Call Edward Moss a copycat and he will probably take it as a compliment. From winning a lookalike contest organised by the McDonalds outlet he was working at in southern California, the Michael Jackson impersonator now has a tour schedule to rival that of the late King of Pop’s and a resume that includes Date Night, Scary Movie 3 and 4, and 24 appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
What do you think of Singapore? We understand that it’s your second time here.
I love it here, I still think it’s one of the most beautiful cities that I’ve been to. I love it every chance I get to perform here.
When did you realise being a Michael Jackson (MJ) impersonator was something that you wanted to do for a living?
Honestly, I started doing it for the money. Then I realised how much fun I could have with it, especially when I saw the reactions that I got from the crowds and how much love you get from them. It was then that I decided I didn’t want to do anything else. This was more than 10 years ago, in 1996. It was a job I knew I would never get bored with.
Did you have any idea how successful you would be back in 1996?
No, I had no idea. I thought it was going to be something fun and a job that would allow me to travel, but I didn’t think it would be a career. I’ve picked up so many skills from it, such as how to make costumes, do my own makeup, style wigs and staging performances, things that I never thought about doing. It’s opened a whole world of entertainment in me.
Have you ever met Michael Jackson?
Yes, I’ve worked for him a couple of times. I was a double in one of his music videos. I’ve been around him about five or six times. How it happened the first time was that I got a phone call from someone telling me to come meet him. At first I thought it was a joke, but I found out that he was shopping in a magic shop somewhere just down the street from my house. I met him and his entourage at this shop, but it was a good half hour before Michael said anything to me. I wanted to say something, but how do you interrupt Michael Jackson? It was only about two hours later that he told me “Your looks are very good”. That was all he said to me the first time I met him! But we had dinner together later and we got to talking properly after that. I’ve met a lot of celebrities but him and Jamie Lee Curtis were the only ones I got nervous around.
Why were you nervous around Jamie Lee Curtis?
I’ve been a big fan. We appeared in (American talk show) The View together, and we did a sketch together. I was so nervous that I kept on sweating and couldn’t keep my makeup on!
How do you usually prepare for your performances?
It usually starts with the makeup. When I see the transformation, that’s when I start getting into character.
Michael Jackson was known for having some rather quirky and bizarre habits. Do you have any of your own?
I don’t know if you can call it a habit, but I’m really clumsy, I’m always running into things and hitting my head in doorways. Because I’m over six feet tall, I’m kinda gangly and all over the place sometimes. People always make fun of me for it!
Do you ever feel like a big part of your life involves being in someone else’s shadow?
I don’t think of it as being in MJ’s shadow, but I guess I’m like some people who can’t leave their work behind even after leaving the office. Even when I come home, I’m always worrying about a piece of music I’m working on, or a costume I haven’t finished making.
So you consider yourself a workaholic and a consummate perfectionist like MJ was?
Definitely. Even when people tell me something looks good or sounds good, I keep on wanting to work on it until it’s up to my own standards of perfection. We have a lot of similarities, but I think that’s just who I am as a person. I was the child of a single mum, and she was born blind, so I was always doing things and helping out around the house and I’ve always wanted things to be the best that they can be.
What was it like being on big Hollywood productions like Scary Movie 3 and Date Night?
Don’t get me wrong, those were a lot of fun and the money was good, and I enjoy the publicity, but I still enjoy being on stage the most, seeing the reactions of and connecting with the audience. You can’t get that with movies. I live to see someone smile, and I prefer being able to see for myself that someone is enjoying himself because of what I do. That’s when I know I’ve accomplished something.
We’d like you to spill on the craziest fan encounter you’ve had.
The last time I was in Singapore, I got to chatting on Facebook with a Singaporean fan who’d seen my performances. It was a pretty long chat that lasted for an hour, but I didn’t think anything of it until the next day when I saw that she’s changed her surname to mine. That was a little bit strange!
What’s your favourite MJ move?
I usually get lots of reaction from doing the Moonwalk, but I have to say that my favourite move has got to be the sidestep.
Catch Edward Moss in action when he performs Michael Jackson – A Tribute to the World’s Greatest Entertainer Featuring Edward Moss! on June 26, 2010. For more details, click here.