Perez Hilton: All Hail The New Queen Of Hollywood
During the late 1930’s and throughout the 1940’s, gossip columnist Hedda Hopper ruled as “the queen of Hollywood,” keeping Tinsel Town under her thumb with a watchful eye for any celebrity missteps. Fast forward to 2006, and there’s a new sheriff in town, by the name of Mario Lavandeira.
Who’s that, you might be asking? Well, he goes by the more recognizable pseudonym of Perez Hilton, and he is the Internet’s most popular online blogger. His website, www.perezhilton.com sees upwards of 2.15 million people visiting on a daily basis!
Why all the high traffic? Well, Hilton is a celebrity skewer, who shish kabobs the likes of Tara Reid, Jennifer Aniston, Sharon Stone and many more with a delightful razor sharp wit that cuts celebrity behavior to the quick.
“I hate when celebrities complain about being famous, it’s the most fucking annoying thing in the world. I hate when celebrities gripe about how difficult their life is – it’s like, do something else, shut up!”
Welcome to the world of Perez Hilton, but to enter this domain, one must first pack a English-to-Perez dictionary, as you may encounter words like “shiteous” (which means, well, not stellar), “sperminated” (when a celeb is of the knocked up variety), and a whole gamut of celebrity “nicknames” along your journey. There’s “Moo-riah” (Mariah Carey), “K-Fag” (Kevin Federline), “Zombie Hands” (Nicole Richie) and “Asslee” (Ashley Simpson). But, fret not, we have the man himself to educate us on all things Perez Hilton, and he’s here to set the record straight on his reputation.
“I don’t care if people have misconceptions about me, because there’s Perez Hilton and Mario Lavandeira. I love the fact that I kind of treat the website as a soap opera, and I treat the Perez persona as a character.”
So how did Hilton begin his reign as “the queen of all media?”
“I began a big failure. In 2005 I got fired three times from different jobs. I was at a gay magazine; I’ve always been tied to the gay media and non-profit organizations, I used to work for G.L.A.D.D.; actually, I am probably not high up on their list of favorite people right now, because of my stance on talking about the private lives of all people-gay, straight, closeted or not.” He said, before getting back to the subject at hand. “So, I went from working at G.L.A.D.D. to working at one of the gay magazines, at Instinct, and I took a pay cut to go there, because I thought it would be a fun job. I’ll get to talk to celebrities, and interview them and write and this that and the other.”
Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, Hilton’s stint as a senior editor-in-chief was short lived, due to his assumption that it was alright to sell the DVD’s and other products the magazine received online. At a temp job, his love of blogging was born and soon he started a website, pagesixsixsix, which morphed into perezhilton.com.
And, Hilton has become a force to reckon with in Hollywood, gracing the pages of Details, Us Weekly and People, as well as numerous appearances on the television circuit. It is this mainstream acceptance that has made Hilton contemplate the reticence he sees within the gay media to claim him as one of their own.
“The gay media has probably been the last to accept me, or the last to acknowledge me, or write about me. I get so much more play, or recognition or whatever from mainstream media.” He pondered. “And, I find that interesting. I don’t know if they’re ashamed of me or embarrassed, they don’t like me, they’re jealous, I don’t know. Recently, The Advocate, did a little something on me, which I though was awesome. But, it seems like the gay media has had to play catchup.”
Part of the reason for that could be the aforementioned talking about celebs’ private lives; or it might be the fact that Hilton was posting pictures of a then closeted Lance Bass and Reichen Lehmkuhl together, which some feel forced Bass’ hand in publicly coming out this past summer. Hilton had this take on it, with the no-holds-barred attitude that makes his site an Internet favorite.
“Lance Bass outed himself. I didn’t out Lance Bass, he outed himself, because he was probably somewhat of a washed up celebrity. He’s still a public figure and when you’re a public figure, people are going to talk about you; and he was doing very public things with his boyfriend, and I was just documenting it all.” He explained. “I mean they were going on trips to Disneyland, Palm Springs, Vegas, Provincetown – Gay Town, U.S.A., sometimes wearing each others clothes. How am I going to ignore that? I’m not going to ignore that! I was just reporting and I wasn’t speculating I had sources; there were no ifs about it. That’s such a double standard to me, if they were a pair of heterosexuals trying to keep their relationship quiet, the media would be all over it!”
Documenting celebrities in their natural habitat can be a dicey proposition, especially when they happen into Hilton’s “office,” The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in West Hollywood.
“The people I talk trash about, I try to avoid them.” He said with a laugh and a musical lilt in his voice. “I love drama, just not in my own life. I like to write about other people’s drama and be confrontation free, but sometimes they’ll come up to me like they have diarrhea and I’m a toilet and they need to unload badly. I had Tara Reid threaten to throw me in a pool, I had Nicole Richie confront me at The Coffee Bean, I had Jesse Metcalf say that he fantasizes about killing me. There’s not much you can say, it’s like ‘ok, right, whatever, get a fucking sense of humor.’ It’s so simple, really, if you don’t like what I write, then don’t read it!”
While some of the celebs he chronicles might be slightly hesitant to join his fan club, he has befriended his namesake, Paris Hilton. Another celebrity, Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas, has a semi innocuous track called “Pedestal” on her solo CD that seems pointed in Hilton’s direction.
“I like the song, actually. I have a love/hate relationship with my own self; if I’m loving myself, I think, ‘oh my God, she wrote that song about me.’ Artists use their lives for inspiration, and I’ve been talking about her a lot in 2006, that’s how she responded to it. You know, whether I think she’s got an ass face or not, the album is really good.” He recanted.
While 2006 has been a banner year for Hilton, he does have plans to conquer new frontiers in 2007, like his own reality show.
“I am working with one of the best gay owned production companies around, World Wide Wonder. They did “Showbiz Moms and Dads,” “Showdog Moms and Dad,” “Party Monster,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” And, they’re also working with my friend, Tori Spelling, on her own reality show.” He reported. “They do really cool, campy, queer, cutting edge, funny projects, and I think it’s a really good match. We are really far along with our negotiations with the network, it’s going to be a really amazing show; it’s a little bit “Real World,” a little bit “The Surreal Life,” a little bit “Punk’d” and a lot of celebrities. And, it’s real, which is the most important thing.”
In the spirit of keeping it real, Hilton did have this to say about his good fortune.
“I realized that I’ve been dreaming of what I’ve been doing my whole life, not just now, now I’m just doing it on a larger scale.”
This interview was originally published in October 2006.