Do you want a hot body like your favorite Hollywood star? Would you settle for second favorite? Third? Look, how about you tell me where LaToya Jackson ranks in your top 10 and we'll go from there. The aerobics VHS tape is apparently some trial that every celebrity must go through, and after years of research and $1.96, I've tracked down the four worst.
4LaToya Jackson's Step Up Workout (1993)
Years ago, amateur Indiana biochemists went through the Jackson's garbage in an attempt to create a second Michael out of food scraps and discarded maxi pads. LaToya Jackson was the shrieking and unkillable result of that experiment. Do not be fooled by LaToya Jackson's timid Michael Jackson impersonation -- it will use your bones to build its nest.
When LaToya raises her voice, local cats go into a blood frenzy, so she doesn't actually lead the workout. The routine is led by National Step Champion and International You Have Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me With This Name, Gay Gasper. LaToya is only there as the celebrity participant and to host a deadly battle between leotard and vaginoplasty. Now take a second and imagine you were Gay Gasper. You're whatever a National Step Champion is, you're built like a womanly dump truck and by any fitness and likeability standards you've earned the right to be the star of your own workout video. Then your producer says, "Sorry, Gay. We need a celebrity face to sell this. Or at least a celebrity face-like meat sculpture. Who did I get? Tell you what: crowbar open that sarcophagus behind you and see for yourself. Just give me a second to move inside this circle of protection."
Given her successful entertainment career, I don't know where LaToya Jackson finds the time to work out so much, but she's in great shape. She pushes on through what must be a stinging cascade of sweaty Aqua Net and she almost keeps up with Gay for 45 minutes of high energy flapping and marching. It appears these bat soldiers maintain their strength and endurance even in human form. The leader will be pleased.
The rest of this sentence is going to sound a lot like Phil Collins' microphone because LaToya spends most of her time in this video getting berated by Gay. Gay Gasper is a muscle-bound sack of slave driving intensity and her three assistants are all clearly professional aerobics instructors. LaToya's contribution is almost all panting while she struggles to not fall behind. It's kind of tragic. After all, the last thing LaToya Jackson needed was to be in one more damn room full of people where she was the least talented one.
I tried to find the perfect clip of LaToya Jackson working out, but you wouldn't be able to tell it apart from this video anyway:
3Bonnie Franklin's I Hate to Exercise I Love to Tap (1984)
Thirty years ago, Bonnie Franklin played a sassy divorcee on One Day at a Time and now she uses her celebrity to promote theater to undertheatered children.
Tap dancing isn't quite exercise, especially the way it's done on this tape. I'm sure tap dancers will disagree, but get used to that feeling, tap dancers. The rest of the world is going to be pretty goddamn annoyed with you for the rest of your life. There really isn't a category for a workout this easy. Is it fair to real exercise when you put both hands in your pockets and just scrape your shoe across the floor and call it fitness? I know you 18th century ladies want to look good in your colonial dresses, but a real fitness routine should work more than your ankle and side ankle.
The pace never picks up, either. It's like Bonnie Franklin knew her target audience was dying in a hospital bed and didn't want to show off. Luckily, this tape prepares any terminal patient for both the discomforts of Hell and the crushing nothingness of oblivion. An hour in and I was still astonished every time the camera held on a closeup of Bonnie's foot as she counted off 32 slaps. Watching this video is like scraping joy out of your brain. By the time I was done, I knew how to shim sham, but I couldn't remember why happiness made a person smile. If you feel up for a game of Boredom Chicken, I fucking dare you to try to watch this for five minutes:
You'd think with all the razzmatazz of musical theater, there would be more to this production than an empty community center and a dining chair. There isn't. All Bonnie Franklin has done here is take all the misery of a lifetime of tap lessons and weaponized it against us.