Joanna is French fan who I met on my travels to see Michael and is another fan who became one of the “Follower Fans”. I met her a few times between 2000 and 2002 but I wasn’t friends with her. To me she was just another fan, a face I saw whenever I traveled to see Michael.
Whenever I saw her, she was always like us, hanging about outside Michael’s hotel. She always had a book of photos with her, photos of her and Michael at different places and events. To me that wasn’t anything unusual, as by this stage I knew many many fans like that. Almost everyone I knew had met Michael, or had some sort of personal experience.
When she was old enough she began like the rest of us to travel to see Michael. As she traveled alot to see Michael, he began to recognise her and whenever he saw her outside hotels or at events he would make sure to meet her. That’s how she has soo many photos of her and Michael. When the other fans saw that Michael recognised her they would get to know her so that they could get close to Michael too. And because her English at the was soo bad she wasn’t able to communicate well with other fans and was often left behind or excluded from things.
One thing I noticed about her was that she always seemed to be on her own. She never seemed to have close friends, and every time I saw her she was with different fans. Also she didn’t speak very good English, she is French and when I met her she spoke with a very heavy accent and didn’t understand us English speakers very well.
In November 2001 I traveled to New York for the Invincible CD signing. We joined the queue about 7 pm the night before the event. When we joined the queue we saw Jonanna about 20 people ahead of us. She saw us too and came to talk to us. She was relieved to see familiar faces in the queue as she had come to New York from France on her own. She was upset because the fans she had arranged to meet and share a hotel room had not turned up and she wanted to know if she could share our room. We didn’t have a spare bed but at the same time we didn’t want to leave her stranded in New York with no where to stay. As we were all sleeping on the street that night, in the queue, we told her to wait till the morning and if after the event she still had no where to stay we would squeeze her in somehow. Luckily her friends did turn up eventually and she wasn’t left with no hotel room!
The next day, we all went to the CD signing. We were not filmed and our time with Michael remains private. Joanna was not so lucky. Her time with Michael was filmed and has caused such huge controversy and speculation.
The CD signing was 7 November 2001, only around 6 weeks after the terrorist attacks. The city of New York was still very unstable, there were still funerals from the victims being held. Joanna, like many of us was at both MSG concerts and as a result was caught up in the events of September 11 and in the aftermath, was stranded in the city until the airports were reopened.
That is why when Michael saw Joanna he was really happy to see her. That was the first time he had seen her after September 11. He was concerned for her safety in an unstable city, 6 weeks after the terror attacks. That’s why he asked for her phone number and wanted to know where she was staying. He wanted to make sure that while she was in New York she was safe. In no way was it anything sexual or because he fancied her. Think of it like Michael being a friend of your family, and how that friend would look after you if they met you in a foreign country and you were on your own.
The fan community exploded when they saw this. What was meant as a private conversation was suddenly the subject of huge controversy. Who was this girl, was she Michael;s girlfriend, why did he ask for her phone number??? Endless speculation which even now years later is still such a hot topic with fans.
The last time I saw Joanna was in Berlin in November 2002, outside Michael’s hotel. Again she was on her own, and her English was just as bad as ever. Just like the rest of us, she spent hours in the November cold outside the hotel. One night I remember there was a group of us taking shelter from the sub zero weather in the hotel garage entrance and Joanna, just like everyone else was huddled against the wall trying to keep warm.
What happened to her after that has also caused alot of controversy. Yes she did an interview with American media during the trial. I haven’t seen it but I have heard alot about it. In my opinion, she was treated the same way as Bashir treated Michael. I believe that she was naive and innocent about the purpose and outcome of that interview and just like Michael was made out to be something she isn’t.
I don’t believe she had any type of romantic or sexual relationship with Michael.
The truth about Joanna Thomae is that she became a follower fan, got to know Michael, somehow along the way wanted more, tried to get closer to him but ended up losing her connection to him.
She did like the attention, even back before 2004, she was always showing everyone all the photos of her and Michael, which she carried around all the time.
All she wanted was like the rest of us, to be close to Michael and to have him know us, but she went about things the wrong way and instead of getting closer to him, actually lost her connection to him.
This interview she did was during the trial and maybe in her mind she wanted to do something for Michael, to tell a fans story, to show that he was innocent and to let people see the real Michael.At the time I think she was innocent and naive and didn’t really fully understand how the media would try to twist her story and ask her leading questions. Maybe also she didn’t understand what they were asking her, you have to remember that English is not her first language.
Maybe back in 2004 she was naive and just wanting to do something good for Michael. But now I am not so sure. Since Michael has died so many have decided to sell their stories and make money from their times with Michael.
Joanna it seems is just like everyone else. After all these years of creating this fantasy romance in her head she now seems to have convinced herself it was real. To then take part in a reality TV program and make money from this fantasy lie is just astounding.
Losing Michael was a shock that affected so many people. We all grieve differently and so many may never heal. Those of us who were lucky enough to be around Michael in those final years have a duty to Michael’s legacy to record and preserve the TRUTH about Michael. Every time false information about Michael is created and spread, the real History about Michael and who he really was is slowly being destroyed. How will people find out the truth about Michael, when those who WERE around him create fantasy stories….