My boss threw his annual summer party at his country retreat 2 hours outside of the capital. We arrived to find a few outdoor marquees with chandeliers housing silver service dinner placings, an outdoor dj set up with Saturday night fever style dance floor, an open bar that never emptied, a croquet playing area, a huge maze which led in the centre to a strawberry and chocolate fountain, a huge home that was open to wonder around, a living room with a piano and opera singer in full performance mode, a hot air balloon that guests were taking turns to go view the countryside from and….wait for it…..a full fair ground. Oh how the other half live! I must work harder to make this my reality too!
The launch party for the AFRICAN MUSIC AWARDS was aptly held at Covent Gardens Africa Centre. If you have your finger on the music pulse you will already be aware that very soon African music is about to blow up in the mainstream. For years now British and other international acts have been slowly collaborating with their African peers and performing at international music festivals alongside each other. This year the AFRICAN MUSIC AWARDS take place at Wembley arena on October 15th- a mere 5 days before the MOBO AWARDS in Liverpool on the 20th. So much opportunity for young talent to get a platform to shine! As if that wasn’t enough, the multi award nominated Broadway musical based on musician Fela Kuti’s life ‘’FELA’’ comes to London in November at the National Theatre. This show has been financed by none other than Will Smith and Jay Z, proving that this genre is ripe for picking!.
Then it was time for a chat with a kindred spirit- a man that loves to chat and gossip and have fun doing it making loads of power moves and money! Mr Perez Hilton!. Showing how technology waits for no-one, perez had me conduct the interview via skype whilst we were both snuggled up on our respective sofas. I could work like this all day!
Love him or hate him you cant ignore this incomparable showbiz gossip blogger and taste maker and believe me, ive loved and hated him!. We’d last worked together on the 2008 MTV EUROPE MUSIC AWARDS in Liverpool where we had a lot of fun. Perez recalled the most amazing moment when we were both backstage and Sir Paul McCartney wandered over to Perez unsolicited and said ‘’I hope you’re staying out of trouble!’’. Perez recalled being shocked thinking ‘’I didn’t think he’d be that plugged into the blogging world to even acknowledge my existence!’’. I am so ingrained in the showbiz world that I didn’t think it was possible for anyone not to know who Perez Hilton was so was particularly shocked when my mate had to be told recently so for those of you who aren’t aware a young man who grew up called Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr. called himself ‘’Perez Hilton’’ after a trip to Miami where club bar staff kept cajoling him to stay and buy drinks on the premise that ‘’Paris Hilton will be here tonight’’ and Mario snorted ‘’I don’t think so-more like Perez Hilton!’’ and an icon was born! Back then Perez used to blog about celebrities as ‘’just something fun I used to like doing when all other bloggers were blogging about their daily boring lives’’. Nowadays, 7 years down the line Perez life couldn’t be any different from his past where he had a job working as a janitor at a department store where ’’my title was store clerk- I had 2 responsibilities; separating hangers’’(Perez proceeded to tell me about 20 different types of hangers) and ‘’cleaning the bathrooms where the women’s toilets were WAY filthier than the mens!’’.
Like a kid in a candy store that cant believe how their luck has changed Perez admits that his proudest achievement was 3 years ago when he was able to move his mum and sister from Miami to la to work with him. With readers now getting their daily gossip fix online rather than via a newspaper we discussed whether print press and gossip mags can still exist in this day and age. Perez thinks they will explaining ‘’they will exist-people will always be travelling and want a mag, although now that aeroplanes are getting wireless internet as well as trains , well who knows!’’. I know from my wild days of gossiping on CHOICEFM that once you begin to befriend celebs you end up having to tone down the bitchy stuff but Perez insists he doesn’t ‘’I Never tone my material down, I have grown and evolved, it would be silly of me to stay the same, I’ve changed in that I don’t post extremely naughty things anymore, no more nip slips…I have a new website for naughty stuff called –‘’unratedperez.com’’. he then goes on to explain that people like looking at ‘’celebrities vagayjays’’ and it generates a lot of traffic but his advertisers don’t like it. Hilarious!
Also from my wild days I know the threat of law suits are funny. In fact they’re extremely scary but once again perez laughs and says ‘’I am never scared of lawsuits, they are scary if you worry about money and I never had money back then so I didn’t care-I had nothing for anyone to take,i didn’t start my blog for money, it was just for fun, I knew I couldn’t go to jail, I was just expressing myself’’. Perez like many has become a victim of his own success in many ways but lets not get it twisted, he has made millions and is a celebrity himself now. So I wonder how he feels when people bad mouth him, and they do. He admits that he is ‘’constantly googling myself-I’m not even exaggerating, sometimes a few times an hour, I’ve read a lot of bad things,but I remind myself that its worse not reading anything about myself…I wouldn’t say it bothers me, but its not always easy’’. Ah ha! So he does feel emotions and breath like the rest of us! He recalls the best thing that’s ever happened to him is a ‘’video that Madonna made for me, she acknowledged my existence!’’.
I follow Perez on twitter so I know his moods know no bounds and he can switch on a m***** f****** in hours so I asked him what the defining factors are in whether he likes or hates a celeb? He revealed ‘’There are factors, its a gut thing, my gut is usually right, I like people who are talented, that’s why I love musicians especially those that have a sense of humour…and those that work hard’’. Now hearing Perez quote that made me sit back in awe as he is always cussing my girl Mariah and she is a talented hard worker with the funniest sense of humour most people have come across so I of course challenged him on it. Perez broke it down like this ‘’I love Mariah, she is funny, but I expect more from her. Art is all subjective, I feel possessive about her and her music, and I have said this publicly, I think I have a good ear, I would love to give my ear to her and give her feedback….the last couple of albums haven’t been the best,,…I talk to Nick Cannon daily, I do a live feature to Nicks morning breakfast radio show, I know lots of hot producers for Mariah and would love to suggest people .i think she lost her sense of self, and wanted to rebel against her previous image too much, to me she’s a pop act but along the way she tried to reinvent herself as an urban artist, in the 90s she made Honey! I want Fantasy , Honey , Dreamlover….L.A Reid played me her album early once….’’ ‘’ In fact I’ve championed her when I had secret meetings with Simon Cowell and Simon asked me who should be an X Factor judge, I said ‘’not Cheryl cole, I said MC, ,then I think a rumour was started by Sinitta telling people it would be mc!’’.Perez and I then had around 10 minutes of me breaking it down for him that MC has to like all of us grow and change with the times and informed him that she had been doing urban versions of her tracks since the beginning and surely at this stage she should be allowed to make good music that she wants to make as opposed to trying to please everyone all of the time. We debated, we laughed. We raised our voices. We agreed to hang out in L.A the next time we were all there. My theory with Perez feelings towards MC is that he’s frustrated that she doesn’t acknowledge him the way the madonnas and the kylies of the world do. Truly a diva in a league of her own not bowing to media manipulation.
Perez agreed that when celebs don’t react to him he does get frustrated and the one hes been dying to get a rise out of for years is Oprah….’’i love her even though I make fun of her…I make fun of her and say she’s a lesbian, in fact Oprah, Madonna and Angelina Jolie are the 3 that inspire me most. Angelina is someone who isn’t perfect. She is flawed but an amazing brilliant actress, mother and humanitarian’’. Like most of us media hacks, Perez loves twitter as it cuts out the old fashioned middle man of the publicist. Now he can get the words straight from the horses blackberry and respond immediately-albeit in full view of the watching, titillated globe of gossip hungry followers. Perez admits he loves following Dita Von Teese on twitter as her life is fascinating, we aren’t familiar with the life of a show girl so it enthrals me!’’
I’m convinced Perez wicked tongue comes from the fact that his parents are Cuban. Any island in those waters will give you fiery, feisty blood! Trying to milk all his projects whilst he can Perez revealed to me that he’s setting up a music production and management company and is currently looking for a boy band . he gushed ‘’The time is right for a boy band for a global impact, JLS are great in the UK but they haven’t broken worldwide- I really like them though, they’re hot’’. Perez admits that he doesn’t do ‘’payola’’ (talk about bands in exchange for money), but that he chooses the music acts that he promotes online in his ‘’listen to this ‘’ category as his ‘’readers send him links and he listens to everything including singers in different languages!’’. Nearly everyone alive these days has their own blog, so its interesting that Perez stands out first and foremost in our world. He explains it thus ‘’in this day of illegal downloading and MTV not being as relevant as they used to be and artists need every but of help they can get, anything helps. I first started writing about Lady Gaga years ago and championed her and now look how far she’s come’’.
I challenged Perez on the fact that even though he appeared on MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar show he didn’t seem to focus on hip hop stars very often and joked with him that it could be as he was worried they would get all will I am on him. He laughed ‘’ I talk about Lil Wayne and T.I! ,I am a hip-hop fan if its good- Kanye is a genius, he transcends the genre, he’s not a rapper he’s a musician; I think B.O.B is amazing, I love his variety. He’s not rapping about violence or materialism he’s talking about dreams , I love Nicki Minaj’’ (Perez then recites a whole 3 Nicki verses much to my amusement and if im honest-I was impressed at his flow!) . Getting serious about the hip hop world for a minute though Perez said ‘’I wish that they were slightly more accepting of gay men, if you’re bisexual that’s cool but gay men and lesbians aren’t accepted and welcome in the hip-hop and mainstream music world and that saddens me’’. I wondered if Perez had made up with will I am and the Black Eyed Peas after THAT incident? He answered ‘’we haven’t made up and i’ve not run into him, but I have congratulated the band online’’. Perez confessed that there was once that he regretted writing something online ‘’my biggest regret was when I said that fidel castro was dead . we were really sure it was true as our source was very reliable-oops’’. Perez revealed his top celeb mates are now ‘’Lady gaga, she and I talk several times a day and see each other regularly-we talk about art, I feel like part of her team, she likes to pick my brain, Katy Perry- ive known her for over 3 years, we too see each other regularly’’ I recently saw Perez at his ‘’One night in Perez’’ music show at Londons 02 and noted that he’d slimmed down and had a demure dark brown hairstyle. A conscious effort to get healthy? He nodded ‘’ yes its a lot of hard work, all my successes in life are from hard work, from my blog to my physical transformation, I’ve lost 61 pounds. my lack of sex inspired it and now I’m getting laid a lot, I’m dating around and right now that part of Perez is looking fine honey!’’.And with that I laughed, suggested we better stop before we got carried away. After all, 2 media hacks , both with fingers in print press, radio press , tv and multi platform media frolicking together can only be an explosive, dangerous hot mess waiting to happen!.