Taking control of her own narrative: Pamela Anderson (part 2)
I find myself writing again about Pamela Anderson, after reading a piece interviewing her for the dual-release of her Netflix documentary and memoir. The piece in question being the cover article for this week Sunday Times magazine, titled “The Passion of Pamela Anderson”.
I’m a little too young to be of the Baywatch generation, but of course I have heard her name and if you are reading this there’s a good chance you will have, too.
As well as Baywatch, she is known for featuring in Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine, being previously married to musician Tommy Lee, and for an intimate video produced from tapes stolen from her and Lee’s home and spliced together; arguably, the first video to go “viral”, unfortunately coinciding with the early days of internet sharing.
There is a lot about Pamela Anderson that we simply did not know. Celebrities are often type-cast, and Pamela became a caricature from her days of modelling.
She describes some of the abuse she experienced in her youth and adolescence, and how her modelling gave her empowerment. She described the wild and chaotic relationship between her parents, and how her later romantic relationships would mirror that between her mother and father. She talks about the advice her mother gave her, and the confusion this caused:
“To see my mom in an abusive relationship and for her to give me this advice… you can see how there were a lot of confusing signals coming my way.”
She talks about the behaviour of her former husband Tommy Lee, who she constantly worried about upsetting during her days on Baywatch. He would insist on being on set with her at all times, flew into jealous rages when she had scenes with other men; so much so that the Baywatch crew would have to quickly rewrite dialogue and scenes when they saw him coming. Even when Lee was banned from the set after punching a producer in the face, he would park nearby and hop over a fence.
On one occasion, he rammed the make-up trailer with his car, smashed up the studio, before throwing her into the car and dropping her off at home. She tried to down a bottle of pills with vodka, being found passed out on the bathroom floor the next day by her brother. After being raced to the hospital, she discovered that she had miscarried her unborn child.
I could go on.
The memoir she has written was her two sons’ idea, Brandon and Dylan (now 26 and 25).
Brandon co-produced ‘Pamela, a love story’, the Netflix documentary that’s been released alongside her memoir.
In the Sunday Times piece she talks about all of the doubts put her way when it came to writing her book.
“People were like, ‘There’s no way you could write a book.’ Even my kids were saying, ‘Mom, you have to be able to write something that people are going to understand.’”
Her literary agent told her, “Darling, you’re going to need some help.” And she refused to let her publisher bring a ghostwriter on board, rigorously contesting every line.
“It had to be exactly my voice. If they tried to put even one word in there, change one punctuation mark, I was explosive, my head started spinning. Because I was opening… it wasn’t just a can of worms, it was, like, this rage I had in me from a little kid. I was cracking open all this stuff I’ve pushed down. And it was great for me to do it because it showed even me — ‘Oh — that’s why I am who I am.”
After persuading her parents to sell their property and move into hers, she describes the ongoing relationship with her mother, who has read her memoir.
“She said some horrible things. So it’s going to be very difficult for her to have that out there. I’m not going into this to hurt anyone’s feelings… But none of this is going to be easy for her.”
‘Pamela, a love story’ (Netflix) and ‘Love, Pamela’ (memoir) are both out now.