the new Pamela Anderson
interview and photography by SANTE D’ORAZIO
SANTE D’ORAZIO — I love your new short haircut. What made you go for it?
PAMELA ANDERSON — I like to be bold. It wasn’t planned. I’d worked with Deborah Anderson; they shot me in short, dark wigs. The make-up artist Autumn Moultrie told me I should shave my head — show my face more. I had the NY marathon for Haiti coming up and thought, hmmm, this might be practical. I told Paul Desmarre of Christophe Salon Beverly Hills to come to my house later and cut it. Three hours later and voila! I love the movie Breathless by Jean Luc-Godard with Jean Seberg. It seemed like a good idea. Fresh, European. I’ve never been into hair extensions. I have so much hair. But it seems American women like to hold on to that long hair. It’s just not flattering forever. I also am not as attached to my “image.” I actually really know who I am beyond the hair. It was a relief more than anything to let a little of that go, and with the hair went a lot. Not to get too personal, but it really helped me get out of a “situation” that was not right, no matter how hard I wanted to believe otherwise. My family and dearest friends didn’t bat an eye. I’m surprised we’re even talking about this and at all the attention it’s generated. I’m grateful, though; the response has been shockingly positive.
SANTE D’ORAZIO — I can only congratulate you on the change, because it works so well.
PAMELA ANDERSON — Thanks, baby. But you told me that you wouldn’t have advised me to do it.
SANTE D’ORAZIO — I’d have been so nervous! Your hair was a longtime identity, and you know how hard people find it to change anything. Did you get any professional responses?
PAMELA ANDERSON — There’s a bubbling up of interest I didn’t expect. So I’m going with the flow. Collaborating with people I admire is a dream come true. Working with Purple is really exciting. When I walk around I notice people’s reactions. I get curious. They don’t just see me as a cartoon character. Is that really her? Day-to-day walking around is interesting. It feels like an incredible new part of life. Hair is so symbolic, especially for women. Everyone has something to say about your hair. I heard that when you cut your hair, your past goes with it. I think I was labeled before I could decide who I was. So this was a big step for me. Look at me, no regrets, not trying to look back. I think this is where life begins again for me, in this industry or wherever it leads. It feels right.
SANTE D’ORAZIO — How did your friends react to your new look?
PAMELA ANDERSON — Ed Ruscha and his brother Paul like to tease me. I received a message from them telling me how they were showing my photo to friends asking who they thought I was. Mia Farrow? Jean Seberg? It was fun for them to say, “No! It’s our Pamela!” So funny, flattering, to get the thumbs up from friends whose opinion I value. Vivienne Westwood and I have the same haircut. I called Andreas Kronthaler before I cut it. He said, “Maybe just throw it back in a loose ponytail and don’t think about it so much.” Then when they saw photos they both agreed that my last hairstyle was just wrong. Ha!
SANTE D’ORAZIO — We’ve collaborated quite a number of times. Some of those pictures have ended up in museums and in great collections. What are the other recent collaborations you’re up to?
PAMELA ANDERSON — I just had lunch at The Smile in New York with Richard Prince. He thought I looked “cute” but was annoyed by the paparazzi following us to Karma gallery. We visited Enoc Perez’s studio. I just got back from working with Peter Beard. He poured ink all over me and did his double-exposure large-format Polaroids with me and wild animals and with his Francis Bacon portrait, too. He has powerful views on overpopulation and wildlife conservation. We got along beautifully.
SANTE D’ORAZIO — Are these pictures for the Purple story the first ones?
PAMELA ANDERSON — Professional? Yes.
SANTE D’ORAZIO — Well basically, we did it for ourselves. Then all of a sudden the opportunity came with Olivier Zahm at Purple, who loved them. Your aura is so different photographically, like you’re a different person. Do you feel that?
PAMELA ANDERSON — I do. I feel like I’m more me. But also like I’m more exposed. You know I’ve never had a problem with nudity, but this has really revealed me. It’s much more powerful, because I’m more vulnerable.
SANTE D’ORAZIO — Has anything surprised you, any offers?
PAMELA ANDERSON — Well, the man who surprised me the most — who’s developing a project I’m unable to discuss yet — wanted me to work with him before I cut my hair. He said he sees the artist in me and wants me to work seriously with him, and to have faith that he will reveal something great in me. I feel like I don’t know what I’m capable of yet. This has been brewing for a while now. Like you, and like a lot of my friends, he recognized I’m different than what most people perceive. This haircut convinced a lot more people [laughs]. It has struck a chord. It amazes me — even in love — how it’s changed everything and encouraged real soul connections, less superficiality.
SANTE D’ORAZIO — How do you feel looking at the pictures?
PAMELA ANDERSON — I don’t normally love pictures of myself. I’m a bit of an exhibitionist, and I like having the pictures taken. But seeing these was really something different, something we did. It’s like a launching pad for what I’ll do now. While looking at the pictures I was thinking to myself, is that really me? I mean you don’t take a bad picture — people always look their best in your pictures. It still was a shock to see how strong I look.
SANTE D’ORAZIO — I find the combination of something masculine and feminine in you very powerful and extremely attractive: you have this boyish head that’s so beautiful and angelic, and then there’s this ultra-feminine body.
PAMELA ANDERSON — I felt the same way, this erotic boy-girl energy. Slightly taboo?
SANTE D’ORAZIO — I know you as someone different from your public persona — the inward you that’s ultra-sensitive, one of the kindest, gentlest souls I’ve ever met, and such a good, smart person. That’s why you have friends like Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, David LaChapelle, Vivienne Westwood, and a whole slew of others. I want people to know that.
PAMELA ANDERSON — The people who were connected to the cartoon image, I feel, are just gone. It all went with the hair. I’m starting to understand, too, that maybe I’m meant to be alone. People are afraid of loneliness and depression, but it’s such a productive place. It’s where I get to do anything of meaning. Now I feel I’m on a journey.
SANTE D’ORAZIO — I agree. Being alone but not necessarily lonely is the place where art comes from.
Jen Moore, style — Laurent Philippon @ TIM HOWARD MANAGEMENT, hair — Sokphalla Ban, make up — Diane Prete @ SANTE D’ORAZIO STUDIO, producer — Shannon Bradley, retouching — MILK STUDIOS, equipement — Dean Dodos, photographer’s assistant — Shot at THE BOWERY HOTEL, NYC
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