Michael Jackson's life has always been off the wall. But in the wake of his death, a more detailed portrait of his eccentric behavior and unusual—albeit playful—parenting skills is now beginning to emerge.
In an exclusive interview with E! News, Jack Wishna, a Las Vegas-based businessman who attempted to arrange a headlining series of comeback concerts with the late King of Pop in 2006 and 2007, opened up about his experience with Jackson, whom he described as "depressed and debilitated" during the last years of his life, but still a fun father.
Among the biggest revelations: Wishna talked about the music legend's penchant for overnight slumber parties with his three kids in the Sin City mansion that Wishna had arranged for them to live in.
Wishna, the president and CEO of CPAmerica Inc., first met Jackson in 2001, but didn't begin bandying about the idea for a Las Vegas residency gig for the "Thriller" singer until after the latter returned from living abroad, following his acquittal on child molestation charges.
Wishna told E! News that he had set Jackson up in a magnificent 16,000-square-foot spread (per property records) in December 2006, which the Moonwalker left a total "pigsty" upon moving out. On his first visit to the house, the promoter painted a predictable picture of life at the Jacksons.
"I'm looking around the house for him and I go into the master bedroom and there's no mattress on the bed. I go into another bedroom, there's no mattresses on the bed. I finally open up a room that was kind of like an empty room and all the mattresses are on the floor lined up so Michael can sleep there with the three kids," Wisha said.
However, Wishna was quick to note the impression left by the unusual sleeping arrangement was purely an innocent one.
"They can play. They can jump up and down. That's Michael," he added. "He was very comfortable in that Romper Room-type environment."
Wishna also insisted Jackson tried his hardest to be a good dad.
"He was a wonderful father. He loved them more than anybody in his family or anybody in the world," the promoter noted. "On the other side, he was tremendously childlike."
So childlike, in fact, that the superstar apparently never learned to clean up after himself.
"The day he moved out, the Christmas trees were still up [seven months later]," noted Wishna. "It was totally a mess."
Perhaps his laissez-faire attitude toward parenting was an effort to rebel against his own strict upbringing under his father, Joe Jackson.
Speaking of, Wishna stated how he often witnessed Jackson do his best to keep the family patriarch at arm's length. In one incident, he recalled how Joe phoned Wishna once in early 2007, begging to have Michael call his mother. On another occasion, the elder Jackson showed up one day at Jackson's Vegas house, only to be kept waiting outside the gate for nine-and-a-half hours.
"[Joe] left without seeing him...I believe Michael was tormented tremendously from his early childhood," he said.
Jackson subsequently broke off the Vegas venture with Wishna, opting to team up with AEG Live for the series of 50 shows at London's O2 Arena, which he was rehearsing for and which some, including his former business associate, suggest he was unprepared for—which may have led to his June 25 death.
When Wishna did learn the worst, he confessed his first thought was that Michael was finally "at peace."
Check out E! News tonight and tomorrow at 7:00 ET/PT for more exclusive details.