Pamela Anderson embraces new phase in life
Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on CNN.com providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.
(CNN) -- From "Baywatch" to Playboy, Pamela Anderson has gotten the kind of exposure most celebrities can only dream of. But the TV star has also battled demons in her personal life -- a potentially deadly disease, a child custody battle and troublesome romantic relationships.
She's taking on a new project, writing a column for Jane magazine called "Pam, Honestly." Her first column appears in the August issue.
In an interview Tuesday on CNN's "Larry King Live," Anderson said the column is her unedited "ramblings" about personal experiences. She also discussed some of her struggles and hopes for the future. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.
KING: Why are you going to [write the column for Jane]?
ANDERSON: Well, it kind of came out of I was upset a little bit about this article that came out. And so [editor Jane Pratt and I] were e-mailing each other back and forth, and she liked what we were saying. And ... she said, "What can I do to rectify this? We love you, everyone loves you, my readers love you." And I said, "You know what, I want my own column. I don't want to be taken out of context anymore."
KING: What did they write about you that ticked you off?
ANDERSON: Well, it just came off very harsh. It came off very harsh. It was about some of the custody things that were going on at the time.
KING: So, in your column -- is it your column? Are you answering letters?
ANDERSON: It's rambling. I'm rambling. It's my own words, and it's just -- we're talking about different subjects, and I'm just drawing from experience and personal history.
KING: A new phase of your life?
ANDERSON: I think so. This is definitely a new phase of my life. I'm going through a good, healthy transition.
KING: Did you want to be an actress?
ANDERSON: No, no, and I still don't. And I'm not an actress. I don't think I am an actress. I think I've created a brand and a business.
KING: What do you want to be when you grow up, Pam?
ANDERSON: I just keep saying I want to grow up and be a stripper. But that's probably not very good.
KING: You have a business though, right?
ANDERSON: Yes. I have a business that I've -- just exploiting a brand that I've created worldwide.
KING: I see. And that's your prime interest?
ANDERSON: And that is my prime interest -- besides my obviously dating Bob [musician Robert Ritchie, better known as Kid Rock].
KING: And we're going to get to motherhood. You never wanted to be an actress?
ANDERSON: No, I didn't.
KING: So the "Baywatch" thing was for laughs?
ANDERSON: Well, you know, it just fell into my lap really. It was a lot of hard work, and once I got into it, I liked really building a character and a persona. And I started having fun with it, and I realized this is really a business and the joke isn't on me anymore. The joke is kind of, ha-ha, on you. And that's how "VIP" came about, just poking fun at the image.
KING: How long were you on that show?
ANDERSON: I did five seasons of "Baywatch," and I did four seasons of "VIP." I've been around awhile.
'I'm still scared to death'
KING: How serious is [your relationship] with Kid Rock?
ANDERSON: I could say right now we're in the trenches, right. We're just working on things.
KING: You care for each other a lot?
ANDERSON: Oh, yes. We love each other very much. But it's a difficult life, a difficult life. And I want what's best for my kids. And he has a son.
KING: Did your first experience, maybe, with Tommy Lee scare you off others?
ANDERSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm still scared to death. Are you kidding? And I need to resolve a lot of issues with that, I think, before I can really move on and have another serious commitment.
KING: Why do you think, Pamela, you were -- tend to be and have been victimized?
ANDERSON: Well, you know, I grew up in a very -- in an alcoholic home, and there was violence in my household. And I think it's just my model of a relationship. And when I've gotten into any kind of relationships, it just seems to -- you re-create the pattern even though you say you're never, ever going to do that, you're never going to have the same relationship.
My poor mom is -- she's still with my father. My father is a great grandfather. He's a wonderful grandfather, but he's a terrible husband. And my mom still suffers because she's -- it is verbal abuse. It used to be physical abuse. And it's just sad to see.
I came from that, and I've just somehow been re-creating that in my life but to a lesser degree. I think I'm doing better. I think there are issues obviously I need to resolve in myself before I can, you know, move into a real healthy ...
KING: How many relationships have you been in, would you say, where you have been abused?
ANDERSON: Well, one -- well, I mean, a couple. My first relationship was very violent.
KING: Why don't -- men don't understand this, so I'm going to ask it simply. The first time you're struck, why aren't you gone?
ANDERSON: Well, I think the first thing you lose in an abusive relationship is your self-worth. And I think it is really difficult to leave a relationship when you feel like nothing and you've already been so belittled because it starts with verbal abuse. It starts with really demeaning somebody.
And by the time it gets to physical abuse, you really have no strength to leave. You feel like this is the only person that's going to be with you because they keep telling you that you're ugly, you're not -- you're stupid. You're all these different things.
KING: Yes, but you can't look in the mirror and believe that?
ANDERSON: Yes, you can. Of course you can.
The only person you want to be admired by really is the person that you're in love with. I mean, you want admiration from other people, but, you know, it is so important and so destructive when you lose your self-esteem.
I eventually have gotten out of it. I have gotten out of it.
KING: But it's not easy.
ANDERSON: It's not easy. No. The hardest thing I ever had to do was go through [what] I went through. What gave me the strength really is my children.
Dealing with disease
KING: OK: hepatitis C. When were you diagnosed -- how do you deal with it?
ANDERSON: How do you deal with it? Well, when I first was diagnosed, I thought obviously I was dying. When I first -- well, actually, my doctor told me, "You know this little glitch in your blood work? You have hepatitis C." And I said, "OK, how do I get rid of it?" And he said, "You can't."
KING: How long ago was this?
ANDERSON: Just over a year ago.
KING: What symptoms did you have?
ANDERSON: I didn't really have any symptoms. That's the whole problem.
KING: It was just a checkup?
ANDERSON: Yes, it was just a checkup, the regular checkup. And I had all my blood work done. It was, you know, for a movie. And you had to get checkups when you do movies for insurance reasons. And that's, I think, how it came about.
And then I started reading about it and realized that there's no cure and that, you know, there's liver transplants, liver cancer, psoriasis, all this kind of stuff going on and it just scared me. I thought -- you start facing your own mortality, you start realizing that you might die. Now I realize that there's actually a cure for it.
KING: Which is?
ANDERSON: Interferon with these other [drugs] ...
KING: That's a tough drug, though -- side effects.
ANDERSON: There's lots of side effects. And I'm thinking of doing it in December. It's going to be a year of basically having the flu. Your hair falls out. It's a little kind of chemotherapy kind of -- throwing up.
KING: You've got to do it though.
ANDERSON: I want to do it for my kids because I don't want to die basically.
But I did have a liver biopsy. And a liver is rated from zero to four. Four is cirrhosis, cancer, you know, and liver transplant. My liver is -- and a healthy liver is zero. So I'm a one.
And they said it's a miracle that my liver is as healthy as it is. And they said keep doing what you're doing, you're taking good care of yourself. And I'm vegetarian. I look after myself. I don't drink that much. And definitely now my doctor said, "No drinking at all, as your doctor; but as your friend, you can have a glass of red wine every once in a while."
KING: Do you know what caused it?
ANDERSON: I do know what caused it. I know that when my doctor told me that when I was first married that we had a full physical -- Tommy and I had a physical when we came back from Cancun after we were married. And he had told Tommy that he has hepatitis C, and he has to disclose this to me. You know, it's the only thing he should do.
KING: He never told you?
ANDERSON: And he never told me, even though he told the doctor that he did tell me.
Then the only thing I can think of is when we shared a needle getting a tattoo. And then when I came back from there a while ago I talked to my doctor and my doctor said, "Well, you have this in your blood work, and you know how you got it."
And I said, no. And he goes, "Well, your husband didn't tell you that he has hepatitis C?" And I said, "No, he didn't tell me that." And he said, "Well, he told me that he told you that." So he felt like he could talk to me about it. And I said, "No, he never said it." So he never told me.
So that's how he believed that I got hepatitis C.
KING: Did you confront Tommy Lee about why he did not tell you?
KING: And what did he say?
ANDERSON: "I don't have it." He was in denial about it, even though my doctor tells me he does have it, and he has told people when we had our evaluation done, that he does have it. But it's just a public perception thing.
KING: So he's not being treated?
ANDERSON: No, he will not admit that he even has it hardly.
It's just -- you have to be treated. And the reason you have to be treated, or the reason you should be tested if you think you fall into any of the categories, any of the reasons you can get it, is because we want to stop the spread of the disease because there are simple things you can do: You don't share razors; you don't share toothbrushes; you don't share needles obviously.
KING: Are you writing about this?
ANDERSON: Yes, we're writing about all this. And there are simple ways that you cannot infect other people. And people that are living in denial about it or are not willing to get tested are spreading the disease. And it's just one in four -- one in 20 Americans have hepatitis C that we know about.
KING: Do you worry about future children?
ANDERSON: Yes, I do, and that's why I want to make sure that I've, you know, I've taken care of -- I'm going to go through the treatment.
You know who I actually saw on your show was Naomi Judd. And I called Naomi and I talked to her, and she's a wonderful mentor for me, and she's been wonderful.
She's a great lady. She's got a great heart, and she's been really helpful, and she's like, I can fight this now, and I'll win and I won't have it anymore, and then I'll think of other children. But I really do believe that it's not going to take me down. I'm too healthy.
KING: The interferon starts when?
ANDERSON: I think I'm going to start in December.
KING: Why not tomorrow?
ANDERSON: Well, right now, I mean, I'm at home with my kids, and I'm just me. I don't have a nanny. I don't have any help in my home. And I like to just be hands-on with my kids. And this is going to be a real blow. I need to really set up my life so I have help and, you know, when they're back in school, it's over the summer.
And I just want to figure out a way to make it easy on everybody. But I have to -- it takes planning. It takes planning.
KING: By the way, there is -- if you want information and a free test of hepatitis, whether you might have it, call 1-888-4HEPUSA. That's [1-888-443-7872]. Pamela is involved with that group, right?
Are you [a role model]?
ANDERSON: Well, I think unfortunately celebrities get thrown into role model situations, and you think about marriage, how marriage is 58 percent divorce rate right now, and we don't really have a lot of good family role models anymore. I think that's what's most important is our family and our parenting skills and keeping our families together.
That's where all of our problems start, and that's where all the solutions start, too. And I think when you're looking at a celebrity couple, when you're at -- I mean, it's even higher divorce rate, when it comes to high-profile people, because it's who knows, getting married for the wrong reasons, whatever it is.
So I feel like I can be a good role model as a mother because I love being a mom and I have great advice for everybody when it comes to mothering. I have terrible advice for relationships. I can't follow that myself.
But being a role model in that I'm a free spirit, and that I've done what I've wanted. I'm self-made. I've created my own career in my life, and I've had a lot of fun doing it. I think that's good.
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