Dana Dangerous

Dana Dangerous
California, USA
April 04
Dana Dangerous is a six-foot, blonde, busty, liberal, lesbian lawyer, just like everyone else in L.A. *** One morning in 1973, she awoke on a park bench in a strange city, with no shoes. Finding herself in Southern California, she wandered the beaches of Santa Monica surviving on fish entrails and eeking out a meager living selling caricatures of Republican political figures, which she carved from tar balls that washed ashore from the many nearby offshore oil rigs. *** Ms. Dangerous got her start in politics when she landed a job as personal dominatrix to G. Gordon Liddy. That served as a springboard to her career in show business, and for the following six years, Ms. Dangerous could be seen performing eight shows a week in the back room of the Hwy 69 Truck Stop in Petaluma, California. It was there, during one of her midnight binge-and-purge sessions, that she developed her famous theories in socio-political philosophy. *** Currently, Ms. Dangerous spends her days jetting around the globe in wild shopping sprees and trying to avoid the many paparazzi who constantly pursue her. A major motion picture about her life is currently in production and scheduled for a Christmas release, starring Angelina Jolie as Dana and Danny DeVito as her longtime illicit lover, Squeaky. *** Commanding annual blog earnings well into eight figures, Ms. Dangerous has the commercial clout to write her own biographies which appear, unedited, in prestigious publications around the world.


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JUNE 26, 2009 3:20PM

The Old, the Sick and the Sudden

Rate: 27 Flag

In this, I tackle the challenge of making a few observations that have been left unsaid in the frenzied cacophony.  With luck, perhaps one or two of them will actually be new to you.

I start with the mundane: Why do we care about celebrity deaths?  Perhaps it is partly because they are shared cultural experiences.  They define the times we live in, and the art and performance that they bring into our homes are shared experiences among us all.  They bind us together in a way that brings all our separate lives together into a community.

We all die.  But death is not random.  It comes to us in three categories: the old, the sick and the sudden.   This week, we have seen defining cultural icons leave us in each of those categories.

The Old


Ed McMahon was sidekick to two generations.  He was the everyman who stood up in the limelight to represent all of us in the collective Great Unwashed.  His talent lay in displaying no talent.  He was simply an observer with the rest of us; except that he was closer to the entertainment we all enjoyed.  Rather than the show coming to his living room as it did with the rest of us, he came to the show, the way we wanted to, the way we imagined ourselves.

Ed sat next to Johnny Carson, but he watched the show and laughed along with us.  On Star Search, he was our friend or uncle who gathered us around and said, “Hey, look at the cool thing I found.”  He shared his discoveries with us, the rest of his very extended, one-way family.  And when he came to our doors and greeted us, it was with a check for a million dollars, from some Publishers group of which we were only vaguely aware.  We just knew that Uncle Ed was bringing us a gigantic gift, and enjoying the moment as much as we were.  And whenever he stopped at one of our houses and changed someone’s life, he always made sure to tell us that we might be next, if only we would do our part.

He was no typical Hollywood star: strikingly handsome, charismatic, possessed of an extraordinary ability to sing, or dance, or tell stories or make us laugh.  We was just one of us.  A friend.  An uncle.  A fellow observer of great talent.  And we watched and listened and appreciated and made these shows a part of our lives, with Ed by our side.

Good ol’ Ed.  He was one of us, who made good.  And we were proud of him.

The Sick


Of the three, the death of Farrah Fawcett may be the most important, the most touching, and give us the most to learn.  As it turns out, Farrah was more than hair and boobs and teeth.  It turns out that she was one tough broad who took risks, stared down fear, and taught us all how to live our lives, if only we would stop long enough to listen.  Who knew?

Growing up, I wanted to be Farrah Fawcett, giving me something in common with fifty million other American girls.  At first, it was her beauty.  Sure, her famous poster was an ideal the rest of us could only dream of.  But Farrah’s real beauty was not displayed in a photograph, and only became apparent when she moved and spoke and came to life.  Farrah’s true beauty was not in her features, but in the way she exuded health and love and optimism and life.  Farrah in motion was a gestalt, a woman greater than the sum of her parts.

Later, and even more as she fought the oncoming freight train of death, I came to admire her three greatest assets, all of which were invisible to the eye.  And they were her love, her independence and her fearlessness.

Farrah Fawcett loved completely, even when her love was not understood or was not what was needed.  Through observing her friendships, her romantic relationships and her relationship with her son Redmond, we learned how we were supposed to love.  It was selfless.  It was confident.  And it was total.  Farrah loved surely and completely, and held nothing back.  If we bothered to look, we learned how to live our own lives.

Her independence was legendary, and inspired a generation of young women, including me.  Still under contract, she left “Charlie’s Angels” after only a year, and was blackballed for doing it.  But she did it anyway and took a beating for it.  She did it because she felt it was important to her personal growth.  Ignoring the money, risking her career, withstanding the crushing pressure of powerful and important men, she stood on her own two feet and took control of her own life.  And grew she did.  Into a tremendous and underrated actor, a loving mother, a centered woman and a great love.

Farrah refused to marry Ryan O’Neil throughout their 30-year love affair.  But they were more than husband and wife.  They were soul mates.  And though they had their ups and downs, their love affair was deeper and more substantial than most marriages.  I truly fear for Ryan, now.  He was so completely in love with Farrah, I don’t know what he will do without her.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Farrah was her fearlessness.  Her life was a model for us all.  For most human beings, fear is a powerful motivating or paralyzing factor in our lives.  But not for Farrah Fawcett.  She lived her life without fear.  If there was something she thought would move her life forward, she did it and never feared failure.  Failure, to her, was just a word.  She never feared failing.  And in the face of tremendous challenges – the loss of her career, her son’s drug addiction, financial troubles and her long battle with cancer – she never acted or failed to act because of fear.  If she felt it, she never let on.  She conquered fear in a way that eludes most of us, and which Buddhists aspire to.

If we will but stop for a moment and listen to her, Farrah Fawcett has left us a narrative on how to live a life well.  She was more than hair and boobs and a smile.  She was an example for us all.

The Sudden


I’m going to tell you some things about Michael Jackson that you haven’t heard a thousand times in the last day.  You may not agree with them all, but to me they are important truths.

Though Michael won 13 Grammys (each and every one of which I voted for, as a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), I still believe his musical talent is largely unsung, unrecognized and under-appreciated.  He is lauded for his songs, his cutting-edge videos, his huge concerts and his innovative dancing.  But Michael was, hands down, one of the greatest technical singers of our time.

His technical singing ability was second to none.  He was as perfect a singer as Pavarotti, just in a different genre.  Barbara Streisand is heralded for her technical ability, and indeed she is great.  I had the opportunity to play on her “Broadway” album, and I was astonished to discover the incredible control and precision with which she sings.  When it sounds like Streisand is really belting out a note, the note is in fact quite moderated and contained.  I was surprised at how softly she actually sang those “big” notes.  She is liquid quicksilver, flowing smoothly and effortlessly between notes, yet each note absolutely precise and perfectly placed.  Michael Jackson was just as perfect.  In fact, if you listen to the song “Smile,” on his History album, I defy you to tell the difference between Michael and Barbara Streisand.

Here is something you won’t hear from anyone else: Michael was not eccentric or a freak or a child molester.  He was just different, and wildly misunderstood.

Michael was as gentle and innocent a soul as you will ever find.  His biggest failure was in not being capable of understanding why sharing his life, his home and even his bed with children would bother and frighten other people.  He tried to tell us, over and over and over.  But we wouldn’t listen, we wouldn’t understand.  We stubbornly clung to the assumption that a “healthy” or “normal” adult would never behave that way.  But that was just our assumption, based only on fear and cynicism.  As much as Michael could not understand our alarm, we could not understand his child-like innocence.

Michael Jackson wasn’t a pedophile, he was someone who loved children and love childhood, and whose own childhood had been stolen from him.  He never got to be a child in his youth, so he tried in vain to capture a piece of it in his adulthood, when he had some control over his own life.  But we wouldn’t let him, because we didn’t understand him.  He was different.  We don’t like different.  We don’t understand different.  And so we fear and demonize different.  We do it with Muslims, with people of other races, with other belief systems and other cultures, and we did it with Michael Jackson.  Michael was different, but he was not a child molester.  We just didn’t understand him, and so we mistrusted him.

Perhaps the saddest thing about Michael’s life is his flight from ghosts.  The ghost that haunted him was his father.  As everyone knows, Michael’s father, Joe Jackson, was horribly abusive.  He scarred Michael’s soul, deeply and terribly.  And the greatest horror in Michael’s life was looking in the mirror and seeing his father begin to appear as young Michael grew into a man.  A comparison of photos demonstrates what Michael saw.  As the young man came of age, he began to look more and more like the last person on earth he wanted to be.  Truly, Michael’s greatest fear was the “Man in the Mirror.”  Some of the lyrics from his song of that title are telling:

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody's Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya' See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That's Why I'm Starting With

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change

In the context of his young life, which none of us who judge him harshly had to endure, it should not be surprising that Michael would flee the image of his father through plastic surgery.  Certainly he was overly traumatized, and certainly he became obsessed, and certainly he went too far.  Michael knew he had gone too far.  His later surgeries were an effort to correct the “gone too far” effects, but only made things worse.  From all accounts, this weighed as heavily on him as it did the rest of us, and those close to him report that it devastated his self-esteem and even decimated his talent, for talent cannot express itself in shame.

People say Michael’s surgery was the result of self-loathing.  But on a broader view, it was not self-loathing, but the loathing of his father and the fear that he could not escape that father in the mirror.

Finally, there is a phenomenon we only peripherally acknowledge, which affects only truly great men, and it happened to Michael.  For whatever reason – be it psychological or some quirky electro-chemical firing in the brain – the same thing that makes a person excel beyond all bounds and go farther in any endeavor than anyone else in history also makes them functional idiots in other areas of their lives.  There is something these folks have that the rest of us do not: a spark, an edge, a vision.  Some sort of advantage that we lack.  I’ve known enough great artists to see it in action.  The people who go farther than anyone else has been able to go before, the ones who change the landscape for all who follow – they have something intangible within them.  Intangible, but very, very real.  And that thing, whatever it is, simultaneously makes them geniuses in one area and handicapped in all others.

Not many people have this thing.  It is reserved for the world changers, of which Michael Jackson was one.  Some may dismiss or diminish his talent, because they did not recognize it, or because their opinions were poisoned by other aspects of Michael’s life, or because of the tendency of some to lift themselves up by tearing others down.  But Michael Jackson was a package of entertainment talent the likes of which we may never see again.  In modern times he has few peers, all of whom are recognizable by a single name: Elvis, Sinatra, Lennon.  No others.

All of those people had the spark, they all changed the landscape, and they all suffered for it.  We all know about Elvis and Lennon.  I was privileged enough to play for Sinatra, and his son, Frank Jr., and they were as extraordinary as Michael, and as dysfunctional.  You just didn’t get to see it on their faces or in criminal charges.

The only thing we love more than lifting someone up and worshipping them as an idol is tearing them down after we have elevated them.  We are strange and cruel in that way.  And Michael Jackson suffered because of us.  Michael may have been acquitted of all ten child molestation charges made against him, but it killed him nonetheless.  Whether the autopsy will show that it killed his body or not, I do not know, but I know that it killed his spirit.

Michael Jackson was one of the greatest, most innocent and most misunderstood men of modern times.  Those who do not demonize or fear him will miss him, but he has forever changed the world that we will continue to live in.

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I almost didn't write this. So many others have written so well about all three deaths. But I thought I had something to add, that you haven't read a thousand times already.

I hope I was right.
Hi Dana,

I think this is very well written and brings out very important points about Michael. While I was never a huge fan I can appreciate his place in music and think he may become even more famous in death. The coverage of his death is too much to take in...media can be so irritating. The point you make about him being judged for being different is very valid. People that don't understand differences are the quickest to judge.
Thanks for writing this thoughtful piece. I read much of what you write even if I don't always comment. You have a very strong voice here at OS, keep up the good work!
Dana, I'm glad you wrote this. One of your best posts and rated.
Interesting reflections and facts - well written and thought provoking.

Also - Jesus, woman - you get around: You're a "member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences" and you played on Streisand's "Broadway" album?

Wow - it's true, then. You are Wonder Woman.
I wish it could be that all the other posts regarding these three people could be put aside for this one. The compassion shown is different than what I have seen elsewhere.
In regards to Jackson, perhaps it is because of your occupation that you have differentiated accusations from convictions, but I suspect it may be the reverse, i.e.your personality moved you into an occupation where "innocent until proven guilty" is supposed to be a cornerstone.
Your take on his surgeries is accurate also in my opinion, in fact I was just telling someone else the same a few moments before reading this: "People say Michael’s surgery was the result of self-loathing. But on a broader view, it was not self-loathing, but the loathing of his father and the fear that he could not escape that father in the mirror."
The horror of living life in a spotlight is seldom more easily seen than it has been in the last twenty four hours. Thanks for bringing up the stage lights so we can see the clutter that suurounds these sort of shooting stars.
Beautifully written, and I thank you for sharing with us your unique insight and revelations, particularly about Michael Jackson. I have no doubt that he was as misunderstood as he was talented. It appears that America itself has a particular talent and proclivity for producing these icons/celebrities. Diana is the only one who even comes close to the level of idolization with which we adorn our favorites, (well an argument could be made for the Beatles as a whole in the 60s, and certain other "stars" such as Liz Taylor ).

What a talented woman you are Dana, you surprise me once more with this revelation of your, what must be substantial, musical talents.

I was pleased to learn that Ed McMahon was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, a skilled pilot he retired from the service with the rank of Brigadier General. That's pretty hot shit. He had more to him than laughing at someone else's jokes.

Farrah, beautiful woman that I wrote about last month, describing when our paths crossed 25 years ago, on a ferry headed out to Martha's Vineyard.

Each one of these people is a slice of the human condition, a cake with many layers but one cake all the same.
Thanks for the original insights and the kind interpretation of MJ's life. What instrument do you play and have you written about these recording sessions previously? Sorry, but I am unable to keep up w/ everything you write.
Thanks for telling us these three stories. I really never did listen to Michael Jackson's music, but after reading your blog, I will. Fascinating! Rated
Travis, I haven't written about my music career, here. I hesitate to tell you about it, because then you'll figure out how old I really am. ;-)

I play(ed) piano, which meant that after a certain date I also played synthesizers, too. I was a member of the AFofM and because I was lucky enough to play on dozens or perhaps a hundred albums (I dunno, could be less -- I get this huge list of royalties from the musician's union every once in a while, but I don't know the actual number) I was also a member of NARAS. I gave up music after a really crappy day recording the music for the movie, "Naked Gun." My very last gig ever was doing the Tonight Show with a famous rock band.

And I fear I've said too much already, and you have figured out that I am really the female version of Dorian Gray.

Because of my history in the entertainment biz, I am more sympathetic to the lives of celebrities than many people are, and I think I have a slightly better idea of what those lives are like, having existed on the periphery for a good portion of my life. So that may color what I have written here. Or maybe it just gives me insight. I don't know.
Ladyfarmerjed, thank you! I'm not sure Michael can become more famous in death, as his name and likeness are already recognized in every country on earth. We will certainly think of him more, for a while, at least. And thanks for thinking I have a strong voice here. I'm really just one of the slow kids among all the A students, or the player who sits on the bench and gets to watch the stars play.

OEsheepdog, thanks for saying so! Of course, if it is one of my better posts, it will likely be all but ignored, where my midnight rants and random video postings get a hundred comments, an EP or some such mocking recognition. ;-)

rwnutjob, we'll have to agree to disagree on this. Of course, neither of us was there...at least, I wasn't...so all we have to go on is what we hear. But I continue to think that Michael's interest in young boys was not sexual, but more that of a peer. We, as a culture, just assume that it must be sexual, because that's all we know.

Owl_Says_Who, good lord, woman! Yeah, I've gotten around and have been lucky enough to have some extraordinary experiences in my life -- and someday maybe I'll write them all down, somewhere -- but I'm not Wonder-anything. I'm just an ordinary girl with an interesting past. My life is so pathetically boring that . . . well, I post here, don't I???

Alsoknownas, I really don't know which is the chicken or the egg, insofar as my career path goes. I do very much believe in "innocent until proven guilty," though I do not assume factual innocence merely because of a legal not guilty verdict. In Michael's case, I think that the preponderance of the evidence points to him being a misunderstood target of opportunity. If you heard the mother's testimony during the trial, you'd probably agree with me. It was bizarre, self-contradictory, physically impossible, and in my view, perjury.

Ablonde, I love your description that, "Each one of these people is a slice of the human condition, a cake with many layers but one cake all the same." So true, and so beautifully and artfully said. And here I wasted all those perfectly good words trying to say the same thing. I guess it's like Mark Twain said: If I had taken more time, I would have written it shorter. Or something like that.

LuluandPhoebe, thank you for saying that my post made you pause and think of MJ in a different way. Now I feel that my post has done what I hoped it would! :-D
Bravo! This is what we should be reading. Here's something Al Sharpton just said on Chris Matthews: Michael Jackson was the first African American to make a global impact on people of every race and nationality, no matter his own race.

He also said: people with extraordinary talent live extraordinary lives that are normal to them but different to us.

I never thought I'd agree with Al Sharpton on anything. I almost always agree with you.
Very, very well written. Best article I've read about these deaths so far. Thank you for sharing.
This was well-written, especially from your personal experiences in music.
How odd. I just got this ad by email:

In celebration of the life and work of Michael Jackson, The GRAMMY Museum, located across the street from Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, is sharing a collection of Jackson's most iconic wardrobe pieces (including the suit he wore on the cover of Thriller).

Starting today (Friday, June 26, 2009), these will be exhibited on the Museum's third floor alongside video of some of Jackson's most exciting GRAMMY performances. We hope this exhibit will serve as a fitting tribute to one of the most significant entertainers in music history.

Can't wait for the feeding frenzy of litigation over Michael's death. Child custody, debts, assets, canceled concerts, broken contracts, property claims, etc., etc., etc. Death has not bought him relief from the endless parade of lawsuits he endured.
Lisa Marie Presley wrote a very moving blog on her MySpace page. I would link it, but it was linked to me through Facebook. I'm pretty sure her MySpace blog is public.
I'll let you read and judge for yourselves - but one thing she makes clear is that their marriage was NOT fake .
Thanks for these strong words Dana.
I commented to my briter and to other friends that his only home was the stage - and he OWNED the stage.
Wonderfully written article Dana Douglas.

The thing to remember with musicians, is that their music often accompany our most intimate and most emotional moments: first kisses, losing one's virginity, a happy memory dancing in a field, being young,breaking up--I think this explains the grief we see when a particularly popular musician dies--no they didn't "know" us, but they were always there for us--
I'm glad you wrote this. It was awesome and indeed points not previously heard.
"talent cannot express itself in shame" so profound. So true.

"And that thing, whatever it is, simultaneously makes them geniuses in one area and handicapped in all others."
SavageHusband must have this 'thing' b/c he is handicapped in all other ways of life - now if I could just manage to figure out what area he's a genius in, we'd be home free!
I agree with the comment - this should be the post to read in lieu of all others. So full of information and things most people will not ever read about this.

Thank you for this excellent piece.
Excellent post.

I always thought Michael Jackson surrounded himself with children because of his father's actions and the fact that children are not judgemental.
Many criminals who abuse children had screwed up childhoods.
Excellent post in many ways. I most appreciated the words about Michael Jackson...I've always felt he was innocent. Given his extreme history of abuse, for me, it seemed always clear he was one who simply insisted of having a childhood.
dana, this is a beautiful piece. i'm glad you wrote it, and i'm sorry i was snarky the other day about your vajayjay.
Dear Dana, You have an insightful and and an Insiders perspective on our celebrity culture which you are willing to share with us commoners. You only speak well of the dead, but I must dissent slightly. It is difficult to see MJ as anything but a victim of our celebrity cult, and though I'm not in a position to contra-fact any particular point you made about MJ it seems to me there's another tale to be told here. It is the story of the boy who didn't grow up, never grew up, wouldn't grow up; who used his talent as strategically as a great beauty uses her wiles; who sheltered his "peculiarities" (perversions?) under the impenetrable cloak celebrity privilege; who would not accept adult responsibility even as that choice cost him his sanity. There are countless children who had harsher fathers, who had stolen childhoods, who lived their lives in tabloid culture and were ultimately undone. Because he had "genius" (though clearly wasn't a genius), doesn't make him above accountability in an unreflected life. In this way he was perhaps the greatest victim of his own delusions.
Still, your words are thoughtful and caring. I just wish you could have gotten to him with your wisdom somewhere along the line before of all the other "handlers" who got to him first.
I simply do not understand how you can state unequivocally that Jackson was not a pedophile.
The only evidence you later mentioned was one mother's testimony. She was testifying mainly to conspiracy charges that probably should not have been brought.
What about the testimony of the 3 boys who said they were molested? Are you saying they were lying?
If so, what explanation could there be for the first boy being able to accurately draw pictures of the skin discolorations on Jackson's genitals?
Jackson bought that first boy's silence with over 20 million dollars. If he hadn't, he would have been convicted.
What a wonderful, compassionate post. Farrah really did inspire girls and young women in that time. It's hard to understand what the world was like for girls and women back then. So many younger females don't understand how hard things were for women and how hard feminists have worked and continue to work despite all the pooh-poohing the younger generation does.

Farrah was ridiculed, but in Charlie's Angels, she was the star of the group, beautiful and capable, and we admired her despite some of the silliness.

I remember feeling absolutely angry that anyone would consider accusing MJ of child molestation. It just wasn't in him; that wasn't how we saw him, and I have never settled with what was done to him or what he may have done.

My heart still says he was never guilty of this, and I don't know any of the evidence, so I usually just keep my trap shut. I do not know child molesters, and those who do seem to think he bore all the markings, but I don't believe it fully still. In fact, not much at all.

I was MTV age when Thriller came out, and it conquered the world. He was incredibly talented.

I've gotta download some old Jackson 5 and a few of MJs albums.

Thank you, Dana. You have not been around for awhile, and I miss you. Hope you are well.
This was beautifully written. Thank you