One warm evening in downtown Las Vegas, I found myself on a mission to interview the King of Pop.
A few nights earlier, I had first visited the famed Fremont Street, known for its many landmark casinos included in virtually every television show and film that wanted to display the City of Lights, when a stunning Michael Jackson impersonator casually strolled by me. I had been capturing video footage for fun throughout my two-week assignment in Sin City but it hadn’t occurred to me to film, let alone interview, such a person until a few days later when I decided to make a short documentary out of the garnered footage.
I feel documentaries need at least one interview to act as a solid framework. With only one day left before leaving Vegas, I knew I had to find Michael Jackson if I were to make this film work. Without hesitation, my girlfriend drove me back to Fremont Street (AKA Glitter Gulch) and dropped me off to embark upon my lone hunt. I searched high and low for over two hours with no luck. I gave up hope of ever finding MJ but as I stood observing the concurrent shenanigans of portly Zipliners soaring overhead, topless showgirls chatting with toddlers, an Elvis Presley impersonator exciting elderly women from the main stage with a live performance of “Jailhouse Rock,” a bearded Luke Skywalker from the new Star Wars films walked briskly past me. “I should get at least one interview for this documentary and Luke Skywalker is a good plan B,” I thought, so I followed him for several blocks until he stopped to talk with another Elvis, this one in a mobility scooter wearing a black jumpsuit sprinkled with rhinestones. I approached the Jedi Knight (Marcus Stoafer) who graciously accepted my request for an interview. When we finished, I asked if he knew of the Michael Jackson impersonator I had been searching for all night. Not only did Marc know whom he was but offered to take me to him immediately.
I was elated.
Along our two-block jaunt down Fremont Street, Marc and I discussed new Star Wars spinoffs and fashion resourcefulness as Marc’s costume was partially constructed from an old mattress and other found materials. Then he finally introduced me to Lane Lassiter, a dedicated Michael Jackson tribute artist who has studied MJ’s dance steps and mannerisms since the 1980’s. Hesitant at first, Lane agreed to my interview amidst an ever-growing circle of onlookers where he discussed his love for performing and incorporating Michael Jackson moves to mesmerize audiences around the world. After the interview, I thanked him profusely and left with a feeling of great accomplishment.
Living in Hollywood, I often see costumed folks on Hollywood Boulevard taking pictures with tourists. I never thought to interview any of them for a project but after this enlightening experience, I wish I had done so sooner. Hopefully, you will fancy my Vegas experiment and gain a greater appreciation not only for the joy these artists provide but also for the amazing place that is the Southwest USA.
Alexis J. Estevez, May 2016
Las Vegas, Nevada
#Elvis #MichaelJackson #LukeSkywalker #StarWars #FremontStreet #GlitterGulch #alexisjestevez