Dusty Christian bells must have begun clanging in Victoria's head. "I had a nervous breakdown," she says. She flew back to Miami and confessed to her mother, who took Victoria on her first visit to a gynecologist. Assured she was not pregnant, she then pondered her premarital predicament. If I married him, it wouldn't be such a bad sin, she thought. If I don't marry him, God will say, "She's a slut."

The couple wed in Los Angeles in 1984 and two years later had a daughter they named Scarlet.

The ditsy, slightly demented acrobat act plowed an unlikely road to comedy's big leagues. Victoria bought a Laurel Canyon bungalow with paychecks from Half Nelson, a quickly canceled pilot sitcom in which she played Hollywood detective Joe Pesci's dotty secretary. She was a regular performer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where one night she channeled Patti Smith, singing about being an "angry woman" while doing tricks on a balance beam.

But when she flew to New York in 1986 to audition for SNL, executive producer Lorne Michaels 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 fire-eater and new baby in tow, she bought a four-bedroom Colonial in Weston, Connecticut; hired a nanny; and commuted to Manhattan by train.

But Michaels's trepidation had been spot-on. Victoria's cast was a comedic murderer's row — including Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, and Dana Carvey — and 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 air time."

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 backbends 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 "ditsy" 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 costar 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 sputtered. "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 catalogue 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."

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7 comments
Dirk Diggler
Dirk Diggler

Crazy is just so much fun to watch...like a train wreck that you just can't your eyes off of.

Frank
Frank

I look at Victoria Jackson the same as Nancy Pelosi. Problem is Victoria's harmless.

It's Jenn again...
It's Jenn again...

And I used to love watching her quirky weirdness on SNL when I was a kid, but hearing her talk I swear she should thwack Jesus Christ in his holy marbles for giving the brains of a jar of olives.

It's Jenn again...
It's Jenn again...

After getting this small but telling glimpse into Victoria Jackson, I came away with much renewed hope for the future of liberal Democrats.

RockyBadger
RockyBadger

So Victoria Jackson's stupidity wasn't just an act.

jaze
jaze

thats typical... kelsey grammer,a known pedaphile is a closet conservative ... soubnds a lot like haggert!

jaze
jaze

why cnt they pray the inorance away?

 
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