Archive for category Interviews

Interview with Author of the MJ 101 Series

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 3.37.24 PMI’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.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 3.37.38 PMWhen 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.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 3.37.48 PMYou 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

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The Invincible Signing Event – A Line of Love

Virgin Megastore - New York - 11/07/2001

Virgin Megastore – New York – 11/07/2001

It just so happens that today the “Invincible” album was certified double platinum in 2002.

It was a coincidence that just last night I watched the “Invincible” signing event in at the Virgin Megastore in New York just weeks after 9/11.  Michael wanted to show the support and once again, give what he could – himself – to the people of New York, the people who had been through so much during this horrible moment in history.  He wanted to lift them up and perhaps give them hope, something he always did for his fans when they needed him.

There were 500 fans in line and many times through the event, the coordinators would say “Michael we have only gone through 64 people, we have 500 in line, stop being so nice, I’ll be the bad guy”.  That was MJ, talking, shaking hands when asked and asking fans that were in tears if they were “okay”.  You could see he was tired and had a bad cold, but he sat for hours signing more than 500 CD covers as well as personal pictures etc.

What amazed me about this event was that he was there for so long, my understanding is longer than 2 hours, the most time spent by an artist signing CD’s and how he treated the fans that were waiting.  There were a few that pulled on my heart-strings, one young man who was a large man, you could see it was difficult for him to walk, let alone stand for 2 hours in line and while Michael was signing CD cover after CD cover he looked about this man and smiled at him, shook his hand and said, “hey, how are you, what’s your name?”  Michael signed the CD specifically to him and the young man thanked him and walked away.  Michael kept signing for the next fan, but kept looking up to see the man walk away.  He turned his head and whispered to Frank Cascio who was sitting behind him, “that makes me cry”.  I feel it  meant that this man waited in line for 2 hours to see him and it showed me how Michael appreciated it.  It showed me how much the fans and what they did for him meant to Michael. I was also taken by the number of men who were weeping and just wanted to shake his hand, I don’t know of any other celebrity that have that kind of draw and emotional pull with their fans.

Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 4.06.57 PMI urge everyone to watch the signing event and see the little things that MJ did; the child dressed up like Michael to a tee and see the look on his face as well as the appreciation he showed the mother for making the outfit; the girl who asked Michael to marry him and he put the ring on; the girl who had a belly button ring and he wanted to know how it was done, and if it hurt, and the girl who had the beautiful jacket with a picture of MJ on the back which he adored and wanted one for himself.  He interacted with as many fans as he could, I really think he would have talked to each and every one of his fans had the coordinators not pushed him to keep him on a timeline.

This event to me, epitomized what Michael was like to his fans, and how they interacted with him.  They loved him and he reciprocated ALWAYS.

You can watch part 1 of 8 parts beginning here

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The Seven Virtues by Siren – Interview

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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.

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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?

SirenIdeally, 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.  

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 8.27.54 PMWell, the quality of the book speaks for itself.  “The Seven Virtues” has a very simple, yet beautiful cover, it is black with the title and a crown, why did you select this cover?

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.

You can purchase “The Seven Virtues” and “Art and Soul: A spiritual Journey” plus all Siren’s artwork on her beautiful website and get more information on her Facebook Page.

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A Conversation with Really, Really Brad Sundberg

dancing with the elephant

Willa: This week Lisha McDuff and I are so honored to be joined by Brad Sundberg, who worked with Michael Jackson for nearly two decades. He served as Technical Director on the Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory albums, and helped design the sound system at Neverland. While working on Bad, Michael Jackson gave him the nickname Really, Really Brad, as in “I’m Brad, I’m Brad, I’m Really, Really Brad.” That cracks me up!

Over the past year Brad has been offering seminars in the U.S., Canada, and Europe to share his insights as well as sound recordings from his work with Michael Jackson. Several of our friends and contributors – Lisha, Susan Fast, and Joe Vogel – attended his recent seminar in Toronto, and from everything I’ve heard it was incredible! Lisha asked Brad if he’d like to talk with us, and he said yes. Brad, thank you…

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Memories of MJ and Debbie Rowe OK Magazine Interview 1997

While re-reading this particular article I decided to bring it to everyone’s attention once again,  it shows how happy Michael and Debbie were about the birth of their son and in particular how hard Michael tried to keep Prince and later, the rest of his children out of the public eye. He wanted them to grow and take their own place in society and do whatever they wished, the sky has always been the limit for these children and they should live their own lives.  Please take note of MJ and DR’s answers it is a great reminder how he and Debbie had a caring relationship.  She is the mother of Prince and Paris and he always respected and loved her and she him.  I find this article to be very telling and all the answers still stand true today.

nwa5c6OK Magazine Interview

April 4 & 11, 1997

Michael permitted ‘OK’ magazine (UK) to publish photographs of his first-born baby boy, Prince Michael Jackson Jr. An interview with Michael and Debbie accompanied the photo spread.

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The King Of Pop And His Little Prince

Int:  Michael, how does it feel to be a father?

MJ: It was an incredibly joyful experience. I’m in bliss 24 hours a day.

Int:  Can you talk us through the birth of your son?

Michael:  It’s hard to take it step by step, but the snapshots in my mind from the birth show our excitement and nervousness. Debbie was so strong throughout the delivery. There were shouts of joy when the baby was born. I couldn’t believe the miracle I had witnessed. It was unbelievable!

Int:  Michael, describe the relationship between yourself and Debbie?

MJ:  Debbie and I love each other for all the reasons you will never see on stage or in pictures. I feel for the beautiful, unpretentious, giving person that she is, and she fell for me, just being me.

Int:  Debbie, what are you current feelings for Michael?

DR:  I love him even more now than before our son was born. Fatherhood has brought out a very protective streak in him. He is so loving and strong.

Int:  What is the boy’s name? Why is he so named — and which of you does he look like the most?

MJ:  His name is Prince Michael Junior. My grandfather and great-grandfather were both named Prince, so we have carried on that tradition, and now we have a third Prince in the family.

DR:  He’s so beautiful! I think he has my eyes.

Int:  Michael, among all your life’s glittering achievements, how does fatherhood rate?

MJ:  Words can’t describe it. There is no miracle in life that compares with watching your son some into the world.

Int:  Has the baby smiled or responded in any way to the two of you yet?

MJ:  He smiles all the time and his eyes twinkle when I sing to him. He definitely knows my voice. Debbie tickles his chin and he giggles.

Int:  Debbie, does Michael change the baby’s nappies, get up in the middle of  the night to feed him and do his share of the chores?

DR:  Yes, Michael does everything. He loves being involved in every aspect of caring for the baby. He is such a wonderful father, feeding him, holding him, and, of course, singing to him.

Int:  Debbie, you have married and had a baby with the most famous man on earth. What effect has that had on you?

DR:  I have married and had a baby with the man I will always love and I am on top of the world. The only time I feel sad is when I see quotes attributed to me that I never said or when I hear late night comedians taking cheap shots at my husband when they are not true. Don’t believe 99% of the garbage you read or hear. I know that we will be under increasing public scrutiny and I don’t look forward to that, but I know that will always be a part of being married to Michael.

Int: Michael, you so rarely give interviews. What is the one thing you would like to say to your fans at this time?

MJ: Thank you to all of my fans for understanding how important it is to me to protect my family from the public eye. I have lived in a “fishbowl” all my life and I want my son to live a normal life. You’ve stood by me throughout my career and now you share my greatest joy. I love you.

OK – Part 2

Int: Michael, what are your hopes for Prince Michael Junior’s future?

MJ: I want him to grow up surrounded by love and family, to receive the best education I can provide him with, to discover and develop his talents, and to use his resources to make life better for those less fortunate than he.

Int:  Are you preventing Debbie from seeing the child?

MJ:  No, that is completely false. We have been together as a family since the birth of our son, and we’ve cherished every moment as a family.

Int: Michael, what has been your family’s reaction to the birth?

MJ: They are all very excited. I’m already getting lots of tips and advice about schools and such.

Int: What sort of dad will you try to be?

MJ: The best! My father was always there for us through the stardom of the Jackson 5 and through many of the ups and downs that followed. I, too, will always be there for my son. It’s the most important thing in the world to me.

Int: Debbie, what are your family’s feelings about Michael?

DR: They’re crazy about him. They were delighted to discover how warm and genuine he is.

Int:  And how would you describe Michael’s strengths as a father?

DR: He’s very patient and protective. He never rushes what he’s doing with the baby. I was very proud of how tough he was about our privacy. He’s incredibly strong.

Int:  Michael, are you still close to your family? How often do you see your parents, brothers and sisters? Have they met your baby yet?

MJ: We talk and see each other all the time. We recently had a big ‘get-together’ where all the cousins met one another for the first time.

Int:  We believe the child’s godmother may be Elizabeth Taylor. What is it that draws you to Elizabeth? Many would call it an unlikely friendship. What do you have in common?

MJ:  Elizabeth knew many of the things I went through growing up in the spotlight. I can say a few words or just sigh sometimes, and she knows what I’m feeling. It was wonderful to find someone who understood me so well. I pray for her, and I want her to share the joy of my son’s birth for many years to come.

Int:  What sort of gifts have you received for Prince Michael Junior?

MJ:  We’ve received some fantastic gifts. Wonderful treasures, stuffed animals, toys and baby clothes from around the world. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all my wonderful fans for helping to welcome our baby into the world.

Int:  Michael, what are Debbie’s strengths as a mother?

MJ:  Debbie is a very strong and caring woman. She’s a wonderful mother!

Int:  Can we expect a song about your son on your new album?

MJ:  The birth of my son has been very inspirational to me artistically, and there will definitely be a song in the future.

Int:  And one about Debbie, too?

MJ:  Any song about my son has to be about Debbie as well

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Craig Baxter talks about his new book Umasked and Wade Robson

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.

 

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“Its all for love… L.O.V.E.” – Artwork by Siren

Samples of Siren's work

Samples of Siren’s work

I would like to introduce everyone to Siren whose Michael inspired artwork is truly awe-inspiring.  She is an exceptional human being who donates her time and effort to Michael and everything he stood for and I would like thank her for taking this time to answer some questions about her amazing Michael Jackson pieces and the amount of time she spends doing so many wonderful things to support his legacy, she is a paragon of love and one can see and feel that her talents exude all things Michael in every aspect.

SGAA:  Siren, I have followed your beautiful artwork of Michael for some time now, and the essence, or shall I say the aura of Michael is in every piece you do, how did you begin drawing Michael and how are you able to achieve this inner peace he has in your drawings?

Siren: Thank you  for your interest and for inviting me to do this interview.  I appreciate it so much.

I have been a sketch artist my whole life.  I became aware of my ability at a very young age… maybe 7 or 8 years old.  My family encouraged me to do more with my art, but I had no passion for it… only sketching sporadically as the mood struck me… and not at all as I got older and got busy with life.  Shortly after Michael passed, I tried sketching him a few times but they were really not good.  Portraits were never my strength.  It would be another two years (September 2011) before I would attempt to draw him again, but when I did it was almost like something took me over… I really had very little to do with it.  He just came to life before me on the paper.  After that I couldn’t get enough.  I guess I discovered my passion… 

How am I able to achieve Michael’s inner peace in my drawings?  First of all, thank you from the bottom of my heart for that amazing compliment.  For me personally, the greatest satisfaction in sharing my art is when someone tells me how it makes them FEEL.  If there is any way in the world that my art can connect people with Michael’s energy, his Love… well, I couldn’t ask for any greater reward.  

I think Michael said it best when he said: “I believe that all art has as it’s ultimate goal, the union between the material and the spiritual… the human and the divine”.  

When one creates – not just visual art but any of the arts; dance, poetry, music, any way in which the soul expresses itself – it really is like a channeling of sorts.  In order to capture emotion… the spirit of something… one must connect with it.  If one opens themselves to the energy of what they are expressing, it will come through.  You just have to surrender to it.  Anyone can do it.  I really believe that.  

SGAA:  When did you start drawing and/or painting?

Siren: Well as I mentioned, I began drawing as a child but I never really was the type to venture outside my comfort zone, so I stayed faithful to my pencil until about 5 months ago when I began to experiment with paint.  I took about 4 classes in acrylic painting and learned some basics, which I really enjoyed.  I work with acrylic and watercolors a fair bit now.   It has opened a whole new world for me. 

SGAA:  How do you choose the work or does it choose you? Meaning the pictures of Michael, do you select them intentionally or do you just see a pose or a photo of MJ that  draws you to it at the time?

Siren:  Oh it’s definitely impulsive.  I rarely sit down with the intent to draw.  The images find me, usually when I am catching up with things online.  They jump out at me… the beauty of their lines, and the emotion in them… they captivate me.  I can’t say no.  It makes it hard to get other things done sometimes.  You basically have to drop everything and just let the moment have it’s way with you.

SGAA:  You show us progress of each of your pieces of work, is that cathartic for you and does it make it easier to complete the work by sharing it step by step?

Siren: Yes, I usually take progress photos as I work.  I find that I get so involved with the feeling of the piece, that it is sometimes hard for me to actually see what I am creating.  Taking a photo helps to separate me from it for a moment so I can view it with a more critical eye.   Sometimes I find the progress photos just as beautiful as the finished works, so I often will share them.  Seeing artwork in a simpler form seems to reveal something pure about it.  I feel like it offers the viewer an opportunity to see it in a whole different light.

SGAA:  I totally agree with you.  I have seen some of your work at the beginning stages and they are so lovely.  I wanted to ask you why you have been drawn (excuse the pun) to paint Michael?

Siren:  Michael was a remarkable human being and remains, in my opinion, the most influential, impeccable role model of all time.  If one is looking for an example of how to live a life of selflessness, compassion, strength, integrity, authenticity, responsibility, generosity, perseverance, passion, and brilliance, one needs to look no further than Michael Joseph Jackson.  It’s unfortunate that most people missed the genuinely beautiful person that Michael was, and all He did to impact humanity and our planet. 

Personally, I see Michael as a modern-day prophet with a message of Universal Love which he carried to us in his music, dance, poetry, and in the way he lived his life.  He is a phenomenal example of what the human spirit is capable of.  There isn’t any situation that confronts me that I don’t consider what I have learned from him.  He inspires everything I do.  He has literally transformed me by his example… and continues to.  So why do I focus my art on Michael Jackson?  True art is an expression of the soul.  I don’t really choose what I create… I just allow whatever is inside me to come out.  So far it’s all Michael… 

SGAA:  I know that everything that you draw or paint are all on behalf of Michael and in his name. A portion and sometimes all the earnings you make on the sale of your pieces go to specific charities. We all know that a lot of people use Michael’s name for untoward causes yet you are giving your time and talent to causes you believe. What made you decide to do this rather than make a revenue for yourself personally?

Siren:  What I have, he has given me.  It’s the least I can do.  As I said, he has literally transformed me.  How one could witness someone like Michael and not be profoundly affected seems impossible.  Michael genuinely loved humanity.  He dedicated his entire life towards helping and healing others.  There is so much beauty in that.  I want to be that Love that he demonstrated.  Michael believed our salvation lies in the hearts of our children… and I agree.  Most of the charities I give to are orphanages and children’s hospitals.  I think if we can teach our children that they matter, that they are Loved, and that Love expands beyond our own families to include all of mankind, then we really are only one generation away from achieving world peace.  I want to contribute in any way I can to help heal our planet, but I also want to help preserve Michael’s legacy.  They say actions speak louder than words.   So many are so closed to hearing the truth about Michael… but what if someone’s heart could be opened to him by witnessing the work others do in his memory?  I want to be a part of that in whatever way possible.  

SGAA:  Siren, one thing that I love that you did, is plant a tree for Michael near your home and decorate it with each season that passes with some beautiful ornaments and candles, etc.  I love this idea and am planning to do it myself, what was your thought behind this?

Siren:  Oh, I hope you do…  I think there should be a tree for Michael in every city in the world!  The idea of planting the tree came from my dear friend Brenda Jenkyns.  We had returned home from a trip of visiting Michael’s places in California and began talking about how we wished we had somewhere in our own city where Michael was remembered.  We decided that if there was going to be one, then we would have to create it, so we did some research and discovered that our city parks department has a “Tribute Tree” program where you can purchase a tree in memory of a loved one and have it planted in one of our public parks.  We also had a plaque made which the city installed for us under Michael’s tree with his name and his quote “Let us dream of tomorrow where we can truly Love from the soul and know Love as the ultimate truth at the heart of all Creation”.  We did a little ceremony when the plaque was placed and we were even able to bury some special items for Michael underneath it.  It was really intimate and beautiful.  That little tree means a lot to us.  We love to think of people passing by reading Michael’s name and his message… it’s important to us.

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Michael's Tree

Michael’s Tree

SGAA:  Brenda Jenkyns – is that the author of the beautiful children’s book Ever After?

Siren:  Yes, Brenda is the author of two children’s books about Michael.  Her first book, Ever After, is the story of Michael’s life which is intended to inspire children to follow their dreams.  Brenda has recently released her second book entitled Forever Loved, which is a beautiful story about Michael’s purpose and continued impact on the world since his passing.

SGAA:  I have ordered a few pieces from you Siren and in my orders I always receive some “Love cards” and each one of them has a picture of your many paintings and a quote of Michael’s, why do you send these out with every order at no charge?

Siren:  Those cards are one way in which I attempt to help contribute to Michael’s legacy and share his truth.  They are intended to be left in places for others to find in hopes that they will read Michael’s message and want to learn more.  If even one person found one of my cards and were changed by Michael’s words it would be worthwhile.  Whether His message triggers something in them that inspires them to make a positive change in their life, or opens them to the idea of Universal Love, or even if it just makes them reconsider who they think Michael Jackson was… imagine the impact of that!   I love to think about the ripples that would result.  It drives me to do more.

SGAA:  You have your artwork of Michael but there are many other things that you do in Michael’s name, could you name a few?

Siren:  That’s a hard question for me to answer.  I don’t like to talk about the specifics of what I do, really.  I think giving should be a humbling experience, free of any self-serving motivators.  What I will say is that no matter how we choose to give back to the world, the most important and most powerful thing we can offer is Love.  It is my ultimate goal to be mindful of Love in all my interactions with others and in everything I do… and that motivation comes from Michael.  I really feel that is the most imperative way in which I can honor and preserve his memory, and how I can best contribute to making the world a better place.  

SGAA:  I recently purchased Craig J. Baxter’s book Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson’s Body Language Told The World and I know that beautiful cover was done by none other than yourself.  How does it feel to have a piece of your own as the cover of a bestselling book?

Siren:   I am really grateful to Craig for allowing me to be a part of his book.  It is so important to me that Michael’s truth be told. To be given the opportunity to contribute to that is a great honor.  I really commend Craig for helping to educate people about the kind of human being Michael was, and for sharing his expertise to expose the facts and enlighten a public who have been intentionally mislead for decades.  I appreciate him immensely.  Craig is a wonderful person.

book cover

book cover

SGAA:  Yes he is and I am glad you got that opportunity to have that beautiful piece of art on the cover.  I would like to thank you so much Siren you are a true inspiration and you honor Michael’s legacy with every piece you paint/draw as well as every deed you do in his name.  God bless you!

Siren:  Thank you again  for allowing me to share what Michael means to me, and how he has inspired, and continues to inspire my life in so many ways.   Much Love and many Blessings xxx

You can purchase Siren’s artwork on her website

See Siren’s work on her Facebook page

Please Note:  100% of Siren’s proceeds from her print sales and 25% of her commissioned works are donated to charities in Michael’s name. 

Siren has many beautiful pieces but I would like to add my personal favourite by Siren to this post. It is called “Angel of Mercy” and you can purchase this and many others on her website.  I urge everyone to take a look at her work and I know you will be as impressed and inspired as I am.

Angel of Mercy

Angel of Mercy

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Professor Tom Green: A Cut Above the Cyber bullying!

About a month ago I posted a story where Tom Green, Comedian took it upon himself to    let listeners and hosts “Opie & Anthony” that he wanted to have the twitter handle of an individual who had the same name, a Canadian Media Professor named “Tom Green” at a College in Toronto, Ontario.  During his interview he let Opie & Anthony know that he had attempted to get this twitter handle from the Professor but Professor Green spoke to him and declined for his own reasons.   What resulted was a rampage of tweeting and  cyber bullying.

Original story here a-series-of-unfortunate-slanderous-events

I followed up with another post on the same story after the hosts and the listeners continued to cyber bully Professor Green tom-green-twitter-controversy-radio-hosts-continue-to-cyberbully

Opie & Anthony have never apologized or stated that they did anything wrong.  This is a sad state of affairs for the airwaves.  These hosts have no filter, boundaries or guidelines that they adhere to and  can say anything they wish.

When this incident took place Professor Green opened up his twitter account and it “blew up” in front of him with thousands of tweets from the Opie & Anthony listeners with the most hateful and derogatory remarks imaginable.  Below is a story that CityTV reported in Toronto where the Professor lives.  You can see that the police officer when shown the tweets found them to be beyond cyber bullying and to the point of “criminal”.

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Professor Green as you can see is a professional and I would say, quite forgiving man and he proved that once again by allowing me to ask him a few questions about how he felt with respect to the incident that “infiltrated” his life and twitter account for a few weeks.

 Q & A WITH PROFESSOR TOM GREEN

Q  After watching the CityTV News report the police officer mentioned he felt it went “beyond bullying into criminality”.  Have considered taking this incident and reporting these tweets to the police?

A  Taking over 3,000 individual responses to law enforcement is not a good strategy. Had I suspected the threats were credible or felt there was a risk to my personal safety— of course . A few hundred were sent directly to Twitter and these people usually had their accounts suspended.

Q   Tom Green did write an open letter to you. Did you feel that letter was a  heartfelt answer/apology to what happened on the Opie & Anthony Show?

A  I think you have to look at that letter “in context”. Context of what? His career. He, too, was getting slammed and realized this could affect him if he didn’t get in front of it. I perceived it as being more damage control than apology. If you listen to the YouTube broadcast he had ample opportunity right at the start to shut it down but didn’t.

Q   Tom Green also offered to meet with you and “bury the hatchet” so to speak, would you consider this?

A   I understand we are going out for dinner next time he is in town and I have accepted as long we use plastic cutlery.

Q   How has this affected you, your family and your career?

Not in the least other than giving me a prime opportunity to give my students a really up close and personal look at how cyber -bullying starts.

Q   How, while this event was occurring has this affected you emotionally?

A   It really didn’t bother me all that much. I live an online existence, so to speak, and in my circles I am regarded as a public figure which means my work is constantly open to public scrutiny and comment. Having gone through the review process for my books and comments attached to my tutorials I have learned people are entitled to their opinion and to leave it at that. I couldn’t ignore this one because, being a professor in a publically-funded higher education institution, accusations of pedophilia and sexual misconduct can have profound, professional, personal and legal implications if they “stick”. That sort of thing needs to be dealt with swiftly and forcefully.

Q   How do you feel about your privacy now and have you ever been concerned that you may be harmed in any way?

A   No. In this situation you have to “consider the source”. Opie and Anthony’s followers are not exactly Nobel laureates. What irritates me is they unleashed their followers on a private citizen. That, to me, is an abuse of their public persona and celebrity. It is great for their ratings and not so great for their victim. What I don’t think they expected was for me to react as forcefully and publically as I did. By making the incident a “poster Boy” for cyberbullying I put them into an awkward position where they had to state why they didn’t regard this as cyberbullying.They still haven’t responded and don’t expect them to. 

Q   Did you ever think, that as a non-celebrity you would be subjected to this type of attack  and controversy?

A   No. This incident clearly shows that people who have “celebrity status” need to be very careful of what they say or do to motivate their fans.

Q   Have you spoken to the “Shock Jocks” that created this fiasco?  I understand they feel they have done nothing wrong, but as we know this is all for viewership and ratings so why would they say anything else, however if you have spoken to them what did you say and what was their response?

No. Their only response was the tweet in response to the cNet article.

Q   Tom Green has suggested that this was “not his fault” but I have followed this closely and heard the entire show.  I believe he did “egg these people on” by mentioning you giving him his twitter name in the first place, have you spoken to Tom Green directly and do you agree with my hypothesis?

A    We have and I hope you understand that I regard that conversation as confidential.

Q   I understand that you have no intention of giving up your handle and I commend you for this.  I can see that you will not be bullied! You have been slandered and disrespected in ways I could never imagine.  After you commented on my article on my site Stop Global Airwave Abuse there was a disrespectful reply.  Are these tweeters ebbing or are they still coming out of the woodwork?

The string ran out a couple of weeks ago as the O&A followers saw a shiny thing and flocked to look at it. Short attention spans?

Q   I  have done some research on the Opie & Anthony show and found that their demographics are between the ages of 18 and 40 and mostly men.  Are you surprised, even though we do not know this as a fact,  that most of this cyber bullying is done by men and within this age group?

A    I can’t comment one way or the other around that generalization. Having said that , I concluded the bulk of the offensive tweet came from people in that cohort. I did learn something very important, though. What a lot of people miss around cyberbulling is that cyberbullying is a single message. I could sit at home and send you something offensive using the anonymity of the internet and think,”Got you”. Now multiply that one response by a factor of 100 or even 1,000. It is the cumulative effect of the messages that does the damage. I pointed this out in my classes by highlighting, uncensored, one rather vile tweet and pointing out that person must have felt pretty cool. Then I revealed a few  and made the point: It isn’t one. It is many feeling exactly the same way as the one. What they don’t consider is their action is multiplied  and how would they feel if the tables were turned on them and they were the recipient?

Q   How have your students reacted to this disrespect shown or have you even spoken to them about it?  Have you incorporated it into your media classes and if you have in what way?

A  The day it started I walked into my class that afternoon, flipped on my twitter feed and said, Let’s talk about cyberbullying because it is happening right here in front of your eyes and it is happening to me.” It was an interesting class to say the least.

Oh to be a fly on the wall at that class.  I am an alumnus of Professor Green’s college and would love to have had him as a Professor.  As you can see he has a wonderful sense of humour and has remarkable resilience.  I admire him very much.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Green for taking the time to speak with me.  I hope that this will make people aware of how quickly the social media can change the life of one person in a matter of seconds.  It can be used for positive and negative, unfortunately so many times it is the latter.

“Never take a person’s dignity: It is worth everything to them, and nothing to you.” –  Frank Barron

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Paris Jackson & Airwave Manipulation

“Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast the First Stone”….

It is very disturbing to me that 13-year-old Paris Jackson, Michael’s precious daughter was the little girl caught up in the same old media hoopla that daunted Michael for so many years.

A “snippet” of Paris speaking to Ellen (which will be shown in it’s entirety today on the “Ellen Show”) was shown on the airwaves.  Paris spoke eloquently and lovingly about her father and answered the few questions that we were privy to honestly and maturely.  She spoke about the masks her father had her and her brothers wear and told Ellen she understood as she got older how and why her daddy put them on each of his children;  For their protection.  We  must remember Paris is only 13 and is not savvy with the ways of the media because as everyone knows one innocent slip of the tongue and the media will take it and run with it.  No one knew this better than Michael himself.

The Media and some of Michael’s ”fans” took what she said  and misconstrued it.  Please see the link below and read carefully how MJJ Justice Project meticulously pieced out how the media twisted what Paris said.  http://mjjjusticeproject.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/deja-vu-jackson-media-manipulation/

This is yet another “turn of the screw” of Michael’s legacy. His precious children’s lives are now being put under the microscope as his was.  We cannot let this happen, his children need to be protected not only by the media but now also by the people who profess their love to Michael.  They resort to name calling and belligerent remarks to Michael’s little girl. Would anyone who loves Michael do this to his children?  I think not.  We must not judge others and we must certainly remember that “we are not without sin”.  Please remember Michael loved his children, they are his legacy and he loved them more than anything else in the world.  It is up to us to keep his legacy protected!

Paris Jackson on ‘The Ellen Show” December 15, 2011 (Full interview)

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