MICHAEL Jackson and he aren’t friends any more, says Uri Geller, the former Israeli soldier-turned-spoon bending mind man. It isn’t because Geller introduced him to Martin Bashir, the result of which was the damning documentary Living With Michael Jackson and the subsequent court case for child abuse — for which, he was, of course, acquitted.
No, Jackson has upset him.
“I do not consider him a friend any more,” says Geller. “A few months ago he said some anti-Semitic remarks. I will say the word allegedly. These remarks were played on American television. They played a tape. I was very hurt by those remarks.
“Remember he was my best man when I renewed my wedding vows. I introduced him to rabbis... to hear those words was very hurtful.”
The words, broadcast on ABC TV last November, were from a 2003 recording during which Jackson appears to complain about Jewish members of the music industry who he believed had conspired to wreck his career.
“They suck them [pop stars] like leeches... they start out the most popular person in the world, make a lot of money, big house, cars and everything and end up penniless.
“It’s a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose.”
So why hasn’t he called to quiz him?
“He won’t take my calls.”
The pair first spoke six years ago when Geller was visiting Mohammed Al Fayed’s home and Jackson called.
“He said he always wanted to meet me because he’d read about me in American school books. And he was always fascinated by mind power and the mysteries of the universe.”
They met soon after in New York. It was in the city years later that Geller would hypnotise Jackson at his request.
“He told me he had some kind of a... he wanted to get rid of something which is rather trivial. So I hypnotised him and then I did something highly unethical while he was in a very deep trance.”
You nicked his wallet?
“(Laughs) I asked him whether he’d touched any child in an inappropriate manner and he said ‘no’. And then I said ‘why did you pay up (settle out of court with) Jordy Chandler?’. He said ‘I couldn’t take it any more, I’d had enough.’ To me that was private validation that indeed the man never did that.”
But by asking him that it showed that you weren’t 100% sure of your friend’s innocence.
He adds: “You know I risked my reputation to defend him through the hundreds of television shows and radio stations that called me up. And I always said ‘my opinion is, he is absolutely innocent’.”
Did Jackson ever blame him for setting up the Martin Bashir interview?
“No, he never blamed me directly. I felt totally and utterly betrayed by Martin Bashir. Michael and I were stabbed in the back.”
Though he does blame Jackson for making mistakes of his own concerning the documentary. Like failing to have a lawyer check the contract in order to exert some power over the final product.
“And you don’t sit in a documentary holding the hands of a kid. I mean, come on.”
Geller was born into a poor family in Israel in 1946, lived in Cyprus throughout his teens due to his parents’ separation but returned to Israel in 1967 to join the army —- during which time he killed an enemy soldier.
“It was either him or me,” he says.
He then spent two years as a model before performing spoon bending tricks to small audiences — a skill he discovered by accident aged five. After cracking the market over there, he moved to the UK to find new audiences which he found with a career-breaking David Dimbleby TV interview in 1972. Added to the spoon bending was watch mending, where he’d encourage TV viewers to stare into his eyes in order to fix their lifeless time pieces.
“I also realised I was able to motivate people and instill in them confidence to change their lives for the better. And really this is what the show is about,” he says referring to the date at Mansfield’s Palace Theatre next month called Uri Geller Explains The Unexplained.
“It"s a family show,” he insists, encouraging adults and children to bring along broken watches and spoons.
“The core of the show is motivation. The kids that do come, 95% of them will never smoke or touch drugs. It’s that powerful.”
When they grow up, one assumes he means. He’s had letters from clean-living successful businessmen which is his “proof” of this. He’ll also discuss UFOs, life and death, the power of healing and prayer.
“People go home inspired.”
Charities also benefit, as at each show he auctions off a bent spoon and a visit to his home in Berkshire.
“I have some very unusual items at my house. My car just came back from a museum. It’s a Cadillac with 5,000 bent forks and spoons riveted to its body. They all belong to very famous people. Like James Dean, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Maradona, David Beckham, Churchill, Lady Thatcher... someone offered me a million dollars for it. I think it’s worth more. One day I may put it on eBay.”
Aside from the media interviews surrounding the Jackson trial, Geller’s last major TV appearance was in the Australian jungle during I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2004. He was one of the first contestants to munch on insects during a task.
“One of them was so hard I could not chew it. I swallowed it live not realising that it had little claws and as I was walking back across the bridge back to camp it crawled back through my oesophagus and back into my mouth. I still get little nightmares from that.”