Perez Hilton, rumormonger, blogger and creative force behind PerezHilton.com, a.k.a. “Hollywood’s most-hated Web site,” debuted his own fashion line for Hot Topic this weekend. As a line of acolytes forms outside the entrance of the Hollywood & Highland Hot Topic, we catch Hilton midway through an answer to a reporter’s questions about an actress whose name we miss. “She’ll fuck anything that moves,” he is saying.
Photo by Gendy Alimurung
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One of his PR flacks practically chokes on her champagne. “He’ll say anything,” she says, recovering. “He just puts it all out there.”
Putting it all out there recently involved posting a photo of Madonna flexing her biceps. “Dear M.,” he wrote, “there is such a thing as working out too much, xoox, P.”
Regarding a photo of Madonna leaving a hotel in London in a purple flowered dress, he wrote: “How Do We Say This Delicately??? Uhmmmm … What the fuck are you wearing?????”
No one is safe. From Al Gore and Martha Stewart to Hayden (a.k.a. “Gayden”) Christensen, who “was looking super yummy yummy screw.”
“I take what I do seriously,” he tells another reporter. “I approach my work as a journalist seriously.”
I don’t have hard data on this, but Perez Hilton is probably the first journalist to market his own line of striped knee-high socks. His favorite piece in the new collection, though, is a gray hoodie printed with a skull, crossbones, a rainbow, black hearts and twinkling stars.
“I love hoodies,” he says. “I have a huge collection of hoodies in my closet. I love this one because it kicks ass. Even if you don’t know who I am, or even if you don’t like me, you can still rock this and look amazing.”
He would love to see Miley Cyrus and other teen-girl celebrities wearing his designs, but he hopes teenagers in general will like them. Personally, he can’t remember what he himself wore in high school. “It was so long ago,” he says. “Probably what my mom bought for me.”
Who loves Perez Hilton? A couple of pretty girls look fit to faint as Hilton signs their stuff. They move over to the register to buy some Perez Hilton flip-flops. Next up is a 40-something woman. Then more teenage girls. Then a girl in a wheelchair escorted in by her father. She buys a puffy green Perez Hilton journal (“Jot down all the latest gossip in this teal journal … pink lined paper. Includes a sticker sheet”). Hilton signs the cover, then steps away from the large banner displaying his name in loopy pink script to crouch near her chair for a hug.
One of the littlest fans to seek an autograph is a girl named Cassie. She is 10 years old. She has been a Perez Hilton fan for approximately one hour.
“She just found out about him,” says her mother, a chipper blonde with a Southern accent, as a bewildered Cassie has her picture taken. “Mommy was a fan. I told her, ‘Do you know how many stars he knows?’”
How many, indeed. He recently met and hit it off with Tracey Ullman at the White House Correspondents dinner. (Yes, Perez Hilton was at the White House Correspondents dinner.)
He’s the fool in a Shakespeare play, of course. The trickster. The truth-telling clown with the colorful hair — today it’s whipped into a brown and cotton-candy-pink froth. People mock him, loathe him and worship him. At times, all at once. When a celeb is a “home-wrecking whore” (Evan Rachel Wood), he’ll call her out. Yet when someone is “lovely and talented” (Anne Hathaway) or getting her screwed-up life together (Britney), he’ll say so as well. He is better than anyone at ridiculing and milking this retarded, soul-destroying, impossibly glamorous and tragicomic world of stardom that every single one of us entertainment journalists and critics earn a living by.
“Oh, definitely,” he says when asked if he’s ever considered designing formalwear. “But I don’t want to talk too much about it and tip my hat too soon.”
News in the apparel industry has it that the Hot Topic chain isn’t doing too well lately. Sales have been declining since 2004. Partnering with Hilton is an experiment, an attempt to reinsert itself into the pop-cultural Zeitgeist and wrangle back the teen-girl demographic. At the end of the month, the chain will be sending him out to signings in San Francisco and Las Vegas. So even as his detractors cry, “What is this world coming to?” Hilton continues to solidify his empire built on gossip.
“Nice bag,” a man says as I walk out, clutching a Perez Hilton “Gossip Gangster” canvas tote. It’s tough to tell if he’s being sincere or sarcastic. Does he love it? Hate it? What does it matter, Hilton would likely say, so long as he notices it?