Janet Jackson is shooting down rumors that she had a baby with her ex-husband James DeBarge and kept it a secret in the 1980s.
In her upcoming two-night documentary, which begins Friday night on Lifetime and A&E, the 55-year-old pop singer vehemently denies that she ever had a child from her first marriage.
Instead, she blames the rumors of a secret child on vicious chit-chat over her weight gain on the set of NBC’s fame, which she attributes to starting a new birth control regimen.
No love child: Janet Jackson, 55, denied ever having a secret child with her ex-husband James DeBarge in the 1980s in her upcoming Lifetime and A&E documentary; seen with DeBarge in 1985 in Los Angeles
‘I could never keep a child away from James. How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that. That’s not right,’ Jackson says in an interview for the documentary.
According to her, rumors began spreading when she joined the NBC series Fame for its fourth season.
‘A lot of the kids thought I was pregnant, ’cause I had gained weight and I had started taking birth control pills,’ said the singer, who appeared on a single season as the high school student Cleo Hewitt.
‘And back then, you could pick up weight taking them, and that’s what happened to me, so that rumor started going around,’ she added.
Chatter: ‘A lot of the kids thought I was pregnant, ’cause I had gained weight and I had started taking birth control pills,’ Jackson said of her stint on the fourth season of NBC’s Fame; seen in 2019 in NYC
Debbie Allen, who played a lead faculty member on the series set in a performing arts high school in New York City, also noticed the rumors spreading on set.
‘These were rumors that were just flying around, honey, like hash in a diner,’ recalled the 72-year-old actress, dancer and director. ‘Where was the baby? Nobody saw a baby. I mean, she was there with us all day, every day. Where was the baby?’
Jackson recalled the rumors taking on a particularly cruel tone when whisperers began roping in her family.
‘First they were saying my niece Brandi was my daughter and that I gave her to [my brother] Jackie to raise,’ the Nasty singer recounted. ‘And then because [my brother] Randy’s daughter looks so much like me, they started saying it was Stevanna.
‘I was just incredibly innocent,’ she added tearfully. ‘It’s just, to me, hurtful for someone to see that and just try to take advantage of it.’
He said, she said: ‘I was under the impression that there was no baby, and I wanted to believe it’s not true. But it is,’ DeBarge claimed to daughter Kristinia DeBarge on Growing Up Hip Hop in 2016; seen in 1985 in Los Angeles
But Jackson’s ex DeBarge has muddied the water in the past when he claimed that the two did have a child.
‘I was under the impression that there was no baby, and I wanted to believe it’s not true. But it is,’ he claimed to daughter Kristinia DeBarge in an episode of Growing Up Hip Hop from 2016.
‘I’m tired of the secrecy,’ DeBarge said when his daughter asked him about the rumors after reading an article discussing them. ‘I’m tired of the truth not coming forward, and people being a coward when it comes to it. And I thought it was wise for me to speak out now because it needs to be addressed.’
Jackson and DeBarge, best known for the hit Rhythm Of The Night, eloped against her family’s wishes in 1984, but she got the marriage annulled the following year due to DeBarge’s drug use.
Janet eventually became a mother to her son Eissa Al Manna, whom she shares with her ex-husband Wissam Al Mana.
The couple married in 2012 but announced a separation in 2017. Earlier in January she wished her son a happy fifth birthday.
Cruel: Janet also claimed that her brother Michael Jackson, who died in 2009 at age 50, would taunt her about her weight; seen together in 1972 in LA
In addition to possibly sparking rumors of a secret pregnancy, Janet’s weight was also a sore subject due to treatment she received from her old brother Michael Jackson.
Janet claims in her documentary that the pop legend, who died in 2009 at age 50, bullied her over her weight when she was a child and would taunt her by calling her a ‘pig.’
‘There were times when Mike used to tease me and call me names. “Pig, horse, slaughter hog, cow,”‘ she claimed.
‘He would laugh about it and I’d laugh too, but then there was somewhere down inside that it would hurt.
‘When you have somebody say you’re too heavy, it affects you,’ she added.
Painful memories: ‘There were times when Mike used to tease me and call me names. “Pig, horse, slaughter hog, cow,”‘ she claimed. ‘He would laugh about it and I’d laugh too, but then there was somewhere down inside that it would hurt’; seen together in 1993 in LA
Janet blamed her stint on the sitcom Good Times in the 1970s with the start of her body issues.
”I’m an emotional eater, so when I get stressed or something is really bothering me, it comforts me,’ she explained. ‘I did Good Times and that’s the beginning of having weight issues and the way I looked at myself.’
It didn’t help that her weight and the start of puberty seemed to interfere with the show’s desire to keep her looking younger.
‘I was developing at a very young age and I started getting a chest and they would bind it so I would look more flat-chested,’ she explained.
The All For You singer even suggested that her body issues might not have been so distressing if she wasn’t in front of cameras and on stages at the time.
‘I probably would have wound up not having a problem,’ she mused.
Coming soon: The two-night documentary Janet Jackson airs on Lifetime and A&E starting on Friday night; pictured in 2019 in Las Vegas