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Because We Can Make a Global Megacelebrity Out of an Unknown Teenage Hotel Heiress

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No. 62
New York’s smoke-belching factories have long since gone condo, but we still manufacture one thing: senseless fame. The city has an unending supply of the raw materials: entitled and photogenic young people with vague but unassuagable ambitions. But most important, we have a specialized infrastructure to turn, say, a pretty, poorly adjusted brand-name teenager who liked to go about in public without her underwear into Paris Hilton. The celebrity craftspeople at the Post’s “Page Six” take credit for seeing her potential before anyone else did, milling her drunken exploits into worldwide fame through sheer boldfaced repetition. “We’re very proud of her,” says Richard Johnson, editor of “Page Six.” “We started writing about her when she was going out with her parents when she was under 18.” Paris’s primary talent? “It’s the way she’s always worked in front of the camera,” he marvels. “Photographers started taking her picture before they knew who she was.” Her parents, Rick and Kathy, took Johnson out to the preppy club Doubles early on to complain that his coverage of their teenage daughter was “inaccurate and mean-spirited.” He assured Kathy he “had nothing against her daughter and expected to write about her for many years to come. And I was very prescient.” The breakout year was 2000, when just-hired “Page Six” reporter Paula Froelich first met Paris. It was at a party during the Sundance Film Festival, and young Paris asked the bartender for a water glass full of vodka. Before long, she “starts dancing on tables, no underwear, the usual,” says Froelich. “What discernible talent does she have?” she asks. “You know there are other party girls who just end up drunk whores. Not her. . . She’s a lovable sociopath.” But Paris might still be just a junior-socialite curiosity if she hadn’t befriended David LaChapelle, who took the racy, bizarre pictures of her that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter liked so much he commissioned a feature around them. “After that, it was like, game on!” says Froelich. And Paris played along. “I like people who provide me with copy,” says Johnson. “I would never turn on her like Lloyd Grove,” who banned her from his column. “He’s the poorer for it, as are his readers.”

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