HELLO AMERICA!—When I first appeared on a Baltimore TV show called “In the Know,” hosted by Oprah Winfrey in the late 1970s, I was warned by my New York editors that I should be very careful because Oprah had a reputation of ripping certain guests apart. It was during that time I published a national entertainment publication “PLAYERS” and a fan magazine, “Michael St. John’s Foxxy People,” which was turning into quite a hit. Being aware of this, I was required to constantly be on the road promoting the publications in certain major national markets. This, alone, I’m sure when Oprah was notified that I was scheduled to appear on her show and what I was about, she instantly dismissed who I was and what we might discuss.

Upon arriving at the NBC studio in Baltimore, I was shown to my dressing room and shortly after, there was a knock on the door. It was OPRAH. She introduced herself and asked if I needed anything. I indicated that everything was just fine. She shook my hand and said, “Ok, I’m looking forward to the interview.”

Once seated with Winfrey, she began very tenderly, congratulating me on the publication making the news.  Once, she realized I was quite relaxed she popped a question concerning Michael Jackson. She looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Is Michael Jackson gay? Well, during that time, a straightforward question like this was quite unusual. It was obvious that it was a question I never expected to deal with, however, being on camera since the age of 12 I took a quick breath and responded, “Oh, Michael is really a very happy fellah.” The audience, made up of mostly women, began to laugh and applaud. It was obvious that Oprah didn’t expect this kind of reaction and forced a laugh through it all.

Then another question she asked which in a very subtle way was an attempt to put me down was, ”Well, Michael how do you know so much about everybody in the business?” I looked at her, smiled and answered, “The same way that I know you’re having a hot affair with a certain producer on the second floor of this studio!”  Again, the audience cracked up, Oprah’s mouth shot open in utter surprise and slowly forced a smile.

Once the show was completed, the producers there asked if I might be interested in hosting a weekend program for them. Of course, I let them understand that it would take a helluva lot for me to leave my position in Hollywood for Baltimore. They understood!