Silke Milpauer won a competition to present Michael Jackson with
Bravo’s Golden Otto Award
(Best Singer of 1993). Here is her fascinating story:
“I pulled myself together, greeted Michael, and shook his hand. He returned my handshake gently but firmly. At that moment, something astonishing happened. My whole nervousness and fear disappeared in the very instant that he touched me. After I had introduced myself, Michael replied quietly, ‘Hi. I am Michael.’ This almost distracted me, as I found this gesture unbelievably cute. Michael very carefully took the award and admired it at length. (It was a little Indian boy). ‘Oh, he is so cute!’ he called out and offered his heartfelt thank you. I got the impression that it really meant a lot to him. ‘I know,’ I replied and grinned. 'I wanted to keep it for myself you know,’ I teased. Michael giggled and bit his lips. I didn’t know what to do, so it seemed to me that honesty would be the best solution. So I admitted that I was quite shy and very, very nervous because of all the people around and the cameras. I didn’t want to tell him that he was the primary cause for my nervousness, that would have been too embarrassing. Michael opened his mouth, clearly surprised and abruptly, I was pulled into his arms. ‘You don’t need to be nervous. We’ll get through it together,” he whispered and patted my shoulder. While we posed for the photos, he told me in a whisper that he still wasn’t used to all of this and that he was so very nervous and shy himself. 'They always think that somebody wants to kill me’, he added quietly and rolled his eyes, his gaze now fixed on his bodyguards who babysat the children nearby.
Now the ice was broken, so to speak, and in the next couple of minutes we talked to each other. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t ask personal things and wouldn’t treat him like some random yellow press reporter. Therefore I was relieved that he seemed interested in my life and asked a couple of questions. I told him some things about me and my everyday life. When I mentioned that our meeting had originally been intended to take place on the day before, he seemed incredulous: ‘You cancelled your flights because of ME?’ he asked as if he found it hard to believe that he was important enough to justify such an action. When I added that I had waited more than a year for this day, he looked even more shocked. ‘Because of ME?’, he repeated. His humility was amazing. ‘I didn’t even know there was supposed to be a meeting…I was only told some hours ago,’ he told me. After that, Michael was supposed to pose for some pictures alone and I returned to my place behind the cameras, enjoying watching Michael in action. Somehow all the people around us disappeared one by one into the adjacent room and all of a sudden, I found myself alone with Michael. I was surprised and Michael also seemed confused by this. But then, a grin appeared on his face and he waved me to him. As we were on our own and I didn’t think he would mind, I got over my qualms and did it. ‘Do you mind signing my Dangerous booklet?’, I asked him politely and Michael smiled brightly. ‘Of course!’ I held out the booklet and a pen for him and he spontaneously decided that the knee-high broad stone situated right next to the photostudio would serve us as chairs. He used the sleeve of his shirt to wipe dust from the stone, then, very gentlemen-like, offered me a seat. I was so impressed - so very, very polite! Thanking him, I took a seat and observed him as he sat right next to me and flipped through the booklet to find a suitable page for his signature. Somehow, it felt as if there wasn’t a distance - locally or emotionally - between us anymore, and so I admitted that I thought Bob Jones wasn’t really likable and that I was quite afraid of him as he seemed to be so strict and domineering. Michael only laughed in a quite amused way and patted my shoulder. ‘You don’t need to be scared of him. It’s just the way he is. Even I call him ‘Sir’ after all this time, can you imagine that?’
Once finished with writing a dedication into my booklet, he stood up and took my hand to help me get to my feet. I looked across the room where one of the playing children had caught my attention. ‘Oh, she is so cute!’ I exclaimed and pointed at the curly-haired beauty. ‘What’s her name?’ Michael followed my gaze, then broke into laughter. ‘That’s a boy!’, he called and I felt heat rising into my cheeks. ‘Oh I…I didn’t know that,’ I stuttered and was quite embarrassed. ‘I’m sorry!’ I apologized. And suddenly Michael became more serious. ‘These are all boys,’ he said and his voice was…I don’t know how to describe it. Heavy with meaning, perhaps? I was silent, as I didn’t know how to reply to such a statement. Filled with absolute horror, I realized that Michael’s eyes were filled with tears. Then he whispered, ‘I really love children. Do you believe me?’ The way he emphasized the ‘you’, implying that a lot of people didn’t believe him, ripped into my heart. The demons from his past seemed to haunt him and wouldn’t leave him alone. Now I knew absolutely for certain what I could only have guessed before: they had hurt this man deeply, pushed a knife into his heart and twisted it around. They had done him such a great injustice.”