La Toya Jackson is back in a big way. She not only has a new book out titled “Starting Over”, but she just released a brand new EP, which is also titled “Starting Over”. There is something about La Toya that has always fascinated me. She had a few top 100 hits on the Billboard charts, but her musical career never took off the way Janet’s and Michael’s did. I believe that, at her core, she is a true survivor with a caring soul. When reading the tabloids, it is easy to forget that the Jackson’s are a real family with real issues.
While chatting with La Toya, I could not help but find her story inspiring. Sure, she has made some terrible life choices, but it appears she really is starting over. She has decided to throw caution to the wind and just do what she loves, which happens to be Business Law. There is a certain humbleness and realness that came across in the interview. You can tell she really, really feels what she speaks. Check out my interview with La Toya below.
Congratulations on the new EP and book. Can you tell me about the book?
The book is called “Starting Over” and, of course, the EP is called “Starting Over”; it’s the soundtrack from the book. I started writing the book in February of 2008. “Starting Over” is about my life and what I endured and went through all of those years with my manager slash ex-husband [Jack Gordon]. It is to encourage women and to let them know you can start over no matter what you have gone though or what you have been through. It is never too late to start over.
The beginning of this is when my mother was supposed to go to Japan with me, but she couldn’t make it. She asked my father to go with me for a few days and he wasn’t able to. He asked Gordon to go with me. When we got to Japan, he took my passport. He took everything away from me and told me “you’re never going back home and this is the way it’s going to be.” From there we went to Germany and then London and he said “that’s the way it is.” The control and beating started. I wasn’t allowed to watch television, to have communication with my family, or anyone for that matter, read books or magazines. He controlled me. If I didn’t do what he said, he promised he would kill me or Michael. I believed him by the actions and the things I was going through that time. I happened to be a Jehovah’s Witnesses at the time, so I was naive to people and the world, thinking everyone was sweet, nice and kind. It was a crash course in learning about people, but being afraid at the same time.
I want women to know that when people instill fear in you and when they take control of you and take away your self-esteem and self-worth, we can’t allow these things to happen. We need to do something about it. If a man hits you one time, that is one time too many. Please get away from it. Go to a shelter and seek some kind of help. Don’t do what I did to endure that. I could be dead today but I finally escaped. As I speak to you right now, a lady is being abused every eight minutes and we don’t need this. So I am asking you to free yourself from those types of relationships and start over.
When did you decide that enough was enough?
The promising to kill me and Michael and having to do what he asked me to. He discredited me in every way. I did Playboy and he had me in these brothel clubs. All kinds of these things I wouldn’t do. I was strictly religious. What really encouraged me to leave finally at the last-minute, he degraded me and said “You are doing pornography. You are going to do it with a couple of guys and some women and I am getting millions for it. That’s how it’s going to be.” When he said that, I said “You know what? You can kill me now because I am done.” When I said that, I knew that there was nowhere for me to go because I didn’t have my passport. I begged and begged for my passport so I would at least have identification. He wouldn’t give me that. I finally got on the phone and said, “I’m calling the cops.” I just became courageous. He threw it at me and began to beat me with a Coca-Cola bottle. When he got in the shower, I called my brother and I said “Please come get me.” That is how it all started.
A lot of women don’t get that chance.
No, they don’t. When you read the book, please women, start over. It is never too late. Don’t be afraid of the situation you are in, because guess what? They are going to kill you anyway.
You really bare your soul in the book. Was it a difficult process to write it all down and get it all out?
Oh, yeah. I went through periods of my life where I couldn’t even mention his name or talk about it. I would start shaking and my emotions would just get to me and I would cry and cry. Now I am at the point, which I want every lady to be out there, you can start over. You can look back and speak about it and say, “That is who I was then. Today, I am a different person.” I can speak about it and help others and feel good about it and at the same time say, “Gee, I am not shaking over this any longer.” That means you are still carrying this negative energy with you.
You also speak about Michael’s passing in the book. Are you putting yourself at risk or do you feel this has to be discussed?
I definitely know this is something that has to be said. My brother told me they were going to murder him. When he told me that, I didn’t believe him in the beginning, but the more he kept explaining to me over his publishing catalog and why and who and the way it was going to happen. This is exactly what happened. It just hurts me. If you had a loved one and you knew that someone was telling you this, you just wouldn’t let it lie to the side. You are going to do what you can for justice. This is what I am doing.
It’s a courageous thing to do.
Thank you. I really appreciate that.
In the opening skit of the Starting Over EP, what is the Mafia intro about?
Well, it is in the book. It is the soundtrack to the book, actually. That was written prior to the book. The fact is, when I was with this individual, we would spend a lot of time on Mulberry Street and all the guys would sit at a table. I was the only girl. They would call me “the kid”. They would discuss things that were going on and what they were going to do. He would always say, “No, the kid won’t talk. She won’t say anything.” That is always what I did. I don’t know anything about anything. That is what I had to say and that’s what I said. I knew all these guys, John Gotti, he was friends with all of them.
Will there be any kind of tour for Starting Over?
This is something that the fans have always asked me to do and I said I’m going to do this one last thing and get it out of my system. My head is really with business. I have always wanted to go to school for business law. I did for a short time, but my father took me out and said “Everybody in this family is in show business and this is what you are going to do.” When I did it, I loved it. I wanted to follow my roots. What I truly love is business. That is what I want women to do: follow what you love and I promise your life will be happier.
I wanted to thank you for the work you do for AIDS Project L.A. It’s a great charity.
You can never ever do enough, I tell you. I will always support the charity. My brother, as you know, did as well and I will continue to support AIDS Project L.A. and that is why I did Apprentice.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this morning. I have really enjoyed it.
Thank you for having me. Take care.