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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 08/20/2007

Perez Hilton Comes to Town

By Liz Kelly

Perez Hilton -- aka Mario Lavandeira.
(Liz Kelly for washingtonpost.com)
Video: Liz Quizzes Perez

Aug. 17, Arlingon, Va.

10:05 p.m. It's Friday night at Clarendon ballroom and event promoters -- in this case radio station Hot 99.5 -- are buzzing the assorted journos gathered in a basement greenroom regularly to assure us that he --- Perez Hilton -- is still coming, and soon.

Perez Hilton is hot. So hot that in the past month he's turned up in the realities of both Victoria Beckham (on NBC's one-hour "Welcome to America" special) and Kathy Griffin (on her Bravo show "My Life on the D List") and, for one brief shining morning, in Rosie O'Donnell's vacated "View" seat. He calls his celeb-skewering blog "Hollywood's Most-Hated Web Site" and this self-described "queen" -- who tonight is sporting haphazardly-dyed orange hair, a rumpled shirt and a shiny red tie -- is a bona fide sensation. He's a must-read for those of us who can't live without a daily dose of schadenfreude and like it spiked with a healthy portion of F-bombs and crudely drawn epithets all wrapped up in a pretty pink-framed package.

Last Friday, though, he was the special guest at Hot 99.5's "Little Black Dress" party. A celebritologist might translate "special" to "paid" and "guest" to "cashing in while the getting's good," but hey, it's all good when -- for a few glittery hours -- suburban D.C. becomes a surreal outpost of the crazed tabloid culture. Sundance, Utah may have a rehabbing Lindsay Lohan, but this Friday night Arlington has Perez Hilton, Good Charlotte's Joel and Benji Madden and -- everyone there hopes -- Joel's preggo fiancee Nicole Richie, who'd been spotted earlier in the day cruising Georgetown baby stuff stores and noshing at Nathans (last item).

10:35 p.m. "Who are you texting?" I ask as I sit down for my five allotted minutes with Perez. He's been distracted by his ever-present Sidekick all night, so hoping to hear that he's exchanging catty remarks with one of his celeb friends, I ask. "I'm e-mailing with some friends in Florida who are trying to confirm a rumor I heard that Castro died a few days ago." Okay, I hardly expected that. Perez -- real name Mario Lavandeira -- is originally from Florida, the son of Cuban immigrants and eagerly awaiting the demise of Fidel Castro. He's hoping to break the news on his site and, in fact, already posted an item earlier in the evening. The dictator is sandwiched between items about "dreamy" Zac Efron and Criss Angel's assertion that he's not "banging Britney."

The rest of the interview (Watch the Video)


is pretty standard fare (his success -- "I churn it out, honey," and his upcoming VH1 show -- "It's gonna be jam-packed with cool people, not D-listers") but I do manage to find out that Perez is not a fan of the night's other big-name guests of Good Charlotte's Joel and Benji Madden ("Why should I be?" he asks. Why, indeed?) and exact a promise from him that he'll go pantsless if Nicole Richie shows at the event.

11:05 Alas, Nicole is a no-show. Clever girl. I wonder if she's kicked back at the Four Seasons with a pint of Haagen-Dazs and some hotel room On Demand -- or if that's just what I'd rather be doing. Perez takes the stage and manages to introduce the Madden brothers without letting slip that he doesn't like their music. First, of course, he manages to mention a recently-engaged first daughter and nasty bits in the same breath and the room erupts into howling and applause. One starts to get the feeling that he could start ladling out Kool-Aid.


Crowds queue outside Arlington's Clarendon Ballroom for a chance to party with Perez. (Liz Kelly for washingtonpost.com)

Then, a wall of black-clad security guards moves toward the stage and deposit the Madden brothers for their brief acoustic set. We media types have been strongly warned against taking any photos of the Maddens or even deigning to approach them -- rumor has it that Nicole Richie recently forbade Joel to appear in pix with other chicks. Maybe Benji's abstaining because he's having a bad mascara day. Anyone caught violating the photo rule gets a picture-ruining high-powered flashlight to the lens. Fans and sponsors, of course, are free to snap away.

The Madden brothers play a few songs, crack wise with each other, goof on tipsy fanettes and leave the stage. Hot 99.5 host Kane yells "He got engaged yesterday. Congratulations, Joel!" as they depart and, with a brief glance back, D.C.'s tenuous link to Nicole Richie's simple life is gone, headed to Canada to kick off a tour with Justin Timberlake.

1:41 a.m. Perez Hilton, his work done in D.C., is somewhere near a computer, posting "sickening" pics of a happy Jennifer Garner with her baby and scoffing at Gwyneth Paltrow's "smirk."

By Liz Kelly  | August 20, 2007; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Catching Up With..., Celebrities, Hollyweird, Miscellaneous, Tabloids  
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