Pamela Anderson (June 2010)
I am waiting to meet Pammi Anderson in the lobby of her London hotel. She is about to jump in her limo to Heathrow as she is on her way back to Los Angeles. She appears looking fresh from the shower, no make-up, but skin golden and glowing.
She is wearing a pink and white striped suit with a skirt that’s teeny weeny. Long gorgeous legs and an all over Malibu tan – the hosiery equivalent that is one shade darker than American tan. The jacket is a bit nurse-like, so the look is caring and super sexy. That’s always been her twin appeal.
I’m shocked though: there is no entourage, no multi suitcases descending like Russian dolls. There is one carry-on and a pink carrier bag from Vivienne Westwood.
“There are two things that people are always shocked about me. That is I am always on time and I travel light. And I can take 40 outfits in one bag.” A feat of packing mastery, or is that perhaps because all the skirts are minimal.
I’m also shocked at how her skin looks so golden, sunkissed, natural. She has laughter lines that manage to make her look more pretty, more real. Her smile is soft, not plastic. She says, “I haven’t done botox. I don’t like all that facial stuff. It scares me. You see all these people who have had it and they all look the same.”
We talk about that specific LA look; the 50 30. You can’t tell if someone has partied too hard for 30 or are 50 with one of those no age but bad work faces. “I just don’t think I should go that way, especially at this age (43 on July 1). I think I should just age. I’ve never been the prettiest person, and I don’t feel I need to chase youth.
She says this genuinely. No false modesty looking for compliments. But I tell her it’s because she’s so pretty she doesn’t need surgical help. She bows her eyes; a genuine blush.
She’s been in London for two days, Sweden for one. Is about to be in Malibu for one day, and then Australia where she’s opening Dancing With The Stars for a week or so. She reclaimed her position as America’s Canadian sweetheart when she did seven weeks on the American show. She put her heart into her footwork and loved it. Would she ever do Strictly?
“I’d love a chance to do that. I love Bruno.” The dancing, the training, the performing, is her main workout. She’s never been a gym girl. “I just love to do things outside.” Do you ever lie out to get a tan? “I do sometimes. I haven’t this year. I love the sun. If I feel awful it energises me. I am not an indoor girl.” You don’t worry about getting too much sun and your skin being damaged? “No.” She looks at me in amazement. “It feels great.”
She doesn’t have a particular skin care regime, says she uses different products all the time, including ones her sister-in-law gives her. “I don’t put a lot of effort into myself with beauty products and haircare except when other people do it for appearances. I haven’t had a facial for a while. I like to be natural.”
That’s just one of the paradoxes about Pammi. You think she’s going to be all fake and she’s all real, vulnerable and honest.
She doesn’t want to change her face, but she has been made famous by her enhanced breasts. They launched her Playboy then Baywatch career. IS she going to have any more work done there? “I have done that route. That’s not something on my checklist right now. That’s where I did my experimentation I guess.”
I remember when I met her before she gave me a brief breast history. Naturally she was a 34D. She had implants and when she broke up with Tommy Lee 12 years ago, instead of having a drastic haircut, like some people do, she had a drastic breast reduction. She laughs her head off so much that the airport limo starts to shake. “I cut my hair as well. So it was a double whammy.”
She grew her hair back and put the implants back. The hair though was natural. “I’ve had extensions for photo shoots and I’ve had eyelashes on, but I have that thing where you pull out your hair and your eyelashes. If ever they are in for a photo shoot I am like, I don’t want to be taking these things home with me.”
Does she have a favourite body part? “I am really lucky I stayed in shape all these years without a lot of working out. I think it’s genetic. My mother, my brother, are the same way. And now that I’m dancing it gets you firmed up a bit without much effort. I’m pretty happy about the body stuff. But as you can see, I haven’t looked in a mirror this morning. But I’m getting on a plane, and that’s what sunglasses are for.”
To demonstrate she takes them off so I can see her face has absolutely no make-up. She smells only of the shower. Her eyes are a very pale blue green grey. It’s not a fitness regime as such, but she’s an extremely active person/single mother looking after two “wild boys”, Brandon, 14, Dylan, 12. She also lives temporarily in a big wide trailer by the beach while her house is being fixed up. Perfect for surfing.
“My golden retriever JoJo follows me. I didn’t realise the first time I was out there on a paddle board just learning to surf. So I am getting smashed and falling over and I turn to my side, ‘JoJo, what are you doing here?’ And then we got hit by a wave and I am under and I’m looking for JoJo and then he pops up. It’s very frightening, but he will not leave my side. So now that I’m aware he’s there we go out, come back to the shore, and try and get him used to it. The other day JoJo wasn’t there, but a sea lion popped up. It was like a Rottweiler next to me. They are not vicious, but intimidating. I felt like I was trespassing on someone’s back yard.”
She’s always super respectful of animal life. Has been a lifelong devotee to Peta; no fur, no cruelty, no meat. She works regularly in the California Wildlife Center. “Last time we were there we folded all the surgical towels and did laundry. I love laundry. It was the first time they ever had colour-coded and folded towels.
“I clean out all the poop in the birdcages and feed all the little owls, the baby ones, with frozen mice parts. Sometimes a frozen paw or ear will fall out. We have to clean their feathers and I thought, how hard is it to clean oil off when you can’t even clean mice guts. There are so many feathers it goes behind.
“Sometimes animals have to be released back into the wild. I am the worst driver and have no sense of direction. They gave me this box with a crow in it and we got so lost. You feel responsible for her. I went to three different places to try and find the place where they actually found her. Finally I got there and she went to a beautiful tree. She had great taste.
“It’s nice because I do a lot of work to bring awareness of animal rights around the country and I feel it’s good to do the one on one work where I started. When I was little I was always bringing home three-legged cats. But it’s good to remember the effect that you can have on an animal, to remember what it’s like to tube feed a raven or a hawk. It’s a good balance.
“I’m a vegetarian. I go a long period without eating cheese. Then I eat a whole plate.” She’s prone to extremes like that. She’s either barefoot or Westwood extreme heels. She looks super sexy but at the moment she’s super chaste. She likes tea and champagne and not much in between.
“That’s right because I promised my son I only have one coffee a day. But we laugh about it because I have this huge mug at home.”
She might have liked coffee today because she’s jet lagged. She’s the same kind of extreme with the travelling. A spurt of short trips all over the world and then barely leaving Malibu. It usually ties in with the boys’ school holidays.
“I didn’t travel for a long time when I was doing Dancing With The Stars and I can’t believe I’ve done all these trips in a short period. I am so jet lagged and I do have champagne when I’m jet lagged.”
So how are the boys? “Genetically loaded. Perfect gentlemen considering.” Do they have the rock genes? “They do. They both play music, take guitar lessons, trumpet, drums, cello. It’s one of the things they fight me on. They think I’m a horrible person for making them play electric guitar. I think Dylan is going to be a pro surfer and Brandon a scientist. My complete focus is on them – getting them a good education, difficult in California right now. I thought public school (state school) was the way to go because you want some kind of normalcy in their lives because their parents maybe weren’t a normal family. But I haven’t really been pleased with it. We have tutors to supplement their education and Brandon is starting a new school next year. He’s not excited about that….
“We live in a small beach community and we are isolated in this little bubble. And America is it’s own little bubble anyway. A lot of Americans don’t even have passports, and I just want a good school and what’s best for him.” Although he loves being by the beach, she’s anxious that he knows there is a real world out there.
Do they spend a lot of time with their dad? “No they don’t. I think they will spend more time with him when they are older, but Tommy is eternally 16.” She says this with sadness, not frustration.
Do you not like them spending time with him? “No, it’s not that. He spends as much time as he can. I just came to the realisation that our relationship… It just is what it is.” It’s been like that for 15 years.
She falters when she talks about him. She’s been so relaxed and bubbly. Yet the mention of Tommy brings a kind of muted intensity – a nostalgia. “I have tortured myself over it for years and was devastated and depressed for a lot for the last 15 years about that relationship. It’s mostly about the kids and I think I’ve just tried to attach myself to anybody who’d create a family, but the people I attracted weren’t really the fairytale I planned. I think I’d just rather be alone and take care of my kids and wait it out. Something will happen one day. If not my kids will look after me.”
Are you not missing having a man? “No, actually. It’s a lot less annoying. It’s nice. I have interesting intelligent men to flirt with and then I come home. And I enjoy it.”
I used to think that you were always going to end up with Tommy. “Tommy…? Life’s not over yet.”
It’s a theory of mine that I put to her the last time we met a few years ago because I’d just interviewed Tommy and he told me that he had those feelings too. She went gooey for a minute and then married someone else. “He drove me to it. When I get those feelings… Of course we love each other. But we don’t have to live together. Romance is tragic, so let’s leave it. My parents are still together and madly in love.”
She’s always held them as some kind of ideal because they had their bad times and they worked it out. “They went through a lot in their lives and my mother would say, ‘Just because I’m still with your father, it doesn’t mean you have to stay in touch with these jerks’.”
Are you still in touch with your last boyfriend Jamie Padgett. He was an electrician that worked on rebuilding her house. “No,” she says emphatically. “Not a lot of people stay in touch with me. Tommy is the only one.”
What happened with Jamie Padgett? “It was nothing serious and I thought, what am I doing? Especially when it started to interfere with my relationship with my kids. I have two wild boys, but I always say God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.”
You like wild things; owls, hawks, men, teenagers. “Exactly. I like that wild spirit. And that’s important. It’s the toughest thing in the world to be a parent and I haven’t given them the easiest thing in the world to deal with. They hear things in school – I saw your mum in Playboy – and all that. Brandon is very protective. He is an incredible Lacrosse player too. But things will get to him. He’s very emotional. He says ‘Dad, I don’t care what they say about him. But if they say anything about my mum…’ He’s very sensitive.”
And of course people are always talking about his mum. The infamous tape that got stolen of her having wild sex with Tommy and displayed on the internet will simply never go away. She’ll never be forgiven for it. But what did she actually do wrong? “I still have to talk to my kids about it all the time. There was a tape and we were very much in love and obviously you regret it but you can’t take it back and that’s what you have to deal with.”
Would you ever tape sex again? “No! I might never have sex again!” But she’s laughing as she says it.
Was being taped something you were in to, or was it Tommy’s thing? “We were both into it. I don’t think it’s bizarre. I think a lot of people do it.”
Maybe that’s why so many people latched onto it, because they either identified with it or they were guilty? “I have never seen it. Tommy told me not to watch it. He said, ‘You’ll go crazy’. So I would never watch it.”
Do you have parental controls on your computer so your children can’t? “No. But it’s something we’ve talked about, so I don’t think they would watch it. Kids today are exposed to so much information that they don’t have maturity to handle. X-Box is killing us. It’s a game where you kill people and it’s desensitizing. My kids say but everybody knows it’s just a video game. But I have a hard time with it. Well we will see how it will affect the kids coming out of this generation,” she says gravely. “But I suppose that’s what our parents thought about us. They worried about telephones and cell phones and texting. You can be a lot meaner on a text or email because you are not face to face.”
Has anyone ever broken up with you on a text? “No, but I’ve been called horrible things over text, which is sad. But if I see anything like that I erase it straight away. I don’t keep anything on my phone because I don’t want to manifest bad things. You’ve got to move on and think good thoughts.
“For me now it’s just the boys, animals and dancing. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I’m trying to feel it out. I’ve been offered theatre on Broadway or doing Chicago here, which is a great compliment. Rob Marshall (director and choreographer of Chicago) has called me too and that would be a fantasy. I would love to do it, but it would be hard, especially with kids at this age. It’s so hard to work and be with my kids. If I’m in LA I work from 9 to 2, and if I am gone it’s for three days and I try and spread that out. So I’m not away that often, and I’ve been able to do that up until now.
“When I was here last year for the pantomime I brought the kids to London. I told them you have to wear a suit every day, go to an art gallery, and eat French fries with a fork because they do that there. So they did that, but they never want to come back. They wore ties and bow ties and visited Westminster Abbey and in LA they only wear shorts. But they will come back because they want to be with me.
“My next pantomime is in Liverpool which is a little different. There must be a Beatles museum?… but somehow I think grandma is going to figure in this.
“When I’m in London I like to go out. I went out with Philip Treacy to a club called Almada. But usually I’m exhausted and I sleep early.”
I’m not sure how well she can sleep in a trailer but she seems to think living there is perfectly fine. No wonder she likes a long hotel lie-in. Today she says she’ll sleep on the plane. When will she be getting back to her real house? What actually happened there?
“I always had this trailer. My brother lived there for a couple of years when he was trying to get on his feet with his family. I told him, Terry I need my trailer back. The kids are there with their friends. They have their surf boards. It’s like Stand By Me. They have their independence. They get home, grab their surf boards, go straight to the beach. It feels like a weekend place. It’s difficult to get them out of there. But my house will be finished soon. It’s about a month away. The main house has been the done. My pool needs to be filled and the deck done.
“What happened was I had a contractor who went way over budget. While I was travelling I wasn’t looking and they were spending all this money on my house that I wasn’t intending. Then I had to pay my taxes and people that owed me money couldn’t pay me. All over the world everything froze. Everyone was struggling. So my plan unravelled. It was my fault because I didn’t manage it properly and I think I was an easy target. But everything’s OK now.”
If she’s indoors she likes to watch Fellini and Russ Meyer films. She would love to get back into acting. Her success in Dancing With The Stars has encouraged her confidence.
“I didn’t think I had a chance as an actress but when I did Dancing With The Stars I thought I’m really going to take this and use it as an experiment. I’m going to come up with different characters and see how they would dance, and people really responded to that. It worked.”
She is indeed adored by the public. Both men and women have a soft spot for her, but there is an impulsive, reckless, insecure side to her. And as sharp as she is she’s made some stupid mistakes with her love life. She married her friend Rick Salomon and they got divorced after a record 72 days. Does she regret that?
“Well it was annulled. So that tells you right there. He was a friend for a really long time. I think Las Vegas took its toll. Too many bottles of champagne. We did something really silly and immediately rectified it.”
I have read that you like to do a prayer walk along the beach? “Yes. A Bible study walk. I have a minister from Pepperdine (University), and when we walk it’s not really prayers, but he does bring up ministry. I love church. I love tradition. I love ritual. I love the Bible. My dad read it ten times. I think it’s historical and life-affirming.”
Last time we met you remarked, My breasts had a great career, I just tagged along.” Are you ready to reverse that? “I’ve thought about it, getting rid of these things.”
I tell her I didn’t mean that. I meant are you ready for them to follow rather than lead, let them be the ones who tag along in your moment.? “Sure,” she says laughing. “We can say that. But as soon as they are falling behind me I am in big trouble.
“It’s funny how your life takes off on you. You don’t know where you are going and it becomes a blur. It feels like a started Baywatch. Then I did Dancing With The Stars. I don’t know what happened in between. I know I had children and that was a good thing. Everything else was just crazy. Rock and roll crazy. Sex and drugs and rock and roll. Wild. I am really proud of myself that I didn’t get destroyed by it. It made me stronger. It made me persevere and actually do some good things, like my animal rights work. I used to be so shy. I threw up when I did Playboy for the first time. I hated being shy. But that’s what I do. I jump into things. Like this dancing. I had never danced in my life and I thought this is the only way I’m going to learn…”
And now she is dancing all over the world. The cha cha in Australia and the Argentine tango in Montreal. We arrived at her check-in and I wish her good luck and feel that she really is ready to dance all over the world.