Michael Jackson may have died 10 years ago ( or not, if you believe the diehard fans ), but his bizarre life is still the subject of intense speculation.
From rumours about his chimp, Bubbles; his apparent need to sleep inside an oxygen chamber every night, and the shocking allegations surrounding his inappropriate behaviour with underage boys, speculation about Jackson is just as rife after his death as it was while he was still alive.
One rumour that keeps re-emerging over the years is the supposed castration Michael’s father Joe Jackson put him through pre-puberty to keep his singing voice high.
Michael’s own personal doctor, Conrad Murray – who served two years in jail after being found guilty of Jackson’s involuntary manslaughter – gave credence to the theory in his 2016 book This Is It! The Secret Lives Of Dr Conrad Murray And Michael Jackson.
In it, he claimed that the patriarch of the Jackson 5 had forced Michael to have hormone injections at the age of 12, ostensibly to treat a case of teenage acne.
But abusive Joe Jackson allegedly subjected his son to a course of anti-male hormones that stop the production of testosterone in males and can bring about a chemical castration, keeping the voice high if the hormones are given before puberty kicks in.
“The cruelty expressed by Michael that he experienced at the hand of his father,” Murray was filmed saying after his release from jail.
“The fact that he was chemically castrated to maintain his high-pitched voice is beyond words… I hope Joe Jackson finds redemption in hell.”
Michael himself once spoke about his debilitating acne, revealing he felt suicidal as his relatives criticised his appearance.
“One cousin would always do this to me when he sees me, try to pop my pimples. I would go to the bedroom and cry,” he told Martin Bashir in the groundbreaking 2003 documentary Living With Michael Jackson.
Speaking of what his father would say to him as a child, Michael went on: “‘God your nose is big, you didn’t get it from me’… You wanna die. You wanna die, and on top of it you gotta go on stage in the spotlight in front of hundreds of thousands of people and just… god, it’s hard.
“I would have been happier wearing a mask.”
Murray wasn’t the only expert who flagged the possibility that Michael had gone through a chemical castration.
French doctor Alain Branchereau told Medical Xpress in 2011 that Jackson clearly had “the voice of a castrato” and pointed to the hormone Cyproterone, which can be used to treat acne and shut down male hormones.
The drug “keeps a child’s larynx all his life in a man’s body,” Branchereau later wrote in his book Michael Jackson: The Secret Of A Voice.
However, his theory was rubbished by researchers pointing out that Cyproterone was still in clinical trials in the 1970s, when Jackson would have been given it, and that he appeared to have gone through puberty as normal.
Jackson’s autopsy also seemed to pour cold water on the feverish castration theory.
The coroner’s report found: “The genitalia are those of an adult male. The penis appears uncircumcised. The extremities show no edema [swelling], joint deformity or abnormal mobility.” It went on to confirm Jackson’s larynx seemed normal.
“There is no edema of the larynx. Both hyoid bone and larynx are intact without fractures. No hemorrhage is present in the adjacent throat organs, investing fascia, strap muscles, thyroid or visceral fascia.
“Both testes are in the scrotum and are unremarkable and without trauma.”
So why does the conspiracy that Jackson was a eunuch persist?
One reason could be that it popped up as a rumour to help strengthen Michael’s denial that he ever physically molested young boys.
He was put on trial in 2005 for seven counts of child molestation and two charges of administering an intoxicating agent to a 13-year-old boy – but despite evidence from some of his alleged abusers, Jackson was acquitted of every charge.
However, at no point during his trial did his legal team tell the court he had been castrated and therefore unable to sexually assault anyone with his penis – something that no doubt would have helped his case, had it been true.
So was it nothing more than the made-up claims of a disgraced medical professional, who was still hurting from being put behind bars for his most famous client’s death?
Could Conrad Murray have only made the bombshell claim to sell copies of his book after his prison stint?
One thing is for sure: Michael Jackson conspiracy theories will continue to rage on until those closest to him in life are able to put the record straight once and for all.