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Trading Places With Mackenzie Phillips

She’s a year older than I am. When we were teen-agers, I looked up to her. I wanted to be her.

I was an awkward and nerdy teen, and Mackenzie Phillips was not. She was rich and famous and cool beyond words. What I wouldn’t have done to trade places with her.

Ten minutes ago, I read the report that Phillips said she had a long-time, incestuous relationship with her famous father, John Phillips,  which began with rape and then turned consensual. He injected her with heroin. He violated every boundary.

Several years ago, I was supposed to interview Phillips about her highly publicized rehab efforts for my second book, Mustang Sallies. She was in town appearing in the Vagina Monolouges and I called her hotel room at the scheduled time. She was so incoherent that I couldn’t decipher her mumblings before she hung up. I called back again, barely making out that she wanted me to call back in an hour — which I did, wondering if she was just a Hollywood type that slept until mid-afternoon and had trouble waking up. But, an hour later, she didn’t sound much better when she gave me her home number and asked me to call in a week. When I called again, she was just as unintelligible. I kept saying, “Mackenzie, you asked me to call. I am doing a book on bold women and …” It was useless.

A year ago, she pled guilty to a felony charge of cocaine posession.

I know people will speculate on whether her stories are true, made-up or the product of years lost to a drug haze. I believe her. If she were going to make something up to get attention, she could have stopped with incest allegation without taking that leap into the admission that the sexual relationship became “consensual.”

What a sad, tortured life. It’s amazing she’s made it to 49.

I keep thinking how I looked up to her when I was a kid. That whole time that I was wishing I could have traded places with her, she probably would have done anything to trade places with me. Sure, I was a bit of a goober back then, but I grew up surrounded by love and trust and faith. I had good parents. I had a good home.

I was safe.  I feel so sad that she wasn’t.

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