IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Pamela Anderson’s life as sex symbol

Pamela remains refreshingly open and honest, willing to talk about the most personal things, giving new meaning to the word, “revealing.” She spoke with NBC’s Matt Lauer.
/ Source: NBC News

When it comes to celebrities, shall we say, Pamela Anderson has had her share of exposure. She’s everywhere, among the most hotly pursued stars on earth. But while a lot of other famous faces guard their privacy fiercely, refusing to talk about anything but their latest project, Pamela remains refreshingly open and honest and she’s willing to talk about the most personal things giving new meaning to the word, “revealing.”

Is it her breathless romps on the beaches of Baywatch? Or is it that buxom bod that’s branded on so many magazine covers, including more Playboy covers than anyone else? Maybe it’s that bootlegged honeymoon video tape. Just try Googling her, like millions of fans, because any way you cut it, Pamela Anderson is famous. Even she can’t explain it.

Pamela Anderson: “The novelty should have worn off a long time ago.”

Nowadays, the 36-year-old beauty is used to the commotion that seems to follow her everywhere. But in the beginning, the attention was baffling.

Anderson: “When I first started going to Europe And there’s, I mean, 50 to 100 photographers running backwards. I’ve never seen people run backwards this time. Like flipping over chairs though going down the stairs. Running into each other. Like at the Cannes Film Festival boats were colliding and people were flying off it. And I was just like, ‘What? Who’s behind me?’”

The actress, who claims she doesn’t care about acting, says she doesn’t take herself too seriously and perhaps that’s why she’s lasted as long as she has in the business.

Matt Lauer: “Never a period of time in the early days out there that you took yourself kind of seriously?”

Anderson: “No, no. Baywatch. I was very serious about Baywatch. That— no, I’m kidding.”

Lauer: “I’m an actress!”

Anderson: “Baywatch. I am an actress. OK, yeah. Thespian.”

Lauer: “Have you always had kind of a self-deprecating sense of humor?”

Anderson: “Yeah, absolutely. Especially since I got here to Hollywood and I realized, well, it’s all pretty funny. It’s all pretty silly.”

Her new film, “Scary Movie 3” is just that: pure silliness. Pamela plays a Catholic school girl and gets a chance to do what she loves best: poke fun at her own image.

Lauer: “I have never sat across from an interview subject before and said, ‘May we talk briefly about your breasts?’”

Anderson: “What are they? Who are they? The things I’m tagging along with?”

Lauer: “Tell me the state of affairs right now because so much has been written — she’s looking at me with—”

Anderson: “You’ve got your hands out like this.”

Lauer: “I didn’t mean to do that. And I’m also keeping my gaze clearly above your neck.”

Anderson: “My shirt is kind of...”

Lauer: “Much has been said about the fact you got to Hollywood, you decided to level the playing field, so you had implants. You were not under endowed though were you?”

Anderson: “No. It happened real fast. I was curious because I remember I was in a gym at Playboy at the mansion. And looking at all these women going, ‘Look at the bodies on these women! I mean, this is just incredible. They’re so amazing.’ And then someone said, ‘Well, you know, they’ve had plastic surgery.’ I was like, what?”

Lauer: “You had no clue?”

Anderson: “No.”

Lauer: “You thought this was all mother nature?”

Anderson: “I did actually.”

And so Pamela, who got her start thanks to Playboy, went from big to bigger, and in the process went from the pretty girl next door to a Hollywood sensation.

Lauer: “When you first had the implants, did you go home and say, ‘That looks great?’”

Anderson: “I thought I was going to be a lot bigger. When I woke up on the operating table, I went, ‘That’s it?’ I don’t know what I thought. I thought, you know, Dolly Parton.”

Lauer: “And so at what point, after how long living with them did you seriously consider...”

Anderson: “Oh, God. I love this. Are you kidding? You’re more uncomfortable than I am.”

Lauer: “Believe me, a lot more. Tell me about the decision to have the implants taken out.”

Anderson: “Like any woman going through a divorce, I lost my mind. I cut my hair short and I took the implants out, and I said, I’ll show him. Two weeks later, I was like, where are my boobs?”

Lauer: “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.”

Anderson: “Where’s my hair? What have I done?”

Lauer: “Why does that show him?”

Anderson: “I don’t know. That’s just what women think.”

Call it an extreme act of rebellion. Once Pamela settled down, her trademark implants went right back in.

Lauer: “So where do we stand now, Pamela?”

Anderson: “We’re fine. We’re all back together.”

Lauer: “So you went right back to the size after the original surgery?”

Anderson: “Well, I don’t — you know, my eyes may have gotten bigger than my stomach, breasts, whatever you want to call it. Maybe a little — if you’re going to do it again, why not add a centimeter... It’s not going to hurt anybody.”

Lauer: “Maybe give me a little skosh more.”

Anderson: “Yeah, just for the pain and suffering.”

There’s no pain and suffering when it comes to being an international sex symbol, but Pamela is also a mom raising two boys, ages five and seven, and that can make for some awkward moments around the house.

Anderson: “Brandon, couple of months ago said to me, came up to me, crossed his arms, he said, ‘Are you Pamela Anderson?’ I didn’t know how to answer him. I said don’t ever call me that again. He said, ‘All those kids over there are calling you Pamela Anderson, What is that?’ And so it was cute.”

Lauer: “But what about when they come home and say, here’s Playboy magazine, mom. My friends are handing me this at school.”

Anderson: “Well, I think my kids are exposed to a lot of different things. So it’s not going to be a shock one day to find out. It’s part of their history and their life. When it’s age appropriate, they’ll find out things over time. They’ll always know they’re loved and their parents are good people. And stuff happens.”

Their father, of course, is Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, another unconventional sort. Who else but Pamela and Tommy would marry after spending just four days together? And what other pair, on their wedding day, would wear a white string bikini and denim shorts?

Anderson: “As soon as we saw each other and really spend that time together, we really connected and we were madly in love.”

Lauer: “Is it true that after the wedding you turned to him and said, ‘So what’s our last name going to be?’”

Anderson: “Yeah, because I thought it was—”

Lauer: “Tommy Lee what?”

Anderson: “Like, what’s my last name? Where do we live? What do you like for breakfast? Do you drink coffee? You know, we didn’t know anything about each other. We were just going home on the plane. And we were married. It’s kind of exciting.”

Lauer: “Based on the way this all began, you knew it wasn’t going to be an Ozzie and Harriet type of relationship?”

Anderson: “No, I guess not.”

The writing was on the wall, and on Tommy’s chest. The marriage, mayhem, beginning with that infamous honeymoon sex tape stolen from their home and sold on the Internet.

Lauer: “I don’t want to say what were you thinking? [laughter] But—”

Anderson: “You never videotaped yourself having sex?”

Lauer: “No. No, I haven’t.”

Anderson: “Really?”

Lauer: “So what was your reaction when you found out that this most personal tape you could ever make was now being seen by millions of people around the world?”

Anderson: “Yes, I was completely hormonal and freaking out and you know, I’ve never seen the tape. I’ve never seen the tape.”

Pamela can laugh now, but says the experience was devastating and difficult on her and Tommy.

Anderson: “What are you going to do? Just dwell on it? Just like anything that happens, you have to move on, you have to live you life.”

There were other more painful difficulties inside the marriage. Tommy Lee abused alcohol and turned violent.

Lauer: “At one point, there was physical abuse and you picked up the phone and you called 911.”

Anderson: “Yeah.”

Lauer: “Tell me about how, from what I understand, he kind of threw you up against the wall.”

Anderson: “Yeah, there was a lot more that happened than that. It was definitely—”

Lauer: “What else?”

Anderson: “One of those times where he completely blacked out. You know when someone’s present and someone isn’t. And he wasn’t.”

Lauer: “How physically abusive was he?”

Anderson: “A seven week old and a 21 month old, you know, hyperventilating in my arms and being thrown around and stuff like too. So, I was scared for their safety just as much as I was for my own.”

Tommy Lee pled no contest to spousal abuse charges and spent four months in jail. They divorced shortly after. Much has been made of the bitter custody battle that followed. Today, they share custody of the kids and Pamela says their relationship is in a good place.

Anderson: “Tommy and I have come a long way. We’re good friends. We love each other immensely. And it’s just great to be able to talk to him as a friend. He’s actually gotten to a point where he’s actually thanked me for a lot of things that we’ve gone through.”

Lauer: “Your children spend, as you say, every other weekend with Tommy Lee. Let me read you something that’s a portion of the papers you filed for sole custody of your children. ‘Tommy has no idea or does not care what is appropriate for children of their ages. His life revolves around alcohol. He’s a dangerous man with a tenuous hold on his temper.’ So, as a mother, when the horn honks from the car and he pulls up front or he comes in and says, ‘Boys let’s go,’ how do you send them off with him?”

Anderson: “But, you know, this is a tough subject because I’ve gone through — now, I’ve gone through the whole thing. I’m you know, I’m a mother. I worry any time their out of my sight. Every single time my children are out of my sight, I worry about them, you know. So, I—”

Lauer: “You’re hesitating. You’re not saying you’re completely comfortable.”

Anderson: Well, I’m not completely comfortable when they’re with my friend or for if they’re, you know, at Disneyland with Grandma and Grandpa. I just, you know, that’s where my mind is. I’m with them all the time.”

Tommy denied the claims Pamela made against him in the custody case. And Pamela says she’s more focused than ever on her sons, Brandon and Dylan

Anderson: “I have a three-day rule. I won’t be away from my kids for more than three days.”

Lauer: “That’s the longest you’ve been away?”

Anderson: “That’s the longest.”

Career-wise, she calls herself retired...but Pamela is still keeping busy. Since hanging up her swimsuit, she’s taken on several projects: cosmetics, advice columns, a radio show, Web site, and a calendar. She’s been a producer and co-creator of TV shows like “VIP” and “Stripperrella.” And three years after her divorce from Tommy, Pamela found love with another flamboyant rocker named Kid Rock — or, as she calls him, “Bob.”

Lauer: “You said one time that Kid Rock was the shyest person you’ve ever met.”

Anderson: “Yeah, Bob’s pretty shy. He’s very shy.”

Lauer: “This is the same—”

Anderson: “I don’t want to ruin his image though.”

Lauer: “The same Kid Rock, I see in music videos?”

Anderson: “He’s very shy.”

Pamela and Kid rock had a whirlwind romance. They were engaged to marry, but Pamela called it off.

Anderson: “I’ve told him I love him, it’s great. But I just don’t. I can’t get married and I want to be with my kids. And I can’t see outside of that.”

And even though Pamela was recently seen at the “Scary Movie 3” premiere with Tommy Lee. She says there won’t be another Pamela-Tommy wedding..

Lauer: “This is a weird question but is it more likely, Pam, that you’ll get back together with Kid Rock or Tommy Lee?”

Anderson: “Neither, no.”

Lauer: “So, you don’t see either of them in your future in terms of a committed relationship?”

Anderson: “No, no.”

These days, Pamela dedicates her time to causes near and dear to her. She’s a crusader for animal rights and she’s speaking out about hepatitis C, a serious and in rare cases fatal disease that affects the liver. Pamela was diagnosed with hepatitis C two years ago. She says her health is good, but she’s not taking anything for granted.

Lauer: “But isn’t it true that you’ve said recently that you started to feel some minor symptoms of the disease? Fatigue?”

Anderson: “Well, you know I’m a single mom who’s raising her kids on her own.”

Lauer: “Hard to separate what comes with that—”

Anderson: “Like am I tired because I’m trying to juggle everything and do everything or am I tired because of the disease at all?”

Lauer: “Do you feel worse than you did two years ago when you first—”

Anderson: “Well, I’m 36 instead of 34.”

Lauer: “Thirty-six is not old.”

Anderson: “I can’t tell. I hope it’s not the hepatitis. But it could be.”

Lauer: “When you were diagnosed, the test that they do for someone with hepatitis C is, it comes out on a scale of zero to four in terms of liver damage.”

Anderson: “Right.”

Lauer: “I think you were a one.”

Anderson: “I’m a one. Still.”

Lauer: “And does it stay that way pretty much steadily? Or might it go to two, three or four?”

Anderson: “Oh, it can. You can go downhill real fast.”

Lauer: “So it can deteriorate?”

Anderson: “Uh-huh. Yeah, you only have one liver, you know? You gotta look after yourself. And I just have faith that I just feel really good. And I monitor my health.”

For now, Pamela’s treating herself with homeopathic remedies and trying to slow things down. The sexy star is living life on her own terms. She says she’s proud of who she is, the risks she’s taken, and the mistakes she can laugh at.

Anderson: “What if you only had five more years to live, 10 more years to live? Would you do all the crazy things that you wanted to do and never did? You know, like get up on a piano and do backward somersaults at Christina Aguilera’s concert. I’m so glad I do all that stuff. And I always have.”