Colleen Roberts is selling off her Michael Jackson memorabilia collection to raise some cash for a demo tape of her voice talents.
Colleen Roberts has hundreds of pieces of Michael Jackson memorabilia and she's selling the entire collection this week on eBay. "I made the decision to sell in December," she says, adding that this is a good time to do it because Jackson is so popular right now.
"His song Billie Jean is No. 1 in New York clubs again," she says, and his visibility has soared because of the recent British documentary by journalist Martin Bashir. (Roberts herself is no stranger to the media: Two years ago she published Loving a Legend: Memoirs of a Mistress Part I, about her 30-year relationship with singer Josť Feliciano.)
Roberts displayed her entire collection at Gretzky's restaurant last Friday, just before the auction began on eBay. Most of it dates from the 1983-84 period, when the pop star was at the peak of his powers. There are red-and-black Thriller jackets in several sizes, Jackson's famous glitter glove, a Jackson Viewmaster, even bottles of Michael Jackson cologne.
Her accumulation of Jacksoniana started quite by accident, she tells me. She used to collect robots, the most valuable of which was Robbie from Forbidden Planet. While searching for a companion for Robbie, she found herself drawn to a Michael Jackson doll. Roberts, who sells antiques at the St. Lawrence Market, explains her attraction like this: "When you're in antiques, everything is dark. The doll was so bright."
Roberts thinks the most valuable items are black-and-white photographs (worth about $100 each), including one of Jackson on the set of the Pepsi commercial where he later burned his hair.
After agents' fees and eBay charges, Roberts, 62, hopes to have raised enough money to finance a promotional tape and video featuring her "voice talents."
She gives me a demonstration of her most striking voice talent, and I jump back, alarmed.
Remember the voice of the demon in The Exorcist? It still scares me so much I refuse to have it on in my house. Well, Roberts can reproduce that gutteral rasp exactly.
"My voice scares kids," she tells me proudly.
I've got news for her: It's not just kids.
Her hope is to be featured in movies requiring that dark, evil growl.
She is taking voice lessons through the Learning Annex from Bob Cook, manager of audio productions at Citytv, so after I leave Gretzky's I give him a call to see if he thinks her talent can take her anywhere.
"It's very unusual," says Cook, "in the sense that I've never heard a voice like this before."
When he first heard her guttural sounds, he recalls marvelling, "Where did that come from?"
But is such a voice marketable?
"What she can do with something like that," he says, "is expect that it would be a 'request voice' -- for example, she won't be reading bank commercials. She should give her tape to animation houses, for cartoons, Monster Inc. and shows like that," he says.
Before I left Roberts, I asked her if her scary voice has ever come in handy?
"I went on a date years ago at the Yacht Club and I overheard my date talking about me," she says, "so I walked around all night using that voice. Anyway, he never called me again."
As far as Michael Jackson is concerned, Roberts says she can relate a great deal to him: "He's travelling in his fantasies and is still a child."
And how's it going with Josť Feliciano?
"I broke up with him last year," she says.