After decades of chasing the bright lights she craved – and catching some she missed – Pamela Anderson has returned home to the vast rural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, her Vancouver Island hometown of Ladysmith, and the peace she needs (what he calls “crazy peace”) to rebuild his career and get his life back on track.
“I was a mess,” she said. “I came back home in pieces.”
And are there paparazzi here? “Nothing terrible. I feel very protected here.” Of the beach in Ladysmith, she said: “I usually run there barefoot, you know, at all times of the year!”
A different kind of beach than the one most people associate with her is the one she patrolled in Malibu Watch. This 1990s TV show made her one of the most famous faces and bodies in the world for a while. “I got away with murder in a bikini,” she said. “I mean, I didn’t have to do anything.” The series went like crazy. “It was about 150 countries. I didn’t even know there were 150 countries!” she laughed.
Fame came with top-shelf chaos: six marriages; a case of hepatitis C; and the first sex tape of the Internet age, made during her honeymoon with Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. But after years of other people telling her story on their terms, Anderson is now telling it on her own. Her memoir, “Loving Pamela,” and the accompanying Netflix documentary, “Pamela, A Love Story,” will be released at the end of the month. “I’m writing my book, this documentary is coming out. Then I can put it all behind me,” she said.
“All This” is an often harrowing story, and she says it presents the full picture, which meant describing a childhood shaped by trauma, such as when her father pinned her mother’s head against a stove and Anderson punched her father in the face. “Those were key moments for me,” she said.
Another time with her father, when she was six or seven years old, she said she was told not to bring kittens into the house. “And I had kittens at home. And so he put them in a paper bag and ran to the beach, and I screamed after him. And he drowned the kittens.”
Then there was the nanny who sexually assaulted her. “A predatory female; it was hard to understand,” Anderson said. “It made me trust people less and less.”
She also writes vivid accounts of being raped at age 12 and again at 14. She said: “The whole point is not to hide these secrets or these things.”
Amidst all this horror, there was a small piece of luck. Hired by a beer company as a model after being spotted at a football match wearing one of their T-shirts, the ‘lucky break’ became a ‘life changer’ when Hugh Hefner saw the ad. The next thing she knew, Anderson was on a plane to Los Angeles
Axelrod asked, “When the opportunity came, you probably took it because you could get out of this place with so many bad memories?”
“Yes. And my grandfather taught me: “You are not an extension of a small town. You are not a continuation of your parents. You’re a bright new light given to this planet to do whatever you want with it.” In the end, I wasn’t afraid of it. I said, “Let’s just go. Let’s see where it takes me.”
A few months later, in 1989, she was on the first of 14 Playboy covers.
Axelrod asked, “You write that you were sexualized at such a young age, was Playboy an opportunity for you to reclaim your sexuality?”
“With a vengeance. Oh, it’s a textbook if you want to get into psychology. I’ve faced it and dealt with it in my own way.”
Her path included an impulsive marriage to Tommy Lee after meeting him for just four days. Her quest for safety has turned a bad boy rocker into her very own prince charming. “Tommy and I fell in love. It seemed like a really safe place,” she said. “He would come to the house on horseback in full knightly gear, knights in shining armor, and read me a scroll. It was just so powerful. But it was good. There was such a feeling: “My God, that’s what it’s all about.” This is true love.” It was so romantic, it was so over the top.’
“But that’s not the basis for lasting love,” Axelrod said.
“No, that’s not the basis for lasting love. I haven’t done that yet!” she laughed. “I haven’t figured out that part yet!”
Perhaps she tried to drown the pain with a fairy tale, but there was no long happiness. Not after the tape was stolen.
Ah yes, this tape. The one Tommy Lee and Pamela took on their honeymoon. It was stolen from their safe, their intimate moments turned into a profit center for others.
Axelrod asked, “What do you want people to understand about this?”
“That it was stolen property,” she said. “That they were two crazy, naked people in love. We were naked all the time, filming each other and being silly. But these tapes were not meant to be viewed by anyone. And I haven’t seen them to this day.” Her use by others was, she said, “very harmful.”
Its fame made it a painful cultural moment. Her marriage to Tommy Lee would not survive. Neither did the five others that came after. She was barely holding herself together as she focused on the two young sons born to Lee. “I was a mother, it saved me,” she said. – You know, if I hadn’t been a mother, I don’t think I would have survived.
Anderson knew she had some work to do: “To really dig into those moments, those things that we repress and repress, I had to do that.”
And do it alone.
Axelrod asked, “Have you fallen in love yet?”
– I don’t know! she laughed. “Right now, it’s really good for me to be alone for the first time. People come in and out of my life, or people come into my life, and I thought that the common denominator in all of these relationships is me. So, I have to work over it.”
To defeat the demons, she returned to the place where she first encountered them – back home, to Ladysmith’s isolation.
“It’s been very therapeutic to come full circle,” she said. “And I knew I had to retrace my steps as a child. And it was very visual and very stimulating and very healing to be home. There was a lot of anger. I felt volcanic, just that anger was coming out of me. Oh, where is that from? Little by little I became stronger and stronger.”
Last year, Anderson decided it was time for the next phase of her recovery — one that would take place 3,000 miles from her home in Canada, on Broadway.to some surprisingly good reviews.
“I wanted to know what I was capable of,” she said. “I need to know that I am good at something, that I have some talent. It was scary, but it’s a good feeling. I want to break out of my comfort zone.”
And what was the worst thing about it? “Singing, can’t do it. Dancing, can’t do it. Acting, can’t do it. Like, how am I going to do all three together?”
“You had great feedback.”
“Yes. I know. It was shocking!” she laughed.
Just outside the stage door, Pamela Anderson, aged 55, found exactly what she needed: “I felt rooted, which was a different feeling than I had felt before.”
The perfect feeling to bring home with her where her pain is rooted…and now her healing. “I feel like I left here, did something crazy and came home safe.
“I don’t know what I’m capable of. I still don’t know, but I think that was the beginning. Everything else is, you know, behind me. I feel like I’m in a really good place.”
“Sounds like a good life,” Axelrod said.
“It’s nice. And look around me: I’m very happy.”
To watch the trailer for Netflix’s Pamela Love Story documentary, click the video player below:
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The plot was prepared by Gabriel Falcon. Editor: Stephen Tyler.