The former Baywatch lifeguard talks about her childhood sorrows, her bad choices and her new awareness.
Pamela Anderson has now been added to the long list of stars who, at some point in their careers, decide to tell their story in a documentary film. Now available on Netflix is Pamela, a love story, a one-hour, 52-minute journey into the life of one of the showbiz symbols of the mid-1990s. Childhood in Canada, success thanks to Playboy, consecration with Baywatch. At the same time, the failed marriages and the constant search for love.
Pamela, a love story: the plot of the docufilm
Dressed in white and without a trace of make-up. This is how Pamela Anderson presents herself to the public to tell her story. An almost virginal figure, far removed from the sexy image with which she has shown herself to the world since the beginning of her career. The story starts from her childhood, follows a chronological order, to arrive at the 55-year-old Pamela of today.
She was born on 1 July 1967 in Ladysmith, Canada. She spends her childhood in an abusive family environment. Her father Barry is an alcoholic and takes out his frustrations on her mother, Carol. She and her brother Gerry grow up amidst parental shouting and welfare. Pamela grows up fast, and not only because of the fighting.
For three or four years she is harassed by the babysitter. "I tried to kill her by stabbing her in the heart with a candy cane pen," she recounts. "I wanted her to die. And the next day she died in a car accident. I thought I had killed her with my magic powers. I couldn't say it, but I was sure I had. That I had contributed to her death. I lived with it all my childhood".
The molestations, the diaries and the turning point with Playboy
At the age of 12 she was raped by a man of 25. From that moment on, something changed in her. She clams up and does not reveal what happened to anyone. She pours her thoughts into diaries. Hundreds of diaries in which she has jotted down her whole life and which she now opens to the Netflix cameras. Excerpts of life, crystallised emotions, moments to impress on black and white.
"I wanted to jot things down in case I forgot them. So I thought that if something happened to me, there would be evidence." Then she adds: 'When I write, the world opens up'. And perhaps diaries for Anderson represent the escape route he has always sought. She spends her teenage years trapped by shyness and the idea of being ugly.
Her opportunity comes when she moves to Vancouver. She is cast in a commercial and, shortly after, receives a call from Playboy. They want her for the October 1989 cover. In no time at all, the poor girl from Ladysmith is transformed into the most desired bunny in the world. Already after the first shot, she realises that the job is for her. "I can do it. I'm not good at being beautiful, but at my job. I can play a character."
Baywatch, the sex tape and the birth of children
So comes Baywatch, in which she plays lifeguard C. J. Parker. It is the consecration. She is no longer just Playboy's blonde girl, but an established actress. However, her private life continues to be tumultuous. Mario Van Peebles, Scott Baio, Dean Cain, Eric Neis, David Charvet and Kelly Slater among the declared boyfriends. The meeting that turned her life upside down was with Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee.
They marry and it is a 'deep, sincere, overwhelming love. They knew nothing about each other and in the end it was one of the 'most beautiful and crazy love stories ever'. From here on, Pamela, a love story takes a different, more introspective turn. In 1996, someone steals the safe containing private videos.
Shortly afterwards, the images are leaked and their intimacy is at the mercy of anyone. 'We were angry, hurt and upset,' he admits. He emerges from the trial with a devastated image, but above all with a deep wound. "It was like a rape," he declares. 'It was the end of my image, of my career'. Meanwhile, her two sons, Brandon and Dylan, her staples, her reason for living, are born. And the relationship with Lee became difficult. "He was very jealous (…) I was working, working all the time. I think he felt neglected'.
The divorce from Tommy Lee and the second life
One night he crosses the line and reports him. He is sentenced to six months in prison. It is the second part of an unhealthy relationship, which will end in divorce. In his diary he writes: 'I have never loved anyone deeply. And by deeply I mean I have loved his soul'. Although she is in love, she writes: 'I would rather be alone than live in violence'.
Thus begins her second life, made up no longer of questions about her fake breasts and her sexy image ('I felt like a caricature'), but of awareness-raising battles. She espouses the animal rights cause with PETA, meets with Putin to stop the import of seal products, so as to stop their hunting in Canada. Finally, he defends Julian Assange.
Awareness about the ending of Pamela, a love story
After sifting through her entire life, Pamela Anderson comes to an important realisation. 'I've always been attracted to manly men, but I'm not a bridesmaid, I'm a doer. If I want to leave, I can,' she says, thinking about the toxic and abusive relationships she has experienced.
Now, at over 50, she is able to stand on her own two feet. And she does it by putting herself on Broadway with Chicago. Like her alter ego, Roxie Hart, her dream "is not to become famous, but to be respected, admired and free". Finally, she leaves viewers with a new certainty. "For the first time in my life I am in love with myself". Still paraphrasing Roxie, she adds: 'I want to accept the past, I want to accept the truth. My life is not a tragedy, it is my story'.
Pamela, a love story, docufilm review
Directed by Ryan White, Pamela, a love story is a stream of consciousness in which Anderson reveals himself, never deviating from one unavoidable factor: love. Declined in a thousand forms and a thousand shades, from pastel to darker hues, it always remains his polar star. What emerges is the image of a young girl forced to grow up prematurely, who has found in the limelight her own affirmation, but perhaps above all her revenge against the harassment she has suffered.
A sort of reward to be grasped to ease the pain and fill the void. The lottery ticket to build the better life he had always dreamed of. It is a bittersweet tale, which aims to emphasise the purity of soul behind the image of the sexpot. A woman crushed by media prejudices, who today – after #MeToo and years of heated debates – finally finds room to speak her mind. One appreciates the honesty with which she tells her story. It is not easy to admit defeat or to no longer have a career. Pamela Anderson does it and chooses the path of honesty.
"I am not a victim," he says. "I put myself in absurd situations, but I survived. All the pain we endure in life is the catalyst for great things, like poetry, music, art. I am grateful for all the experiences I had and I don't blame anyone for anything. I am happy to have had them".