Pamela Anderson


True Or False, I announce to Pamela Anderson, trying to sound as casual and respectful as possible: Ripley’s Believe it Or Not ! offered you a small fortune to buy your silicone implants when you had them removed with the intention of housing them in the Hollywood branch of its museums ?

“False !” Anderson cries, with commendable good humour, sounding only moderately outraged as she snaps, “That’s crap…”

True Or False: you had the silicone implants taken out
(reducing her breasts from 34D to 34C) because you were terrified they were going to explode ?
“It was nothing like that. Just cosmetic. After I had children, I was so thin and I thought it was kind of out of proportion. I don’t want to get into the boob thing. It’s not like I went from Dolly Parton to Kate Moss or anything.
I was trying to figure out why the appeal is so great in the UK,” she smiles. “I think it’s all those sweaters and coats and scarves. You never see them. So when you come to California, with the boobs out and everything, you’re like, ‘what about those !?”

Instinctively, we both look down at them, like a separate persona, or (lovely) soft creature, sitting at the table with us.

There is a certain level of fame – the highest – where the rest of us can never really know what goes on in a celebrity’s head, or have any idea what is really happening in their lives.

This high up the food chain of fame – a Madonna, a Marlon Brando or, indeed a Pamela Anderson – they are, by definition, more enigmatic, both more exclusive and exotic than other celebrities.

They also inevitably attract more mischievous
mis-information, more fantastic scandal, and
semi-plausible gossip, which that only muddies the water even further. The only way you can ever know which rumours are true is just ask.

This is what I decide to do with Pamela Anderson.

True Or False I begin again: the FBI is investigating the circumstances behind the theft of the video of yourself and (now ex-) husband Tommy Lee on honeymoon, which subsequently turned up on numerous porn sites on the internet ?
“True,” she agrees quietly, registering her disappointment that the subject of the dreaded video has raised its ugly head. “There are lawyers involved, lawsuits…”

True Or False: the stolen video was not stolen at all, but Tommy and yourself orchestrated the whole episode to make millions ?
“God, it’s a nightmare” she sighs softly, sounding genuinely hurt. “I haven’t seen it. The idea of people seeing it. And people saying we stole the video… That’s so ridiculous … You know, when I found out about it, I was pregnant. I was SO stressed out, I was always fainting, I was really sick over it. I like to pretend it never happened.”

True Or False: the video generated $ 70million dollars for whoever is marketing it on the internet ?
“That’s true !” she admits, amazement over-coming her
actual disapproval of the whole issue. “It said $ 77million in the Wall Street Journal.”

It is years since Pamela Anderson left Baywatch, a series that left an indelible impression in the culture on probably every one of the 140 countries it showed in.

These days though, the fact that Pamela Anderson remains so famous (insanely famous; famous in a way that means you would have a job to meet anyone who hasn’t heard of her) is mostly due to these stories.

Even at Immigration, when I explain the purpose of my visit (uttering the words millions of men have dreamed of being able to say: “I’m having breakfast with Pamela Anderson”), the officer’s immediate response is to ask whether I’ve seen the video. In America in particular, as an icon, as the personification of ultimate beach-babe, Pamela Anderson has simply not been replaced. She is still regarded with out-and-out affection (“Pam” or “Pammy”) – as a blonde among blondes; a swimsuit pin-up without parallel: America’s favourite fantasy. Her breasts for example are probably as famous as any in America or indeed the world.

It’s true that on the internet, on more legitimate websites (including the hugely lucrative, her name attracts vast interest, and her follow-up series to Baywatch, the “boobs and bombs” action parody, ‘V.I.P’, is finally taking off, syndicated across the States and to 80 countries across the world. “Very big in India,” the PR assures me.

But when it comes down to it, since Baywatch, it is through news stories and counter-rumour that her fame has mostly been sustained – and not necessarily happily so.

Most of the stories have revolved around the same three subjects: her tempestuous, often violent marriage to
rock-star, wild-man, Tommy Lee; the now-notorious
X-rated Honeymoon video (‘Pam & Tommy Lee: Hardcore & Uncensored’); and her famous chest.

She throws in a few other rumours for good measure: that she has had $30, 000 worth of dental work; that she is anorexic or pregnant; either engaged (to new boyfriend model Marcus Schenkenberg) or re-united with Tommy Lee; that she is putting out an album of Buddhist chanting.

“I was listening to the radio, a long time ago. They were talking about this heroin user. I’m like, ‘God, this poor girl, she’s a total mess, what a waste.’ They go: ‘Pamela Anderson’s on heroin and she’s going to be the new heroin poster child.’ I almost drove off the road.”

The day we meet, the latest story (in Hello !) claims that she believes that she has “two guardian angels – a golden eagle and a British man named Richard.”

“Richard who ?! Richard Branson ?!!” she screams in disbelief. “What are they talking about ? And a golden
eagle ?! It means absolutely nothing to me. It makes me look completely nuts. I read that and thought ‘I’m nuts’.”

To add insult to injury, she says, “a photographer I’ve known ten years totally sold those photographs of Marcus and I and the kids, totally behind my back.”

True Or False, I persist. Tommy Lee has the name ‘Pamela’
tattooed on his…
” OH NO !” Pamela giggles, rather sweetly, actually embarrassed. “That isn’t true.”
She pauses briefly to imagine the consequences if it were before letting out a sigh and gasping, “Thank GOD.”

THE FIRST TIME WE MEET is on the grey, nondescript parking lot that is the set of her loopy detective series VIP. A single seat lined with pink fur, sits outside her trailer. Post-Baywatch, Pamela Anderson’s beach these days consists of a scruffy fake, 20 yard strip outside the façade of the VIP nightclub and shop, with one tired looking palm tree for effect.

I see Pamela Anderson sitting on a motorbike driving round the block. I find myself waving and, for some reason, she waves back.

In huge glass platform boots, fabulous 70s biker’s shades and silver Bacofoil cat suit, she looks like the missing link between Cinderella and Barbarella. The effect is only rather lost by the fact that the motorbike is sitting on the back of a lorry.

Typically, for VIP (which is broadly speaking an Austin Powers’ version of Charlie’s Angels or The A Team), Pamela Anderson looks as if she has two hairdos one on top of one another, with an enormous stream of Barbie-styled hair cascading down her back. When we eventually meet again for the interview, in her trailer, as she picks out a beetroot salad, the wig is gone.

“You must have thought, my God she’s let herself go,” she squeals in her appropriately squeaky breathless sex-kitten voice to go with the permanent pout. Not exactly.
“All the wigs on this show are very cheap. There’s a lot of drag queens in the hair department, so I just use theirs.”

Years after leaving Baywatch, Pamela Anderson certainly still looks the same: long, blonde mane, blinding white perfect smile, pneumatic blow-up Barbie doll body busting out of beach-babe denim jacket and squeezed into jeans whose waist-band been chopped off. With her wide green eyes, permanent pout, and all-over tan the colour of gravy, she is (her chest and her hair aside) tiny – somewhere between Brookside’s Emily Shadwick and
Claudia Schiffer.

Once you start talking to her though, you can’t help think that perhaps she’s taking her reputed belief in reincarnation literally. This is a new Pamela Anderson.

True, when she says she can “relate” to something, she says she can “toad-ally relate” to it, but, for the most part, she is not what I expected – gassing enthusiastically about everything from Karl Jung to Olive in On The Buses,
relaxed and open, with none of the diva games she sends herself with in VIP.

Now the mother of two children (Brandon, 4, and Dylan, 2), she is a different proposition from the vapid poster girl who used to run along the beach after David Hasselhoff in slow motion in a red swimsuit. Hasselhoff later advised her how to create her own show in VIP.

As executive producer on the show, making the decisions on casting, writing., budgets, hair and make-up, it’s not that ridiculous when she says: “I was just the hired hand in Baywatch. VIP is my vision.”

“I hired the runner on the show,” she boasts, amid a stream of people knocking on her door. “They can’t go ahead and do anything without my approval.”

Post-Tommy Lee, she has what almost passes for a quiet life these days, juggling being a mother, but also a workaholic.

“I get here at 5.30am – we can work up to 16, 18 hours. 5.30pm til 8, 9. Every night, I’m like ‘ come on, Dylan, go to sleep. go to sleep.’ I have two boys. They are Full On energy. And I’m the hyper-est person I know. They have my energy. They have Tommy’s energy. It’s a little crazy in the house. But we have a blast. I bring my kids to work a lot. They enjoy it. They have fun. It’s hard to be away from them so much.”

“I shot the pilot when I was 7 months pregnant with Dylan. So I just worked around it and was able to cope with it. Then when I’d just had Dylan, I took time to be at home with him and do pre-production. So I was coming to meetings a lot with the baby attached to me. My children are my priority – they’re with me so much.”

Instinctively, she reaches to show me their photos.
Above all, Pamela Anderson strikes you as someone trying to put even her recent past behind her.

She has always talked about her life, even before she was famous, as “a real fantasy life. I’ve always been a romantic and lived in a real fantasy world.”

But during the intervening years since Baywatch, Pamela Anderson’s fantasy turned sour.

Career-wise, in 1996, her first major attempt to launch her film career – Barb Wire – flopped. Styled as a kind of female Stallone (“Pambo !”), Anderson’s rather laboured catch-phrase, “Don’t Call me Babe” (Pamela’s version of Schwarzenegger’s ‘Hasta La Vista Baby”) summed up everything was wrong with it and left her determined to go in the more comic direction of VIP.

“Oh My God. That didn’t work. I wanted to do something funny.”

The real lows though were in her personal life. The release of the Honeymoon video clouded her pregnancy (“I loved being pregnant but it was so stressful”) so much she vetoed the birth being videoed for fear of the tape becoming public.

Twice during their four year marriage, Tommy Lee was sent to jail (for four months and later four days) as a result of drunken assaults made on her – the first time while she held their then-7-week-old son Dylan in her arms, one of three separate incidents in which she was assaulted. She refused to press charges but the police, having seen her injuries charged him and Lee pleaded no contest.

She still lives in the Malibu home that she shared with Tommy Lee.

The fall-out of their divorce has rumbled on through their interviews with the press, but today, she seems to have a new-found equanimity about it all.

“I don’t really regret anything I’ve done. Everyone creates their own problems and drama in life,” she announces with almost evangelic enthusiasm. “So I have to take responsibility for everything that’s happened to me. Everything I’ve done is part of my personality.”

I point out that no woman should have to take responsibility for being on the receiving end of violence, especially when he defended himself by suggesting she had contributed to the incident (“we pushed each other’s buttons like you wouldn’t believe”) but she is adamant.

“Sub-consciously, I feel maybe it is my fault ! I married a rockstar, only four days after knowing him.”

They married on a beach in Cancun, Mexcio. The bride wore white (a teeny white bikini). The groom wore black (black beach shorts). Both wore sunglasses.

Several months after Lee had served four months of his six month sentence, she also got back together with him, sending out a variety of mixed messages by embarking upon sessions of therapy (in his case, for Anger Management ), cooing “I can’t imagine being with anybody else” and joking that “he’s been spayed.”

She was forever changing her name to Pamela Anderson Lee or changing it back again; altering the tattoo she had of his name on her ring finger (from Tommy to Mommy), or back again.

She even gave him a part in VIP – as a hitman.
“I thought, ‘well maybe he’s changed and for the children’s sake, let’s try this one more time’. And I tried it and he was exactly the same as before so. They say you marry your father and I’m like, ‘no, no, not me.’ Oh My God, did I ever ! I did !! I married him !!!”

Now 33 years old, the all-American pin-up/Californian girl, Pamela Anderson was born in British Columbia and raised in Vancouver.

Her mother was a waitress at a local Pancake house and
her father – a logger – had a drink problem and Anderson says eventually it was her long-suffering mother that eventually prompted to report Lee for violating his parole (by drinking) and turn him in.

“I saw the bitterness my mother had. My Dad has really mellowed out now. He is the best grandfather you could ever get. Now I’m turning into my mom too ! My mom’s a real goofball. She handled a lot of her ups and downs with humour – like Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy. Very sarcastic and witty. That’s how she got through her pain.”

She is – like so many Grade-A celebrities – destined to be a star from Day One when she was the first child to be born on the 100th Anniversary of Canadian Independence Day, resulting in her baby pictures being splashed across the local pages and her parents getting medals. Having started life as a fitness instructor in Vancouver, at the age of 22, attending a British Columbia Lions football game wearing a t-shirt for Labatt’s beer, her face was flashed up on the screen and she was introduced to the crowd. A commercial for Labatt’s and eventually Playboy magazine cover followed. She has subsequently appeared on the cover a record eight times.

A supporting role as the blonde pin-up The Tool Time Girl
In Tim Allen’s Home Improvement was enough to win her the part of CJ Parker in Baywatch, finally fulfilling her ambition in her High School Year Book – “to be a Californian beach bum” – with fame for herself and her chest in 140 countries thrown in to the bargain.

“The idea at the time,” she said, about her implants, “was
to be like Dolly Parton – you know really huge. But when I saw them I was like, ‘is that it ?’”

Was she worried about the fears over silicone ? She told TV Guide in America that “when they removed them, one actually had a leak in it. It was ruptured. So I was happy I listened to my instincts.”

“No, not at all. It is just that I felt top-heavy. I just wasn’t really comfortable with it anymore. I just feel sexier. Much more confident about myself.”

Nowadays at least, she seems to have resolved to keep a lower profile, which without Tommy, wouldn’t be difficult.

“I keep it very separate. It’s very surreal, like a drug. It’s hard to analyse isn’t it ? Once you’re in it, you’re in it. I have a lot of friends from school still, and they say that I still seem the goofball that I’ve always been. And my brother will sometimes say ‘do you ever think about this ?
(being Pamela Anderson). Let’s just take a second to think about what’s really going on here. And I’m like, no let’s just not. Hahaha. Let’s forget about it.”

Her wild days seem to be behind her. Besides her attraction to the tattooed drummer from Motley Crue,
she was reported to have a penchant for strip clubs and porn videos.

“I can be wild when I want to be,” she purrs. “I think I’ve always been very consistent with my personality since I was very small. I don’t know how rebellious I really was.
I had a lot of freedom growing up. I have my ‘I am a mother’ speech now. I’ve never been someone to go sky-diving or roller-coasters. I’ve never really liked that feeling. Even if people drive fast, I say ‘do I have to give you the ‘I am a mother’ speech again ? I’m a mother. And you don’t go over 50.’ I don’t want to be in any kind of dangerous situation.”

The previous time I was Los Angeles, Pam & Tommy’s
Honeymoon video was on the hotel’s movie system.

What struck me most – besides the fact that it is literally a
home-video of their honeymoon, and typically tedious at that – is how shy Anderson seems, covering herself up as she is sunbathing topless as soon as Lee approaches with his video-camera. The sex scenes, such as they are – and there are only three or four in a two-hour video – are, after all performed with the man who was her husband.

“I never wanted the camera on me. Even now, no-one can take pictures. When I’m at home, I don’t like my picture taken. I don’t like video cameras. I’ve never really been like that. I don’t like that. That was just something that obviously was supposed to be personal between us.”

What about your job ? I blurt out, thinking of how much she has used to her body – both on TV, in swimsuit calendars and magazines such as Playboy.

“That’s completely different. Nobody can understand that about me. Any boyfriend, anybody in my life, they want to take pictures of me and I’m like ‘no, no, no, no’. I never do that at home. A couple of pictures with the kids or whatever, when you want to record those moments but very rarely.”

It can’t be easy, I suggest, with two boys who take after their father.
“Brandon has his little looks. Sometimes, I think ‘ooh my God. That’s Tommy looking right at me.’ It’s bizarre.”

Asking her about her ex-husband, a shadow visibly clouds her normally sunny demeanour.
“There’s no trauma there anymore,” she answers without much conviction.

She still describes her relationship with Tommy Lee as “up and down”, making statements like “I’m getting more and more comfortable with it” with the over-stated firmness of someone decidedly anxious who has worked her anxiety through in therapy.

“We can psycho-analyse it to death but I definitely don’t regret going through it. I think that in the end we’ll be friends, closer friends than we are now.”

Without the children I point out, ordinarily you would never see a man that assaulted you again.
“Right. It’s a very difficult situation to be in.”

Do you feel torn emotionally ?
“Well you know, it’s worse than a death in the family – a divorce – because they’re still around. You’re mourning them but they’re still in your life, so much. So you don’t have time to really mourn them and get over them and get past them. It’s hard… there’s been moments where it’s a little… confusing. We went through so much. I thought after something so traumatic that happened to him and us, maybe he could change but people don’t really change that much. He’s just been on tour, so he hardly ever sees the kids but now we’ll work something out on a more structured basis.”

What do you tell the children ?
“I think children know so much more than we give them credit for. The way they absorb so many things, like a sponge. I mean, you can’t lie to your kids. I think, um, Tommy has a lot of making up to do with the children and becoming consistent parent to them, so they have faith and trust in him. He wants to learn to become a better parent. That’s all I can really hope for.”

A variety of things, she says, have helped her move forward: the children, having therapy, her spiritual beliefs and, most of all, her new boyfriend Marcus Schenkenberg.

“I’ve had therapy off and on for a long time. My grandfather taught me to meditate when I was very, very young. He got me into Karl Jung, Robert Johnson, Maria Bel Valfase. He was a logger. He was way ahead of his time. While everyone was having meat and potatoes and gravy, he was a vegetarian having grapenuts, vegetables.
He used to lock himself in his room for months at a time and confront his unconscious and interpret his dreams. Very kooky. Everyone thought he was nuts, except me. I totally related to him, so I was probably nuts too.”

“I was always fascinated by psychology, symbolism, interpreting dreams. I MAY have gone into that if I’d gone to college. It’s been very helpful to me, seeing my therapist. I keep a journal, and I write down all my dreams. Symbolism is different to everybody. I know that you can buy a dream book and it says ‘dog means loyalty’ but I think you have to really find out what your own dreams are. It’s really helped me overcome some traumatic things in my life.”

She says that she believes in God (“but not an organised religion”), believes in guardian angels (“but not called Richard”), and in reincarnation.

“It’s not like something I lead my life by every day. I’m curious about it. I think we have had other lives, yeah. I just think that we all have. I haven’t had any past life regression or anything like that. Never gone there ! I just can’t imagine it not being true. It’s like I can’t imagine there not being a god. I believe in god. We do group prayers here at work. We have the whole cast comes in here and we’re very, very grateful for what we have. There has to be a destiny. when I do go through things that are traumatic, I always think – ‘what am I supposed to learn from this ? this is something that is supposed to have happened from my life and if I don’t learn from this , there’s going to be a harder lesson in future. If I don’t get it this time.’”

The latest rumour to blight her personal life – albeit (hopefully) in a nicer way – is that she has just got engaged to Schenkenberg.

“I think they think that for me, it’s a really long relationship because I married Tommy after four days, and they’re thinking ‘what’s wrong ? She’s playing hard to get’,” she smiles brightly. “I know the day we met. May 11 at about one in the morning. There was a story that there was a bird in the toilet and Marcus rescued him and I fell in love because we’re both PETA members !”

When I relate the story that I read in Hello – that they were on a boat and at midnight Marcus read a poem and toasted their love with a glass of Krug, only for Anderson to notice a diamond ring at the bottom of her glass.
“She accepted his proposal and asked him to put the ring on her finger.”

She can hardly contain herself.
“No ! No !! Never !!! It never happened, sorry ! I mean, hasn’t that been done before ?!”

What does she think about the concept of getting married now ?
“When I left Tommy, I definitely thought I’d never get married again. I thought ‘it’s much easier to do this alone’. I’d rather be a single mom. I didn’t even think I’d meet anybody else. I wasn’t looking. And I thought marriage is going to make things more complicated. I really want to be sure. I really care about Marcus a lot and it’s heading in a real wonderful direction but it doesn’t mean I have to get married and definitely not now. A friend of mine, who is one of my advice givers. And he’s a real Jungian too… When I first met Marcus and I was going on about him, ‘oh my god I’ve just met this wonderful guy’, and he goes, Stop, right there. Please tell me, as much as you think this guy is the greatest guy in the world, that you’re not going to get married.”

She giggles.
“He said, ‘You gave your child 9 months before you even met them, give it the 9 month rule. Having a baby really stirs a relationship up. One thing with Marcus is, I say, ‘I have two children’ and he realises he’s not the centre of attention in my life. I have two children. In my previous relationship, that was a difficult thing. With Tommy, it was ‘what about me ? what about me ? what about me ?’
Marcus knows right now, we could be having the most romantic evening in the world, and Dylan gets up. The one thing about Marcus is, he has a lot of respect for Tommy too – well not respect. I don’t know if he’s got a lot of respect for a lot of the things he’s done. But he respects the fact that Tommy is the father, he would never say anything bad about Tommy. It takes more of a man to raise someone else’s kids…”

Once she starts gushing about her children, it’s hard to stop her from keeping going.
“Children are so brilliant. I think they’re born with so much more than anybody thinks – they’re so intuitive. I said to Brandon the other day. I go, what was the first thing you saw when you were born ?’ He goes, ‘the world ! And then there was a garbage dump and then I was hit by a tractor and squished. And I was like wow, poor baby.”

It’s hard to imagine her being exactly a strict mother.
“I think its really important to just let them really evolve into their own little beings – just be always supportive. I’m not a big ‘No’ person. I feel like they need room and freedom and security to express themselves be that either angry, or sad, feel the freedom to be themselves… They’re such polite boys, so I think I’ve done a good job.”

She’s so relaxed that when I ask her if she’d like to have more children, she says “I definitely would love to have a little girl. I want to have a baby with Mar….Bleughghgh. Yeah, I want to get married and have another baby. But not now. He’s an amazing person. I never thought I’d be in this position again. I never thought I’d be madly in love again. You never know when it’s going to hit you.”

The existence of the honeymoon video is perhaps the only blot on the horizon.
“Sometimes Marcus’ll say: ‘that must be really hard, thinking about that thing out there.’ Then I get really frustrated and upset. I’m pursuing it. (One story reported she was suing for $ 300 million.) I don’t know how it can happen. They say we haven’t got any rights to privacy because we’re celebrities or because we joked about it in an interview. One judge said that – it couldn’t have been that hard on us because Tommy joked about it in an interview on Howard Stern.”

Otherwise, her future lies with VIP (including marketing VIP mousepads, calendars and t-shirts and a Lara Croft-styled videogame) and the internet – making programmes exclusively for and, which already gets seven million hits a month.

“The third season of VIP is really wild and crazy. Very tongue-in-cheek, crazy outfits. The first season, they were a little afraid of the camp. They didn’t think they hired me as a comedienne. Now they’ve just given up. Just let her do what I want.”

This, I imagine, is a good idea.
“I love English humour,” she announces, as she gets up to get back on to the set. The Big Breakfast. Rowan Atkinson. On The Buses. I grew up in Canada, so I saw all those growing up. Fawlty Towers was just hysterical – re-arranging the letters out front to say Farty Towels ! There’s a Fawlty Towers in Coco Beach in Florida, and I was visiting and I was like, ‘you don’t understand I have to stay in this hotel.’ It was like a Motel 6 or something. I used to love On The Buses.”

The last thing I hear as she walks out the door is Pamela Anderson doing her impression of Olive in On The Buses.

It’s safe to say her enigma – as befits a real star – remains intact.