Actress Mackenzie Phillips dropped bombshell after bombshell in her sit-down with Oprah Winfrey to promote her new memoir, High on Arrival. Mackenzie Phillips, daughter of The Mamas and The Papas co-founder, John Phillips, revealed among other things, that she had a long-term consensual sexual relationship with her father, Mick Jagger seduced her and her father taught her how to shoot up cocaine.
High on Arrival, which takes its name from the lyrics of John Phillips’ 1979 track, “She’s Just 14,” recalls Mackenzie’s chaotic and drug-fueled childhood among other escapades. Oprah had Mackenzie read from her book the passage about the first time she said realized she had sex with her father. Mackenzie was visibly shaking as she read and on the verge of tears. According to Mackenzie, she was 17 or 18 and passed out from drugs. She said she woke up to find herself having sex with her father, John Phillips. Mackenzie said that although she wasn’t sure if it was the first time, she was aware enough to know what was happening and passed out again. Mackenzie went on to say that although she considers that incident to be rape, that over time, the relationship became consensual.
The relationship went on over a period of ten years until Mackenzie was 29. Mackenzie claims two events ended it; one, while on tour in Hawaii with the New Mamas and Papas, as she and her father lay in bed in a drug-filled stupor, he suggested they run away to Fiji where their relationship would be accepted and they could raise his children (and her siblings) as their own. Mackenzie asserts she had a “visceral reaction” the minute her father tried to make the relationship romantic. The second event that convinced Mackenzie to end it was when she became pregnant (Mackenzie was in a relationship with her son’s father at the time and knew it was likely her father’s). John Phillips paid for the abortion.
Oprah asked Mackenzie why she allowed the relationship to continue for as long as it did. According to Mackenzie, because her father was this larger-than-life figure, she was constantly trying to get his attention and be connected to him. She also said she knows she is “the only daughter this happened to,” (John Phillips has two other daughters, actress Bijou Phillips and singer/actress, Chynna Phillips). Mackenzie said she forgave her father on his deathbed (John Phillips died in 2001) and amazingly she still loves him.
During the interview, Mackenzie also told the story about how Mick Jagger seduced her when she was 18, claiming he said he’d been waiting for that moment since she was ten. She also described her father teaching her how to shoot up drugs at the age of 16 and how he congratulated her on her first arrest.
The interview ended with Mackenzie’s “One Day at a Time” co-star, Valerie Bertinelli coming onstage. Valerie, who in recent years has admitted her own past drug abuse, admitted guilt and regret over Mackenzie getting in trouble for her drug problems, while she flew under the radar. Valerie also pledged her support for Mackenzie and Oprah herself became teary at the two co-stars’ reunion.
Mackenzie’s interview with Oprah was in sharp contrast to Oprah’s love fest with Whitney Houston a few weeks ago. Oprah, while not harsh, did press Mackenzie on several points, particularly on the relationship with her father. Throughout the interview, Mackenzie alternated between fidgety and confident. No doubt, High on Arrival will top the bestseller lists and maybe even turned into a movie. I don’t know if I will be among those to rush out and purchase this book, but I was definitely riveted by what she had to tell Oprah.