Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

Paris Hilton Reflects Back on Leaked Sex Tape: 'I Was So Depressed, Humiliated'

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As of 2017, Paris Hilton has been in the spotlight (or spotlight-adjacent) for 14 years, a far longer celebrity shelf life than anyone could have imagined when she was merely a socialite and ditzy-seeming star of The Simple Life. In a new profile written by Irin Carmon for the September issue of Marie Claire, Hilton discusses her rise to fame in the early aughts and the sex tape—released without her consent—that will forever be synonymous with her name.

Though still a staple on TMZ, Hilton—in addition to being a nightclub gadfly—is now a hotelier, an international lifestyle brand whose fragrances have made approximately $3 billion worldwide, and DJ who earns upwards of a million dollars per set, making her the highest-paid female DJ in the world.

She is also a self proclaimed “feminist.” Carmon writes:

She said she is a feminist now—though her definition of the word is decidedly vague and apolitical. “I just feel it’s about women’s empowerment and girl power, and I’m very into that,” she says.

...A feminist who thinks family friend Donald Trump is “so respectful and sweet,” but doesn’t like his stance on Mexico (her Mexican fans make up a large percentage of her global market). So I guess it’s good that she doesn’t vote?

Contrary to news reports, she says she didn’t vote for Trump—she didn’t vote at all. And she doesn’t agree with everything he’s said. “I love the people here, and I don’t think that they should be talked about like that at all,” Hilton says of Trump’s claim that Mexico was sending rapists and criminals over the border. Still, she says, her old family friend, whom she calls “an incredible businessman,” will be a good president.

“I’ve known him since I was a little girl. And he’s always been so nice, so respectful and sweet,” she says.

Your forgivable “give me a fucking break” aside, the Marie Claire profile does successfully remind us that, despite being born an heiress, Hilton has had some unique hardships and, at some points, her public life has hurt her as much as it’s benefited her:

...You’ll remember that weeks before The Simple Life’s debut, her sex tape hit the Internet—but you probably don’t remember that she says she never consented to the tape’s being public; that she was only 18 and her then-boyfriend, Rick Salomon, was 33; or that she sued the company distributing it for invasion of privacy. (Salomon sued the Hilton family for defamation, accusing them of “a cold, calculated, and malicious campaign to portray Salomon as a rapist.” Both cases were reportedly settled out of court, and the terms were never made public.)

Sure, the tape made her more famous, but she denies she participated in the video’s release for fame or profit; according to TMZ, Salomon reportedly earned $10 million from the tape in the first year. “That’s one thing that really pisses me off when I hear it, because I never, ever received one dollar from that video,” she says. “That is the last thing that I would want out there.”

It’s dark in the armored car, but not so dark that I can’t see that tears have welled up in her eyes. “It’s really hurtful, because my whole life I really looked up to Princess Diana, all these elegant, amazing women, and I feel like [Salomon] just took that all away from me,” she says. “I could have been like that, but because of that tape, I will always be judged and thought of as whatever they say about me because of a private moment between my boyfriend and me. I wish I had never met him. That is actually the one regret in my life. I wish that I had never met that guy. I could not leave my house for months. I was so depressed, humiliated. I didn’t want to be seen in public.”

All in all, Carmon’s profile does a good job of reflecting who Hilton actually is: A savvy business woman and shameless self-promoter who seems (voluntarily) locked in the prison of her own brand. That doesn’t exactly paint a likable portrait (though she does come off as nice), but at least she’s not as bad as Rick Salomon, a grown man who used a sex tape of his 18-year-old girlfriend to make money, get attention, then disappear into obscurity.