Living Tributes to Michael Jackson

Feature

Friday, April 27, 2012

Jovan Rameau as Michael Jackson (Lorena Turner)

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

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 origina
Lorena Turner

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.

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

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.

Sean Veniza - Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Tribute artist since 1999.
Lorena Turner

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

Jovan Rameau - Los Angeles, California. Impersonator since the early 1990s.
Lorena Turner

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

Omar Rajpute - Irvine, California. Tribute artist since 2001.
Lorena Turner

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

Aamir Smith - Brooklyn, New York.  Tribute artist since 2006.
Lorena Turner

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

    Music Playlist
  1. Billie Jean (Single Version)
    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Thriller
    Label: Sony
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Thriller
    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Thriller
    Label: Sony
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Thriller
    Label: Sony
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. Human Nature
    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Thriller
    Label: Sony
    Purchase: Amazon
  5. Working Day and Night
    Artist: Michael Jackson
    Album: Off the Wall
    Label: Sony
    Purchase: Amazon

Contributors:

Roy Hurst

Comments [5]

Cameron Kelley

Sean is inspiringly good at what he does, he's always been the guy you can count on. He's extremely dedicated to his work and has found success in what he does. Nobody else is quite like Sean that is why he is the way he is!! To let you know how well I know him. When I seen Sean I knew he was a good guy we all worked at the movie theatres together and one of my co-workers had said Sean was giving money to a homeless person and that same man seen how much Sean had (which wasn't much $35) he attacked sean and stole all of his money. The next day Sean he had pan handled a small amount of money to get a meal and outside of this Mcdonald's was another homeless man and Sean still gave him money even though he barely had enough for a meal. That is the Sean Vezina I know and whole heartedly believe he still this way today!!

May. 26 2013 09:10 PM
bullmastiff from OAKMONT

I HIRED SEAN 2 WEEKS AGO TO DO MY DAUGHTERS 30TH BIRTHDAY PARTY BECAUSE THE PARTY HAS AN 80'S THEME, HE CANCELLED 2 DAYS BEFORE THE PARTY SAYING HE DIDN'T HAVE HIS COSTUME BECAUSE HE LENT IT OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE AND THAT THE DRIVE WAS TOO FAR. I GAVE HIM ALL THE INFORMATION WHEN I HIRED HIM, THE TIME, THE PLACE AND ALL OF THAT IN ADVANCE SO HE KNEW THE DISTANCE. HE TOTALLY SCREWED ME OVER. THERE WAS ALOT OF DRAMA HIRING HIM, HE ALSO TOLD ME HE NEEDED A HAT AND I OFFERED TO PAY FOR THAT, PAY A CAB TO PICK HIM UP AND TAKE HIM HOME. HE STILL CANCELLED. I THOUGHT HE WAS A GOOD DANCER, BUT I WOULD NOT ADVISE USING HIM BECAUSE HE IS NOT RELIABLE. AGAIN, AS I STATED HE KNEW EVERYTHING IN ADVANCE AND GAVE ME 3 OR 4 "DIFFERENT" EXCUSES 2 DAYS BEFORE THE PARTY AS TO WHY HE WASN'T COMING AND NONE OF THEM ARE LEGITIMATE.

Feb. 15 2013 08:11 AM
Tom from New castle,Pa.

Sean Vezina is a fake, con artist an goes around the country making up stories
about his past that are a pack of lies. He a piss poor impersonator and a bitch (born that way). Has no home and tries to use others to further his venue. Beware and stay clear as he will use any con to get money. Right now he works at Little Ceasars and lives in a homeless shelter. He runs every time some one looks at him cross eyed. Don"t believe a word he says.

Dec. 11 2012 10:57 AM
TT from New Jersey

This was such a great interview and story for all of us Michael Jackson fans to hear and see. Thank you to Studio 360 and WNYC for airing this. Thank you to all those who keep Michael's memory and legacy alive. I am a backup dancer and singer in a great Michael Jackson tribute act, with the next public concert happening on June 23, 2012. Anyone interested can get tickets & info. for this show at: www.TheLegacyLivesOn.com ...Maxx Vega (www.MJLiveTribute.com) is a top pro Michael Jackson impersonator from NYC/NJ area. I am honored to work with him, as he presents a heart-warming portrayal of Michael Jackson's artistry.

Apr. 29 2012 11:49 AM
Dante from United States of Dumberica

Christ, what a depressing segment.

Apr. 29 2012 11:39 AM

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