Life was very different for the Jackson family after they picked up and left Gary, Indiana for sunny Encino, California following the early success of the Jackson 5.
In her new docuseries, “Janet,” Janet Jackson and brother Randy opened up about the culture shock they experienced after heading to the West Coast in the ’70s. And it sounds like their new home was the place to be to see a few famous faces.
“We had three acres, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a badminton court. We used to have parties all the time, all the entertainers would be there,” recalled Janet, before listing off names including Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross.”
“I remember one of the parties that we had, [David Bowie] came and I guess to get away from everyone he was looking for a little room,” she added, before giving a sly look at the camera and letting Randy tell the rest of the tale.
“Michael and I are sitting in one of the other rooms away from the party. Bowie walks in and …” he began, with a laugh. “He offered us some of what he was doing to get high. We just looked at each other like, no, we didn’t no what it was. ‘No thank you!'”
It wasn’t all fun and games for them when they moved to California though, as one of Janet’s childhood friends recalled them being the first Black family to move into the neighborhood.
“They had this petition going around, so that we wouldn’t be in the neighborhood,” Janet claimed, before opening up about some of the other racist discrimination she experienced after the Encino transfer.
“I remember walking down the street and being called the N-word, someone driving by, yelling it out, be told to go back home to your country,” she added. “Feeling it at school with some of the teachers and some of the kids, touching your hair because your hair was different from theirs. Or your skin, rubbing it. ‘Does that come off?’ ‘No, does yours.’ I didn’t have a lot of friends. I had a couple. But my closest were my brothers and sisters.”
The two-night, four-hour “Janet” event airs Friday and Saturday night on both Lifetime and A&E.