Actress, musician and model Carmen Electra was born Tara Leigh Patrick on April 20, 1972, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Growing up with parents in the entertainment industry, Electra studied dance from a very young age. After attending Cincinnati's School for the Creative and Performing Arts, she decided to pursue a career in music, moving from the midwest to Los Angeles, where she signed a record contract with Prince in 1991. It was Prince who encouraged her to change her name, reportedly saying that she looked like a "Carmen."
She performed there every weekend with the Erotic City dancers, led by choreographer and director Jamie King. In March 1997, she appeared in cartoon form as the model for a character who is a singer and a vampire ("but a good vampire", says her publicist) in a comic book series called "Embrace". Carmen later went to co-star on the television series "Baywatch" (1989) as lifeguard Lani McKenzie, and as host of MTV's game show "Singled Out" (1995).
Electra appears nude in Playboy for a photo spread titled, "Electra!" Her mother recalls to PEOPLE, "I said, 'Go for it, girl!'" This sexy, head-turning spread puts the aspiring actress on the map. Electra is faithful to the magazine, appearing in Playboy in June 1998 and on the covers in Dec. 2000 and April 2003.