This weekend, my review of La Toya Jackson's second memoir, Starting Over, ran in The Daily. I didn't write the headline, so at first I freaked out a little, since much of the book is about her trying to correct misconceptions about her mistakes of the past. But then I thought about it and it's ultimately true: she's not sorry. She voices regret and points a lot of fingers (only on rare occasions at herself), but the weird thing is that she is unapologetic. I don't think she should be (there's nothing wrong with Playboy!), but she acts like she should be? She's pulling a Linda Lovelace and it's weird. I really didn't like Linda Lovelace (her memoir is such a crock of shit!) and I don't want to not like La Toya!
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Starting Over for many of the same reasons that I loved her first book. La Toya Jackson is adorably clueless. There's no recognition, for example, that we have no reason to trust her after she basically admits to deceiving us in her first book (Jack Gordon, her dead scumbag of an ex-husband, was the guiding hand behind the salacious allegations against her family members, supposedly). Who's to say that in 20 years' time, she won't come out with another book that said that Jeffré Phillips and his overemphasized syllable didn't force her to fabricate much of Starting Over?
Anyway, all of the abuse stuff aside (which is awful and harrowing if not gratuitous, as it stretches on for about 150 pages), Starting Over is fun and funny! I recommend it! Just a few more points/lines that I couldn't fit into my review, but still think are worth another chuckle:
- The code name for her super secret first Playboy shoot was "Toyota." You gotta admit, Toyota Jackson would make the best drag queen name of all time. I almost want to start doing drag just to claim it.
- She lies so much about her music success! She claims that she's getting $200,000 annually in royalties to this day, but from what? She never had so much as a Top 40 pop single in the U.S. (and really, she had very few anywhere in the world). She only recorded five videos over the course of her entire career! Most people couldn't name one of them!
- Related: One way you know you can't really trust her is that she misrepresents the "success" of 2004's admittedly splendid "Just Wanna Dance." It only showed up on the Dance Club Airplay chart, but the way she paints its chart run leaves that ambiguous, as though she could be talking about the pop chart (which is the default chart you're referring to, typically, if you aren't specifying a particular genre's list): "Within the first few weeks, the song charted, entering Billboard at number forty-two..." Pretty sneaky, sis.
- And also on that tip: "I never felt that I embraced [music], no matter how many Billboard hits I achieved." Are you fooled yet? Do you believe that she is a hit maker? Do you trust her word over your own memory/love of pop music? Do you? Huh? Do you?
- "I didn't realize how fickle the entertainment industry was and how many people would love me and want to work with me while I was hot, only to drop me the instant some hot new act came along." But seriously, when was she hot?
- She claims she was so against her first Playboy shoot that her robe had to fall open in order for her to pose nude.
- Discussing her estrangement from her family, when she was talking all kinds of shit on Michael during his first round of molestation allegations, she paints a picture of speaking to them in code through the press: she'd do something crappy, and her parents would condemn her to put on appearances, aware of the supposed control Jack Gordon had over her every move. Jackson family communication at its finest.
- When she finally leaves Gordon, the door closes behind her and she says, "It made only a faint click when it snapped shut, symbolizing all of the doors that Gordon had locked me behind over the years." Except, it was an actual door that he had locked her behind.
- In the time after her escape from Gordon, she was both paranoid and starved for human interaction. She'd order takeout just to hear the delivery person speak. She'd have him or her leave her order outside her door and then she'd snatch it before anyone could ambush her. "At least some kind of human interaction was happening," she reasons.
- Also in the aftermath of Gordon, "I kept the lights off and walked around in my own home like a criminal, ducking behind pieces of furniture to avoid being seen from outside." If La Toya Jackson takes a pratfall and no one's around to snicker, did it happen? No. That is why she included it in her book: to make it real.
- As they were reading Michael's not-guilty verdict from the second round of molestation allegations, she explains, "I was shaking and crying." There's no indication of sarcasm, either.
- Two tall tales told: 1) Michael was supposed to have a meeting on 9/11 at top of the World Trade Center, but he got a headache. 2) After she passed on a reality show, producers developed The Anna Nicole Show instead.
- But speaking of reality shows, she took her time on Armed and Famous very seriously. Also, participating in the UK's Celebrity Big Brother taught her a very important life lesson: "I began to learn the different personalities around me and understood how people thought and behaved in extremely varied ways." She was 52 when all of this dawned on her.
- And, speaking of 9/11, La Toya was still in self-imposed exile at the time and she says she did some Googling around to find people clamoring for her return. She says she read on message boards things like, "What happened to La Toya? We haven't seen or heard from her in years! Is she still alive? She needs to write a 9/11 song." At last my inner monologue has a voice! I know when those buildings fell, all I could think of was, "I wonder not just what La Toya Jackson has to say about this. I wonder what she has to sing about this."
Finally, five quick fun facts that I learned about La Toya from Starting Over (in her own words):
- "I love live classical music."
- "I get terrible motion sickness."
- "I've always been offended by swearing."
- "I never drank coffee and had only one sip [on a day she's describing]."
- "Ever since I was a child, I had always wanted to be a nun or a cop or work at McDonald's."
And so, I recommend this book. Believe me, I haven't even gone over half of the hilarity. Also, poking around while doing additional research, I heard a track of hers that's straight up great that I wasn't previously familiar with:
See, as much as I enjoy teasing her, I still want La Toya Jackson to win.