Reconsidering Perez Hilton
BY Jeremy Kinser
March 21 2011 6:10 PM ET
How did you react to it?
I was extremely hurt by it, but it was a huge wakeup call. I thought, I’m trying to do good here and raise awareness, help, and people are spitting in my face. That’s how strongly I felt about it. I had to step back and take a look in the mirror and say, ‘Gosh, if so many people are saying you’re a bully and a hypocrite, then there’s some truth to that,’ even if I didn’t want to admit it. I decided I didn’t want that perception out there. If it was accurate, then I needed to change that asap.
Has it been difficult to avoid falling back into your old way of writing about celebrities?
I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m not saying I won’t fuck up. I’m not saying I’m a saint. I am saying I’m taking active steps every day and with every post and consciously acting differently and making that public and broadcasting it. I think that’s important. That’s why I went on Ellen and why I made a video, which is a very public proclamation. I could have made that change and only readers of my website would have known. I wanted it to hopefully inspire others instead of just people who read my site. I feel that these issues are bigger and more important to me. I’m just doing my part, like we can all do our parts to help not just young people but everyone.
A story circulated that Jennifer Aniston convinced you to change.
There’s a slight misconception about that. I don’t think she ever took credit for it. But I did run into her a while before I made the public change. I told her that I had already been thinking about this so it wasn’t some overnight change after meeting her. I had raised these questions before, but justified why it wouldn’t make sense and why I continued the path I did for so long.
How did you justify it?
I kept telling myself it would be as if Lady Gaga wanted to release a rap album for her next record. People would likely hate it because that’s not the brand she’s created for herself. [Laughs] But then again if Gaga created an amazing rap album it probably would work. Who knows? She is Lady Gaga, after all. I was paralyzed by fear into not making the change on my website which I had slowly been making in my personal life. That’s why I launched Coco Perez and Fit Perez and Teddy Hilton. All of those websites by nature and design were more positive in putting a kinder, gentler energy out there.
What do you say to your critics who still hold resentment against you and say you won’t change?
I have changed and there’s no denying that. For some people there’s no way to right the wrongs I’ve done in the past, but I’m not necessarily trying to do that. I’m just trying to make the present and the future better. I’m trying to lead by example and being the change that I want to see. I acknowledge that I wrote and said things that were very hurtful to people. Hopefully going forward I won’t have to have that reaction anymore. It’s actually been the opposite. I was really scared about doing this. I was prepared for the worst.
What did you expect to happen?
I expected traffic to go way down and all my readers would stop reading. Thankfully that hasn’t happened. In fact since October when I went on Ellen’s show and made the proclamation it’s been the happiest and most rewarding time both personally and professionally. In the past three months alone I was in the video for Rihanna’s for “S&M.” Britney gave me a lovely little shout out on Twitter, calling me a firecracker and saying my website is a guilty pleasure, Eminem name checked me in a song, albeit not very favorably. [Laughs] It’s nice to feel that seven years after I started the site, I’m still relevant.