Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, Neil Young and Daryl Hannah, Winona Ryder and Beck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin... Pop and rock stars have always fancied actresses. But Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson have levelled up the music-cinema relationship to another stage of notoriety and scandal. Back in the 90s, even before Kate Moss and Pete Doherty, they defined what a “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” union meant and catalysed the madness of a celebrities’ sex tapes industry that used to captivate everyone around the world. No surprise their story is today the topic of the biopic Pam & Tommy, which will air on Disney+ starting on Wednesday, February 2nd, and will star Lily James and Sebastian Stan. Including all kinds of excesses, plot twists and dramas, their love story has everything to quench our thirst for several enthralling episodes.
Watch on Sunset Strip
The first encounter between the former Baywatch actress and Mötley Crüe drummer looked like their own respective worlds. On one side, a young woman known for her sex appeal and her infamous red swimsuit – a pure embodiment of the ultimate bimbo. On the other side, a member from a heavy metal band known for its opiate drifts and its Satanist concerts. When the two met at the Sanctuary Club on Sunset Strip in Hollywood – club in which Pamela Anderson owns shares – on the eve of the year 1994, one could guess that the protagonists were not sober. Attracted to the tattooed bad boy, the 27-year-old playmate took the first step and offered him a shot of Goldschläger. Very receptive, “he came by and licked my face”, the former Barb Wire (1996) heroin recalled in Movieline, before adding: “I thought to myself he was a cool, friendly and nice guy. I gave him my number”. In The Dirt, the juicy memoirs of Mötley Crüe which were transposed into a marvellous biopic on Netflix, Tommy Lee confessed he was under the influence of ecstasy and Cristal champaign that night. Is it a way to explain his eccentric behaviour?
Even though Pamela Anderson was one of the biggest sex symbols at the time, she had to hassle her future husband on the phone before he even bothered replying to her. Thrilled by the idea of a first date with the fantasy of thousands of humans, the musician known for his frenetic drug consumption and his overwhelming number of conquests with his groupies would have bought for $400 of sex toys and clothing. Except that the actress later told him that she was about to leave the country very soon for a photo shoot in Cancún. The rock star begged her to let him go with her on her trip, to which she simply replied: “we’ll see each other next time”.
Getting married in a bikini with tattooed wedding rings
Many men would have given up, but Tommy Lee is not one of them. In an epic gesture, he flew to Mexico to meet the star at the Ritz, six weeks after he first laid eyes on the actress in that club on Sunset Trip. They spent the night drinking and putting the world to rights in a Mexican grill bar. The following hours must have been passionate – the couple was noticed sipping champaign in some festive places and participating to a swimsuit contest – because four days after their first night together in February 1995, the two stars tied the knot on an idyllic beach in Cancún.
Instead of wearing an immaculate gown and a diamond ring, Baywatch main character appeared in a white bikini with the name of her new husband tattooed on her ring finger. As for the musician, he wore a simple pair of khaki shorts for a casual ceremony that gathered a handful of guests. He also got his finger tattooed, as well as his private parts, to celebrate his new union. Then, everything went really fast for the couple. After Pamela Anderson’s miscarriage, the couple had two sons – Brandon Thomas, born in 1996, and Dylan Jagger, born the following year.
The sex tape scandal
The couple, who shared a common love for joints, Martinis, antiques, tennis, and sexual games, got the idea to immortalize their honeymoon on a yacht. A stroke of genius they will soon come to regret. After a disagreement with their electrician Rand Gauthier (played by Seth Rogen in Disney+ series), Tommy Lee fired him after threatening him with a gun as he came back to collect his tools. The latter, who used to be a second-rate porn actor too, decided to take his revenge on the couple and broke into their house in Malibu. There, he found the video tape of their lovemaking locked in a safe, duplicated it in order to sell copies and expose them on the internet to the entire world in 1995. Desperate, Pamela Anderson hired lawyers to sue the electrician and the responsible parties of the video leak and spent over ten million dollars in the lawsuit.
As for the sex tape, it provided its distributors with a turnover of almost a hundred million dollars... The video marks the beginning of a time in which celebrities’ sexuality is thrown to the wolves and sold to the highest bidder – Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are two recent examples. Subjects to double standard, women are usually more discredited than their male partners regarding these leaks.
From that moment, problems arose between Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. The latter felt left aside by his wife who, according to him, took more care of their children than of him, while the young woman could not stand her husband’s alcoholism and extreme jealousy anymore. In 1998, things turned into a nightmare. The police intervened at the couple’s house for domestic abuse. Tommy Lee beat his wife while she was holding their son Dylan in her arms. The rocker pleaded guilty and ended up sentenced to several months in prison. After that, Pamela Anderson would quickly ask for a divorce, but the two would struggle to stay apart for good. As if drawn to each other like magnets, the bad boy and the bimbo would keep seeing each other many times, while both having other relationships of their own aside.
Pam & Tommy (2022) with Lily James and Sebastian Stan available on Disney+ on February 2nd.