The shoes pop icon Michael Jackson is most often associated with are usually a pair of black, Floreshiem penny loafers accessorized with some white tube socks. Those loafers took center stage when Jackson debuted his signature “Moonwalk” dance in 1983 during the “Motown 25” special. Despite the popularity of the “Moonwalk,” it was another pair of shoes linked with a dance move that caused Jackson and his team to file a patent.
The 1987 video “Smooth Criminal” featured Jackson in a pair of white spats leaning at a 45-degree angle during a choreographed dance sequence. The move was achieved using some special effects and wire work, but Jackson and two co-inventors needed a different method to reproduce the effect during live shows. A special shoe was designed, which held the foot in place while a peg in the shoe protruded beneath the shoe sole into the stage. Jackson’s patent described the shoe as follows:
“A system for allowing a shoe wearer to lean forwardly beyond his center of gravity by virtue of wearing a specially designed pair of shoes which will engage with a hitch member movably projectable through a stage surface.”
The method worked until a show in 1996 show in Moscow. One of Jackson’s heels popped loose, and he tumbled to the stage. Despite the defect, Jackson’s patented kicks earned $600,000 in an auction.
You can view the “Smooth Criminal” video below.