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May 7, 2006
Pamela: "Everyone seems to think that I'm just a bimbo but I'm devoted to helping animals"
by Mike Parker

Baywatch beauty PAMELA ANDERSON tells how she has put a life of nude centrefolds, boozy brawls, secret affairs and internet porn behind her to pour a fortune into her crusade for the rights of innocent creatures being decimated by man's cruelty

AFTER years of flamboyant behaviour both on-screen and off, actress Pamela Anderson is now pursuing a more responsible and private life.

She is currently juggling campaign work with an animal rights group, while not forgetting her acting and her role as a mother.

That has involved putting her 2,300sq ft home in the gated Malibu Colony on the market for GBP 3.5million, five years after buying it for GBP 970,000.

Pamela is not saying where she plans to relocate but insists: "It will still be in Los Angeles. We won't move far because I don't want to disrupt the kids' schooling too much."

But far enough, one suspects, to shake off the ever-present paparazzi who stake out her ocean-front home. Baywatch or not, they know Pammy still represents big business.

Even in the days when the world was bombarded by endless episodes of Baywatch, a snigger would have been raised at the notion of Pamela Anderson being taken seriously.

She was famous simply for being the bubbly, bouncy, blonde beauty in the red swimsuit who said little of consequence but helped to create the most successful, most syndicated show in television history.

Away from the sun, sea, sand and sex, she also provided a non-stop soap opera with a headline-grabbing marriage to and divorce from rock "wild man" Tommy Lee, nude centrefolds, clandestine affairs, boozefuelled brawls and an internet porn tape that claimed more viewers around the planet than all of Woody Allen's films put together.

In the nine years since her last episode as lifeguard Casey Jean "CJ" Parker (even she reckons only one in 10 probably remember her character's name), Pamela has continued to grab headlines. Some for the continued misadventures of a "bimbo" but today, increasingly, for her crusading work as an animal rights activist.

Suddenly, the people who gasped at the sight of her in a swimsuit are beginning to sit up and take her very seriously indeed.

And her opponents, be they politicians or multi-national companies, are taking her seriously too.

Tears well in Pamela's eyes as she recalls the scenes of killing and butchery.

"My passion is driven by recurring nightmares, " she says. "Terrible visions of man's brutality - horrifying pictures of needless and senseless cruelty."

Pamela is locked in a battle with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, who earlier this month snubbed requests from her, Paul McCartney and a score or more of other celebrities to discuss the annual seal slaughter in the country of her birth.

She has just seen the first gory video footage of this year's cull, which will result in more than 300,000 cubs and adults bludgeoned to death over the next two months. In previous years, Pamela has witnessed the bloody massacre on the icy killing fields of the Gulf of St Lawrence. She thought she had become inured to the slaughter, but the tears well again as she says: "It really never gets any easier to bear."

Her first shocking, grisly encounter with man's obsession with conquering nature came when she was just 10 years old. She recalls: "I just happened to walk into the shed behind our house on Vancouver Island a few moments after my dad had returned from a hunting trip.

"I opened the door and looked up.

And there, hanging upside down, was the cutest deer. Or it had been the cutest deer. Its fur and its body were really drenched in blood.

"I can remember shrieking and running as fast as I could. I don't blame Dad and never will.

Hunting is what men, Canadian men in particular, do. But the sight of that deer is a nightmare that has never left me."

From that moment Pamela, now 38, became a vegetarian and vowed "one day to try to stop killing innocent creatures". She said: "I knew that I had a mission and from that day I wanted to make a difference."

Since the early Nineties, she has been an active member of the animal campaign group PETA, after begging them to let her join. "I used my fame on Baywatch to try to convince them I could help make a difference, " she said. "I bombarded them with letters until they took me on board."

In 1999 she won the Linda McCartney award for animal rights protectors - and is currently campaigning against Canada's seal cull alongside her late icon's husband Sir Paul McCartney.

There are no Emmys or Golden Globes on the mantelpiece at the stunning Malibu beach house Pamela shares with sons Brandon, nine, and Dylan, eight.

But the actress, who will reprise her bouncing lifeguard role in a cameo appearance in Steven Spielberg's movie version of Baywatch, said: "The Linda McCartney award means more to me than anything I could aspire to win as a performer. I truly cherish it."

Pamela won it for her outspoken anti-fur trade activism. And she has followed it with a "shock tactic" demand that human prisoners be used for lab-testing in California instead of animals - a massive campaign against fast-food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken, after undercover PETA workers found widespread abuses on farms owned by the company. There is also a running feud with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson over cock-fighting in his state.

She said: "My award was the turning point - the moment people started taking me seriously. Sure, there's still the bimbo image.

But that's not what or who I am. Anyone who sees the devotion I put into my animal work knows that now."

Pamela says her PETA role "is now the driving force behind my life", even though she stars in the successful US sitcom Stacked, which follows the adventures of a busty beauty in a stuffy bookshop. Without a trace of coyness she said: "I wanted to retire from all that, but I guess my breasts still have a career and I'm just tagging along with them.

"I know Baywatch was mindless, but it was a great show. You could turn it on halfway through in any language and still be entertained. But the fact is, I'm kind of proud of myself. I have the PETA projects, I'm a working soccer mom to my two boys and I try to do what I can in the community.

"I think I've been able to keep a certain grace about me even during times of disgrace and craziness which have swallowed me up in the past." Pamela has not only ploughed a fortune from her multimillion-dollar income into her animal crusades - she helps people too.

At her gym recently, on learning of a fund to help a poor but talented local gymnast train for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Anderson immediately wrote out a personal cheque for $10,000 (GBP 5,400).

"She's inspiring, " said the actress. "And I find my heart raised by inspiring people.

Take PETA. They have so many activists risking their necks to expose the truth. Like the team that went into the KFC farm undercover to find workers searing off chickens' beaks with hot blades while still alive and blowing cigarette smoke in their eyes.

"How can anyone do that in a supposedly humane society? How can anyone delight in suffering? That's why I'm urging a worldwide boycott of KFC until they stop the torture and cruelty."

In Canada, the suffering of the seals is for profit, not pleasure and Pamela says: "It's estimated the winter seal hunt will bring in $14.5million (GBP 7.8million) in revenue. It would not bring in a single dime if people did not wear fur coats. That money is a drop in the ocean to a big economy and it sickens me that Canada and its Prime Minister won't listen."

At the annual Juno awards in her native country earlier this month, she again urged Premier Harper to talk with her and fellow celebrity campaigners.

"I've learned that no matter how hard you're knocked back or how hard you're knocked down, the only thing you can do is bounce back and keep fighting. I intend to do just that. If people think I'm a dumb broad and a tame spokeswoman for a worthy cause, they've got me wrong.

"People had better take me seriously.

I won't stop fighting for what I believe in."