Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Paris Hilton Invented Everything You’re Doing in 2017, and She Knows It

No one but Paris Hilton knows the exact location of her old Sidekick cell phone.

Upon request one afternoon in April, she disappeared into the depths of one of the many closets in her Beverly Hills mansion and returned minutes later with not one, but two of the early Aughts T-Mobile artifacts, as well as her bedazzled Blackberry with a pink ‘P’ on it, a gold Razr flip phone—also bedazzled in a cheetah pattern—and two more recent Blackberry models.

As she presented me with over a decade’s worth of technology, it became clear that while fellow 2000s icon Kim Kardashian may claim to “remember everything,” Paris Hilton hangs on to it, too.

In the present day, Hilton has a total of five iPhones, and when we first met she was toggling between two of them, one open to an article on Buzzfeed deeming her the “Queen of Coachella,” and the other ready to share the post on Instagram with her 6.9 million followers.

When asked if she had fun at Coachella, she replied in a startlingly low-octave: “Is the Pope Catholic?”

Despite Hilton’s longtime dependency on various cellular devices, it is perhaps visionaries like Steve Jobs who are indebted to her, seeing that it was Hilton who took their creations beyond their wildest expectations, inventing along the way the maligned but ubiquitous selfie.

“If a beeper had a camera, I would have taken a selfie with it,” said Hilton later, agreeing that she was truthfully the matriarch of the modern phenomenon. “I think I have a selfie from when I was a little kid, like on a disposable camera.”

Selfies aren’t the only thing Paris Hilton did first: The heiress turned the stuffy New York social scene upside-down in the early 2000s, setting not only every fashion and lifestyle trend at the time, but also defining what it meant to be an ‘influencer’ before we even had a word for it.

“We started a whole new genre of celebrity that no one had ever seen before,” said Hilton.

At the age of 19, Hilton was signed to Donald Trump’s modeling agency, T Management, becoming one of the first signed scions long before her Millennial protégés, Paris Jackson, Sofia Richie, and a whole crew of celebrity children parlayed their last names into full-time careers.

Hilton then went on to have one of the first successful reality TV careers with Nicole Richie on The Simple Life, the premiere for which attracted a staggering 13 million viewers, according to Nielsen. (That’s more than the all-time highest ratings of The Hills and Keeping Up with the Kardashians combined.) This also coincided with her (non-consenting) starring role one of the earliest viral sex tapes, 1 Night in Paris.

Finally, Hilton took her influence and built a personal brand before personal brands were commonplace, publishing best-selling books and putting her name and face on everything from canine apparel to a German sparkling wine called “Rich Prosecco.” Her now-famous catchphrase, “That’s hot,” is also legally trademarked.

This year, Hilton will release her 23rd perfume since 2004—an estimated $2 billion business, according to Women’s Wear Daily. She’s also currently touring the world as a highly-paid DJ, taking up residence in Ibiza for her “Foam & Diamonds” night in the months of July and August. Her mother taught her to never talk money, but it’s been reported that Hilton makes approximately $347,000 an hour DJing, or around $1 million a night.

In sum, Paris Hilton proved that you can get paid to be yourself, and that ‘yourself’ can be a multi-hyphenated entity. And in the beginning, she did this all without a publicist, a stylist, glam squad, or social media.

“Nowadays, I feel like it’s so easy becoming famous,” said Hilton, with a shrug. “Anybody with a phone can do it.”

In the year 2017, with a Trump in the White House, the phrase “celebrity entrepreneur” no longer a laughable sobriquet, and the Kardashians firmly ensconced in the highest echelons of American society, it’s starting to look and feel a lot like the 2000s again. As a result, nostalgia is running rampant in popular culture, and Paris Hilton is shaping up to be a pioneer and prophet of the zeitgeist as we know it.

by Emilia Petrarca, W | Read more:
Image: Mayan Toledano