Pamela Anderson is not your average Hollywood celebrity.When our crew arrives at her home in Malibu, she greets us barefoot, hair in rollers, having already ordered and set up vegan lunch and juices for everyone from her favorite neighborhood spot, SunLife Organics. Her house, while beautiful and modern—all wood and windows and shabby chic white punctuated by pink orchids—isn't grand. You don't have to take your shoes off; the closet wouldn't qualify as a studio apartment, even by NYC standards. She flips through the rack of clothing that's been pulled for the shoot and gives every piece the stamp of approval. By the end of the day, she'll have offhandedly shared revealing anecdotes about exes (like the time Kid Rock punched through the glass on photographs of Marilyn Monroe hanging next to her bed during a fight), called her mother on speaker to get family beauty secrets ("Drink lots of wine. Don't worry about things. Oh, I don't know, Auntie Vie smeared Crisco all over her face and then in the morning scraped it off and made a pie.") and served us champagne and tomato soup around the kitchen island. You get the feeling she'd let you spend the night if you didn't make an effort to get up and leave.
But Anderson isn't so laid-back about everything; namely, animal rights. Like Brigitte Bardot, the sex-symbol-turned-activist before her, she's been lending her voice, and body, to causes ever since she learned of the suffering behind "the stupid Ugg boots" she made popular on Baywatch. She's just returned from France, where she showed up at Parliament in support of a bill to ban foie gras ("And then what do they serve me on the plane back? Foie gras!") and she spends nearly our entire interview talking about the horrors of factory farming, SeaWorld and cosmetic testing. "Just because I've been on Baywatch and in Playboy doesn't mean I don't have a heart, soul and brain!" says Anderson, who's been putting all three into Pammies Life, her lifestyle site which will soon have "sustainable apparel and stuff for pets" but currently sells her line of vegan boots made out of recycled electronics; her cooking show, The Sensual Vegan ("We talk about aphrodisiacs and how meat makes you impotent."); and the cruelty-free beauty line she collaborated on with her longtime makeup artist and friend Alexis Vogel. Of the latter, she says, "It's all about bringing back the bombshell. Everyone wants natural beauty, but natural beauty still takes an hour and a half, so you might as well have fun with it. I'm not into the grunge, I-don't-give-a-crap look. I want to look like a woman." Below, Anderson talks femininity, her vegan lifestyle and aging gracefully:
You were so young on Baywatch—did you have any of the typical 20-something insecurities back then or have you always been comfortable with your body?
I was really comfortable in my skin and I didn't care so much. I thought, nobody's perfect and imperfections are sexy. And you know, I would've been on the beach anyway, so I was shocked that they hired me and paid me. I never thought I was a great-looking person or a great-looking woman. But I don't think I would've worn red. But any time I've worn red, even red nails, it's lucky for me because it's something I really don't gravitate towards. It's so weird, I want to hide my nails right now, but I'm doing a film based in the '20s and I have to get used to red nails, so I thought I'd play around with it.
"Aging happens when you're stressed and worried and jealous, or angry or bitter about your life."
Thirty years later and you're still appearing in Playboy with practically the exact same body. How have you maintained it?
I think part of it's genetic, I'm lucky, and I do pilates every once in a while, I walk my dogs. I'm very active, but I don't go to the gym or anything like that. My mom swears by Weight Watchers. You know, it's all food. Exercise is good for you, and it's good for stress relief and body shaping, but to lose weight, it's 80% food. It's just a matter of knowing a bagel is 10 points, so eat a piece of toast, which is 1 point. I think it's food and eating healthy, and walking and getting out in fresh air. I think actually that when you go to a gym and start working out, you gain weight because you're hungrier. I do! If I do any kind of exercise, I eat twice as much, but exercise is good for everything else.
Is aging a scary word for you?
No, aging isn't a scary thing for me because I look at my friends and they're beautiful, and my mom and my Auntie Vie—I was raised by really, fun exciting women. My family didn't have anything, but they always had a beautiful table set and they were always glamorous hosts. They didn't have anything but they still had the negligees, the eyeliner, the wigs. And you're just as old as you feel. I mean, when you're in a bad relationship at 20, you look older than a forty year old. I think good relationships and having positive people around you, people that really embrace who you are as a person, is really uplifting and anti-aging, you know? Aging happens when you're stressed and worried and jealous, or angry or bitter about your life. A lot of people I know have had really hard beginnings of their lives, and have turned that around and look so much better now than they did twenty years ago—it's amazing, it really is.
"I'm not into the grunge, I-don't-give-a-crap look. I want to look like a woman."
What's your beauty philosophy? What are you using every day in your routine?
I'm a coconut oil fanatic and I love the coconut from SunLife. They get me all the gooey coconut out of it and I just eat it. I think it's really good for your skin, good for your hair, good for everything, from the inside out. And I just use coconut oil that you buy at the store to cook with, and I leave it in the shower or I soak it when I'm in the bathtub so it melts and I'll use it all just as moisturizer for my face, my body, my hair, everything. I don't think those really expensive products do anything better than household products. My Auntie Vie was just splashing cold water on her face and using Crisco all over her face, you know, so I think it's simple and I'm not a big product person. Just be as natural as you can get, and then have fun with hair and makeup—be whatever your version of pretty is, as long as you feel confident. No one's to judge what's in fashion, but compassion is in fashion and it's sexy, so why not have this bombshell crazy look? There's this image that if you're vegan, you don't wear any makeup, you know, like flower child, and that's pretty, too, but some women want to be glamorous. I just don't like to follow trends. I stick to the basics, classic.
"I don't know if I wanna go on Baywatch and be like, the old lady working at a counter somewhere."
What did you learn about beauty on the Baywatch set?
I was just covered in Bain de Soleil. A lot of people drew abs on themselves, I never did that. I never wore sunblock, I didn't really believe in it. I always felt that it was chemicals going into your skin and particles that go into the ocean. People always tell me, "You have to wear sunblock all over your face," so I have a natural sunblock that I use sometimes, but I'm just gonna go with it and see what age does to me because I need to be in the sun. The first season, they didn't want me to wear makeup, they wanted me to be very natural. I said okay, but then I would go to Lexi's [makeup artist Alexis Vogel] at three in the morning and she would put eyelashes and liner on me and we just created that look, then I would show up, and they'd go, "You're already wearing makeup!" and I'd say, "No I'm not!" But then I'd get hit by a wave and my eyelashes would fall off and my makeup artist there would come up and go, "This is all that's left of Pamela, I hope you're happy—two little soaking wet eyelashes." But most of the time it would stay on; her makeup is nuclear. When I was on Barb Wire and had such a high-maintenance husband [Tommy Lee], I don't even think I slept for five months. I would sleep in my makeup and just touch it up the next day for three days in a row.
Are you going to see the remake?
Well, they called me and asked me to be in it, but I haven't decided yet. I don't know. I don't like remakes of TV shows and I kind of want to leave it as is and be remembered for that. I don't know if I wanna go on Baywatch and be like, the old lady working at a counter somewhere.