everything i ever wanted to know about women i learnt from….

The title of this post is:

everything i ever wanted to know about women i learnt from Janet Jackson.

or

a love letter to my wife about Janet Jackson.

or

back in the good old days when she wore the key earring.

or

almost every Janet video clip from 1986 to 1993.

…………………………………..

This is all about the most formative period of a young romantic’s life – the decade between about 12 and 21…. So let’s go back in time – 30 years ago – to around 1983/1984 when i was about 11 / 12 years old and we used to gather around the big old Television set in the lounge room and watch the incredible hit show from America “Diff’rent Strokes” about the awesome rich dude Mr Drummond and his adopted african american kids Willis & Arnold – note: back in the 80’s they weren’t know as “african american” they were just cute “black” kids, the show was advertised as “rich white dude adopts two crazy black kids from the street!” –  I used to get the VHS tapes into our huge top loading VCR unit and carefully hit play and record on the show so we could watch it again and again afterwards… Now i know that the show went down hill in the last few seasons but i cannot stress to you enough how awesome the first few seasons were, especially when the cute little 14/15 year old Jackson sister Janet would have cameos portraying Willis’ first love Charlene Duprey. My goodness gracious me. To the 12 year old Darren John Paine this young woman was the most “pretty” girl i had ever seen on TV! Her amazing smile on the screen was something like the sun rising on my little heart. The episodes where Willis’ girlfriend Charlene appeared were the bomb… as the videos below testify too….

sigh……

Fast forward a few years to 1986, i have just had my 14th birthday in March and i was religiously watching “CountDown” on channel 2 and “Clipz” on channel 9 and they played a brand new single from “Michael Jackson’s little sister” Janet Jackson: “What Have You Done For Me Lately”. The music was awesome! It combined a little of Prince’s as yet unnamed new jack synthy vibe with an R&B pop. Plus this girl was so beautiful, she was sassy but not trying to be sexy, she was still cute but she was standing up for herself and she was dressed super rad. This clip was sooooo cool!

A few months later around May 1986 the video for the single “Nasty” was released. This was twice as good as the old single! The song was awesome! Janet was back with a “nasty groove” and some serious dance moves, not to mention some words to live by: “I’m not a prude, I just want some respect. So close the door if you want me to respond. Cause privacy is my middle name, My last name is control. No, my first name ain’t baby, It’s Janet… Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty.” The attitude was so attractive and the clip was even better than the last one!

I taped the song off the radio and wore it out. it was around July 1986 when “When I Think Of You” came out…

One day in November 1986 – around the end of year 9 – i caught the bus into Surfers Paradise and ventured around looking for some cool stuff and then in the window of the seedy old record store in Surfers {it used to be the one in the walk thru mall under where the Shooters night club is today} i saw a huge poster for Janet’s Control album.

i spent all my money {9 bucks?} and bought the second album in my collection* Janet Jackson’s “CONTROL”.

The cassette was played continuously by me all that summer / christmas- the album was amazing. It was an incredible message of coming of age… a young adult becoming their own person and the 14 and half me soaked every word up. Especially the beautiful ballad “Let’s Wait Awhile”. As a good christian baptist boy getting his head around sexuality, desire and love Janet’s line “i promise i’ll be worth the wait” just rung so true. I knew if i was ever going to find the woman i was praying for i would have to “take it slow”… {note when this video was released around my 15th birthday in 1987 it was like Janet had become even more gorgeous… she was vulnerable and that key ear ring was the coolest thing i had ever seen.

Mid 1987 i heard that there was a video for “The Pleasure Principle” – now this was my favourite song off the album so i was keen to find it and video it off the telly… i finally found it late night on Channel 9’s new music video show MTV hosted by the hip Richard Wilkins. This clip was the greatest thing i had ever seen to date. It was just Janet dancing by herself in the most awesome cool 80’s dance warehouse, she had a different cool hair do, it wasn’t all teased up and curly this time it simple and straight – just like the video clip. She looked determined and strong, plus she had a great outfit that looked so down to earth – a denim jacket, knee pads and a black t-shirt that was tied up in front that revealed a hint of her stomach. {!!!} The overall attitude of this video defined the ultimate woman for me; she wasn’t all “sexy” and “slutty” – she wasn’t all undressed and showing off her body. She was strong. She knew what she wanted. She was aware. She could dance like crazy and was the most gorgeous gift from God. The sequence from 3:30 to 4:00 of the clip {the break down of the song} was incredible – when Janet dances with a back light coming through the wooden slats it truly was my Angel of Womanhood coming down from heaven… my Birth of Venus – without the clam shell… – note this blog entry originally was going to be just about this one song / video and how it shaped me for life, and i could easily write thousands of words on just how much this song impacted me… but let’s just watch the video.

Fast forward a couple more years again and it’s August 1989, i am in year 12 now at Coombabah State High School, hating year 12, all i want to do is draw, photograph, study theology and meet the woman of my dreams. Then the new single for Janet’s new album was released: “Miss You Much” – HOLY MOLY – this song and video was the greatest moment of the year… not just the year, my life to that date! The sound was new! The clip was ultra cool Black and White and at that time i was practically living in the school’s darkroom developing my own black and white pictures so this meant everything to me… i watched the clip over and over again, i was enraptured on every level: Visually the lighting, framing and real Black & White look where the blacks are a true real deep black. The dancing was a whole new level and it matched perfectly what we were hearing. Sonically it was like it had come from the future. It was the perfect calling card for the album that was coming… 

It was around this time in year 12 when i saved up around $39 and bought my very own Sony Walkman cassette player and Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814” LIVED IN IT. I remember going into Southport, back when the main library was upstairs in Australia Fair and i would be there late night Thursdays NOT doing my assignments, but drawing or writing while listening to the album over and over and over and over again. The video for “Rhythm Nation” was incredible, the dancing was the coolest, the message was amazing; Janet had gone from taking “Control” of her life and had now focused on the bigger world around her. I was 17 and this message hit me perfectly, i was becoming increasingly aware of all the problems around the world and Janet’s messages fanned the flames. And the audio production was incredible – this track was THE FREAKING JAM!

January 1990! I have finished high school! I have no idea what i am doing with myself I have decided to put off going to theological studies for one year and work and save up… and then one evening on CountDown good old Molly Meldrum plays the new clip for “Escapade”. Even though this video’s vibe of the weird carnival thing was totally NOT my thing, plus the mix of hand held footage was a sloppy feeling, Janet looked incredible! While all the new girl pop singers were getting more and more undressed to sell their pop music, Janet was totally alluring while being almost totally covered from head to toe… plus she was still rocking the key earring.

In March 1990 i turn 18 and “Alright” is released as a single. The video had an original 1940’s “zoot suit” take – sure it was corny and hollywood but Janet was as cute as she was back on Diff’rent Strokes, she was covered head to toe this time with the funky hat and she was dancing up a storm. This clip was “New Jack Swing” at it’s finest, a song so happy it’s ridiculous, plus it has one of my favourite Janet scenes: around 3:45 into it they do a killer sequence infront of the “Shutter Shack” and old timey photography store in the shape of a camera… i LOVED this.

A few months later came “Come Back To Me”, this wasn’t my most favourite Janet song and the clip was a bit a cheesy soft focus European dud. But she still had the key to my heart hanging from her lobe.

In August the “live” clip for “Black Cat” was released. Now these days, the song feels incredibly over the top and cheesy but i remember back in late 1989 when i was in year 12 at Coombabah and at lunch time a few of us could play “DJ” at the music rooms down near the basket ball courts; the incredibly effeminate hetro-sexual music teacher would allow us to take a stereo, move the speakers outside and play music from inside the music room classrooms, every time i got on the wheels of steel {cassette players} i would spin this Jam and people LOVED it. It is hard to believe in these enlightened times but back in 1989 in Queensland it was hard being one of the few kids into Janet Jackson and other “black music” while everyone else was into the god awful Rock Music of the late 80’s – but with this song i got the best of both worlds.

Then at the end of 1990 “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” was released. Boy oh boy! did this clip rock my world… and it was a sign of things to come. Janet had been touring and working very hard and shed all the cute baby fat and at 24 years old she was ready to show off her hotness in a funky black and white {and then a colour version} fashion vogue style video. This was the most skin we had ever seen of Janet, by today’s pornographic standards it is tame and almost quaint but trust me, 22 years ago it was quite amazing. Mostly because this was little chaste & cute Janet we are talking about here. Don’t get me wrong 18 year old me wasn’t complaining, i just felt my little Janet love affair had been taken to a new place….

Once again let’s fast forward a few years to April 1993, i have turned 21 and “That’s the Way Love Goes” has just been released. The song was a mellow funky drummer loop of chilled early 90’s goodness. Janet looked incredible at 27, she was sexy but still glamourous, tastefully dressed and basically slamming hot. But there was a hint of trouble in paradise… the lyrics are an ode to sexual love, nothing too full on…. Janet’s journey had taken her from finding herself on Control in 1986, discovering social injustices on Rhythm Nation in 1989 and now singing the praises of sensuality and a sexual relationship in 1993. Don’t get me wrong, as Janet taught me back in the 80’s “i’m not a prude”, and the songs were mostly beautiful sentiments that could be a modern day soundtrack for the Bible’s celebration of marriage in the poetically beautiful Song Of Solomon/ Song of Songs… but for the christian 21 year old DJP who had just finished studying theology and was very single i was torn between enjoying Janet’s music, but wanting to save all the sexual sentiment for MY Janet, MY one and only girl that would travel with me and be as into these hot jams as i was….

Late 1993 we had the double pleasure of a new video clip for “Again” and the movie starring Janet “Poetic Justice”…. The song is a pretty and sentimental ballad with a sexy undercurrent that is mirrored in the over the top corny clip, actually there are two versions, the best one being the Poetic Justice version.


The John Singleton movie Poetic Justice is far from a great movie, and Janet is not taking home any statues for her acting {though her braided hair was the bomb} but i tell you this: The movie made me fall deeper in love… not with Janet Jackson but with this imaginary girl that Janet had created with me over the years. This strong quiet revolutionary woman who was as radiant and cute as Charlene Duprey. This young woman who had focused Control and could be worth the wait. This unmet, unknown incredible poetic woman who could move with purpose and compassion like a Rhythm Nation….

And finally my “pure” love affair with Janet Jackson came to a rocky end with the video of “IF”. Though the beats are great & the lyrics i could justify as beautiful, natural desire in the “Song of Songs” vein, the video is just plain too sexy with it’s whole asian bordello/ asian prostitute vibe {which i always felt a little creepy in the sex trade kind of way}. Even though Janet was still tastefully dressed and looked exquisite the mock “going down” & crotch grabbing dance routine was a just too steamy for me.

So where does that leave me? Well i met the real woman of my dreams 2000 kilometres away in Finchfield Lane Geelong back in 1995. Janet had prepared me for the real love of the most incredible woman i have ever met Benita Charlotte. We married in 2001 and now we have three sons who we are training and teaching to be the greatest husbands of the future generation of incredible women…. interesting personal note – back when i first got to know Benita i remember heading over to pick her up for a church do at her parents place and i came in to the home without her noticing it and she was studying the very steamy IF video clip… when she realised i was there after the song was finished, she didn’t bat an eye, she turned off the TV and looked me in the eye with a staunch stance and a hint of a smile. Needless to say; i was beyond smitten.

Post Script: as far as i can tell you my passionate love of the actual Janet Jackson has had a two fold ending – one: she has become way too sexual and cheesy for my tastes these days. Janet is around 46 years old now and i hope she releases some real revolutionary music befitting an incredible black woman who has an amazing life and has an incredible musical legacy. i really do hope her best work is still to come, something real and soulful and classic, something substantial and not obsessed with unattainable body image. As someone who would have died a million deaths for Janet as a teenager i honestly still have an incredible soft spot for her. Sometimes i am scared she will become the black Dolly Parton; all weird plastic surgery.  – two: i found the real love of my life, and she was / is better than my fantasy Janet in every way.  

Post Post Script: I still buy everything Janet put’s out. I am not a Janet hater. Though i really believe that the trinity of her albums “Control”, “Rhythm Nation” & “Janet” are almost perfect creations…. i still get her albums hoping there will be something really real and new there. and sometimes there are moments that hint at something… i mean 1995’s duet with her brother Michael “Scream” is the mother flipping jam…

Post Post Post Script: I have yet to buy her book from 2011 “True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself”, i will buy it and read it.

*the first album i ever bought was the cassette of Paul Simon’s Graceland that i got a few weeks earlier in Myers. It is still in my top five albums of all time, but that’s another story.

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