November 16, 1987 12:00 PM

For security reasons the superstar avoids the front lobby and leaves the Capitol Tokyu Hotel through a side door. But two dozen shrieking schoolgirls spot him anyway and move in with cameras cocked. Cornered, the dark, handsome object of their affection must sign autographs and make kissy-kissy before escaping.

Okay, maybe the fans would have preferred Michael Jackson. But his pet chimp, Bubbles, is nobody’s monkey’s uncle. Rescued by the singer from a cancer research lab in Texas two years ago, Bubbles, 3½, is probably Jackson’s closest (sorry, Liz) companion. The chimp divides his time between the Sylmar, Calif., ranch of his trainer, Bob Dunn, and the Encino spread of his owner, where Bubbles and Michael often stay up until 1 a.m. “singing and dancing,” according to Dunn. When Jackson toured Japan recently, Bubbles tagged along, serving as his understudy for promo appearances.

Bubbles’ fame may soon exceed that of Spuds MacKenzie. He’s spearheading Michael’s Pets, a line of stuffed animals based on his master’s menagerie. The toy versions of Bubbles, Muscles the snake, Louie the llama, Jabbar the giraffe and others, priced at $25, went on sale last week.

His owner’s eccentricities aren’t rubbing off on Bubbles. True, the chimp’s taste in clothes tends toward the flamboyant—haberdasher Rick Pallack, whose clients include Ted Kennedy and Bruce Willis, is designing a suit for him—but Bubbles hasn’t yet bid on any ape-man’s bones. Nevertheless a certain narcissism is creeping into his style. “Whenever Bubbles sees himself in a magazine,” says Dunn, “he’ll pick it up and kiss it.”

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