MICHAEL Jackson was “fluid around gender” for years until he became a dad, his favourite photographer has claimed.
Harrison Funk, 60, spent three decades documenting his life in pictures and was given virtually complete access to the worldwide star.
Funk told The Guardian: “It wasn’t so much femininity on Michael’s part as androgyny – he was fluid around gender.
“Michael had no interest in assigning a gender to anybody.”
He added: “He didn’t overtly identify as one particular gender.”
Funk said though that altered when the Thriller singer became a dad and he changed his image to become a “father”.
He stated: “He became a strong man in that sense.”
Jackson met Funk in New York’s famed nightclub Studio 54, where the singer would often dance in the DJ booth to avoid autograph hunters.
The two quickly became friendly and Jackson employed Funk as the official photographer on his Victory tour in 1984.
One photo he took had Jackson applying his own make-up, something Funk says Jackson took great pride in.
Funk said: “Him and Jermaine [Jackson] loved putting on their own make-up.”
It wasn’t so much femininity on Michael’s part as androgyny – he was fluid around gender
Harrison Funk, Michael Jackson's personal photographer
The photographer also revealed how the singer expected perfection and was prone to outbursts if things went wrong.
He recalled: “Michael had very demanding moments. If he didn’t like something, he let you know.
“Michael was never ridiculing to me ever, but if someone messed up the design of his stage, then he would yell at them. He expected perfection.”
One of Funk’s favourite shots of the star is of Jackson with him holding his arms out in a sort of biblical pose.
Some commentators have indicated that Jackson suffered from a messiah complex and point to his performance on the Brits in 1996 of his hit The Earth Song but this is something Funk completely rejects.
He told the paper: “People say Michael had a Jesus complex, but this p****s me off, as it just wasn’t true.
“There was a practical reason for me taking that photo. Michael had huge hands and I wanted to make the most of them as they were expressive – and a good way for him to embrace the world.
“At that stage, his whole existence was geared towards healing the world, so having big, expressive hands was a very important way to speak to the people.”
Funk was also set to document the This Is It tour and Jackson was set to play 50 nights at the O2 Arena in London.
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Tragedy though struck just 20 days beforehand when Jackson died from a heart attack which had been brought on by “acute propofol intoxication,” according to the coroner.
Funk said: ““As much as I don’t like talking about the end, I will say he got destroyed by people who only had their own financial interests at heart.
“I can tell you that a big part of his plans following the This Is It tour was to do charity work and use his influence to better mankind.”