Good times for Jacko's double
By Germaine Lim
The New Paper
Michael Jackson impersonator Edward Moss owes it to the late King of Pop for his healthy bank account.
When Jackson was on trial for child molestation charges in 2005, Moss, 32, became the star of Michael Jackson Trial, a US cable TV show which re-enacted the court proceedings.
And since the 50-year-old singer's death in June, Moss admits he has got more work.
While he used to perform one or two shows a month, Moss told The New Paper he is now being inundated with requests to perform tribute shows in the US and all over the world.
He has not been home in 31/2 months.
But when he was asked if he was making money at the expense of a tragedy, Moss insisted that he was not cashing in on Jackson's death.
Moss told The New Paper: "Unfortunately, there will always be negative connotations about my performances. But I've been doing this for the last 16 years. It's my job and career.
"It's not as if I go around knocking on people's doors for work; they come to me. People want to feel what Michael gave to the world. If I can let people smile again with just my performances, I'm happy and honoured to do so."
Moss was in Singapore for a six-day Jackson tribute concert, organised by LAMC Productions. The shows, held at Changi Airport, ended on Wednesday.
After Singapore, Moss said he has gigs lined up in Los Angeles, where he now lives.
What makes him such a popular Jackson impersonator? Well, he has the late pop star's stamp of approval.
Having first met the singer in 1996, he went on to become his stand-in during the filming of the music video Stranger In Moscow.
"I shot a scene which involved water, because Michael didn't want to ruin his make-up."
He also acted as Jackson's decoy while he was in Germany, and has gone shopping with the legend.
"He bought me a toy from a magic shop and forgot to remove the price tag. It's little things like that which make you remember that Michael's just human."
One of his prized Jackson possessions is an autographed fedora given to him by the icon.
Moss' make-up skills have also evolved, having picked up tips from Jackson's very own make-up artists.
Moss, who at 1.90m is 10cm taller than Jackson, says he takes between 40 minutes and an hour to transform into Jackson.
After lightening his complexion, he uses make-up to arch his eyebrows, contour his nose and cheeks "to make them thinner", and adds a cleft to his chin before donning a wig and costume.
"People do double-takes all the time. When Michael was alive, they would be shocked and actually thought I was the real Michael," Moss said.
"Now, it's more of a puzzled look on their faces. They're spooked."
It all began when he won an employee talent contest dressed as Jackson while working at McDonald's in 1993.
He simply used baby powder to whiten his naturally olive skin.
Coincidentally, he served a show producer who suggested he became a Jackson impersonator.
"I was earning US$4.25 ($5.90) an hour and won US$200 for the contest. I thought, that's easy. Maybe I could do this."
Never mind that he was booed off stage during his very first performance.
"The show was cancelled mid-way and the manager had to escort me off stage."
He resolved to perfect Jackson's moves. Since then, he has been singing and moonwalking to Jackson's hits for audiences in countries like the US, Bahrain and Japan.
Moss has also parodied Jackson in various movies like Scary Movie 3 and 4, and Date Movie.
Though he isn't the real McCoy, Moss says he has had his fair share of crazy fans. While touring Japan, the hotel he was staying in had to close off access to the floor his room was located on.
"Fans just came knocking on my door non-stop. It was crazy."
Some had also hurt his ankle by grabbing on to it too tightly. He couldn't perform for four days.
He added: "It was supposed to be a six-week gig, but the response was so good, we toured Japan for two years."
This December, Moss will be presented with an ornamental key to Gary (Jackson's hometown in Indiana) by its mayor as a token for keeping Jackson's legacy alive.
"Michael is the greatest performer of all time. I'm honoured to be able to bring his memory alive. I want to do this for as long as I can perform," he said.
Published Oct 10 2009