YouTube is a beautiful thing. Last week a generous member called CoEvi uploaded one of the best videos I've seen in a very long time. La Toya Jackson - The Making Of A Superstar was a two-part special that aired on Entertainment Tonight in 1984. Filmed to promote the impending release of Heart Don't Lie, the footage offers an intriguing glimpse into the world of my favourite Jackson before severe mismanagement and the husband-from-hell derailed her career and turned her into a laughing-stock. In that regard, it's like a documentary about the Titanic. Filmed the day before it sank.
The first thing you notice is how genuinely adorable La Toya is. The reporter asks her about growing up in the Jackson shadow and she replies that she simply doesn't know anything else. She comes across as grounded, smart and realistic - a far cry from the woman who would make a spectacle of herself on talk-shows around the world just a couple of years later. It's heartbreaking that Jack Gordon could break her spirit to the extent that she literally transformed into a different human-being. She deserves so much credit for escaping his clutches and re-establishing herself as the most successful living Jackson in the early noughties.
Another highlight is seeing how seriously CBS took Heart Don't Lie. The president of the company is seen advising Toy on her videos ("less street") and the conversation with Private I Records executives about pursuing a more European sound is fascinating. Ever the businesswoman, La Toya reminds them not to forget the Orient! My favourite part is the demented fangirl losing her shit at the 6:15 minute mark and the Pope of Pop declaring that she intends to follow Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross into films. Things didn't really work out the way the then 28-year-old might have hoped but she survived and is now more popular than ever. How many divas can say they are finally reaching their peak in their mid-50s? La Toya Jackson is the Benjamin Buttons of pop culture.