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Through an extensive network of contacts she had developed in her travels, ailing, well-to-do individuals sought out her services. To this day, her clients come to her via word of mouth. De Souza doesn't advertise. She has no Web page. Indeed, she doesn't even own a computer or a television set. Her only concession to the global village is a cell-phone number. And even that is difficult to obtain, unless you've met De Souza face-to-face. Or have had her card passed on to you by one of her patients.
Her mantelpiece, her desk, and various bookshelves are arrayed with the autographed photos of celebrities and politicos, but she has asked New Times not to reveal most of them, as many are clients in good standing. Among those De Souza doesn't mind mentioning (likely because they are no longer alive) are songstress Eartha Kitt, photographer Helmut Newton, and President Ronald Reagan.
"I did my best for his Alzheimer's," she says of the Gipper, shaking her head. "But he was too far gone. By the time they got him to me, his aura was the color of cow dung."
(De Souza declined to reveal the fees she charges such high-end clients, but sources contacted in Sedona informed New Times that she has been known to charge more than $10,000 per client per session. It was also suggested that De Souza would up her fee depending on how much she thought a celebrity or mogul might pay.)
But what of The Gloved One? Did he leave behind any tokens for De Souza before their falling out? She nods and walks toward a small room the size of a closet, painted over in a sickly hue of brownish yellow.
Three black candles are set on a high, rickety table next to the far wall. On the table is a photo of Jackson onstage during a concert that seems, judging by his clothing, from the time of the HIStory album, in the late 1990s. Though the photo has been turned upside down, the inscription is legible, "Thank you for everything, Dr. De Souza. Michael."
In front of the photo in a tin ashtray are a lock of jet-black hair, a small mound of nail clippings, and what look like skin shavings, all purportedly from Jackson. On the floor are three wooden bowls from which blood has spilled over. The rotting carcass of a baby Rottweiler lies before the bowls, its throat slit, a bloody knife next to it. In the corner of the room is a plain, white, voodoo-type doll with pins in its chest. Scrawled over the walls in the dog's dried blood is the phrase "JACKO DIES."
Framed still, with its glass casing smashed to bits and diagonal rips torn through it is a movie poster for David Lynch's 1980 film version of the Tony award-winning play The Elephant Man. It rests on its side against one wall, thrown there in a fit of rage.
De Souza's nostrils flare in anger, as if in memory of the deed.
"God, I loved that movie!" she gasps, before turning away from the room and walking back into the house's main corridor.
Were it not for Jackson's own history of bizarro-world behavior and his past use of voodoo to curse his enemies, it would be difficult to believe everything De Souza had said at this point — and everything she was about to claim.
But this was the same entertainer who used to sleep in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow the aging process; the singer who shared his bed with little boys and, at one point, a chimp named Bubbles; the "moonwalker" who underwent a series of plastic surgeries and, possibly, skin-bleaching in order to make himself look more like Elizabeth Taylor; the Citizen Kane-like eccentric whose 2,600-acre Neverland Ranch featured its own Ferris wheel, miniature train, and private zoo worthy of a pasha.
With no irony intended, the Reverend Al Sharpton asserted at the recent BET awards show in Los Angeles, "Michael Jackson was a genius. He wasn't a freak."
Unfortunately, the evidence doesn't exactly stack up on the reverend's side of that argument.
Part of the reason Jackson was long derided as the "Wizard of Odd" were his ties to voodoo.
Everyone remembers the stink that conservative Jehovah's Witness elders kicked up in 1983 over the John Landis-directed music video for the single "Thriller," with its army of the undead, a voiceover from horror icon Vincent Price, and Jackson himself, dancing in zombie mode and scaring the bejesus out of Playboy model Ola Ray. Though Jackson added a disclaimer, stating that the video "in no way endorses a belief in the occult," it was widely believed to be the main reason that he ultimately parted ways with the faith he had been raised in as a child.
Throughout Jackson's life, he maintained an interest in magic, paranormal phenomena, and alternative healing. One of his best friends was illusionist David Copperfield, whom Jackson was planning to use on his abortive world tour, until Copperfield asked for too much money. Jackson was also a fan of Las Vegas magician Criss Angel, and he was known to employ illusions in his stage performances as well.