He's loved. He's hated. Decide for yourself:
Perez Hilton runs "Hollywood's Most Hated Web Site." I recently caught up with the self-proclaimed "Queen of All Media" from his "corner office," a table at the Coffee Bean off Sunset. Despite our scheduled evening interview, I'd arrived at the wrong moment.
Dressed down with a cap covering his head, Hilton typed furiously at the computer. It seemed he was in the midst of a "breaking story." I soon observed that gossip waits for no one. The first to hear it better be the first to report it.
Earlier in the day, Hilton received a tip that Anna Nicole Smith's newborn was fathered by her lawyer (Howard K. Stern). Upon confirmation of the story, Hilton exclaimed, "I love it! I love it! I love breaking stories! I'm going to cry." (At this point, Hilton had blown his own anonymity at Coffee Bean; although, this is likely a daily occurrence.)
Between mysterious phone calls, Hilton warned, "Iím still going to multi-task so donít feel bad if I donít look at you." With that, our interview began... between "breaking news."
Lindzi.com: How long has the site been running?
Perez Hilton: Its two years this month. Itís always been the same tone and identity. Itís always been me and my interests and my personality. From the beginning, Iíve broken news. One of the first stories I ever broke, back in November of 2004, was this story about Clay Aiken hooking up online.
Lindzi.com: Are you working on a story right now? How does it feel to break news?
Perez Hilton: I love that Iím breaking big mainstream. Itís not even on f***ing CNN.com. I had it on CNN.com before CNN did! I donít have a life. Iím always working. Itís exciting. Itís such a rush. I think itís one of the reasons people come to my web site. Itís what sets it apart. I donít just comment on things. Iím not just putting spin and witty banter on it. Iím breaking news. Thatís true. That gets picked up by the mainstream media. No one else is doing that. The closest is TMZ.com, but at the same time Ė theyíre owned by America Online. Theyíre a corporation. They have a staff of 25 people and millions of dollars as resources. Iím just this dude, sitting in the corner of a coffee shop, working by himself. I donít even have an assistant. I had it before CNN.com did and itís a CNN show. Oh my God, this is so surreal.
Lindzi.com: Whatís an average day in your life like?
Perez Hilton: A day in the life is boring for many, but exciting for me. A typical day begins at 5:50 am. I wake up and I start doing morning radio interviews right away. I work on east coast time. Iím here [at Coffee Bean] by 6:30. They donít open until 7. I come here every day. I donít have internet access at home so I come here to use their internet. I work until at least 11 pm. Iím not exaggerating. Iím answering e-mails. Iím scouring the internet for news or stories.
Lindzi.com: That lead to the siteís creation?
Perez Hilton: Before I started the web site, I was an entertainment journalist. I freelanced for a lot of the gay publications. My friends are other journalists. Theyíre publicists or work with the studios. I live in Los Angeles. I was already rooted in that. My friends would tell me things. I finally had a vehicle to reveal it.
Lindzi.com: Now that you have this outlet, how do you keep your friends trust now?
Perez Hilton: Now they come even more. Now they go the extra step and try to get information from me.
Lindzi.com: I understand youíre friendly with some of the people you write about. They donít mind?
Perez Hilton: I think most celebrities like being talked about. Itís better to be talked about then not talked about at all. Iím old school. I think any press is good press.
Lindzi.com: Whatís the craziest reaction youíve had from a celebrity reader?
Perez Hilton: Iíve had death threats from Clay Aiken fans. Jesse Metcalfe told me that heís fantasized about killing me. Tara Reid threatened to throw me in the pool.
Lindzi.com: Your site is everywhere these days. How has it gained notoriety?
Perez Hilton: Well, I work hard, but Iím no idiot either. My site probably wouldnít be where it is today were it not for the recognition, acceptance, and mentions in mainstream media. If TV shows, magazines, and newspapers didnít talk about me, Iíd probably be some random blog like so many other gossip blogs. The more things change, the more things stay the same. There is a lot of power in the traditional media.
Lindzi.com: ButÖof all the blogs on the internet, why has the media embraced yours more than others?
Perez Hilton: Itís the old sayingÖ Itís likeÖ If youíre an actor, ďHow do you get work on your resume? You canít get work unless you have work.Ē When I first started to get that recognition that helped get more. It steam rolled.
Lindzi.com: You donít have a publicist?
Perez Hilton: No. I donít even have an assistant.
Lindzi.com: When did you realize the site could turn into a full fledge business?
Perez Hilton: Not until well over a year after the website had been around. I was working as a freelance journalist and temping. I wasnít able to make a full time living doing it. I originally wanted to be an actor. Thatís what I studied in school. I went to NYU.
Lindzi.com: Whyíd you leave behind the traditional reporting route Ė working for a magazine?
Perez Hilton: I wanted to talk about what I wanted to talk about. I didnít want anybody else to tell me what I couldnít talk about Ė like editors. I actually did work for one of the celebrity weeklies and I hated it. I started the web site because Iím a fan. I hope that comes across. Working at one of the magazines Ė I canít really say which one Ė I didnít feel fan like. I felt like a stalker. They asked me to do illegal things, which I had issues with. The biggest one was to trespass.
Lindzi.com: What type of assignments were you sent on?
Perez Hilton: I was working through the Russell Crow thing when he threw the phone at the hotel worker. They wanted me to sneak into the Mercer Hotel to talk to the other co-workers. I got kicked out. They threatened to call the police on me. Iím not good at that. I donít enjoy that. I enjoy being creative and having fun with words Ė writing, communicating, building relationships Ė not being sneaky.
Lindzi.com: Would you say youíre upfront Ė in your coverage?
Perez Hilton: Iím honest. I hold myself to higher journalistic standard than a lot of these magazines. I will not publish something I know to be false. A lot of the weeklies do because they can legally. They just need two sources to say the same thing. If they say the same thing, they can put it in print Ė even if everybody knows itís a lie. I donít do that. Itís counterintuitive. Iíve worked too hard for two years to develop the trust of my readers.
Lindzi.com: Where does the name Perez Hilton come from?
Perez Hilton: I just love the name. The original name of the site was PageSixSixSix.com. Itís satirizing and celebrating. Same as Perez Hilton.
Lindzi.com: Youíre not related to Paris Hilton then?
Perez Hilton: Me? Iím not. Not at all. Sheís one of my best friends. Yeah, itís crazy.
Lindzi.com: When did you first meet?
Perez Hilton: We met a year ago during New York Fashion Week in Fall of 2005. We developed a friendship. You start to see the same people out all the time. You either have a relationship with them or you donít. You either like them or you donít. We would see each other all the time. Itís my job to go out and itís her job to go out. Going out is what made Paris HiltonÖ Paris Hilton. Then, we became friends. Itís, like, a genuine friendship. Like, weíve been friends for over a year.
Lindzi.com: Paris has welcomed you into her circle of friends. No oneís ever concerned that your observations may be printed?
Perez Hilton: It depends on the situation. I mean, Iíll talk aboutÖ The night that Kevin Connelly punched Brandon Davis in the face Ė last week. I talked about that. Iím not going to not talk about it.
Lindzi.com: Her friends never come to you and ask, ďWhyíd you print that?Ē
Perez Hilton: Itís happened. How I handle it depends on the situation. Itís like dancing the tango. You donít want to step on any toes, but itís bound to happen. Both dance partners are professionals and they realize Ė to keep everyone entertained including yourself and the spectators Ė itís important to keep on dancing. If you stop, itís boring.
Lindzi.com: Whatís your ultimate goal?
Perez Hilton: Iím living my dream. The dream to me is to be happy. I donít want to sound New Age-y, but Iím all about keeping it real. So many are frustrated in their jobs, but not me. I love it. Almost too much. In a weird way, it defines me. Itís how I express myself. It allows me to be creative. It allows me to bring enjoyment to other people. I know so many people at work escape through my web site. That means a lot to me.
Lindzi.com: If you could dream bigger than your current gig, where would you like to take things?
Perez Hilton: Iím working on a reality TV show. Hopefully thatíll be a huge, massive mega success and everybody will watch it and love it. Itíll be my way of introducing myself to the mainstream public. People donít know me right now. Only the ďtastemakersĒ Ė the cool people, the industry people, the journalists, the celebrities, the publicists. Your average Joe Blow from Topeka, Kansas probably doesnít know me. The show will be a fun, fresh, exciting take on reality television. Itíll be real, which is rare these days. After that, the dream would be a full circle moment Ė to be on a sitcom. Iíd like to go back to acting. Iíll never be a movie star.
Lindzi.com: What misconceptions do people have about you or the site? Are there any?
Perez Hilton: I donít care if there are.
photos courtesy of perezhilton.com
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