By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Born in 1959, Jackson lived in the shadow of her tormented aunt. Marlene was convinced her daughter could avoid schizophrenia only if she became an extreme extrovert. So Jackson was banished from doing any "woman's work," her mom says — no household chores or cooking.
She became attached to her dad, a physical education teacher at North Glades Elementary, near Carol City, where they lived. Jim believed his family had a gene that inclined them toward obesity. "He said I was 'genetically inferior,' " Jackson says. "I think it made me nuts. That's probably where my eating disorders came from."
Her childhood was spent on balance beams and parallel bars. From age 4, she could do a handstand, a move that would make her famous on SNL.
Nearly every hour that wasn't spent in school or church, Jackson practiced in their yard or at a nearby gym. She would tumble on gravel until her hands were bloody. "I did not like gymnastics at all," she says. "My hands were ripped. My hip bones had bruises on them. My knees are permanently injured. My neck got cracked once. I mean, doing 200 sit-ups is not fun."
Her brother, Jim Jr., one year younger, was too introspective and ruminative for his dad. "We thought he was stupid," Jim Sr. says.
The son is now an architect in L.A. "I was a disappointment at birth," Jim Jr. says.
The kids were trapped in Dad's cinema-inspired fantasy world. Jim Sr. had Jackson flip through rings of fire. Or her brother would hang upside down over a burning log while she threw torches at it. "The flames started licking at my hair," Jim Jr. recalls. "I was frozen stiff, frightened out of my mind."
In 1974, Jim Sr. paid $52,000 for a more upscale, three-bedroom place in Miami Shores. Jackson became a cheerleader at the private Dade Christian high school. She dated a Baptist boy named William Paul Wessel, who had perfect posture; he was so straight-laced he carried a briefcase to class.
By the time Jackson graduated in 1977, Saturday Night Live had premiered its rookie cast, including Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase and John Belushi. But she had never watched the show. The family had no TV. The only movies she knew were The Sound of Music and The Love Bug. When her dad asked what she wanted to do with her life, Jackson remembers earnestly replying, "I'd like to be Julie Andrews on the top of a mountain, singing with my children in matching outfits with a ukulele."
But then, says her brother, "Vicky went a little crazy." She got engaged to her beau Paul before he dumped her, she says, "for the girl who used to wink at him in church."
She bounced from Broward's Florida Bible College to South Carolina's Furman University before finally ending up at Auburn University in Alabama. It was in Birmingham in 1980, just before her senior year, that she first tried out for a professional theater production. She won three minor roles. Her pay: $600.
During a rehearsal of Meet Me in St. Louis, a celebrity fellow actor took notice of her helium voice and penchant for flip-flopping across the stage. Johnny Crawford had played Chuck Connors' son on the TV Western The Rifleman 20 years earlier and then become a second-tier theater nomad. He took Jackson to lunch. Along the way, she did a handstand on a fire hydrant and then on a tractor tire. "I felt like I had discovered something really special," Crawford says. So he offered her a one-way plane ticket to Los Angeles, where she could make it big.
Jackson quickly decided to quit school and accept. (She finally earned a bachelor's degree in 2010 from Palm Beach Atlantic University.) She lived in Crawford's guesthouse in the Hollywood Hills and tooled around town on a moped. Together they spoofed Hamlet at the Variety Arts Center downtown. He introduced her to Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion. She stood on her head and recited poetry while half-naked Bunnies looked at her quizzically.
That strange shtick became Victoria Jackson's comedy act. She was upside down, warbling a song about a mugger, when screen agent Dolores Robinson first saw her in a tiny upscale Beverly Hills wine bar called Englander's. "I'd never seen anything like her before," Robinson says.
"Some people thought I was a genius," Jackson recalls. "Some people thought I was retarded."
At age 22, Jackson met Nelson "Nisan" Eventoff. He was a fire eater and sword swallower who played the piano in blackface. She was smitten. Jackson claims Eventoff rolled the first joint she ever smoked. "It made me very creative, horny and paranoid," she says. Then he brought her to the Silver Lake home he shared with several other hippies, dogs, finches and a ferret. There she lost her virginity to the fire eater.
"I had a nervous breakdown," Jackson says. She flew back to Miami and confessed to her mother, who took her for her first visit to a gynecologist. Assured she was not pregnant, she then pondered her premarital predicament. If I married him, it wouldn't be such a bad sin, she thought. If I don't marry him, God will say, "She's a slut."
The LA Weekly, in their print edition, wonders why I "use such a disgusting word" in my reference to Victoria Jackson (below). The answer is in their own article:
"She has declared, in protest of a gay kiss on Glee, that homosexual children need to "pray the gay away" and that there's a "spiritual war in America.""
What Victoria Jackson does kills people.
All you need to do to get publicity (& a book and maybe a TV show) is to be a raving lunatic like VJ, or Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, et al. Of course VJ got a head start in show biz, but she's even too crazy for la la land. I suppose she will soon take her place among the other loser has-beens who never were, like Dennis Miller, Ted Nugent, etc on the Fox propaganda channel where there will continue their slow road to oblivion. Such creepy people!
Thanks for confirming LA Weekly is obsolete. I stopped picking it up years ago because already have my medicinal marijuana card , and I don't need plastic surgery or a colon cleanse. Seriously ? Why give this half whit more attention?? Disappointed , but far from surprised. Still great for house training pets though.
I read this article as I read every Weekly article. My thoughts are like : what happened to you, VJ? It's like she's bought into every right-wing cliche imaginable to couch her beliefs in. I felt sorry about how her SNL co-workers harshly criticized her voice, and smirkingly rebuffed her religious "offerings" (though she should have kept her beliefs to herself, not brought them to the workplace). When her dad makes derogatory remarks about disliking "fat people", then she herself actually says "you're allowed to be fat and black, because it's sassy and sexy, but if you're white you're not allowed to be, unless you're liberal", smacks of both racism and sour grapes on so many different levels you wonder why she can't see the forest for the trees and pick apart her own words to see how narrowminded and ignorant they are.
Honestly, LA Weekly, this is your cover story this week? Yes, I was sucked in and read it ALL...what a fool I am, but not half the fool that this silly woman is.
This woman's Dad is one nasty abuser. It's really interesting to sit down with someone's family.....if I don't say it maybe no one will. Telling her she's "genetically defective" when she's a kid (without irony!?!!)
That is NASTY and WRONG. There's no excuse to do that to a little girl. It's horrible. Then he sits there all these years later at the dinner table talking about fat people. And there's VJ who at least has gotten out of this town where if you're not about to break in two, you're not thin enough!!! (If you're a woman trying to get acting gigs, that is.) What is his problem? Get over it! Not everyone is thin! Larger women are beautiful!!! I mean, look at actress Rachel Weisz....she was absolutely stunning, back before she got Hollywood-thin. Now she's still pretty, but she just looks like any other actress. It's a health thing. Stop listening to your Dad VJ. He's a jerk and has messed with your head big time. You're not fat. My ex would say "lush" or "glowing."
Also, those politichicks are creepy to watch. It's hilarious how uptight they are trying to imitate other TV shows where everyone sits obediently straight up and then there's Victoria Jackson just going bonkers. Watching the video was worth it just to see their reactions to someone *alive.*
And .....they're not looking for someone "liberal" to co-host. What a joke!!
How the fuck is victoria jackson even slightly relevant? She's just another Tea bagging moron with her head shoved wholly up her own ass. Her conservatism isn't a thing anymore and it shouldn't be because she's a fucking idiot.
Every time I have seen VJ I have thoroughly enjoyed her....she is delightful to watch and totally unique. But it sounds like she is losing her mind. I mean, this: "What if we crashed and died on video?" she says, laughing wildly. "That would be the most viral video of the world! You'd be dead, but you'd have a really viral video!"
This is NOT funny, VJ---you have got to stop this!!! Because of people like you, people like me talk all day about mayhem on the freeways, accident after accident after accident, because people are *playing with their gadgets.* It's NOT a video game out there! Those are not just hunks of metal all around you, they are PEOPLE. And all it takes is one little swerve the wrong direction and you are wearing your steering wheel through your chest, OK? You become one with your car, and not in a good way, OK? Sometimes I think I'm going to go absolutely mad after a day of reciting the latest traffic accidents on the radio. Some of them are horrifying. Some of them kill children, innocents. In the very worst, most painful ways. And countless more are maimed, lives altered forever---it just happened to a friend of mine.I don't blame you alone. Nobody is respecting the rights of others on the road these days, and because of that, in the next ten days or so, ten of us who are alive now have less than ten days to live, and nobody knows who that is. It could even be you. Or me. That's what the stats say. That's what they've said for years. And that's a conservative estimate, ten fatals in ten days for LA County. Anyone who gets in a car, no matter how well he or she drives, is exempt, because we're all out there together. STOP PLAYING WITH YOUR GADGETS WHILE YOU DRIVE. And Victoria-----I'm sorry about your Dad, but his judgement is whack and if you follow it he makes you look whack. He doesn't sound very nice. Your mom sounds cool, though. Wherever the whack comes from, you are so charming, but SCARY.