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By Dawn Chmielewski
(Reuters) - Paris Hilton commands as much as $1 million a night working as a celebrity DJ, entertaining partiers at clubs in China, Dubai and on the Spanish vacation island of Ibiza.
This New Year’s Eve, she will be playing an electronic set for the revelers who drop by a venue of a different sort -- her virtual island on Roblox.
Hilton created an island in the online virtual world, dubbed Paris World, where visitors can explore digital replicas of her Beverly Hills estate and its dog mansion, stroll a boardwalk inspired by the neon carnival wedding celebration she and husband Carter Reum hosted earlier this year at the Santa Monica Pier in California, and explore the island in a luxury sports car or Sunray yacht.
Like other virtual hangouts, Paris World will collect small payments for purchasing virtual clothing or booking a ride on a jet-ski.
“For me, the metaverse is somewhere that you can do everything you can do in real life in the digital world,” said Hilton, who worked to create aspects of her globe-trotting life for fans. “Not everybody gets to experience that, so that’s what we’ve been working together on over the past year -- giving them all my inspirations of what I want in that world.”
Hilton, 40, joins a clutch of celebrities and brands rushing to embrace the metaverse, a broad term referring to a persistent virtual world. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg popularized the term this year he renamed the company to Meta to emphasize the metaverse's central role to the company's future.
Brands such as Tommy Hilfiger brand launched a line of digital ready-to-wear fashion for Roblox avatars. Nike opened a virtual world called Nikeland in November, where visitors can play dodgeball with friends, lace on a pair of virtual Air Force 1 sneakers and win medals. Rappers Lil Nas X and Travis Scott have also held concerts last year for millions of virtual concertgoers.
For the socialite and reality TV-star turned entrepreneur, Paris World is the latest venture launched by her new media company, 11:11 Media. She and veteran media executive Bruce Gersh aim to capitalize on the burgeoning creator economy, in which celebrities like Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James leverage their influence to produce films, television shows and podcasts, brand marketing and to sell merchandise.
Hilton is most widely known for the reality television show “The Simple Life,” in which she and celebrity socialite, Nicole Richie, ditched their limos to travel America aboard a Greyhound bus.
Hilton says the dumb blonde act was a put-on, “I was always in on the joke, but I knew exactly what I was doing. Behind the scenes, I was building a brand.”
She has leveraged her gossip pages notoriety into 19 different consumer product lines, including perfumes, apparel, lingerie, cosmetics, sunglasses watches, shoes, handbags and jewelry, which together generated an estimated $4 billion in revenue over the past decade, the company disclosed.
Investment-banker husband Reum introduced Hilton to Gersh, a former Walt Disney Co and Time Inc executive, to create a media enterprise around one of pop culture's original influencers.
Since those early discussions, 11:11 Media has launched “This Is Paris,” a podcast in which she speaks candidly about her family and friends, and a pair of reality TV series, “Cooking With Paris” on Netflix and “Paris In Love,” about her engagement and marriage to Reum.
Hilton has also tapped into the mania for non-fungible tokens, collaborating with designer Blake Kathryn to sell three unique pieces of digital art -- one of which fetched in excess of $1.1 million, according to online auction platform Nifty Gateway.
“The final piece of the digital space is the metaverse,” said Gersh. “ We think that there's a real opportunity for Paris to influence, even at a younger level than who her core customer is. We've built a fantastic, whimsical world that we believe her fans and new fans will just love.”
(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski; editing by Kenneth Li and Nick Zieminski)