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I first came across local Michael Jackson impersonator Devra Gregory a few years back, while writing a Reader article about local tribute bands, not long after MJ died. Her profile on the Gig Salad website read “Dev was Michael Jackson’s dance double on E! TV’s True Hollywood Stories…now, with passing of the greatest performer of all time, Dev brings Michael back to life.” Her performance fees were said to run from $500 to $2,000.

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The self-described Wiccan ("I'm out of the broom closet!") was quoted saying “I will travel anywhere overseas for a minimum of $2000.” Which, really, seemed like a bargain, considering the elaborate nature of the stage show described, said to cover MJ's entire career with a variety of costume changes and an intensive recreation of how his dance styles evolved over the 40-plus years he spent as a performer.

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I didn't hear much more about Gregory until earlier this year, when her one-woman stage show Woman in the Mirror, A Dancer’s Journey debuted in May, at downtown's 10th Avenue Theatre. Reviews were almost overwhelming positive, and I frankly regretted not having caught it myself.

The show will launch a new run at downtown's Lyceum Theatre, from December 2 through 9. "I'm self producing this show," says the alum of Chula Vista's Hilltop High. "I have so many feelings, from excitement to nervousness to elation. Staying calm while the wave of the future takes me on a new journey, into the unknown, perhaps great realms of success. I'm ready! Universe, bring it on!"

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The 90-minute one-woman show (co-directed by Rhys Green and Andy Lowe) includes segments devoted to ballet, burlesque, exotic dancing, and to Michael Jackson, taking the audience on "an emotional, comedic and touching journey into her life as a performing artist," according to the show promos. Included are dance excerpts of the many styles she experienced in life, while sharing her personal story, weaving the threads of Gregory's spiritual quests as she finds empowerment as a woman who today endeavors to embody a male icon of entertainment.

Gregory's background includes classical training as a ballerina, as well as stints performing in reverse-drag at the local Lips restaurant cabaret, dancing burlesque and stripping, and even as part of a SeaWorld kid's show. All these facets of the native San Diegan's career are covered in the show.

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Woman in the Mirror, A Dancer’s Journey at the Lyceum Theatre

Sat. Dec 1st 8:00

Sun. Dec 2nd 2:00

Wed. Dec 5th 7:00

Thur. Dec 6th 7:00

Fri. Dec 7th 8:00

Sat Dec 8th 8:00

Sun Dec 9th 2:00

For tickets ($20 - $30) go to http://www.LyceumEvents.org or call 619-544-1000

Discounts for Groups, Seniors, Students and Military

Michael Jackson had several San Diego connections, aside from performing and recording with once-local bassist Nathan East.

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The official Michael Jackson Moonwalker 3D comic book, based on a long-form 1988 video, was published by Blackthorne Publications, then based near Grossmont College on Blackthorne Drive. Released in 1989, six years after the breakthrough of Thriller, and falling between Jackson’s 1987 Bad album and the 1993 child-molestation scandal, the Moonwalker comic was a flop.

“We got involved with a distributor to the gift-store industry who promised all kinds of access-to-sales outlets, but unfortunately they never came through,” publisher Steve Schanes told the Reader in 2003.

Revolutionary Comics publisher Todd Loren has said that Schanes told him the Moonwalker comic incurred a loss of at least $50,000. Loren published the UNofficial Jackson bio comic in 1991 as an issue of Rock 'N' Roll Comics, under the banner of Hillcrest-based Revolutionary Comics, before he was murdered around a year later (the case remains unsolved).

Written by yours truly, the Rock 'N' Roll Comics wraparound cover art was by future comic book superstar Stuart Immonen (Superman, Legion of Superheroes), one of his first professional art assignments.

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In August 2005, rumors of Michael Jackson sightings at Carlsbad’s Chopra Center for Well Being proved true. “After the verdict clearing him of child molestation charges,” said Deepak Chopra at the time, “Michael and his children spent a week with me in San Diego... Michael is eccentric, but I know he’s not guilty of a criminal offence. Let’s not forget that Michael is an independent person. He confuses people. He’s sexually, racially, and culturally ambiguous.”

Clairemont High grad Jennifer Batten lived in San Diego between 1969 to 1984, and from there did three world tours playing guitar with Jackson. She performed for around 1.5 billion TV viewers in 80 countries when she appeared with Jackson in a Super Bowl performance.

Image Marlon Jackson and his wife have lived in and around Escondido since 1997, on Valley Center Drive, Torrey View Court, Ocean Air Drive, and in a residential hotel on West Harbor Drive in Del Mar. Some media reports have indicated he worked for a time at an Escondido Vons supermarket.

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A scene for Disneyland’s 3D movie Captain EO was filmed near where the late Dick Shawn was staying in Encinitas at the time. Cast as Eo’s boss, but unable to travel to the soundstage where director Francis Ford Coppola was shooting, the scene with Shawn near the beginning of the short only shows him as a transparent hologram.

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