Kristin Bauer van Straten: Summer of Pam
“I’m in no mood for lesbian weirdness tonight, Pam,” said Sookie Stackhouse in response to Pam’s flirtation last season, but we’re always in the mood for Kristin Bauer van Straten’s scene-stealing performance as True Blood’s most stylish vampire. Risking the wrath of secretive gay series creator Alan Ball, the 44-year-old actress sinks her teeth into the subject of Pam’s sexuality, takes a bite out of her backstory, and shares a taste of her exciting new story line in the fourth season, which premieres June 26 on HBO.
The Advocate: When members of the press receive advance screeners for a new season of True Blood, we also receive a letter from Alan Ball that lists the plot points he doesn’t want us to discuss in our coverage. Do you worry about getting in trouble for revealing spoilers or saying too much?
Kristin Bauer van Straten: I do. Honestly, I wish you could send me a copy of that letter. I’m not told specific things that I shouldn’t say, but I just feel like I shouldn’t say anything. But now I’m doing interviews, so would you like me to play the radio for you? [Laughs] It’s totally stressful.
What can you tell us about Pam this season?
Pam has a pretty wild story line this year. It’s not in the books, and it’s not something I think people would ever guess. It’s a unique, exciting story line that was really fun and challenging for me, and I think it will be pretty memorable. So we’ll see.
Have you read Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels on which True Blood is based?
During the first season, I followed along with the first book as the new scripts came in, and that was a little confusing. So for the second season, I decided I would read the book after the season. Then I thought, Why am I going to read the second book when we already shot it? I could read the third book, but it’s not doing to be exactly what we’ll do in the show anyhow ... So I suspect that one day, when the whole show is done — hopefully in 17 years — I’ll spend a week in Hawaii and have a lot of fun reading them all.
Pam is a major part of the fourth book, Dead to the World, which aligns with many of the themes in the new season. I hope that means we see a lot more of you this year.
We do see a lot more of Pam, and we see a whole other side to her.
We know from previews that Eric, Pam’s maker, has somehow lost his memory at the start of the season. How will that affect Pam?
She’s got to take on a leadership role. Also, I’ve found out this year conclusively that Pam is not a strategist; she’s a reactor. Someone’s messed with her maker and messed with their relationship — he doesn’t remember anything, so he doesn’t remember their history or their feelings for each other — so she jumps right in to try to right the situation and make those who did this to him pay. She’s not a chess player.
I’ve read various articles that have described Pam as bisexual or omnisexual, but we’ve really only seen evidence of her attraction to other women — most memorably when she pleasured Yvetta, the Fangtasia stripper, last season.
Right. Sexually, she hasn’t shown any interest in men so far. Maybe she’ll feed on men because they’re food, but they’re an appetizer to the main course.
I don’t suppose Pam will be settling down into a meaningful, monogamous relationship anytime soon.
I can’t imagine it, but wouldn’t it be fun and exciting to see the person that could settle Pam down? It would have to be someone who was in no way predictable, boring, or weak.
How would you describe Pam’s style? I can’t wait to see what outfit she’s going to wear each episode.
Oh, my God, I look forward to every wardrobe fitting in the same way. What I love about the way Pam dresses is that every single day or event is an opportunity for dressing. You’ll see this season that there’s never a moment too dire or too extreme for her not to find an amazing outfit or put on makeup. When we had the vampire trial in the first season, Pam wore a safari dress, because she was going hunting. She also wears sunglasses on her head, even though she hasn’t seen the sun in a long time. That’s really our costume designer, Audrey Fisher, who comes up with the concepts. She puts so much attention and care into every detail.
Where does Pam find those outfits in Shreveport?
I imagine Pam has what Kristin Bauer has: people. [Laughs] You gotta have people to help you with all that. Oh, I can’t wait until we see where Pam lives. Her closet has to be as big as a house, because she’s never repeated anything.
Speaking of clothing, just about everyone has gotten naked on the show but you. What’s the deal? I only ask on behalf of your loyal lesbian fan base.
[Laughs] I don’t know. I guess I’ve gotten lucky. Honestly, I just told myself, Oh, my God, I got through another year. So this hiatus I’m working out. I got P90X, because there’s just something about the idea of being naked in front of millions of people that will inspire you to work out a lot, even if you’re in pretty good shape already. It’s a little nerve-racking. All of us in the cast watch what we eat, and we’re all exercising more than we ever have — the show’s probably adding years to our lives. Of course, the women want to be smaller, but the men want to be bigger.
Does a naked Alexander Skarsgård on set even faze you anymore, or can you still appreciate it?
Oh, I can still appreciate it. My dad used to say, “I’m married; I’m not dead.” You can appreciate beauty on a set just as you can appreciate beauty in a museum, and there’s a lot of beauty on our show. I can also appreciate the women, so I can look at all of it and go, “Wow, that’s pretty fine.”
You appeared as a member of the popular “A group” in another gay fan favorite, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. What was that experience like?
That was so much fun. Like True Blood, that movie had a lot of big scenes that you’re filming for a good month, 17 hours a day, so you really get to know the people you’re standing next to. I’m still very good friends with my costars Elaine Hendrix — Elaine is a fellow animal-rescuer — and Julia Campbell. That’s an iconic movie, but you don’t know that when you’re filming it, so it’s fun to see your work live on and continue to be appreciated. Now my nieces are watching that movie.
After 15 years, do fans still recognize you from your infamous Seinfeld episode?
They do. I usually see a pretty funny expression on peoples’ faces when they find out that Pam is also “man hands.”