‘The Other Boys’: Jackson’s relationships with Macaulay Culkin and Brett Barnes
Both have never accused Jackson of abuse
The Michael Jackson documentary, Leaving Neverland, aired its first episode last night. The doc was all about the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who say that as boys, were sexually abused by Michael Jackson. At the end of the first episode of Leaving Neverland, James Safechuck says he was "replaced" and "pushed out" by Michael taking interest in new boys. Archive footage shows these boys as Brett Barnes and Macaulay Culkin. The documentary left us questioning what happened between Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin, and Brett Barnes. Both have been described as Jackson's "other boys".
Here is everything we know about the relationships between Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin, and Jackson and Brett Barnes.
What happened between Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin?
It's well known that Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin were close. The Home Alone star was nine years old when he started regularly visiting Michael's Neverland ranch. He also starred in Michael’s 'Black Or White' music video in 1991.
Culkin has always denied any allegations against Jackson. He recently appeared on Michael Rosenbaum's Inside Of You podcast, where he spoke about his relationship with Jackson. He said: "At the end of the day, it's almost easy to say it was weird or whatever, but it wasn't, because it made sense. We were friends.
"For me, it's so normal and mundane. I know it's a big deal to everyone else, but to me it was a normal friendship."
Macaulay Culkin also said during the 2005 sexual abuse trial that any claims against Jackson were "absolutely ridiculous". However, a chef at the Neverland ranch said he had witnessed Jackson put his hands down Culkin's trousers. Jackson's maid also came forward and said she had witnessed Jackson being inappropriate.
Macaulay even now says those claims are lies: "I couldn’t believe that, first of all, these people were saying these things, let alone that it was out there and people were thinking that kind of thing about me."
In the Leaving Neverland documentary, Robson and Safechuck say the hallway to Jackson's bedroom had been set up with alarms, which Macaulay interestingly did say was true.
What happened between Michael Jackson and Brett Barnes?
At the end of episode one of Leaving Neverland, James Safechuck said that Brett Barnes would sleep in Michael Jackson's bedroom alongside Jackson, whilst he sleep downstairs. He says Brett Barnes replaced him as Jackson's "number one".
Wade Robson also described being replaced by Brett Barnes. Jackson had told Robson he couldn't go on a tour with him as children weren't allowed, but then Robson saw Barnes on the tour with Jackson. Robson said: "I don't think he liked to mix us, he liked to keep the relationships separate."
Brett Barnes had a relationship with Jackson that started in the early 90s. He also denies any sexual abuse claims against Jackson towards him.
Who is Brett Barnes?
According to writer and journalist Diane Dimond, in her 2005 book Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case, Jackson and Barnes first met in 1987 when the latter was five years old. Barnes then also began to make regular visits to Jackson's Neverland ranch.
Brett Barnes is 37 now, and has stayed out of the limelight, but is believed to be living in Australia. An unverified Twitter account claims to be him, and constantly tweets and retweets in support of Jackson.
He refers to Jackson in tweets as his "brother" and tweets about missing the singer, and says he has a daughter now that shares Jackson's birthday.
According to TMZ, Brett Barnes is considering a lawsuit against HBO, for his portrayal as a victim of sexual abuse. The disclaimer that ends the doc says: "Macaulay Culkin and Brett Barnes have consistently said they never had any sexual contact with Michael Jackson." In Barnes’ view, this is not sufficient.
Leaving Neverland's director, Dan Reed, said he seriously thought about interviewing Barnes for the documentary, but decided not to. He told Business Insider: "In the end I knew that Macaulay and Brett had made statements consistently rebutting allegations that were made. I'm not in the business of outing anyone.
I think we make it very clear in the film that they deny to this day that anything sexual happened and I'm not about to try to change their minds about that."