Starting tomorrow, Perez Hilton will step out from behind his keyboard and into a crowd of screaming fans. Not his fans, necessarily, but lovers of Norwegian singer Ida Maria, New Zealand chanteuse Ladyhawke and New York glam rockers Semi Precious Weapons. The artists — plus four Sliimy, Julian Perretta, FrankMusik and Eric Hutchinson — are on the bill for Perez Hilton Presents, the first-ever tour that the blogger has curated. "It's taking the concept of a mini-festival and opening it up to everyone," says Hilton, who has hosted invite-only showcases at SXSW and CMJ. (The 17-date trek kicks off September 10th in Atlanta and wraps October 3rd in Los Angeles.) "It's a dream of mine to expose the masses to music I love.
Selecting the lineup was simple: Hilton just went after artists he digs. "Ida Maria is such a ferocious, raw performer," he says of the indie rocker, who's been known to bust out stripteases onstage while singing her cheeky punk-rock tune "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked." "Live, she kind of scares me," he admits. (Watch Ida Maria's exclusive RS acoustic set here.)
Hilton — who grew up blasting Madonna and Gloria Estefan songs — picked Ladyhawke for her "dancier, bit more nostalgic vibe" (she's one of the indie-electro stars collaborating with Christina Aguilera on her forthcoming disc). Semi Precious Weapons got points for being Lady Gaga's favorite band. "They have one of the best lyrics of all time: 'I can't pay my rent but I'm fucking gorgeous,' " he says. "I can't wait to take them to middle America." (The tour — which mostly rolls through blue states — hits Kansas City, Missouri and Salt Lake City, Utah.)
Hilton is a known music lover — he frequently posts tracks from unknown artists on his site and gushes about his meetings with Madonna and Gaga. He was also an early champion of French pop singer (and Presents tour artist) Sliimy, who snagged attention with his cover of Britney Spears' "Womanizer." Now, he's the debut signing on Hilton's Perezcious Music label. "I get at least 30 emails a day saying, 'Check out this band!' " says Hilton, who discovers new artists through his readers. "The majority is crap, but once in a while you find something really good."
While tickets are selling well, Hilton says that music fans might not be taking Perez the promoter seriously. "Some people are saying, 'Uch, I don't want to go because Perez Hilton put this together,' " he says. "Yes, I did, but who cares? It's going to be fun, fresh, experimental, and a great evening of music. Don't not come because my name is attached to it."