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  • Twist Magazine - August 2001!

    Her father told her not to call him "Dad" anymore. She should now call him "Joseph" now. After all, he was her manager--and this was a business decision, nothing personal. janet Jackson was only 8 yrs old when she heard those words. She still collected dolls, and here she was, the baby sister being thrust into the spotlight w/ her singing and dancing siblings-Jackie, Tito, Marlon, Rebbie, Randy, Jermaine, Latoya, and Michael--on their own TV show. It was the change of a lifetime--but to Janet it was both a blessing and a curse. "I was taught to please everyone, to stifle feelings, to just get out and make money", janet says. "Money = success. No one ever asked me if I wanted to go into show business. It was expected."


    It's hard to believe that a pop star who has sold more that 50 mil. albums didn't really want to sing when she first started out, but that's exactly the way it was for Janet. "when I said I wanted to act, my father said "There's more money in singing. You'll sing,'" she remembers. "Now I'm greatful, 'cause my heart is in singing. But getting to that gratitude took 25 yrs of often feeling lost and alone." Oddly, it was as an actress that she first got noticed. After seeing her perform on her family's tv show, sitcom producer Norman Lear recruited her to play Penny, an adopted child who'd been abused by her birth mother,on Good times. She continued to work on sitcoms, next playing Charlene on Diff'rent strokes. But despite her preference for acting, her father heard her voice and insisted she sing. So sing she did. She signed a deal @ age 14 w/ A+M, and 2 yrs later, she released her first album, Janet Jackson. It was 1982, the same yr brother Michael releasted his classing album, Thriller< an all-time bestseller.

    Janet's album made a decent impression, getting as high as #63 on the Billboard chart. Her next album, 1984's Dream Street, didn't fare as well, topping out @ #147 on the charts. In the meantime, she was offered the role of Cleo on the tv show Fame. @ this pt., Janet was tiring of showbiz and begane making plans to enroll in college to study business law. But once again her father would have the final say. He demanded that Janet accept the role. Not suprisingly, she was miserable, and it showed in her attitude. "I absolutely hated doing Fame. I didn't wanna do it, but I did it for my father," Janet admits. Both Janet and the show's producers were pleased after she asked to be let out of her contract.


    Some kids throw a party when their family leaves town. But when Janet's family was away on her brothers' Victory tour in 1984, Janet did something more extreme--she got married! Janet and her boyfriend, James DeBarge, eloped in Michigan. The bride wore a baseball hat and sneakers during the ceremony; bother she and the groom wore sunglasses. It was a defiant act on Janet's part--her father hated James. But Janet's quest for independence backfired. She was abandoned at the hotel on her wedding night. James went out partying w/ his boys, and when he got back to their room at 3 a.m., he was drunk and she was crying. Things only got worse, James was reportedly a drug addict, constantly bombed, and on the rare occasion when janet did see him, she was usually picking him up in a tough neighborhood in the middle of the night, even though she had to be up at 6a.m. Janet realized the decision to get married was a disaster, and she got the marriage annulled after less than a year.


    After the failures of her marriage and Fame, Janet went back to her music career, remaking herself w/ the help of producers jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and choreographer Paula Abdul. The album she put together, Control, presented a new Janet to the world. On the title track, a bold Janet sang about doing things her way now--she wasn't Daddy's Girl anymore. Of course, her father despised it and said it wouldn't sell. But Janet listened to her gut and fired her father as her business manager. The album ended up spawning five hit singles, selling 8 mill. copies world wide, and making her a superstar.


    Since then Janet has come out w/ on hit album after another. But for all her public success, she's had a lot of private pain, much of it stemming back to childhood. Although she's denied that her father physically abused her (sister LT has claimed their father molested both herself and older sis Rebbie), she had hinted at abuse in her past, and on her 1997 album TVR, she put this personal anguish in her music. "Abuse of all kinds-emotional, verbal--is incredibly common," she says. "Singing these songs has meant digging up the pain that I buried a long time ago."


    Through the therapy of her music, and the help of a mysterious cowboy friend who gave her advice, Janet isn't just surviving, she's thriving. Despite splitting from her longtime love and secret husband Rene` Elizondo jr.(her father never knew they were married until their divorce!), Janet is taking time to repair relationships w/ her family. She calls her mother "her bestfriend" and has even publicly forgiven her dad. "It's been a lot of work, and not just on my part," she says "I just came to him, talked to him. I wanted to make peace." Janet describes their relationship as a work in progress. "I think as my father is getting older, he's realizing how truly important family is, and that there has to be forgiveness," she says. "He had the choice of saying 'Screw this, I'm turning my back,' or 'I'm sorry, I want to make this up to you.' So that's the place it's come to, and it's been great." It's a pd. of new beginning for Janet. In a way, she's living the childhood she never had now--even dating for the first time at 35! "I love the new me, " she says. "I'm really happy. I feel like a kid again because I'm experiencing things I never have before."