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Stripped-down actress likes to keep it real

For those foolish enough to think Carmen Electra is all body and no brains, think again. Sure, Electra garners more than enough attention for her figure, but a look at her long list of upcoming projects indicates there’s more to her than sex appeal.
/ Source: NBC News producer

For those foolish enough to think Carmen Electra is all body and no brains, think again. Sure, Electra garners more than enough attention for her figure, but a look at her long list of upcoming projects indicates there’s more to her than sex appeal. Throw in personality, acting chops, a healthy sense of humor and plenty of business savvy.

Having just wrapped the reality show “Manhunt: The Search for America’s Most Gorgeous Male Model,” and an appearance on the sitcom “Hope and Faith,” Electra is currently appearing on the episodic drama “Summerland”, hosting “AUTO ROX,” a Spike TV Auto Awards show, as well as appearing in two independent films, one feature film and is developing a pilot for 20th Century Fox.

It’s no wonder she’s in shape.

But it is her exercise DVDs, “Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease” and “Carmen Electra’s Fit To Strip” that have people sweating, and I don’t mean men!

Geared to women, the series features Electra and friends working through low-impact workouts with choreography that’s more provocative than your average aerobics routine.

It seems fitting that Electra would come to be known for her beauty.

Born in Ohio, she borrowed her celebrity name from Bizet’s opera Carmen and from the Greek goddess Electra. At 20, she was spotted by a scout for the artist formerly known as “The Artist” — Prince, and her path to stardom began.

In 1997, she stole the show on “Singled Out,” MTV’s unorthodox game show where contestants have to pick one out of 50 people for a date.

After leaving MTV, Electra went on to become a series regular on “Hyperion Bay” and “Baywatch.”  Following an expanse of guest appearances on other programs and films, she became a high-profile member of “The Pussycat Dolls,” a contemporary, burlesque cabaret act that was founded as an opening act for Johnny Depp’s Los Angeles club, The Viper Room. The show, and her obvious talent for dancing, served as inspiration for the exercise program.

A brief marriage to NBA star Dennis Rodman behind her, Electra’s nuptials with guitarist Dave Navarro have proven to be both lasting and telegenic. The couple was featured in the seven-part MTV series “Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave,” which documented the lives of Carmen and Navarro during the months leading up to their wedding.

You have so much going on right now I can barely keep track.
I like to be busy — literally as soon as I have a couple of days off I start going crazy. I’m always looking for something else to do. I’m definitely addicted to work.

I’m hosting “Autorox” on Spike TV, with a live performance from Kid Rock. I love cars, so for me its going to be really cool.

You’ve gotten raves for your performances with “The Pussycat Dolls” — now you’ve got “Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease” and “Carmen Electra’s Fit to Strip” available on DVD. Let’s be honest — some of these poses probably look good when you do them — but they aren’t gonna be too flattering on others, are they?
That’s the thing — that’s what I love so much about the DVDs. The fact that you don’t have to go to a class and be embarrassed in front of people ... you can do it in the privacy of your own home with your windows closed so no one can see you do it. And if you do feel comfortable with it, then you can perform for your boyfriend and give him a little show! Get two things out of it!

After a long day of work — do you ever just say, I’m going to leave this whole fitness thing behind and go have a big greasy burger?
Oh, all the time! I get cravings, and that’s my one thing: I allow myself to have whatever I want when I’m craving it, and then I go back to eating healthy. So Dave and I will order up a pizza, and then you just go back to your eating schedule and your workout plan the next day and you’re fine. You won’t notice anything.

What about the reaction to it being a ‘strip tease’ — have you had any bizarre fan encounters? Has someone ever acted like they were mortified at what you did and then taken you aside and said they really admired your work?
I just did an appearance on Conan [O'Brien] and a guitar player pulled me aside and said “This is so weird, but I just wanna thank you for making these DVDs. It was my birthday and my girlfriend was practicing and gave me a lap dance. It was awesome.” So that’s kind of cool.

You have a great sense of humor about yourself — you poke fun at yourself in movies. Where does that humor come from? Is that just the person you’ve always been, or is it the product of being in a business where you have to develop a thick skin?
I have always been really, really silly, and I’ve always liked to make my friends laugh so that’s definitely always been a part of me. But the longer you’re in this business, the more you start to realize that you can’t take anything personally. And it’s funny — you’re more likable if you’re willing to make fun of yourself.

Which is harder — looking sexy or being funny?
Probably being funny! It’s hard if someone’s written something and you’re playing a role and you’re trying to be funny — but if you like to make your friends laugh and it's a natural thing, it’s not as hard.

Would you be willing to look like a total mess for a dramatic role?
Absolutely. I think it would be really fun.

You and I both know there is more to you than a beautiful body. So if I were to put you in a big parka, furry hat and ski goggles, what would people learn about you just from talking to you?
I’m very down to earth and I’m real. I keep it real.

I’m actually going to be in a parka and goggles soon — for Sundance!

Let's say I give you a magic wand — you now have the power to erase one line of questions from all future interviews and never be asked about it again. What subject would you get rid of?
Dennis Rodman.

Consider it done! Aside from the long list of projects you’ve got, what would you like to see ahead for you?
For myself and the future I just want to continue to work as hard as I can over the next few years, focus on my marriage with Dave, and hopefully be a mom!

SpikeTV’s AUTOROX premieres January 25 at 9:00 p.m. “Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease” and “Carmen Electra’s Fit to Strip” are now available on DVD.