Why I hated being on Baywatch

Pamela Anderson and Kelly Slater. Photo / Getty
Pamela Anderson and Kelly Slater. Photo / Getty

It was the moment surfing went mainstream but for Kelly Slater the 27 episodes he played Jimmy Slade on Baywatch in the early 1990s were 27 too many.

The 11-time world champion has revealed he was pressured into doing the show by his mother and a former manager and was completely embarrassed by the experience.

"I was very reluctant to do it," said Slater, during an interview with American sports reporter Graham Bensinger.

"I really didn't want to do it but my mum and my manager at the time really wanted me to do it. He more or less just signed me up without me approving it. I don't know how that happens but in my life at that time, that happened.

"I was so embarrassed that I was going to have to do the show and I just really didn't want to. I wanted to go surfing and win contests and be a professional surfer and that was it. I wasn't trying to go be an actor. Surfing wasn't some launch pad to acting. Surfing was my craft and that was what I was good at.

"I wish I had been a bit more mature in being able to deal with that but I didn't have the skills at the time."

Slater has previously talked about how his two-year run alongside co-stars David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson - who he dated - drove him to win his first world title in 1992.

"I know there were a lot of people calling me a sell out (and it was) totally understandable because it was commercialising and bastardising what our (surf) culture was for a character," Slater told Vice Sports.

"That's basically why I quit. That wasn't really a fun time for me. The fun time for me at that point was that was the first year I became world champion. To me, that was like an offset. OK, if I'm going to do this, to keep my credibility I've got to win this world title."

Slater also delved deeper into his strained relationship with his mother during the Bensinger interview, which coincided with the Baywatch years.

"There were times when I thought my mum was peering in to my life too much and making too strong opinions on my life," he said.

"There was a point in the mid to late-90s where a lot of things came to a head in my life and I was trying to figure out my relationships and my friendships and my family stuff. And my mum and I started butting heads really heavily around it and at one point I didn't speak to my mum for six months.

"I felt like she crossed the line with me, telling me how to live my life. I was trying to figure it out. I wasn't man enough to just grow up and say maybe my mum's right. Even if your mum's not right, you gotta tell her she's right. You've just got to let it go. Mum's are always just trying to look out for you.

"But I was struggling with being my own person and finding my own identity and unfortunately our relationship suffered a bit for a while there."

Slater - whose father was an alcoholic - also revealed he was broke at 21, despite having already won a world title and earned $1 million in his career.

"We didn't have much money (growing up in Florida). I wouldn't necessarily classify us as poor ... but my mum was scraping quarters together to get my lunch paid for at school most days. I think my mum raised the three of us boys on $2000 a month and not much help from my dad," Slater said.

"When you are raised that way you don't have a lot of intelligence around money. By the time I was 21, 22, I went to buy a house with my then fiancee and found out I was broke. I didn't handle my finances at all, my mum just took care of it for me.

"It was a real quick wakeup lesson in learning about your money, taking care of what you have and planning for the future.

"I'd already been a world champion, made over a million dollars in my life to that point - and I was in debt."

- news.com.au

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