"You don't even realize anything's missing" says one pleased fan "He's locked into the Thriller stage permanently but that's my favorite look of Michael's anyway."
The upswing to Michael's ragged visage is that while it used to take over five hours to get into the Thriller make-up, now its instant. "He was especially sensitive to the contacts and often had to rewet his eyes, but now he's a champ, he can keep up the glassy, disaffected zombie gaze all night" says costume director Jane Gnotrill.
What has been difficult to produce, apparently, is anything outside of Thriller. "Basically, if it's not Thriller, it's very draining to Michael in his current state" says head choreographer Gaston Hoxe. "But we do what we can. You throw in a couple guest appearances from some great entertainers and Michael really goes into another dimension."
One wonders where he gets all his energy, after all, he is clinically dead. But night after night the King of Pop lives on, making tracks across the stage with all the finesse he had in life. So far, however, all the performances have been in third world countries (always a first love for Jackson, who continues to walk the streets in golden suits followed in droves by his mottled third world fan base).
"News here that Jackson passed hasn't yet broken, so ticket sales are as strong as ever" says his production manager Bill T'lie, "The true test for Michael will be in the North American leg of his tour, but we're hoping to ease into it by playing Panama and the Dominican Republic, places like that, first. That will be a good confidence builder for Jackson who remains deeply affected by public response."
Overall though the tour is a real otherworldly spectacle, with the roar of the crowd rolling through the stadium every night as Michael sticks his hand out of packed dirt built into the stage floor, emerging as Vincent Price's voice is played from tape. Unfortunately, Michael's own voice is being played from tape as well. Right now he's working fastidiously with his vocal coach Afal Setti. "It's a problem of breathing, or more to the point, not breathing."
But Jackson is dedicated and, by opening night in LA next February, he plans on turning off the tapes and turning on the star power that only a performer of his genius could harness from beyond the grave. Long live the King!