Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Santa Ynez valley is beautiful! It is so easy to understand why the Reagans, John and Bo Derek, Fess Parker, and many other celebrities had/have ranches there. Of course the most famous of all was Michael Jackson and his Neverland Ranch.
My college friend, Anne, grew up in Los Olivos - which is also famous for being in the movie Sideways. We went to stay with her recently and she took us down to the Neverland entrance. She worked for Michael Jackson in 1998 as a cook and housekeeper. She even kept her old paycheck stubs and a piece of the Neverland stationery.
This was at the time of the Bad album and right at the beginning of the first child abuse accusations. She whole-heartedly supported MJ and says she would leave her child with him without any reservations. She told us many stories of her few months of working for him. For instance, the home on the ranch was built by a very wealthy family before he bought it and he never needed to make any additions to the house itself. That 'secret' room at the back of the closet where they said he abused children - she said it was originally a fur closet for the prior owner's wife. You walked into the walk-in closet and then the back room/portion was the climate controlled room for her furs. Because MJ was always childlike, he just turned it into a 'fort' area/playroom.
We were expecting to see the famous Neverland wrought iron gates. Not so. After later research I learned that they were auctioned off. There are just wooden gates there now.
What there is is a lot of signatures from fans. People have signed all the rocks and surfaces around the gate.
There were even a couple of flower bouquets left behind. We were bummed that the famous gates were gone. Still, it was nice to go visit and pay your respects. And it's doubly nice to get the perspective of a friend who worked there and believed in him.