Pamela Anderson: ‘I collect pop artists and they collect me’
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
I’m lucky to have a lot of good friends who are artists, and I have works by Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, David LaChapelle… I don’t have any pieces by Jeff Koons, but he is always putting me in his work. I remember meeting his mother at Art Basel in Switzerland and her walking me around his works saying, “This is your arm, this is your breast, this is your hair.” And I was like, “Wow, I didn’t realise Jeff was using me in his artwork.”
Ed Ruscha drew a picture of me and it was just the word Pamela in capitals zooming out of the window, because he says I’m always going way too fast. I also have a Me...You by Ed, and he collects photos of me in hot shorts. Richard Prince used to come to my house and we would walk down the beach holding hands. He’d be in white Speedos and everybody thought it was my crazy uncle or something. There’s lots of 8x10 photos that he’s done of me. He also did the Instagram post with me with the hat on, which was one of the first ones he did like that, and it’s blown up huge. I have a Show Girl Nurse picture from his Nurses series.
So you could say that while I collect pop art, pop artists also collect me. Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Jeff Koons –that’s good company. And David LaChapelle and Sante D’Orazio. They tell me that every time I walk out the door it’s performance art. You know, they kind of look at me as a living work of pop art, which is a great compliment. I’ve been asked if I think of the Playboy covers I did as pop art, and looking back, yeah, I think so.
Pop art is fearless and authentic. I can have long conversations about it until the sun comes up and always say that artists are the freedom fighters of the world. Vivienne Westwood is a very close friend of mine and a great mentor to me, but she doesn’t really believe in pop art, she’s more of a traditionalist. She doesn’t think that pop art is anything important – we’ve had that argument before. I think everyone has a right to their opinion, but I think artists have a responsibility to talk about the state of the world. They can’t care what people think. There’s all this politically correct stuff we have to dance around these days, and it’s really refreshing to have people who’ll speak out. It’s about having a sense of humour too – just recently someone sent me a picture with the words: “Pamdemic… you can’t flatten her curve.”
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, who was really into mythology and fairytales, and I think that’s where my interest in art started – just fantasy and not knowing where your life ends and your dreams begin. He taught me a lot and I started reading very young: Carl Jung, The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, Robert Bly. I was really into that, and so when I came to LA on my first plane ride and I landed on Gay Pride day I ended up at the Playboy mansion as this kind of open person, who was really full of fairytales and imagination. And everything just played into that. I loved art and I loved what I was seeing; it felt like a big movie. Still does. There were Salvador Dalís in the Playboy mansion and I remember Hefner saying I was the only Playmate who knew what a Salvador Dalí was.
I don’t buy art as an investment. All my art is displayed. I really believe in sharing it. I have friends obviously who are, how do you say, gamblers or people that look at art as more of an investment and they obviously manipulate the market a little bit when they go to these charity functions and they’re auctioning off art – they’re actually upping the price because they have a big collection at home. It is a little corrupt, I guess. But like everything else, I don’t know, it’s just part of living a sexy life. It’s a little bit Wild Westy.
I’d like to own a Warhol, maybe an Electric Chair, and maybe an Old Master, but I’m not a Rothschild. Ha! But really I have everything I want. I love that my children like art too. My grown-up son Brandon just bought a very big Ruscha and put all the money he made through films into one work of art and I thought, “Wow, that is just cool, that is a real big statement.” If your kids are romantic they love art, and for me that is success because that means they are brave, they are interesting and they are not following the herd. So I’m really happy with that.
Pamela Anderson is creative director of the social-media webcamming site Jasmin.