only never cheated me, as sadly happens to so many child entertainers; he never seemed to take a commission from my earnings. I’m sure he did for the appearances he booked for me, but never for my royalties. I always had enough funds, and more coming in all of the time, so money had no value for me at the time.
Besides, I was raised Jehovah’s Witness, which meant I had been instructed to never worship money; to avoid all sinful thoughts, actions and people (“Bad association spoils useful habits”); to only surround myself with other Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were just as good as I was; and to trust everyone. Although my mother brought up all of us children as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we never celebrated Christmas or birthdays as the religion forbade it, only Rebbie, Michael and I really took these religious teachings to heart. Even after Michael was a mega pop superstar, he and I went door-to-door with the Awake and Watchtower, spreading God’s news. Michael wore a fat suit so no one would recognize him, but for some odd reason, the littlest children could see through his disguise.
“Mommy! Mommy! That’s Michael Jackson!” the children would say.
The mothers would never believe them, and Michael and I would walk away laughing about it.
My sheltered approach to the world was fine, as long as Joseph and Mother were there to protect me. But Gordon was already pulling me away from my family. He made me promise I wouldn’t tell anyone I was giving him money because it would have embarrassed him, and so my parents didn’t have a clue about the way he was continuously taking money from me. Gordon also began influencing my thoughts about my family and their relationship to my career.
“It’s your money anyways,” he said. “It’s nobody’s business what you do with it.” Because I didn’t realize he had ulterior motives, I thought he was being
supportive of my desire to gain greater independence. He then started asking me about my banking information and offered to help me with my money. Again, he made it sound like he only had my best interests at heart. “Dealing with money can be a headache,” he said. “It’s something I don’t think you should have to deal with.” I thought it was very nice of him to be concerned, but I reassured him. “It’s no big deal,” I said. “We have accountants who take care of that.”
Without realizing it, Joseph soon set Gordon up perfectly by allowing him to start handling certain areas of my career. Up until then, I had been happy to have Joseph manage me. But I was becoming restless. Although I was twenty-eight, I was very naïve to the world. I thought I should be on my own, even though my parents disagreed. I begged them to let me get my own place, but mother and Joseph always felt it was too dangerous out in the world.
“You can move out when you’re married,” they told me.
I didn’t want to be under my parents’ control anymore. I wanted to grow up and do things on my own, and in the way I thought was best.
Back then, I didn’t realize how fickle the entertainment industry was and how many people would love me and want to work with me while I was hot, only to drop me the instant some hot new act came along. But Joseph would love me unconditionally and want what was best for me. All I knew was that I wanted to be independent, and that meant I wanted out of my contract with Joseph. As soon as Gordon heard this, he did everything in his power to make the split happen as quickly as possible. Although I can’t say Gordon was the reason I wanted to leave my father’s management, I do know I never would have gotten up enough nerve to do it without Gordon pushing me on a daily basis. Finally, Gordon brought an attorney to see me who had written a letter stating that I was resigning from my father’s management. All I had to do was sign.
As soon as Gordon convinced me to do it, I felt knots in my stomach as I thought about it making its way to Joseph’s office, where he would open and read it. I was scared of how he would react, and every time I saw him for the next few days, I waited for him to explode. But he never said anything to me about it. I later learned from Mother that he had been very upset by the letter, but I guess he accepted the fact that all of his children had to grow up eventually. Now that I’m older, I look back at this moment with regret. I know now I