Living Tributes to Michael Jackson

Email a Friend
From and

The years since 2009 have been good for Michael Jackson impersonators. After the pop star died on the verge of a comeback show, fans have wanted to see the closest thing available. “They want to go through me,” says impersonator Sean Vezina, “to get to him.” 

Vezina may not look much like Jackon, but years of study and devotion to his oeuvre have paid off. Homeless, he currently makes his living taking pictures with fans for a small donation. He’s following Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, hoping to make it to every venue. “I've been outside. I've been hurting. I've been on foot, traveling — like Forest Gump.”

Devera Gregory is a professional dancer in her fifties who quit the dance line to play Jackson at parties, bar mitzvahs, and corporate events. Jovan Rameau poses with tourists on Hollywood Boulevard, standing by Jackson’s star in the Walk of Fame. He says the money is hard to beat. “I said to Spiderman, one of the Spiderman guys, ‘I made $560 on Friday.’ He said, ‘No way . . . not even Superman makes that kind of money!’”

But looking like Jackson has its downside. For Rameau, who dreamed of becoming an actor, impersonating a dead pop star is not a calling but a trap. “It's hurting my soul to be here,” he says. “It hurts me because it's not what I set out to do.”  

 

Slideshow: Michael Jackson impersonators and tribute artists

Music Playlist

  1. Billie Jean (Single Version)

    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Thriller
    Label: Sony
  2. Thriller

    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Thriller
    Label: Sony
  3. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Thriller
    Label: Sony
  4. Human Nature

    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Thriller
    Label: Sony
  5. Working Day and Night

    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Off the Wall
    Label: Sony

Devra Gregory — San Diego, California. Impersonator since 2000.
An impersonator is exacting in his or her duplication of their subject, creating a look and performance that are as close to the original as possible.

( Lorena Turner )

Scorpio — Glendale, California. Tribute artist since 1993.
Unlike an impersonator, a tribute artist creates his own performance inspired by the original without trying to create a mirror image.

( Lorena Turner )

Sean Veniza — Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Tribute artist since 1999.

( Lorena Turner )

Jovan Rameau — Los Angeles, California. Impersonator since the early 1990s.

( Lorena Turner )

Omar Rajpute — Irvine, California. Tribute artist since 2001.

( Lorena Turner )

Aamir Smith — Brooklyn, New York. Tribute artist since 2006. 

( Lorena Turner )
of