From ex-Prince protégé to sexy supermodel, Carmen Electra is a modern icon. In this exclusive interview, Carmen Electra talks about her failed marriage, tabloid journalism, being sexy, and her new movie, Scary Movie, in which she spoofs her sexy image. Paul Fischer reports from Los Angeles.
The opening sequence of the Wayan Brothers' horror spoof, Scary Movie, features ex-Baywatch star Carmen Electra taking of her clothes while running from a psycho killer. It is one of those definable images, as Electra's lush physicality is so perfectly satirised. The actress loved every minute of it. "I loved making fun of everything in this movie, including myself. And that's the cool thing, because I am a silly person, I joke a lot and I'm very light hearted, so I was able to go into this, saying that I'm going to show the world that I have a sense of humour, that I'm not this rigid person and I'm not so worried about my image and what people think." Electra was born in a small town in Ohio, began life with a passion for dance, she recalls, and is happy to admit that "I've never been afraid of my sexuality. As a dancer, I'm used to showing my body and I'm not ashamed of that. Everyone says that in Europe it's so much more open, it's not such a big deal as it is here." In Scary Movie, director and comic Keenen Ivory Wayans takes aim at slasher films of the 1980s and 1990s in this satire, which was originally entitled Scream If You Know What I Did Last Halloween. As Scary Movie parodies horror, Electra recalls the first movie that scared her. "The first movie that ever scared me was The Exorcist. I remember sitting in front of the television with my mother, curled up on the couch, watching that movie and once that movie was over, I could not sleep in the bed alone; I had to sleep with my mum after that because I was so petrified. Even to this day, I can't watch it." When watching a film like that, Electra adds that the effect of seeing a film such as Exorcist. was through nightmares, "but I think the worst part was not being able to sleep in my room. I really couldn't. I tried, I'd have the lights on, and I would lay in the bed, then try to go to sleep, and I couldn't, so then I'd have to beg my mum to sleep in her bed which probably annoyed her, but she was cool and let me sleep in there." These days, her fears are more tangible: The dreaded tabloid media. Last year, her ill-fated marriage to bad boy Dennis Rodman became fodder for the American tabloids, though recalling that period she remains philosophical. "Honestly, in the beginning, it was really tough. Coming from Cincinnati, Ohio, I was just a girl who had a dream, which was to go to Los Angeles, have a career and to be able to support my family. To have a dream like that and, you know, you're not ready for what's coming ahead," she recalls. I think that's just a part of being famous, and something you learn to accept." Recalling her marriage to Rodman, it came about at a low point in her life, Electra says. "I had a really tough year. My mum had died of cancer, and during that time, Dennis Rodman was a friend of mine, who was really there for me throughout this hard time in my life. We fell in love and so I always had this connection to him because I just remember him being there and that connection with my mother, who's not there any more. I knew that Dennis was a controversial person and I KNEW he was a bad boy, but I went for it anyway."
The now 28-year old Electra says that she "got sucked into the whirlwind of tabloids and all that drama, which I'd never known that before. I'd worked on Baywatch and MTV, and I'd see tiny things in tabloids, but it was never a big deal, now all of a sudden I'm in love with this person and I'M sucked into it. It was really hard and sometimes I felt a little hurt and it was like: What they're saying is not true, and that was the hardest part."
Things changed following an episode of Oprah. "She said: In order to heal, you have to feel. I realised that I wasn't feeling the loss of my mother; I put up this wall and became really numb because that was the easiest thing to do. I surrounded myself with people, constantly, and Dennis was a great distraction because it was fun, exciting, crazy, and I had to cut everyone off and out of my life for a while, step back and feel the pain and loss of her and that was my first step in healing and realising: You know, it's ok, I'm famous, people are going to talk and I'd rather be looked over than overlooked and that's the way I look at it."