Caroline D’Amore made her debut as a Los Angeles “It Girl,” appearing on the scene with her famous pals Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Eventually the modeling, acting party girl made her musical debut in West Hollywood gay clubs, where she caught the attention of the legendary DJ Skee, who signed her to her own show on Skee 24/7 called Heartbeatz. Following that was a residency at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, and her single “Kill the Clock.” Now D’Amore is concentrating on her upcoming Billboard.com Web series, DJ Diaries.
D'Amore produces and hosts DJ Diaries, where she tags along with big-name DJs including Crystal Method, Steve Aoki, and 12th Planet. The Advocate spoke with D’Amore about her troubled childhood, her mother's AIDS-related death, her connection to the West Hollywood gay scene through her sister, out actress Christie, and her thoughts on Paris Hilton’s recent remarks about gay men and AIDS.
The Advocate: You used to run with a pretty high-profile crowd, including people like Paris Hilton. How did you guys know each other?
Caroline D'Amore: I started DJ-ing about eight years ago. I used to hang in the DJ booth with DJ AM a lot and he really inspired me. I loved watching how happy he was while making other people so happy as he dropped each track. He really was my inspiration and my motivation. He was the one that told me I could do it. Paris actually hired me to DJ all of her record release parties around the world. This was before it was "cool" to be a chick DJ. We actually had a lot of fun.
What was it like growing up in L.A.?
Growing up in L.A., for me, was a lot different than you’d think. I was the daughter of a hardworking pizza man who ended up kickin’ it with the rich kids. I lived in Malibu because we opened a D'Amore's pizza there. I'd make just enough money delivering pizzas so I could pay for gas and valet at the hottest clubs. I worked to party. I must have been fired from D'Amore's 100 times. But being the owner’s daughter had perks. And, of course, free pizza for life, so I never starved.
Your mother died of AIDS when you were very young, and you were raised mostly by your dad, correct? What was that like, and how do you think it affected your life?
Yes, I was raised by my pops. I think it made me super strong, maybe too strong at times. I remember I was the only kid who didn't cry for their mommy at sleepovers. Which turned into not really needing anyone. Which made it hard to date me. Every guy always cried long before I ever did in a relationship. I'm so lucky I met someone who could handle me. My husband [rocker Bobby Alt] changed me for the better, but he loves me for the tough bitch I am. If he's not happy, even for a moment, I will totally cry.
My mother contracted the AIDS virus when I was very young by the doctors at the hospital. They gave her a precautionary blood transfusion and did not check the blood they gave her. It was a total fluke. I was lied to for 15 years about it. I always thought she died from toxic shock. I was very angry that my father lied to me, but I now understand that he just did not want the stigma of the disease to affect my friendships at school. As we all know, kids can be mean, and my father was trying to protect us. The stigma of this disease has always been something I'd like to help remove. Anyone at any time can contract this disease, gay, straight, a mom of four with no drug history. Anyone. Everyone needs to educate themselves on how to be protected and also about how to discuss this disease without adding to the stigma.
It shaped my outlook on life by reminding me that life is so precious and can be very short. Live life to the fullest, but be smart and take care of yourself.
You have a pretty significant relationship and fan base in the LGBT community. What does that stem from?
My sister and best friend, Christie, came out at age 15 to only me. Slumber parties weren't always what my dad thought. I always had to stick up for her within the family and outside of it, so I've always had an open heart from a very young age. My first club experience ever was Ultra Suede and I totally fell in love with the culture and scene. One of my first gigs as a singer was at Cherry Pop, and my sisters and I do the AIDS Walk every year in honor of my mother under the name Team Bonnie Major. These walks are always eye-openers because even in West Hollywood there are people spreading hate on the sidelines. I literally have to stop myself from kicking some ass when I see these hate-filled people with demeaning signs, as we are all trying to help a cause that's dear to our hearts. I now just feel sorry for them as they live these dark, shallow, ignorant lives. ... I will always stand up for what I believe in, and that's simply every human being on earth should be treated as equals.
How do you feel about the remarks that Paris Hilton recently made about gay men having AIDS? Did that upset you?
When I heard the news about Paris I was shocked and did not believe it. She has always known about how my mother passed and has always had many gay friends. When I heard the recording I was very disappointed. I know that she did not mean what she said and was just joking with some gay friends. However, I do think it's time to grow up and always think about what you say and how it can affect others. I'm always the first to snap at someone who makes a negative remark about anyone because of how they were born. Whether it’s skin color, race, sexuality, whatever it may be. I'm not perfect, and I've absolutely said things I regret, but let’s all take Paris's indecency as a lesson learned and be more thoughtful about the things we say.