Written and Composed by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley
Produced by Teddy Riley and Michael Jackson for MJJ Productions, Inc.
Executive Producer: Michael Jackson
From the album Dangerous, released November 28, 1991
Released as a single April 9, 1992
THE SHORT FILM
Director: Herb Ritts
Primary Production Location: Salton Sea, California
Michael Jackson’s short film for “In the Closet” was the third of nine short films produced for recordings from Dangerous, Michael’s fourth album as an adult solo performer. As a single, “In the Closet” reached the Top 10 in 10 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, the song topped Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play, Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales and Hot R&B Singles charts. “In the Closet” was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on June 9, 1992.
The “In the Closet” short film was a stunning departure from Michael’s previous short films. Here, he eschewed extended narratives and epic set pieces shot on soundstages for a visually arresting, sepia-toned location shoot by iconic fashion photographer Herb Ritts. Clad in a tight-fitting sleeveless white shirt and black jeans, with his hair pulled tightly into a ponytail, Michael and model Naomi Campbell dance suggestively and lip sync to the song. “It’s not about outrageous sets and 50 dancers,” Ritts explained in an on-set interview. “It’s really about bringing Michael’s energy out in a new way.”
While some audiences were taken aback by the short film—its racy content was banned in South Africa—“In the Closet” earned Michael further critical acclaim and awards. In 1992, the short film won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography in a Video. Rolling Stone, which used a photograph of Michael shot by Ritts on the “In the Closet” set as an image for a 1992 cover story, ranked it Michael’s 11th greatest short film in 2014, calling it “the most sexually charged performance of his career.”