By ED English
Where in the world is Carmen Electra? The model-TV personality-sex symbol-singer’s recent hit “Around The World” says it all. And so does her Instagram feed.
One minute, she’s bikini-clad for photo shoots in Tahiti; the next, she’s glammed up in a ball gown raising awareness for MS in Beverly Hills. Then she’s closing the Jean Paul Gaultier runway show before attending the Vienna Life Ball.
When we finally catch up to her, she’s in Austin, Texas shooting for a new project before she jets off again to New York, all while trying to finish her album and newest single “Wish I Stayed,” a club jam.
“I will be dropping the single in many different places and doing pop-up performances,” she says. One of those places? Motor City Pride. The superstar will bring her trademark sparkle to the Main Stage at 7:30 p.m. June 6.
Wow. You even sound sexy on the phone!
Aw, thank you!
When’s the last time you were in Detroit?
I haven’t been to Detroit in a while. It’s been a minute, so I’m excited to come back. I am from Cincinnati, Ohio, which is not far from Detroit, and it reminds me a lot of our city.
A lot has changed, now that there is Pride in Cincinnati and Detroit and so many other cities. I think it’s really special, and I am really honored to be a part of it.
What can we expect from your Pride performance?
I will be introducing the new single and just having fun. I’m not sure at this point if it’s a full on performance, maybe performing the new single.
What are the most common misconceptions people have about you?
That I’m so tiny and so short. People always think I’m 6-feet tall. I’ve literally been at the airport and listened to a conversation between two people. One person saying, “It’s her.” The other person saying, “No, that’s not her. She’s too short.”
So it’s funny. I’m 5-foot-2-and-a-half. That’s what I am and I love it. And I get to wear extra high heels if I want to be taller!
I also feel like people think you want to talk about sex all the time. Does that get tiring?
Answering questions about sex? (Laughs) Not necessarily. I mean, I am a sexual person. I don’t see it as a big thing.
And you’re still one of the most well-known sex symbols.
I have no problem with that. You know, my career has been very interesting. I’ve always had goals and things that I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve always been persistent and worked really hard. But I let things flow.
I started off as a dancer and my dream was to be a backup dancer for Janet Jackson. That never happened, actually. But any and everything that I have done outside of that is an accomplishment to me, whether it’s been really successful or not.
Why Janet and not Michael?
I just remember learning the choreography in my living room and just being obsessed with the style of dance. In Ohio, there wasn’t classes like that at the time. Basically, it was strictly ballet, tap or jazz, but there wasn’t a lot of that hip-hop style that’s a little edgier. So I was just blown away, and I would sit in front of the TV and learn all of her routines.
It ended up later on working with Prince. I had the chance to work with Janet’s choreographer Tina Landon and Sean Cheesman on “Go Go Dancer” and “Everybody Get On Up.” So that was pretty exciting because they choreographed for Janet!
When you decided to get back into music, did you think about reaching out to Prince?
No, we haven’t talked in a long, long time. So I haven’t thought about it. It’d be cool, though. I’m very grateful that he believed in me at such a young age, coming straight from Cincinnati and not knowing a lot. I learned a lot from watching him, his work ethic and how he runs things.
Did he teach you how to dance in heels?
(Laughs) Yes, we can relate to each other on that level. And it’s not easy! It really is hard to dance in heels.
Do you remember how the gays responded to Carmen circa ’80s?
Actually, a good response. Especially from a lot of Prince’s underground followers. They always supported and would come to shows.
I especially remember when I started doing a show called “Erotic City” at Prince’s club (Grand Slam West) in downtown L.A. and people were really drawn to how choreographer Jamie King would dance with another guy. It was a very sensual, very sexy show but hardcore dancing. I think we all have back injuries from that!
But I remember people being really drawn to that, having the artistic freedom to do what you feel. Maybe it was the big hair and the triple lashes, because I’ve been doing that for such a long time, but yeah, (I have) a big following with the gays, which is awesome.
How would you describe your music now compared to the past?
It’s a different style than I am used to. I have a lot more freedom within the music that I am putting out. So it’s a huge learning experience.
I wasn’t expecting to get back into music; it happened out of the blue. But it fulfills something inside of me. I don’t know if that is the dancer in me or the love of music, performing, putting on a show – the whole entire package. The costumes, the vibe and just seeing the whole entire thing together. It’s a really fun creative process.
When “I Like It Loud,” my first single, came out, the ball started rolling. Then next thing you know I am performing with my dancers in Palm Springs in front of 30,000 people.
Any ballads in the works?
I was sent a few ballads. I don’t know – it doesn’t feel right for what I am doing right now. I am kind of really into the dance thing. And as a dancer, I just want to move.
Who is your dream duet? Janet?
Oh, I would love that. Peaches! I love Peaches. I like a lot of different styles of music, so I’m not really stuck on one.
Speaking of duets, are you dating anyone right now?
I’m single. I have dated here and there. But right now I am really focused on working and my music. Some people don’t really understand the way it goes, you know? You have to work.
And when you are attracted to someone, there is a part of that you are attracted to. But people love to try and change who you are. I just really want a relationship where I feel loved for me, and understood in my lifestyle. I feel it coming, though. I feel it.
We see you hustling, and you still manage to look flawless. How do you keep it all together?
You know, all the dancing from performing has helped tremendously. I drink water all day. That really leans me out a lot, like almost too much sometimes, to be honest. But I like it because then I’m like, “Oh my god! I can eat this cheesecake and all this.” I love sweets, so I can go to the bakery and just, mmm.
What’s your favorite dessert?
I love red velvet cupcakes, cookies – you name it.
And we know you like chocolate, as in your new film “Chocolate City.”
Yes! What a fun set to shoot on, I have to tell you. I got to see that more Atlanta-style, kind of male strip club thing and it was intense.
What’s your role?
I play DJ Cleopatra. I introduce all the dancers, and it was really fun because I actually spent about five hours on the old-school turntables learning how to announce their name and be able to scratch a little into the song. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so I was having the time of my life shooting that movie.
Plus, all the hot men?
And that too. Helloooo!
If you could get any famous guy up on the stage to strip, who would it be?
I am not answering that question! (Laughs). Because you know what that will turn into? We’re dating. It will turn into engaged and then broken up. You get linked to people. People you’ve just met whose hand you shook. It happens so much.
What has been your strangest reported pairing?
There are so many. I actually saw a list and it was unbelievable. I mean, I would say the strangest pairing, though, out of people that I have actually dated and married, was probably Dennis (Rodman).
I didn’t see it like that because we obviously bonded on a different level, and I see the good in people and potential in people. There is a super amazing part of Dennis that a lot of people don’t get to see. He swept me off my feet and the world couldn’t understand it. Coach Phil Jackson couldn’t understand it. But we were truly in love and that’s what it was. Madonna dated him before me, so there must have been something there.
Do you still keep in contact with Dennis?
No, I don’t. It was just one of those situations where I had to break off clean and clear, without any communication, because it just became really difficult toward the end.
I was doing an appearance in Florida and he came to that appearance unexpected and it was weird because everyone was kind of panicked like, “Do you need security? Do you want security?” And I said, “No, come on.”
Did you ask him what he was doing over in North Korea?
No! I didn’t get into all that. (Laughs)
You’ve done a lot of movies, including “Scary Movie” and “Disaster Movie.” What’s your dream role?
Something really edgy and just completely different. I love, even in comedies, when I get to change the way I look. I get to be me every day so it’s fun to have a reason to go there. Something maybe where I am not glammed up. Maybe something where it’s very raw, you know? Very, very raw.
It would just be really cool to get a chance to even be a badass character. Quentin Tarantino would be a dream. I would love for Quentin Tarantino to take me and make me look completely different and throw me into the craziest situation. I mean, that’s a dream. I am a huge fan, huge fan. So I would go there. I would completely go there … let him know!
7:30 p.m. June 6
Hart Plaza, Detroit (Main Stage)