When Barry Egan met Pamela Anderson: ‘Not that I’m a role model, or anything. But I wanted to talk about important issues’
July 15, 2006. I am bored, waiting in my room in the Mondrian hotel on Sunset Boulevard for the phone to ring.
was told yesterday that the interview with Pamela Anderson would be today.
And now it looks like it might be tomorrow.
The phone rings by the bed. When I pick it up, it is the nice woman who works for Pamela, saying that she will do the interview at her home in Malibu tomorrow morning.
Through the blur of jet-lag July 16 finally arrives…
A Russian driver has taken me to Malibu in the manner of Steve McQueen in that car-chase scene in 1968’s Bullitt. So much so that we’ve arrived almost 90 minutes early.
En route to Anderson house I had asked him to slow down several times but he appeared to ignore me. I don’t want to sit outside her house 90 minutes, like some twitchy Irish stalker, so I suggest he take me to a coffee shop back down the freeway instead.
I am just paying for the lattes when I look out the window to see what looks like a scene from a bad Hollywood movie.
Only the poor driver seems to be starring in it.
He has parked the people-carrier in the wrong spot and members of the Malibu Fire Department are asking him, first, for his driving licence and, then, worryingly, to “Step out of the car, sir.” Unwisely, he is shouting at them in broken eastern European English about a “famous client”.
Matters are further complicated when two police cars are called to the scene. They arrive at 1.15pm.
My appointment with Ms Anderson was at 1pm. There are no cabs in sight. Figuring I have nothing to lose, I outline my plight to one of the alpha male policemen.
It’s possibly the magic words “Pamela” and “Anderson” that do it.
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I have never seen a police officer offer someone a lift so quickly in my life. We are soon speeding down the Malibu freeway. Just as the unfortunate Russian driver is on his way to the police station, sadly.
I arrive 45 minutes late. Seeing my anxious face as I get out of a police car at the door of at her Malibu beach house has Ms Anderson in fits of laughter.
“It’s not the first time the police have been to the house,” she smiles, bidding me enter.
Her house is an old-world sanctuary sur mer: wooden floors, old paintings and a view of nothing but mile upon mile of Pacific Ocean.
It’s a long way from Canada, where she was born in 1967.
“I just knew I’d probably have to leave the island in Vancouver. Most of my friends are still there. You don’t normally leave,” she says.
“People are born and raised there, and they never leave. I had never been on an airplane until I came here. It was a big, big move.”
You sound like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz leaving Kansas.
“I was! And here’s my Toto!” she laughs as dog Luca Pizzeroni runs through the living room.
Pamela’s Scandinavian grandfather, a healer named Herman, taught her the value of new-age thinking, meditation and dream interpretation. He also taught her never to be frightened.
“Anything I have done that I’ve been absolutely scared to do, I have had the most reward from it – ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’”, she smiles.
She suggests we go out to the beach to have lunch sitting on a blanket and continue the interview. The dog comes with us.
I ask her to help me sort fact from tabloid fiction.
Did she and Tommy Lee really get married in 1995 on the beach in Cancun in after a four-day romance?
“Yes. He hunted me down at a photo shoot and I married him. He found me in Mexico.”
She adds: “But anyway we really loved each other after four days and we got married.”
And what did your mom say?
“She lost 14 pounds in two weeks. She freaked out. She found out all about Tommy through American television. She thought it was awful.”
Far worse than awful was when the private, intimate video of you and Tommy was stolen from a safe in a house, sold, and distributed on the internet without your permission…
“I was so devastated. I knew before it came out. I was seven months pregnant, so I was under a lot of stress,” she remembers.
“My mom was trying to help me get through it but it was awful, terrible. We’d had our house redone with construction workers. We found out our electrician was a porn star!” she laughs.
How do you employ a porn star as an electrician? Didn’t you look at his references?
“We didn’t employ him ourselves. It was just contractors! That was a hard time.”
Pam filed for divorce from Lee in 1998. The couple briefly reunited in 1999 but it didn’t work.
I wonder what Tommy is like as a dad to Brandon and Dylan, who are at school today.
“Well,” she says, “when he’s around he’s really nice. He’s good.
“I hate to get into all that because I love Tommy, but he really is like my third child.
“We do some holidays together. We all love each other. He is a great guy, but he has that whole rock-star mentality of never growing up.”
You always seem to end up becoming almost a mother to these immature bad guys who’ve never grown up.
“I do need to go back to therapy because I got to talk about that part of it,” she laughs.
“You know, what’s the attraction?”
Do you find yourself falling into the same patterns with men?
“Yeah, that’s why I’m kind of taking a break from dating. It would have to really be a bonus to my life and my kids.”
How would you describe yourself as a mother?
“I think I’m a great mom. I have two wild little boys. They’re funny! They’re smart and they’re incredible athletes. But what’s great about them is that they wear everything on their sleeve. There is no hiding things.
“In some cultures where you start performing for things, we learn to become manipulative. We say ‘Please’ to get the food. You don’t do it because you authentically feel it,” she says.
I ask if ever she feels that people think they know so much about this superwoman she’s created – Pamela Anderson Inc – they sometimes forget she is a human being who can get hurt like the rest of us.
“I don’t see any press or anything here,” she says, “but especially a few years ago, you start feeling that the image was not a very vulnerable kind of image and people don’t really care.
“They just think it’s funny and camp and stuff, but as I’ve gotten older and had my kids and gone through a divorce, there is a more sense of a ‘girl’s girl’ thing.
“Nobody is nasty any more. I see a lot of support from women.”
The support was much needed in 1996 when she had a miscarriage. A miscarriage is something women grieve in private with the help of close friends. Pamela Anderson had to deal with it in public, courtesy of those sensitive souls in the tabloids.
“Oh, it is so hard,” she says.
“But there are a lot of people right now who are having a harder time of it than me.
“I look at it and think, ‘Just leave them alone – the poor family.’
“I know it’s the culture, now, such a tabloid culture. But it is so weird that we are so fascinated and interested in other people.”
Quoting Bono, she continues: “Celebrity is currency. You might as well use it.
“People who aren’t using it are running around from club to club – you want to say to them, ‘There’s more important things in life’.
“Not that I’m a role model or anything like that. But I wanted to talk about important issues.
“I started using it as a vehicle to get information across,” she says, referring to animal rights.
“Words are powerful. I always say that to my kids: ‘Our words are powerful. Choose your words and choose your wishes’.
“I studied more Carl Jung than Freud,” she continues.
“I love Jung, and I have read a lot of his books. I love his dream interpretation. Your mind and the world that you live in are just as real as each other. So why not make the world outside your mind just as interesting as the world in your mind?”
This could be the Matrix, I say.
“I know! I know! I could be home in Canada dreaming about this or I could be here!”
“So,” she laughs. “Can I give you a lift to LAX or are the police taking you?”
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