Tea Party Princess

Victoria Jackson went from the big leagues of comedy to the rabid right of modern politics

The couple wed in Los Angeles in 1984 and two years later had a daughter they named Scarlet. Soon, Victoria snagged a role on the sitcom pilot Half Nelson as Hollywood security guard Joe Pesci's ditzy blond secretary. The show was canceled after six episodes, but she bought her first house—a two-bedroom Lookout Mountain bungalow in Laurel Canyon—with the paychecks.

She was a regular performer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where in one of her most memorable bits she channeled Patti Smith, singing about being an "angry woman" while doing tricks on a balance beam.

In 1986, she flew to New York to audition for SNL. Executive producer Lorne Michaels, she remembers, curled his lower lip and lamented her lack of comedic characters. So the next time she was on Carson's show, she continued the audition by doing impressions of Diana Ross and Edith Bunker and inventing a character: a glum boss interviewing Carson for a job. She joined the SNL cast that season. With a new baby in tow, she and Nisan bought a four-bedroom Colonial in Weston, Connecticut. They split time between the two homes.

Jackson’s handstand, which she learned at age four, earned her attention on SNL.
Giulio Sciorio
Jackson’s handstand, which she learned at age four, earned her attention on SNL.
Jackson rode the Tea Party Express bus with Herman Cain.
Courtesy of Victoria Jackson
Jackson rode the Tea Party Express bus with Herman Cain.

But Michaels's trepidation had been spot-on. Victoria's castmates included Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, and Dana Carvey. She couldn't keep up. "I lived on pure adrenaline," she says. "You always think you're going to get fired. You're always competing with your cast members for airtime."

Coming up with characters and premises for skits was a supreme struggle. She confesses that one of her funnier sketches—"Victoria's Secrets," in which she wore lingerie and throatily fumbled at being sexy—was a product of begging castmate Jon Lovitz and writer Conan O'Brien for ideas as they walked down an office hallway.

Her nasal voice nixed nuanced impressions. Besides doing back bends and reading poetry on the "Weekend Update" news desk, impressions of Roseanne Barr and Zsa Zsa Gabor were her only recurring gags.

Critics and former castmates haven't been kind. Nerve.com recently ranked her dead last of 92 all-time cast members and wrote that her "cute-ditsy-idiot act got pretty thin, [and] it turns out it wasn't an act." And in the 2002 book Live From New York, an oral history of the show, castmate Jan Hooks sniped: "I just have a particular repulsion to grown women who talk like little girls. It's like: 'You're a grown woman! Use your lower register!'" (Victoria, by the way, claims her weird voice is the result of a medical defect: a "congenital palatal insufficiency.")

"Look, I'm not qualified for this," Victoria recalls thinking. "Maybe this is my mission field. I'm supposed to tell my cast members about Jesus!"

But Hartman didn't want to talk about the Son of God. And Lovitz asked how Jesus, "a grown man," could have fit in his mother's womb to be born again. When Victoria left audiocassette box sets of the Bible in each castmate's mail slot for Christmas, they were angrily returned.

Writer and performer Al Franken, now a Democratic U.S. senator for Minnesota, cornered her once, Victoria says. He said he was "offended" by her "ditzy" act. "Maybe I'm overcompensating," she retorted, "because everybody here is dying and going to hell, and I'm supposed to tell them about Jesus."

Franken went white, she says. "He never talked to me again."

Victoria struggled to make the leap to film acting. Her biggest role was as a co-star in 1988's Casual Sex?, an insipid rumination on sexual relationships in a post-AIDS world. It flopped. "The movie is exactly like the real thing," The Washington Post opined. "Kinda empty, kinda unfulfilling, and you feel just awful afterward." Victoria also played "Weird Al" Yankovic's love interest in UHF. Again, not a Brando-esque turn.

Besides the film proceeds, Victoria was making $20,000 per weekly episode of SNL, according to divorce records. In 1991, her ill-conceived marriage to the fire-eater finally came to an end. "He hated me more and more each day," she says. "One night he was fumbling around in the gun closet, and he was drunk, and I thought, 'Is he going to kill me?'"

A Connecticut judge ordered Victoria to pay Nisan alimony of 15 percent of her income, but not less than $3,000 a month, for three years. He also received a portion of the residuals from her films and, less financially momentous, her catalog of ditties such as "I Am Not a Bimbo" and "I Wanna Be a Slut." (Victoria sells her songs on a self-published CD called Use Me. "Even my friends haven't listened to it," she admits.)

Nisan declined to be interviewed for this story. Still in Connecticut, he's now known as "the Magic Genie." His website boasts he "offers quality magic tricks at discount prices. . . . He can even levitate one of the children! Fire effects are optional."

After the divorce, Victoria reconnected with her former fiancé from Miami, Paul Wessel. Also divorced, he had become a Miami-Dade Police SWAT officer. In 1984, according to Paul's personnel file, the tip of his pinkie was shot by his own partner in a firefight with a drug suspect. In 1991, with a single round, he killed an Opa-locka man who pointed a revolver at officers. At an inquest, the man's widow beseeched, "Why did they have to shoot him in the heart?" Paul's lethal actions were ruled justified. One year later, he used a shotgun to obliterate a pit bull that was attacking his partner. To date, Paul has been honored with 71 department commendations.

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62 comments
heavyshift
heavyshift

Come on. Cut her some slack; she dated 'Weird Al' Yankovic.

Veritas
Veritas

OMG, you liberals are so sick. You would eat your own young if you allowed them to be born in the first place!

Kilgoretrout
Kilgoretrout

She may have fallen on her head too many times while doing her handstand shtick!OR She needs a job and what better a place than So.Florida.

ttt207
ttt207

she been t-bagged one too many times

max
max

Right wing media is the retirement plan for un-funny SNL alums like her and dennis what'shisname. It must be an act no one is this dumb

Boyhell Flower
Boyhell Flower

She is the total american. She reminds me of the true underpinnings of the droves of shabby prep J-Crew, 'There will be blood' retro fashion conformists. the new openly 'white' self obsessed, zombie 'hipsters' in Williamsburg and their parents. The ultimate segregationist tribes person. New York City, L.A., popular culture, and this magazine in a nutshell.

jmkw77
jmkw77

A woman of questionable talent who was quasi-famous about twenty years ago speaking out on matters that are fringe and irrelevant, in my opinion. And yet, and yet, I read every single word of this article. That's some nice story-telling Gus Garcia-Roberts.

Bpfoley333
Bpfoley333

Just to get my biases out front, I tend to find myself on the more conservative side of the political spectrum (conservative meaning a conservative roll for government, not "conservative" small government unless we're regulating your private life ) and for the life of me I don't quite get the point of the article. None of my friends who are on the right have given Victoria Jackson a second thought in years, nor do have they, or I for that matter, ever taken her seriously. It just seems like picking the low-hanging fruit.

ttt207
ttt207

No wonder the 'Pubs are in trouble.

merl1
merl1

I feel sorry for her kids, she will abuse them just like her father abused her. what a bunch of sick fucks.

merl1
merl1

I think the whole thing must be a joke. Her dad doesn't like fat people? is he blind? his own daughter is a porker.

Siskokid888
Siskokid888

Yawn. Your "precious" and "revered" documents were written by wealthy white slaveowners to help themselves and no one else. Using them as some kind of moral standard to justify white conservative bigotry and capitalist exploitation is passé, bro. It's the 21st century, there is a new world coming where the many will benefit, not the few. And what this has to do with the crazy rantings of a washed up never was comidienne is beyond me.

yrwehere
yrwehere

Come on, people, this story is hilarious! As someone else wrote, she is out-Colberting Stephen Colbert! There is no way that she can be serious. She might turn out to be one of the greatest conceptual comics of all time.

anonymouse
anonymouse

Victoria Jackson is just one more example of an individual with deep psychological challenges and a dysfunctional family case history (plus more than her share of stupidity) who has entered the political ring, whether as politician or pundit. These disturbed people continually attempt to influence legislation or public opinion based on their own mental health issues (see closeted gay republican officials, etc.). The 24-hour media, desperate for content, gives them a a public voice they would have been denied in the past (okay, okay, marginal people such as Christian televangelists would sometimes make it through the barriers of sanity imposed by media gatekeepers), but that all came crashing down with the takeover of the news divisions by the entertainment division and the arrival of the internet. What can we do about them, other than ignore them?

Siskokid888
Siskokid888

Yawn. Your "precious" and "revered" documents were written by wealthy white slaveowners to help themselves and no one else. Using them as some kind of moral standard to justify white conservative bigotry and capitalist exploitation is passé, bro. It's the 21st century, there is a new world coming where the many will benefit, not the few. And what this has to do with the crazy rantings of a washed up never was comidienne is beyond me.

Siskokid888
Siskokid888

Yawn. Your "precious" and "revered" documents were written by wealthy white slaveowners to help themselves and no one else. Using them as some kind of moral standard to justify white conservative bigotry and capitalist exploitation is passé, bro. It's the 21st century, there is a new world coming where the many will benefit, not the few. And what this has to do with the crazy rantings of a washed up never was comidienne is beyond me.

Siskokid888
Siskokid888

Yawn. Your "precious" and "revered" documents were written by wealthy white slaveowners to help themselves and no one else. Using them as some kind of moral standard to justify white conservative bigotry and capitalist exploitation is passé, bro. It's the 21st century, there is a new world coming where the many will benefit, not the few. And what this has to do with the crazy rantings of a washed up never was comidienne is beyond me.

Siskokid888
Siskokid888

Yawn. Your "precious" and "revered" documents were written by wealthy white slaveowners to help themselves and no one else. Using them as some kind of moral standard to justify white conservative bigotry and capitalist exploitation is passé, bro. It's the 21st century, there is a new world coming where the many will benefit, not the few. And what this has to do with the crazy rantings of a washed up never was comidienne is beyond me.

Yayagal250
Yayagal250

Excuse me, but this ninny was NOT in "I Love You to Death". I've seen that movie many times, and I'd remember, believe me.

Siskokid888
Siskokid888

^and when the first real fact actually spills out of her insane mouth, we will indeed respect it. But not till then.

Siskokid888
Siskokid888

Six pages to profile this certifiably crazy ditz zero? There are plenty of sane hardworking progressive activists the Voice could be covering. Come on, folks.

bravetruth
bravetruth

Thank you for your comment on this site deep in enemy territory. I wish she said something about Lorne Michael's agenda above and beyond comedy like when he had boss Zucker in backstage to experience the taking down of Sarah Palin, his donations to Dodd, his Obama stroking head writer and fellow tribe member. Chevy Chase has said the liberal agenda superseded the comedy.

TlalocW
TlalocW

Before she went crazy and a few years after her SNL gig, she came to Tulsa on her stand-up tour and did a good job, I thought. She took a picture of her doing a handstand in front of the giant praying hands outside Oral Roberts University, which unfortunately blights the city. I thought she was making fun of it/him, but if she's been pulled in by the Tea Party and dopes like Hannity, I'm sure she's an admirer of his snake-oil salesmanship.

Her reaction to how illegals are going to vote for Obama, "Because... because of cheating!" is the normal flabbergasted type of response you get when you challenge any inane belief from the insane wing of the GOP these days. "What proof do you have he's a Muslim? Because... Because he just is! How do you know he wasn't born in America? Because... because, etc."

observer2
observer2

The scary thing is, there are people out there who believe the crazy things she says.

Matildalee
Matildalee

That's not thinking differently, that's some racist, insane ranting right there.

Fatty
Fatty

It's a shame to have to live in a super-rich country in the awesomest boro of the biggest metropolis, whole world at your fingertips and all that, dressing well eating well fucking well thinking well, but always beneath it all the nagging realization that there are people out there who think differently than you. Like WTF?

Budbear
Budbear

Get over your pompous self, Gary. She loves the attention this article gives her. Anything she says can be translated as,"LOOK AT ME,PLEASE".

Movielover
Movielover

Poor Victoria Jackson. She's desperate for work and recognition, but she's basically just a zero and always was. Now she's older, fat and opening her mouth to say anything is always a mistake for her. Opening her legs wouldn't even get her anywhere now that she's an old sow.

Sally Barry
Sally Barry

That's their poster girl? HAHAHAHAHA! That's as good as it gets for them?? HAHAHAHAHA!!! Well, one has-been celebrity is better than no celebrities at all...HAHAHA!

PFL 1982
PFL 1982

Victoria who? And she was never funny, even 'back in the day'

Ken Smith
Ken Smith

And to think that I once thought this lunatic was funny. Now she is just pathetic. She is exactly the type of fringe nutcase that gives Christians a bad name. I am a Christian and I don't think anything like these people. I am about a liberal as they come politically. Most Christians of this variety forget the second of Jesus' commandments "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." This ONE sentence makes all of the hate that people like this spew so abhorrent to me and convinces me that they really AREN'T Christians at all.

Jacqueline Carlsen
Jacqueline Carlsen

Her father is a homophobe who loves Fred Astaire and Burt Lancaster movies? That's funny.

J Rod
J Rod

I kept waiting for the punch line - like she was trying to Out-Colbert Colbert.

Elvis
Elvis

It's a miracle! She's transmogrifying into Tammy Faye Bakker!

mr_charlie
mr_charlie

these comments just prove that liberalism really is a mental illness

Gunga Dean
Gunga Dean

OK with that family, it explains things, not a lot, but things. I think a few drops on the balance beam explains the rest.

Silkroad
Silkroad

Note to Victoria Jackson:

There is no mainstream market for right-wing, fundamentalist humor in the comedy circuit. That's why you aren't getting any plum gigs.

Note to Village Voice:

Don't ever feature people like Victoria Jackson again. You have a liberal, secular readership, and you should tailor your articles to them.

Lee4
Lee4

@Veritas We are not the ones raising the wife-beaters, bigots, racists, and losers who are bitter they can't get dates, boy.

flyersfan
flyersfan

Unfunny? Dennis Miller was second only to Dan Aykroyd as a WU anchor...On the other hand, I suppose that Jan Hooks was a comic genius? And at least Victoria Jackson was cute.

Glennrferro
Glennrferro

That is an incredibly over-the-top diagnosis of someone because they disgree with you. I continue to notice that when liberals realize that they have nothing substantial to say, they resort to name calling, and attacks on the person, instead of challenges to the ideas. There are so many statements in your post that express staples of liberal ideation, that I'm almost surprised to see them there. Denial, projection, envy? May I make a diagnosis on the basis of some written words, as you did? I'm pretty sure you'd say yours is valid, while there's no chance mine could be, right?

Gary McAleer
Gary McAleer

Bro, your summations do not coincide with the sacrifices made. Go back and study the history man. Read about the lives of EVERY MAN who put his signature on The Declaration of Independence in 1776. They were all raked over the coals, losing lives as well as every possession! Despite these hardships, there was a nobility and dignity that was applied to Constitutional Law that has never been seen before or since. And what's replacing the Constitution in our generation is going to one day make you sick with disdain (you mark my words on this). To know your future you must first know your history: the two go hand in hand. You know, "what goes around comes around!"

In addition, the early Americans didn't have modern climate control, dentistry, or medicine. Washington had to eat with wooden teeth (probably took him months to develop a sufficient callous on his gums before the sharp pains went away. Then the wood wore out; then he had to get new ones). And by the way, when George Washington led our armies to victory he would've been welcomed by every American to become king. He could have started a monarchy! (If he was power hungry like so many today). Instead, he said, "I just want to go home." King George of England said of George Washington: "He's a great man." Why? because King George would never step down from his throne. And neither would the halfwits running our government today if given half a chance; but our Founders established a system preventing the tyranny we see rising today. And that tyranny can only come by the removal of our liberty.

Kaelle
Kaelle

Check IMDB. She is credited, unfortunately.

Guest
Guest

She had the small role of Lacey.

bloodgimp
bloodgimp

Yeah, I have to agree here. I don't see anything remotely interesting about this boring story or this braindead irrelevant woman. Why VV chose to run this as a feature is beyond me.

Budbear
Budbear

Hey! They also have Chuck Norris and Gary Busey. How's that for celebrity firepower, Sally?

Jeff Harris
Jeff Harris

That seems impossible. Tammy Faye was actually quite tolerant towards gays and all people. Ms. Jackson seems to be the anti-Tammy Faye with so much hate in her heart and ignorance in her head. I hope she finds some semblance of peace one day.

bravetruth
bravetruth

Mocking Christians IS tailored to the liberal, secular (jewish) readership

Silkroad
Silkroad

Wow. Nice anti-Semitism there.

 
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