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Mackenzie Phillips’ Revelations: Reality Check, Paycheck or Both?

posted by Ellen Leventry

This afternoon, actress Mackenzie Phillips (One Day at a Time) is set to take to Oprah‘s couch to reveal all about the ten year, drug-fueled incestuous relationship she had with her father, John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas. Part of a promotional tour for the release of her memoir “High on Arrival”, Philips is expected to detail her long-standing battle with drugs, her relationship with Mick Jagger, and being raped by a stranger at 14.
Message board comments littering Huffington Post, EntertainmentWeekly.com, People.com, and other sites, seem evenly divided between the “she’s a victim speaking out to help others” and the “she’s doing it for the money” camps. “Why is she bothering to reveal the secret now and why so publicly?” ask the naysayers. “She should seek therapy and work through her issues in private,” they say. Affairs, alcoholism, and physical abuse are all ripe, and acceptable, for the celebrity memoirist, but, incest is the ultimate taboo, primal, sordid and discomfiting. Who would reveal such secrets unless they were desperate for cash?
But, why can’t it be both: a courageous reality check (do a quick Google news search on “incest” and you will be astounded) and a paycheck? Why does it have to be one or the other? Would the same be said about Elizabeth Fritzl, who was held captive for 24 years by her father Josef Fritzl and with whom she had seven children, if she published a book and went on a promo tour? Would anyone begrudge her a single cent? Probably not. While not locked away in a secret dungeon, Phillips was caged by her addiction to drugs, and hints at at least one pregnancy scare. But folks are naturally suspicious of celebrities who have descended beyond the D-List, questioning their motives, punishing them for their neediness.


Having been through rehab numerous times, I’m sure that Phillips is more than familiar with therapy. Perhaps, having lived in the public eye, she will only gain catharsis by coming clean publicly. Of course, the irony is that the public reaction to her revelations tells us more about the public, and our unease with the realities of sexual abuse and family dysfunction, than it does about Mackenzie Phillips. Or as a friend of mine so aptly put it, “It’s a very sad story, but people who think that, because she’s telling it publicly or charging for her book, it’s less sad, are wrong.”
Mackenzie Phillips



  • Alicia

    These revelations explain a lot. Since it has taken her so many years to come forward with them, I would infer that she is not just doing it for the paycheck. Although I enjoyed “The Mamas and the Papas” as a folk-rock band, learning more about Phillips’ ultradysfunctional dad makes me ill. She has my sympathy.

  • Gen

    I don’t think anyone is in a position to judge what she’s doing. I’m sure the money is part of it, but as you said, what’s wrong with that? It’s her life and her choice. No one has to buy her book or watch the interviews.
    I also think it’s important that people realise that incest is more common than just the occasional Joseph Fritzl horror story. Mackenzie Phillips won’t be enjoying this no matter how much money she makes, but she’s doing a positive thing for many others who have grown up in similar situations. Good luck to her and I wish her all the best.

  • johnna

    pay check no reality check yes. i am 29 recovering addict living with my mother my abuser. i found great strength in hearing on today show that she started realizing @ 13 it wasnt normal, i too felt so alone and didnt no what to do around that age and time in my life so i turned to drugs. thank you for speaking out makenzie, God bless U!!!!

  • klm

    She’s had a terrible life. Drugs do strange things to people including making you not care if you sleep with your father. Maybe she didn’t see him as a father figure. What a sad story.

  • Andrea

    She would have to be incredibly sick in the head to make this up and go public with it. I think it would have been more appropriate for her to keep it between herself and her psychiatrist, but I tend to believe it’s true.

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