By Michael E. Miller
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"I was the big, gay, fat kid in an all-boy Jesuit school, so my friends were all the ones in, like, the drama club ... they weren't even all in my class. I was friends with younger students," he recalls.
Yet, The Bitch has noted, fate sometimes metes out a mild form of biblical justice for high school outcasts: They who were once rejected shall rise to success and popularity, while the mean girls and big men on campus shall hit their social and mental peak during senior year and then decline rapidly.
That certainly seems to be true in the case of Perez Hilton, the scrappy, salacious identity Lavandeira adopted four years ago. After his first Website (PageSixSixSix.com The Bitch owns the T-shirt) became popular in 2003 for mercilessly skewering Britney Spears, Lavandeira taunted and eventually befriended some of today's hottest stars. Paris, Lindsay, Nicole Lavandeira hung out with them at all of the most exclusive nightclubs, including Butter in Manhattan and Rain in Las Vegas. When the New York Post threatened a lawsuit for the appropriation of its indomitable gossip column's name in 2004, he changed his URL to PerezHilton.com and dubbed himself "the trashtastic Cuban cousin of Paris and Nicky."
Some of Perez's blog rivals have called him more sycophant than journalist. Often, when other gossip sites prominently feature negative stories about Paris Hilton, Perez shines a soft-focus lens on her antics. He has a perfectly rational explanation for his self-editing: "Here's a perfect example: A few weeks ago there were these pictures of Paris Hilton exiting a car, and you could see her vagina. I don't need to put those pictures up on my site, because we've all seen her vagina already! Come on! It's out there for public consumption! But if there's a story that relates to one of my friends, I won't ignore it. Of course I'll talk about it!"
Perez describes himself as "entertainer first, journalist second," and says he isn't afraid to piss off his famous friends by revealing dangerous truths his months-long taunting of Lance "I'm Gay" Bass ultimately resulted in the boy-bander coming out on the cover of People magazine.
"There might have been a point when I was scared of that, but now that I've gotten to this level where I've really established myself, I don't really care anymore. Thankfully the friendships I do have with celebrities are genuine, and it's not like ass-kissing, 'Hello, gorgeous.' I'm unapologetically me," Perez says.
The Miami-boy-gone-Hollywood is inching closer to his goal. Following appearances on CNN's Headline News morning show Robin & Company and a plug on Howard Stern's radio smorgasbord in May, Perez achieved his ambition of getting a million hits on his site in one day. "Now I have a new goal: two million a day by the end of the year," he proclaims.
The Bitch caught up with the busy gossipmonger this past week at Miami International Airport, just as he was headed back to his home in New York after a whirlwind trip to the subtropics. Three days before, he had hosted the Social Miami party at the Sagamore, and scored front-row Madonna tickets from his amiga Ingrid Casares. He spent time with his large Cuban family.
While in Miami, Perez also filmed segments for his yet-to-be-named reality-television show, which is being produced by World of Wonder's Randy Barbato (the guy who brought you both the documentary and fictionalized versions of Party Monster). The show will be ready to air early in 2007, providing it finds a nurturing cable network.
Hilton was most excited to talk about the Belen Jesuit class-of-1996 reunion, which was held July 22. In an online post before the event, he had commented, "Saturday night we have our ten-year high school reunion, which we're anxious/nervous about. We went to this all-boy Jesuit prep school in Miami. Wonder how they'd react to Perez in his pink satin suit?"
According to Perez, the committee for the student-led alumni organization had agreed to let him bring his reality-show camera crew. On the day of the event, his invitation was abruptly rescinded. "They didn't call and say literally: 'Don't come.' They just said, 'Don't come with a camera crew.' Which was upsetting to me because they had said yes, we could do it, and then all of a sudden the day before the event, they said no," he laments. "We only get a certain amount of money per episode, and it's pretty expensive to fly a crew out to Miami. I was more upset about that than the fact of not being able to film my reunion. I was like, you know what, they disrespected me, so I don't need to be in that environment, and I'm gonna have my own party! I e-mailed them all, and I was, like, you know, whoever wants to come, come; if you don't, whatever. I had two people [from Belen] come, which was two more than I expected," he laughs.
It seems the decision to uninvite a former student listed on Wikipedia as one of the school's "newsworthy alumni" came as a surprise to the alumni association.