LaToya Jackson Tries New Career As 'Toy,' Says 'Michael Knows My Heart'

Michael Jackson's big sister bouncing back after unhappy marriage, family troubles.

LaToya Jackson has something she wants to tell her little brother Michael. Unfortunately, she's not going to let the rest of us in on what she's going to say.

"It's a subject I can't touch on at the moment, and I would love to," she said. "But he knows my heart. I have always been with him in my heart. He knows everything that's happened, and he knows the influence of somebody else who made me do something against my will. Michael knew it was against my will, and my family knew I didn't want to do what I did, but I couldn't say no."

What she "did" was publicly speak out against her brother, back in 1993 when he was first facing accusations of child molestation. She drove a wedge between herself and the entire Jackson clan when she accused Michael of paying hush money to the parents of his accusers, and charged that he would stay in his room for days on end with young boys. Her then-husband and manager, Jack Gordon, drove the wedge even deeper when he claimed that Michael had threatened LaToya for speaking out against him, going so far as to claim that Michael would pay to have LaToya killed if she ever returned to California.

Maybe she's going to offer profuse apologies to Michael, because now LaToya is singing a different tune. She claims that "it's very important for everybody to support [Michael]" and that the entire family is now united in the endeavor.

"We're all behind him 1,000 percent. And he knows the support is there," she said. "The public hears so much that's not true. I don't think you guys really know what goes on in the real realm of the family. No one knows just how close we are."

She also is finally free of Gordon, whom she divorced in 1997. Though she is careful not to mention him by name (referring to the whole matter as "a touchy subject to talk about"), it's clear that she thinks Gordon influenced and controlled much of her life, and that he forced her to make a host of ill-advised career choices, including those claims against her brother.

"I was in a relationship that I chose not to be in, and I didn't know how to get away from it, as far as management and the whole bit," she said. "To get away from something that powerful and negative you have to clean house. You can't just run away from it. I had to get rid of all the negative people that surrounded me. I had to get rid of all the cancer."

In the years following the divorce, LaToya pretty much disappeared. She claims she didn't know what to do with her life, that her self-confidence had been destroyed by years and years of public criticism. She was tired of being the butt of so many jokes, and was afraid to sing again. But slowly, she began writing new songs and going out to clubs, watching people dance and creating an alter-ego for herself.

"I was at a club and I kind of disguised myself. I wore a suit and a moustache and a goatee. Everybody thought I was a guy," she said. "Actually everybody thought I was Michael. They didn't know if I was a girl or a guy."

And the character development didn't end with dress-up. LaToya began answering to the name "Toy," her childhood nickname. And she kept the moniker when she sent her first new song, "Just Wanna Dance," to club DJs.

"As LaToya, I knew people wouldn't give my music a proper listen, because of the stigma that comes with my name," she said. "But under a fictitious name, people would listen to my music and give it a chance. So we marketed my first single as a European artist named 'Toy.' And no one associated it with LaToya Jackson."

And club DJs began playing the song. Jackson was so inspired by the song's success (it reached as high as #13 on the Billboard Hot Dance/ Club Music chart) that she began recording an entire album, much of it based on her divorce, the reuniting of her family and her returning confidence. The album, due later this year, is a document of her past 10 years, and it's called, appropriately, Startin' Over.

"No one has a clue what I went through. No one can possibly imagine," she said. "It was absolutely awful. And for so long there was nothing I could do about it. It went on for a decade. But finally I was able to start over. I'm living a positive life now. I got to start life all over again."