If you live in L.A., you’ve heard of Angelyne—we don’t make the rules. The blonde entertainer is as famous for her songs, from “Sex Goddess” to “Sexy Heart,”as she is for driving around Los Angeles in her pink Corvette with the personalized plates. It all began in 1984, when she rented a series of billboards across Hollywood, on which she posed next to her name and her management’s phone number. It left the town wondering: Who is Angelyne? In the years since, her specter—in the form of those iconic billboards—has popped up in movies (Earth Girls are Easy, Get Shorty, Terminator Genisys) and on TV shows (Moonlighting, The Simpsons, BoJack Horseman); she started selling Angelyne-branded merch; she mounted a tour for her fans around Sunset Boulevard; she even ran for governor of California. Next, she’ll be the subject of new limited series starring Emmy Rossum in the title role. The filmmaker and artist John Waters once said, “Angelyne has everything it takes to become a star.” Based on the conversation with Paris Hilton that follows, it would appear he was right.
ANGELYNE: What do you want to know?
PARIS HILTON: When did we first meet?
ANGELYNE: It was at that nightclub, remember?
HILTON: We’ve met a couple of times. Every time I see you driving by in your pink car, I get so excited. I actually copied you when I got my Bentley. I had it done in pink, because I thought your car was so awesome. I needed a pink car, too.
ANGELYNE: You’re an Angelyne disciple.
HILTON: And loving it. What did you dream of being when you were a little girl?
ANGELYNE: I wanted to be so cute that I could save the world. I just wanted to be so beautiful, cute, and darling that nobody would do anything to harm the world—just for me.
HILTON: That was one of my dreams, too. Us blondes with our pink cars, being beautiful and spreading love and happiness.
ANGELYNE: And getting away quickly so we don’t get stuck with one person because we have to spread the word. Do you know what my spirit animal is?
HILTON: What is your spirit animal?
ANGELYNE: The roadrunner. What’s yours?
HILTON: I have a couple of spirit animals but my ultimate is a unicorn. I call myself a unicorn-mermaid-fairy, but if I had to pick one, I would be a unicorn.
ANGELYNE: I get called a unicorn all the time, but I don’t want to be a unicorn. You can be the unicorn.
HILTON: Why did you pick a roadrunner?
ANGELYNE: Because I can get away really quickly. One of my billboards actually said, “Angelyne, when any guy even thinks about touching you, you turn into the roadrunner.”
HILTON: Is it hard for you to trust people?
ANGELYNE: Trust is not really something I even think about. I just do what I do and I go. If the person turns out to be wonderful, that’s even better. What about you? Do you feel like you can trust anybody?
HILTON: Recently, I’ve been able to trust more people. Growing up in Hollywood and in this industry, there have been a lot of people who haven’t had good intentions. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of those people in my life. Now I’m trying to surround myself with positive energy and people who love me for me, because not trusting people is not a good feeling. I don’t waste a moment of my life on any negative energy, ever.
ANGELYNE: I so agree with you. The most important thing of all is to trust yourself. If you trust who you are and what you are, then the power is within you. I also want to tell you I’m on a kick not to say “you.” People say “you” all the time and they’re not really talking to the person. It’s just bad language, I think.
HILTON: So when I ask you questions, do you not want me to say “you”?
ANGELYNE: No, no, no. I’m saying when you’re talking to me, you can say “you.” If you’re talking about the royal “you,” I don’t dig that at all. I’m just hypothesizing “you.” I have a question for you. Actually, you go first. Ask me one.
HILTON: No, ask me first in case you forget. Sometimes things come to my mind and then I lose them.
ANGELYNE: I’m sort of legally not supposed to get into this subject too much, but I can skirt around the perimeter of it. What do you think of another actress playing me? I’m sure you’ve heard about it.
HILTON: Of course I heard about it. I was actually going to ask you about that.
ANGELYNE: I beat you to it. What do you think?
HILTON: I think that you are an iconic legend and you deserve to have someone play you. Emmy Rossum is such a talented actress. I know that she is going to really do this character justice.
ANGELYNE: Let me stop you there. There’s no one else like me, so I’m struggling with the idea. I represent something that no one does. She doesn’t really look like me and I’m getting more attention than her, actually, because she’s playing me—which is good. I wish her luck because Angelyne is so high maintenance. I say good luck to Emmy. I am now doing my own documentary. It’s to die for.
HILTON: I can’t wait to see that.
ANGELYNE: It’s a bit strange to have somebody playing me. It’s like somebody playing Marilyn Monroe. They never get it right. Well, I think people are going to be smart enough to know who the real Angelyne is. I thank her for being such a megafan because she’s got a major hard-on to play me.
HILTON: People have asked me who I would want to play me, and it’s always such a hard decision. There is no one like me. Obviously, you’re the original, but she’ll be amazing in the role. I’m excited that you have a documentary coming out. I’m doing that right now, too. It’s coming out in a few months.
ANGELYNE: Maybe we can interview each other.
HILTON: I would love that. What does L.A. mean to you?
ANGELYNE: It’s the crossroads of the world and it becomes the voice of the world. I love L.A. because I own it!
HILTON: Yes, your billboards have been everywhere. You were the first one to do something like that, to build yourself as a brand before social media. You became the face of Hollywood. The blonde bombshell.
ANGELYNE: Do you want to know why I did what I did?
HILTON: I do.
ANGELYNE: Even when I was little, I was a leader. Nothing was ever going to stop me from doing what I wanted. My intentions are very pure. I want people to do what they want and push forward the culture of the world. But I wouldn’t want that for anybody who isn’t intending something good. So how many boyfriends do you have?
HILTON: How many boyfriends do you have?
ANGELYNE: Let’s just say, I keep a list of all the boys I’ve kissed and I haven’t stopped adding to that list. I think I have matrimony-phobia.
HILTON: Why is that?
ANGELYNE: I’m the roadrunner, remember?
HILTON: You’ve never had a serious relationship? You just like to flirt and then you get sick of them?
ANGELYNE: Yes, because they always complain I never let them in, and they’re trying to control me or own me, and I hate it. It makes me claustrophobic. I’d like a pure relationship where nobody’s trying to control anybody.
HILTON: Have you ever been in love?
ANGELYNE: Too many times. So why do you like L.A.?
HILTON: It’s the land of dreams, and if you’re a good person and you work hard, anything is possible. I see so many people move here and make their dreams come true. There’s obviously a dark side to Hollywood, but there are also so many amazingly talented people here. I love the weather. I love driving around and coming home to my puppies. I’ve traveled the world, but there’s nothing like L.A. It’s the ultimate city.
ANGELYNE: Plus, I’m here.
HILTON: That makes it even better.
ANGELYNE: Do you want to ask me anything else? I’m about to go do TMZ. They want to know about the Emmy Rossum thing. Do you like them?
HILTON: I like them when they’re nice.
ANGELYNE: They’ve always been very supportive of me.
HILTON: Did you ever think your life would be chronicled in a TV show?
ANGELYNE: After I died. That’s why it’s so weird, don’t you think?
HILTON: But now you get to watch it. You have your documentary. You have this amazing TV show. That’s pretty incredible.
ANGELYNE: I’m recording music, too. I’ll be recording six heavy metal songs. Do you sing?
HILTON: I have. I’m actually shooting two music videos this week for songs I just did with the Nervo twins. They’re called “Smoothie” and “Pickle,” and they’re really fun dance songs. These days, do you think it’s easier or harder for people to become some sort of icon or brand?
ANGELYNE: Honestly, it’s the strangest thing. At the end of my 1995 black-and-white documentary, Angelyne, I say, “In the future people are all going to become stars.” I think everybody is a star, but I think that you and I are leaders of that path to facilitate people’s stardom in the world. Everybody is a piece of artwork that needs to be fully realized.
HILTON: That’s so beautiful. Everyone is a star but some people are too shy to actually come out and shine bright.
ANGELYNE: Shyness equals fear, usually. When people get more confident about who they are, maybe they’ll come out. I just want to make sure that they don’t come out and hurt anybody. I want to make sure everybody’s doing it to help everybody.
HILTON: When I started The Simple Life, I created a character, so I’m curious: Are you a character? Or are you always Angelyne? Are you always pink and decked out or is it a persona that you created?
ANGELYNE: It takes a lot to put all this on, so I like being the character all the time. The character has a message, and I like to facilitate that message with my car, my wardrobe, and my makeup. What about you?
HILTON: On The Simple Life, the whole world was introduced to me as this character, and the producers of the show said, “Paris, we want you to just play the dumb blonde, the spoiled, airhead, rich brat.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll do the character.” I didn’t realize it would be such a huge success and we’d have to continue doing it for five seasons. So I had to keep playing that character. Sometimes I’ll go into that character where my voice gets much higher like I’m in this other world. It’s like a mask I put on because I’ve always been shy. But when I’m at home, I’m literally just chilling in my Juicy Couture velour tracksuit with all my dogs, cooking, painting, and completely separated from the glamorous life. It’s nice to get away and just feel normal sometimes.
ANGELYNE: I know what you mean.
HILTON: I have my public side and I have my private side.
ANGELYNE: I have a meditation tape. I think you’ll really love it. Do you have a cassette player?
HILTON: I do have a cassette player because I love collecting and I’m very tech. As a businesswoman, an idea would be to put that on an app or on your website where people can download it as a podcast and buy it.
ANGELYNE: It was that show Rick and Morty that commissioned me to do it.
HILTON: Rick and Morty is actually my favorite cartoon.
ANGELYNE: I’ve never seen it.
HILTON: You have to watch it. It’s so brilliant and hilarious, and it’s huge. People are obsessed with it. Are there times when you dream of anonymity?
ANGELYNE: Yes, when I go to sleep. I don’t like being bothered. I’m sure you don’t either. Hey, I’ve got something urgent happening right now. May I call you back in three or five minutes? Bye, bye.
Set Design: Brittany Porter at LaLaLand Artists.
Photography Assistants: Andrew Goeser and Nik Williams.
Fashion Assistant: Malaika Crawford.
Set Design Assistant: TJ Hamouszas.
Production Assistant: Sarah Salovaara.