Category Archives: Photos

Michael, Black and Beautiful: A Photographic Tribute

blackgray10Awhile back, I did a very popular post called “Why I Love The Mature Face of Michael.” I think that post struck a chord with many who felt the same as me-that the mature Michael of his post-cosmetic surgery, post-vitiligo era was not the “freak” we were led to believe, but a beautiful-yes, even hot and sexy!-man.

But in embracing mature Michael, let’s not forget that there are also very valid reasons to continue to celebrate young Michael. Often, I hear people somewhat jokingly refer to the different eras of Michael as “black Michael” and “white Michael.” Of course, such labels are really meaningless, other than providing the sometimes needed reference points for the slightly less Jackson-educated who may not know to use the more politically correct terms such as “Thriller era Michael” or “Dangerous era” or “Invincible era.” To many, it’s easier to simply think in terms of “black Michael” and “white Michael.” The problem is that there was never a time when Michael wasn’t a black man. Referring to him by such distinctions as “white Michael” or “black Michael” is doing a grave injustice, as such labels give the false impression of a man who changed race. He was, in his later years, simply a black man trapped in the body of a man with a skin disease-not white, but as many who knew him have attested, actually “translucent.”

On a more metaphoric level, perhaps we could even argue that he became someone who literally transcended color and race, by becoming, in effect, “colorless.”

Still, I know there are many fans who nevertheless have a special place in their hearts for the Michael they affectionately refer to as “my Michael”-and, for many, that is the era when Michael was truly “Black and Beautiful”-in every sense of the word. This is, perhaps, especially true for those fans who remain nostalgic for the Jackson 5/Jacksons era, or even for the Victory/Thriller eras. Lastly, I have to give credit to Todd Gray, whose photos of Michael are some of the most evocative, sexy, and artistic of this era. His photos comprise a large segment of this collection, and are easily among many of my favorite MJ photos of the late 70’s and early 80’s. I would say, as far as those photographers who captured young Michael in his prime, Gray ranks among the best there ever was. I will also take this moment to highly recommend his pictorial, “Before He Was King” which features many of these beautiful and rare photos. 22020_10151365892187888_2113195502_n

So let’s take a pause to celebrate the boy and man that Michael was before vitiligo would change the course of his life, appearance, and our perception of him forever. These images are some of my personal favorites, and hopefully you all will enjoy them, too.1979-1982-83-photoshoots-Michael-Jackson-michael-jackson-14962408-640-448 I haven’t made any especial effort to arrange them chronologically or by categorization. They are, quite simply, just some of the cutest, sexiest, and stunning vintage photos of Michael as a child, teen and young adult in my collection.





































































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Blackblackafro2blackafroblackchildMazel/Sunshine / Retna Ltd.  Pop Stars 70/80's










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blackgray17Michael Jackson by Swimming Poolblackgray18blackmagic

Beautiful Photo


I have to thank my lovely friends on Facebook, who routinely keep me supplied with so many gorgeous (and sometimes rare!) photos of Michael. It’s not often, however, that one catches my eye to the point that I feel compelled to create an entire new post just for the excuse of showing it off. I usually wait until I can at least think of some way to work them into my posts. But the minute I saw this beauty, I knew I would have to make an exception! You all know by now that I have a weakness for mature Michael. But I have rarely seen any mature photo of him with this much natural detail. Looking at photos like this makes me all the sadder to realize that this was during the same era that Aphrodite Jones described actually seeing paparazzi photographers going out of their way to get the worst angles of him possible. Photos like this should serve as further reminders that “Wacko Jacko, the self-mutilated freak” was a tabloid myth created by the media.

I’m reminded of the famous tag line from the movie American Beauty. “Look closer.” Why do we feel compelled to seek out ugliness, when there is so much beauty in the world?  How is it that as simple a thing as a camera angle, or a shaft of light, can make such a difference in what our eyes perceive? Why is it that the same subject can be so grotesque, yet so beautiful through different lenses and different eyes? When I looked at Michael as the media saw him in his later years, I saw a “freak.” When I began to see him as his fans saw him, I saw someone beautiful.

Perception is a strange thing. But I’m glad I am now on the side that seeks what is beautiful, rather than what is ugly.

And for those of you who love mature Michael as much as I (now) do, please check out this post: