Books — Star

Wicked little playmate

Surprise! Pamela Anderson’s book is actually funny!

 

By Michelle Saturley [listings@hippopress.com]

 

Star, by Pamela Anderson, Atria, 2004, 304 pages.

 
She’s been a playmate, a TV actress, a sex icon, an animal rights activist and Kid Rock’s personal pole dancer, and she’s redefined the term “home video.” Some feminists might even say she’s set the women’s movement back 50 years. Now, Pamela Anderson has become a published author with her new novel, Star. It makes sense, considering that her personal life has generated more ink than the last re-issue of War and Peace. Anderson, who writes a column for Jane magazine and keeps an amusing blog on her web site, has graduated from dilettante to full-fledged novelist with this new outing. And as much as it pains me to say this, the book is pretty darn good.

Anderson appears naked on the cover of the book, which seems fitting, not only because she’s spent most of her adult life in that condition but also because the book itself is a barely-clothed fictional account of the ascension of a young starlet. With the help of a ghostwriter, Anderson has lifted elements from her own rise to fame, and manages to create a clever, sexy, slightly trashy story.

The heroine of the book, Star Wood Leigh, is obviously Anderson herself: a small-town girl from a humble but loving family who attends a football game one fateful night and creates quite a ruckus when her face and ample assets are broadcast on the stadium’s Jumbotron. Soon, Pam—er, I mean Star—finds herself in Los Angeles, posing for the cover of one of the biggest men’s magazines in the world. Once there, she is serially pursued and seduced by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars—and biggest jerks. But somehow, Star never loses her sense of optimism or joy.

This is basically a “fish out of water” story about how a naïve girl with a big heart survives in the cold, hard city. What makes it work is Anderson’s straight-up storytelling and a gift for natural, snappy dialogue. The character of Star, and her friends along the way, are believable because Anderson has obviously modeled them on real people. The old adage of “write what you know” pays off here. You find yourself rooting for Star as she struggles to keep her small-town identity in a lecherous Hollywood climate. You might even worry for her more than a little as she makes one wretched man choice after another.

Because the story is so heavily autobiographical, I found myself wondering if certain elements in the story are true. Was Anderson—like Star—molested at age 12 by a friend’s stepfather? And was Scott Baio—whom the character Vince Piccolo is so obviously based on—really that bad in bed? Is the Playboy Mansion really an orgy-fest every night? Inquiring minds want to know. And that’s half the fun of Star—it’s part novel, part tabloid fodder.

The book concludes as Star finally agrees to go on a date with a certain bad-boy rock musician, much to the chagrin of her best friend. We already know how that story ends for Anderson in real life, but I’m still hoping for a sequel anyway.

Star is a fun, dishy read that’s perfect for an end-of-summer trip to the beach or a vacation. At the book’s end, you’ll feel like you’ve just finished a long gossip session with a girlfriend.

—Michelle Saturley

 
2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH