It’s been years since Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr. left Miami for the glitzy, glamorous world of Hollywood. But the gossip blogger, now known around the globe as Perez Hilton, has been just as adept at making headlines himself as he is spreading buzz about everyone’s favorite celebrities.
The openly gay Hilton found himself living in a glass house as he took criticism for outing gay celebrities early in his career. He has also been sued by a number of the industry’s outsized egos, but legal action didn’t slow down the flamboyant Tinseltown personality. Three years ago, Hilton dropped lots of weight, setting off speculation in his competitors’ blogs that he had undergone gastric bypass surgery. And most recently, Hilton joined the ranks of many of Hollywood’s A-listers when he became a father.
As a judge at the 2009 Miss USA pageant, he famously asked Miss California about her views on same-sex marriage resulting in negative comments that possibly cost the blond beauty the title.
Hilton returns to South Florida this weekend and will again find himself deciding the fate of an aspiring beauty, this time judging the Ultimate Miami Drag Queen competition on Saturday at the Magic City Casino.The blogger took a few minutes to talk candidly with South Florida Gay News about life in Hollywood and the recent Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality, as well as reflect on fatherhood and what’s next for the 35-year-old personality:
You grew up in Miami. Are you looking forward to coming back?
I always look forward to going back to Miami, now more than ever because I don't get to go back home often.
How has Miami changed over the years?
Since I left Miami it's been wonderful to see the explosion of culture in the city—from the redevelopment of the downtown and Brickell areas to Art Basel and the other great events that the city now hosts.
How does life and the gay scene in Miami compare to the West Coast?
I don’t know how the gay scene in Miami is these days because I don't live there, but what's great is the variety of the gay nightlife in Miami and also the proximity to Ft. Lauderdale.
You're going to be a celebrity judge for the Ultimate Drag Queen contest. What will you be looking for in the winning contestant?
I’m going to be looking for fierceness obviously. You can't have a drag queen who isn't fierce. And fierceness can be manifested in many different ways, whether it be best makeup or someone who's really funny.
If you could ask a contestant any question (a la Miss America), what would you ask?
I would have them show me their talent (a la Miss America).
Recently, the Supreme Court overturned Prop 8. What effect do you think it will have on Hollywood? Will more stars come out?
I think more stars will come out because it's definitely easier to be openly gay and successful in Hollywood. I also think more gays will come out because it's also harder to be closeted in Hollywood. But, what's more exciting to me are the repercussions of the Supreme Court's decision for everyone across America.
Speaking of stars, do you have any hot gossip for our readers? Who is the biggest mess in Hollywood these days and can you ever narrow it down to one?
Amanda Bynes is in need of help and it's sad and bizarre how (her escapades) are entertaining for a lot of people. It's kind of like a train wreck. We're all watching.
You're a father now. Is fatherhood everything you expected?
Fatherhood is everything I expected, definitely, and more. More so because it's new to me. I've never experienced it before and it definitely has taught me a lot about life and adapting and constantly being on your toes. It's a lot like being a professional athlete.
What's your funniest or most memorable experience of fatherhood so far?
Every couple of days there's a funny experience. The most recent one was when I smelled something funny and I looked down and saw he had pooped through his diapers and all over himself and onto me. Since he was in shorts I was covered in baby poop and, as a new parent, I lost that gag reflex that I used to have when something disgusting used to happen. So, of course, I had to Instagram a photo of myself covered in baby poop.
Will little Mario have two daddies some day?
Do you expect your son to carry on the family business?
I don’t know. I never thought I would be doing what I'm doing so I don't know what he might do. I would just stress to him the important of an education.
In addition to your successful gossip blog, what other projects do you have coming up?
I am working on a few television ideas. It would be a lot of fun and a new challenge to do something consistent on television.If You Go
Ultimate Miami Drag Queen Competition
Saturday, July 13, 9 p.m.
Studio 305, Magic City Casino, 450 NW 37th Ave., Miami
Tickets $40 at TheUltimateMiami.com