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Interview: Perez Hilton

Perez Hilton chats with Time Out Kids about romance, future kids and his new children's book, The Boy with Pink Hair.

Catapulted to success by a candid, snarky website that pokes fun at celebrities and chronicles their all-too-human foibles, Perez Hilton—his pen name and the name of his site—is not just another blogger but a celebrity in his own right. His signature, no-holds-barred edge has softened of late, however, and his first children's book, The Boy with Pink Hair (Celebra, $18; ages 4 to 8), debuts this month. Time Out Kids chatted with Hilton about the creative process, his future children and what it's been like to put the kibosh on his bad-boy persona.

Congratulations on your new book.
Thank you. I'm probably more excited about this than anything else I've ever done. It's a story about being different, accepting others for who they are, finding things that make you special—sharing that with the world. It's something I would have loved to have when I was young. I dedicated the book to my future children, and I can't wait for them to read it.

Wow. Well, how soon do you think you'll be meeting those kids?
Hopefully soon. I'm not pregnant now [Laughs], but when I have a little more time. I want to be a very present and involved parent.

Did you always think you'd write a story for kids?
Not at all. It happened very organically. I was promoting my last book at an event where Mario Lopez was promoting his children's book, and I flippantly said to him, "Well, I should write a children's book, about a boy with pink hair." I had put no thought into it whatsoever. And then it was as if this fire was lit under me and I was like, Well now I need to really do this.

And how did it go?
It was definitely a process, but I got the whole story out in one sitting. It's almost like Lady Gaga talking about her songwriting process—not that I'm comparing myself to Lady Gaga, but she calls it almost like "vomiting a song out," and gets it all out at once.

You said you wish you'd had a book like this growing up. Did you experience bullying as a child?
I did. I went to an all-boys Jesuit school where it wasn't the easiest thing to be gay—obviously gay—but in the closet. However, I think I was probably bullied just as much, if not more, for being fat.

You seemed quite sincere when you said on Ellen DeGeneres that you'd had enough making excuses for being mean yourself. Has it been hard to leave that part of your persona behind?
It was hard, scary and risky. I was prepared for the worst, but thankfully, that has not happened. It was a big wake-up call last fall, when I was talking about all those gay teenagers committing suicide and a lot of people kept calling me a hypocrite and a bully. I kept justifying my behavior, saying, "Oh, these are celebrities. They know what they're signing up for." But if a kid is reading my website and has seen me calling whatever actress an unpleasant name, that's giving them an excuse to do the same.

I can't hide behind this character, the mask of Perez Hilton, anymore. So in addition to putting a more positive energy out into the world, I'm revealing more of my true self. This book is a great representation of that.

What's the biggest compliment you could get from a kid who's read your book?
"You should write another one [Laughs]. I want more!"

Perez Hilton will read, sign books and take questions at Barnes & Noble Union Square on Sept 6 at 6pm.

 

 

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