Tara Leigh Patrick (Carmen Electra
) was born on April 20, 1972 in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is of Cherokee, Irish, and German decent. The young Tara lived in White Oak, Ohio with her parents. At the early age of 9, Tara was chosen for the School for Creative and Performing Arts. She began taking singing lessons and by her teenage years, she was coreographing and performing musicals for the school's theatrical ensemble. She also began rapping and said her goal was "to go to Los Angeles and get a record deal."
In 1987, at the age of 15, Tara moved to Minneapolis, where her sister and half-sister lived. To earn money, she did some modelling for Target department stores. She was also known to be in Minneapolis during the 1990 filming of Prince's movie, Graffiti Bridge. In 1991, Tara moved to Los Angeles, California, changed her name to Carmen Electra, and in less than a week, met Prince. "I'd been there a week when I went to this club called Spice, where I was approached by a woman who said she had this all-girl band that Prince was producing, and I had the look they were after. But what was really funny was that there was a Prince lookalike at the club that night, and I thought she might have been talking about him and it was all a joke. But it wasn't, thank God, because the guy smelt really bad. I just thought, "If Prince smells like this, I don't want to be in his group." As a matter of fact, Prince smells heavenly. He's a very clean person and he smells lovely. So anyway, finally this blue BMW pulled up and Prince's brother was driving. We ended up going to Prince's house in LA. And he was really nice, but kind of quiet. Basically, I auditioned right there in front of him at around 2 am. He played piano and I sang "Do Re Mi" from The Sound Of Music. I was once in the The Sound Of Music musical, so I knew the song. And then I danced. Now, the whole time he's sitting there, he's just watching me with no expression on his face. So there I am, dancing my butt off, doing the Booty Shake and everything -- ha ha! -- and he still has no expression, so I'm thinking, "He thinks I suck. I've gotta take some more classes." So I go home and don't hear a thing for two months.
Then the woman called me and said she couldn't explain what went wrong. So I got in touch with Prince's bodyguard because I'd recorded some demos on my own that I wasn't really happy with and I thought it would be great if Prince would help me out. I finally got a phone call ages later, at around 4 am, and it was him. He said, "I wrote you a song, If you like it, you can sing it." It was called "Carmen On Top" and I loved it. The catch was that I had to go to Minneapolis to record it. So I ended up living there for two and a half years." It has always been rumored that Carmen was just another one of Prince's conquests whom he consequently gave a record deal. Says Carmen: "I had this mad crush on him, and every time we danced I'd fantasise about him and what it would be like to be with him. But he was my producer, not my lover. There was a chemistry when we were together and I had a secret passion for him, but nothing happened. I've never kissed him." In 1992, soon after meeting and auditioning for Prince, she was signed to his Paisley Park Records label. Prince took Carmen under his wing, describing her as "this new girl out of Cincinnati." Her first album coincided with her opening slot on the European leg of Prince's Diamonds And Pearls Tour. She was promoted with ads in Rolling Stone and on MTV. However large the hype, the success wasn't there. The video for the single, "Go-Go Dancer", shot in March 1992, received very little airplay on MTV, and only the small Video Jukebox Network played the song. A 12" single of "Go-Go Dancer" hit the stores in June, but didn't sell well. By that time, her album was finished, and promotional advance cassette copies and bios were sent out for review purposes to members of the press. However, it was all in vain. The album was delayed, and it was decided that it needed additional tracks and remixing before it was released. This wasn't Prince's decision, as often has been thought, but actually Warner Bros. top executive Benny Medina's. Medina had seen Carmen on some of the shows on the Diamonds And Pearls Tour and hadn't liked what he'd seen. He then approached Prince during a soundcheck and expressed his doubts about Carmen's qualities. The album was finally released at a later date, but did not meet expectations. A list of her works is available in the Discography. It seemed Carmen Electra's career had just gone the same way the careers of so many of Prince's other protege(e)s -- male and female -- had gone: down the dumpster.
From 1993-1995, Carmen Electra was a forgotten name. Just another pretty face with no talent was the public's feeling. So Carmen decided to turn things around. In 1995, she appeared on the Nickelodeon show All That. Carmen later got a boob job and posed nude for Playboy in May of 1996. That appearance led to her being included in the Playboy video, Playboy Cheerleaders, in which she sings a song called "2-4-6-8". Also in 1996, she co-hosted MTV's Loveline and occasionally appeared as a dancer at Prince's Glam Slam clubs.
Carmen's career was revived on October 4, 1996 when Lisa Berger, MTV's senior vice president original programming and eries development, announced that Carmen would take over from Jenny McCarthy (also a Playboy veteran) as Chris Hardwick's co-host on MTV's dating show Singled Out starting February 10, 1997, for at least 65 episodes. Carmen joined Jenny on-air for one week in February as Jenny prepared to depart to star in her own series on MTV, which also debuted in February 1997. Says Lisa Berger: "Singled Out has been an enormous success for MTV, and we are thrilled to take it into its fourth season. Chris' witty sense of humor matched with the sex appeal and outrageousness of Jenny -- and then Carmen -- will make this the most exciting season of the show yet. Carmen Electra is a perfect fit for Singled Out and exactly the type of personality the show needs for Chris' new co-host. She's talented, sexy and smart and a welcome addition to the show's cast." Since that announcement, Carmen has appeared on several TV shows and special events, all documented in the Filmography. Carmen also starred in a comic book, Embrace, published by the indepentent London Night Studios. The first issue, "Kill Me Softly", is now available in three versions: a regular one (for $3), an NC-17 version (for $5), and a $30 signed platinum limited edition. In January 1997, the New York Daily News announced Carmen was going to replace Pamela Lee Anderson on Baywatch. Carmen had occasionaly appeared on the spin-off Baywatch Nights, so the news wasn't too surprising. In April 1997, the story was proved true: Carmen had been given a five-year contract to replace Pamela's character on Baywatch.
As of late 1997, it is also rumored that MTV Productions will give Carmen her own TV show, similar to Jenny MCCarthy's. Along with filming Baywatch, Carmen says her second album will be out at the end of 1997.