Celebrity designer returns home to East High School
By Ryan Ottney
Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Before signing his star on the Portsmouth Floodwall of Fame today, Portsmouth-born fashion designer and award-winning author Michael Bush made a quick stop at East High School in Sciotoville on Friday.
“There’s no question it’s exciting for our school to have Mr. Bush here,” said Sciotoville Superintendent Rick Bowman. “It’s really a great opportunity for us to show students what graduates from East High School have done and what is possible if you sort of set your goals and you work to make those dreams come true.”
Originally from Portsmouth, Bush worked at Millhuff’s in Sciotoville with his family, where he learned to sew.
“When I was eight or nine years old, my grandmother came in with a needle and thread and went, here. I thought this is the most uncoolest thing a person could do. At that age, it’s like that was the last thing I want to do. I think at that point they knew there was something inside of me, and I didn’t know it. They knew it.”
Bush graduated from East High School in 1976 and left Portsmouth, headed to Las Vegas where he began his career in entertainment and fashion with partner Dennis Tompkins. Together they became known as Tompkins & Bush who went on to influence the fashion industry in a way they couldn’t even imagine. Bush served as Michael Jackson’s longtime personal fashion designer for 25 years. Creating the fashions for the King of Pop was a collaborative effort which included great creativity, showmanship and a bit of engineering.
Bush’s book “The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson” is an art-driven book which not only chronicles Bush’s life with the King of Pop and his many fashions but gives an inside look into the personal anecdotes and life he led while creating some of the most innovative and famous clothing in entertainment. The book has recently won the Gold Medal at this year’s Independent Publisher Book Awards and the 2013 Gold Medal at the PubWest Design Awards for best Holiday/Specialty Book.
“I just had 3,000 people in Japan stand in line to see me, and I’m just the guy that made the clothes. But the visual is so strong,” Bush said. “You’re always asking in the back of your mind, ‘how did I get here?’ And you always have those memories of Millhuff’s and East High School, and taking a home-ec class in ‘76 with Mrs. Odle here at school.”
On Friday he paid a visit back to the K-12 student of Sciotoville schools.
“This embracement is amazing. I’ve been all over the world promoting the book and I’ve had great receptions, but nothing like this. I have had my head eight stories in the center of Times Square, on the Jumbotron, but that was a fleeting moment. My name on the wall will be forever,” he said.
The students listened with quiet interest as Bush told stories about working with Jackson, and all of the other celebrities he’s worked with during his successful career — like Elizabeth Taylor and Britney Spears. But the crowd went absolutely wild when Bush revealed he turned down an offer by Justin Bieber so he could be in Scioto County this week.
“It’s a fantastic journey, and it can happen. Just surround yourself with support teams and it can happen to you because it happened to me,” Bush said.
Today Bush will sign the Portsmouth Floodwall of Fame, joining other local celebrities such as Roy Rogers, American operatic soprano Kathleen Battle, former Major League Baseball’s Al Oliver and Country music singer/songwriter Earl Thomas Conley. The Wall of Fame Star ceremony today kicks off a week-long book signing tour which will also go to Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus. He will be signing books Saturday on the campus of Shawnee State University.
For more about Bush, find him online at www.dressingmichaeljackson.com.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or email@example.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.
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