AIDS: La Toya Jackson - 'Apprentice' fundraiser

By Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

August 3, 2011

La Toya Jackson is the fifth of the nine children in the infamous Jackson clan. With Jack Gordon as her manager her life changed from being a Jehovah's Witness to Playboy Magazine centerfold. After breaking free from his control it was a time for Starting Over with an EP and book of the same title.

Windy City Times: Hi, La Toya. I just finished reading your book.

La Toya Jackson: Oh really? Did you read the entire book?

WCT: I did. I was riveted.

LJ: It is a great read, isn't it?

WCT: Yes and not what I thought it would be.

LJ: It is so important to reach out to women that have been abused and let them know that they can do something about it so they don't endure and suffer that.

WCT: It was like reading a horror story. I couldn't believe what you went through all of that.

LJ: Nobody knew. You never know what people are going through in their lives until they explain it to you of course.

WCT: It was graphic but important to get the message out.

LJ: As we speak right now I know there are thousands and thousands of women that are being abused at this very single moment. They are doing nothing about it because they are fearful and have no self-esteem. This is how abusers instill this in you and keep doing this to you. I want them to be able to say that they can start over and reach out to make new lives for themselves.

WCT: Do you think about how your life would have been if Jack had not been in it?

LJ: Are you kidding? Absolutely.

WCT: Would you want a movie to be made out of it?

LJ: Everyone wants me to make a movie out of my life. It is funny because my sister said I needed to tell me story and make a movie. People talk about the Tina Turner story What's Love Got to Do with It and it was awful what happened. If they only knew what I went through, they don't have a clue. Now it is in this book and now you see it.

WCT: Has your mother read the book yet?

LJ: No, my mother hasn't read the book because I haven't given her a book. But I speak to her everyday and she watches every television show. She is so proud of me and wants me to keep encouraging people to let them know what I went through. My mother and my dad are very proud.

WCT: They should be. I am sure it wasn't easy.

LJ: It wasn't easy at all.

WCT: Do you feel better purging those emotions by writing about them?

LJ: Yes, because you have to remember when this happened to me, Jerry, when I first left him I was a nervous wreck. When I would think about it I would start crying and shaking. I couldn't talk about it. Now it has gotten so much better because I don't have to do these things or worry about things like that. Time has given me strength.

WCT: You write about a Michael Jackson conspiracy in the book also. How is that investigation going currently?

LJ: As you know the trial is coming up in September. I still feel that Dr. Murray is the fall guy and that this was a conspiracy and more people were involved. Not only do I feel that but many people do because of course Michael told me this. People know that this was premeditated.

WCT: I see your point about the This Is It movie about Michael. I was hoping for something more personal not just him practicing.

LJ: Of course, they put that out immediately when he passed. They were collecting all of the tapes and editing it right away. Who does that?

WCT: People that want money.

LJ: They knew he was worth more dead than alive. When you read the book you understand it, don't you? You understand why they were after him and it made all of the sense in the world, didn't it?

WCT: Yes. You have new music coming out with this first EP in fifteen years.

LJ: It came out the same time as the book and you can download it on iTunes. Basically the songs are from the book like a soundtrack.

WCT: You have songs like "No More Drama."

LJ: Yes and "Should've Left You." It was those songs that I wrote that go with the book.

WCT: You raised $65,000 for AIDS with Celebrity Apprentice.

LJ: Yes, I did. I was very happy and proud to do that. I wish I could have raised more.

WCT: How were you first involved with AIDS fundraising?

LJ: Well, basically from my brother Michael. I don't know if you noticed but he is in the Guinness Book of World Records for donating to the most charities in the world. He has donated over 400 million dollars of his own personal money to charity. One of his charities was AIDS Project Los Angeles. I am trying to really support the charity like he had because he would love that. That is what he liked to do, help people. AIDS Project was right there in California where I live so this was convenient. Since then I have been passing out groceries, feeding people, making sure they have their dental work and their medicine, along with donating money to them. I want to help out any way I can. I think it's wonderful that we can help people and I am hoping we are getting close to a panacea for AIDS. That is going to be incredible.

WCT: Do you know someone that was particularly affected by the disease?

LJ: I had a makeup artist that passed from AIDS many years ago. One of my friends that was with the group Switch, Bobby DeBarge, died of AIDS as well.

WCT: I didn't see much about Janet in the book.

LJ: Because it is basically about my life and what I endured, what I went through to show other women and help them with the abuse one can suffer, to encourage them. You don't have to stand for this. You can get away and start over.

WCT: How has Celebrity Apprentice changed your life? The public perception of you has changed after that show.

LJ: The public doesn't know you. People think they know you but they don't. I guess they got a chance to see me in my true light. I have been under a lot of pressure in different circumstances and I maintain the person that I am. You can't change who you are. Everybody was surprised and didn't know I was that way, kind, gentle, the whole bit. Most of my family is the same way. We are shy, quiet, passive people. The media and public will paint you as a terrible person if they can.

WCT: You stood up for yourself and fought to get back on the show. That has never happened before.

LJ: Well, I certainly did. That was a wonderful show. I truly enjoyed working for Donald Trump and all the major companies to raise money for my charity. But I wasn't that pleased working with the different entertainers on the show.

WCT: I can imagine. Some of them were tough on you such as NeNe Leakes.

LJ: There were a lot of big personalities. It was a learning experience that people are so cruel and do anything to win.

WCT: It was great seeing you on RuPaul's Drag Race too!

LJ: Thank you. I love RuPaul. He is absolutely wonderful.

To purchase the book Starting Over and information on current projects visit http:// . To donate to APLA ( AIDS Project Los Angeles ) visit http:// .