The strange and lonely life of Paris Hilton | the Daily Mail
The strange and lonely life of Paris Hilton
By JONATHAN JAXSON
As I stood by the pool of the Setai Hotel in Miami, sipping a lychee martini, word went round our circle that Paris Hilton wished to leave for the beach.
It sounded like a simple request – but nothing is ever simple where Paris is concerned.
The heiress had decreed her 'exit' was, like so many trivial moments in her life, a photo opportunity.
Within minutes she had phoned half a dozen journalists and photographers and told them where she was and what she was planning to do.
Others in her entourage did the same: "Paris Hilton is at the Setai and she's about to leave. Get down here straight away."
As if from nowhere, two hair and beauty stylists appeared and slipped behind a partition with Paris.
She re-emerged 15 minutes later, primped and preened within an inch of her life.
Then, with one more check of her appearance and a glance to make sure the paparazzi were in place, she fixed her smile and stepped out to face the swarm of photographers.
As a celebrity publicist, I've worked with a lot of famous people and encountered plenty of colossal egos, but I have yet to meet anyone who manipulates the system quite like Paris Hilton.
I first met her in March 2005. At the time I was working as the publicist for an actor called Efren Ramirez, who had known Paris for years.
We had gone to a Los Angeles Fashion Week party thrown by clothes label Rock & Republic, and it must have been the place to be because at some point during the evening Paris turned up.
Paris, then 24, was with an entourage of a dozen or so people, including her younger sister Nicky and two stylists, and looked absolutely stunning.
Efren greeted her with a kiss and then said: "Paris, this is my publicist, Jonathan."
"Hey Paris," I said, grinning like an over-eager schoolboy. "You look beautiful."
Not the most original opening line, I admit. But Paris's reply totally threw me.
Instead of saying "Thank you" she just said: "Wow! That's hot!"
And with that, she was off – circulating the room in a blizzard of air kisses.
I don't think she was at the party for more than ten minutes, but it was long enough to pick up a pile of free clothes and make sure she was photographed by the paparazzi and interviewed by at least one TV station.
I can't say it was endearing – far from it – but as a publicist, I was fascinated.
Despite having little discernible talent – her original claim to fame was being the unwitting 'star' of a sex tape posted on the internet by an ex-boyfriend when she was 19 – she was fast becoming America's most famous celebrity.
She was already the queen of the Los Angeles party scene and a staple of the tabloids with her own brand of perfume and jewellery, a bestselling autobiography, a modelling contract and a starring role in a hit reality television series, The Simple Life.
I wanted to know how she operated and how she kept the bandwagon going.
So, over the next 18 months, whenever Efren or another of Paris's friends invited me to join her on a night out, I accepted.
I never became a close friend of Paris myself – I wasn't rich or important enough for that.
But I did gain a unique insight into the self-centred, wild and ultimately lonely life she leads.
An evening's entertainment for Paris always started at her house, a gaudy £1.5million mansion in West Hollywood, just above the clubs and bars of the Sunset Strip.
Her home reflects her egotistical personality. Paris's own pop CD, the imaginatively titled Paris, blares out from the speakers and there are pictures of her everywhere.
Some are straightforward portraits while others show her with friends, posing provocatively in bikinis.
There are also plenty of animals around: large parrots in cages; six small dogs, including her pet chihuahua Tinkerbell; and a cat.
She seems to have acquired another since then, a Yorkie with whom she was pictured this week – both were wearing matching leopard-print outfits.
Sadly, I never had the pleasure of meeting him.
However, I did once see a large yellow snake living in a cage in one of her rooms and, on another occasion, a small monkey, which I was told Paris had brought back from Las Vegas in her limousine.
She may well be an animal-lover, but the main reason she keeps this menagerie is to surprise her guests.
During my visits, there were normally about 15 or 20 people – some of LA's most fashionable young things – at the house.
Brandon Davis, grandson of an oil billionaire, was a regular, as was Paris's then fiance, Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, they all have towering egos, diamond jewellery, pearly white teeth and a superior attitude towards anyone, like me, who's not wearing the right designer labels.
They would spend the evening drinking shots and Paris would indulge in one of her favourite pastimes – *****ing.
Paris is not blessed with ample communication skills. In fact during all the time I spent with her, I don't think I ever saw her engage in a proper conversation with anyone.
All she does is giggle and pose or text friends on her mobile phone.
If there is a verbal exchange, though, it's always short and to the point.
She either barks questions, such as "Where are we going?" or criticises someone's behaviour. "Oh my God, did you see what she did?!" is a favourite refrain.
Many girls are 'skanks' – another word for '****s' – or 'white trash', an insult levelled at anyone whose father isn't a multi-millionaire.
Whatever she says, people laugh. If you don't laugh, well, you aren't her friend.
However, behind her back her friends would quietly s****** at her latest outrageous outfit.
They privately nicknamed her Hunchback because of her sloped shoulders.
Her staff ensure that her kitchen is fully stocked, but I never once saw Paris eat a meal.
She would snack on junk food such as crisps or popcorn and then work off the calories on the dancefloor.
At a certain point in the proceedings, normally around 1am, Paris would decide it was time to hit the clubs and everyone would fall out of the house and into their cars.
Paris, as we know from her recent spell in prison, never seemed to think there was anything wrong with drink-driving and would sometimes take the wheel herself.
On the way, a few phone calls would be made and by the time we arrived at the designated club – favourite haunts were Teddy's, Hyde and Les Deux – security and the paparazzi were waiting.
It was then just a short walk from the car, along the red carpet and into the club, handing our keys to the valet and pausing long enough for the cameras.
The whole hoopla was a wild, exciting adrenalin rush and Paris was a past-master at it.
Her publicist, Eliot Mintz, whom Paris described as a 'short, desperate man', would sometimes accompany us.
He was there mostly for damage control – in case she fell down outside a club, for example – but Paris hardly needed a publicist. She's incredibly astute in playing the publicity game.
If someone else of note, such as actresses Misha Barton or Hilary Duff, happened to be heading up the red carpet, Paris knew how to upstage them.
She hitched her tiny dress up a notch or ostentatiously kissed one of her girlfriends.
Otherwise she'd wait long enough to ensure she had the carpet to herself.
Then, she'd pull her dress up even further or perhaps flash her breasts, thereby guaranteeing coverage in the following morning's tabloids.
Naturally, none of us ever had to pay to get into these clubs.
In fact, the clubs sometimes paid Paris up to £10,000 to make an appearance and gave her and everyone with her 'bottle privileges' – in other words, drinks were free all evening.
Despite this, we would normally stay for only an hour or so – just long enough for Paris to dance with her girlfriends and cast her eye over the good-looking men in the club.
If she saw someone she liked, she ordered a friend to ask: "Would you like to meet Paris Hilton?" Needless to say, they always did.
Then, after some heavy petting, we would get ready to move on to the next venue.
Again, phone calls would be made to tell the paparazzi Paris was about to leave.
She would summon her stylists (she rarely goes anywhere without them) to ensure she looked perfect before coming out to pose for the cameras.
Her manipulation of the media was astonishing – the best I've ever seen.
Of course, everyone in Paris's party had to dance to her tune.
On one occasion, we had just left a club when I realised I had left something behind.
When I re-emerged seconds later, the limo had left without me – proof, if any were needed, that the evening is all about Paris.
I'd be lying if I said that at first the kudos and the VIP treatment wasn't fun, but the thrill wears off pretty quickly and you soon realise what a shallow world it is.
Paris chooses her friends – and boyfriends – purely on the basis of how much publicity they can offer her.
In return, those who hang out with her are hoping some of her fame will rub off on them.
Being part of Paris's inner circle certainly hasn't harmed actress Lindsay Lohan's wild-child reputation.
The couple often cause mayhem when they hit the town together, but I remember an evening they almost provoked a riot without leaving home.
Most Hollywood mansions have a large room for entertaining guests: there's a bar, a pool table or even a dancefloor.
But not many boast a stainless-steel stripper's pole.
One night I was among the guests in Paris's 'party room' when somebody put on some dance music.
I sat transfixed on a sofa as Paris got up, tossed back her long blonde hair and starting writhing around the pole.
It seemed as if the short diaphanous dress would slip off her shoulders at any moment.
As the music blasted out of the speakers, Paris was joined by Lindsay, wearing an extraordinary, body-hugging outfit, and the pair gyrated provocatively to whoops of delight from those in the room.
After all that, it was a wonder anyone had the energy to go out.
But being one of Paris's friends involves treading a very fine line.
If the heiress ever feels someone is threatening to overshadow her, she will cut them off without a second thought.
Even her childhood friend Kim Kardashian was frozen out recently after the paparazzi began taking an interest in her curvaceous figure.
That's Paris's tragedy: she's fabulously wealthy and beautiful, and could have genuine, fulfilling relationships; instead she wallows in the superficial showbusiness demi-monde, surrounded by sycophants.
When she was arrested earlier this year for driving with a suspended licence and sentenced to 45 days in jail, I wasn't surprised.
She thought money and fame made her untouchable, and of course they didn't.
I hoped she might use her time inside to reassess her life.
I didn't believe her claims that she'd found God, but I thought she might tone things down a little.
When she left prison three weeks ago I saw a small sign that gave me hope.
Walking past a crowd of wellwishers, she actually reached out and grabbed their hands.
It was the most genuine thing I've ever seen her do. She then told reporters she was 'sick of partying' and was going to devote herself to something more meaningful.
Unfortunately, this repentant phase lasted about two weeks.
Last weekend she was back at two of her old haunts, Les Deux and another nightclub called Area.
And instead of the demure white she wore in the run-up to her trial, she was in more familiar garb: a racy black dress and fishnet stockings.
It is all very depressing. Indeed, for my part, I became so disillusioned with the publicity business in Hollywood that I quit LA earlier this year and moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where I now have a public-relations business.
For a while I found myself intoxicated by the celebrity lifestyle and even admired Paris for the way she manipulated the system to win fame and fortune.
But now I realise it was materialistic and vacuous.
The final straw for me came on another night out when I saw stick-thin actress Mary-Kate Olsen – Paris's one-time friend who had recently been in rehab – collapse at a club.
Not a single 'friend' lifted a finger to help her. I knew then that it was time to get out of this world.
Today, when I see the latest set of pictures of Paris in the papers – just this week she was photographed at a Hollywood party hosted by Chelsea footballers – I wonder if she fully understands how superficial her life is.
Despite appearances, she's certainly not stupid, so I suspect she does.
But will she do anything to change it? Of course not.