5:43pm PT by Shirley Halperin
Perez Hilton on Katy Perry's Meteoric Rise and Why It's Just the Beginning (Q&A)
“Katy hasn’t changed because she’s made a conscious decision to work at her normalcy,” says Perez Hilton. The celebrity blogger is talking about Katy Perry, The Hollywood Reporter’s cover subject this week, and he’s in a position to know: as the first to expose her music to millions of readers at once -- by posting her ballad “Waking Up in Vegas” on his web site a full 18 months before it was released -- Hilton (nee Mario Lavandeira) has been both a loyal friend, faithful fan and diehard promoter of the 27-year-old pop star. (To wit: Perry acknowledged his early support in a recent tweet, writing, "You're one of the 1st reasons WHY I exist. #loveperez.")
Now five years since the two met at his Viper Room birthday party in 2007, Hilton has gained some valuable perspective on Perry’s seemingly meteoric rise to fame -- which her new movie Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D (opening July 5) will show came neither overnight or easily -- so much so, that we wanted to probe a little deeper into the girl behind the purple wigs and peppermint swirl breasts. Read on for Perez’s take in a recent Q&A with THR.
The Hollywood Reporter: How did you and Katy first meet?
Perez Hilton: We met in March of 2007 when she came to my birthday party. Back then, she was a nobody, but what I loved about her from the very beginning is how passionate she was about music. That night, I had a lot of bands performing at my birthday party -- The Gossip, this local LA band called Ultra Violet Sound, I had Donovan Leitch perform as Hedwig, Katy was right at the front, watching the musicians and enjoying the show, which I loved.
THR: Did you guys connect on a personal level that night or did it come later?
Hilton: We just started hanging out. I’d invite her to concerts, because I always need someone to go see shows with me. So she was like my concert buddy in the beginning.
THR: When she described her goals then and what she wanted to accomplish, did she stay true to her original plans?
Hilton: No, but I think her original plan was more narrow. If you listen to the debut album One of the Boys, sonically it’s very different than Teenage Dream. I think starting out she saw herself as an Alanis Morissette or Avril Lavigne type of artist. But over the years, she’s blossomed into more of a Rihanna -- a big international pop star. Alanis and Avril are just about the music, with Katy, it’s about being a full entertainer. The music, of course, is number one but the visuals are important, the music videos, the photos, the shows -- entertaining in every sense of the word. So I feel like she’s so past her own ambitions and has definitely gone far beyond what the public expected of her.
THR: She just wrapped a sold-out world tour, some nine million people bought her albums, she had five No. 1 hits to tie Michael Jackson’s record, where does she go next?
Hilton:I think we’re only at the beginning of Katy’s career. We’re at the start of her second act. Teenage Dream was a huge monster hit success, but it’s just a set-up for what comes next. To parallel it: Teenage Dream is Katy Perry’s good-girl-gone-bad album, the way Good Girl Gone Bad took Rihanna from being a popular singer to an international superstar. That’s what Teenage Dream will have done for Katy. What she does next is so important because it could take it even further – and it is possible to keep going even further. Look at Rihanna: after “Good Girl Gone Bad” it wasn’t all smooth-sailing but she continued to have hit after hit and I definitely think Katy is heading in that same direction.
THR: Does the enormity of her success surprise you at all?
Hilton: Not at all because she’s genuinely talented and does what a lot of other artists in the same lane don’t do: she actually writes her songs and has from the very beginning. She’s a real musician, and I believe that talented people win. She’s also nice, normal, accessible, approachable… She’s safe, and I say that as a compliment. Parents aren't afraid to take their children to a Katy Perry concert, but she manages quite successfully to push the envelope without completely ripping it up.
THR: You say Katy Perry hasn’t changed, in what ways do you see that?
Hilton: Katy still has the same friends she had when I first met her and she still does the same things and treats people the same way. Even at my Much Music Awards after-party [on Sunday, June 17], you would think she’d be against taking photos with people or even talking to strangers, but she was exceptionally polite to everyone and that’s a testament to the kind of person that she is.
THR: How do you think she’s handled the press and the negative attention foisted her way, whether through her divorce from Russell Brand or other personal issues?
Hilton: I think she handled the Russell [press] better than she should have, to be honest. She did not respond in a negative way to hurtful stories. In fact, she didn’t respond at all -- she said nothing, and I thought that was so classy. She let people speculate and just dealt with it personally and privately.
THR: Has she sought your advice on anything related to her career?
Hilton: In the past, I definitely shared some of my views on the entertainment industry, but now what I find amazing is that the longer she’s been doing it, the more she just knows what works for her and her brand. It’s been great to see her become the biggest pop star on the planet.