Victoria Abercrombie Walker is one of Soul Train’s all time “fashionistas”, well known for her great fashions and styles she wore during her time on the show. She is also known for her own individual dance style that stood out among the other dancers. One of Soul Train’s popular regulars, she has always believed in being an original, not a carbon copy of others, and she carries this same belief to this very day.
Soultrain.com: Welcome to Soultrain.com Vicki, and thank you for granting us this interview. Where are you originally from?
Vicki: I was born in Texas, but raised in Los Angeles.
Soultrain.com: What were your aspirations when you were growing up?
Vicki: I wanted to be in show business. People always said I was going to be famous or something special. In high school I was voted most popular in my class and was also voted Prom Queen. I liked dancing but I was more into fashion.
Soultrain.com: How did your journey with Soul Train begin?
Vicki: I was invited go on tryouts for Soul Train at Dinker Park in Los Angeles. I passed the audition and I went to the taping.
Soultrain.com: What do you remember about that first time at Soul Train?
Vicki: It was such a long day! I was exhausted at the end of the day, but I had a desire to come back again the next day.
Soultrain.com: The fashions you wore on the show were so gorgeous and classy. Did you make your own outfits?
Vicki: I had a lot of friends who helped me out with the fashions I wore. I also went to a lot of secondhand stores and regular clothing stores for the outfits I wore.
Soultrain.com: Who are some of your favorite artists that performed on Soul Train?
Vicki: The Jackson 5, The Sylvers, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Labelle, Barry White, Chaka Khan, James Brown, and The Pointer Sisters.
Soultrain.com: The Pointer Sisters were definitely trendsetters at that time. They influenced the looks of some of the other girls on the show like Pat Davis and Fawn Quinones. Were you influenced by The Pointer Sisters?
Vicki: I loved The Pointer Sisters! I loved their 1940-ish style outfits with the floral dresses and the platform heels. They were very unique.
Soultrain.com: What do you remember about Stevie Wonder’s first appearance on Soul Train?
Vicki: It was amazing to me that an individual in his condition could perform so well. It touched my heart. He couldn’t see but I was in awe of the things he could do. We can see and we can’t do half of the things he can do. I was so amazed by the “Soul Train” song he created for the dancers. I was overwhelmed by it.
Soultrain.com: Michael Jackson was on Soul Train several times as part of The Jackson 5 and by himself. What stood out to you about him other than his incredible talent?
Vicki: He seemed kind of shy, but he was more talkative back then. I was friends with his family and I even attended the wedding reception of his brother Jermaine. (Fellow Soul Train dancers Pat Davis, Sharon Hill and Damita Jo Freeman also attended the lavish wedding reception.)
Soultrain.com: What were your impressions of Labelle when they came to Soul Train?
Vicki: They were a way out group! (Laughs). But they were entertaining and they delivered!
Soultrain.com: I saw that classic clip [where] you and the other girls were all under a spell when Marvin Gaye sang “Let’s Get It On.” What was Marvin Gaye like?
Vicki: He was very approachable and a very down to earth, smooth kind of man. It was a total surprise that he was going to be a guest on the show. None of us knew!
Soultrain.com: Chaka Khan and her band Rufus appeared a number of times while you danced on the show. What are your memories of her?
Vicki: When I think of Chaka, she makes you just want to dance! She was a party girl and whenever she and Rufus came to the show, she enabled the dancers to party!
Soultrain.com: You were also on the show when Sly & The Family Stone came and literally turned out the Soul Train. What was it like seeing them perform?
Vicki: One phrase sums them up: They were dynamite!
Soultrain.com: How do you feel that you were so up and close to all of those legendary artists?
Vicki: It was a once in a lifetime experience. I was in the presence of different artists, many of whom are no longer here, and I am so grateful for that experience.
Soultrain.com: Do you have one favorite moment on Soul Train?
Vicki: There are so many. I can’t pick one because all of them are dear to my heart.
Soultrain.com: You did the Soul Train Scramble Board but you and your partner had a hard time figuring out the solution. The clock almost ran out on you guys. Do you remember that?
Vicki: (Laughs) Yes, I remember! We took “a minute” to solve the Scramble Board. We did win the Ultra Sheen/Afro Sheen products but I never used them. I gave them away.
Soultrain.com: Did you have your share of the cold fried chicken and warm sodas given to the dancers?
Soultrain.com: Did you have any best buddies while you were on Soul Train?
Vicki: Yes! Sharon Hill and Diana Bruner.
Soultrain.com: Did you ever experience any jealousy while you were on the show?
Vicki: No. I didn’t experience any jealousy. It was more like a family on Soul Train. There would be a lot of gossip and sometimes there was some jealousy when certain people got to dance on the risers, but I never personally experienced any jealousy.
Soultrain.com: You didn’t really get caught up in the other styles of dances that the other dancers were doing that were popular at the time.
Vicki: No I didn’t. I didn’t pop lock or do any of those other dances. I had my own way of dancing.
Soultrain.com: What did you call your style of dancing?
Vicki: My dance style was called Victoria’s Secret. I felt pop locking was more for guys. I couldn’t see myself doing that. Whatever I do, I bring taste to it. Even today, I do my own little thing when I dance and it’s called Victoria’s Secret. I’m gonna be me. I don’t care what anyone else does, I’m going to bring me.
Soultrain.com: I love that word of wisdom! What was it like working with Pam Brown, who was the coordinator of the dancers of that time? Did you ever fall victim to her “chewing gum ritual?” (Laughs)
Vicki: Yes! (Laughs) Loved to chew gum and Pam used to catch me all the time and would tell me spit my gum out! I loved Pam! She was loving and kind.
Soultrain.com: You and several of the other dancers appeared in the movie Five On The Blackhand Side in the wedding scene. How did that come about?
Vicki: The producer contacted Pam and said he wanted to use Soul Train dancers for a certain scene in the film. It was a lot of fun doing that movie.
Soultrain.com: In an old issue of Right On! magazine, you mentioned you had a problem with stalkers as a result of being a popular Soul Train regular. What was that like?
Vicki: Creepy! It’s amazing because not too long ago someone called me [who] remembered me from Soul Train. It’s very eerie! It’s unbelievable how I would get strange letters and phone calls from people in the middle of the night. I know how celebrities feel! You try to accommodate everyone but there are just days you don’t want to be bothered.
Soultrain.com: Speaking of Right On! magazine, you were featured in several issues. How did that come about?
Vicki: Flo Jenkins, the editor of Right On! at the time, called me and wanted me to do a photo shoot for the magazine because I was a popular regular and she loved my fashion and creativity. The issue in which me and fellow dancer Tyrone Swan were on the cover was one of Right On!’s top selling issues.
Soultrain.com: What was that experience like doing a photo shoot?
Vicki: I was nervous at first, but then an ease came over me and I just did me.
Soultrain.com: Did you ever dance on American Bandstand?
Vicki: I went occasionally. I wasn’t a regular. I went for a change of pace. Dick Clark interacted more with the dancers. He sat down with us. Don Cornelius didn’t.
Soultrain.com: What are your memories of Don Cornelius?
Vicki: I got along with him. He would say, “Vicki, go on stage”, but some dancers he never spoke to. I could easily go up to him. He was like a father and we (the dancers) were his children. But overall, he isolated himself. He definitely drew a line. He didn’t allow people to get too close to him. He had a closed spirit. We knew Don, but then again we really didn’t know him.
Soultrain.com: You and a lot of the other Soul Train dancers danced on a short-lived show called Soul Unlimited. What do you remember about that? How did Don feel about it?
Vicki: Don didn’t like it, but what could he do? We weren’t paid and didn’t sign contracts with Soul Train so we were free to dance on other programs.
Soultrain.com: What were some of the disadvantages of being on Soul Train?
Vicki: The dancers made Don millions but we didn’t get anything. The only time we got paid was when we were hired to do something outside of Soul Train. The dancers didn’t have a salary. That kind of discouraged me and that’s why I stopped coming to the show. We did not get any assistance in buying clothes and we were devoting our time and energy. It was cool and fun for the moment but it wasn’t a glorious adventure. On Mondays I was tired and had go to school after the late tapings. Being that Don was the head of it all, we allowed him to grow but he didn’t allow us to grow. We were stagnated.
Soultrain.com: What did you do after leaving Soul Train?
Vicki: I was going to California State University and I also did some modeling and eventually went into the work force.
Soultrain.com: What are your impressions of the later years of Soul Train, let’s say the mid to late eighties onward?
Vicki: I discontinued watching it. It wasn’t the same.
Soultrain.com: You currently run your own business called Something Special. How did that come about?
Vicki: Something Special is a decorating business. I was influenced by my grandmother who was a caterer and I would assist her. She would always say I was something special and that’s how the name of my business came about. God blessed my hands to be creative. Basically, I take something and make it special. I do decorating for events, weddings, birthday parties, graduations, champagne parties and any event that needs that special touch.
Soultrain.com: What was your overall experience with Soul Train like?
Vicki: I’m grateful for the friendships us dancers had with each other. The bond we have never would have happened if it weren’t for Don Cornelius creating Soul Train. Coming together one weekend out of the month will always be dear to me. Don’s death also helped many of us reconnect.
Soultrain.com: In light of Don Cornelius’ passing, what would you say is his legacy?
Vicki: He brought entertainment to the world which enabled everyone the opportunity to be a part of the celebration because his show was one big celebration.
Soultrain.com: Do you have a word of wisdom you want to share with the Soultrain.com readers?
Vicki: Be you. Never allow anyone or anything to change you. Live the life God has for you.
For more information about Vicki’s business Something Special, email her at email@example.com.
In addition to being a journalist, Stephen McMillian is also working on developing creative projects within the entertainment industry.