When Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee first met on New Year’s Eve 1994 at Hollywood’s Sanctuary club, there were more than sparks — there was an insatiable lust for one another. “He came up, grabbed me and licked my face,” she told Movieline in 1995. “I thought he was a cool, friendly, nice guy. I gave him my number.”

While she was initially turned off by his diehard pursuit, she eventually gave in and they chatted on the phone just as Anderson was about to head to Cancun for a photo shoot. He followed her down there and their official second meet-up was in Mexico, six weeks after their first encounter. They indulged in the revelry of the party scene and 96 hours later, the Playboy Playmate and Mötley Crüe drummer were married — with tattoos of each other’s names on their ring fingers.

It was a shocking commitment for the model turned Baywatch and Home Improvement actress, known as one of the ultimate pinup girls, and the rocker who was famous for “bingeing on groupies, drugging heroically and swallowing small light bulbs for kicks,” as the New York Post described him.

That dramatic intensity that kicked off their romance has followed them through extreme highs and lows over the years. Anderson is now on her fifth marriage, having tied the knot with bodyguard Dan Hayhurst on Christmas 2020, while Lee is on his fourth to social media celebrity Brittany Furlan, marrying her on Valentine’s Day 2019, but the public intrigued over their relationship has never waned.

They first married in a barefoot beach ceremony in Cancun

Though Lee technically crashed Anderson's work trip in Cancun, they were seen drinking Cristal champagne and attending a Friday night string bikini contest. Then one night Lee “just proposed! He just said, ‘I want to marry you!’” Marcos Corminas, the then-manager of Tequila Rock club where the new couple hung out, told People in 1995.

They wasted no time and celebrated their nuptials the very next day. The impromptu beach ceremony on February 19, 1995, included just eight guests, all of who were barefoot, while the bride wore a white bikini and the groom wore khaki cutoffs. “The wedding was very informal, very spontaneous,” Corminas added.

Right after they were officially Mr. and Mrs., Lee threw Anderson into the Caribbean waters. But that simple splash was just a preview of what was to come.

An electrician stole the famous sex tape

The newlyweds soon settled in Malibu in what Rolling Stone called a “fantasy life,” which regularly included martinis and joints before noon. Electrician Rand Gauthier was working on-site, witnessing it all — but also falling prey to the couple’s demands until they suddenly fired him and refused to make $20,000 in payments, the magazine reported.

Gauthier went back to get his tools and was shocked to be confronted with Lee holding a shotgun and yelling to get off his property. Angered by the violent threat, Gauthier plotted a 3 a.m. burglary to steal a safe from the couple’s garage that contained Lee’s guns, Anderson’s jewelry — and, what he didn’t realize at the time, a homemade tape that the music magazine calls “the most infamous stolen celebrity artifact on the planet, with a wink usually accompanying the word ‘stolen.’”

With each of their sexualized reputations, the public was thoroughly intrigued over the existence of the 54-minute video of the couple’s most intimate moments. While it was billed as a “sex tape,” Anderson clarified in 2020 on Watch What Happens Life with Andy Cohen, “That was not a sex tape. That was a compilation of vacations that we were naked on.” Personal polaroids also were published in European editions of Penthouse in 1995.

In many ways, the images showed a married couple in love, unaware that the world would ever see the footage.

tommy lee and pamela anderson at the mtv video music awards on september 9, 1999, in new york city
Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 9, 1999, in New York City
Getty Images

Their relationship was full of ups and downs

Of course, their relationship wasn’t exactly typical. “Tommy will have his friends over and I’ll get them to wear my rubber dresses,” Anderson said, according to the New York Post. “They were kickboxing in my bikinis once. When I bring a present home for Tommy, he’ll open the box and see that it contains high heels, size 10½, men’s [which he’ll put on]… if Tommy is in a bad mood, I go upstairs and come down wearing this 3-foot-high Mad Hatter hat. He looks at me and cracks up — because that is all I’ve got on.”

But they also dealt with relatable heartbreak, like a 1995 miscarriage. Rumors also floated around about the celebrity couple, especially about Lee keeping a tight grip on Anderson in particular when she worked on 1995’s Barb Wire.

The time was also filled with joy, as they welcomed sons Brandon Thomas Lee in 1995 and Dylan Jagger Lee in 1997 — both born at home.

The time was marred by the widespread distribution of their video in a legal dispute that started in 1997 when Internet Entertainment Group started distributing downloadable copies of the video despite an injunction. (They eventually won the case in 2002.)

Lee went to jail for domestic abuse

It was all too much for Lee, who couldn’t handle the lack of attention he was getting from Anderson because of their own kids. “When Dylan was born, I dropped down to No. 3,” he said, according to the Post. “Now I was full-on nonexistent. And I couldn’t deal with that.”

In February 1998, Lee allegedly attacked Anderson while she was holding 7-week-old Dylan, kicking her backside, leaving her with a broken nail and red marks. She called the cops and filed for divorce days later, putting the three-year marriage to an end. And in May of that year, Lee was handcuffed and sent to jail for six months for felony spousal abuse.

Anderson saw it as a step forward. “I’m very proud of Tommy,” she said outside the Malibu Municipal Courthouse at the time. “I’m happy he took responsibility for this. And I think it’s the first step towards healing.”

In 2018, Anderson called Lee the 'definition of narcissist/sociopath'

A decade later in 2008, the two found their way back to one another. “We’ve only given it a try 800 times — 801, here we go,” Lee told Rolling Stone at the time. “Pamela and the kids have moved in with me. It’s awesome. It’s definitely working.” But what started looking like a happy family unit quickly dissipated, as the reunion was short-lived.

One of their most public family disputes came another 10 years later in 2018 when son Brandon — who was 21 at the time — allegedly knocked his dad unconscious. Fingers were pointed back and forth as to who was at fault, with Anderson even taking the unusual step to publicly write a blog post called “Alcoholism is the Devil.”

“Nobody understands the lifetime of disappointment this man has brought our family,” she wrote. “Consistently the center of sadness, drama and confusion. Jealous of his sons’ talent and beauty from the day they were born. He is sick. The definition of narcissist/sociopath.”

She added: “It’s terrible and unfortunately he has made this private matter very public. I have always tried only to set record straight. Trying to paint him as not a bad guy. Just one who is human and made mistakes. He still cannot handle the guilt about his abusive behavior and has never taken responsibility for what he has done. Let’s hope this will be his saving grace.”

Despite a rocky past, Anderson defends their union as 'true love'

While both are now married to others, despite all the drama over the years, in 2015, Anderson still spoke highly of Lee. “There was Tommy and then there was nobody else,” she told People. “He was the love of my life. We had wild and crazy beginnings that was too much for both of us.”

And no matter what happens, she is always most grateful for the children they have together. “I had beautiful children with him,” she continued. “My kids are grateful to be born out of true love. Everything else, I was trying to piece together.”