A Michael Jackson impersonator who's made an Eight Mile gas station his stage for the past several years doesn't do it for money, but rather real-life likes.
Calvin Nelson is "a mild-mannered janitor" who was drawn to impersonations from a young age because he was bullied for being small, the Free Press reports. Since high school, he's done impressions of James Brown, Prince and even Elvis.
He's spent years perfecting his Jackson interpretation and is said to have mastered every dance move from the videos of his hit songs.
"It’s almost like I’m a reincarnation of Michael Jackson. When I’m out here, I’m not Calvin no more.”
When he was in character, people treated him like he was special. Women were playful. Guys were friendly.
“Man, it’s a total different thing — totally different — because you see me as Calvin. But then, all of sudden, once I got on this,” he said pointing to his Michael Jackson outfit, “people just run up to me like the paparazzi: ‘Oh, hold up, can I get a picture?’ It’s overwhelming.”
Some people devour self-help books trying to become different than they are. Others resort to alcohol or drugs to escape their insecurities. But Nelson simply adopted the persona of someone who was already loved by many people, and he basked in the refracted affection.
Fans of the 65-year-old's performance include neighborhood residents who frequent the Marathon near Schaefer and passersby who stop to hand him tips. Dancers at a strip club next door are also supportive. They once joined Nelson along Eight Mile, prompting a bouncer to plead for him to bring them back inside because the bar was losing money.