Fans pay 3,400 dollars for Michael Jackson by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura Thu Mar 8, 9:59 AM ET …Michael Jackson dispensed hugs and handshakes Thursday to Japanese fans, who spent thousands of dollars and an hour in the cold for a few seconds with the reclusive former King of Pop. Jackson showed up late for a party in Tokyo where several hundred fans paid 400,000 yen (3,400 dollars) a ticket for an exclusive dinner and a snapshot with the music legend. Wearing dark sunglasses and a black suit with glitter, Jackson took each fan into a private cubicle for a brief photo shoot, a dinner guest said. But Jackson did not perform and sat away from the fans during a show that featured gospel singers and dancers. “He was giving out hugs and handshakes and he was very gentle with me. It was very nice,” Sumi Yoshimi, in high heels and an elegant white coat, said as she clutched a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne outside the venue. “But he didn’t have anything particular to say and by the end he looked very tired, so we left,” she told AFP. The 36-year-old office worker said her date, an older man, invited her to the dinner, which included a buffet of gratin and other Western food. But she did not think the price tag was excessive. “He looked really cool seeing him up this close,” she said. “It was worth 400,000 yen.” Jackson is reported to be suffering serious financial problems as he struggles to rebuild his career following his sensational child molestation trial. Promoters said they sold more than 300 tickets — meaning the party would rake in at least 120 million yen (one million dollars). But the guests, many wearing tuxedos and evening gowns, first had to stand in the chilly evening air outside the venue as they waited for the superstar to turn up. Jackson arrived nearly an hour late in a black van and then disappeared into the club to a chorus of shrieks and screams. A group of young women held up a banner reading “Michael” with the letters made up of drawings of the singer strutting his stuff. Aya, a 20-year-old student, said she had been preparing the banner with her friends since November. “Although we didn’t get tickets, we’ll be happy if he could just see our banner. I’m excited,” said Aya, who declined to give her family name. “I couldn’t buy a ticket because of the price, but I don’t think it’s too expensive. It’s just that I’m a student and can’t afford it now.” Michael Jackson was acquitted in 2005 of child molestation charges and fled his Neverland ranch in California. He has since spent much of his time in seclusion in Bahrain. He last visited Tokyo in May 2006 to receive a “Legends Award” at MTV Japan’s Video Music Awards and to visit orphanages. Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070308/en_afp/afpentertainmentjapan_070308145942

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