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“I'm a woman's woman”

This interview appeared in the UK edition of Marie Claire, February 2003. After she knew to suffer of Hepatitis, she told Robyn Foyster there a number of honest things as usual… IMHO it is good, that she will never have a daughter it seems, because she would get a lot of pressure from the media as Pamelas female offspring and possible successor (as we have witnessed with many celebrities and their children). Finally she started to be a regular columnist in this magazine with the very same edition.

She's battling a life-threatening illness and has survived a famously abusive relationship that ended in her husband's imprisonment. Now, Pamela Anderson wants to help other victims of domestic violence. In an exclusive interview heralding a new Marie Claire column, she proves there's more to her than her infamous bosom.

For over a decade, Pamela Anderson has been seen as the ultimate dumb blonde. Famed for her pneumatic bust, displayed generously on Baywatch, she became a sex symbol — good to look at, but never seen as a woman of substance. Marriage to Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee four days after meeting hin, followed by divorce, did little to improve her image. Lee was jailed for violence towards Pamela in 1998. In 2002 her world collapsed, when she discovered she had been infected with hepatitis C by Lee (a claim he denies), which can be life threatening. She feared that, at 35, she would leave her children, Brandon, six, and Dylan, four, motherless.

Since then, she has campaigned to generate awareness of the disease. She has been presented with a humanitarian award by Sir Paul McCartney. She now speaks publicly on domestic violence, is involved with building schools for underprivileged children and, most recently, she has begun writing regular columns on social issues for women, which will start in this month's Marie Claire.

Champaigner, feminist, social commentator — this is not the Pamela Anderson we are familiar with. She emerges as someone with whom many women may be surprised to find they share common ground.

What do you think people are going to be most surprised to discover about you?

That I can form a sentence. [Laughs] That I have opinions. That I can write intelligently — I write the columns myself. That I'm not some party animal who leads a frivolous life.

Why do you want to write a column?

Because I'm passionate about so many things. And I've experienced a lot. I've lived with domestic violence and I've lived with someone who was too embarrassed to tell me he had hepatitis C. I want to educate people. I draw from personal experience: I'm a single mum trying to raise my children the best way I can.

What are people's perceptions of you?

Stupid. Big boobs. Not a brain. A terrible mother — and, I swear to God, that's the worst thing you could ever call me.

Do you dress to please men?

I dress to please me. But I usually run around in jeans, no make-up, my hair in a scrunchy.

Pamela kissing a kid(non-article picture)

"I really want to have a little girl. But there's a small chance I could pass on hepatitis C, and I'm not willing to take that risk."

What made you want to reinvent yourself?

I haven't. I'm the same, but media perception of me has changed. I never thought Baywatch was masterpiece theatre, but I enjoyed it because I got to take my dog with me to work every day on the beach. Now I'm on to the next stage of my life, and I don't want to be on TV or film again. Since I've retired, I've had more offers than you would believe. But I'm trying to stay true to what I really want — and that's being with my kids.

Are you a man's woman or a girl's girl?

I'm a woman's woman. I get on with men and women, but I have a lot of good girlfriends. Women are amazingly strong. When you see domestic violence situations — and this is something I've studied — you see how strong women are.

What made you get your boobs done again?

[Sigh] Sometimes I think my breasts have a career of their own and I'm just tagging along. One of these days, I'll write an entire column about the history of my breasts — the UK press writes about them all the time. It's the one area of cosmetic surgery I've had. I've never had anything done to my face. I've never had bones removed from my ribcage. I had my boobs enlarged once, then I had them reduced. But that's all I've ever had done.

You met rock star Kid Rock two years ago. Are you still engaged?

[Pointing to a large solitaire diamond ring on her finger] Yes, we're still engaged, but he lives in Michigan and I live in Malibu. We're together a lot and I hope when we marry we'll live out of two homes. I met Bobby — his real name is Bob Ritchie — through work. He has a son aged nine, and we started talking about our kids.

Would you like to have more children?

I really want to have a little girl. But there is a small chance I could pass on hepatitis C, and I'm not willing to take that risk. I want to beat this and then, if I'm still at an age where I can have a child, I will. For now, I keep telling my niece she needs to grow up to be afour and half shoe size because I have a whole closet of shoes for her.

Can we assume you have an affinity for bad-boy rockers, since you've fallen for two?

It's coincidence. My family are, like, why another? [Laughing] But I'm not searching for it, I'm not in the front row with my top up. If you feel a connection with someone, it could be to do with similar lifestyles. With Tommy, I did everything I could to avoid him. I met him in New York: he was singing with Aretha Franklin and I went to the party afterwards. I was putting my fingers up in the sign of the cross, saying, ‘Stay away’. But he followed me on a photo shoot I was doing in Mexico and I married him, four days after we'd established eye contact. It was the strangest thing.

Why did you fall for him?

It was something strong, inexplicable. Tommy and I were absolutely meant to be together. I mean, you don't just marry someone after only four days, but it felt so right. We were together for a long time and we have two beautiful kids and they were meant to be here.

Do you think you rushed into that wedding?

Yes, and I think I've said in the past that I should have waited. But it's been my life, and I wouldn't have had my kids if I hadn't married him. And I have to thank Tommy for that, beacause I got to be a mum -- and it's the best thing in the entire world. When you have a son or daughter, they are the love of your life. Who cares about other things? I don't.

Where did things start to go wrong between you and Tommy?

It's hard to pin down one thing. We were everything to each other, then we had kids; it became a jealousy issue about the kids. When we had different parenting styles. He also had a violent temperament. He got violent and unpredictable and I got scared.

What was the final thing that made you leave him the first time round?

It was a very ugly night. He started to get physical. I had Brandon clutching my leg, hyperventilating, at 21 months old; I had the baby in my arms and Tommy was throwing me against the walls. Brandon was saying, ‘Stop, Daddy. I'm scared.’ Tommy's eyes went black. It was like he wasn't there any more, just this monster. I had to dial 911 [emergency services].

Tommy went to jail, but you went backto him 1999. [They split again in 2000.] Why?

He went through therapy, he found God and he was in AA (Anonymous Alcoholians), and he said he really wanted to see the kids. I thought, maybe he's changed. I wanted a proper family, so I went back. But the verbal abuse started again, and there was resentment for going to jail.

How is your relationship with Tommy now?

I was at a parent/teacher conference at Brandon's school today with Tommy. It's hard to sit next to him because there is so much connection between us. I have to rise above my feelings to know what is best for my kids, but it's hard. Really hard.

Are you still fighting a custody battle?

I have always had custody of my children and I always will, but I'm trying to cultivate a relationship where the kids see him more. Tommy's never been that involved with them and I want them to know their dad.

The domestic violence with Tommy wasn't the first time you'd seen it close up.

My dad was always drunk and yelling at my mother. He used to hit her. They're still together. But my mum grew up in a household that was way more violent. When you grow up against a violent background, you don't realize there are nice guys out there. I think you marry the guy who reminds you of your father.

By speaking publicly about domestic violence, do you hope to stop the cycle?

Domestic violence is a poor family model. There needs to be more awareness. If men need help, they should not be embarassed. If you're a man, who has come from an abusive home, and you're abusive, you need to seek counselling before it gets to a point where you're injuring your wife or kids.

While you were married, a video of you and Tommy was stolen. How did that happen?

The tape was in a huge gun safe. Someone broke into our house and stole the whole thing. There were other things in there — jewellery, all my pictures of me growing up, our marriage certificate and our home videos. Amongst it all, there was a couple of minutes here, a couple of minutes there, of us doing things normal people do. Whoever stole it put it all together on one tape to mke it seem like there ws more. It made me feel sick. I was pregnant and I was so stressed out by it. Years and years of ridicule took its toll. I think it had a lot to do with tearing us apart.

How has the discovery that you have hepatitis C affected you?

You see things differently when you're facing mortality. I was very scared. I was told I was going to die. There's a drug you can take, but it means a year of having flu, your hair falls out, throwing up. I'm not taking it yet, but I want to because I don't want to die. I had a liver biopsy: they grade your liver from zero to four. Zero is a healthy young liver, four is liver cancer. I have a one. I'm doing well for now.

How did you get the disease?

When Tommy and I married, we both had physical exams. The doctor told him he had it and told him to tell me, but he never did. I got it from sharing toothbrushes, razors and a tattoo needle with him.

And now you've become a campaigner.

Yes. Because if you have it, you have to be treated. We've got to stop it spreading.

It must have been hard to break the news to your new partner, Bob. How did he take it?

It was one of the hardest things I've had to do. I was scared he wouldn't want to be with me. He was devastated. And, when I told him how I got it, I had to lock him in a rubber room for a week because he was furious. But he said it doesn't change his feelings for me.

Where do you live?

In a beach house in Malibu. It's small and cosy. I have no nanny, no housekeeper — a cleaner comes in twice a week, but no one lives in.

How do you fill your days?

I take my kids to school and karate. I walk my dogs. I do interviews, give speeches for charities. I'm bringing out a skincare line and a line of jeans and sunglasses. And I've just done the voice-over for Striperella, an animated TV series I've created with Stan Lee [Marvel Comics chairman and creator of Spider Man]. It's about a secret agent topless dancer who fights crimes against womankind.

What is a typical night out or in for you?

I love to cook and stay home, sit round the fire, Bob will sing songs for the kids. I will not allow TV in my house. I read to the kids every night, and I'm always reading some self-help book.

Do you ever take holidays?

I've only been on vacation twice. We just went skiing for the first time; it was fantastic.

Where have you found your strength?

Sometimes I don't fell so strong. I have spirals of depression sometimes, but I have to pull myself together because I have two kids.

Who is your inspiration?

My kids. I want to have a good life with them. I don't want to be going anywhere soon.

What's the best thing about being famous?

You can make a difference. I'm told that four times as many people are going to hospital to get checked for hepatitis C as a few years ago. That's because there is awareness of it, ant that makes me feel good.

And what's the worst part?

Losing your privacy; putting your children through stuff they haven't chosen

What is your philosophy for life?

Everyone's human; we all make mistakes.

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