The period from the late 70s through the 80s was a period of massive cultural metamorphosis. That was the time when the punk movement was transitioning in to the "pop" movement, Cavaricci jeans were still cool, and the Dub grooves were giving way to the synthesized tunes. It was also the time of breakdance, the urban street kind that is. It was also the time of the greatest glorification of hair, the wavy-curly-head-banging kind that is. It was also the decade owned by Michael Jackson, the self-proclaimed but universally accepted "King of Pop," that is.
Jacko was the sum of all of the above trends. But he was obviously well beyond a trend, by this time a legend in the making. It was not just his music or dance that made him that but also his ability to deliver explosive performances (both literally and figuratively) on stage for the fans and then turn in to the shy man-child offstage that made him all the more endearing to the mass. His sincere advocacy for world peace, love, generosity and kindness offered a beacon of hope to everyone across the globe during an otherwise turbulent time that was the 80s.
Kenny Wizz was like every other normal kid growing up in Los Angeles during this decade. Well, almost. The peculiarity of having the aforementioned hair style and break dancing skills led many to remind him often of his uncanny resemblance to the Gloved One. Obviously, MJ's breakthrough meant a massive change in trajectory of the destiny of this normal kid.
Surprisingly, there is very little on the internet on Kenny Wizz's life, pre-MJ incarnation. Even Wikipedia does not have a dedicated reference to him. So all my research for this story essentially came from just three sources (Steve Dow Aug 2012, Brett Hamm Aug 2012, Jaci Webb Jun 2014).
I never got a chance to see MJ perform live. I regret it immensely. So when I heard that "Vegas's #1 Impersonator", Kenny Wizz, was to perform the Michael Jackson History (tribute) show in Calgary earlier this year, I knew I had to go.
The performance was what one would expect from a MJ tribute show. Explosive! Kenny Wizz not only looks like, dances like, sings like and even speaks like MJ, he also has the same powerful yet shy demeanor like him. Granted, KW was not born looking like MJ (which one?) so it would be fair to assume that he had to do what it took to develop this persona. In effect, KW had to become MJ (Interesting Fact: He never met MJ but MJ's family has seen KW perform).
During the middle of the performance, Kenny delivered a speech of hope, MJ style. He told the enthralled audience that he has been performing for 25 years and has loved every moment of it. His advice to us was to never stop dreaming no matter how old one gets. In his words
If I can do this at the age of 50, you can dream too.
You may believe that this keynote speech on "Hope from within" from this prodigious Vegas entertainer is my reference to Hope in this post's title. But that is not the case.
Sometimes, tragic events in life can set in such a deep trauma to the psyche that hope, in it's quintessential sense, may be shattered forever. It can and does happen. Everyday. To a lot of people. While the theoretical and clinical research on the concept of hope remains indefinite, one thing that is conclusive is that hope remains a critical fabric of the human existence. It heals, connects, soothes, drives the human emotion and allows us to stand ground in an overstimulated world.
Under extraordinary circumstances, hope can flicker away and perhaps burn out to never re-light again. Usually this happens in the scenario where a person faces extraordinary trauma in early childhood or late adulthood. But to call it hope"less" may be a misnomer as hope never really disappears. It may choose to hide forever deep inside, but it never disappears. It can mutate though, and emerge in a way that would be unexpected under normal circumstances. This type of hope is when one willingly chooses to carry the burden of someone else's hope within for the benefit of that other person. One could call this the "Circulation of Hope". This can and does happen. Everyday. To a lot of people. You probably know someone right now in your inner circle who has experienced severe trauma but manages to put one foot in front of the other for the hope of another person. This phenomenon is also commonly observed in the sermons delivered by religious authorities.
This is the kind of hope I am alluding to in the title of my post. By no means do I believe or intend to have the reader believe that some trauma in the past of Kenny Wizz led him to take on the persona of MJ. We don't know exactly what motivated him to dedicate his life to being someone else. Based on what is available in the public realm, it appears that Mr. Wizz found a greater cause by keeping the spirit of MJ alive by adopting the persona of MJ.
This phenomenon is observed among all the impersonators and die-hard fans of other notable icons. Among many other things, Vegas is renowned for it's impressive talent pool of impersonators of legendary performers. Legends in Concert is the most famous and franchised show (30 years and counting) of this genre with performances in Vegas and beyond.
Beyond the entertainment factor there is something poignant about the fact that the people who impersonate others willingly chose that path for specific reasons only known to them. It may be that something from beyond reached out and connected to them far stronger than one from within. This may be one path, perhaps the only one, when a personal trauma leaves our inner hope shattered forever.
Do you have any stories to share on your personal journey in finding hope amidst a dire situation? Would you like to share your advice with the readers on surviving trauma? Please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.