Like his beloved pop culture icons, Perez Hilton is divisive. But unlike other celebrity gossip bloggers who peaked only to disappear from our bookmarks, he has staying power. Over the past few years he has shaped the way the world looks at Hollywood by breaking stories before the weeklies, fearlessly posting images that demonize him among certain starlets, and working 15-hour days to assure that his one-man show is the freshest in town. Take it from someone who blogs for a living — maintaining that kind of schedule is not for the weak of heart.
But that’s the secret behind Perez, and the reason why we were intrigued when we heard he was writing a book. He’s not jaded. In fact, he’s the opposite — a passionate fanboy who will run around his apartment with his laptop squealing because he got a Christmas card from a Spice Girl.
We’ll admit, reading Red Carpet Suicide: A Survival Guide on Keeping Up with the Hiltons on the subway made us feel sheepish. It’s very red. We weren’t hitting a refresh button from the safety of a cubicle. But then hemade us laugh out loud. A few times. And we realized that there’s a reason that Perez has risen from the blogosphere and it has nothing to do with his brilliantly obscene Photoshopping skills. It’s the fact that he knows better than most what lurks behind Tinseltown’s curtain (the same one he frequently rips back for his readers), and yet he’s still as sucked in as the rest of us by the cult of celebrity.
After the jump we interview the “queen of mean” (who’s actually frighteningly nice) about his new book, his plans for a new Web site, and the thrill of taking his first real vacation in years.
Flavorwire: Your book talks a about the Hilton generation of Hollywood — a time when a disastrous celebrity moment that would have at once been the end of a career is actually a claim to fame. When did it start?
Perez Hilton: There has always been this type of celebrity, but now because of the Internet there is a lot more attention drawn to a lot of the same people. I would have had so much fun with Elizabeth Taylor back in the day — the pills, the drugs, the men.
FW: So you still find what you do fun — you’re not jaded by what you know?
Perez Hilton: I am my reader, and hopefully they can live vicariously through me. When I’m interviewing someone like Victoria Beckham or freaking out over a card from Geri Halliwell, I’m also excited for that version of me from 12 years ago who would have been overjoyed by the experience.
FW: Do you ever get tired of going out to parties in LA?
PH: I don’t go out as much now, because I’m usually at home working. When I do go out, it’s for work for me. I rarely bringing a plus one, because I don’t have time to be baby-sit. What I do is all about who I know. You meet one person, who introduces you to another person, and so on. They’re all potential sources for me. I think people are more inclined to give me information at times because I’m an individual, and they know I’m not going to rat anyone out to my editor or a legal department.
FW: Do you ever eavesdrop on what celebrities are saying for the site?
PH: I don’t want to be anywhere that I’m not wanted. And frankly, I don’t need to be. Usually if you chat someone up, they’ll tell you what you need to know. If not, I just kiss ass — but when I do that, it’s always genuine. And I’d never pay anyone for information. All of the magazines do that, but the National Enquirer is the only one that’s honest about it. It taints your information when you’re waving a wad of cash in a source’s face.
FW: Do you still hang out with the same people you did before you were a household name?
PH: Most of my best friends are people who I’ve known for a long time now. A lot of them work behind the scenes in the entertainment industry, and unfortunately a lot of them have been laid off recently.
FW: You’re in airport now. Where are you headed?
PH: Buenos Aires. I’m going on my first vacation in a really long time. I wanted to be able to refresh before I started promoting the book in New York. I’ve got a week of down time, but I’ll still be posting for a few hours each day because I’m the only person who writes for the site. I want to start another blog next year — I’ll have to hire someone else when I do that. I’m excited to make a move that’s horizontal like that, because so far all of my moves have been vertical.
FW: Does the idea of doing something new scare you?
PH: It might take off, it might not. It’s not a risk, and if it fails, I don’t really care. I’ll just keep that person I hire and have them help out on perezhilton.com, so I have fewer 17 hour days each week. The longer I’ve been blogging, the longer my days have become. There’s just so much to cover for so many people. I’m like the McDonald’s of the Internet. You can find a nice salad. I talk about politics, music, art, non-profit causes. But then I also love to shine the light on celebrities behaving badly — that’s the less healthy stuff on the menu. Music is what I’m the most passionate about though. I like to interpret the world through song. And then share it with 9 million people.
FW: Have you thought of launching a music blog?
PH: No, it would devalue the effectiveness of what I do now because there would be a much smaller readership. My readers are not sheep. If I tell them to go out and buy an album, they have to listen to an artist for themselves and choose whether or not to do so.
FW: Was it a nice change of pace working on the book? What are you hoping people take away?
PH: I was looking forward to being able to write in full paragraphs — it’s a much different artform than blogging. I hope that people enjoy the book and laugh a little. And I hope that it appeals to as many people as possible. People who don’t normally go out and buy books. I don’t read books or magazines right now — I don’t even watch TV. Hopefully, that will all change once I have more time.