Jackson Testifies Despite Painful Spider Bite
SANTA MARIA, Calif. (Reuters) – Superstar Michael Jackson hobbled into a central California courtroom on crutches on Tuesday to resume testifying in a $21-million lawsuit despite what he said was a painful spider bite to his foot.
Jackson, whose bizarre appearance and baby-dangling antics have made headlines around the world for the past three weeks, arrived at court nattily dressed in a white satin vest and tie, black slacks and a blue jacket — but missing one shoe.
Explaining the crutches and incongruous white athletic sock he wore, the self-styled King of Pop told reporters that he had been bitten by a spider and had woken to find his foot so badly swollen that it could no longer fit inside a shoe.
“It’s a spider bite. It’s really bad,” Jackson said during a break in the proceedings. “If I showed it to you, you’d be shocked. It hurts very much right now as I speak.”
Jackson keeps tarantulas at his Neverland Valley ranch near the central California town of Santa Maria where the lawsuit is being heard, but assured reporters that it was a small indigenous spider that had crawled from the scrub brush near his sprawling compound and attacked him while his house was being fumigated.
“I love tarantulas,” he said, “this was a little one.”
Jackson, wearing pink lipstick and heavily rouged cheeks, spent much of the day on the witness stand answering questions from attorneys for German promoter Marcel Avram, who is suing him over canceled millennium concerts.
He got playful with the courtroom photographer whose close-up pictures of the singer last month shocked fans and prompted a media frenzy about the effects of plastic surgery on his nose.
During a lull in testimony, he pulled goofy faces at the photographer and used his fingers to make horns above his head (see above).
Jackson’s testimony produced little drama, bogging down again and again in bickering between attorneys and the entertainer’s unfamiliarity with key facts of the case.
Frustrated that Jackson seemed unable to remember important facts about the case, including the name of his own public relations representative, Avram’s attorney at one point asked the singer if he suffered from memory problems.
“Not that I can recall,” Jackson responded, prompting laughter from the courtroom gallery.
Jackson signed autographs and chatted with fans outside the courtroom but brushed aside reporters’ questions about the incident in Berlin last month in which he briefly dangled his baby son over the balcony of a fourth-floor hotel to show the boy to waiting fans.
“It is my child. I love my children,” said Jackson, who has already termed the baby incident a “terrible mistake.”
When asked how he would respond to a Los Angeles lawyer who had called for a formal investigation into the matter, Jackson said: “Tell her to go to hell.”