A: I don't pay any attention. The fans know the tabloid garbage is crap. They always say to me, "Let's have a tabloid-burning." It's terrible to try to assassinate one's character. I've had people come to me, and after meeting me, they start crying. I say, "Why are you crying?" They say, "Because I thought you would be stuck up, but you're the nicest person." I say, "Who gave you this judgment?" They tell me they read it. I tell them, "Don't you believe what you read."
Q: Do these rumors persist because you don't refute them?
A: No. I've done so much in the past. I did the most watched TV interview in history with Oprah Winfrey (in 1993). But (the media) tend to want to twist what you say and judge you. I want to keep it on the music and the art. I think about some of my favorite people who ever lived. If I could stand face to face with Walt Disney or Michelangelo, would I care what they do in their private life? I want to know about their art. I'm a fan.
Q: How do you shield yourself from being hurt by criticism?
A: Expecting it, knowing it's going to happen and being invincible, being what I was always taught to be. You stand strong with an iron fist, no matter what the situation."
Q: Critics refer to you as the self-proclaimed King of Pop. Did you choose that title?
A: I never self-proclaimed myself to be anything. If I called up Elizabeth Taylor right now, she would tell you that she coined the phrase. She was introducing me, I think at the American Music Awards, and said in her own words — it wasn't in the script — "I'm a personal fan, and in my opinion he is the king of pop, rock and soul." Then the press started saying "King of Pop" and the fans started. This self-proclaimed garbage, I don't know who said that.
Q: The New York concerts marked your first U.S. shows in 12 years. Were you nervous?
A: No. It was an honor to be back with my brothers again. The producer wanted a cavalcade of luminaries from different fields of endeavor. It was a great honor to have them salute me. It was heartwarming, a happy, fun occasion.
Q: Would you consider another tour with your brothers?
A: I don't think so. I would definitely do an album with them, but not a tour. They would love to tour. But I want to move on to other things. Physically, touring takes a lot out of you. When I'm on stage, it's like a two-hour marathon. I weigh myself before and after each show, and I lose a good 10 pounds. Sweat is all over the stage. Then you get to your hotel and your adrenaline is at its zenith and you can't fall asleep. And you've got a show the next day. It's tough.
Q: If you don't tour, how will you satisfy public demand as well as your need to perform?
A: I want to direct a special on myself and do songs that touch me. I want something more intimate, from the soul and heart, with just one spotlight.
Q: How did you react when Invincible topped the chart here and in a dozen countries?
A: It was a lovely feeling. I cried happy tears to see all the love.
Q: Invincible was several years in the making. Does your perfectionism slow the process?
A: It did take a while because I'm never happy with the songs. I'll write a bunch of songs, throw them out, write some more. People say, "Are you crazy? That's got to go on the album." But I'll say, "Is it better than this other one?" You only get 75 minutes on a CD, and we push it to the limit.
Q: Did you approach Invincible with a single theme in mind?