“Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons provides the definitive review of his numerous ‘special friendships’. Armed with insights from a range of disciplines – psychology, sociology, moral philosophy – Carl Toms spent many years researching the megastar’s ‘boy-love’. He delves deeply into the sources of Michael’s enigmatic identity, soul and genius – while keeping a sceptical eye on the assumptions and values of the King’s detractors. Toms’ is the only book to examine thoroughly Michael’s trial on child abuse charges without losing sight of the increasingly well documented – but surprisingly little known or understood – facts about earlier allegations. It exposes the falsity of persistent efforts to whitewash the record by inventing for Michael a phoney ‘normal’, or ‘plain vanilla gay’, sexuality. Refusing to settle for the easy clichés about Michael’s ‘lost childhood’, Toms examines groundbreaking research into intimate man-boy contacts in order to illuminate the real nature of Michael’s ‘dangerous liaisons’ – and the surprising challenge they present to our moral certainties.”
(back-cover blurb to ‘Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons’)


‘Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons’ is a book that people either love or hate. A visit to its Amazon page suggests that this is a book that people either love or hate: all the reviewers there either give the book five stars or one star.

Those who hate this book seem to fall into two categories: people who have read it and been too offended to acknowledge the evident quality of its research, writing, and story-telling; and people who condemn the book without having read it (indeed Jackson fans launched a massive campaign to have the book banned and boycotted several months before it had even been published).

Those familiar with Tom’s blog, HereticTOC, or his classic ‘Paedophilia: The Radical Case’ will know to expect writing that is intelligent, informative, witty and lucid. Dangerous Liaisons has all of these qualities. But if there is one quality that I would like to specially dwell on here it is the last of these – the book’s lucidity.ad 4

At 624 pages Dangerous Liaisons is not a short book. A comprehensive account of Jackson’s many boy-loves and his trial could not be otherwise. It has a huge cast of characters and protagonists. And Tom had to reconstitute the true narrative of Jackson’s boy-loves – recondite, misreported and misunderstood – from fragmentary and often contradictory evidence and testimony. The trial alone required Tom to go through 13,000 pages of court transcripts and legal evidence with a fine-tooth comb.

In the hands of some authors all this could make for a challenging read…

But one of the many remarkable things about this book is how deftly Tom (maybe drawing on skills and sensibilities developed as a teacher and journalist) organises this complex material and communicates it lucidly and compellingly.

Indeed Dangerous Liaisons could be taken as a model of how to tell a complex story: from the micro-scale of his sentence construction to the macro-scale of the book’s structure Tom has taken every pain to make sure that the reader is never distracted from the momentum of the story. This means that, despite its complexity and despite the fact that we are all familiar with the outcome of the story, Dangerous Liaisons is as gripping as a well-crafted thriller.

Dangerous Liaison’s lends itself to multiple readings and perspectives. It can be read as a tragedy in which the mighty are toppled by betrayal and jealousy; at times it reads like a black comedy; it is a book of love stories, not infrequently spilling over into erotica as we get furtive glimpses of illicit contact and desire; it can be read as a meditation on the nature of childhood, and of the nuclear family imploding under pressure; it is an eloquent manifesto in defence of child love and child sexuality…

To love this book you don’t need to be a Jackson fan; nor do you have to be interested in the lives of the rich, the famous, and the weird; nor (I suspect) do you even need to be a boy-lover or a paedophile to appreciate this book.

All you need is an open and curious mind, and an interest in what it means to be a fallible, loving, struggling human.

Treat yourself to a copy: ordering is safe, simple and confidential, and Tom is very kindly offering a special discount price to all readers of ConsentingA̶d̶u̶l̶t̶s̶Humans (see the end of the interview for ordering options).


LSM

Thank you, Tom, for agreeing to do this interview.

In the first chapter you make it clear that you count yourself amongst Michael Jackson’s fans. Can you give us the history of your relationship with Jackson and his art? When did you first became aware of him? What was your response to his music? How does he fit into your wider cultural tastes?

TOC

Sneaky of me but, no, I didn’t say I was a Jackson fan. I said that in common with millions of his fans, I warmed to his gentle off-stage manner and hopes for a better world.

Does that make me a fan? I don’t think so. Not of his music, and certainly not of the more grotesque aspects of his celebrity lifestyle, fascinating as they are. The truth is that when I started work on the book I knew very little about Michael’s creative talents. My primary interest was in his sexuality, starting in 1993 when the news story of his allegedly – and I believe definitely – intimate relationship with a 13-year-old boy broke around the world.

Long before that, though, I guess it could be said I was rather taken with Michael when he was still a boy himself, shooting to precocious fame as lead singer of the Jackson Five with songs such as I’ll be There and  Rockin’ Robin. It was the voice that did it for me, not the looks. It was the passion, the oomph – the raw excitement of love songs in an unbroken child’s voice on pub juke boxes in the boozy lunch hours of my early days in journalism. I got that from Donny Osmond, too, with Puppy Love, and his little brother Jimmy’s Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool. But Michael was far superior. His was the quality act, no question.

All this would have been in the early 1970s, so I guess from about ’73 to ’93 I simply forgot about Michael for a couple of decades. Off the Wall, Thriller, and his other solo albums meant absolutely nothing to me. Zilch! I have to admit to being completely bowled over, though, when I finally encountered him in one of his big live performances at Wembley Stadium, on the HIStory tour: he sure knew how to put on a show – the self-regard and sentimentality are questionable but not the spectacle.

As for how Michael fits with my other cultural tastes, he simply doesn’t. The only time I hear pop music is down at the gym where I can’t avoid it, so it’s just another form of torture like the treadmill and the weights. Actually, that’s a bit of a fib, there’s plenty of pop music I really enjoy, along with classical and other stuff – even Country & Western, would you believe – but I’d feel guilty about “wasting” time just to listen to anything pleasurable. Nerdy heavyweight reading is much more my thing – philosophy, psychology and such like, along with my own writing. I do remember dancing with wild abandon to Black or White with my boss’s wife though. That was a great night.

LSM

I agree that Jackson as a child was already a spectacular performer and musician – I’ve just put on a video of him singing ‘I want you back‘ and it gives me goose-flesh.

If it’s not indiscreet to ask – how did you end up seeing him live, if you were not a fan?

TOC

You could call it research, I guess. My book is not about the music or the fans but I felt I needed to know quite a lot about both in order to really get inside Michael’s life. Luckily, I knew someone who happened to be a true Jackson fan, the sort who went to his concerts all around the word and wrote knowledgeable articles for the fanzines. He took me along to fan club events, with their look-alikes and tribute bands, and got the tickets for us to go to Wembley together as well. It was great to be among all those rapturous fans, actually. Their passion for Michael is infectious. And although I was over fifty by this time I didn’t feel out of place as an oldie. Michael’s “cross-over” appeal is a generational thing as well as a racial one: the fans range from kids to grandparents.

LSM

How did your interest in Jackson’s sexuality evolve after the news first broke (in 1993) of his relationship with the 13-year-old Jordie Chandler? How and why did the project go from being an interest to becoming a book?

TOC

Even the earliest news stories gave strong hints that Jordie had been a willing partner in the relationship and that there had been a strong bond of friendship between the two. They needed each other. So, pretty much right from the start it seemed Michael could become a poster boy for Boy Love. The book potential seemed obvious.

A big advantage for me as an author was being a BL myself, especially if it takes one to know one – and it does if the reluctance of Michael’s fans and the music business even to countenance the possibility is anything to go by. The downside was being a complete outsider, by this time a known activist and no longer in a position to present credentials as a neutral, “objective” journalist. So I had next to zero chance of access to relevant witnesses, including Jackson and his family, the many boys in his life, and so on. I had to work more like an historian than a journalist. I had to sift and evaluate a huge amount of material in a process spread across nearly 17 years. In that time, I scoured many thousands of news stories, features, legal documents and the eventual 2005 trial transcript – that alone was over 13,000 pages – plus more than two dozen books eventually put out by family members (Jackson’s and Jordie’s), industry insiders and others.

LSM

The thoroughness of your research paid off: the book feels authoritative, but at the same time it is gripping, thought-provoking and witty – a combination that can only be achieved if the writer is in full control of his materials.

The book is published by ‘Matador’ – a self publishing service. Was self-publishing your first choice? Or did you initially seek a traditional publisher for your book?

TOC

Thanks, much appreciated.

My first choice was Harrington Park Press, who published Male Intergenerational Intimacy – a very sympathetic examination of MII by three writers well known for not shying away from controversy: Theo Sandfort, Edward Brongersma and Alex van Naerssen. So I figured Harrington might well be interested in further exploration of the MII theme with Michael Jackson as a high-profile case study.

I was right. After I sent a synopsis and some sample completed chapters, Harrington’s commissioning editor Vern Bullough emailed back to say he was interested, and so was editor-in-chief John De Cecco, whom he had consulted. It shouldn’t be that surprising, really, as Bullough was a historian of sexuality and De Cecco had for many years taught a very daring, all-varieties-welcome, sexuality class at San Francisco State University.

This was in 2005 and prospects looked good. By the next year, though, Bullough had died, sadly, and I was banged up on a 30-month sentence following a porn sting against me by an undercover cop. I wasn’t able to resume the project until 2009, by which time Harrington’s parent company Haworth Press had been gobbled up by a global conglomerate, Taylor & Francis. They weren’t interested in radical books, as demonstrated by the fact that at the last minute they ditched an up-coming title under the Harrington imprint called Same-Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West. The big problem in that case was a chapter on pederasty by Bruce Rind, chief author of the only scientific text ever to be denounced by the U.S. Congress and Senate!

I tried other publishers but with no luck: the mainstream ones would have loved fresh revelations from Jackson insiders – so would I, especially from Jordie – but they weren’t in the market for analytical stuff. In the end I decided self-publishing might be best because that way I would retain control and there would be no last-minute hitches with people getting cold feet. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that, though!

Sorry it’s such a complicated story!

LSM

So, what went wrong with the self-publishing? I’ve noticed that Matador doesn’t include ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ in their ‘book shop’.

TOC

The publisher panicked and disowned the book. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be self-publishing but that’s not entirely how it works, depending on the sort of contract you have. What happened is that Matador’s parent company Troubador, which does academic publishing, took fright when they came under ferocious and sustained attack from Michael Jackson fans around the globe, deluging the company with thousands of hostile emails. This was some four months ahead of publication, right from the get-go when Amazon gave the book its website page. Michael’s fans are amazing. They have been primed for decades to pounce on anything they think casts doubt on the “innocence” of their idol, so my portrayal of him as a sexually active BL was bound to be anathema.

I wrote under a pseudonym, Carl Toms, because I thought reviewers would otherwise be prejudiced against even opening the book, given my controversial background. It was deliberately a thin disguise, though, a near anagram of my real name. I wanted to be known in due course as the author, once the review phase was over. In fact, I admitted my actual name in an endnote, saying the pseudonym was a matter of “branding strategy”.

Big mistake! It took the Jackson fans about three months to crack this one. That’s because they were quite content to condemn the book without bothering to read it. But it only took one sleuth among them to figure that Toms was a pen-name and to look for clues to my real identity in the book itself. Once they’d got that, it was an easy matter to dig up lots of dirt about me as a “convicted paedophile” as well as a controversial writer and activist. That’s when all hell broke loose. It gave them nuclear capability against Troubador. They contacted the imprint’s regular academic authors and institutional customers, urging them to boycott the company, warning these people that their own reputations would be tainted by further dealings with an outfit that promoted propaganda for child molesting.

By this time 1000 paperback copies of the book had been printed and advance orders were being taken. It had all been going extremely well until my name came out. The fans’ very public online antagonism had sparked interest elsewhere. Amazon were tipping it as a potential best-seller. Gardners, Britain’s top book wholesalers, gave it a four-star rating, whereas most self-published titles get no stars at all and very few books of any kind get four: it put me up there alongside bankable celebrity names.

I needed Troubador’s services to capitalize on this. They were contracted to do the marketing and distribution for me. They had a sales team doing what a traditional mainstream publisher does: actually flogging the book to bookshops.

Then it all went pear-shaped…

 LSM

Why? What went wrong?

(in the second part of this interview Tom O’Carroll explains how and why things ‘went pear-shaped’ and the impact this had on him. Tom also reflects on Jackson’s status as a ‘poster boy’ for Boy Love, the effects Jackson’s attentions had on the families of his boy friends; we also touch (via a digression on English boarding schools) on a maybe more harmonious example of celebrity Boy Love, and discuss Dangerous Liaisons’ reception)


Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons

“… a profound cultural critique of received assumptions about childhood innocence, pedophilic ‘power’, and parental goodwill.”
– Thomas K Hubbard, classicist

Armed with insights from a range of disciplines, Tom O’Carroll (writing as Carl Toms) spent many years researching the late megastar’s boy-love for this 624-page in-depth study.

How to Order your Special Offer
(US & Canadian customers see below)

The bargain total price of £12.75 including UK delivery for Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons is now being made exclusively via Consenting Humans.
Just quote “Consenting Humans Special Offer” when ordering. See below for world pricing.

This represents a chunky £6 off the regular Amazon total price of £18.75 (including UK delivery) from recommended Amazon supplier SafeSend.

The Special Offer also includes a deep discount on global deliveries.

This will be the total cost of your order, including p&p, depending on location

UK & Ireland: £12.75
Europe: £13.30
World Zone 1 (except US & Canada): £18.80
World Zone 2: £19.95

see World Zones. Zone 1 is most countries except Australia & New Zealand.

All non-US orders should be made through PayPal, which accepts major credit cards so it is not necessary to have a PayPal account but you can use your own if you have one. All you have to do is go online to Paypal’s Send Money page.

Just enter the email address to which the money is to be sent, which is tomocarr66@yahoo.co.uk and enter the correct amount in GBP (British pounds), depending on where the book is to be sent (see above).
If you are paying out of a euro account, or from any other major currency, the foreign exchange conversion will be automatic.

It really is incredibly easy.

How to Order – US & Canada

‘Dangerous Liaisons’ is available in the US and Canada but not at the ‘special offer’ price.

North American orders should be made via MindGlow Media’s Amazon page
(MindGlow Media is the sole distributor of Dangerous Liaisons for North America).

17 thoughts on “Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons: An Interview With Tom O’Carroll – Part 1

  1. I trust the deal is still on for the discount? Copies available? Should i wait for the e-book if i’m far away?

    Oops, those last two questions definitely belong directed to Tom. But maybe you’ll have inside info, or Tom might see the comment.

    My buying criteria involve spending as little money as i can whilst getting the largest portion of it directly to Tom, as well as a dilemma, weighing the benefits of having a physical book to throw at unwanted guests (mostly cockroaches) versus the benefits of ‘having’ an e-book instead (since i like to travel light).

    This brings me to another question: which format would the e-book be?

    I’d send this in an e-mail but an answer here may help other Consenting Humans eager to support Tom.

    By the way, there’s talk of an online book club for Kind reading material. ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ would make a formidable launch item.

    Like

    1. Hi Heath,

      Sorry for being so dreadfully slow in acknowledging and approving your comment.

      There’s been a bit of a perfect pile-up over the past couple of months which has led me to neglect the blog. Apologies.

      Re – ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ – the discount is still on for every country except Canada and the US. But feel free to email me on the question.

      Yes, Tom said he’d be preparing an e-book. I’m not sure whether he’s made any progress on that front or what format it would be. My experience is that format is very important as a badly formatted book can make reading so unpleasant that it takes an act of will to go on (I originally bought my ebook reader in order to save and paedo-pdfs as I hate reading long and difficult texts on the computer screen, and printing stuff out would be too risky, given that I don’t live on my own.

      Actually, it’s worth having the physical book as it is a fine publication, very hefty and nice in the hand. And children love it!

      I’m intrigued to read about the online Kind book club – please keep me informed about it.

      If you are

      Like

    1. I know that Tom is working on an e-book version of both ‘Paedophilia: the radical case’ and of ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ – I’ll announce it on ConsentingHumans when they are ready, as I expect Tom will do on his blog.

      Like

  2. Another point about Michael Jackson: How often would the common leyman be afforded such nuance by the public? Its great to have ‘fans’ I guess! I’d get lynched if I revealed that I often slept with boys in my bed, Regardless of any sexual activity.

    Like

    1. that’s your cunning plan, libertine – just become an ultra-gifted musician and dancer, have years of plastic surgery, make billions, change skin colour and have young boys so eager to share your bed with you that you can’t keep them away with a shitty stick 😉 !

      Like

      1. “Billy Jean was not his lover”!…Yeah, no kidding!…She was girl, after all…But we have a pretty good hunch on who all were his lovers! 🙂

        I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fan of Michael’s…but he was still relevant during my teens…I love a few of his songs…they’re part of “my life’s soundtrack”…and when I was thinking I wanted to do online radio about a decade back, or more, I didn’t even think twice about whether I should invest in a few of his hits collections…and I’m happy to own them.

        It was somber when he died, just days before International BoyLove Day [IBLD]…

        I’m not really going anywhere with this…I just thought it was relevant to say, given the subject matter.

        Like

  3. AmaZing NOT AmaZon – BLOCKED!

    Alisdare Hickson, “The Poisoned Bowl. Sex and the public school” (1996).

    Anecdotes of child-peer-adult SEX in English elite public schools. Contains reminiscences of over 100 contributors, including Alan Ayckbourn, Quentin Crisp, the late film director Lindsay Anderson, and numerous sundry generals, academics, religious figures, and Members of Parliament. The book has recollections on sundry liasons from petting in the boathouse at Lancing, to prostitution at Eton. Charting many ludicrous ways English public schools have attempted to control child sexuality with a history of criminal homosexuality and paedophilia, plus hypocritical hysteria that raged through England’s elite seats of learning. While magically producing TRAUMA-FREE six post-WW2 Anglo Public Schoolboy-bummed P.M. HIGH-ACHIEVERS. Churchill/Harrow, Eden/Eton, Macmillan/Eton, Douglas-Hume/Eton, Cameron/Eton, Clegg/Westminster.

    https://www.amazon.com/Poisoned-Bowl-Sex-Public-School/dp/0715627090

    Like

  4. ” The only time I hear pop music is down at the gym where I can’t avoid it, so it’s just another form of torture like the treadmill and the weights”

    I feel your pain, its the adverts that really get on my nerves, Like NSPCC fundraising ads etc. As a metalhead, I take every opportunity to change to music to metal, Despite the objection of the owner; Money talks I suppose!

    Like

  5. ““Fellow BoyLovers recognize each other…pick up on the vibe…or whatever you want to call it…I also think we have our own version of “gaydar”, so to speak.”……There’s some truth in that! I sent my copy of DL to someone on Sp!ked, anonymously of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I purchased this book, as one amongst the pre-order crowd…Largely because I knew it was Tom’s, I knew it was going to be excellent, and I wanted to support a fellow BoyLover.

    What I didn’t know…is all the stuff I’d forgotten about, which was going to be brought back to me by Dangerous Liaisons.

    What is outlined in Dangerous Liaisons, you might not think too much about any isolated part of it…but when you measure the entirety of it all…you come to realize just how foolish it is, for anyone to not see what was right in front of their eyes.

    I’ve always taken it for granted that Michael was a BoyLover…Because it’s exactly as Tom says…Fellow BoyLovers recognize each other…pick up on the vibe…or whatever you want to call it…I also think we have our own version of “gaydar”, so to speak.

    I’ve found that gay men sometimes pick up on the fact that I’m homosexual…even though I’ve never expressed any interest in them….And I’m pretty sure I’m not “flaming” anything….hetero or homo.

    Getting back to the book…This is an ultra-easy read…And the fact that a good third of it is comprised of the bibliography, made it a lot less daunting….The sheer physical girth of this book, almost guarantees you could injure somebody with it…Which I plan on doing, if any law enforcement fools ever conduct a raid on me…I promise to bitch slap them, with my copy of Dangerous Liaisons…and lay them low….I’ll probably get killed in the encounter….but the looks on their faces, the news article titles and the personal satisfaction will be priceless!…

    [Disclaimer: For those who don’t pick up on satire…those last few lines were satire.]

    I need to re-read this book, and write a proper book review….like I’ve been promising, for years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. >“Fellow BoyLovers recognize each other…pick up on the vibe…or whatever you want to call it…I also think we have our own version of “gaydar”, so to speak.”

      I guess that would be a ‘paedar’ – I think you’re right, other paedophiles are a lot easier to spot if you are a paedophile. Whilst the ordinary member of the public is keeping an eye out for a shifty dirty ugly old man sweating and salivating at all and every child, scaring them with his staring and preferably looking like Jimmy Savile – we spot the handsome young man pushing what might be (or might not be…) his daughter on a swing, with all the mothers looking on thinking ‘what a wonderful father!’. And some barely perceptible thing about the way she jumps up into his arms, and about the way he catches her, tells us that they are in love with each other.

      >”a good third of it is comprised of the bibliography…”

      Yes, there’s plenty of bibliography, notes and index. Something I should have brought up in the interview, or my review – is just how interesting some of the notes at the back of the book are.

      >”I need to re-read this book, and write a proper book review….like I’ve been promising, for years.”

      I look forward to reading your review!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. >The sheer physical girth of this book, almost guarantees you could injure somebody with it…Which I plan on doing, if any law enforcement fools ever conduct a raid on me…I promise to bitch slap them, with my copy of Dangerous Liaisons…and lay them low

      Pure genius! Best idea ever! It’s usually the cops who “throw the book” at us. Now we get a chance to swing it back at them!

      Liked by 1 person

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