The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

78° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tucson Michael Jackson impersonator impresses audiences

    Gordon Bates / Arizona Summer Wildcat
Michelle Mah, junior in finance helping Toby (right), 11 years old going into 6th grade, Morgan, 12 years old, going into 7th grade
    Gordon Bates
    Gordon Bates / Arizona Summer Wildcat Michelle Mah, junior in finance helping Toby (right), 11 years old going into 6th grade, Morgan, 12 years old, going into 7th grade

    The King of Pop has returned. No, not literally, but a local Michael Jackson impersonator is keeping toes tapping, audiences cheering and dollar bills waving with his show-stopping Jackson appearance and moves.

    Cameron Knight, 22, began his celebrity impersonation career at the age of 17, when he adopted the persona of Elvis Presley at Casino del Sol’s “”Icon”” event that featured various celebrity impersonators. Knight then decided to fill some more contemporary shoes. He practiced and auditioned as a Michael Jackson impersonator for the event.

    Prior to impersonations, Knight had minimal dance experience. His forte was actually in musical theater, which he studied throughout his middle school and high school years. That changed after he decided to become the “”King of Pop.””

    Knight, already familiar with some of the jazz dancing necessary for musical theatre, had to amp it up when he adopted his new character. He studied the legendary moves of

    Jackson, who incorporated jazz, tap, hip-hop and even breakdancing to form his unique and memorable flair.

    “”There is a lot that goes into it,”” Knight said. “”People don’t really understand what it is I do until I show them a picture or video.””

    The dance moves are not the only part of becoming Michael Jackson. According to Knight, the most difficult aspect is the makeup, which can take upwards of two hours. The process of becoming Michael involves details such as a clean shave, priming the face, lots of foundation, glue and, most importantly, the time-consuming nose. The result of his makeup influences his performances.

    “”The makeup stresses me out a lot,”” Knight said.

    The process of transforming from fitness instructor to pop culture legend is time-consuming and wallet-denting, according to Knight. Costumes for himself and his backup dancers, Garrett Wright and Addison Johnson, have cost more than $1,500 in the past month. His wardrobe includes some of Jackson’s most memorable pieces, including the signature sparkling white glove and red military-style jacket.

    Knight has performed in other countries like Canada, and was invited to a cruise ship.

    In response to his performances, Knight has experienced an array of emotion and appreciation.

    “”I’ve had very old people come up to me and say (they) didn’t appreciate Michael when he was alive, but now wish they had paid more attention,”” he said.

    During his July 9 performance at Colors Food and Spirits in Tucson, Knight was a definite crowd-pleaser. His fancy footwork and spot-on lip-syncing to favorites such as “”Smooth Criminal,”” “”The Way You Make Me Feel”” and “”Black or White”” kept the tips rolling in and cheers roaring.

    From the notorious crotch-grab-hip-thrust to the point-and-spin, all you’d expect to see from Jackson himself is performed by this talented local impersonator.

    Knight is not easy to please. He holds high expectations for himself and his dancers when performing. He thinks of this endeavor as a full show and not a simple act.

    “”The rehearsal is a tough part of it,”” Knight said. “”(Michael) moved so fast and did so many intricate movements that I have to (study) two seconds of video for hours. I have to do it and get it into my body and make it look good, and then teach it to my dancers.””

    If everything turns out well, his confidence and vigor shines through his dancing.

    “”The whole time I’m (getting ready) I am so stressed, (but) once I put on the wig and I look at my face and it works, I can relax.”” he said.

    All stressors aside, Knight enjoys entertaining people and “”getting people to remember how amazing and talented (Michael) really was.””

    From what it looks like, Knight is doing a great job.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search