All photos by Emma Dunlavey
Return To Freedom, a beautiful, wild horse sanctuary deep in the hills of Lompoc, California, is the tranquil location for our Pamela Anderson cover story. These pastures are rich with majestic American mustangs who have had a harrowing journey to get here. Most are unfamiliar with their plight; how they are being brutally driven in herds from their natural grazing lands by the Bureau of Land Management; rounded up to be placed in incarceration until sold at auction, usually for slaughter and shipment across the borders of Mexico and Canada.
A serendipitous turn of events has led us all to this idyllic location and its inhabitants, each of us inspired to raise awareness and create an impact in the form of a beautiful photo story. Our crew is small: a handful of Coco Eco personnel, plus Pamela and her best friend, long-term photographer, Emma Dunlavey. At the time of our interview, the girls are about to release their collaboration; a coffee-table book called RAW, which documents candid moments from the last ten years of Pamela’s life, told via Emma’s fly-on-the-wall photographs, capturing what she calls “some pretty precarious situations, with many shenanigans along the way,” and accompanied by Pamela’s prose and poetry penned during those years.
“This is a dream shoot. Photographing Pamela surrounded by these amazingly strong, beautiful mustangs where they are left to roam and reunite with their families and herds, and live in freedom,” says Emma, a devoted equestrian and horse lover.
Pamela agrees, “I did not know till a few days ago where we were shooting, so when I heard it was at Return to Freedom, where they are doing so much great work, it all aligned.”
When it comes to a voice for these horses, an American symbol of freedom who are fighting a war few know about, none seems more fitting than Pamela Anderson. In her own journey through her public career, from her portrayal of C.J. in the hit TV show, Baywatch, to lurid stories of her infamous love life splashed across the media, everyone has an opinion of her. For the most part, Pamela has been extremely misunderstood, and when you meet her in person, she is reminiscent of a very different iconic blonde bombshell, Brigitte Bardot.
“ NOT THAT I HAVE MADE ALL THE BEST CHOICES IN THE WORLD WITH ALL PARTS OF MY LIFE, BUT I KNOW IN THIS CASE THIS IS WHERE I AM SUPPOSED TO BE.”
“ I WAS ON BAYWATCH, GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER IN A BIKINI, RUNNING AROUND BEING SILLY, AND SNEAKING IN MY ANIMAL STUFF.”
Unafraid to show her vulnerability, Pamela openly admits to having made some questionable choices in her life, and is refreshingly candid about who she is and how she got here. Yes, she’s sexy; ridiculously so, that it literally oozes out of every pore without her even trying. But within that framework lies a wise, smart and sensitive girl; the kind of chick you would hang out with because she just gets it. And she can laugh at herself, being grounded enough to take what matters seriously, and leave the rest behind.
As we experience her evolution from pin-up to poster child, Pamela continues her mission as a global spokesperson for animal rights, and brand ambassador for a kind and sexy life.
COCO ECO MAGAZINE: You have multiple projects on the go, but let’s start with Pammies. What inspired you to venture into the world of fashion?
PAM ANDERSON: I created Pammies because a lot of people call terrible sheepskin boots “Pammies.” Unfortunately I am part of the reason they became popular, because I wore them on Baywatch. I thought the sheep were just being shaved, but then I went to Australia, saw the abuse, and heard of all the terrible things that go into making those boots.
I have been trying to do this line for a while, but I think 15 years ago I was ahead of my time. Pammies are animal and eco-friendly, made out of recycled electronics, like TV screens, and the soles are made from brown rice husks. In the past, people didn’t want to wear TV screens; they wanted “luxury.” These are very luxurious. The fabric is from Japan and the boots are designed and made locally in L.A.
During the years I have been offered so many different things to get involved with, which could have made me a billionaire, but I am not about to put my name on something I don’t believe in. I have to stick to my path and this is it. I don’t care if it’s just three styles of boots in a couple of different colors — this makes me happy.
CEM: Tell us about RAW?
PA: I am currently writing a book called The Sensual Vegan, which we are also doing as an online show. My publisher was really excited and wanted to release something immediately. I told them about Emma, who has been with me for a decade and has always been a fly-on-the-wall, spontaneous photographer. I have all my frantic journaling. I journal all the time no matter what it’s about; love, the world, politics, anything — I am writing all the time. I went through my drawers and started grabbing things, which we then layered together with her photographs, making this coffee table book, with proceeds going to the Pamela Anderson Foundation.
My next book, The Sensual Vegan isn’t just about food; it’s about compassionate lifestyle choices. I talk about my childhood, there are some recipes, and we explore natural aphrodisiacs because I am so sick of hearing about Cialis, or “take a pill.” Everyone has lost their vulnerability and gotten lazy, and we have become de-sensitized by this age of technology. There was a sexual revolution in the seventies. This is a “sensual” revolution. We need to get back to our human interaction, and our interaction with animals, living beings and living things; a plant based diet, and coming into the times.
CEM: When did you know this was your calling?
PA: I had some trauma when I was younger and I think a lot of people that have abuse or a traumatic experience as a child, really connect to animals. They are very healing, and when I was little I had an affinity with them. I stopped my Dad from hunting and when I realized my voice had an effect. I started speaking up. All of a sudden I had all of these misfits. I was the one they were bringing the bird with the broken wing to, and I had a handicapped cat that walked sideways. I connected to and trusted animals more than people, and they came to me.
When I got on Baywatch and travelled to promote the show, I started bringing Dan Mathews, the Vice President of PETA, along. We’re partners in crime and have created animal welfare laws all over the world together. That’s when it made sense and gave my funny, little, weird career more meaning. I was on Baywatch, getting away with murder in a bikini, running around being silly, and sneaking in my animal stuff.
“ WE NEED TO GET BACK TO OUR HUMAN INTERACTION, AND OUR INTERACTION WITH ANIMALS, LIVING BEINGS AND LIVING THINGS; A PLANT BASED DIET, AND COMING INTO THE TIMES.”
Unfortunately you can’t save all of them, which is really sad but it’s life. You do what you can though, and can make choices about what you wear and what you eat.
CEM: Our culture is shifting where it’s now cool to care. People seem to be thinking about the choices they are making, knowing that they have an impact.
PA: There are enough narcissists and sociopaths already and we don’t need anymore, so it has got to be cool to care. That’s one of the things I am excited about; that no one is making vegan sexy, because that’s a really different way to look at it. It’s not about it trending, or being granola-y, or making you skinny. It’s a very healthy lifestyle including removing dairy from your diet, and it is the easiest thing in the world to be vegan, even though it seems intimidating, even for me.
You do what you want knowing that every action has a repercussion, so why not chose a good one? Everything you do in your life, even the little things, has an effect. But a sexy life is a messy life. There are activists who are hard-nosed — you can’t do this or that — but we all have to always do the best we can do, and that means screwing up. None of us are perfect, and I am just trying to be the best I can be. Compassion is sexy, empathy is everything (and a missing ingredient), and sensuality is a sexy kindness. I think that is why I’ve fallen into my branding.
CEM: What are you most excited about?
PA: I have always had this relationship with animals, and everything always lines up. I get chills just thinking about it because there is no such thing as a coincidence, and I always know I am going to be led down the right track. Even if it is a twisty, bumpy, weird track, it usually leads me to the right place. Not that I have made all the best choices in the world with all parts of my life, but I know in this case this is where I am supposed to be. Even in my relationships or things I have fallen a little off track with, it’s always been for a reason, and I have a great, fun life. I am in this place of compassion, which I think is an important and sexy thing. It’s the future.
“ EVERYTHING YOU DO IN YOUR LIFE, EVEN THE LITTLE THINGS, HAS AN EFFECT. BUT A SEXY LIFE IS A MESSY LIFE.”
After a long day with Pamela and watching her fearlessly stand in the presence of wild horses, her natural ease and connection to them is magical to experience, as theirs is to her. Continuing in her commitment to stand up for those who can’t speak for themselves, a role she has taken for many years often without fanfair or public acknowledgement, Pamela is now embracing a new direction. As she leads the way for a sensual revolution, and living a life built on the virtues of compassion, empathy and kindness, it seems that in helping these beautiful creatures find a way to return to their freedom, she is also finding a way back to hers.