It was the most private of times for the most public of people. Michael Jackson's family had his body taken to the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, the final resting place of so many of Hollywood's elite.
To prepare Jackson for his final farewell, his family had turned to the three people who'd been dressing the star and making him up for more than a quarter century -- Dennis Tompkins, Michael Bush and Karen Faye.
"Nobody else could have [done it]," said Faye of the honor to make up her friend one last time. "I knew how he wanted to look. So I did it for his children."
Watch the full two-hour special "Michael Jackson: After Life" tonight on "20/20" at 9 p.m. ET
Stylists Tompkins and Bush designed brand new clothes for Jackson, incorporating elements from the King of Pop's favorite looks throughout his career. Tompkins, who created the majority of Jackson's most memorable outfits, described his stage attire as "Liberace gone to war."
Notably absent from Jackson's funeral attire, though, was his most iconic accessory -- that legendary single white sequin glove.
"To Michael, the glove was Billie Jean," said Bush. "That represented that song. That's not Michael Jackson."
These are people who knew the man behind the music; knew him stripped of the artifice he so cleverly showed the world. Private and never-before-seen images which ABC News paid to license from the three friends' personal collections provide snapshots of the global superstar's most unguarded moments.
But at the time of his death, Jackson's inner circle was determined that the King of Pop would exit this earth as the world knew him: a showman.
For nine hours, Faye and Bush fought back their own grief and the overwhelming smell of formaldehyde to prepare Jackson for his final curtain call. After dressing him, Bush even helped to lift and place the body in the coffin.
"The work me and Karen did with Michael at Forest Lawn, that bonded us for life," said Bush.
In an exclusive interview for the "20/20" special "Michael Jackson: After Life," Tompkins, Bush and Faye talked with ABC's Cynthia McFadden about what it was like to work with the star -- and addressed persistent rumors that followed Jackson about his sexual orientation, his plastic surgery and his reported drug abuse. The interview marks the first time the trio has spoken publicly about their friend.
Karen Faye met Michael Jackson in 1982, when she was hired to do his hair and make-up for the "Thriller" album cover.
"He walked in; he was very shy but was very gracious," Faye remembered. "Everything was 'please' and 'thank you.'"
Faye said she was not at all intimidated by his fame. For example, when she saw that Jackson had with him a baby tiger, she flashed her tiger-print underwear.
"He went 'Ah!'" Faye said while demonstrating how he covered his face. "He was just so embarrassed by that. But I think that's why he called me back the next job. He liked people who have a sense of humor."