Pamela Anderson by William Van Meter
“If I have nothing to live up to, I can’t disappoint anybody. If I form a full sentence I’m a genius. People are shocked. They’re like, ‘Oh my God, you’re so smart.’ It’s one of those backward compliments. Or, ‘You look really great without makeup.’”
Pamela Anderson is well aware of the general perception of her. But she knows she transcends her Baywatch image of running slow-motion alongside crashing waves, her big blonde hair bouncing as she carries that weird orange floating life preserver thing that never seems to be used. She has been the reigning global sex symbol since her first Playboy cover in 1989, but her mark on the world is more profound than anything she’s accomplished as a model and actress. The number of causes she campaigns for is staggering – Haitian relief, AIDS research, animal rights, various environmental concerns – the list goes on and on. She has her own charity, the Pamela Anderson Foundation, that supports various causes. She is not a dilettante star dabbling in activism for good PR. Ever since she entered the pop culture sphere, she has been tirelessly using her celebrity to fight for issues dear to her. “Activism is sexy,” she says. “Having a meaningful sensual life means caring for others. People think sometimes, ‘Oh, you’ve reinvented yourself.’ I’m the same little girl I was with my cat that walks sideways and taking in misfit animals. I’ve always loved animals. I had an affinity with them from a very early age. As soon as I started getting attention I wanted to share the attention with something more meaningful like animal rights. Now I’m the chair of the board of directors at Sea Shepherd. I’m on the board of directors for PETA and I’m on the Russian council of IFAW. They’re really big parts of my life.”
The 49-year-old Anderson is speaking from her London hotel room. “Anytime I go anywhere, I find out what animal issues I can tackle in that place,” Pamela says. “I don’t waste time. When I got here I went to the mailbox and sent Theresa May a letter to ask her to ban wild animals in circuses.” Her jaunt to England inadvertently ignited conspiracy theories in international newspapers that she had poisoned Julian Assange with a tainted vegan sandwich when she visited him in the Ecuadorian embassy. “I don’t know what they’re talking about,” she says, “like I brought him an arsenic sandwich or something. We sat down and talked for two-and-a-half hours. I really care about him. He’s a freedom fighter. He has sacrificed for the whole world, not just for specific countries. He’s keeping them honest.” They met through mutual friend Vivienne Westwood. The week before Anderson had gone to Greece to star in Westwood’s next campaign. Pamela’s 20-year-old son, Brandon, who has a burgeoning acting and modeling career, has interned and shot for Westwood, and has a similar vegan ethos to his mother – it’s stipulated in his rider that he won’t model fur. Her 18-year old son, Dylan, is a musician. Earlier this year Anderson had a well-received vegan shoe collection, and is now selling Pammies boots. “I make them out of recycled TV screens and cell phones,” she says. During her trip, Pamela also gave an anti-porn lecture at Oxford University. “I’m so worried that the world is going to forget how to make love,” Pamela says, “or that kids are looking at that and thinking that’s what love looks like. Or young girls looking at that and going, ‘That’s what I have to allow to happen to me.’ That’s not true. That’s not how you make love, that’s how you learn really terrible sex.” It might seem incongruous for a former Playboy playmate (Anderson was the magazine’s final nude cover star for their January issue) and inadvertent star of a massively successful porn film (the tape of her and then-husband Tommy Lee was stolen from their home and they received no proceeds from the pilfered film). But Pamela is coming at the subject with a sex-positive, non-prurient viewpoint, and is working on a book called The Sensual Revolution. “I’m talking about sensuality as a sexy kindness,” she says of the book. “How you can have wild, uninhibited sex in a committed relationship where you’ve gotten to know somebody and there’s courtship. Romantic movies and music can tie into it. It’s not just about masturbating with someone else’s body.” She continues, “If you don’t have any empathy for your fellow human beings, how do you have empathy for animals, for the environment? It’s all connected.”
Pamela was first discovered in her native Canada when she attended a football game and she appeared on the Jumbotron – she soon starred in beer advertisements which led to Playboy and then acting. About her success, Pamela is modest and credits chance and osmosis, and explains she didn’t even try out for Baywatch, she was just accompanying a friend for the audition. “People ask me advice on career stuff and I say, ‘You really don’t want to ask me,’” she admits, and adds, “I didn’t really take too many acting jobs after I had babies. I thought, ‘How can I sustain myself by doing as little as possible, but not taking jobs for purely money and be able to have a meaningful life?’ My most important job was to look after my children and to be there for them. I never had nannies and I wanted to just be with them as much as possible, to share the attention that I had with animals. For some reason I’ve been provided for. I always tell my kids the universe validates good decisions. If you are doing your part, you’ll be okay. But you do have to do as much as you can every day.” The beauty of Pamela’s environmental awareness is that it’s not elitist, and she doesn’t expect everyone to be a strict vegan and do personal challenges like give up plastic for a week or the internet for a year like she often does. “If you read a book you’re an activist. If you ride a bike you’re an activist. If you grow your own tomatoes you’re an activist. Consume less and don’t go to aquariums, don’t go to zoos. Do you do any of those things? What do you think? If you do, you’re an activist. That’s what’s great. Learning. Going to museums and learning about the world, engaging in the world. Having face to-face conversations. Getting off technology every once in awhile. I like to see what people think. Then they go, ‘Oh, I am an activist. I can even do more of that. I can drink less out of plastic bottles. I can wear vegan. I cannot imprint such negativity on myself.’ We carry all this with us. What we wear, what we eat, what we watch.” For Pamela, the strictures aren’t limitations, but have heightened her life. “I’m really lucky because I get to travel all over the world and I get to put all these pieces together,” she says. “Now, I’m more than halfway through my life, but I look back and I think all these relationships that I’ve made over my lifetime and what I’ve been able to do has led me to here. I’m very proud of all the work I’ve done. I’m proud of the children that I’ve raised. It all makes sense. It’s clearer for me at this point. You could have asked me who I was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, I didn’t know. Now, it’s really apparent to me that this is my passion. This is what I’m meant to be doing. It’s an exciting time and it’s nice to get older.”
William Van Meter is a Brooklyn-based writer who contributes to WSJ., The New York Times, and British Vogue.
Photography by Daniella Midenge, Styling by Martina Nilsson, Make up by Jo Baker at Forward Artists, Hair by Paco Garrigues at Forward Artists.
Pamela wears a recycled Fishnet tank top by Green Embassy. A tie dye linen coat by Vivienne Westwood Anglomania, organic cotton loose wrap shirt and shorts by Bsbee and slingbacks by Amelie Pichard X Pamela Anderson.
Pamela Anderson stops by the Ecuadorean embassy to check in on her holed-up friend
LONDON—I sit in the tiny conference room adjoined to Julian Assange’s tiny living space in Ecuador embassy. I always feel a bit restless and nervous waiting for him. I worry how he’s coping. I realize how difficult it must be, to be here for years every day looking at these same walls, not feeling the sunshine.
Just then the cat pops in, making me feel more at ease. He has full reign. He is on the table sniffing the muffins and rubbing up against me purring and maybe a little disappointed that everything I’ve brought is vegan.
Next, the big man walks in, wearing a Sea Shepherd tshirt and jeans, a bit disheveled. It’s early but he manages a smile. He’s got a long day ahead.
Julian Assange checks the window first.
“Hello, my dear Pamela.”
He kisses me, thanks me for coming and digs in.
I usually visit for hours. But today is a day of preparation. The lawyers are on their way so we have a little less time.
It’s always a tremendous learning experience, and I take notes as usual.
Julian has been vilified by the Democrats. I have close friends who are devastated and want to know why Wikileaks leaked the emails and “took the Clintons down.” There were many factors, of course, but the truth is the truth. And Wikileaks is an agent of truth.
I met Julian through Vivienne Westwood, the British designer generally credited with dragging punk fashion into the mainstream (she used to make clothes for the Sex Pistols and stocked Malcolm McLaren’s King’s Road boutique, SEX).
Vivienne calls Assange “more punk than anyone” she has ever met. She essentially invented punk, so that’s a huge compliment.
What Wikileaks does is expose corruption, war crimes and other important information.
If they receive information, they must reveal it—that’s what they do. Especially before an election, the public must know everything. That’s their mission, their raison d’etre. What choice did they have? Julian is a journalist and Wikileaks is a publisher.
We should be grateful.
There are laws in place. The Department of Justice must enforce those laws that protect the 1st Amendment and media workers.
I, like many others, did not see a Trump victory coming. But, now that it is here, I hope Trump puts pressure on the DOJ to protect and serve as the law states.
I worry that during the transition of power, Julian will be arrested and extradited to America. I believe (and have seen proof) that the allegations of sexual crimes are bogus and indeed a set up designed to help twist perception and make Americans and the rest of the world believe Julian is a bad guy.
He is not. The Swedish claims are bogus (this Naomi Wolf article provides a comprehensive overview). No charges have been filed and he has been kept imprisoned under circumstances that violate human rights—living in a tiny room in fear to walk outside the door of the embassy —or he will be arrested.
Julian did not endorse a candidate (though most of the GOP is grateful). So Donald Trump can actually take the credit for winning and the Democrats must take responsibility for losing. (The Democrats can also take credit for Trump winning though their own internal corruption evidenced through WikiLeaks publications).
My hope is that the world will catch up one day and understand how heroic Julian Assange is. Chelsea Manning got over 30 years in prison for treason. She’s been tortured – and treated terribly. Julian is not a US citizen. So he has not committed treason.
He could be pardoned even without having committed a crime, simply to ensure his safety, just as President Nixon was never charged but was still pardoned by his successor, President Ford. Assange should be pardoned and the large-scale DOJ investigation into this publisher and journalist should be dropped.
I have visited Julian a few times now. I bring him healthy vegan food and we talk about personal issues as well as politics.
I can make him smile and laugh and we enjoy our tender hugs goodbye. I have a very soft spot for Julian.
I flew to London to see him and to show my continued support. He is a brilliant human being.
I have visited Julian a few times now. I bring him healthy vegan food and we talk about personal issues as well as politics.
This time I brought chia seed vegan puddings, vegan muffins – fruit, fresh juice and almond milk cappuccinos. Something healthy while he prepares for variations of the worst. He hasn’t slept well a it’s hard not to know what will happen next. He is under tremendous stress and uncertainty.
Julian is not alone. He is a figurehead who has founded and inspired a movement of capable truth seekers. But nothing will stop the truth. There is no going back. There is an expression that a lie is like holding a cork underwater.
I am a Democrat. I voted for Jill Stein. My kids voted for Hillary. A progressive choice for their first vote and introduction to politics.
I was very proud that they made that choice. They could not vote for a man that behaved in such ways. It’s not who they are, or who they wish to emulate.
But Donald Trump can redeem himself. I’m sure he wants to be a great president. He will hopefully surround himself with strong, intelligent and conscious people.
Maybe Ivanka can play a role for women, and maybe his sons and son-in-law can take meetings with progressive ecologists (and stop trophy hunting).
But for the record, Julian is on the side of the people. He is not an enemy of America.
We cannot deny that this is a shake up. People are not putting up with business as usual.
Hollywood has no power to change this narrative.
I am an advocate of women’s safety. I am also the mother of two boys who must be extremely careful in this age of sex apps, availability and people who don’t respect themselves wanting to be famous.
So I know a bit about how it feels to be accused by those seeking to slime you with lurid tales.
It’s time to stop talking about the election and shift our focus to saving the world. I never thought I’d say this but Trump could be a real hero here, a champion for human rights and press freedom.
You must make this important. Become an activist. Use less plastic or chose green energy or eat less meat—there are things we can do as individuals to engage in the world.
Being an activist is bold. It’s sexy. Well-informed self regulation is sexy. This is the time to act sensually, honestly and with fidelity and loyalty.
Go Trump. You have a lot of work ahead of you. If you need any help, call me.
Pamela Anderson is an actor, activist and mother. She is working on a new book, WHITE HOT SEX: Igniting a Sensual Revolution by Rediscovering the Erotic Mind.
When did you initially meet Vivienne? What did her work represent to you?
Vivienne and I met while campaigning for Leonard Peltier's release. She invited me to a show- I fell in love with her Manifesto - we have a lot in common. Hard to believe for most people who worship Vivienne. I know It's a bizarre pairing. I think it's mostly our passion to help save the world. She is tireless and relentless - I have so much respect for her. She has taught me much- really, more than anyone.
What is it you think you see in one another?
We care about the planet. The planet will live on actually. We care about Mankind - and we are facing mass extinction.
Can you tell us more about the story behind that first Spring/Summer 09 campaign in Malibu? What are your overriding memories of the day?
Vivienne, Andreas and Juergan came for a visit to the caravan I was staying in before my house was ready. Queen of the Stone Age came by too. Obama was in his first 4 years as president - We were so hopeful.
How about the most recently shot campaign… Do you all still have as much fun as that first time? How would you describe the feel of this latest shoot?
I love the spontaneity. I was in London. Andreas asked me to come to Greece with them. This time we were shooting at Jeurgans home. I love the apocalyptic feel when we shoot. A warrior comes over me. And it feels like life and death. How will we survive the climate and over population. We may all become cannibals - or eat dirt.
What have you learnt from Vivienne and what do you think she has learnt from you?
I have learned that each day is an opportunity. That I cannot be silent. I must be specific and work very hard every day to engage in the world. As a reader and art lover - I am an activist. (I'm not sure what Vivienne has learned from me? You'd have to ask her).
What first made you an activist? Which projects are you most proud of?
I've been rescuing animals my whole life. And as an empathic person - everything I learn- if I'm exposed to an issue - I am sleepless till I can apply to my life and my foundation. I fight for every living thing. Including the planet and its desperate rainforest - And of course human rights.
Humans are gobbling everything up- consuming everything. The world was not made just for human beings to annihilate for their pleasure. Technology has desensitized people. If we don't care about each other how will anyone care about a polar bear or injustices like the political imprisonment Julian Assange - who has done nothing wrong- but be a truth teller- (and villainized because it doesn't suit corruptive forces).
I am vegan, I try to stay away from plastic (it's very hard- try to do for even 1 week) (try to eat less meat. That will help too) if we are all doing something we are doing something together.
NGO's do the work that governments should be doing.
People must govern themselves.
What one thing can anyone do to help the planet?
Choose green energy. Get other people to choose green energy. And buy less stuff.
Mend your clothes. Or only buy 1 beautiful thing a year. Share things.
I don't know. You'll have to figure out yourself
My day is full of trying to be better -
to make the best choices I can... And when I can't do anything else. I read. Get in nature, meditate or go to a museum with my kids.
We must Save the Rainforest for many reasons -
Deforestation in the Congo Basin lead to changes in rainfall such that precipitation patterns changed geographically. Food producing lands became non-productive. This lead to disruption of the food chain which led to higher food prices. This lead to discontent in Northern Africa and the Middle East, which was a main driver of the Arab Spring and the civil war in Syria which lead to the refugee crisis in Europe. This refuge crisis was confused in the UK with EU immigration policy, which was the issue at stake in the Brexit referendum.
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My RAW unfiltered point of view and grave concerns.
I don't believe Wikileaks is seeking to damage Hillary Clinton's reputation.
It's important and brave to help educate people about the nature of power in the USA.
It's the actions of Hillary's inner-circle that damage her reputation.
The only solution is to ask her to rethink those people -
and create a genuinely progressive cabinet -
Not consolidate power through creating a "demonic" adversary
Trump is a populist.
His hideous behavior towards women and minorities disqualify him.
Though, I think he has inadvertently done a service to an undercurrent of dispossessed Americans that need to be heard, and don’t trust government they feel doesn’t represent them
In an odd way eventually, somehow -
He may have even improved the Republican party, and the Democratic party,
by shaking up the oligarch establishment
The war establishment
It is heart-breaking what is happening in Syria -
It is shocking. But not surprising.
I think Russia and Syria are escalating bombing now because of fears of an impending Clinton Presidency-
The US wants a successful war- after Iraq, after Libya.
Does a no-fly zone mean shooting down Syrian and Russian planes?
ISIS has no jets.
The popular urge to help those who are suffering is a testament to our humanity, but -
What does the post-conflict Syrian state look like?
Aiding rebel forces led to weapons being taken by jihadists in Libya
And those weapons flowed throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Anarchy and mayhem is the result.
What is the outcome for Syria?
Can the US intervene with so many unknowns? So much risk?
And what about the next war? And the one after that?
We must not desensitize but we must understand the root causes.
I want to know why saving the rainforest is not a desperate priority?
Why man-made Climate Change is not being addressed with the seriousness we deserve?
It's not about saving the planet. It's about saving mankind.
Deforestation in the Congo Basin led to changes in precipitation patterns.
Food-producing lands became non-productive.
This led to discontent in Northern Africa and the Middle East
which was a main driver of the Arab Spring and a main driver of the refugee crisis in Europe.
This refugee crisis was confused in the UK with EU immigration policy, and became the central issue of the Brexit referendum.
Everything is interlinked.
I'm preparing for a Clinton presidency
I will not feed into fear or conspiracy theories - just facts
but I will not accept business as usual.
I will campaign somehow for Bernie Sanders to have a prominent position in a cabinet of diverse, progressive, and conscious people
If we are to trust him, to vote for Hillary -
We must know what his role at the table will be-
And who else will be in the Clinton administration? Who will she appoint?
All we have to do is read Wikileaks to see how her inner circle operates.
It is being decided now. Government formation is happening now.
It needs to be disclosed.
We need to campaign NOW.
I highly recommend Vivienne Westwood's new book "Get A Life"
And, I'm off to another museum.
Lucky to be in London.
Culture will save us.
Artists are freedom fighters.
Engage in the world before it's too late.
Following the birth of Hollywood,the “sex goddess” emerged. In the beginning, there was Clara Bow, followed by Mae West and Jean Harlow. In fact, there seems to have been a “bombshell” for every era of recent American history: Betty Grable during World War II, and Marilyn Monroe in the ’50s and ’60s, of course! Then Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, Farrah Fawcett, Bo Derek …. But none have had the longevity of Pamela Anderson. She posed for Playboy in 1989, then was widely “noticed” in 1991 when she took the role of Lisa, the “Tool Time” girl, on the hit TV series Home Improvement. As C.J. Parker in Baywatch, Anderson became an international star, the lifeguard whom millions of men dreamed would come to their rescue. Over the course of her career, she’s also appeared on the cover of Playboy 15 times. There’s a widely held perception that a bombshell must be empty-headed. But as Anderson says, “Don’t underestimate me.” She uses her massive celebrity to endorse and promote a wide range of social issues, from veganism and animal rights to speaking out against the scourges of sex trafficking, domestic abuse and Internet porn addiction. In a September Wall Street Journal essay prompted by the latest sexting scandal of former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, Anderson denounced pornography as “a boring, wasteful and dead-end outlet for people too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality.” Pam sat down with High Times to talk about the nature of fame, beauty, parenting and other issues. And while she doesn’t use cannabis herself, she clearly sees the folly of keeping the plant illegal.
Your era as a so-called “sex goddess” has lasted over two decades. What do you think accounts for that?
I think I was fortunate to be around in the last age of mystery. There is so much access these days. The internet has changed everything; everyone is famous. Everyone wants to be seen—seen too much. It’s a dilution of sexy people everywhere.
Often, High Times gets negative comments for running pictures of beautiful women holding cannabis plants. And often, these arguments seem to be anti-beauty in nature, as opposed to being concerned about sexism. What’s your take on society’s frequent criticism of sexy images?
I think a beautiful girl is a beautiful girl. “Sexy” comes from within. I think it’s all gone a bit off course: Internet pornography has become an addiction, destroying lives and loving relationships. It’s frightening that people don’t see this undercurrent of madness stoking the fires of perversion. Desensitization makes lousy lovers. I miss sexy. Playboy was sexy… innocent. I know your question was about sexism, but we all have a role to play in this. I’m looking at mine. I know it seems odd coming from me—stolen sex tape and all—but this is what keeps me up at night. I’m worried the world will forget how to make love. And I want us to somehow, freely, think together. Let’s keep each other happy,healthy and safe—respected— and love each other well.
Does being considered beautiful get tiresome, as if you have a responsibility to your looks, making sure you look your best at all times?
I’ve never thought my looks were my strong point. Maybe that makes getting older easier. Hah! Every woman always wants to look her best. But my favorite time is when I can let my freckles out—with leftover mascara and smudgy black from the night before. Bedhead… I guess that’s my “look.” My mom is always telling me to comb my hair.
In this issue, we’re focusing on marijuana’s benefits to fitness. Is cannabis part of a healthy lifestyle for you?
I actually don’t smoke. I’ve tried on occasion over my lifetime. I’m looking forward for it to be safely regulated and legalized. I support the decriminalization of marijuana; I know it has helped many people. And nobody needs to go to jail for marijuana. I’m glad Obama pardoned a lot of people lately for petty offenses.
How have you addressed the issue of cannabis with your kids as they matured?
I told my kids they were allergic to smoke… partially true! Moderation is always key. Or if that’s not a word in your vocabulary: abstinence. That’s with any mind-altering substance. Self-medication is an issue to be concerned with. I try to talk to my boys about everything, so we get through any wounds together. It’s okay to feel emotions. Boys really need to hear that.
What do you think accounts for America’s resistance to legalization?
People are afraid. They don’t want change. It’s hard to understand the legalization of a “drug” you were told not to do your whole life. I think it will solve a lot of problems to legalize. It takes the “thrill” out of it. Some will do less; some will do more. But it will be less dangerous.
Americans seem to be in the Stone Age as far as their diets are concerned. What’s your most persuasive argument for being a vegan?
I don’t need to hurt any being to feed myself.
Sometimes when animals are abused, people seem to care more than they do about human suffering. What motivates that in human beings?
Is that true? I think people who care… just care.
What issue or issues make you angriest?
Sometimes, the reality show of politics in America at the moment. It’s embarrassing— we just have to get through it. I’m glad a woman will be president of the United States. That alone will help the world.
What motivates your compassion?
I think people who have faced adversity have empathy. I believe that love heals. An act of kindness, a choice— we make choices every day. If we can think of others in all of our actions, we are living a sensual life.
We’re hoping that Leonard Peltier gets clemency. You’ve become a good friend of his. What light can you shed on Leonard as a person and his plight?
His health is not good. And he should be set free—it would send a tremendous message. I hope Obama grants Leonard clemency. This is the time when he could. Go to freepeltier.org and sign the petition. Watch or listen to “Freedom” by Rage Against the Machine.
Are you an optimistic person? Does the state of the world depress you, or do you feel humans can do better?
I’m a mother… I worry. I worry about climate change, the oceans, endangered species. I work to help victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking. There’s a sickness surrounding pornography and people enslaved by the sex industry. We have to learn how to make love again. It will save us.
Your relationships with men have sometimes been less than what you’d hope they would be. Are relationships hard for you? If so, why is that?
I don’t tolerate abuse, but I see the best in people—even people who refuse to see the best in themselves. I leave only when there are no other options. I believe everyone deserves love—even a second chance. We’re all human, full of flaws. Just never put yourself in danger.
I saw you on Court TV during the trial where a movie company tried to sue you. You were awesome! You took their attorney apart and won the case. Are you a combative person?What gets under your skin?
I get misunderstood a lot, underestimated at times. Never mistake my kindness for weakness.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Kindness is the mightiest force in the world. Sensuality is a sexy kindness. I hope I’m a part of the sensual revolution that holds us together, instead of this bizarre divisiveness tearing loved ones apart.