Hollywood Gossip Monger
Meet Perez Hilton. He's an online sniper targeting Hollywood reputations.
By January 1, 2009 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016published
Profession: Gossip blogger
Claim to Eccentricity: Perezhilton.com has been called the most hated site in Hollywood.
In the classic music video for a-ha's "Take on Me," the protagonist climbs into a comic book to be with the dreamy object of her infatuation. Perez Hilton has basically done the same thing with the tabloids, now cavorting with the celebs he so obsessively followed as a childhood TV addict, college drama student, and eventual gossip blogger. The man who semi-mockingly took his nom de fume from the ueberly famous-for-nothing Paris Hilton is now friends with the starlet.
Mario Lavandeira claims nearly 10 million page views on his bubblegum-pink blog each day by people hanging on his every scrap of gossip or juvenile defacement of a photo, and he's asked for autographs when he goes out. He's become one of them, as much a newsmaker (John Mayer allegedly frenched him) as a news breaker (Guy Richie married Madonna for her cash!). And now the self-proclaimed "Queen of All Media" has a fashion line and a reality series under his belt and is angling to start a record label.
For every friend, he's made two enemies by taking potshots at the glossy elite according to his own fickle grudges. (The main criterion for staying on his good side seems to be a sense of humor about yourself.) Suits him: As a sucker for attention, he lives by "No publicity is bad publicity," relishing flack from his targets. The only other discernible rule in his Queendom: "Perez just wants to have fun."
Do you give some subjects special treatment?
I definitely have my heroes and my villains, and the people I like and the people I don't like. It's like a soap opera. I don't try to be objective. I don't want to. I'm not the New York Times.
Why is your blog at the top of the gossip heap?
I work so hard at it. On a typical day, I put in 16 or 17 hours at my computer. But I love what I do, and I work for myself. I don't consider it a job.
Why do you love it?
I'm able to be creative and be silly and express myself. The Web site is a part of me. It's like my tongue, and if I didn't have it anymore I guess I'd have to learn a different way to communicate, but it'd be very difficult for me.
You're creating a media empire?
My goal is to be the gay Latino Oprah.
Do you want to meet Oprah to ask her for advice?
No, I want to meet her because she's what I've always looked up to. I believe she genuinely wants to make the world a better place, and she genuinely wants to entertain people, and she's genuinely a good person. She's not perfect by any means. She holds grudges, she's human. And that's great!
Why do you think people are so obsessed with celebrities?
I don't think people are any more obsessed with celebrities today than they were in the past. The only difference is that maybe now obsession with celebrities is being monetized more than it was because mainstream media realize how profitable it can be. But people are fascinated by celebrity because it's an aspirational thing, it's an escapist thing.
Is obsession with the minutiae of celebrities' lives healthy?
I think what I'm doing is good and positive. I entertain people every day. And I talk about anything that interests me. I talk about politics a lot, like what's happening in California with Prop 8. I talk about music a lot. I mention charities and other worthwhile causes.
Why do you try to out gay celebs?
I don't really call it outing; I call it reporting. I don't think there's anything wrong with being gay and out. And I definitely don't think that being out and gay will hurt your career in Hollywood. It's lame when people aren't honest, especially because they have nothing to lose.
But by making their private lives public, are you doing them a favor or are you sacrificing their happiness to fight homophobia?
I'm on a mission to talk about public figures' private lives. That's my job.
Is anything off-limits?
Right now, I know where Jennifer Hudson is. But what good would reporting it do me other than get me a little more traffic? That could really harm her because she's trying to mourn in private.
Tell me about your book.
It's called Red Carpet Suicide: A Survival Guide to Keeping Up with the Hiltons. I'm not just getting chuckles or drawing stuff coming out of people's noses and mouths. I'm actually conveying useful information: that it's hard work being famous. It doesn't happen to just anyone.