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Remembrance of Things Fast

August 29, 2004|MARK EDWARD HARRIS

It took Marcel Proust more than a decade and seven volumes to scandalize the late Victorians with the decadent amours of fictional jaded aristocrats thinly based on real jaded aristocrats, but Proust never went to Hollywood. Pamela Anderson--Playboy centerfold, "Baywatch" actress and consort of raucous rockers--joins the ranks of Proust, Truman Capote and Jackie Collins with "Star," in which a small-town girl barely off the plane at LAX becomes a centerfold, swimsuit-clad TV star and consort of raucous rockers--in 294 steamy pages. Anderson, who worked on "Star" with "ghostwriter" Eric Shaw Quinn, promises a second volume, which sounds downright Proustian. On the other hand, Proust didn't open his saga with the dedication "You're so vain, you probably think this book is about you." We spoke with the author in Century City after a signing at Brentano's.

How much of "Star" is you?

That's probably the charm of the book, what is truth and what is fiction. It's nice to write a novel instead of a boring biography like everybody else.

Many events and characters in "Star" resemble circumstances in your own life. The hedonistic life at "the Castle" sounds a lot like the Playboy Mansion.

I think people can figure that one out. It's my life thinly disguised.

Readers may be surprised at the novel's slapstick humor. Tell us about your sense of humor.

I don't have much sense of humor after this book tour. I think it's better to make fun of yourself before anyone else can.

Dishing the dirt on real people has made more than one writer into a social pariah. Are you afraid you may never eat lunch in this town again?

I make them all look good, so nobody will feel bad about this. It's fiction, it's made up. It's composed of different people I've met along the way.

What was the division of labor with your ghostwriter?

These are my stories. It's all my voice. Quinn helped put it together and structure the book. I can write columns and things, but a book is a different animal. He was wonderful and funny and silly. We were falling off our chairs laughing. It took less than a year. It was the most fun, most natural experience I've had in this business.

By the end of the book, your character is showing a penchant for "bad boys." How do you tell the bad men from the good guys?

You can't! They're all bad in good ways and good in bad ways.

Say you go to a Hollywood party and every guy you meet is a "producer."

They're probably lying. That's the thing.

Your main character has breast augmentation, a procedure that continues to be controversial. What would you advise a girl like her today?

Live your life, do what you want to do and make your own choices. It's not rocket science. Life doesn't have to be difficult.

You were mentioned this summer as giving a leg up to an Olympic gymnast.

I was a gymnast and volleyball player growing up. I met Mohini Bhardwaj through a girl at my son's school. [Bhardwaj] was trying to hold a job and train 42 hours a week. At 25, she's 10 years older than the average Olympic gymnast. She's an incredible gymnast. I wrote a check from my account. I said, "I'll pay your bills, you do gymnastics." She not only made the team, they made her team captain.

Would you call yourself a feminist?

Absolutely. It's empowering writing, doing the things I've done. That's for sure.

If you could start over, what would you do differently?

I would definitely not want to do it all over again. This is a good time for me.

Do people underestimate you?

It's fun to have no expectations, because when you have nothing to live up to and you can form a full sentence, you're a genius.

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