Perez Hilton grabs my tape recorder and puts it close to his mouth.
“So you can get every juicy word I say,” laughs Perez, lounging on a leather couch at the Drake Hotel in Toronto. “‘Cause everything I have to say is soooo important. Everything!”
He holds it throughout the interview, as he stretches, shifts, and throws his head back in laughter. My tape recorder has never been used this way.
I’m just hoping he doesn’t somehow turn off the recording as he waves it about in front of his face while he talks. Flamboyant he is and definitely a chatter, but Perez has a few other things in mind for his future, other than just blogging, and he lets me know right away.
Known famously for the celebrity pictures and comments that he posts on his web site (PerezHilton.com), Perez is one of the most hated and most interesting individuals to come out of the celebrity machine in a while. He’s not afraid to post an embarrassing photo of a celeb, even if they are his so-called friends, and he’s quickly made a name for himself as one of the best sources to see what the rich and famous are up to.
His Miami-based web site is very successful and has gained him national attention, and even a bit of attention here up North. He’s in Toronto to attend the MuchMusic Video Awards when I sit down with him. He holds my tape recorder in one hand and his pink Sidekick in the other (which rings halfway through our brief chat, to which he rolls his eyes and silences it).
“I want to try to infiltrate Nick Lachey’s camp and get some information,” he says slyly about his time at MuchMusic. “He’s gone through quite a few girls recently. He goes through the girls like water.”
He has also appeared on MuchMusic to dish out Hollywood gossip before.
His latest endeavor? He’s going to be on TV soon, joining the reality show line-up. Most people shop their idea around to production companies, but Perez is different. He auditioned production companies for his show.
“I wanted it to come about, so I had a concept for a show and I auditioned production companies,” he explains. “I met with people that did a bunch of reality shows, but I ended up going with this great production company called World of Wonder. They’ve done ‘Show Biz Moms and Dads,’ ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye,’ ‘Inside Deep Throat,’ ‘Party Monster,’ so they do these cool, campy, queer, edgy, fun stuff.”
The process isn’t easy as Perez, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, found out.
“It’s been a long process, really long,” he points out with a massive sigh. “I’ve been doing this since September, so gosh, nine months already. And to come to air probably won’t happen until 2007.”
Perez has something to work with; people love his site and log on just to grab a laugh as he pokes fun of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline (who he affectionately calls K-Fag), Tom Cruise, and former N’ Syncer Lance Bass (known as Frostylocks) to name a few. But his future is more than just posting celebrity pictures. Perez knows what he wants to do and makes it happen.
“I’m excited because it’s not like ‘Oh, I want to do a reality TV show.’ I have a cool concept. It’s fresh, interesting, exciting, reality TV show that hasn’t been done before,” he says. “We’re shooting stuff now, not exactly the whole series but it’s on its way.
“It’s a hybrid show, so it’s got elements of some of my favorite other reality shows. It’s a little bit ‘Real World,’ a little bit ‘Surreal Life,’ a little bit ‘Punk’d’ all rolled into one,” he adds.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he says of the new venture. “But thankfully I’ve got a good agent, a good production company; eventually it will end up somewhere.”
But back to what we know and love him for today, his blogging and his way of making celebrities look like humans too.
Does he ever feel bad about dishing the dirt on some people? Not really. It’s all out there and up for grabs.
“Sometimes I feel bad,” he says grudgingly
“It’s kind of like a tango. Dancing the tango can be complicated. It’s an art form and hopefully, I’ve mastered it,” he laughs. “I’m always learning. I’m always trying to dance better. It’s hard because it’s about relationships and trust and that’s how I get information. I try to maintain that.”
I want to know what he does when he sees a hater at a Hollywood party. Simple; he stays as far away from them as possible.
“I’ll avoid them, I’ll stay away. I’m a pussy when it comes to that,” he claims. “I don’t like confrontation in my real life. I just like talking about confrontation in the lives of celebrities. I try to stay away from my own drama.”
My tape recorder is dangerously close to his mouth as he gets more serious about what he is talking about.
Don’t think for a minute that just because Perez is a fun-loving, party kind of guy that he doesn’t take his work extremely seriously. He works incredibly long hours for his job that just kind of happened for him.
“I never, ever could have dreamed or planned any of this. If I did I probably would have failed. Everything has come around very organically. It just happened,” Perez says of his fame. “I work really hard. I spend hours, and hours, and hours on my web site. I answer all my emails. Sometimes I get 1000 emails a day. I answer everyone, sometimes not the same day, but I do get everyone.”
He takes pride in his work and he’s now comfortable with his character Perez Hilton that has gotten him to so many places.
“I love what I do and I have every incentive to work hard because I love it and I work for myself and furthering the Perez brand. I really respect it and I treat it like gold,” he explains. “At first when I would go to events and introduce myself as Perez Hilton I thought it was kind of lame, that I should just say I’m Mario. But now I’m like oh, fuck it. Perez created opportunity for me. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed of and people like Perez. Some people hate him too, but who cares?” he laughs.
Perez has been sued a couple of times, but it doesn’t bother him. In the first case, he was sued by The New York Post’s Page Six, because his web site used to be pagesixsixsix.com. Apparently it infringed on their Page Six title and they didn’t find it amusing. So that forced Perez to use his name Perez Hilton and thus the web site followed.
“It forced me to be my own brand,” he reminisces with laughter.
The second time, Colin Farrell tried to sue Perez for offering a link to another web site that had his sex tape on it.
“I was like, ‘bring it on,’ because I knew what would happen. I didn’t do anything wrong, it wasn’t on my web site,” Perez states. “They didn’t have a case against me.”
He’s known for his famous friends too, like his namesake Paris Hilton, Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan, Courtney Love, and many others.
“Lindsay has dabbled in Kabbalah before,” Perez chatters about gal-pal Lohan’s latest friendship with Madonna. “Shit, I wouldn’t mind being taken under Madonna’s wing either. I would learn from Madonna. Madonna, make me your Kabbalah bitch. Just don’t take my money. They want like 10 per cent of my income. I’m not giving you 10 per cent of my income. Shit, you should be happy I’m promoting your brand.”
Perez plans to come back to Toronto soon, and will definitely be here for the Film Festival.
“I’m serious about spinning. I want to learn to be a DJ. DJ Perezelle. I’m serious about that. I will do it when I come to Toronto, so people book me! Book me!
“I really was talking to someone about DJ’ing,” he claims. “So who knows? I don’t really know how to DJ, but who cares, I’ll learn on the job.”