- Notorious gossip blogger made a name for himself being mean to celebrities
- With a newly sculpted physique, he's taken a more positive turn in his professional pursuits
- Making his theater debut off-Broadway in "Newsical," acting has always been a goal
Over the past year, Perez Hilton has been doing a mighty fine job reinventing himself.
The gossip blogger -- known for doodling peculiarly placed white lines over revealing paparazzi photos, and exposing the homosexuality of closeted celebrities -- has turned over a new leaf: becoming an advocate for anti-bullying; penning a children's book; hosting celebrity-friendly TV specials and softening his daggers on his popular website.
It's a far cry from the man who in the past caught flack for being mean-spirited and riled a nation of teeny-boppers by posting a picture of Miley Cyrus sans undies.
"I have a lot of regrets definitely," the self-proclaimed "Queen of All Media" told CNN. "I am definitely aware of my past, I'm not trying to run from it or hide it, but I'm also not going to be defined by it. So while I have definitely reached out to certain people and apologized to certain people, I'm not going to be on a tour of atonement, necessarily, because I'd rather focus on the now and the future."
The "now and the future" entails Hilton starring in 'Newsical the Musical,' a long-running off-Broadway sketch comedy riffing on celebrity tabloids and political punditry. In the Tom D'Angora-produced musical -- where Hilton is one of five cast members who sing and dance -- news headlines and pop culture references are brought to life accompanied by piano.
"I am so happy doing 'Newsical,' it's been an amazing run," he said, last week, after a full house vacated New York's Theatre Row -- Kirk Theatre. "It's been a great marriage of their brand and mine and a great first look, introduction into the New York world of theater. And hopefully it leads to more opportunities."
Hilton has always made the most of his opportunities. In addition to his gossip blog he has launched a fashion blog, as well as his own musical series, and become well known as a TV personality.
The lens of fame has been turned on him often with high profile stories including a well-documented fight following a disagreement with artist Will.I.Am.
Though the Cuban-American legally known as Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr. has made a name for himself by writing about actors and others, the realm of acting itself isn't foreign to him. Unbeknownst to the masses, Perez Hilton had lofty goals of one day becoming an actor long before starting his blog in a coffee shop on Sunset Boulevard back in 2004. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from New York University, where he studied acting.
"New York has been like a hug for me, just awesome," he said. "You can never get enough. I went to school here ... so in many ways I feel like I'm a freshman -- all over again, only wiser and happier."
Not that Hilton's foray into off-Broadway has been any less daring than his earlier career.
In one scene, Hilton portrays a nude Prince Harry during his much scandalized romp in Las Vegas. It's a very daring and vulnerable part of the show where the only clothing he wears is tight-fitting, flesh colored skivvies. It's a prime opportunity for him to show off his newly sculpted frame. "No Photoshop though, it's real," he said.
"I was looking forward to it," he said of the racy scene. "I was hoping it would get me some dates."
It may seem strange for someone to readily open themselves up for public ridicule and critical scrutiny after being the agent of it towards so many others -- especially in front of an audience of hundreds on a nightly basis.
But with his new body and new attitude, Perez Hilton isn't fazed at all. "Ummm, I am definitely hyper-aware of things because I've been in it -- in front of the camera and behind it," said Hilton who ends his limited run with the show on October 7.
"I think it's healthy to put yourself out there. It's the law of attraction -- as Oprah (Winfrey) says -- if you put energy out there, it would come back your way and hopefully if you're putting yourself out there in a positive way, you'll get positive things back."
"And this experience 'Newsical' has been nothing but positive."
This Zen-tric version of Perez Hilton could come as a surprise to many, especially considering the fast rise of snarky celebrity gossip blogs. He -- the guy Rolling Stone magazine once referred to as "the queen of mean" -- and TMZ's Harvey Levin are quasi-architects of what many now refer to as the blogosphere culture.
"I think it's very subjective," Hilton said of today's World Wide Web. "I obviously think the Internet is a very positive thing and it can bring people together and it entertains people and as we've seen in many instances it can be a great conduit for social change, but there's also a lot of negativity in the Internet. I'm not going to generalize and say that it's all of this or it's all of that. I used to be a negative blogger, but I'm personally more mindful of my words and the energy and what I'm putting out there these days."
"It was just growing up and becoming happier and wanting to share that with the world and evolving."