After years of being known as “Hollywood’s most hated gossip blogger,” Perez Hilton (Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr.) is now trying to be gentler with his blog’s content.
In 2004, Hilton founded the Perez Hilton site, a gossip blog site dedicated to tormenting celebrities and leaving rude comments on pictures. While the site did become popular amongst its viewers, so did the hostility that he created between him and celebrities in the entertainment industry, without even realizing it.
In 2010, Perez offered his assistance to writer Dan Savage who started the It Gets Better campaign in response to Tyler Clementi’s death. Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate used a webcam to spy on him while he engaged in sexual activity with another boy, and invited others to watch. However, because Perez was known for being a gossip blogger who aired out celebrities without any regard for their privacy, he was met with instant backlash.
“People wrote such hateful comments that I couldn’t bring myself to read even half of them,” Perez wrote in his memoir: “TMI: My Life in Scandal.”
“The strength of the hate storm really shook me and popped the bubble I had been living in. I realized for the first time that it wasn’t just a handful of people who disliked what I did — it was the overwhelming majority. I finally understood that the things I wrote genuinely hurt people, and deeply,” he said.
The 42-year-old media personality was disliked by many celebrities, including Roseanne Barr, who, according to the memoir, allegedly wanted to abduct Perez and take him to her property in Hawaii so that she can accuse him of trespassing, and then shoot him.
“I didn’t care,” Hilton wrote in his book. “That was partly down to being young and believing I would be successful forever, but it was also because I thought I was happy. In reality, I was drowning in negativity. I was stuck playing a part, too afraid to change, too afraid of losing my readers if I suddenly stopped being so mean.”
It wasn’t until Perez was punched by Will.i.Am’s manager at a Toronto Awards Show party in 2010 that he realized the severity of the damage he had created between himself and the industry.
Elsewhere in his memoir, Hilton told the story of his relationship with former friend, Lady Gaga.
“I’ll never forget the way she seemed to be glowing,” he wrote. “There are certain people you feel like you’ve known for a long time from the moment you meet them, and that’s exactly how it was with Gaga.”
The pair became so close that they even spent holidays together, and Perez referred to her as his “wifey.” But, that all changed due to fame, Hilton said.
“As she became Lady Gaga to the world, she began drinking in a different, more serious way, while also popping all kinds of pills,” the blogger explained.
Despite the change, Perez stood by Gaga’s side, especially when a feud allegedly sparked between her and Christina Aguilera.
Hilton trashed talked Aguilera “mercilessly in his column,” even though she performed at his birthday party months earlier. “I started giving Christina all kinds of terrible nicknames,” he wrote, of the beef, which reportedly erupted over Aguilera’s claims that Gaga copied her on her Bionic album.
“Looking back now, it’s one of the things I’m most ashamed of, and I can also see that Gaga was using me as a tool — not only against Christina but against other rivals too. She never explicitly asked me to write nasty things about people, but by moaning to me, she made me feel like I, her best friend, should do something about it,” Hilton said.
After a “misunderstanding” during a TV special interview with Gaga in Australia, Hilton said their friendship was over. Two years later, while looking for an apartment in New York, Hilton began receiving hate mail, accusing him of tormenting Gaga.
“After reading a few of the messages, I realized that Gaga had tweeted something about me earlier that day, so I checked what she had written,” he wrote.
“She accused me of following her, of being a creepy stalker. My head was spinning. Had she gone completely crazy? Was she so drunk or high on drugs that she had finally lost all sense of reality?” he said.
As he continued to scroll through the messages, Perez realized that he was searching for an apartment in Gaga’s building, and after a fan noticed him and tweeted the news, Gaga went into a frenzy.
“Why, after two years of silence, would I suddenly start stalking her?” he wrote. “It was sheer persecution mania, and once I got over the initial shock and deleted all the hate mail, I actually just felt sad for her.”
Now, Hilton, a father of three, still runs his blog site but says he is attempting to make the platform kinder.
“One of the many things I regret is that I hurt so many people by giving them nasty nicknames, and above all that I was unkind to the children of celebrities,” he wrote.
“I now see that I never needed to be so mean or cruel. I would’ve been fine anyway, just by being who I was.”