United Kingdom

Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee and what they told me about THAT sex tape, writes CAROLINE GRAHAM

The madness began the moment we touched down. The Heathrow arrivals hall swarmed with photographers, some trading punches for the best shot. A two-deep ring of police officers had to force a path through the jostling crowd to a waiting limousine.

Cameramen on bikes chased us down the motorway to Central London before, finally, we swooped into the secret underground entrance of an exclusive £1,000-a-night hotel.

Pamela Anderson and rock-star husband Tommy Lee had landed. London was going wild. And I was by their side for one of the most extraordinary weeks of my life.

At the time – December 1995 – Baywatch was the most popular television programme on the planet, with Pam approaching the very peak of her fame.

A softly spoken girl from a sleepy coastal town in Canada, she had become an international sex symbol thanks largely to double-D breast implants and lingering shots of her jiggling along the beach, squeezed into the famous red swimsuit.

Yet, despite the crowds of adoring fans, there was a shadow hanging over the newlyweds when they flew in to London for that first Christmas together. 

Pamela Anderson and rock-star husband Tommy Lee landed at Heathrow in December 1995. London was going wild. And I was by their side for one of the most extraordinary weeks of my life, writes Caroline Graham (pictured at the time with the couple)

A softly spoken girl from a sleepy coastal town in Canada, Pam had become an international sex symbol thanks largely to double-D breast implants and lingering shots of her jiggling along the beach, squeezed into the famous red swimsuit (above, in Baywatch)

If the ever-present paparazzi had helped make them famous, now Pam and Tommy were starting to feel like fugitives. Worse, they knew a private sex tape had been stolen from their home and circulated.

It's a scandal which would take them beyond mere fame to global notoriety.

And it's the drama at the heart of the new £20 million mini-series, Pam & Tommy, starring Lily James as Pamela alongside American actor Sebastian Stan.

The eight-part show covers the couple's whirlwind four-day romance, which began when Tommy licked Pam's face in a club and concluded when they married on a beach in Cancun, Mexico, the bride resplendent in a white bikini.

Above, Pamela with a Beefeater during her trip to London. With her platinum-blonde hair and penchant for tight latex dresses, she always drew attention

If the ever-present paparazzi had helped make them famous, now Pam and Tommy were starting to feel like fugitives. Worse, they knew a private sex tape had been stolen from their home and circulated. (Above, the couple in Las Vegas in 1995)

Their frenzied jet-setting, including the trip to London, will feature. And so will the strange back story of how an intimate 54-minute video shot by Tommy on their honeymoon was put online for the world to see.

They are not recollections that Pam, now on husband No 5, wishes to dwell upon.

Last week the 53-year-old sniffed that she had no plans to watch the mini-series, reportedly dismissing it as 'a cheap knock-off'. She added she had 'never heard' of Lily James or Sebastian Stan 'and doesn't care to know them'.

But I can't wait to tune in when it is broadcast later this year, if only to find out if Hollywood's take on Pam and Tommy comes anywhere close to the madness I remember. 

I got to know them well, both in Los Angeles, where I was posted, and when I accompanied them on that week-long trip to London. 

And while I've witnessed more than my fair share of celebrity shenanigans in three decades covering Hollywood, nothing stays with me more vividly than finding myself caught up in the Pam and Tommy circus. I liked them both. A lot.

The sex tape scandal would take Pam and Tommy beyond mere fame to global notoriety. And it's the drama at the heart of the new £20 million mini-series, Pam & Tommy, starring Lily James (above) as Pamela alongside American actor Sebastian Stan

I met Pam in 1990 at a party at the Playboy Mansion to celebrate her being named Playmate of the Month. She holds the record for being on the cover of the magazine 14 times. I went out of curiosity more than anything. I wanted to see what Hugh Hefner was like. (The answer was small, wrinkled and old).

But even on a patio filled with beautiful, busty girls from all over America, Pamela Anderson stood out. Luminously pretty, she was also whip-smart and funny.

Her favourite quote was always: 'It's great to be blonde. With low expectations it's very easy to surprise people.' At that stage, few had heard of Tommy Lee, tattooed drummer for rock group Motley Crue. In America he was mostly known for his first marriage to Dynasty actress Heather Locklear.

Pam and Tommy made that video on their honeymoon aboard a boat on Lake Mead in California. I talked to them days after they returned. 'Oh, it was great fun, just us on a boat,' Pam said, giggling. 'We were naked most of the time.'

Much of the tape is the couple larking about. Of the 54 minutes, just eight minutes showed them having sex. Pam later told me: 'We made it for ourselves. We got home and put it in the safe. It wasn't something we discussed with anyone. It was just for fun, for us.'

Over the years, many have suggested the couple were complicit in leaking it for commercial gain – the sort of thing Kim Kardashian is said to have done decades later.

But, privately, Pam was devastated, as she told me that Christmas. She was 'heartbroken' and 'embarrassed'. Tommy was furious. Already pregnant with their first child, Pam said: 'I don't ever want our kids to see it. Why would anyone ever willingly release something like that?'

The trip to London came about because they were having building work done on their three-storey Spanish-style mansion in Malibu and they needed a break.

They wanted to spend their first Christmas together 'somewhere with snow'. So, agreeing to do an interview with me, they stopped off in London before a romantic trip to Scotland.

Part of their 'brand' was an unashamedly frank attitude towards sex, still something of a novelty in the early 90s. They talked about their love life in every TV interview. Tommy boasted about having the name 'Pamela' tattooed on his genitals.

They let it be known their house was a 'fantasy love nest' complete with a 'sex swing' in the living room, a shark tank in the kitchen and a disco in the cellar called Club Mayhem.

They were clearly obsessed with each other. As Tommy put it: 'I just want to make love to my wife all day long. What's wrong with that?'

He proved the point on the flight from LA to London. After take-off they left their seats in First Class and headed for the loo. Returning a short time later, Tommy proudly told the stewardess: 'We just joined the Mile High Club.'

The stewardess went back to the galley where laughter rang out as she told her fellow crew members. Then she returned with celebratory champagne.

At the Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner, Pam was delighted to find the suite came with a 24-hour butler who proceeded to unpack and iron their clothes and drew her a bath while I headed downstairs for a drink with Tommy – the only guest that night sporting huge tattoos and skin-tight leather trousers.

At the Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner, Pam was delighted to find the suite came with a 24-hour butler who proceeded to unpack and iron their clothes and drew her a bath while I headed downstairs for a drink with Tommy – the only guest that night sporting huge tattoos and skin-tight leather trousers

When he ordered two glasses of cognac at dinner, the first cost £250 and the second £425. 'Mr Lee has a very discerning palate,' the waiter said when the bill arrived. My jaw dropped. I was paying.

Paparazzi camped outside the Lanesborough around the clock, so the couple created a diversion by hiring a black limousine, complete with driver, to wait by the main entrance every day.

Each morning, Pam and Tommy would take a lift down to the kitchen, walk past the cooks and straight into the garage.

Meanwhile, the hotel manager arranged for a member of staff to hail a black cab which would then drive down to where the couple were waiting – free to explore London as discreetly as they chose.

Or not. With her platinum-blonde hair and penchant for tight latex dresses, Pam always drew attention. Outside Buckingham Palace, a large crowd formed so quickly that police officers on duty had to step in.

When the then-owner of Harrods, Mohamed Al Fayed, heard the couple were in town, he offered to open the store after hours. He greeted them at the door and told Pam she could choose anything she wanted. 

She headed for the children's department, picked out some clothes and toys for her new baby and then to the food section to buy tins of shortbread as gifts for her family in Canada. At heart, she was still a polite girl from Ladysmith, British Colombia.

When I asked why she didn't head straight for the jewellery department, she looked aghast.

'Why would I? It's so nice of Mr Fayed to be so generous,' she said. 'I'm not greedy.'

The couple's love-making was noisy and incessant. (I had the bad luck to have the room next door.) And so was the rowing.

Less than a year after their Cancun wedding, the cracks were starting to show.

Pam was already talking about 'nesting' and drank only mint tea. The couple's first son Brandon was born the following June.

But Tommy, while clearly devoted to his new bride, wanted to continue with his hedonistic fun.

A visit to Tramp nightclub ended early because Pam was tired and wanted to go back to the hotel. When, back at the hotel, Tommy grabbed her hand and tried to lead her towards the bedroom, she sighed: 'Again, Tommy?'

I remember him describing their level of fame as simply 'beyond', but they had little idea of what was coming next.

Later, it would transpire that some of the builders working on the couple's home had been fired after being accused of shoddy work.

One of them, an electrician named Rand Gauthier (played by comedian Seth Rogan in the new series), came back to get the money he claimed he was owed. It is claimed that Tommy Lee's answer was to wave a shotgun and order him to leave the property.

Gauthier 'got mad', as he told Rolling Stone magazine, and vowed to steal a safe tucked away in the garage, believing it contained jewellery and cash. He'd then eluded security cameras by throwing a white Tibetan yak fur rug over his back and crawling along the ground to look like one of the dogs the couple owned.

He swore he had no idea the sex tape was in the safe.

But by the time the couple got back to LA after the London trip, bootleg copies of the video were already doing the rounds. Before long, it was being posted on the internet, then still in its infancy.

Pam was devastated and hired lawyers who filed civil lawsuits against everyone she believed was involved in the theft. She filed a police report but no criminal charges were ever brought.

'There was no way to control it,' said one of her friends. 'It was all over the internet. It was the first sex tape to go viral.

'Who knows how much money it made? Back then the internet was the Wild West.

Today, Pam (left, in 2019) is a campaigner for animal rights charities. She still has a home in LA, but prefers to spend her time in Canada with her fifth husband – one of her former bodyguards – in a home which had belonged to her grandparents. Tommy Lee (right, in 2019) is now 58, sober and married to his fourth wife

'The sex tape changed Hollywood. Celebrities realised it was better to release videos themselves rather than risk them being released illegally on the internet and not making anything.' Tommy was beside himself with anger. But he also told me he was baffled.

'I don't know what's so interesting about watching a married couple f***,' he said. 'I'm not the President. We were on vacation doing something the rest of the world does, filming each other goofing around naked. It's no big deal.'

By some estimates the tape could have made as much as £55 million.

In 2002, a judge ordered one of the video companies to pay the couple more than £700,000 in damages but they never got a penny after the company went bust.

Pam and Tommy had a second son, Dylan, in 1997 but divorced the following year after Tommy was jailed for assaulting her during a row over a cooking pot.

They briefly reconciled in 2008 but split for good in 2010.

Lily James may have nailed Pam's iconic look, but will the film-maker capture the frenzied 1990s, where fame was raw and uncontrollable – always ready to disintegrate into alcohol, violence or disgrace, and often all three?

Pam and Tommy lived their lives as real, old-fashioned stars, a world away from the carefully composed 'narratives' of modern social media.

Today, Pam is a campaigner for animal rights charities. She still has a home in LA, but prefers to spend her time in Canada with her fifth husband – one of her former bodyguards – in a home which had belonged to her grandparents.

In January, she closed down her social media accounts, writing: 'I'm settled into the life I'm genuinely inspired by, reading and being in nature. I am free.'

Tommy Lee is now 58, sober and married to his fourth wife.

It's a miracle they've survived.

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