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Perez Hilton with son Mario, 2, and daughter Mia, 3 months. (Photo: Instagram/Perez Hilton)
Say the name Perez Hilton and you’re bound to get a reaction. Since launching his namesake website in 2005, the former celebrity blogger, actor, and television personality (born Mario Lavandeira) has been called controversial and sexist for his biting coverage of Hollywood. Hilton has softened his approach over the past few years — his hot pink hair is gone; he’s a supporter of the #NoKidsPolicy, a Hollywood campaign to ban paparazzi photos of celebrities’ children without their consent; and he’s an involved single father of son Mario, 2, and daughter Mia, 3 months old (both born to surrogates). Hilton recently moved his family to New York City to star as dad Danny Tanner in ‘Full House! The Musical!’ and focus on fatherhood. “I’m a better parent in New York,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. In an exclusive interview, Hilton talks daddy shaming, playdates, and why he won’t take parenting advice.
You’ve been accused of being sexist. How will you explain your earlier work to your daughter one day?
My past won’t affect anything in some ways. I may not have expressed myself right sometimes, but there was always a kernel of truth in what I said. I could have phrased things better. I have strong feelings on Kylie Jenner, and in the past, I would have said not-so-nice things. But my thoughts on her are private; I would apply them to my life privately. I want to educate my daughter on presenting herself in the media and in the world. But my past is my past, and I hope that people won’t judge me in 10 years — people don’t judge Angelina Jolie or Robert Downey Jr. for their pasts.
How’s life with a newborn and a toddler?
I function with lots of guilt, but that can be a good thing. It means I’m trying hard to be a good parent, and I set the bar high. I’m always worrying: ‘Am I spending enough time with my kids? Am I working too hard? Have I scheduled enough playdates this week?’ I don’t sleep much. But my mother, who lives with me, is a big help, although I have two full-time nannies, so I don’t rely on her too much.
Does living with your mother drive you crazy?
No, we get along like adults. Except she says, ‘Let Mario watch TV and eat cookies,’ and I’ll say, ‘No, only on the weekends.’ I’ll let my son use an iPad when his teachers suggest it. Until then, he loves books — we read several times a day — and the playground. Besides, he gets his tech fill by osmosis; he loves sitting with me and ‘working’ while I get stuff done. But I’m not going to plop him in front of Peppa Pig for three hours. But technology can come in handy in emergencies. If my son doesn’t want his hair cut, I’ll distract him with Peppa.
Perez Hilton’s 3-month-old daughter, Mia Alma Lavandeira. (Photo: Provided exclusively to Yahoo Parenting by Perez Hilton)
What’s different about fatherhood the second time around?
I stress more because I’m more aware. I’m doing it by myself — being a single parent is hard. I need to provide for my family and make smart decisions and not overspend. New York City is expensive! I want my kids to go to good schools, so I put pressure on myself to work harder. I want to make a ton of money so I can save enough for five years of worst-case scenarios. I will always work, but if things slow down, I need to be able to provide.
What’s the hardest part about being a single dad?
I haven’t gotten a massage or facial because I’m so busy. I could go in the evenings, but it’s hard to find an open salon at 8 p.m., and I would feel guilty spending my free time doing that. If I had a partner, we could share the responsibility.
Perez Hilton’s 2-year-old son, Mario Armando Lavandeira III. (Photo: Provided exclusively to Yahoo Parenting by Perez Hilton)
Mothers often get embroiled in the ‘mommy wars.’ Do you find that fathers experience the same type of judgment?
It’s only human nature to judge. I get judged because I don’t allow my son to watch TV. I might not agree with another parent, but I’ll still let my son have playdates with their child, as long as that child is kind. … Judging is about insecurity and jealousy. I’m going to raise my kids the opposite of how I was raised. I wasn’t given healthy food, educated on portion control, or encouraged to exercise. I wish I had those things.
What parenting advice do people give you?
I don’t really believe in advice, I believe in listening to your child and being present. Every kid is different. My son was born four weeks early, and he’s been on a schedule [from the beginning]. But my daughter was of normal weight, so we let her sleep and eat when she wants. Your children speak to you, even if they can’t talk yet. It’s important to listen to them.
Why did you want to play Danny Tanner in ‘Full House! The Musical!’?
He’s the star of this show — I wanted the biggest part. It’s all about him. [On the TV show], Danny Tanner had an ability to make everything better with his dad speeches. But in our musical, he loses that ability and turns into Bob Saget. … In theater, you can mess up, which is part of the fun. People find it enjoyable when you make mistakes.