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Perez in burning

Perez in burning


The Los Angeles gossip hound (real name: Mario Lavandeira) hit the big time this year, posting People magazine's Brangelina baby photos before the actual issue arrived. Then he laid claim to forcing Lance Bass out of the closet with his relentless coverage of the pop star's public romance with Amazing Race winner Reichen Lehmkuhl.

How did you rise to the top of the gossip blogosphere? I was pretty much the first of my kind. All the other sites were just rehashing stories from other sources. I hold myself to a high standard. I break stories all the time, but I won't fabricate or exaggerate just to get more page views.

Are you treated differently by P.R. flacks and the media now? It's definitely evolved. The publicists have resigned themselves to the fact that they can't spin me or make me go away. I have good relationships with a lot of them, but it took time. The press is coming around too.

Indeed, you were once being sued by the New York Post.The Post sued me back when my site was called because it sounded like their gossip page, Page Six. But now they talk about me all the time. Getting sued by them was the best thing that happened to me. It raised my profile and turned me into my own brand, kind of like Paris Hilton.

Speaking of Paris, you're friends with her, right? I met her at a party about a year ago. Paris is definitely not a regular person. She has something special that sets her apart, that "it" factor that a lot of socialites, models, and up-and-coming actresses try to emulate.

Do you go to a lot of parties? That's the work part. I usually go alone and just drink Red Bull. I average four or five hours of sleep a night. Obviously, there are worse jobs, but it's not all fun all the time.

Especially not when people personally attack you, as they often do. How do you deal with that? I love it--it means I'm doing something right. There's nothing you can say about me that I haven't already mentioned on my site. I talked about filing for bankruptcy. I put up pictures of myself doing mushrooms in Amsterdam. I'm the most imperfect person there is, but I don't have any secrets. Perez is honest and open 100% of the time--not just about celebrities but his own life too.

What other projects are you working on? I'm working on a book deal, and a radio show and a clothing line. And I'm finalizing the deal for a reality show with World of Wonder. It's a hybrid: a little bit Real World, a little The Simple Life, a little Punk'd--with a lot of celebrities.

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