Ask Carmen Electra for five words to describe herself and you’ll get: fiery, passionate, compassionate, romantic and protective. She wanted to add ‘hopeless’ in front of romantic so let’s bonus her one word. The men she’s dated or married are as indelibly linked to Carmen as her career. There were the marriages to NBA star Dennis Rodman (annulled after nine days) and to Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction. Carmen, who started off life 43 years ago as Tara Leigh Patrick in the tiny town of Sharonville, Ohio (on Wikipedia, they claim two “famous” people, Carmen being one), has been a dancer, singer, model, actor, songwriter, author and philanthropist. Here, she chimes in on the Genlux Two-Word Questionnaire.
GPS location? I’m in my cozy house in Bel-Air. I’m in bed with the sliding doors open and I’m looking out to the pool and the incredibly beautiful view.
Your style? When I started again with music, I picked up a little bit of dancer style. We’re in sneaker wedges, leggings, snapbacks—more sporty, sexy looks. I also got into a boho hippie style. I’m in love with that vibe.
Decompression chamber? Tahiti was a pivotal place for me. Being near the ocean changed my life. Every day I would wake up and just look at the water and meditate. I have a really hard time sitting still, but the sound of the ocean made things clearer for me.
Retail fix? I love hitting Barneys, Saks and Neiman’s and then Rodeo. I’ll run into Dolce, or La Perla. And then I’ll do Robertson, Intermix and boutiques and then Melrose. Alexander McQueen, Mark Jacobs, and Vivienne Westwood.
Your kickstart? My best friends were going to ABT and Joffrey, and I knew I had to dance! I met some hip-hop dancers and found I was better at jazz and hip-hop than ballet. Then I met Shane Sparks in high school and we would go to teen clubs and go battle in Cincinnati. There was a girl from LA who told me, “You are such a good dancer, I can see you dancing for Janet Jackson.” I said, “Are you serious? You think I would have a chance?”
Your heroes? My mom and dad. I have so much gratitude that I had parents who wanted me to have a better life than they had. Wow, they really dedicated their lives to me. My mom passed away. She was a third-degree black belt. A real badass. I couldn’t get away with anything with Mom. She had five other kids before me, so by the time she had me, she said, “You’re going to make a life for yourself.”
Early lessons? When I was younger I was very shy and extra compassionate. I remember going to elementary school in a predominately white neighborhood. There was one African-American girl who nobody would play with, so I would, and I would stand up for her and myself. I grew up like that. We were taught to accept people for who they are. We don’t all want to be the same anyway. It would be a boring world.
Your genealogy? I’m Cherokee Indian, Scottish and some Irish, my dad’s side is Irish and German.
New lessons? Our Genlux shoot! I loved our shoot so much. I’m obsessed. I want to walk around in a kimono. It inspired me. From each experience I take something.
Your charities? I go to the Race to Erase MS gala every year. I think Barbara Davis is a wonderful person. When my mom passed away, I was really close to this woman who I call my LA mom. She started feeling ill and I called Barbara immediately and she got her into the best doctors. I’m dedicated to her charity. I also had my own charity, Head to Hollywood. I’ve been to The Life Ball in Vienna, where I performed one year and walked in Gaultier’s show.
Worst trait? I’m my own worst critic. I’m a thinker and perfectionist. It comes from all the ballet training. People who don’t know me see me as a man-stomper. Almost like a superhero character.
Life lesson? At some point, even for me, I had to stop using my past traumatic experiences as an excuse and choose: Am I going to take this experience and learn from it...or let it destroy my life? Am I going to let anybody have that power over me? Hell, no!
Love life? I just started dating someone. It’s fairly new, about three or four months, so I’m not really talking about it much. He’s extremely intelligent, and that turns me on. All I can say is, so far, so good.
Future kids? I love children. So if it happens I will be very happy, and if it doesn’t, I’ll be very content with that. My mom was pregnant at 15, and my sister was pregnant at 14. It was a constant thing in my mom’s head to make sure that didn’t happen to me. At a very early age, I would ask her if I was sexy. I want to be the best mom I could possibly be. I’ve never felt ready, but my doctor said that I’m Fertile Myrtle.
Your regrets? To be honest I have no regrets, because out of my experiences I’ve learned something that I really didn’t understand I was learning while I was in it. I look for the gratitude in the hard situation and find ways to get through it. Life is like that—good and bad. It doesn’t do you any good to sit around and feel sorry for yourself. I understand that when you’re in it, it’s hard to see.
Low point? Life doesn’t always stay on that highest level of happiness. You’re on top of the world, then you go down. That’s when you have to dig deep, and for me, I go straight to my books. I’m not the only one this happened to. How can I change this? Then, you go back up…you forget… everything’s going perfect…life couldn’t be better, and then boom, it hits you again. That’s life.
First gig? ‘Soul Train.’ I was so excited. I got to do the Scrabble Board, and the Soul Train line…they put me on the risers. OMG, I’m on ‘Soul Train.’ I made it!
Lucky break? I was on the dance floor at a club and a girl came up to me and asked me if I’d audition for her all-girl band that Prince was putting together. She took me to Capital Records, and I got signed to a demo deal. Prince got a hold of me and said, “I don’t think you should be in someone else’s band, you should have your own.” That’s where it all started. Working with Prince was such an incredible learning experience.
Spiritual tools? I have The Pocket Dalai Lama. I have so many great books. Pema Chodron’s Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living. And The Language of Letting Go has been very helpful.
You’re learning? I let go of the past but I’m always a forward thinker, so I’m trying to learn how to stay in the now. A good book is The Power of Now. I have trouble staying in the now. I Am That, by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, that was a gift from Joan Jett.
What’s next? I’m working with Mikey Minden. I recorded my first single, I like it Loud. I released three singles so far that have gone to the top 10 on the Billboard charts. Check out Werq, and the other song is called Around the World.
Four blessings? A career that I love, my health, my family, and I also have gratitude for still getting excited to go to Disneyland. I have this Buddhism book that talks about being childlike, and I swore to myself I wasn’t going to lose that. I don’t ever want to lose that.