The years since 2009 have been good for Michael Jackson impersonators. After the pop star died on the verge of a comeback show, fans have wanted to see the closest thing available. "They want to go through me," says impersonator Sean Vezina, "to get to him."
Vezina may not look much like Jackon, but years of study and devotion to his oeuvre have paid off. Homeless, he currently makes his living taking pictures with fans for a small donation. He's following Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, hoping to make it to every venue. "I've been outside. I've been hurting. I've been on foot, traveling – like Forest Gump."
Devera Gregory is a professional dancer in her fifties who quit the dance line to play Jackson at parties, bar mitzvahs, and corporate events. Jovan Rameau poses with tourists on Hollywood Boulevard, standing by Jackson's star in the Walk of Fame. He says the money is hard to beat. "I said to Spiderman, one of the Spiderman guys, 'I made $560 on Friday.' He said, 'No way . . . not even Superman makes that kind of money!'"
But looking like Jackson has its downside. For Rameau, who dreamed of becoming an actor, impersonating a dead pop star is not a calling but a trap. "It's hurting my soul to be here," he says. "It hurts me because it's not what I set out to do."
Slideshow: Michael Jackson impersonators and tribute artists