PEREZ HILTON DOES BROADWAY! (Yes, THAT Perez Hilton)
Since 2004, Perez Hilton has kept the culture of celebrity on pins and needles with his must read blog, PerezHilton.com. What started out as ‘PageSixSixSix.com' has become one of the most read, reviled and visited sites on the internet, bringing it's creator nearly instant world wide acclaim and infamous success. Of course with such sudden notoriety comes all the pitfalls of fame, including the usual litany of detractors, but such is the life of a new media super-star. As his millions of page views each day attests, this self proclaimed ‘Queen of All Media' is doing something right, and most nights you'll find him attending some swanky celebrity bash, often brushing elbows with the very personalities he comments about on a daily basis, but through it all, he remains true to himself and his passions.
One of those passions is Broadway and all its many shows and stars; as a matter of fact Perez recently visited New York City and went on a whirlwind tour of some of the hottest shows in town. To understand his deep love of musicals, you have to turn the clock back a bit, for you see before he was Perez Hilton he was Mario Lavandeira, born in Miami Florida, of Cuban ancestry and a child who dreamed of acting, performing and the bright lights of the Great White Way. I caught up with him as he was waiting for a connecting flight in Toronto on his way home to Los Angeles, where he has resided since 2002. Candid, engaging and outrageous as always, Perez chatted about all things ‘Broadway' to us at here at BroadwayWorld.com (a site he likes to visit too we were happy to hear!) including his wish to hit the New York stage soon himself!
"Victor/Victoria with Julie Andrews, that was the first Broadway show I ever saw."
"What a week I had, I saw so many things, um, lets see, there was Gypsy, Spring Awakening, Fuerzabruta, Mary Poppins and the final performance of the show 'Perez Hilton Saves The Universe', I surprised The cast, such a good time" he exclaims. I noticed from the very first seconds of the our call how much he loves theatre and everything about it , which makes sense as he started out as an actor right here in New York City attending New York University for drama, he happily reveals his first visit to a Broadway show which preceded his time spent studying at the fabled school itself, "I was here auditioning for NYU and was with my Mother and sister, and we went to see Victor/Victoria with Julie Andrews, that was the first Broadway show I ever saw, we also saw GREASE!, but Rosie O'Donnell wasn't in it at that point, but I just loved everything about seeing those shows live, I mean, I always loved musicals."
"GYPSY was just so amazing,
Patti LuPone was so awesome!"
He comes back to the city as much as possible to catch the current productions and this last visit was no exception, he's quick to discuss the variety of shows he caught, "Gypsy was just so amazing, Patti LuPone was so awesome, such a talent and way she commanded every second of every scene, it was a thrill, and I had never seen it before, so it made for a really incredible introduction to it, I just LOVED IT!"
About Spring Awakening he's less effusive, but understands the show has its positives, "I saw it and thought it had a little too much ‘angst' for my tastes, but Hunter Parrish was very good and VERY GORGEOUS, haha, but I wanted to see him more naked! I expected more nudity, you saw his butt for a little bit, but he should have at least been shirtless in some scenes, I mean c'mon!" He continues his view of the show's brooding teens, "too much angst, it was just sort of one note, I mean take RENT, I'm one of those people who saw it ten plus times, and sure it had angst, but it also had joy and fun in it too." Perez adds, "I think you need that fun on Broadway." Speaking of fun he admits seeing all those hot chorus boys in the show is a big part of the Broadway experience, he even did a photo shoot with recent A Chorus Line star Nick Adams, but makes sure to add, "He was so cute, what a body, but I didn't sleep with him or anything!"
"Hunter Parrish was very good
and VERY GORGEOUS,
but I wanted to see him more naked!"
I ask him about the other shows he visited on his ‘Broadway' vacation, "Mary Poppins was fun, not as adventurous as The Lion King, but cute. Fureza Bruta was hot, it is by the creators of De La Guarda, really awesome, and the Fringe show based on me was beyond my expectations, it was weird you know seeing a show about yourself, but it was exciting and flattering being there in the audience."
Before he created his Perez persona he was one of the many young actors studying and working his way through the city, "I always loved musicals, I always wanted to be on Broadway, you know one of the reasons I left New York for Los Angeles is because I never felt I was good enough, I was never the BEST dancer or the BEST singer, so you know I felt I couldn't be a part of it."
So he made his way to LA, where he took on a series of writing and public relations positions in the entertainment business, including a short stint at Star magazine, yet everything felt unfulfilling and before long he whipped up what would go on to become one of the most infamous web creations ever, but he never lost that dream of the footlights, as a matter of fact when I ask him about actually trying his hand at being a part of the Broadway stage his answer is a resounding, yes, "I really want too! Like I said, I never thought I was good enough, but sometimes what is needed in a show is a personality now, you know, I mean I don't know that I'd want to originate a role, that takes too much time! But I'd love to come and do something for three months, even six weeks, I mean, truly, it has always been a dream of mine."
This leads us to discussing his favorite musicals and those roles he might like to essay if given the chance, I start by asking him what his favorite show is, he takes less than a second to answer, "Oh that is easy, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I adore it, I actually saw several of the early incarnations of it that John (John Cameron Mitchell the shows original star and co-creator) did of it, one at the Westbeth, I think, and I fell in love with it, I mean I love musicals, especially those about "outcasts". He goes on about his other musical favorites, "Well, Side Show, I loved that, love that score; it is one of my favorites." He is excited to learn there is talk of bringing it back to the stage, "I had heard that, it would be gorgeous if they really did, you know what I'm excited about too, is the revival of West Side Story, I mean that show is so amazing, that music and the dancing, I've been wanting that to return for years, it hasn't been back for what feels like forever, when was the last time it was in New York?" He is sadden to learn that the last mounting was in 1980, which played at the Minskoff , "Oh I mean, things like Grease seem to come back every couple of years, but a classic like West Side Story, that's too long a wait, but I'm glad it is finally returning-we need that story now."
"Billy Elliot, I'm so excited for that", he offers, his voice rising as he talks about the show, one in which his love of the outcast can certainly be found, "I saw it in London and just thought it was one of the best musicals ever, so many fabulous moments, one incredible moment I still think about, I don't want to give it away, but Oh My God, when it happens, it is just amazing, it is also full of great songs by Elton John, I can't wait to see it again."
"Billy Elliot, I'm so
excited for that!"
As flights are being called in the background he thinks out loud about his other musical theater loves and likes, "I loved Man of La Mancha, I actually wrote my college entrance essay for NYU on it, I really relate to that character. I like the musical even more than the original work by Cervantes, the musical worked for me on so many levels".
It is interesting, but totally understandable how Perez would find a kindred spirit in the character of La Mancha's protagonist ‘Don Quixote', the "mad" knight who must face constant peril in his quest to free himself from the dangers of the Spanish Inquisition.
Perez would like to take a break from the demands of his daily blog to face the daily demand of performing something on Broadway, but what role would fit him "Um, lets see, well I'd love to play Hedwig, but don't think I have the chops for that, maybe Amos Hart in CHICAGO, the role Joel Grey played, that could be fun, I think I could do that."
"Mimi in RENT,
I always wanted to play her in drag,
that would be a fun part".
Actually a good fit in many ways I respond, how about him as Amos and Paris Hilton as Roxy Hart? I mean, why not, he happily agrees, "I'll do it!" I shoot out some more possibilities for him to consider, like the Emcee in Cabaret, "Ooh, yeah, but maybe I'd have to get in much better shape", he laughs at the thought and sings a bit of ‘Maybe This Time' as I kid that maybe he'd be better as ‘Sally Bowles' and then blurts out a role he covets, "Mimi in RENT, I always wanted to play her in drag, that would be a fun part!" There you go, the perfect scenario for a revival of RENT, Perez Hilton as Mimi Márquez!
It is not so far fetched to think of him seeking a role on Broadway, in the last number of years he's attacked the full spectrum of the many forms of entertainment media, he's been seen on a number of television shows including his own series of specials on VHI entitled "What Perez Says", on radio he has his own syndicated show and is working on his soon to be released book, "Red Carpet Suicide: A Survival Guide on Keeping Up With the Hiltons." But it is music that remains his deepest inspiration, he currently has a hit on iTunes with his song, ‘The Clap', which is composed and produced by Lucian Piane, a young talent who I've known for many years, I ask how they began their musical collaboration, "I met Lucian through the awesome production company that did my VHI specials, World Of Wonder, he is so original". I comment that Lucian is a real artist, he started out under the mentorship of musical mastermind Marc Shaiman, much like his mentor Lucian is full of original musical ideas and inspirations. This brings Perez to comment on the dearth of original productions on Broadway, "It is sad that there isn't more original musicals out there, something new and exciting, most now are based on films, or books, or other properties that have been around forever, where is the new West Side Story? And when there is something new and fresh like [title of show] it can't survive and closes".
"Where is the new West Side Story?"
Maybe he can help I say, maybe he should do a one man show on Broadway, sort of like ‘Liza with a Z', hmmn, ‘Perez with a P!' "Hah, oh I would, tell them back in New York I want to come and do something!" How about a special concert of Perez's favorite songs, maybe a benefit of some kind? He answers with definite excitement, "I would be honored, maybe do something special, absolutely, I'm always doing different things, but the theater, you know that is where I always wanted to be."
The noise in the background in the waiting area of the airport becomes a loud rumble as it is almost time for him to board his plane back to Los Angeles, back to Hollywood and his daily embracing and exposing of all it's ups and downs, as I wish him a good flight he says goodbye with one last thought, "I really do love musicals, Broadway is such a special place, I know I'll be back soon, and hopefully in a show someday, it would be a dream come true."
You hear that Barry and Fran? Your next Amos Hart is ready and waiting.
For more information and all the celebrity gossip you can handle visit, www.perezhilton.com
Photo Credit: Hannah Ross