*Think you know Michael Joseph Jackson? There’s a new book out that may force you to think again.
Billed as the never told before secret romance story between Michael Jackson and a young woman named Shana Mangatal who was blinded by her love of the icon. The book, “Michael and Me: The Untold Story of Michael Jackson’s Secret Romance,” written seven years after the icon’s untimely death on June 25, 2009, makes dismissal of it difficult, as it offers an incredible array of insight, accompanied by intricate details, that could only come from someone inside of Jackson’s complicated world.
Now I know what you’re thinking. A lot of people have claimed to be inside Jackson’s world, and some have also written books. But even the most skeptical eye has to blink sometimes.
And as for those other books…they weren’t written by someone who worked for Jackson’s management company for seven years. MJ didn’t have to go through them to speak with his manager, Sandy Gallin. It’s unlikely he personally cast any of them in two of his short films. And we can pretty much assume MJ didn’t call them at work just to dictate dirty song lyrics while he did God only knows what on the other end of the phone — then begged them not to tell anyone. Lastly, I’d bet cold hard cash celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal, Muhammad Ali’s daughter, Hana Yasmeen Ali and employees from Jackson’s management company at the time would lend their support to a “liar.”
But whoa, I’m getting way ahead of myself.
In a 232-page book based on decades of diary notes, Shana Mangatal offers a transparent view into her life with the man who would eventually become known as the King of Pop. Her journey starts as a gullible teen who was head-over-heels in love with a 30-year-old Michael Jackson from the first time she laid eyes on him in person — at a concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 5, 1988 and continued right up until that fateful day of June 25, 2009.
Mangatal talks of having butterflies in her stomach as she, her aunt, and her best friend pulled up to the venue, amidst the bright lights and bustling atmosphere of NYC. Her aunt had driven the girls for four-and-a-half hours from Largo, Maryland, in her new Nissan Maxima, to see Jackson on his Bad Tour. Shana was seventeen years old at the time.
Not unlike any overzealous teen at a concert starring their idol, Shana and her small entourage grabbed the first opportunity they could, to find better seats than the ones they currently had behind the stage. Not to be confused with backstage.
A stroke of luck would allow them seats directly in front of the M. J. stage. An even greater stroke would cause Jackson to take notice of the pretty teen and direct the famous line, “she likes the way I stare” from Human Nature at her; causing Mangatal to scream even louder.
In her book she writes…
“He then launched into a beautiful rendition of his hit song Human Nature. ‘See that girl — she knows I’m watching. She likes the way I stare.’ As his smooth voice effortlessly glided over the lyrics, he pointed right to me. I squealed so loud, he started smiling. I had been screaming the whole time, so there was no doubt he had noticed me before then. He kept glancing at me for the remainder of the concert and I was sure we had made a love connection.”–Shana Mangatal in ‘Michael and Me’
Mangatal’s book doesn’t appear exploitive in any way. Instead you will find a very transparent and sincere offering, one which doesn’t always paint either her or Jackson in the most favorable light. It’s not easy for a person to reveal things like, “I felt like such a fool” when speaking of the length they would go — or in Shana’s case, did go — to be with her idol. Instead, the book treats the legacy of Michael Jackson with respect. And it is filled with details and historical anecdotes that MJ fans, at least those mature enough to go beyond the jealousy, will find they actually appreciate.
Mangatal, a first-time author, was able to clearly reveal such detail because she didn’t have to rely on memory. She had been journaling her experiences with Jackson for the entire two decades of their friendship. Shana speaks of moving to Hollywood, fulfilling a longtime dream, a year after seeing Jackson in person. She, along with her BFF, Evelyn, made the cross-country trek in the new car her parents had bought for her as a graduation gift.
Upon arrival Mangatal says she worked odd jobs to support herself as she pursued a singing and acting career; and finally, after realizing she needed to look for “a real job” went to her favorite newsstand, World Book and News, to peruse the Want Ads before seeing an ad in the Hollywood Reporter. Throughout the book Mangatal provides historical points of interest that will take those cognizant of the era down a pleasurable memory lane. She noticed a position for a receptionist that read: “Top Music Management Company Seeks Receptionist.”
Little did she know it was the management office for many celebrities…including Michael Jackson.
She mailed her resume.
“I didn’t expect anyone to respond,” she writes, “since no one else had, but it was worth a try.”
“Two weeks later, I received a phone call requesting an interview. The person on the phone never mentioned the name of the company, just the address. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I scheduled an interview for the next day.Wearing the only business attire I had, a conservative blue dress, black pumps with heels worn down, and a pair of panty hose with a rip in them, I hopped in my Chevy Cavalier.” –Shana Mangatal in ‘Michael and Me’
The break of a lifetime for any fan, Mangatal would be with Gallin Morey Associates for the next seven years.
‘Michael and Me’ is a revealing book that speaks of a Michael Jackson only an insider would know. And some of it will be uncomfortable. Jackson presented such a pristine image for so long that it may be hard to swallow stories that reveal a man who had mood swings from one day to the next; could make really cruel comments when drunk, and would cut people out of his life without blinking.
It is this last little ditty that Mangatal says upset many parents of the children Jackson befriended; some of whom later causing major problems for the star.
Mangatal doesn’t shy away from some of the suspicions that crept up as she noticed Michael spending a lot of time with young boys. At one point acknowledging that once she and Jackson had become close; and he would even fly her to events out of the country, he would “do his old, familiar disappearing act” (fearing a close relationship) and she would be hurt upon seeing him keeping company with his young male friends. She would often return home from such trips without ever having never seen him.
And Jackson would always call to apologize for the slight.
Still, Mangatal makes it clear, she never suspected Jackson to be a pedophile and fought tirelessly on his behalf when these charges were brought against him. At one point she mentions getting a call from one of Jackson’s former personal assistants, pleading with her to check on him because he was severely depressed. Shana recalls doing so, and even calling other celebrities to solicit their support, but was heartbroken when not one of them came forward.
But the real juicy part, the part that will drop your jaw, details a Jackson we’ve never, ever known. A sexual man (“He reeks of sex!”) with “a dirty mind,” according to Mangatal. As Jackson once sang, it’s just another part of me.
Who would have imagined the man so often biting his lip in an act of shyness and seemingly unable to look anyone in the eye as a person participating in…no initiating…what amounts to phone sex? Mangatal’s book describes a Michael who called her on the job and requested she write down song lyrics (of a very sexual nature) which he dictated. None of these “songs” were ever released by the way. Shana writes how “breathy” Jackson would become during these calls, and over a period of time admits her suspicions of what was happening on the other end of the line had become mutually “understood.”
These sessions always ended with the same admonishment: To “swear” she would “not tell anyone!”
It was Jackson, by the way, who Mangatal says took her virginity.
He called her one day when he was in town and invited her to his hotel. She details how she spent the day shopping for clothes because she “wanted to look good for Michael.” When she arrived they had wine, drank the whole bottle, and Jackson asked, “Should we open another?”
Before long, the teen who had never been with a man says Jackson gently put her hand between his legs.
Mangatal, who admits she had ‘never felt a man there before’ says Jackson was ‘clearly excited’ and became her teacher, expertly guiding her every step of the way. She offered no complaints.
“Then he asked if I had ever kissed anyone ‘down there’ before. I told him ‘no’ and he giggled and asked, ‘Do you wanna try?'”
“At this point I was so tipsy and turned on, I was willing to try anything. He guided me down there…and I kissed it.”
I’ve only scratched the surface.
Mangatal talks about MJ’s marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, who she says would call Michael incessantly whenever he was at the office and admits “I don’t know if Michael was in love, but I know Lisa Marie was.” And how Debbie Rowe, an “unsophisticated motorcycle chick” would ride to the set to see Michael, but she never expected anything was going on between the two of them!
My only disappointment with this book, if that is what I can call it, is that there are no other photos with Mangatal and Jackson together. At least aside from the cover photo, which is clearly a picture Jackson or any celebrity would pose for with a fan. Even with their relationship being ‘secret’ — MJ has been photographed with many women who are not celebrities…why not Shana Mangatal? On the set of a film where they sat side by side between takes; and worked together closely for months? At Neverland? Anywhere?
That notwithstanding, the book is filled with delicious A to Z stories (backed convincingly with great details) that makes it a page turner. A beautifully written first book that will send Jackson historians and fans through an array of emotions. Sometimes laughing out loud; other times being mad as hell at Jackson’s antics, and then holding back tears at poignant moments where the pictures are painted so clearly in the mind. But through it all, you will come out at the end feeling a greater sense of familiarity with the man behind the world’s most famous and incredibly gifted artist.
Michael and Me: The Untold Story of MICHAEL JACKSON’S Secret Romance retails for $26.99 (CAN $35.99) and is sold on Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.
Stay tuned for DeBorah B. Pryor’s EURweb interview with ‘Michael and Me’ author, Shana Mangatal.
DeBorah B. Pryor began her career in entertainment journalism in NYC more than 35 years ago. She has worked as senior editor and news blogger at Lee Bailey’s EURweb and EURThisNthat for more than a decade. An entrepreneur, she has built her career through her work in the theatre, radio, public relations, and teaching. Reach out to her at [email protected]