Raymone Bain: Keeper Of the Famed
A Veteran Player in Politics, Sports and Entertainment, Publicist Raymone Bain Is at the Top of Her Game.
Is She Up to Managing Michael Jackson?
By Teresa Wiltz
October 8, 2006
Jackson’s assistant e-mails his answers to questions posed to him by The Washington Post. Questions about why he’s decided to put Bain in charge of his new company.
"I was impressed by her professionalism, her strategic thinking, and honesty," the e-mail reads. "I watched from afar the work she had done for other clients, for example how she ushered her clients to new levels, she helped diversify their interests from politics, to charitable events, to the world of fashion. One could not pick up a newspaper or magazine that did not feature Babyface, Boyz II Men or Serena Williams . . ."
Last year, Bain, 52, went from being the force behind the scenes to the glammed-up face in front of the camera, serving as Jackson’s spokeswoman during his trial. She strove mightily to paint a picture of normality for her notoriously eccentric client: "He’s pretty strong. He’s relying on his faith in God and his faith in the judicial system."
"She’s almost like a Columbo," says Cathy Hughes, Radio One founder and chairman, a longtime business associate. "She comes off like she’s seeking your advice; there’s a naivete about her that makes you comfortable. It’s a facade, a veneer. She’s probably one of the smartest, shrewdest people I’ve ever seen."
This is a woman accustomed to being in control.
She is, after all, a professional who has made a career out of managing perceptions, zealously guarding both her clients’ images and her own, a political junkie who got her start toiling in Jimmy Carter’s White House, a Georgetown law school grad who never practiced law. She’s a small-town girl who has represented some of the most glittering names in African American entertainment and sports: Muhammad Ali, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Tyson, Boyz II Men, Serena Williams, Deion Sanders, Janet Jackson . . .
Bain is a product of the South’s black middle class, a boomer raised on ballet and the Bible at a time when comportment, education and manners were used as weapons to blunt the effects of Jim Crow living. She is poised and manicured — "prissy," according to her friends — measuring her words with soft-spoken formality. Then again, she’s not above picking up the phone to administer a verbal beatdown.
Bain usually rises at 3 a.m. to take calls from Jackson, who, after hopping all over the globe, is now living in Ireland. Bain used to keep offices on 30th Street NW, but she figured that if she’s going to work until the wee hours, it’s better to do so from the comfort of her Georgetown split-level.
Her house, like Bain herself, feels formal, as if the real living is done somewhere else: subdued neutrals, an abundance of silk flowers, framed lithographs of iconic African American art. An electronic baby grand — she studied piano as a kid — stakes out a corner of the living room. Past a staircase trimmed with faux holly are framed platinum and gold records, a legacy of her work with R&B stars. In the library are pictures of Bain with Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Babyface, Jackson.
Downstairs there is precious little adornment, save for a glass wall overlooking the back yard. In one corner, piles of letters and packages, all from Jackson fans, are stacked, ready to be shipped to him.
She says that Jackson has been writing music since the trial and will be heading back to the studio in a few days, where he’ll be working with some of the hottest producers in the industry…
"Boxing prepared me," she says. "I’m not intimidated. When you’re cursed at, screamed at . . . That builds your resolve. I’ve got a strong spiritual resolve. No matter what happens, whether it’s good or bad, God is ordering my steps."
"Michael Jackson is a good man," Bain says. "He’s very brilliant, very sensitive. And it’s unfortunate what’s happened to him over the years. But he’s going to take care of it.
" We’re going to take care of it."