Catching Up With La Toya Jackson
By Jason Lamphier
You've been a guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race more times than anyone else. Who’s your all-time favorite contestant from the show?
Ivy Winters. I have lots of them, I really do. My favorites are usually the ones where you can’t really tell, where their legs are long and skinny and their face is very smooth, where they just have a tiny, tiny body. I loved the way Raja put his clothes together, walking out with the long gowns, and he’d wrap his head. Raja is gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.
Have you ever met a drag queen impersonating you?
Yes, I have. I think it was in New York, years and years ago. I saw it in Europe as well. It’s so funny because you look at yourself and you’re like, “I’m like that?” or “I move like that?" You see yourself so differently.
Your Wikipedia page says you've become a gay icon partly because of your “underdog status.” Do you consider yourself an underdog?
Well, no, not really. I think people are hard on people; they say things and get away with it. I don’t like when people discriminate against other people and what they want in life. When I look at certain people and see the expressions on their faces when they see a gay person -- how they’re being nice, but their actions are showing something quite different -- that disturbs me greatly. I want to walk up to them and say, “I know what you’re thinking. I see what you’re thinking. It’s wrong. You cannot discriminate this way.”
Well, you've dealt with some nasties in your time. A certain Omarosa comes to mind.
You never know who’s gonna be on Celebrity Apprentice, who your competition is gonna be. They throw these villains in there, these negative people, and they just become wild. We have bullies on the show, and I don’t like that because it’s very difficult to work together in a negative environment. I like to keep things as positive as possible, but when you have someone constantly trying to sabotage what you’re doing, it makes it quite difficult.
I noticed. So how vile is Omarosa? And how much does she play it up for the cameras?
What I saw, and what you guys did not see, is so much worse.
Yes, so much worse. It was just nonstop, and I don’t know how anybody could be that unhappy with themselves and their lives to treat other people that way.
Do you have regrets about not bringing Omarosa into the boardroom the week you were fired?
In all fairness, I really believed Donald Trump would not get rid of her. I think he bought her crying. At the same time, it’s a show, and you have to remember in the show she’s the villain. He’s not gonna get rid of the evil one who’s after everybody, because he wants those ratings. I was thinking like a producer, that he couldn't get rid of her.
But Trump said if you'd brought her into the boardrom with you that he would have fired Omarosa.
I know he said afterwards he would have, but none of us truly know. When she started crying, I thought, Oh god, he’s buying it.
In Life With La Toya you claim you’re a germophobe, so I was surprised when I went back to watch that famous deleted scene with you from Brüno  in which you eat sushi off a random guy’s chest. How did that all come about?
You know what? When I think about that I’m like, What were you thinking? It was all a lie. They had lied. They wouldn’t allow any of my people in [that room] with me. I went in alone, and they locked the door and I was thinking What’s going on here? It's the weirdest thing because you kind of believe it’s real, but the other part of you is thinking, Is this, like, a trap? Is this a game?
What were you told going into it?
I wasn’t eating, for one, because I don’t eat rice. I was trying to call my business partner and couldn’t. I was nervous, thinking, Where’s the front door? Can I open it and run out? We were misled. [My business partner] Jeffré was highly, highly embarrassed. He said, "I promise they told me I was coming to talk to someone about accepting an award." They did the same thing with Paula Abdul. I don’t know what happened. It was like a bad dream.
In one episode of Life With La Toya, your mother, Katherine, talks about your perfectionism, recalling how your brother Michael used to go into your room and jump on your pristine white bed in your perfect white room. What's one of your fondest memories of growing up with Michael?
You have no idea, because we did a lot of things together. We used to go on long drives. We use to enjoy playing and joking. There are tons of memories. I can’t even point any out. But yes, he used to do that. He’d also bring Bubbles with him, and Bubbles would use my bed as a trampoline. And not only that. I used to start screaming because Bubbles would go into my restroom and grab my toothbrush and start brushing his teeth. I’d go, “Noooooo! You can’t do that!”
You were on Chelsea Lately a few weeks ago discussing how people can hear your brother's ghost tap dancing in your childhood home.
It was security telling me they hear someone tap dancing above, and I said, “Well, Michael used to tap dance over there for two hours straight.” And they said, “You’re kidding. He did?” Security had no clue. He said, “When we go up there it stops, but when we come back down it starts all over again.” And I said, “That’s exactly where he would do it, for two hours every Sunday.”
Do you really think it's Michael's ghost...or something else?
No, it’s definitely him, because someone else that was there, staying in one of the guestrooms underneath that room, said they heard it too, and they would not have made that up. I absolutely believe it. I’m still far from going over there, but I was like, “Next time you hear it, let me know. I wanna come."
That’s crazy. I also have to ask you, where has Janet been? Any chance you two would collaborate on a song?
We used to write together years ago. I’m up for anything I feel would work. She does her own thing, and I do my own. But no, I’m open to it.
What's been most challenging about filming a reality show of your life?
There are times when I’m not expecting certain things. Like, someone asks me a question I’m not expecting and, boom, there it goes. But other than that, it’s been a lot of fun. It’s just everyday life.
Life With La Toya airs Saturday nights at 10:30 p.m. EST on OWN.
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