Simon and Schuster
After being introduced to Gordon by her father, Joseph, she would remain under his watchful eye for several years while he abused and controlled her life until she was finally able to break free. Her marriage famously put a strain on her family relationship, after she wrote the explosive tell-all , 'La Toya: Growing Up In The Jackson Family' in 1991, in which she exposed the physical abuse at the hands of her father and accused her pop star brother of being a child molester -- she later admitted that Gordon forced her to lie in the book.
Now, more than a decade later, the 55-year-old has turned over a new leaf, and has reunited with her family. Following the 2009 death of her iconic brother, the often reclusive star and her family have been thrust back into the public spotlight, and have rallied together to protect the Jackson legacy. With more than two decades of experience in entertainment under her belt, La Toya is ready to tell her story her way with a new book and accompanying EP, both titled 'Starting Over.' Read on as the entertainer opens up to the BoomBox in a video interview about a sketchy $100,000 "deal" with Mike Tyson, the singer she feels reminds her most of Michael Jackson and turning her life from negative to positive.
You have a song on your 'Starting Over' EP called 'Mafia Style.' What inspired that song?
Actually 'Mafia Style' was a little thing that we put out from the EP because that was my life. When you read the book 'Starting Over,' you will understand the whole "mafia style." I lived in New York and he [my ex-husband] had very big ties with the mafia and we practically every day [were] on [New York City's] Mulberry St. I knew John Gotti, I knew all of these [mafia] guys, so that was one of the things. These guys would get around the table and talk and they would talk about what they were going to do and say, and I was hearing a whole lot that I probably shouldn't have been hearing. I was the only girl, and they called me "the kid," because these were older men and they would say, "Is the kid going to talk?" and he [my ex-husband] would always say, "No, the kid doesn't talk," because I would always say, "I know nothing about nothing." That's what I was taught to do, so that's where the 'Mafia Style' came in.
For people not familiar with your background -- leaving an abusive husband -- why is the project titled 'Starting Over'?
Because it's my life, starting over. I think it's very important for everybody to start over. If things aren't going right in your life, it's so important for you to get it right and start over. What's so great about starting over is that you can start over as many times as you want as long as you start over and you get it right.
How has your brother, Michael Jackson, inspired you musically?
I think my brother has inspired the entire world. He was just so fabulously great, just absolutely wonderful, incredible. You guys don't have a clue how talented Michael was. What you saw was nothing compared to what he could truly do, and I would always say to him, "Show that to the world," because he was so much better! He'd just do what he did on stage, he was just incredible. He's inspired me in every way possible. He's always given me encouragement in everything.
Did you do something special on your own to remember him on the anniversary of his death last week, June 25? If not on your own, what did you do?
I spent the day with my family, meaning my mother and my father, and Michael's kids. My mother, father and I, we discussed Michael and watched footage and shows on Michael. Then I watched movies with the kids, not of Michael, but just movies. I spent the entire day with them.
Can you talk about one specific chapter or incident in your book 'Starting Over,' which you haven't yet spoke about in the press? What does it deal with and why did you decide to include it in the book?
That's a very good question. There's a lot in the book that I haven't discussed. For people who don't know, the book 'Starting Over' is about my life and I started writing it in February of 2008. I go through the life that I had with Gordon and how I escaped this abusive relationship. There's so many things that this man did that people wouldn't even understand, but what I think really hurt me -- a lot of things hurt me -- but when he went to Mike Tyson and told [him], "If you give me $100,000, I'll let you sleep with my wife." This is the type of person he was and that really hurt me. Mike Tyson told the story to my mother and father and to friends, this is what he was doing and I knew nothing about it. Mike knew I wasn't that type of girl. It's just so sad. That's what he [Gordon] was, bottom line, he was a pimp.
I read you will be releasing a full-length album later this year. What producers or songwriters are you working with?
The songs that you are hearing now are from the book. I wrote the songs first because the songs were written in 2001. But yes, I'm going to do another album because the fans want this album. After I do that, I'm done with music because my mind has always been business; I've always wanted to go into business law. Basically, we produce a lot of the songs ourselves, me and my business partner Jeffrey Phillips, but there are producers that I would like to work with. Rodney Jerkins I think is very cool. I like him a whole lot.
Which current rapper or R&B artist's song are you a fan of and why?
I have to tell you that my favorite, favorite artist right now is Bruno Mars. I adore him. I think this guy is so soulful, just the way he sings, he has a lot of Michael's qualities and tendencies. I love Lady Gaga, I think she's great. As far as rappers are concerned, I used to really, really love 50 Cent, but I haven't heard anything from him recently!
You recently spoke in the press about how Michael Jackson knew people wanted to kill him. At the time when he confided in you with that news, did you believe him or, like how many brother and sister relationships go, did you think he was overreacting?
I didn't brush it off when he first told me. Actually, when he first told me, I thought he was a little bit paranoid. I said, "You're Michael Jackson. Who's going to kill you? No one is going to do that." The more he began to talk about it, the more he explained it to me, the more it made sense to me. I said, "You're right!" It wasn't just once, it wasn't just twice, he would say it repeatedly and he was fearful. He was afraid for his life and he explained to me, "La Toya, it's all about my catalog, it's all about my publishing. They want my publishing and they'll do anything to get their hands on it and get it."
The Jackson family is full of uniquely talented people. How do you think you differ artisticly from your family and from other artists out now?
I think I differ in quite a few ways actually. I truly believe and think that my call was to really go into business because that's what I love. I love being behind the scenes, I love just watching a person and telling them what they should and should not do. I love helping people in that sense.
That's kind of what I did when I was at home with my brothers. I would say, "Michael, you should wear that, and not that." The 'Billy Jean' [performance for] 'Motown Turns 25,' it's such a cute little story. You know the black little glitter thing he had on? My mother and I had gone shopping at Neiman Marcus and I said, "Mother, you've got to get this," so she put it on and I get home and Michael's showing me all the moves he's going to do on 'Motown Turns 25,' and he goes, "What do you think I should wear?" I went upstairs to my mother's room and I go, "You should wear this [black glittery jacket]!" and that's what he wore.
[I differ from other artists because] when I do music, my music is cheerful, it sends a message and I like what I do. I'm one of those artists that's not R&B, it's just the middle. It's midstream actually, that's how I feel. I like happy music, if the songs are happy but yet it has that message, then that's wonderful. My songs, when you hear them, you will hear that message. I speak about what I believe in.