Perez Hilton: Off The Record
Perez Hilton is back in New York City for his comedic performance as Danny Tanner in the U.S. premier of National Lampoon’s newest parody, Full House! The Musical. The cast just wrapped up the play’s debut in Toronto, and is headed to Theater 80 from now until November 28th.
Despite time spent out of the spotlight since his son Mario’s birth in 2013, Hilton is still very much an entertainer. He cracked an easy smile when he describes Full House! and his eyes lit up at mention of his podcast. But behind the animation, he appeared a little worn down by his ever-changing lifestyle. Hilton grew up when nobody was looking, and his priorities have changed with him.
Perez Hilton first made a name for himself as an entertainment blogger on his self-titled website PerezHilton.com. He rose to infamy for coverage of celeb misadventures and snarky scribbles across paparazzi photos. Hilton has also received criticism for outing ‘N Sync singer Lance Bass in 2006. Hilton has since made amends. He became a spokesperson for the anti-bullying campaign It Gets Better in 2010, and he denounced his trolly past in a YouTube video that same year.
“I’m not perfect and I’m still going to have opinions and I’m not going to like everybody but I don’t want to be a bully. I don’t want to be called a bully. I don’t want anyone to consider that because that’s not who I am. It might have been who I was at times, but it’s definitely not who I want to be or who I’m going to be,” Hilton said in the video titled “I’m Going To Be Doing Things Differently.” He currently works with the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national organization that gives support to LGBTQ teens.
These days, Hilton has his hands full raising his son Mario and daughter Mia, born in May 2015. Along with his role as Dad both on and off stage, Hilton continues to publish on his blog daily, and he began a new podcast series PHP: Perez Hilton Podcast with cohost Chris Booker.
Contrast Magazine sat down with Hilton for a pre-performance interview where he dished on his newest projects, fatherhood and ghosts of the past.
CONTRAST: Tell us a little bit about Full House! The Musical.
PEREZ HILTON: Well the show’s super fun because it isn’t really Full House, it’s a parody. So it’s a heightened version of the TV show that you’re familiar with, and all of us are living in some parallel universe that is depraved and just hilarious.
What is especially fun for me is I have a huge journey from Act One to Act Two. I get to play both Danny Tanner the father but also Bob Saget, the actor who played Danny Tanner on the sitcom. So for Act One I’m very straight laced, and Act Two I’m insane because Bob is a bit crazy in a great way.
C: How did you get involved with the production?
PH: I’ve seen the other shows that the duo behind Full House! The Musical have done. They did Showgirls: The Musical and a Saved By The Bell parody. And I loved them so much, and I love the theater so I knew that working with them I was pretty sure I would be happy with the finished product, which I am. And I knew it would be fun and it would get a lot of press, which it has. So even if I got bad reviews, getting reviews is better than not getting reviews. People are paying attention because I’m in it, and I’m happy to be a part of something brand new that hasn’t been done before.
CM: What has the reception been like from Full House fans?
PH: People in New York are loving it. Well we did it in Toronto first, and I think they were taken aback by the racy humor. It’s very adult.
CM: You’re a comedian, and so much comedy is reliant on edginess and crossing the line. Do you think comedy can go too far? For example, Nicole Arbour’s fat shaming video on YouTube.
PH: I think comedians have the ability to make fun of – should have the ability to find humor in anything. I just think her humor was really dumb because thinking that all people who are fat are just lazy is dumb. I think somebody who is 400 – I can say this because I am a former fat person and I still struggle with that – I think a 400 or 500 pound person or even a 350 person, somebody who is very overweight somebody who is morbidly obese, if you were to ask them ‘would you rather not be,’ they would say, ‘yeah I wish I wasn’t. ‘
I think that a lot of people have food issues, an addiction. It’s an addiction. But for some reason people can be more sympathetic, can understand it more ‘oh he’s an alcoholic, he’s a drug addict.’ But I view food addiction the same way.
I’m always a food addict. I always have to work at it, and it’s so hard for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to cure myself of that. Just like alcoholics say, ‘I will always be an alcoholic,’ I will always be a food addict. So I have empathy for the people who are extremely overweight. And I think you can inspire change more through hope than through ridicule.
CM: Do you think that bullying is worse with the advent of social media?
PH: It’s nothing new. Unfortunately. It’s not going to go away, but I’d rather my child be bullied on social media than bullied in person because at least if you’re bullied on social media and you cant handle it, you can get off social media. But if you’re being bullied at school, it’s a lot harder to remove yourself from the situation. Your parents may not be able to have you move schools or people may not believe you.
The situation seems a lot more serious and potentially dangerous in the real world. At least with social media you can intellectualize it more like, ‘I don’t know these people – who cares.’ It sucks, but there’s almost an element of it’s not real.
CM: What is it like being a gay single father? How has fatherhood changed you?
PH: Being a gay single father is amazing, and it’s changed me in so many ways. Almost all for the better but it’s not all for the better – meaning I already before kids was OCD and trying to plan for the future and control the future. We can’t really do that.
Now with kids I need to think about every possible outcome, all the scenarios how best to handle them, and it takes so much planning and thought. And sometimes I get too into my head and over think things. But I think that’s good I take my job as a parent very seriously and I hold myself to a really high standard.
I want to do the best possible job for my kids otherwise why did I have kids. I love being really hands on. I love giving them the kind of upbringing I wish I had which is really fostering curiosity and activity and fun. I grew up not really playing outside much, watching way too much tv, not eating healthily, so I want their childhood to be very different from mine.
CM: On a recent podcast episode you sounded a bit homesick for Los Angeles. How has it been raising your family in NYC? Do you plan to move back?
PH: Up until now it has been great, but now that my daughter’s here, I’m really contemplating moving back. It’s really challenging in New York City with two kids – the lack of space and feeling trapped both in your house and your city. When you travel with kids you don’t travel lightly, and sometimes its nice to know if you have a car you can just easily pack all your stuff in the car and go somewhere for the weekend but if you don’t have a car, you schlep a ton of stuff with you in the train or wherever it is that you’re going.
But no place is perfect, and I have had a magical two years in New York City. It allowed me the opportunity to do this show which has been so good for my soul. It’s been wonderful to be back on the stage and just remind myself how much I enjoy it. Even if it got no reviews and even if we were playing to 20 people every night, we’ve had so much fun onstage. And that’s what life’s about trying to having as much fun as possible as often as possible.
CM: Tell us more about your podcast.
PH: I launched a podcast this summer. I had very little to no expectations with regard to the podcast but it ended up really awesome.
One of the challenges that I face is I’ve been working in entertainment now for 11 years, but I feel like a lot of people still don’t know who I am as a person. They might follow me on social media and read my website. On social media you can understand a little bit more than if you were to just read my website. You get little bit more of a clearer picture. But with the podcast, I’m able to share a lot about myself and also why I think certain things about a wide variety of issues. It’s just a great opportunity to educate and inform people. Because up until now folks might have just known silly things I’ve said or getting in trouble in the past or whatever it might be.
CM: What does the future hold for Perez Hilton?
PH: Change. The future holds hopefully just having more fun and trying new things. Continue to try new things. Continue to have fun.