Friday, December 4, 2009

Perez Hilton and His Hundreds of Adoring Fans

I traveled to Columbus Circle by foot, bus, and finally train, arriving 15 minutes early, not wanting to miss what I thought was surely going to be...something. Perez Hilton was signing his new book, Perez Hilton's True Bloggywood Stories, at Borders, in the Columbus Circle shops. Maybe someone would pie him? Maybe only 23 people would show up, ask him to sign their Beanie Babies, and he would leave sad and dejected? The Frisky hopes no one buys his book. I found out that hundreds in attendance did.

Perez was behind a podium, cheerful, and graciously taking questions from whomever had one. "What do you think about blogging in relation journalism?" someone asked. "When did you come out to your friends and family?" "What do you think about the failed amendment on gay marriage in the New York Senate?" Question after question came from fans. FANS! Perez Hilton has appreciative fans, and they were all there to see and support him. College age fans. Nice fans. Fans from NYU. I guess I knew this, I just never saw it play out in real life before.

Watch video from the event at The Awl, featuring Perez responding to the questions above. "The thing that's so striking about this video," a friend told me via email,  "is that Perez comes across kind of like me or even you and our friends!" That is to say, in other words, just like a normal, regular human being. And it was the same impression I was left with, pleasantly surprised that Perez had intersting, intelligent things to say about himself and others. I went to the books signing to see...something. But I had not considered I would see that.

There were indeed well over 200 people there. 95% college age, at most and easily 80% women. Everyone looked like an edgy Gap commercial, which is to say, they all looked good, wearing smiles and subdued excitement on their faces. There was not a flannel shirt, neon orange backpack, or fanny pack in sight.

At one point during the Q&A, Perez remarked that he learned a lot last year: "For every two hundred people that love me, there are 350 people who hate me." Next year, he will make stars of nascent musical talents without letting people on that he is behind the efforts. 

During the book signing, which went on for two hours, Perez took pictures and video with anyone who requested it, and it seemed every last one of the attendees did so. No one threw a pie at him. He didn't scream at anyone. In fact, the whole night consisted of what seemed like genuine appreciation and kindness, from fans and Perez alike. He only used his Blackberry twice at the event, once to say thank you. Then it was over. After two bathroom breaks, two Red Bulls, and signing 200+ books with a gracious smile on his face the whole time, Perez packed it up and left the store, to continue working on his website and brand.

I wish his website was still called PageSixSixSix.
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