For those of you who skimmed past the title in search of some eye candy, that’s Miss Tila to you… if you care. And according to Internet statistics on everything from Twitter to iTunes, you most certainly do.
Love her or hate her, if you are between the ages of 16 and 34, chances are you’ve noticed the media shenanigans of Tila Tequila and formed a strong opinion about her. And chances are, in the heyday of MySpace, you even sent her a friend request. Initially an Internet celebrity born out of social media, Tila shrewdly parlayed her notoriety into a two season stint as a sexy bisexual singleton on MTV’s A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.
Somewhere along the line the newly re-christened Miss Tila went from cute and affable to downright controversial, and even questionable. Her press has not always been flattering though she claims it all fits into her master plan of total pop culture domination. It seems she pulled a page from the handbook of constant re-invention and studied it well.
I was told before our meeting that Tila would not discuss Johnson & Johnson heiress and late fiancée Casey Johnson. I gave my word that the subject simply would not come up during our conversation, though at times it felt like the pink elephant in the room. Instead we talked about Vietnamese immigrant and troubled teen Tila Nguyen, queen of MySpace and MTV vixen Tila Tequila and her newest re-incarnation, Miss Tila, a woman who is wiser and clearly re-directing her career. With a super petite frame, wide eyes and those exaggerated curves I told her she reminded me of a modern-day Betty Boop. Tila’s new platinum blonde bob gives her a comic book character appearance: a cross between a young Debbie Harry and a punk-rock Marilyn Monroe.
Rather than attempt to sum her up, I’ll let you read our interview and form your own opinion of who Miss Tila, the hell raiser formerly known as Tila Tequila, really is.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): What was the reason behind this new hair?
Miss Tila Tequila: Just like all my tattoos and everything else spontaneous I do in my life; I get bored and I like dramatic changes. I’m going to shave it more [in the back] to make it more bed head-y. It’s so easy to manage. Before, it would take me an hour to blow dry it. Now, especially when I wake up in the morning, it looks really cool.
PR.com: You can carry it. But I always say that a big hair change symbolizes a big life change. When I was single, if I would go through a break up I would get what I called “the breakup haircut,” and cut my hair to my shoulders.
Miss Tila Tequila: I actually did just go through a break up but I did this before… so I knew it was coming (laughs).
PR.com: (Laughs). You’ve got a new name now, Miss Tila, new hair, a new gossip blog…
Miss Tila Tequila: Big new everything.
PR.com: Why this new chapter in your life?
Miss Tila Tequila: I’ve earned that title. I’ve earned Miss Tila. It’s been ten years.
PR.com: Ten years of building this brand?
Miss Tila Tequila: I started off with Playboy when I was eighteen. I worked my way from there to the modeling scene, then I conquered all of the men’s magazines: Maxim, Stuff… and then I went to the next step. I was like, “Ok, I conquered this industry and now I want to conquer this other industry…,” then I conquered the band stuff, and I shaved my head into a Mohawk.
PR.com: You’re a smart cookie. More than people give you credit for.
Miss Tila Tequila: I’m really smart. I’m so smart that I think I’m an alien sometimes.
PR.com: A lot of people don’t see you that way. They see you as a pinup model, and your music lyrics are very racy. I don’t think people realize how much you know what you’re doing. You marketed yourself on MySpace more effectively than anyone in the history of that site.
Miss Tila Tequila: When you think of MySpace you associate it to Tila Tequila.
PR.com: How did you do that? How did you recruit over a million followers on there?
Miss Tila Tequila: I didn’t recruit anybody. My personality is really outgoing and I’m very unique. At the time I wasn’t famous yet, but at the same time I had a star quality and people were like, “She’s not famous but she’s in a band, she’s modeling and she’s crazy! On her blog she’s going off on people.” I would go off on anybody, so they just kept coming back to see all this drama on my page.
PR.com: You’re saying it was word of mouth?
Miss Tila Tequila: Literally word of mouth and just my mouth. My mouth is so loud. People would be like, “Check out this girl, Tila Tequila.” It was just waiting to happen. You could tell with my drive and ambition at the time, “this girl is going to be famous.”
PR.com: Was fame your goal?
Miss Tila Tequila: A lot of people always write me and say, “I want to be famous too.” And I’m like, “For what? What’s your purpose? Why do you want to be famous? Because you want to feel fabulous?” I didn’t want that. I wanted to have a voice, and in order to have a voice that is influential you have to be famous or be known, right? Otherwise I would have to stand out on the streets and say, “Hey everyone listen to me please.” (Laughs). Being famous goes in steps and it takes a while, but at the end of the day I really wanted to be just someone who is more diplomatic. I am trying to be the U.S. Ambassador for Vietnam. And I will be in about three or four years.
PR.com: Have you contacted the Vietnamese government?
Miss Tila Tequila: My friend is a U.S. Ambassador and he has been trying to help me do that.
PR.com: You said you wanted to become famous because you have a lot to say, but so far some of it has been bad. How you see yourself and how the media sees you is not always the same. There seems to be a disconnect there. Do you feel like you’re misunderstood, or what is it that people don’t understand about you?
Miss Tila Tequila: I posted a video the other day, for instance, that got deleted. There was nothing showing. I’m sitting in my kitchen and I have the song “Massive Attack” playing. It’s a really sexy song and I was sitting in my kitchen posing for like 5 seconds, and they deleted the video.
PR.com: Who is “they?”
Miss Tila Tequila: Whoever. Facebook deleted the video and girls get so jealous. I felt like, “Ok, I know for a fact, and no offense to anybody, but if it was, like, that girl from Precious or some woman who is really overweight and had on lingerie and was like, “I don’t care. I’m still sexy,” people would be like, “You go girl.” But because I look like what I do, people don’t want to see a woman that is intelligent and pretty and smart at the same time. They make you out to be this train wreck, and they push me in this category with Lindsay [Lohan], Paris [Hilton] and Kim Kardashian, but I am way smarter than those girls.
PR.com: I don’t know if this was meant to be a joke, but I saw a recent online video where you were with a friend and you were shoplifting. Explain.
Miss Tila Tequila: That’s the kind of thing where the media gets it twisted, because you can’t really get to know somebody by [their] writing, like if you go by my Tweets. When you meet me in person I am really silly! I have lots of homeys that are just my friends, guy friends, because I’m really goofy, and we did that as a joke. I said, “I’m going to pretend to steal stuff and you guys film it.” I think for people who have preconceived judgments of who I am just from my Tweeting and then they watch me talking, it doesn’t click. In their head they’re like, “She’s this way.” Then you see a video of me acting all silly and crazy and it doesn’t click.
PR.com: So that was a joke, but some people might see that and say, “Oh my God. What is she doing?”
Miss Tila Tequila: I don’t care. I don’t waste my time thinking about other people’s lives. I don’t try to preach to people. I do what I want and I try to inspire people, and if they don’t like what I do they don’t have to follow me. But the fact is, they are always following me and they’re making me more famous. I can’t go out there and force millions of people to look at me. They’re doing that on their own while saying, “She just wants attention.” How did I ask for [attention]? You’re giving it to me. I didn’t ask for it. If they think I’m crazy now… thank God I wasn’t famous when I was fifteen!
PR.com: Well, thank God most of us weren’t in the spotlight at fifteen!
Miss Tila Tequila: I’ve really toned it down a lot.
PR.com: Your music is very sexy. The single I Love My DJ is about sex. It’s a double entendre.
Miss Tila Tequila: Right, right.
PR.com: Your lyrics are very sexy and racy. Is sex a big part of your life, or is that just what you’re presenting?
Miss Tila Tequila: Nothing about me is fake, except for my tits (laughs). I don’t judge people, but at the same time I don’t agree with celebrities who sugarcoat things. I know a few who are always like, “Hi sexy,” or “That’s hot.” But in real life they’re not like that at all. This is who I am. This is how I am. There is nothing sugarcoated about me. If you don’t like it you can F off, and if you like me for that then that’s great. I’m not here to please people. I’m here to please myself. If you happen to like what I do then I appreciate that, but if you don’t, I really don’t care.
PR.com: You’re a tough girl.
Miss Tila Tequila: I’m tough, but at the same time I’m really, really sweet when it comes to relationships or people. I’m very compassionate because of the way I grew up. The way I grew up, it was really hardcore. Some people take that and they become a victim to their past and they hate the world. Me, I turned it around and became a survivor. Therefore, I’m really relatable to people, so they don’t see me as a celebrity. They see me as their homey, their friend, because I’m so real with them and I talk to them just like anybody else they know.
PR.com: You have a quality about you that is a landmark quality of someone who had a traumatic childhood. After doing this for a long time it’s easy for me to spot. You have a hard shell. Is there pain beneath that shell?
Miss Tila Tequila: For a looong time there was pain. You know how when people say, “You need to love yourself.” I’d be like, “What is that supposed to mean?” After a while I finally realized what it means to love yourself. That’s when I become content with myself and everything just started falling into place. Once you love yourself you don’t need people to love you to fill that void. You don’t need to be in a relationship. You don’t need to always be with someone. I love being single. I love being by myself, I love work and just being with my dog. I hate relationships, especially with people who don’t know how to love themselves. I’m like, “Look, I can’t love you because you don’t even love yourself. And if you don’t love yourself then I don’t respect you. I’m gonna treat you like crap, and I don’t want to do that because when I treat you like crap I will treat you like crap, and I won’t stop, and I don’t want to do that because I’m not that type of person anymore. But if you stick around then you have no self respect, and I’m going to humiliate you, embarrass you, and I’m not that type of person anymore. So I always break up with them.” I need a king in my life because I am a queen. Only a king or a beast can handle someone like me.
PR.com: You said “king.” Does that mean you want to settle down with a guy as opposed to a girl?
Miss Tila Tequila: It’s so complex: guy, girl or him, her. So I just keep it general and say “he.”
PR.com: If you’re being totally honest, and you project five or ten years down the road, do you see yourself with a husband and kids, do you see yourself with a woman?
Miss Tila Tequila: I would like to have children. Many, many children… so I can beat their ass’s everyday (laughs) like my mom did. No!
PR.com: Shut up! Sometimes it’s hard. “God, please help me not to spank this child.”
(We are, of course, joking around.)
Miss Tila Tequila: Do you see me shaking? Do-you-see me-sha-king? (Laughs). No! But I would actually like to have many, many children. I know that is the whole reason why I started up all these companies: the record label, the management firm and doing the music, because once it starts running itself I don’t have to work anymore. I get to spend time with my children. All day it’s always going to be “mommy and me” time. And I think it’s really hot to be a MILF.
PR.com: What made you want to do a gossip blog? Is the goal to go after Perez Hilton and to be his competition?
Miss Tila Tequila: I know I will dethrone his site in less than a month.
PR.com: It’s a grind to generate celebrity news on a daily basis.
Miss Tila Tequila: I actually have a whole staff of people including somebody who used to work at E! Online, somebody who used to work at TMZ, and a lot of paparazzi. I teamed up with a few people who are going to syndicate it. It’s just going to be massive. It’s not just me sitting there going, “Oh, let’s talk crap about…” I have exclusives, I have insiders, we’re going to send out some club kids. Also, because I’ve been in Hollywood for ten years I know a lot of juicy, dirty secrets about celebrities. I’m not going to put my friends out on blast, but a lot of these celebrities who have mistreated me, well, it’s payback time. I am going to put every single bit of information out there and let people know who they really are, and how fake they are and what they’ve done.
PR.com: To you personally?
Miss Tila Tequila: Yes, only to the people who have done me wrong. My blog is not about attacking celebrities, it’s more funny and refreshing. We’re doing live interviews with celebrities. We already have a bunch of people contacting us. The insiders in Hollywood already know that my site is going to be big, and so many people are reaching out to me to be a part of this. There has never been a celebrity to be a legit celebrity gossip blogger. Perez Hilton’s site is so stale by now. It’s been the same for years and he doesn’t blog, his sister does, and it’s boring. It’s not original or fresh anymore because he has kissed all the celebrities’ asses, and now it’s just fake lies.
PR.com: If you’re a journalist, you’re an observer. If you are a celebrity, you are the observed. How can you be both at the same time?
Miss Tila Tequila: I’m not a socialite. I don’t go out, ever. I have my own personal life. I’m not a Hollywood socialite that hangs out at the Hollywood hotspots.
PR.com: You’re on the red carpets, you go to events.
Miss Tila Tequila: Red carpets, yes. Clubbing, no. You don’t see pictures of me with coke coming out my nose, coke coming out my shoes, drugged up, crotch shots coming out the car. There have never been shots of me like that.
PR.com: Are you telling me you’re in bed by ten most nights?
Miss Tila Tequila: No, I’m in bed by six because I’m working on so many things.
PR.com: Who produced and wrote the music on your upcoming album?
Miss Tila Tequila: I wrote it, and my friend Beau Dozier produced it. His father ran Motown Records. Because we have such a good chemistry it makes the music [great]. We get each other. This song (I Love My DJ) I actually wasn’t going to put out. I did a little video of me performing it for my fans and I posted it on YouTube, and everybody was like, “Where can we get this song?” So I decided to go ahead and put it out for my fans, because I really pay attention to them; I’m kind of like a psychologist [to them].
PR.com: You interact with your fans and give them advice?
Miss Tila Tequila: I just made up this thing where I call it “Tila’s advice hotline.” People call me and I give them advice and a lot of them start crying and they’re like, “I really want to come out to my mom and I don’t know what to do.” This other guy was like, “My baby’s momma is pregnant again with twins, but we don’t know who the father is.” And I don’t sugarcoat [advice]. It feels nice to know that for even one person, I make a difference in their life. They’ll write me back and say “thank you so much.” I do this on my personal time. There’s no paparazzi around, there’s no press around, it’s just me talking to my fans on the Internet. I feel like they’re my friends.
PR.com: Are you still connected to your hometown of Houston, Texas? Do you go back and visit?
Miss Tila Tequila: No. I only have three friends there that I grew up with since I was eleven. Everyone else is scattered around, dead or in jail, or they weren’t really my friends anyway. And I’m not that close to my family, so I only go home once a year for Christmas, but not really.
PR.com: Where’d you come up with the name Tequila?
Miss Tila Tequila: It was when I was in eighth grade and we were just being rebellious, and some of us drank tequila. I couldn’t handle it and I broke out in rashes and just threw up everywhere. The next day at school everyone was making fun of me and going, “That’s Tila Tequila.” I’ve just used that name ever since, and that’s why I’m changing it now to Miss Tila, because my name is Tila which is not a common name. When I signed up for MySpace, Tila Tequila was just my screen name. Who would have known that, that screen name would have turned into my stage name. And I’m like, “I’m not Tequila. (Laughs) I’m just Tila!” I just want to be known as Tila so I decided to change it to Miss Tila.
PR.com: Do you think there will ever be a time when you’ll just want to be Tila Nguyen?
Miss Tila Tequila: No. I just want to be Tila. Tila is a legend… like Madonna, just one name.
PR.com: And what about your full album (Welcome to the Darkside)? Is it all dance music or is it more eclectic?
Miss Tila Tequila: People are getting confused because the single I Love My DJ comes out April 13th and I’m only putting that out sooner because so many fans requested it. However, that’s not going to be on my EP, Welcome to the Darkside. Welcome to the Darkside is a side of me that nobody has seen before. It’s more Nina Simone and Billie Holiday style with the old microphone. I wanted to put out an EP like that where people can see that I can sing, and it’s live. There’s no Auto-Tune or backup singers. It’s just me and the orchestra and we recorded it live. My producer even said, “This is beautiful and I love that it’s raw. Even if there are some notes that are a little off, we should keep it like that because that’s the realness of how they recorded back then.” Back then they would just sing with a live band and record.
PR.com: Is this being released independently?
Miss Tila Tequila: On my record label. I’m signing artists and I’m managing people as well. I feel like it’s a milestone for me to be this young and to manage people my age. They write me and say, “So boss, what are we doing today?” I’m getting things done for them. I’ve gotten them booked for magazine shoots, I’m getting them paid gigs and I feel like, “Whew! Wow, that’s really cool!” Most people who do this are older. As far as being lumped into the Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Lindsay category, I actually manage people. They know that with me I can get them out there fast! I’m already known, so anybody that I introduce, everybody starts talking about them immediately, over night.
PR.com: Do you feel like you know how to work the press and generate headlines on demand?
Miss Tila Tequila: Oh yeah. I know exactly what I’m doing. They think they’re laughing at me, but I am actually ten steps ahead of them. Sometimes I’ll Google myself, and I love reading the comments because they’re saying all these things, but I’m sitting there laughing my ass off because I know exactly what I am doing.
PR.com: Is there anything that you’ve done in the past that you regret where you look back and say, “I wish I didn’t make that comment and put myself out there in that way,” or “I wish I didn’t take that picture?”
Miss Tila Tequila: Not really, because I have always been the same. That’s how I got famous. I was always vocal and I was always the same way as I am right now, and I will always be this way. I don’t take anything back because I know that I always have good intentions. I’m not hurting anybody and I don’t lie. When people criticize me… I stand firmly behind my beliefs. I know exactly what went down, I don’t lie about stuff, and in the end I always win. Nobody can take me down. Even if the whole world is bashing on me I don’t care because God knows what happened and I know what happened.
PR.com: Are you happy and fulfilled right now?
Miss Tila Tequila: I am extremely happy. I’ve never been happier in my life. Before, there was so much stuff going on. There were times when I felt suicidal or like I can’t handle this. There was so much going on with the fame and there were so many people… now I’ve somehow found this peace inside of me. I’m centered and I’m making things come true. I’ve learned that if there are people in my life that are negative I cut them out immediately, because I love my job so much. I manifested last year. Every year I write down a list of five things I want to accomplish in the next year. And in 2009 one of those things I wrote down was that in 2010 I would like to become a mogul. I have already manifested that. I have the celebrity gossip blog, I have my own record label, I have my own management firm and my music is coming out. I’m touring and the company will start running itself. The whole point of that is that once the company starts running itself I can spend time with my children. I am adopting.
PR.com: So that is the goal.
Miss Tila Tequila: Mmm hmm. I planned this ahead because I know that once the money comes in and you have people working for you, then you don’t have to do the work. You have people who do the work for you. You check in to make sure everybody is doing their job, but then I’ll have all this time to spend time with my children. I would like to have many, many adopted children.
PR.com: At what point are you going to make your first adoption?
Miss Tila Tequila: I’m going through the adoption process right now. It takes a year or so.
PR.com: Yes, I’m familiar with it.
Miss Tila Tequila: But after the first adopted child I would love to have… five.
PR.com: A foreign adoption or a baby from the United States?
Miss Tila Tequila: All over, but the first one right now is from America. Celebrities make it so trendy to adopt from other countries. Angelina Jolie adopted Pax from Vietnam. His [birth] name is Thien, and that is also my name. If all these Americans are adopting from all these other places and I am a Vietnamese woman who is now Asian-American, I am going to adopt a child from America and switch that around. People forget that in America there are lots of foster children too. And like I said, I don’t care what people say about me. Are you paying my bills? Nope. Are you giving me sex when I need it? Nope. (Laughs). You only live once.
Tila’s “Welcome To The Darkside” EP will be released on May 11, 2010 with a full album to follow in late summer 2010.
Miss Tila’s Celebrity Gossip Blog, TilaTequilaOMG.com will debut April 30, 2010.