Janet Jackson is on the cover of the October 2009 issue of Harper’s Bazzar looking stylish, smiling and peaceful. She gets intimate about what happen prior to her brother’s death and what she is doing now to get through each day.
The last time Janet saw Michael was on May 14, two days before her 43rd birthday. She and her big brother hung out, ate Thai food, and tormented each other. “We had so much fun that day. We kept calling each other after and saying how great it was.”
I always wanted to have my mother’s [Katherine Jackson] strength, but I didn’t know if it was really there. But a few years back, something happened and I learned that I did. I’m not going to mention it, but we all know what it is. And now, coming off all this, it’s even beyond that. I was just focused on my job at that moment within my family. Now at least I know that I can step up to the plate and not crumble when I’m needed. When it comes to something like this, that is so, so serious, so painful, so traumatic, I can handle it.
One thing Michael did prize, of course, was his single white glove. “That was actually my brother Jackie’s idea at home one day,” Janet explains. “He just said, ‘You should wear one glove. A white glove.’ And then Mike studded it all. That was it.” Did he wear the glove to Jackson family dinners? She laughs. “Nooo.” And yes, Janet has moonwalked. “Uh-huh. No, no one does it like he does, though. Everybody else tried, but it was no good.”
Janet is also now single, recently breaking off her seven-year relationship with music producer Jermaine Dupri. Does she still believe in marriage? “For [some] people, sure! I don’t know if I’ll get married again. [She’s been married twice, as a teen to James DeBarge and to choreographer René Elizondo.] I’ll put it like this: If God wants me to, then I will.” Dating? “Yeah, I’ve had people ask me out. I haven’t entertained any offers thus far, but I’m locking myself in my work right now.” Some might say boys smell anyway. “Yeah, they stink,” she chuckles, “and they’re dirty.”
If Michael is the King of Pop, Janet is its princess. “I would hope my legacy would be bringing smiles to faces,” she says. “Happiness with my music. Also, to make babies. I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘My child was conceived by listening to your music.'” She has more difficulty articulating Michael’s. “It’s so beyond. I can’t even begin. It’s on so many different levels. Bringing light and love and happiness. He’s just got so much love, and so much heart, and so much power through his music. Children and his love for children. People have told me, ‘I am an American citizen because of your brother.’ He wrote them a letter or something. He was just that giving, loving person. And the greatest entertainer there ever was. And is. I hope people get a glimpse of him now, some sort of picture.”
Now Janet sits atop an empire and a family mythology much of her own making and under her control, an iconic performer mourning her brother and planning what’s next. “You know, I never look back on what I’ve done unless I’m asked,” she says, “but I remember Mike saying, ‘You need to stop and enjoy it. Think about everything you’ve done, all that you’ve accomplished.’
“But there’s so much more I want to do,” she adds. And the smile breaks out again.
This is going to be a long process for Janet Jackson but it seems she has a handle on everything. Now that she’s back in the lab with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, we know that this next album is definitely going to be banger.