Celebrity Invention: Michael Jackson's Gravity Defying Shoes


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for patentsrichfamous_280(2).jpgSome celebrities aren't just pretty faces. A few of them are also touched with that Yankee prowess for tinkering and invention. In this weekly series, we introduce you to the Patents of the Rich and Famous. And maybe you learn a little bit about how patent literature works along the way.

Inventor: Michael Jackson

Known For: Jackson Five darling. King of Pop. Plastic surgery victim. Neverland overlord. Beloved icon. *

That about sums it up.

But amidst the scandals and surgeries (and defenestrated children!), MJ will always be remembered for his dance moves. He was, after all, the Moon Walk inventor.

Jackson not only delivered elaborate choreographed dance numbers in his high production music videos, but he also translated his act to his live performances. Since his videos are rather elaborate, sometimes, his show couldn't exactly mimic his videos. Jackson didn't like that. So, it's no surprise that Jackson invented a dancing shoe to improve his stage act.

Invented Apparatus: "Method and means for creating anti-gravity illusion"


It's a shoe with a special hitch that changes the wearer's center of gravity, allowing the dancer to shift forward more than the gravity would normally allow, thus creating an anti-gravity illusion.

The present invention overcomes the above noted deficiencies of the previously employed cable system by providing specialized footwear and a moveable hitch or post to which the specialized footwear can be detachably engaged to allow the footwear wearer to lean forward on the stage, with his or her center of gravity well beyond the front of the shoes, thereby creating the desired visual effect.

The shoe has a "moveable hitch" that allows the wearer to lean forward on stage, while the shoe still looks securely planted on the ground.

It looks a little something like this, but switch out that very uncool looking dude, for a fly back-up dancer:


Rationale Behind Inventin: In Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" video, during an already impressive dance sequence, he pulls out his gravity-defying dance move:

Perhaps you're wondering: Whoa, how did he do that? Well, it's a music video. So, he used that movie making magic they call special effects. More specifically:

This effect was accomplished by the use of cables connecting a harness around the dancer's waist with hooks on a stage, thereby allowing the dancer to lean forward at the required degree.

That wouldn't work in a live show, obviously, inhibiting Jackson's grooviness too much on stage. Jackson needed something wireless.

The invention provides a new design for shoes which will allow his or her performing artist, by engaging the shoes onto an upstanding post positioned to project upwardly from a stage at a predetermined time, to lean forwardly to put his or her center of gravity beyond the front or rear of his shoes, thereby creating the desired gravity defying interesting visual effect.

And, voila. A small post would rise from the stage, lock into his shoe and allow him to pull off his trick, as seen in this live performance:


* This article originally referred to Michael Jackson as an "alleged child abuser." In 2005, Jackson was indicted by a California grand jury on four counts of molesting a minor but subsequently found not guilty on all charges. 

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Rebecca Greenfield is a writer based in Brooklyn. She was formerly on staff at The Atlantic Wire.

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