No, you haven’t stepped into a wormhole back in time to 1999. Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee have returned to the mainstream media—or their story has, at least.
Canadian model Anderson’s career started at Playboy in the early ’90s. Shortly after, she began appearing in TV sitcoms like Home Improvement. By 1992, she cemented her star status with her iconic Baywatch role.
Anderson’s wild child partner and father to her two sons, Tommy Lee, is a founding member of Mötley Crue. The heavy metal band released their debut album in 1981 and have stayed in the realm of other rock giants ever since.
Around 1997, though, we came to know this infamous duo for another reason. Amid a turbulent marriage, the couple’s private sex tape was leaked to the internet.
Hulu’s new miniseries Pam & Tommy looks back on the couple’s tumultuous history. In honor of the show and the cringe-fest that was Y2K, we revisit Pam & Tommy’s wildest looks of the late ‘90s and early 2000s.
Ready to bring back some repressed memories?
1996: Velour And Glitter
Ah, the look of young love: eggplant velour and glitter platforms. Anderson and Lee attended the 23rd annual American Music Awards shortly after they married. Oh, and they got married shortly after they met—about 96 hours later.
This is how we all came to know and love Pam & Tommy. Why is Tommy wearing an eggplant velour shirt with leather pants? I suppose for the same reason Pam has Baby Spice-level platforms on: it was 1996.
As for the sunglasses forehead feature and teensy, tiny line of facial hair? Well, that’s timelessly Tommy.
1997: No Hat Is Too Big, Apparently
One year later, they were back at the same event with a different look. By this point, the couple knew their sex tape had been stolen. However, nothing was out in the open just yet.
An online porn site that obtained the tape aired the video on a loop in November 1997. But at the time of this picture, that was still months away. There were still many large hats to wear—the largest, apparently.
The rowdy couple graced the AMA with comically large hats, leather pants (obviously), and fuzzy fur coats (sans shirt). Sex tapes be damned; I want to know how the people sitting behind Anderson fared that night.
1999: Leather, Expanded
The year was 1999, Y2K was fast approaching, and Pam & Tommy were still the world’s favorite couple to judge. Anderson and Lee were at the peak of their careers. So, their relationship was naturally front and center as well.
And when you’re front and center, you have to put your best face forward. For Tommy, that meant upgrading his leather pants to leather overalls. Also, did anyone else forget how much of Tommy Lee’s nipples we had to see in the late ‘90s?
Anderson looked blonde, buxom, and beautiful—her usual. Still, even she couldn’t escape the Y2K-ness of pencil-thin brows and frosted lips.
1999: The Return Of The Statement Hat
Later that year, the couple attended the MTV Music Video Music Awards. Honestly, Anderson’s bottom half slayed. The white corset and sparkly skirt combo look like a Wild West burlesque masterpiece—but the hats. Why is it always the hats?
This time, Anderson’s hat is smaller yet louder. It looks eerily similar to the ones you could buy with 10,000 tickets from your local arcade. Lee, meanwhile, arrived in a baggy trench coat, belt loosely tied, absolutely zero f@$%s given.
At the very least, his rubber banded braids add a pop of color to his ecru ensemble. So, there’s that.
2003: Beauty And The Beastly
We end our trip down Mötley memory lane with the 2003 premiere of Scary Movie 3. (Yes, that means the third installment of this franchise was released 19 years ago. I’m fine, you’re fine, we’re all fine.)
Again, Anderson looks like a bombshell. Her style might be vampy, but it’s polished. Lee, however? I truly don’t know where to begin. If his MO was to try to make his date look better, he succeeded.
Lee’s outfit screams 2003 in a way that only silky striped shirts, baggy trousers, wallet chains, and pointed-toe boots can. I would argue this isn’t even the loudest of Lee’s outfits.
Ultimately, Pam & Tommy were victims of their time. Their wild antics made excellent tabloid fodder. Combined with Y2K’s rampant sex-shaming, those antics made it easy to forget that the sex tape leak was illegal and non-consensual.
The love story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee is certainly historic. Its longevity is confirmed by the fact that we’re still talking about that infamous sex tape almost three decades later.
Hopefully, hindsight can help us illuminate the story’s threads of non-consensual exploitation, misogyny, and hypersexualization. But as for those damned big hats, well, there’s no defending those.