We interviewed the reality TV star about quarantine, fashion faux pas and the return of “The Simple Life”
So far, 2020 has made a mockery of our best laid plans, but one activity that will thankfully never be cancelled is binge-watching TV from the privacy of our own homes. Personally, I’ve been reaching back into the archives to knock the classics I’ve never seen off my shameful secret list (*ahem* The Sopranos), or watching nostalgic favourites that will slap till the end of time.
One such masterpiece is The Simple Life, the reality show—which propelled Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie into superstardom—that saw the BFFs holed up in small-town America, working a series of average-Joe jobs for five seasons. During its run from 2003–2007, The Simple Life depicted Hilton and Richie doing a variety of extremely un-socialite-like tasks, from milking cows to working drive-thrus—all the while making us cry-laugh with iconic catchphrases like: “That’s hot” and “Loves it.”
Over a decade after it went off the air, Hilton is still masterminding expressions, her latest being “Sliving”—a mix of “slaying” and “living your best life”—which, incidentally, is a worthy lens to see life under lockdown through. “Sliving is not just going out,” Hilton tells me over the phone from her boyfriend’s house in Malibu. “You can be sliving your best life by just being creative at home.”
Here, the heiress talks all things quarantine, Juicy Couture and more.
How have you been keeping yourself busy over the last few weeks?
I’ve been at home, enjoying time with my boyfriend [Hilton is dating businessman Carter Reum] and my pets, doing a lot of cooking and baking and making art and listening to music. I’ve just been using all this time because I’m so used to travelling and being on planes. I’m never in L.A., I’m never at home so I’ve just been trying to look at the positive of this and being able to be at home and not travel, it’s been nice.
Is the first time you’ve slowed down for a while?
Yes, I have not stopped since I was a teenager.
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Have you ever re-watched The Simple Life?
Actually, my boyfriend and I watch it all the time. I love that show, it’s so hilarious. I’ve watched every season like a couple times each. It’s just there’s no reality show like it, it’s so hilarious [and] it’s so fun to watch.
Does the show’s legacy and the fact that it’s still so popular surprise you at all? It’s such a big reference point for so many people.
It makes me feel so happy because I feel like that show [was] the first of its kind and so original. I love that people dress up as Nicole and I for Halloween; and now that [the show’s] streaming, people can easily enjoy it. It just makes me so proud.
It’s such a perfect encapsulation of the time. How did you guys work out the gags? Whose idea was it for you guys to milk cows and work at Sonic [a burger restaurant]?
It was a very small town, so the producers asked the family we were staying with what jobs were available. We’d do whatever job or task we could do; so if the job would entail, you know, working with the cows, that was just part of the job. We’d always make it funny somehow and do something to get in trouble.
So, all that shit-disturbing was straight from the source?
Yes. We were doing our jobs like they told us to but, you know, kind of not doing the job as well. We knew what we were doing, we wanted to make people laugh, we wanted to entertain people.
Looking back, you’re the main person that comes to mind when I think about fashion of that period. Do you have any favourite looks?
I love 2000s fashion! I love the bedazzled, sparkle fabrics and all the Juicy Couture tracksuits. I loved when Nicole and I had our outfits matching. We would plan outfits a lot of the time. There’s just so many looks that I really love.
Do you have an outfit archive?
Yeah, I have all them still. I have everything.
Have you ever brought anything back out?
I’ve actually worn some of the cute little jean skirts and stuff from the original The Simple Life photoshoot. I still wear some of it, but definitely not Von Dutch, I never got back into that trend (laughs).
Do you have any past faux pas that you’re horrified by?
Yeah, like I said, Von Dutch, especially how that’s come back now. After that trend was over I was just not into it anymore so I kind of cringe when I look at those hats. I thought everything else was pretty cute, except for the uniforms that certain jobs would make us wear [on the show]. Nicole and I would cut them up and make them shorter, cuter and tighter. We had our own spin.
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You were such a trailblazer of reality TV and have spun your celebrity into so much business success, what do you think of the world’s shift towards taking reality stars seriously?
I think that people realize that you can build a brand off of it and that’s something that I did when I first started the show. Of course, I was playing a dumb blonde and acting like I didn’t know what was happening, but the entire time I did. I was building my platform doing that show, which I could then use to create a huge lifestyle brand. I think that it just depends on who the person is, because some people in this industry understand the power of what they can do, turn it into their own brand and then it’s taken more seriously.
You’ve carved such a unique path of living life on your own terms. What would your advice be for people wanting to do the same?
I’ve always lived life on my own terms and did my own thing. You never know when it’s going to end, so it’s just important to live every day to its fullest and make the most out of everything. Also, I think another important part is to be a good person. I’ve never changed. My mom gave me that advice when I was four, and that’s advice that I really kept close to my heart. I’ve never let anything get to my head.
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And how can one stay “sliving” during quarantine?
Sliving is not just going out, you can be sliving your best life by just being creative at home. I think I’ve been sliving by cooking, doing art, just sliving at home (laughs).
It’s an attitude.
It is. It’s a lifestyle movement.
The first four seasons of The Simple Life are currently streaming in Canada via Hayu.com and the Hayu app.