Pamela Anderson has been a scandalous figure for years — and not just because she simultaneously became a pin-up icon while she starred on two of televisions biggest shows at the time. Believe us when we say there was so much more drama happening behind-the-scenes and Anderson’s life during all of that. But this is one famous lady who isn’t shy about doing what she wants, even when it stirs up fierce backlash.
And frankly, Anderson isn’t interested in staying on the public’s good side. In April 2015, she told Esquire, « Eventually you just have to realize that you’re living for an audience of one. I’m not here for anyone else’s approval. … Time passes, sh*t happens, you do the best you can. »
At the same time, Anderson claimed, « The best decisions you ever make are usually the ones you make even when everyone else says not to do it. » That iffy stance is perhaps why, just when you think that Anderson can’t be any more shocking, she seems to top herself with another round of cringe-worthy antics. Here are the most controversial things that the (seemingly uncensored) star has ever done.
Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee did not take it slow
On New Year’s Eve in 1994, Pamela Anderson met Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, setting them on a path towards a scandal-riddled romance. The two bumped into each other at a club in Hollywood and while that isn’t controversial in itself, Lee happened to be high on ecstasy at the time, and their interaction led to a group face-licking session among Anderson’s friends, according to Lee’s account of the evening in the band’s autobiography The Dirt (via Rolling Stone). Romantic, no? That was as far as things went during their meet-cute, but when they finally went on their first date six weeks later, things went a lot farther.
After Anderson agreed to a date with Lee — then casually blew him off — he obsessively tracked her down to Cancun, where she was on location for a modeling photoshoot. The move must have impressed Anderson, because 96 hours later the pair married in a sudden ceremony that saw the bride wearing a barely-there bikini and involved the groom throwing his new wife in the ocean. Anderson’s own mother learned about the marriage via People and told the magazine, « This was the first I’d heard of him. » She added, « It is heartbreaking and shocking. » Her mother wasn’t the only one who found the impromptu nuptials to be a tad controversial. According to Lee, Anderson’s « brother asked for [his] address so he could come over and personally kick [Lee’s] a**. »
Did Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee cash in on that … tape?
Pamela Anderson’s wedding with Tommy Lee wasn’t the only part of their marriage that left people questioning the actress’ choices. While the stars were husband and wife, they filmed an intimate tape together that became notorious.
Although it was meant to be a private recording, the videotape was stolen in 1995 by an electrician who had worked on the couple’s house and who they refused to pay — and who Lee allegedly pointed a shotgun at! Eventually, the recording made its way out into the world, which created quite a scandal.
The tape also created an opportunity to find further fame and make a lot of money, which means that NOT selling it might have been the questionable move in this case. Just take a look at the headline-making attention stars like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian experienced due to their endeavors in — shall we say — amateur home video. And yet Anderson refused to cash in on the situation. « I made not one dollar, » she said during a 2015 interview on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. « It was stolen, and [late Penthouse founder] Bob Guccione tried to offer us millions of dollars. We said no. It was already out at that time, the damage was done. So we just said, ‘No way, we’re not getting involved in that.' » Good sense or a bad business decision?
A bad decision left Pamela Anderson with a lifelong consequence
During Pamela Anderson’s rocky marriage to Tommy Lee, the two got tattoos at the same time and even though artists are always supposed to use clean needles, Anderson said she was inked with the same needle that had been used on Lee. Unfortunately, Lee allegedly hadn’t told his wife that he had hepatitis C, which meant that Anderson contracted the disease, which she revealed in 2002.
Anderson later talked to Esquire about getting the diagnosis, recalling, « My doctor says, ‘You have hepatitis C.’ And I go, ‘Okay, how do I get rid of it?’ And he’s like, ‘You can’t. This is what you’re going to die from.' »
« And then the doctor says, ‘Do you know how you got it?’ I said no, » she continued. « And he said, ‘Your husband never told you he had it?’ … Obviously, it’s a hard thing to tell someone, but I wish he could have had the nerve to tell me. Obviously, his ego was more important than my life. »
Despite the fact that Anderson was told that the disease was fatal, the star took to Instagram in November 2015 to share in a now-deleted post that she had been cured. « I just found out #nomorehepc, » she wrote (via People). « I pray anyone living with Hep C can qualify or afford treatment. It will be more available soon. I know treatment is hard to get still…#dontlosehope. »
A scene from Borat ended Pamela Anderson’s marriage
In 2006, Pamela Anderson appeared in the Oscar-nominated (yes, really) Borat movie along with the film’s writer and star Sacha Baron Cohen. And while audiences surely know by now that they should expect outrageous antics in Baron Cohen’s movies, Anderson’s scene — which involved her being kidnapped — was so iffy that it sparked her split from her then-husband Kid Rock, who she had recently married.
According to Page Six (via CBS News), after a private screening of the movie at the home of then-president of Universal Pictures Ron Meyer, Kid Rock was so infuriated by the scene featuring Anderson that he flipped out on his wife in front of everyone present. A friend of the rap-rocker said he « started screaming at Pam, saying she had humiliated herself and telling her, ‘You’re nothing but a wh*re! You’re a sl*t! How could you do that movie?' »
Baron Cohen later confirmed to the Daily Beast‘s The Last Laugh podcast in 2019 that he texted Anderson after that screening to ask, « How did it go? What did he think? » She replied to admit that they were getting divorced. When Baron Cohen asked her why, she claimed, « The movie. » The actor confessed, « I thought it was a joke but then a few weeks later they got divorced and they put as a reason for divorce, Borat. »
One of Pamela Anderson’s PETA ads was banned
Pamela Anderson is a well-known animal rights activist and while a love of our fellow creatures should be a good thing, the star has a history of appearing in controversy-sparking campaigns. For instance, « in September 2009, the CNN Airport Network refused to air a video of her stripping to raise awareness for PETA, » according to the Daily News. That was followed by a 2010 ad featuring Anderson that ended up being banned in her home country of Canada — specifically, the city of Montreal.
The campaign’s image, which encouraged those who saw it to « have a heart » and « go vegetarian, » showed Anderson with lines and labels drawn across her bikini-clad body along with the caption, « All animals have the same parts. » Montreal city officials felt like the ad was inappropriate, because it went « against all principles public organizations are fighting for in the everlasting battle of equality between men and women. »
Anderson responded to the fact that her ad was deemed unsuitable by saying, « In a city that is known for its exotic dancing and for being progressive and edgy, how sad that a woman would be banned from using her own body in a political protest over the suffering of cows and chickens. In some parts of the world, women are forced to cover their whole bodies with burqas — is that next? I didn’t think that Canada would be so puritanical. »
What’s up with Pamela Anderson’s involvement with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange?
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a controversial figure on his own. In addition to criminal charges he faces for his own alleged personal conduct, the organization he leads has been responsible for multiple instances of hacking and leaking sensitive government material. So, it’s no surprise that Pamela Anderson stirred up a scandal when she got involved with him. While there have been questions around the exact nature of their relationship, she called him « one of [her] favorite people » in a blog post on her website and also admitted that she « think[s] he’s quite sexy » along with calling their relationship « a match made in heaven — and hell — depending on the vantage point. »
« Mr Assange and I, have become very dear friends over time. That’s all I’m really comfortable saying… Of course, this is not an ideal situation — It’s not indicative of any rational relationship. I wouldn’t know what that is anyway. Faith has been lost in modern romance, » Anderson wrote.
Anderson also talked about the public’s reaction to her involvement with Assange, saying, « I’m also not shocked that this may be interpreted, and ‘reduced’ to just a ‘sexual relationship’. That is the easiest perception. And appeals to the tabloids. Takes into account my image. It may be hard to imagine for some — that I have other assets — of equal or greater value. »
Pamela Anderson posed for Playboy – a lot
Not everyone would be willing to strip down for Playboy. Pamela Anderson, on the other hand, has not only appeared on its cover, but she’s posed for the controversial publication multiple times. In fact, according to Playboy‘s profile on the star, she’s « appeared on [the magazine’s] cover 14 times — more than any other woman in Playboy history. »
Anderson even popped up on the scandalous magazine’s last nude cover (The publication announced in 2015 that it would stop running naked photo spreads, but reversed the decision a little over one year later.) « I got a call from [late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s] attorney who said, ‘We don’t want anybody else. There’s nobody else, could you do the last cover of Playboy?' » she told Entertainment Tonight in 2015. However, the mother of two sons with ex-husband Tommy Lee asked for her boys’ permission before accepting the offer.
Explaining that her children « were teased, and made fun of, and had a few fistfights over their mom » in the past, Brandon, who was 19 years old at the time, didn’t object. « [H]e goes, ‘Mom you’ve got to do it …We’re older, we’re not embarrassed anymore of you.' »
« And then I asked [17-year-old] Dylan too, » Anderson continued. « [A]nd Dylan’s like, ‘Mom, you know you’ve done it all.’ I don’t know what to say but they were really excited for me. » At least her boys are supportive of her choices.
Former Playmate Pamela Anderson hates pornography
Despite the fact that Pamela Anderson appeared in Playboy a record-setting number of times — even telling Entertainment Tonight in 2015 that she was « excited » to pose on the magazine’s final nude cover — the star claimed just one year later in a The Wall Street Journal op-ed that pornography is a « public hazard » watched by « losers » and people who are « too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality. »
Co-writing the piece with American Orthodox Jewish rabbi and author Shmuley Boteach, Anderson asserted that pornography is « corrosive » and has a « nefarious impact » that affects men’s « ability to function as [a] husband, and, by extension, as [a] father. » The duo went on to discuss how adult films might do harm to those who watch them, as well as their spouses and children. Anderson and her co-author asked, « How many families will suffer? How many marriages will implode? How many talented men will scrap their most important relationships and careers for a brief onanistic thrill? »
Many took issue with Anderson’s stance, including adult film actress Brooke Banner who, according to the Independent, responded by saying that pornography « makes [her] marriage better than ever. » Banner also addressed Anderson’s claim that these kinds of films are only for a certain kind of person, saying, « I’m no loser. »
Harvey Weinstein’s accusers won’t find an ally in Pamela Anderson
After Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by multiple women, Pamela Anderson was interviewed by Today in November 2017 and suggested that the victims should have been able to avoid the situations they found themselves in. « It’s just common sense, » Anderson said. « Don’t go into a hotel room alone. If someone answers the door in a bathrobe, leave. These [are] things that are common sense. … It was common knowledge that certain producers or certain people in Hollywood are people to avoid privately. You know what you’re getting into if you’ go to a hotel room alone. » This opinion obviously received fierce backlash and accusations of victim-blaming.
Instead of apologizing, Anderson responded by sharing a lengthy Instagram post that attempted to back up her opinion. « Somebody had to say this. … We have the power to be safe and free by using common sense. » Knowing that she’d receive a negative response, the star added, « I have a unique perspective. … consequence is part of my life. … Backlash is good. — I like this. … I stand by what I say. »
Anderson expressed a similar sentiment on her website, writing, « Women are strong. … And quite capable as adults to be responsible for ourselves, and that includes being co-responsible for decisions being made in the bedroom — I believe in female empowerment but, it seems some cultures actually want to keep women viewed as victims. »
Pamela Anderson finds some feminism ‘boring’
One year after she seemingly victim-blamed some of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers on Today, Pamela Anderson faced backlash again when she made critical comments about feminism and the #MeToo movement. During a November 2018 interview with 60 Minutes, Anderson said, « I think this feminism can go too far. I’m a feminist but I think that this third-wave feminism is a bore. I think it paralyzes men. I think that this Me Too movement is a bit too much for me. » She later added, « I’m sorry, I’m not politically correct, maybe. »
Entertainment Tonight called Anderson’s comments « dismissive » and many others challenged her point of view, like one Twitter user who wrote, « Using ‘common sense’ seems to translate into normalizing a violent environment and accepting second-tier treatment as humans rather than actually making an effort to minimize bad behavior just because people don’t believe it can be minimized. (Hint: it totally can be.) »
Another Twitter user accused Anderson of being « less tolerant, » and called her perspective « an extremely outdated way of thinking, on par [with] many outdated modes of thought that we look back on [with] shame (slavery, religious wars, witch trials..the list goes on). » Yet another aggrieved Twitter commentator pondered, « Umm paralysis and feminism ? where’s your research, Pam[?] Sorry it bores you and that you are so downtrodden about men being literally ‘DOWN’ but the ‘me too’ movement has helped women and others ‘GET UP’ for perhaps the first time. » Yikes.
Cultural appropriation is never a good look
On October 31, 2019, Pamela Anderson shared pictures of herself in costume for Halloween. Harmless, right? Wrong! In both images, the star is nude except for a pair of underwear and in one picture, paint is dripping down over her naked breasts. Risqué but still relatively harmless, right? Wrong again! In both photos, she has a Native American headdress which sparked accusations of racism and cultural appropriation.
One person tweeted about the contradiction between Anderson’s concern and respect for animals as opposed to her treatment of other people, writing, « If only you were as considerate of indigenous culture as you are about animals. » Another follower tweeted, « I know you tried to take pretty pictures but using other people’s culture and symbols — especially people who are continually marginalized — is way beyond not ok and actively harms others. In this intent doesn’t matter as much as the impact actions have. »
Even singer and artist Lido Pimienta commented on the images, tweeting, « Pamela Anderson, the white woman who doesn’t eat animals because it’s cruel but who willingly promotes the mocking of native cultures and the murdering of indigenous women (aka human beings, I know sometimes it’s hard to figure that one out) because it’s…’fashionable?' »
In response, Anderson didn’t respond at all. Instead, some social media users said that they were blocked by the star. That’s one way to deal (or not deal) with the criticism.
Praising Trump proved tricky for Pamela Anderson
While associating with Donald Trump is perhaps one of the riskiest things a celebrity can do these days due to his scandal-ridden time in the White House, Pamela Anderson willingly got herself involved in a Trump-related, backlash-inducing situation in November 2019.
At the beginning of the month, the star posted an open letter to President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on her website, which complimented the duo before addressing the political situation with Julian Assange. Days later, Anderson followed up her message by posting a collection of old photos of herself with the Trumps with the caption, « once upon a time. »
Many of Anderson’s fans were unimpressed and tweeted her to let her know that the images were « not something to be proud of, » while others let her know that they were unfollowing her for seemingly supporting the controversial president. Another Twitter user pointed out that the pictures didn’t even necessarily reflect an authentic relationship since Anderson had admitted in the past that she was paid to show up to the event when she first met Trump. « I think it was his birthday, » she told The Hollywood Reporter in May 2018. « I was hired to be there. We all were paid like $500 a day. He was with a wife — I don’t know which one — but he was nothing special. » Awkward? Yep!