What­ever hap­pened to Paris Hil­ton?

LONG BE­FORE ANY­BODY HAD HEARD OF THE KAR­DASHI­ANS, PARIS HIL­TON WAS THE BIG­GEST STAR ON THE PLANET. BUT NOW, AGED 35, SHE TELLS STEL­LAR HOW SHE CARVED OUT A MORE PRI­VATE EX­IS­TENCE

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - By JOR­DAN BAKER

Paris Hil­ton – the pioneer of be­ing famous for be­ing famous – is an aunt. Her niece, Lily Roth­schild, is al­most four months old and, ac­cord­ing to dot­ing Hil­ton, the most beau­ti­ful baby that ever lived. She is prob­a­bly also one of the best dressed, given her aunt’s pas­sion for shop­ping. But we can’t be cer­tain on ei­ther count, be­cause the world has never seen a photo of her.

That’s right. Paris and Nicky Hil­ton, once two of the most pho­tographed women in the world, whose im­ages built their brands and topped up their for­tunes, who were paid a ru­moured $1 mil­lion to first come to Aus­tralia just over a decade ago to be pho­tographed, have not re­leased a pic­ture of Lily. What’s more, when Lily is old enough, Paris Hil­ton will ac­tively dis­cour­age her from fol­low­ing in her own foot­steps.

“I wouldn’t rec­om­mend [re­al­ity TV],” she says. “[Lily] is go­ing to do much big­ger things in life than that. I think it’s bet­ter to be a busi­ness­woman.”

Hil­ton is now 35 and has, she would have us be­lieve, evolved. She de­scribes her­self as an en­tre­pre­neur by day and DJ by night. She boasts a per­fume em­pire (she is re­leas­ing Gold Rush, her 20th fra­grance, mak­ing her the sec­ond-most pro­lific scent mogul since El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor), 28 Paris Hil­ton hand­bag and ac­ces­sory bou­tiques, a global prop­erty port­fo­lio, and a re­cent DJ set at Burn­ing Man fes­ti­val to back up her claim.

“I en­joy be­ing a busi­ness­woman,” says Hil­ton. “It’s what I care about; build­ing my brand and busi­nesses around the world. I feel proud of the em­pire I have built. I like for peo­ple to fo­cus more on my work as a busi­ness­woman, rather than be­ing a celebrity. I think it’s more im­por­tant to be a re­spected busi­ness­woman.”

In 2006 Hil­ton was brought out to Aus­tralia by ad guru John Sin­gle­ton at a ru­moured cost of half a mil­lion dol­lars to pro­mote the now-de­funct beer Bondi Blonde. She ar­rived with her man­ager and a friend – an un­known wo­man called Kim Kar­dashian.

Me­dia re­ports about her visit seem quaint now. Amid the Hil­ton mania, Kar­dashian barely rated a men­tion. A photo of the pair swim­ming at Bondi Beach was cap­tioned “Paris Hil­ton and a friend”. In an­other photo, Kar­dashian is show­er­ing post-swim in a re­veal­ing string bikini. To­day that pic­ture would break the in­ter­net, but back then it showed all eyes were averted from Kar­dashian to­wards Hil­ton.

The only story about Kar­dashian in Syd­ney’s The Daily Tele­graph was head­lined “Who’s the walk­ing hand­bag?”

“For this trip,” the story read, “her con­stant com­pan­ion is Kim Kar­dashian. The 26-year-old, daugh­ter of for­mer OJ Simp­son lawyer Robert Kar­dashian, is the sub­ject of some ugly ru­mours cen­tring on home­made pornog­ra­phy. Her links with US rap­pers have also prompted some nasty com­ments.”

How things change. Un­der that mod­ern met­ric of pop­u­lar­ity – In­sta­gram – Hil­ton now has 6.2 mil­lion fol­low­ers to Kar­dashian’s 85.4 mil­lion. As Hil­ton’s fame de­clined, Kar­dashian’s rose to un­prece­dented lev­els. Celebrity blog­gers have pon­dered why, and come up with con­vinc­ing rea­sons. Hil­ton, they ar­gue, was famous be­fore so­cial me­dia be­came a Thing, while Kar­dashian came onto the scene at the same time as Face­book and Twit­ter, and rode their rise like a pro surfer. Kar­dashian has a large, famous fam­ily, en­sur­ing there is at least one Kar­dashian-jen­ner pro­mot­ing the brand at any time; Hil­ton’s once slip­stream­rid­ing sis­ter Nicky now lives life low-key.

Kar­dashian aug­mented her fame by mar­ry­ing more, well, le­git­i­mate celebri­ties – first, basketball player Kris Humphries, then rap­per Kanye West – while Hil­ton’s boyfriends have been lit­tle-known.

“You have one Paris and sev­eral Kar­dashi­ans, and the Kar­dashi­ans were a soap opera. Paris couldn’t com­pete with that,” says Grant Hodg­son, news editor at La-based celebrity me­dia agency Cole­man-rayner. “The Kar­dashi­ans had the right mix of glam­our, youth, looks and the as­so­ci­a­tion with Paris to get their foot in the door.

“Kim has done the right things – she has been mar­ried twice, had kids, and all the drama around it. Paris hasn’t. She’ll al­ways be of in­ter­est, but ev­ery­one is wait­ing for her to make the next big step; to get mar­ried, to have kids.”

More­over, Kar­dashian is con­stantly evolv­ing her im­age, while Hil­ton re­mains stuck in the noughties. “Paris is the same wo­man we met circa 2001. Noth­ing has changed,” says en­ter­tain­ment re­porter Jonathon Mo­ran, who’s cov­ered the Hil­ton phe­nom­e­non for The Daily Tele­graph, and who at­tended Hil­ton’s 30th birth­day party in New York. “She still has the same hair, spray tan and Chi­huahua in her hand­bag. She hasn’t changed with the times to keep peo­ple in­ter­ested.”

All this, how­ever, as­sumes that Hil­ton wanted to re­main famous, but couldn’t. That’s not how she tells it.

“I like to be more pri­vate than I used to be,” she tells Stel­lar. “It’s nice to be able to en­joy my life. Ev­ery­one is al­ways watch­ing – that’s how it’s go­ing to be for the rest of my life – but it’s nice to just fo­cus on my busi­ness. Peo­ple are call­ing ev­ery day, of­fer­ing dif­fer­ent re­al­ity shows. I like fo­cus­ing on my busi­ness rather than hav­ing cam­eras in my face ev­ery few sec­onds.

“I have learnt a lot through the years. I have re­ally grown up. You learn who your real friends are. You learn to not trust ev­ery­body and be­come care­ful. I was very naive in the be­gin­ning. I have re­ally learnt a lot about who peo­ple are, what peo­ple’s in­ten­tions are in want­ing to be your friend.”

Hil­ton and Kar­dashian are not BFFS any­more. In var­i­ous in­ter­views, they have said it’s less to do with the fact Hil­ton once said Kar­dashian’s back­side re­minded her of “cot­tage cheese in­side a big trash bag” (ap­par­ently Hil­ton later apol­o­gised), but rather be­cause their lives have di­verged. “We don’t re­ally talk,” Kar­dashian told Harper’s Bazaar in 2011. “There comes a point where you just grow apart and you re­alise you’re not as sim­i­lar as you thought.”

Hil­ton is gen­er­ous about her for­mer friend. “I am so happy for her,” she now says. “She has al­ways wanted to have chil­dren, and her ba­bies are so beau­ti­ful. I can see how happy that makes her. I know how much [West] loves her. It’s nice to see peo­ple live their dreams, and have a fam­ily and be happy.”

Still, when a meme was cir­cu­lated on In­sta­gram in late June about how Hil­ton made Kar­dashian famous, Hil­ton clicked “like”.

NOTH­ING ABOUT THE lead-up to Stel­lar’s in­ter­view with Hil­ton sug­gested she was any less flaky than you’d ex­pect. Ahead of her visit to Aus­tralia next month to launch Gold Rush for Chemist Ware­house, I was granted 20 min­utes on the phone, but for more than a week the

“I LIKE TO BE MORE PRI­VATE THAN I USED TO BE. IT’S NICE TO BE ABLE TO EN­JOY MY LIFE AND NOT HAVE CAM­ERAS IN MY FACE”

tim­ing of that in­ter­view was any­one’s guess. On Fri­day, word came from her peo­ple that she’d be avail­able at a still un­known time on Satur­day morn­ing.

My phone rang at 5.55am the next day, warn­ing me of a 6.30am in­ter­view – but could I call her please, as they were not sure if she’d re­mem­ber. The phone num­ber didn’t work. “Ac­tu­ally,” the pub­li­cist said when I re­ported the prob­lem, “she now wants to move it to 7am.” I had be­gun won­der­ing whether Kar­dashian’s as­cen­dancy over Hil­ton had some­thing to do with an in­abil­ity to main­tain ap­point­ments – and then the call fi­nally came through.

“Hi, it’s Paris,” drawls the on­ce­fa­mil­iar voice, a com­bi­na­tion of sex-line husky and sugar-sweet in­no­cence.

It is the voice that launched end­less re­al­ity TV shows. The Sim­ple Life fea­tured Hil­ton and fel­low rich-kid Ni­cole Richie try­ing to do me­nial jobs, such as farm work, and ran from 2003 to 2007. While Hil­ton’s claim that “The Sim­ple Life was the very first re­al­ity show,” is de­bat­able, she’s right when she says, “it def­i­nitely started a whole new genre”, as it spawned shows such as Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives and Keep­ing Up With The Kar­dashi­ans.

“It’s great that it has paved the way for all these peo­ple,” she says. But she wouldn’t do it again. “I feel like it’s dif­fer­ent to back in the day, with all this so­cial me­dia and these things… It was a lot of fun, but also, I don’t know, just re­ally over­whelm­ing.”

Hil­ton is friendly and chatty. She loves Aus­tralia, and will stay for a week af­ter her com­mit­ments – pro­mot­ing her fra­grance and Djing at clubs in Mel­bourne, Syd­ney and Bris­bane – are fin­ished. “I want to go to Bondi Beach and chill, get tanned, go to Ice­bergs; go to the zoo,” she says. “I love Aus­tralian peo­ple, they are so fun and full of life.”

Af­ter­wards, she’ll re­lax in Bali. Few busi­ness­women get to en­joy the sights of the world like Hil­ton does. She spends sum­mers in Ibiza, has lived in the Swiss Alps with ex-boyfriend Thomas Gross, and has built two Paris Hil­ton-branded re­sorts in the Philip­pines, the first of what she hopes will be a global em­pire of re­sorts, ho­tels, restau­rants and bars.

“I looked up to my grand­fa­ther so much as a busi­ness­man, so now to be open­ing my very own prop­er­ties makes me feel so proud,” she says. “The next ones will be in Ibiza, Dubai, Paris, New York. I am in London now, we are go­ing to look at some­thing to­mor­row.”

She’s also hands-on when it comes to her fra­grances. “I am in­volved in the whole process, from com­ing up with the scent, com­ing up with the name, and what the cam­paign will be like,” she says. “I go to the fac­tory, I tell them the notes that I like, they give me tons of dif­fer­ent sam­ples. I like to mix things to­gether and come up with my own scents that way.

“[Gold Rush] is very dif­fer­ent from all my other fra­grances. This one is ro­man­tic and more ma­ture; a very beau­ti­ful, sexy scent.”

The third arm of her busi­ness is mu­sic. “Dur­ing the day I am a busi­ness­woman, at night I am a DJ,” she says. Her go-to for filling up the dance floor? Any­thing by Calvin Harris: “Ev­ery­thing he does is a hit.”

The ar­rival of her niece has made Hil­ton clucky, but the pace of her life doesn’t ac­com­mo­date ba­bies. “I would like to have one, but I am so busy with work and trav­el­ling, I wouldn’t have time. Plus, I’m sin­gle,” she says. “It’s not a pri­or­ity for me right now, but one day I would love to find that spe­cial per­son to build a fam­ily life. I think the mean­ing of life is to have a fam­ily and go that way.”

Hil­ton may soon be able to in­clude the White House on her travel itin­er­ary. She has known US pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Don­ald Trump since she was a child, and he gave her a start in mod­el­ling through his agency, T Man­age­ment. “He has al­ways been so kind to me, I re­ally like him a lot,” she says.

When asked whether he would make a good pres­i­dent, Hil­ton replies “no”, then pulls her­self up. “I think he is a great busi­ness­man… he knows what he is do­ing.”

At 35, Hil­ton says she is hap­pier than ever. “I love be­ing an in­de­pen­dent wo­man. I love fo­cus­ing on my work and my busi­ness. Ev­ery­thing is go­ing in­cred­i­bly well; I feel so lucky and proud. I feel like I fi­nally know my­self, I feel very in tune with my­self, and very grate­ful. You grow from ev­ery­thing you go through. I guess I have no re­grets be­cause I wouldn’t be who I am to­day.”

Our time is up, but Hil­ton keeps chat­ting: about how much she loves Aus­tralia, about catch­ing up with her Aussie friends, how she’s look­ing for­ward to Djing at Mar­quee night­club when in Syd­ney. “You should come, I’ll text you,” she says.

But she never does.

“IT [FAME] IS DIF­FER­ENT TO BACK IN THE DAY, WITH ALL THIS SO­CIAL ME­DIA… IT WAS FUN, BUT ALSO RE­ALLY OVER­WHELM­ING”

TURN IT UP Paris Hil­ton shows off her DJ skills in Rzgów, Poland, last year.

PARIS REINVENTED (clock­wise from left) Hil­ton and Kim Kar­dashian at Bondi in 2006; launch­ing Gold Rush in New York; with sis­ter Nicky in May.

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