilizing the skills that you’ve just learned in the book and then put them to good use and educate other people. Like I mentioned in the book there are a lot of myths associated with body language and if i can educate you the science and the research behind this wonderful subject then you’re educating somebody else on the right way to read body language and that was something that I wanted to do, I wanted to dispel the myths that are out there in human behavior and the best way to do that is to educate people in the right way to read body language and the right way to educate others and avoid the myths and the pitfalls. Eventually it will snowball and people will eventually think, “actually yeah, I have read that book from Craig Baxter who said liars don’t look away, they look at you.” It was the best way to get the message out there by putting case studies in there and especially on — one of the case studies was how to spot when somebody lies to you and spotting lies and deception and give you some research techniques and again with the job interviews.
SGAA: I loved the job interview scenario. That was my personal favourite. It was great
CJB: The job interview was the first thing I wrote because it is so necessary in today’s society. With much of the developed world in recession, especially here in the UK with redundancies at an all time high, unemployment is at an all time high, there is such importance to go out and find work and obviously, money plays an important part in the quality of life that you have. If I can educate those on how to make a good silent impression during a job interview then you can go and use that skill right away. If you are unemployed, to go and find or get yourself an interview and then coach yourself at becoming better at doing interviews. Even if you just apply the steepling gesture now and again, that would look a lot better if you didn’t do it and that just might be enough to get you that job. Don’t forget it’s all about first impressions on a job interview, you have to have the right resume and the right CV but if you can nail your body language on that, then you have a better chance then if you didn’t rehearse your body language or if you went in unprepared. So again, it’s giving something back to the reader as well. I’m conscious that the success won’t last forever in human behaviour but if I can write something that someone can go out and use right away and then gain employment by what I’ve written in the book, even if I reached out to one person, then it’s enough for me.
I was going to add another third case study in there about flirting and dating and I was mulling it over but I’m actually, in the future, going to write a big book about flirting and dating and the signals, the gestures and the expressions that are displayed during courtship, dating and marriage so I was going to test the waters and wet the appetite of my readers but I thought I don’t know whether I should do that and I’ll just stick to two case studies. If I do have one regret of Unmasked it is that I should have added a little bit about flirting and dating just to cover that aspect and I may have gotten more of a readership because it is a big area but that will be something that I will cover in more detail later on in my career.
SGAA: I also wanted to ask you a question about academics. I understand that some of your body language expertise has been used in some schooling is that correct?
CJB: Yes, that is correct, yes… I think it is the University of Miami Dade. It’s being used there in this semester to be used to analyze Michael Jackson’s body language and it was quite unbelievable when I had the email sent through to me and when the professor asked me if he could use my research into Michael Jackson’s behavior in his classroom. I said, “absolutely” that’s just incredible, you dream about things like that. So yes it is true that Behind the Mask is being used currently in a University in Miami and that’s something that is overwhelming for little old me. Here I am in West Lancashire and yet my books are being used as a research tool over in the States. You can’t ask for anything better than that.
SGAA: I know Craig that you have interviewed many of the top Body Language experts in the world, can you name a few, maybe even one that has really made an impact on your life?
CJB: Wow That’s a difficult question. I have been blessed to interview over 25 of the world’s leading experts in human behavior, human emotion, body language lie detection and all of them have contributed massively to this field and it’s a real pleasure to showcase their contributions on all of them on bodylanguage.com but to try and single one person out….
SGAA: You don’t have to single anyone out, you can name a few..
CJB: That is tough. If I had to narrow it down to maybe three, I would probably say the three would be Joe Navarro, Dr. Ekman and without a shadow of doubt, Dr. Morris. Joe Navarro, former FBI agent —
SGAA: I’ve read some of his books.
CJB: Yeah, Joe is a serious legend. I am forever indebted to Joe for the advice he has given me over the years but he put the application of non-verbal communication to practical use during his time with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and if you type body language into Amazon here in the UK, his book “What Everybody is Saying” has been number one for many years. It’s quite interesting because many years ago I actually submitted an article on body language to Joe and he sent it back to me with some really sharp criticisms and I was taken aback by it. My emotions were triggered right away and I was angry, very unhappy, and it left me never wanting to write another thing about body language so I left it for a couple of days because I was furious and I was in such a bad mood and then when I opened my inbox and actually read what he said to me, it was different than what I had actually perceived what he said. Yeah he was unhappy about the things I put in there, but he gave me a lot of amendments and gave me a lot of areas to concentrate on and again, it was after I got out of the emotion that I felt at the time which obviously my behavior wasn’t necessary because what Joe had actually put in the email was very helpful but I didn’t see that at the time and that is the beauty of emotion. I am forever indebted to Joe because he has put me on the right path.
Like I mentioned before, there are a lot of myths associated with body language and these are the myths that I got sucked into many years ago when I was just starting out with human behaviour and human body language because there are a lot of books associated with body language myths and I fell into that trap and I’m glad Joe pointed me in the right direction many years ago, otherwise I might be education people now on the unresearched (sic), unscientific realms of body language.
It’s interesting coming back to emotions, the second person on that list is Dr. Paul Ekman and his cross cultural work on facial expression revolutionized the topic. It was his research on the seven universal emotions and how we look at other human beings. He revolutionized the topic and his involvement in the TV show “Lie to Me” helped the popularity of that show the last couple of years and Dr. Ekman is still going and I believe he is in his mid 70’s and I interviewed him last year and his books are remarkable. “Emotions Revealed”, “Unmasking the Face”, “Telling Lies”, these are classic books on the subjects and I will be forever indebted to Dr. Ekman for his advice that he has given me over the years about which areas to concentrate on, which to avoid and just to be granted a half hour with him was incredible. Imagine little old me from Lancashire being granted and interview with the world’s leading expert in human emotion, I’ll never forget it, this guy has met the Dalai Lama and many others so it was really quite humbling.
If I had to narrow it down to the one, it would have to be Dr. Desmond Morris. This guy was the reason why I got into human behavior in the first place, obviously it was watching Katy’s sign language that captured my interest when I was 16 but it was his books that I read on the topic. “The Human Animal” “The Naked Ape” and “People Watching”, these are the cornerstone books, the pioneering books on human behavior so I hold him in the highest esteem and he still is considered to be the world’s leading authority on human behavior and I think he is 85 and I’m in regular contact with him now, we email now and again, he sends me photographs of his favorite body language pictures and we’ve got a really good connection because obviously he’s a zoologist and his studies of animals and animal behavior is legendary, the guy has authored 50 books and I have two Bengal cats here, Kat and I do and they look like leopards because they come, many years ago, from the Asian leopard cat and I think Desmond Morris is a big cat lover because he wrote “Cat Watching” and a few other books on cat behavior so we have common ground not only do we have an interest in human behavior, human emotion, human body language but we also have the love of cats as well we have common ground there as well. I’m forever indebted to Desmond Morris because he was the big one that I really wanted to interview, I interviewed Dr. Ekman and that was overwhelming but trying to find Desmond Morris was so hard, I must have spent three or four years trying to find Dr. Morris and I eventually got a hold of him and the rest is history.
SGAA: Wonderful. Speaking of animals, there is a real correlation in interpreting facial expression in animals. Even with chimpanzees and dogs and cats. As an aside question, I am a big fan of Cesar Millan. Do you believe he is more of a body language expert with respect to animals?
CJB: I don’t know much about his work so I couldn’t really pass a comment on that – Cesar Millan, is he the guy who?…..
SGAA: He’s the Dog Whisperer.
CJB: That’s it, yes. I think there’s a lot of science involved dog behaviour certainly, but I don’t know how much is staged for television but it’s not something I know much about I’m afraid. Zoology is something eventually I would like to learn about.
SGAA: You’ve got to get into that Craig. Especially with you’re kitties.
CJB: It’s not something that I know much about. Desmond Morris would know all about that I can assure you.
SGAA: You discuss in your book how the internet, social media, etc will affect the science of body language in the future, can you elaborate?
CJB: I have my concerns on how society will eventually end up because of the rise of social media, eventually it may result in the homo-sapien being more recluse because all of the daily essentials can be delivered to the house. We could be chatting to your friends, like we are — you’re in Canada, I’m here in England and that’s great but if you live around the corner and I was communicating via Skype or via Facebook, I’m eliminating the need to meet up for a coffee or a drink but I can do that online now just by using words without actually communicating with my voice or with my body language. I foresee problems in the future where it may certainly be an issue maybe not in this generation and I’m only 29 but in my children’s generation the comfort that the laptop screen or computer screen will bring someone because they won’t have to leave the house..
SGAA: And the I phones and texting, I mean my daughters text me from the other room.
CJB: Exactly and that’s a trivial example but if this starts to spread then there’s going to be huge implications on the study of human behavior because I think it will become a lost art. People will become so used to using instant messenger or using communication where you don’t need to meet up anymore. There’s no need to meet up for a coffee, there’s no need to go down to the local pub, there’s no need to go to the supermarket anymore because you can order all your food online and have it delivered to your house. There’s no necessity to leave the house anymore.
SGAA: Words are often very strong Craig and you may not mean them a certain way but this are how things start to get out of hand.
CJB: Yeah, you make an excellent point there, and that just further illustrates the problem I foresee with social media. I was writing another book before I started this one on emotion which I will come to later and I was thinking about if all these types of technology now are geared up to communication, eventually there’s going to be a huge problem and there’s going to be an overload of electricity and it will only be a matter of time before the electricity company’s generators and power stations start to reduce their power and eventually their might be so much demand for electricity in the homes that they won’t be able to cope and the service will break down and then there will be no electricity for anybody and then there will be a problem. Then you’ll have to go outside and you’ll have to communicate with others because if there’s no electricity in your house there’s no way you can communicate with anyone. You can’t charge your phone, you can’t use your computer, you can’t use your laptop, unless you have a generator, but if you don’t then you’re stuck and then you’ll have to resort to human behavior and human contact. That’s something you have missed because you’ve been using the internet to rely on communication so it’s going to be very interesting to see how it all ends up. I think the demand for energy that these devices are going to need, eventually might be the downfall, so we’ll have to see where it ends up.
SGAA: That’s why you have to keep writing your books. So we can read. It’s always so important to read, I can’t look at the computer all the time I need to have a book in my hand. Whenever I buy your books they are always hardcover because I just like the feel of it so it’s important. Go out there and buy the books. You have said that something that fascinates you is how subconscious and immediate emotions work together. Can you explain this?
CJB: Yes, absolutely. Emotions are reactions that seem to be very important to our welfare and these happen subconsciously and immediately. To give you an example I was driving home from work last week and some mindless nitwit pulled out in front of me and before I had to consciously consider the situation my subconscious had moved the steering wheel out of the way of the car in front of me that had pulled in front of me and I applied the break and all this happened roughly within four-fifths of a second, as fast as that, and that just triggered my emotions then to write another book because it is amazing how our emotions are constantly scanning our surrounding. This is called our “emotional alert data base” so our subconscious is constantly scanning our surroundings for any threats or any perceived dangers and it will change our body language to adapt to that situation and each emotion has its own set of behaviors and physiological behaviors like with the fear response I felt. I would have flashed fear on my face instantaneously, I wouldn’t have had to consciously contracted those facial muscle, my subconscious mind would have done it for me, in the same way it elevated my breathing rate and my heart rate so the experience that I felt fear and my body is telling me to be alert and that’s why it’s elevating my heart rate, it’s giving me pupil dilation, it’s elevating my breathing rate and it’s diverting blood to my arms and legs to be ready to fight or flee and that is the beauty of emotion.
That’s why I’m writing a book about emotion. It’s something not a lot of people really consider because we’re not always in the grips of an emotion because emotions generally come and go but when we are in the grips of emotion, it’s interesting the behaviour that we display and that is the beauty about emotions because behavior and emotions are directly linked together you see, it’s really interesting.
SGAA: . That is interesting.
Yeah and it’s the universal facial expressions. We were talking about Dr. Ekman that there are generally considered to be seven universal basic emotions that we all feel and flash on the face: Happiness and sadness, are the two that are linked together; disgust and anger, fear and surprise and contempt and these are the seven basic emotions that we all flash regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, culture. If you were to go to the indigenous tribes of New Guinea and if someone was to flash you disgust it would be the same expression as if it was a German banker or if it was someone from Australia, South Africa, British, Canadian, it would register on the face in the same way and some emotions are universal like that whereas Some emotional sensations are different, for instance, I am frightened of heights, so that gives me the fear of response, whereas my dad was ok with them. My dad doesn’t like spiders, but I’m okay with them. It’s interesting how we have universal triggers for emotion but some things are specific to us like phobias and things like that. It’s quite compelling how we can identify with people because of the emotions they display and like I said to you before, each emotion has it’s own unique symbols, with the most identifiable being on the face and then the voice. It’s also interesting how we display emotion is how we display them differently when we are with our friends and family then we are with work colleagues. It’s the management of emotion that will be interesting. It’s thoroughly interesting stuff.
SGAA: My final questions Craig are for Michael Jackson and the MJ community. I know you have spoken about this a number of times on radio shows but I really wanted to cover your book first of all because it’s such a great book — but I know you did a 2 part body language Analysis of Wade Robson, who is now accusing Michael Jackson of molesting him for a period of 7 years. I don’t need you to go into a lot of detail but I would love it if you could delve a little further into some of the major things that you found and why you came to the conclusion that you thought he was being totally untruthful?
CJB: Well you make a good point, and it’s something I have done a lot of research on during the last couple of weeks is Wade Robson’s behaviour and I think before I go any further, the idea that a child sexual abuser would have as their first witness in the 2005 court case, somebody that have sexually abused for seven years just speaks volumes about these allegations. I don’t see any truth in them and it’s Wade Robson’s behavior that reveals, in my opinion, that he is being untruthful about these allegations and he makes a lot of, what are known as emblematic slips, and these are the gestural equivalent of a “slip of the tongue” and it’s brought about by these asymmetrical shoulder shrugs. When he says Michael Jackson abused me, if he had abused him he would flash an asymmetrical shoulder shrug which correlates the message of that I have no real confidence in what I’ve just said. In his behavior he also makes a lot of mouth shrugs as well, where he shrugs the mouth and that’s an inclination of that he’s not really sure of what he is saying and what the main area I found with him is he would parrot back what Matt Lauer said to him. At the start he asks him “What you’re mind set right now?” and he said the same thing, “What’s my mind set right now”… and that’s when you’re not really prepared to give an answer and the most significant part of that is I think when Matt Lauer asked him, “Did Michael Jackson sexually abuse you?” And then Wade Robson instantly parrots back and says, “Yeah, Michael Jackson sexually abused me.” It’s things like this where he is unwilling to give any more information about his testimony and again, that to me is a real inclination of somebody who is having difficulty in describing what happened to them because in my opinion it never happened and he knows that and I think that’s the reason why he’s parroting back those sentences. He should be elaborating on this kind of testimony.
SGAA: I remember that part and that was when Matt Lauer asked him a number of questions in a row without allowing him to answer, is that the one?
Yes, and that’s the problem you see, he should be elaborating but even when he was elaborating and like I said to you before, we have something called an emotional alert data base which triggers certain emotional responses and you think that being abused for seven years would trigger a really deep heightened emotion in someone but when you watch Wade Robson’s behaviour there is no alert data base that is being triggered internally. His subconscious is not reacting to Michael Jackson’s name and that’s interesting because if he had been, in my opinion, actually abused by Michael, there would be disgust there in his face and his voice. There would be anger, there would be shame, there would be sadness, there would be a whole host of negative reactions and there is non whatsoever. There is no flashes of any concealed emotion through Wade Robson and that for me speaks volumes because those kinds of memories that he would have over a seven year period would instantly fill his autonomic nervous system, which is the subconscious part, things we have no control over and they would have been inundated with sensations and emotions. Of negative emotions. Forced anger, shame and sadness, they all would be leaking out in Wade Robson. In his voice, his posture, his expressions, his gestures, there is none of that at all. Often, as I said before in the interview I gave to Dr. Gross, sometimes the absence of emotion is more revealing than the presence of emotion because we can train ourselves to say whatever we want.
Often we find it difficulty to convince our body language that what we are saying is the truth and that often shows with the lack of behavioral movement and again it’s something that I said in the interview, when Robson talks about his breakdown, he’s very animated, his speech rate is clearer, he sounds more confident and I think he is telling the truth about his breakdown but I don’t believe it is Michael Jackson that caused his breakdown. It might be something else. Liars often suppress their gesticulations because they aren’t sure about which gesticulations are natural to them so they will naturally suppress them and also interesting on that point is research has suggested that liars naturally suppress any kind of movement because if the lie that they are constructing is quite cognitively demanding, the brain has got to work out a convincing story and with so much work happening in the brain it naturally reduces your behavioral animation because there is so much going on in the brain it can’t process the words and the behavior at the same time, it’s too difficult so if you watch the interview back again, you will notice how he is not animated when he talks about Michael, but when he’s talking about the breakdown he is very animated and that to me is a revealing moment as well because there are different behavior that are all linked to deception. Like I said before, there is no one behaviour that is associated with deception but when I hear parrot statements, when I see emblematic slips, when I see behaviour associated with deception like that, like a change in behaviour. When we are seeing suppressed movement as opposed to lots of movement, these are the kinds of things that do have an association with deception so yes,I watched the whole interview again. I’ve been keeping up to date, I actually listened to a radio segment where I think Wade Robson is going to sue Michael Jackson’s Dad, Joe Jackson, is that correct?
SGAA: Oh yes, he says if he says anything further he will sue Joe Jackson so this is just getting a little funny but I did want to add — I heard you and it was very interesting on Dr. Gross’ radio show and you talked about “method acting”. Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando all did that. I thought it was very interesting and how you thought that this could be a performance.
CJB: Yes, you’re right. It was from the 1930’s and it was from a Russian film director called Constantin Stanislavsky and he coined the “method acting” technique. It’s something I said because I didn’t see that Matt Lauer was empathizing with Wade Robson about these allegations, that Wade might now feel compelled to go onto another TV show and seek out another interviewer and hope that this person will empathize with his situation and his testimony and one way to do that is by using the Stanislavsky system and it is where you will remember and re-experience a traumatic time in your life to trigger the emotion that you want. Now if you want to flash disgust towards Michael Jackson and what he did to you all he has to do is think about something that he ate recently that repulsed him and was disgusting to taste so that facial expression will register on his face so it appeared when Wade Robson was talking about Michael Jackson he will flash disgust, now the disgust will be real because he is re-experiencing something that has happened to him. So the reliable indicators of the face will be activated because he is experiencing disgust but it’s not linked to Michael Jackson and because, in my opinion, he didn’t make a credible impression during his testimony, because there was no emotion there, he might try a different technique on his next interview. If he is savvy and since he is an actor himself, Wade Robson, he’s been in the public eye for a long time and he’s a choreographer things like that so he is well versed in different acting techniques. If he utilizes this technique then it would be very difficult for me to spot any problems but don’t forget the Today Show interview that he gave was very significant because that for me, revealed that he wasn’t telling the truth so it will be interesting if his behavior massively changes in the next interview.
SGAA: Yes, because that was his first interview.
CJB: Yes. Absolutely, and it would look suspicious if he utilized this technique. There is something else I wanted to mention before he is to do another interview because people might say “Oh, he looks really credible now, he looks like he’s really angry and really disgusted.” Yeah, but he might be thinking about something else when he is saying that so it appears that he looks angry, he looks disgusted, he looks sad. He might just remember something in his mind that triggers that emotion but you have to be quite highly skilled at that, especially with the cameras being on him as well, I mean he’s got to get his micro expressions in the right place and micro expressions are from our subconscious mind, you can’t usually consciously control that immediacy on the face because they can flash up at 1/25th of a second and that is something that you definitely cannot consciously control. There is no way that you can move your facial expressions consciously that fast.
SGAA: Yeah, he seemed very relaxed to me, but that’s just me. I currently read in a UK tabloid, which I take with a grain of salt, that Wade Robson’s attorneys may be having a body language expert analyze a deposition that actually you analyzed and wrote about in your book, I don’t the name of it, I’m sorry, it is on on your you tube channel where he spoke about loving children and how he always wanted to be God like and how he totally denied the allegations, I know you remember the one I’m talking about? Why do you think, if this were true, Robson’s attorney’s picked this particular interview?
CJB: You know this is a very good question. I don’t understand why they would use this particular interview because if you read my analysis, I believe formidably that he is telling the truth. I think it was a 1996 police interview
SGAA: Yes, that’s the one.
CJB: It was the News of the World one and you’re right there was an interesting point there, I think he was asked, “Did you sexually abuse Brett Barnes” I think and he flashed surprise there and it was almost in disbelief. Now those are reliable muscular contractions that Michael Jackson flashes on his face that have an association with surprise. There is no way around that, there is no contrasting argument with that because his facial expression is surprise and that is the type of expression you would expect to see on someone who hasn’t committed those acts I mean he is surprised that anyone would even consider making such an allegation, a ridiculous allegation about this. Like I mentioned in the book, if Michael Jackson had committed that, he would have flashed a different expression, he might have flashed a contempt smirk, he might have flashed fear at the fear of getting caught and that he was being rumbled, things like that but I don’t understand why they would focus on this interview because I have covered it. It would be interesting to see which body language professional covers this interview because I have covered this interview and I have covered it in great detail and I have given lots of examples during that segment and I rely on evidence from people like Joe Navarro, Desmond Morris, Paul Ekman, I back up my observations with the research.
SGAA: Even the gesture of him putting his hands behind his head, I remember it so vividly and you something think, why would he do that? But you knew, you said, “this is not what you think it is”
CJB: Yes that it’s exactly right. It would appear that kind of behavior has an aura of superiority and an aura of arrogance about it but when I’ve watched it again, it doesn’t, it’s more of a case of disbelief and again, it’s even more interesting because he doesn’t need to make a credible impression on the police investigator you know what I mean? That kind of behavior is natural to Michael Jackson and I don’t see in any way, shape or form that he is telling lies or telling a deceptive story during that interview but again, like I mentioned in the book, I only saw a brief segment of the video, I think the actual interview is over an hour and a half long and I only saw, I think it was only eight minutes or something like that but the eight minutes I did see was very revealing to me but it will be very interesting to see what conclusion that somebody else would glean from that interview that I did because I firmly stand by the analysis I gave for that particular interview.
SGAA: It could be Dr. Glass, is her name Dr. Glass?
CJB: Yes, Dr. Glass.
SGAA: It could be her, who knows?
CJB: Well I will look forward to reading about it.
SGAA: I am too and it maybe true, it may not. Let’s hope not but we’ll see. Is there anything you would like to add Craig, is there anything you would like us to know about your new book or about something in the future that we would love to hear about?
CJB: Well, amazingly enough, I actually started a new book.
SGAA: I’m not amazed.
CJB: It’s been about a couple of months and it was all about how we develop emotionally, physically and mentally and throughout the different stages of life and that’s what it was about but it was after analyzing Wade Robson’s body language and it also mixed in with the near car accident that I had driving home from work that just made me realize about the importance of emotions. I said to my Mrs that I am going to scrap that book about how we develop because there is a book here about emotions and I think Wade Robson’s behavior has spurred me on to right about the importance of emotions and often it can be the absence of emotion that can often be the most revealing and how we’re not always in the grip of emotion but when we are, our behavior can be very almost childish and very destructive like when Joe Navarro sent me that replay back to my body language article I sent him. I was in the grip of a really strong emotion of anger and disgust and almost hatred to Joe because I couldn’t believe he could be so critical but then actually a couple of day later when I read what he put in the email he was actually being really helpful, he was like, “Oh Craig, just concentrate on these guys, avoid these because.. avoid these people…. avoid that.. and as I was reading I was thinking, “that isn’t bad at all. I can utilize this”.
SGAA: It’s what overcame you at the time.
CJB: Exactly, it’s amazing the behavior I displayed there and looking back was very childish of me and it just goes to show when I was in a grip of emotion I wasn’t consciously in control of my feelings of how I felt about the situation and it wasn’t an accurate portrayal of what Joe Navarro put in his email you see. He’d put something really helpful but I thought … “I can’t believe this guy” and it’s just amazing how when we are in a grip of emotion we can really make some bad choices and I’m talking about emotional awareness and how we can possible change that and avoid the trigger response and to really understand what is happening and whether or not it needs that emotion because that email that Joe sent me didn’t need the emotion that I displayed you see, because I misread it and that was my own fault and my emotions took over because that was a heightened emotion, I was really angry. Whereas on the flip side Wade Robson isn’t displaying the emotions that the situation merits you see.
SGAA: There you go!
CJB: There’s no disgust there and in the testimony he describes you’ve got complete polar opposites and I thought, “ooh, there’s definitely a book here”
SGAA: I can’t wait.
CJB: I’m hoping it will be out either August or September
SGAA: Oh wow, you work so fast and the books are amazing so I don’t know how you do it.
CJB: Well thank you, I’m very blessed, I have a lot of people helping me and a lot of support and it’s good. I’m quite focussed. It’s quite difficult writing when you have two kittens jumping all over you.
SGAA: Craig I would first like to personally thank you on behalf of Stop Global Airwave Abuse and the MJ community for doing this interview and everything you do for MJ and for body language and I congratulate you on your success and I know your continued success in your future books. I want to encourage everyone to order and read Unmasked and Behind The Mask because they are truly wonderful and Informative books. Craig you are so humble and always so kind and forthcoming andust a really wonderful soul. I want to thank you very much for doing this with me and I hope your next book is a success and I’d love to speak with you again. I’ve left 5 out of 5 reviews on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, on my Stop Global Airwave Abuse WordPress and I know you will get many more.
CJB: Thank you very much, I’m so appreciative of all your help and support. You’re a big help and I’m so glad that we have had the opportunity to talk today about a couple of key questions
SGAA: Well with everything that’s going on I want to make sure the book gets out there and people buy it and know that it is such a good book, such an easy read, it is well worth the money because I’m going to use it in daily life. It’s just that important.
CJB: You have made my day, thank you very much.
Craig J. Baxter’s newest book Unmasked: A Revealing Look at the Fascinating World of Body Language is an amazing look into the science of non-verbal communication/ body language. His first book, “Behind The Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told The World” a wonderful, truthful book on Michael Jackson was a # 1 bestseller. You can read the review here . Unmasked takes this fascinating science to a another level whereby Mr. Baxter focuses on things the layperson may not be able to distinguish when reading body language. Touching, facial expression, voice, personal space are all parts of this science and he takes each of these sub headings and dissects them one by one to make it easier for the novice to understand.
Mr. Baxter basically takes us on as students and educates us how to pick up on the small gestures that are so important in reading someone’s body language. The chapter that I found very interesting and informative was where case studies are used to assist in determining how our words say one thing while our bodies are communicating something totally different. I believe by using these case studies, which are real-life scenarios allow us, as readers, to analyze each of them and apply the information you have learned from earlier chapters to become confident in reading non verbal communication. The last part of this chapter takes you through the interview process and gives 5 important steps helping you to feel more comfortable and confident taking you one step closer to that new job.
Unmasked: A Revealing Look at the Fascinating World of Body Language is exactly what the title says…. a fascinating and wonderful learning experience into the world of body language. I highly recommend this easy to read book to any body language novice who would really like to delve into the realm of non verbal communication and Mr. Baxter takes us step by step into his world as a body language expert.
SGAA gives this book 5 stars out of 5
Interview with Craig J. Baxter Author of Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told the World: Part 2
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
Interview with Craig J. Baxter (Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told the World) Part 1
Interview with Craig J. Baxter Author of
Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s body Language Told the World
SGAA: It is my great pleasure to have Craig J. Baxter, author of the #1 Bestselling book Behind The Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told The World speaking with me. Thank you so much Craig for doing this interview. I would like to start by asking you how does it feel to be a #1 bestselling author of one of the most beloved entertainers of all time, Michael Jackson?
CJB: Well, it is a truly wonderful feeling. I never anticipated the level of success I’ve had in such a short time, the book has only been out for two weeks and it has already hit number one in the US, Germany and here in the United Kingdom as well so I am over the moon with the response from the book but also the from the Michael Jackson community as well. They have all given me their support and left wonderful reviews on Amazon so I’m very humbled at the response I’ve had.
SGAA: I loved the book and I specifically liked how you made it interesting not only for Michael Jackson fans, but also for people who are interested in learning about body language, was that your intention when you began the book?
CJB: I had two aims of the book. One was to educate the reader on literally the “man behind the mask” and to show the world what Michael Jackson was like, his body language, his behaviors, his gestures and his facial expressions and how fundamentally, he was very much like you or I. He did have this mega stardom aura about him and people considered him to be God like and almost like a deity but, in essence, he was just like you and I. Another aim of the book was to uncover some of the myths that have been associated with Michael Jackson throughout his life. Saying that he slept in a hyperbaric chamber, buying the elephant man’s bones and other lies, I wanted to clear those up but it was a good way of analyzing his body language while he was talking about these rumors and allegations, it was good to get to the bottom of these things.
In the interview he did with Oprah Winfrey in 1993 he talks about sleeping in the hyperbaric chamber and the other rumours and then he goes back to it in the Martin Bashir interview when the press is still publicizing these myths and fantasies about his life and I think the intention of my book was to put those to bed. To go through them and to show that Michael was being as honest as he possibly could with his body language and his verbal statements. It showed the audience that he really was honest about all the lies and all the myths and how they were just rumours and that’s all they were.
SGAA: Can you tell me briefly about your background Craig and how you began this art form of “Nonverbal Communication”
CJB: My main background is in the human body and how it works. Throughout the years I have been trained as a GP Referral Officer here (in the UK) and what that involves is working with patients who have cardio vascular diseases like heart attacks and people with brain injuries, so I do “physiotherapy” for lack of a better word. So my background is in the health and fitness industry but because I had to study the human body in-depth, I relayed everything I learned about how the human body works into emotions and that’s where my body language background comes from. We can apply from how we feel to how we move and how we interact with others so my background isn’t necessarily psychological, it’s more anatomy and physiology based and understanding the infinite movements the human body has.
SGAA: I was introduced to your work from through MJJJusticeProject who posted your MJ videos on their website and am now an avid follower of your work. You have analyzed many interesting people: President Bill Clinton, celebrities like Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen as well as Casey Anthony and even poltergeists. What is your reasoning behind the choice of the people you analyze and why did you decide to bring your work to You Tube?
CJB: That is a very good question. I started my original Body Language video by analyzing a killer here (in the UK) named Ian Huntley. That was the first video I did and it was a controversial one because that happened in 2002 I believe and I did the video about six years after that video came out when he was charged with murder and subsequently found guilty, so I got a lot of criticism with people saying “It’s all hind sight” and things like that but that was my original video and it all stemmed from there. People kept sending me messages like “can you have a look at Justin Bieber and Bill Clinton”.
SGAA: So it was followers of yours that said could you do this person? Could you do Michael Jackson?
CJB: Yes, it was amazing because I think I had done three or four videos and then I got a message from somebody saying “Oh would you have a look at the Michael Jackson video?” and I said “yeah sure” and I looked at it and it was the Oprah interview and I thought “Oh wow this is just crazy” Oprah was destroying Michael Jackson with her questions and I put that on You Tube and I think within a couple of days I had thousands of hits from all over the world. It really took off then and I started doing Amy Winehouse, etc. I think I have done close to 150 videos but I have actually retired from doing video tutorials of celebrities and I’m now doing little snippet videos on how to spot lying, etc. So once I get my book out in paperback I will continue with that.
SGAA: I understand that you are a Michael Jackson fan but did not know much about his personal life did you feel that was an advantage or a disadvantage for you?
CJB: I would say it was both. It was an advantage because I didn’t get swamped by all these myths that surrounded his life and that enabled me to remain impartial but then again it was a disadvantage because I had to research Michael Jackson’s entire life and that took a long, long time because there was so much rubbish written about him that it was hard to verify what was truth and what was lie. Thankfully, I had Buds girl from MJJJusticeProject helping me out with the research and finally got the truth about Michael Jackson and where to focus my research and that helped me tremendously. There is so much rubbish written about Michael and if I was to include rubbish in my book it would make me look amateurish and no one would buy the book.
SGAA: That is true and the thing I liked about your book was that it was cohesive with Michael’s verbal communication and his emotional communication as well so it made a wonderful read so thank you for that.
CJB: You’re very welcome.
SGAA: Excluding the amount of time it took to write this book, I’m interested in how much time you spent analyzing Michael’s interviews for it?
CJB: Oh wow, I could not put a time on it. A lot of time went into analyzing Michael.
CJB: Years! I would say years, because I had to attempt to get Michael’s baseline which means I had to look at his behavioural movements when he was giving any human emotion so I had to become comfortable with knowing what Michael Jackson was going to do next in a situation so I could become confident I could predict his behaviour. So I had to do that by watching him as a child, through his adolescence and the later interviews. All the interviews I have done , I believe there are about twelve, I studied them intently to understood what his actions and gestures were and that’s what made the book a lot easier to write.
SGAA: I have to be honest with you, I would I have never guessed years, I would have thought months, but never years to read his body language. I didn’t realize how much time it takes to write a book.
CJB: Well my first Michael Jackson video tutorial was the Oprah Interview and I think I uploaded that last year, but before I started doing those video tutorials I had to research Michael Jackson before I did that video. I had to study Michael’s repertoire, how he engaged with others, how he danced, how he moved and it was very difficult because Michael’s physical appearance changed dramatically from when he was a child through his adult years and that takes a lot of time to understand. It took years to become confident in what he was going to do next, how he addressed, how he talked and his behavioral style so yeah, much research went into it.
SGAA: You stated unequivocally that all of Michael’s body language portrayed total honesty and truthfulness in these interviews except for two exceptions in the Bashir interview. The first being the amount of surgeries Michael had and the second being the relationship of the mother of his youngest son Blanket, can you elaborate?
CJB: In the Bashir interview he contradicts himself a few times just with those two topics, I think with the first question about his surgery he said he had no plastic surgery on his face and then he said he had one procedure and about five minutes later he told Bashir he had two operations on his face. So he went from zero, to one, to two if I remember correctly and he also said “I think” when Bashir asked him “have you had any other plastic surgery?” I can’t remember exactly what he asked but Michael said “hmm I think, yeah” so you would know how many surgeries you had on your face so I think he was being deceptive there, that’s one area that is a big topic of Michael Jackson because his face definitely had changed in that interview from the Oprah Interview, there is no denying that.
With respect to Blanket’s mother, he contradicts himself there because half way through the Bashir interview he states that Blanket’s mother is someone he had a relationship with and then toward the end of the interview he said she was a surrogate and they don’t know each other.
SGAA: Could these discrepancies, especially the latter, be because Michael began to distrust Bashir as this eight month interview progressed, hence making him much more nervous and even perhaps angry?
CJB: Well, I would say no only because I’ve seen the footage from the rebuttal video and what you didn’t see in the Bashir interview was him complimenting Michael on his life, how wonderful Neverland was, how his relationship with children was so wonderful and innocent, so in essence Michael might not have felt that uneasy with Bashir by getting all these compliments. These were not included in the original Martin Bashir “Living with Michael Jackson” interview. What is interesting is, if you read the book, when Michael Jackson says he had a relationship with Blanket’s mother he seems to be smiling, now children often smile when they are lying. They cannot hide the delight when they try to dupe the person. I think Michael was trying to dupe Bashir into thinking that he had a relationship when, in fact, he didn’t. That might be an indicator that Michael Jackson is hoping that he won’t be found out. This was interesting because Bashir didn’t pick up on that because before the commercial break I remember him saying “one thing he wanted to get to the bottom of was the relationship with Blanket’s mother” so he didn’t pick up that Michael contradicted himself.
SGAA: I understand, however, we really don’t know when these questions were asked, in what sequence. Was one asked at the beginning of the interview where Michael was more trusting and the other at the end where he was more distrustful of Bashir, hence him making contradictory statements?
CJB: Yes, that’s true.
SGAA: What was the most interesting thing you found out through Michael’s body language while analyzing it at such length?
CJB: I think when Michael Jackson got irritated he made the repeat of the blocking gestures. You can see that during the Oprah Interview – he blocks a lot. That was most interesting because when he got angered or most frustrated his use of blocking gestures were prevalent. You could see that in the Oprah interview, you could see it in the statement from the Neverland Ranch, and you can certainly see that in the Bashir interview. So it’s the way he deflects negativity and he uses it quite well with his hands, with the hand scissor gesture where he places his hands right in front of him and then chops just like an imaginary pair of scissors. He also favored the leg block as well which is where you place the leg in front of you and bring the leg in really close so its like it’s added security. That was very interesting. In essence that should have never happened because Oprah should have made Michael feel more relaxed than she did. I mean asking him if he was a virgin and asking him if he’s asked Liz Taylor to marry him. Ohhh I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I think that was the most interesting because he is well documented as being very gentile and very good natured and watching him just put up barriers against people that were making his life hell was very interesting.
On a side note it was amazing how honest Michael was about the allegations, he talked openly about them and I think that was very refreshing as well.
SGAA: What was the most difficult part in writing this book?
CJB: I started this book at the wrong time. I had done a little bit of a draft copy, I had done about 3,000 words about six months ago and never got around to finishing it and then stated writing the book again in July this year but then we had the Olympic games here in Great Britain, then we had the Paralympics, then the Ryder Cup and we’ve just got a new little kitten as well. So I had every distraction you could think of while I was writing this book and I’m a big sports fan so it was wall to wall sports every day and I wanted to get this book out ideally before Christmas. It was hard word, because I had to sacrifice a lot because this is not my day job, I still work as a GP Referral Officer as well. So I do have a day job.
SGAA: I found in all the interviews you chose, especially Oprah’s and Bashir’s, they took every opportunity to bully Michael with their style of questioning, yet he remained quietly polite. You obviously saw things fans and the general public seeing it for the first time would never have picked up on. Were you shocked at their tactics?
CJB: Yeah I was, but then again, I say in my book, from a journalist point of view “controversy creates cash” people want to know the dirt on Michael Jackson, they want to know the gossip. I think that’s why Martin Bashir painted Michael to be some kind of crazed serial sex abuser because obviously that would give him a better audience than to give him a pro-Michael Jackson interview that one would remember. People will remember the Bashir interview for all the wrong reasons. They will remember Bashir and those child sex allegations with Gavin, people remember that. Every time I speak to people about Michael Jackson I ask them “what do you remember about the Bashir Interview” and they say, “I’ll never forget that because it made Michael Jackson out to be a child abuser.”
SGAA: Well hopefully with your book that will change.
CJB: With the Oprah interview, her asking him whether he was a virgin and other really intrusive questions, I couldn’t believe it, but from a mass audience point of view that’s what they wanted to know about, juicy gossip that no one else has heard about and they don’t care if it’s innuendo or sleaze and that’s what sells unfortunately. Really I was and wasn’t surprised but Michael handled it really well. He silently put up a block to try and stop the questions.
SGAA: Unfortunately for Michael, he was so quiet and calm that he didn’t really say what he wanted to say but he did say it in his body language and thanks to you we know that now.
CJB: Yes, and more often that not people will miss that who aren’t really adept at reading body language where they will miss these little subtle actions and movements which a very distinct and precise meaning, and that’s what Michael did and he did use a lot of aggressive fist gestures when he talked about the relationship with his father. He also used a stop emblem where he literally pushed his hand down to try and stop the insensitive questions from Bashir and Oprah.
SGAA: He also used the covering of his face with his hands very often….
CJB: Yes that was a very popular one where we block our visual stimulus which is causing us pain and distress. He did favor that one as well Michael did. It was interesting because he always said he was a perfectionist and never happy with his appearance and his face. If you remember in the book in the interview he said he had to wash his face in the dark because he used to hate his face and when he was in an airport some fan said he was ugly. So Michael covering his face is very ironic.
What Michael Jackson’s main baseline and how was Craig able to find out how and why he knew Michael was telling the truth? Also MJ’s fan all over the world have embraced his book and how Craig feels about them in Part 2 of this interview coming soon.
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Review of Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told the World”
by Craig J. Baxter
After reading Craig J. Baxter’s book “Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told the World” I literally jumped for joy. Finally, a book that tells people all over the world what MJ fans and advocates have known all along, that Michael Jackson told the truth. The innuendos and falsehoods the tabloids and airwaves spewed and that haunted Michael throughout his tormented life have been “put to bed” by Mr. Baxter’s book. It shows, through Michael’s non verbal communication, that he unequivocally portrayed total honesty and truthfulness in the interviews he analyzed, ranging from the Oprah Winfrey 1993 interview all the way through to the Martin Bashir rebuttal 2003 interview.
This book is an exceptional “tell all” book but in the real sense of the words. Craig goes beyond describing Michael Jackson in his interviews by pairing his words with Michael’s body language. Any reader would be enlightened by this professional non verbal analysis of MJ based entirely on his body movements; his eyes, his legs, his hands and even his “classic hand on the heart” gesture during many of the conversations. Mr. Baxter allows us to see Michael for who he truly was, an honest and truthful man, whose only fault was to be trusting of these so-called “interviewers” and “journalists”. This is unlike any other book I have read about Michael because Mr. Baxter does not deal in rumours, only in what he observes in Michael’s gestures, etc.
His section on the terminology of non verbal communication used throughout the book is a great addition for anyone who wants to learn more about this amazing technique used in FBI interrogations and research. Mr. Baxter’s you tube video tutorials will show MJ fans and body language enthusiasts that he is well versed at his craft and does it extremely well.
Michael Jackson would be pleased that such an objective book was written about him. I highly recommend “Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language told the World” to fans of Michael Jackson as well as body language enthusiasts who want to delve into this fascinating analysis of this brilliant and kind man.
I give this book five out of five stars. You can purchase Mr. Baxter’s Kindle book from Amazon here
Please note: I will be posting my interview with Craig J. Baxter in an upcoming blog very soon.