Michael Jackson fans defiant as abuse claims loom over anniversary

Defiant fans are preparing to mark 10 years since Michael Jackson’s death as fascination with the King of Pop remains undimmed despite lurid claims of child sex abuse.

On Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the singer’s star continues to draw a constant scrum of selfie-snapping tourists, while nearby souvenir shops, street performers and even tattoo parlors report a brisk trade in all things Jackson.

Across the street at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum, a statue of the singer is strategically perched above the box office to entice tourists. Staff at Madame Tussauds say Jackson’s waxwork remains a top draw.

Yet according to the groundbreaking HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” released earlier this year, it was just a few hours’ drive from the heart of Hollywood that Jackson used his celebrity and glamor to molest young boys at his fairytale-themed ranch.

While most fans who spoke to AFP were aware of the documentary, the adoration fostered from growing up with the “Thriller” megastar’s many hits supersedes all else.

“I came here actually only for him. I don’t take pictures with any other star,” said Dutch tourist Hooman Nazemi.

“Some stuff that they were saying in the doc was kind of hard, but you cannot say 100 percent it’s true … I just love him. I love him and I think everybody does.”

Antoine Baynes, 31, a Jackson impersonator who moonwalks along Hollywood Boulevard for tourists’ tips, said the allegations had done nothing to diminish his performances’ appeal — in fact, the opposite.

“After the HBO special came out I received just as much if not more attention than before. It kinda gave it publicity,” he said.

“Honestly I’ve married people as Michael Jackson. I have two weddings to do this Sunday, to do as Michael Jackson!”

Mridha Shihab Mahmud

Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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