The memoir that claims Paris Hilton is more feminist martyr than dumb blonde
She was the poor little It-girl whose infamous sex tape lent her a tawdry glamour. Now, the heiress has written a ‘surprisingly profound’ book that paints her as the victim of predatory men
To Paris Hilton, he was ‘Mr abercrombie’: the young teacher at her strict private Catholic school who was so good-looking that he resembled an abercrombie & Fitch model. ‘Penetrating eyes,’ she recalls. ‘ Everyone loved him, including the nuns.’ But the sisters would never have been so smitten with Mr abercrombie had they known the extent of his interest in the then-underage Miss Hilton.
as the hotel heiress, TV star and socialite reveals in her new book Paris: the Memoir, her teacher had a perverted fascination with the 15-year-old. ‘“i’ve got a crush on you,” he told me, flashing a flirty smile.’ Hilton explains how her unnamed teacher groomed her for sex — until one night matters came to a terrifying conclusion. this sort of victimhood is hard to associate with the rich, glamorous and seemingly so self-assured Hilton.
the great-granddaughter of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, who — along with her friends lindsay lohan and Britney spears — was one of the it-girls of the noughties, partied wildly in the nightclubs of new York and la.
she came to epitomise the phrase ‘famous for being famous’, her star propelling into the celebrity firmament in 2003 with the leak of a sex tape filmed by a boyfriend. its notoriety, along with a jail stretch for drink-driving and a cocaine scandal, helped Hilton become a (nearly) billion-dollar brand.
one of the first social media influencers, she was reportedly paid $1 million just to turn up to a party and starred with friend nicole richie in a reality TV series, the simple life, that spawned dozens of similar shows.
But then came an excoriating 2006 biography, House of Hilton, portraying her family as so dysfunctional it ‘made the osbournes look like the Brady Bunch’. Hilton’s parents rick and Kathy allegedly palmed off most of her upbringing on relatives and nannies.
one relative, Pat Hilton, recalled Kathy once foisted a nine-month-old Paris on her with no instructions on how to look after the infant. ‘Kathy Hilton’s very selfish and very spoiled, and that absolutely carries through to Paris,’ Pat told writer Jerry oppenheimer. the latter even claimed that while rick and Kathy insisted they were ‘saddened’ by their daughter’s sextape scandal, they were secretly proud.
But times move on. Hilton recently became a mother for the first time: a son, Phoenix, was born by surrogate. and now the heiress, who is married to tech mogul Carter reum, is attempting to overturn the widespread perception of her as a spoilt, rich bimbo by reinventing herself as a serious and intelligent woman. as she claims: ‘i’m not a dumb blonde: i’m just very good at pretending to be one.’
according to her book — which her publisher bills as ‘surprisingly profound’ — and promotional interviews, what the world may have seen as a pampered, vacuous and chaotic life story is actually one of female empowerment and survival.
Behind her glossy exterior, supercilious smile and grating baby voice, the theory goes, Hilton was a victim whose oppressors were predatory men. they include: the ex-boyfriend she says persuaded her to record the sex tape then sold it without her permission; an unnamed young man whom she believes stole her teenage virginity after spiking her drink; and the staff of a brutal boarding school for troublesome teenagers who molested her during phoney medical examinations. she now calls what the staff did to her ‘digital rape’.
But in Hilton’s mind, they all pale alongside Mr abercrombie, who targeted her when she was in the eighthgrade of st Paul the apostle school. ‘He made me feel noticed in a grownup way. He flattered and teased me and said all the other girls were talking about me behind my back because they were jealous... of my hotness,’ writes Hilton. ‘Because their boyfriends probably wanted to break up with them the second i walked into the room.’
Hilton says the teacher asked for her phone number and warned her not to tell anyone. ‘ “it’s our secret,” he said, and i kept that secret like candy under my pillow. i never felt like i was being manipulated. i felt like i was being worshipped.
‘Why wouldn’t i love this narrative? it was all about me, me, gorgeous little me. the focus was on my intoxicating beauty instead of his inappropriate behaviour.’
HER teacher phoned nearly every night and they talked for hours about ‘how amazingly mature, beautiful and intelligent i was, how sensual, misunderstood and special’, she writes. in retrospect, she now sees that eighth-grade teachers are ‘like a security guard in an art gallery’, there to enforce the rules of which the first was ‘ Do. not. TOUCH. Keep your fingers, lips and man bits off the masterpieces’.
Her admirer, she says, would ask her during their night-time conversations if her parents were home and one night she told him she was alone with her nanny. He was soon outside her family’s Bel-air mansion.
she claims she climbed down a drainpipe outside her bedroom window and into his car. ‘teacher pulled me into his arms and kissed me,’ she says. ‘the intensity of it stunned and delighted me. My brain lit up, flush with adrenaline, curiosity and a host of feelings i couldn’t even name.’
she goes on: ‘this terrifying blissful kissing went on for what seemed like a long time and seemed to be evolving into something more.
‘i don’t know where he would have taken it if my parents hadn’t pulled into the driveway.
‘Headlights spilled across the windshield and the spell was broken. i glimpsed my dad’s stunned face.’ according to Hilton, her seedy suitor started the car and roared off, with her clutching the edge of her seat.
‘He sped like a maniac through the posh streets of Bel-air and Westwood, reeling around corners, freaking out the whole time,’ she writes. ‘i giggled. nervous. Heart pounding. Ears ringing… this was like Bonnie and Clyde!’ she adds: ‘ “F***! F***! F***!” Mr abercrombie sounded like he was crying. “My life is over. What am i doing? Why did you make me do this?”’
in an interview to promote the book, Hilton says her parents pursued them but as the teacher drove up to 100 mph and jumped a red light, he managed to lose them and get back to her house before they did. she was shocked that he told her to get out and didn’t even kiss her goodnight — ‘like i imagined somebody would if you were on a date’ — before speeding off.
she dashed back to her bedroom and dived under the covers just before her parents stormed in. she insisted she’d been asleep and while she didn’t think they believed her, no one mentioned the ‘awkward incident’ again. ‘it took decades for me to actually speak the word “paedophile”. Casting him in the role of child molester meant casting myself in the role of victim and i just couldn’t go there,’ she writes.
‘ i couldn’t accept that all his praises — affirmations an eighthgrade girl desperately needs to hear — came from a place of malevolence and i was stupid and vain enough to buy it. to this day, i’ve not talked about it with my family. i’ve never told anyone,’ she said.
Hilton may have been thinking of her teacher when she tried to blame her obnoxious behaviour in her younger years — she used the n-word and was also derogatory about Jews and gay people — on ‘unprocessed trauma’.
But her brush with Mr abercrombie was only the first of her encounters with predatory men, she says. afterwards, the wayward Hilton — who was continually sneaking out to nightclubs in her school years — was sent to live with her grandmother in Palm springs, returning to la at weekends.
she recalls being invited to an older boy’s house in la, where one of his friends was ‘forceful’ in making her drink wine. she had just a couple of sips and immediately started feeling ‘dizzy and woozy’.
she assumes she was spiked with date-rape drug rohypnol as she woke hours later with ‘visions of him on top of me, covering my mouth, being like, “You’re dreaming, you’re dreaming” and whispering that in my ear’. it was, she says, her ‘first sexual experience’ and left her feeling ashamed.
More unwelcome sexual overtures came, she claims, when her parents sent her to a string of tough ‘therapeutic’ boarding schools for ‘troubled teenagers’ when she was 16 to 18. (she now says she had undiagnosed ADHD, or attentiondeficit disorder, which she calls her ‘superpower’.)
this spell culminated in the now notorious Provo Canyon school in Utah where Hilton says she and other girls were sexually abused by staff during late-night gynaecological examinations or drug searches — something else she blocked from her memory until she heard it from
other survivors and ‘started having flashbacks’, she told Glamour magazine. ‘ Late at night, staff members would come in and take certain girls and bring them into this room.
‘And literally you would scream and cry, they would hold you down, four of them, men and women, and literally just be putting fingers… and just doing things on a regular basis to certain girls.’ She added darkly: ‘If we resisted, there was always a tray of syringes.’
After being released from Provo when she turned 18, Hilton met Rick Salomon — a professional poker player she described as an ‘overconfident bad boy’ — in a nightclub. They started a romantic relationship and she became ‘obsessed’ with him.
A year later, despite claiming she ‘hated the idea of sex’ (a condition she attributes to the ‘abuse and degradation’ she suffered at the schools), Salomon asked her to allow him to film them making love.
Eventually, the 19-year-old reluctantly agreed, first drinking heavily and taking Quaaludes, the powerful sedative and recreational drug. ‘I needed to prove something to him and to myself, so I got hammered and I did it,’ she writes.
When, two years later, the 37-second video appeared on the internet, critics saw it as just one more example of Hilton’s shamelessness. However, she insists she was horrified. ‘Shame, loss and stark terror swept over me,’ she says. She insists her parents felt the same and her mother ‘just crumpled into bed and stayed there’.
When she phoned Salomon, who went on to marry actresses Pamela Anderson and Shannen Doherty, he ‘said he had every right to sell something that belonged to him — something that had a lot of financial value’.
What seems to bother Hilton particularly — somewhat undermining her outrage — is that the video was so amateurish. Everything from the lighting to her hair and make-up could have been a lot better, she says now.
Hilton says she became ‘asexual’ at that time, writing: ‘ My sexy clothes, music, videos … that was my way of reclaiming a healthy sexuality that had been robbed from me. It made me feel alive and playful in a way I wish I could have been when I was in bed with someone I cared about.’
She also reveals that she didn’t escape the loathsome attentions of disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. In the spring of 2000, when she was 19, she was at the Cannes Film Festival with a film producer friend when they met Weinstein for what proved to be an unsuccessful business lunch during which he ‘ made pervy, weird comments about me and my potentially huge future in his world’.
They ran into each other at an industry event the following night and, she says, Weinstein pursued her into the ladies’ bathroom after she tried avoiding him.
Hilton says Weinstein was ‘dragged’ out by security guards after he ‘ pounded on the stall door’ and yelled ‘gross, drunk nonsense like “Ya wanna be a star?”’
The ‘new’ Paris Hilton is not only an entrepreneur and DJ but an activist campaigning for tougher regulation of the sort of schools she attended.
But just as she says she once only ‘pretended’ to be a dumb blonde, is this surprisingly serious side to the party girl supreme just another act?