“That’s the Way Love Goes,” Janet Jackson sang in 1993 at the still-tender age of 27.
But the inspiration for that Grammy-winning single may have come 12 years earlier when Jackson family values (and statutory law) forced the would-be diva to dump her first love.
This revelation—and many more—comes from an interview conducted in 2001 by BlogTalkRadio host Craig Seymour.
A Vibe scribe the time, Craig had been assigned to write the first of two cover stories about Janet for the magazine.
“I had to fly to Minneapolis, where she was recording an album with her longtime producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis,” he says. “We had a lot to talk about, because she had been gone from the music scene for about four years, since 1997’s The Velvet Rope.
“And she was also newly single after her divorce from her longtime collaborator, René Elizondo,” adds Craig, now an associate professor of communications at Northern Illinois University, and author of the 2008 memoir All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C.
Conducted on a frigid day while Janet was driving from her hotel to the recording studio, the interview got under way moments after Craig stepped into the car and asked, “Why are you so happy now?”
“My life has changed. And you can either focus on the negative or on the positive. I have such great friends around me and they love me a great deal,” Janet replied.
“But that’s not the only thing that’s happened in my life. I’m experiencing things I’ve never experienced before and I’m having a good time. I’m experiencing dating. I never did that before. And I truly feel like a kid again.
“Because, growing up sheltered and being Jehovah’s—my mother was a Jehovah’s Witness—being in a relationship and not getting married, you don’t do those things,” she continued.
“The two people that I really got involved with, I married. And there’s only one other kid that I actually dated. We weren’t supposed to be dating. He was Shastra [a Hindu sect]. And when I found out, we had to break up. That was actually my very first boyfriend.
“He was a lot older than me. I was only 15. He could’ve been in trouble for being with a minor. Also—being a Witness and he was Shastra—we weren’t supposed to be seeing each other.”
Moments later, Craig asked, “Do remember your first kiss? Was it kind of addictive, like, I have to go out and try this again!”
“You know, I always had this thing for watching people kiss on television, even when I was a kid. And Randy would look right at me whenever we saw people kissing on, like, soap operas, because he knew I liked it—and I would get so embarrassed but I couldn’t look away.
Later Craig asked about Janet’s most recent romantic rendezvous.
“It was nice,” she told him. “I went to dinner and went back to my place and we talked and…that was it!
“I feel like I truly have to get to know the person. It’s not like a—I’m so embarrassed talking about this. I truly am! I really have get to know a person first. But sometimes, things just happen. You’re in the moment. But that’s not so bad, as long as you know what it really is.”
Craig (bold journalist that he is) also inquired about Janet’s safe-sex habits, to which she replied:
“You just have to do the best you can. Or become celibate. But I don’t think I could ever do that.
“I enjoy sex too much—that’s just me. So I’m careful. Very careful.”
To hear Janet’s full interview, click here.
To read about—and listen to—Craig’s lost interview with Cher, click here.
To read about—and listen to—Craig’s lost interview with Chaka Khan, click here.
To read about—and listen to—Craig’s lost interview with Luther Vandross, click here.