While the rest of us plan to celebrate election night by experimenting with benzodiazepines and prayer, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both throwing parties in New York City.
Clinton recently announced that she’ll be hosting festivities at the Javits Center, where she intends to break the glass ceiling of taking metaphors extremely literally. As Clinton and her supporters party hard aka anxiously watch the results come in, Trump’s “Victory Party” will rage on just two miles away. The intimate gathering, which will kick off at 6:30 p.m., will be a far cry from Trump’s former coke-fueled bacchanalias. For one thing—if there is a God—the Republican candidate and his Trumpkins won’t have much to celebrate. Secondly, unlike many Trump-approved parties and media opportunities, this fête won’t be hosted at a Trump property. Instead, it will take place at the New York Hilton Midtown, located just a short walk from Donald’s own Trump Tower.
There are some perfectly good reasons why Trump would gift the New York Hilton Midtown with his patronage. According to Yelp reviews, the hotel is a solid three out of five stars—“clean” with a great “NYC gift shop” and “across the street from the original Halal Guys cart.” In the words of one hotel guest, “Overall if you don’t care about an outdated room with a dirty carpet, location is great for people visiting NYC for the first time!” Still, it seems strange that Trump isn’t taking advantage of one last opportunity to flaunt his own New York real-estate holdings.
Throughout the election, the businessman turned reality TV star has jumped at every chance to promote his hotels. During the first presidential debate, Trump’s extended efforts to cheapen the national political discourse culminated in an all-out infomercial for his new D.C. hotel. “We’re just opening up on Pennsylvania Avenue, right next to the White House,” Trump bragged, referring to the 1899 Old Post Office located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue. “So if I don’t get there one way, I’m going to get to Pennsylvania Avenue another [way]. But we’re opening the old post office under budget, ahead of schedule.” Earlier in the campaign, Trump held a press conference about birtherism in that same Trump hotel, only to spend more than half an hour listing the merits of the property.
So what gives? An optimistic reading of Trump’s “Victory Party” geotag is that he doesn’t want to associate his brand with (even more?) failure. Trump might not be, as one source reports, “superstitious,” but rather justifiably terrified. Assuming that Trump doesn’t spend the rest of his life endlessly campaigning, he’ll probably want to get back to business—which becomes more difficult once your name is inextricably linked to racism, misogyny, homophobia, and Pepe the Frog memes. If Trump’s reputation is about to go up in flames, his gaudy, gold-flaked properties would be the first thing he’d try to save from the fire. Still, this strategy doesn’t explain Donald’s interesting choice in venue: the ballroom of the only other hotelier family to rival the Trumps’ infamy.
When you think Trump real estate, you think budget Versailles, controversial casinos, and tear-stained taco bowls. When you think Hilton hotels, you think Paris. These two houses are both alike in lack of dignity, boasting hundreds of properties and double-digit reality TV shows between them. But where the Trump brand is irrevocably tied to the magnetic, tiny-handed Donald, Hilton was once defined by the wild antics of the original celebutante. Paris Hilton was famous for being famous back when Kim Kardashian was still organizing Paris Hilton’s closet. After getting expelled from the Canterbury School and subsequently dropping out of the Dwight School a few months later, a young Paris looked to a family friend, Donald Trump, for help with her modeling career. At 19, she signed with his modeling agency, T Management. It didn’t take long for Hilton to score a side gig as one of the world’s biggest reality TV stars on The Simple Life, and one of the pioneers of the modern celebrity sex tape.
Trump may have done the teenage Hilton a favor, but he did the rest of the world a disservice by describing, in detail, the 12-year-old heiress’s feminine wiles. In an old Howard Stern interview—Twitter’s four favorite words—Trump brought up his daughter Ivanka’s good friend, Paris Hilton. “Now, somebody who a lot of people don’t give credit to but in actuality is really beautiful is Paris Hilton,” he said. “I’ve known Paris Hilton from the time she’s 12, her parents are friends of mine, and the first time I saw her she walked into the room and I said, ‘Who the hell is that?’” “Did you wanna bang her?” Stern asked. “Well, at 12, I wasn’t interested,” Trump said. “I’ve never been into that... but she was beautiful.”
And it gets worse! Donald went on to reveal that he and his wife Melania had actually watched Paris Hilton’s sex tape. And in 2005, he discussed the tape with Vanity Fair, insisting, “I hate what happened with that sex tape, but it only made her hotter.” For the millionth time this election cycle, these anecdotes have us wondering what Ivanka must be thinking. Nobody deserves to hear their father salivate over a childhood friend to multiple media outlets. Then again, Ivanka did favorite an article on Twitter about how her dad called her a “piece of ass,” so at this point, who knows.
Then there’s the curious case of Donald Jr. In an oral history of the gossip column Page Six conducted by Vanity Fair, reporter Chris Wilson recalled an alleged incident in which he wound up trapped between Paris and Donald Jr. in a taxi cab. “Donald Trump Jr. was like leaning over and trying to paw her and [Hilton’s] looking at me, holding on to me like a cat holding on to the side of a tree. You know, like, ‘Please help me,’” Wilson told VF. “We actually had this great picture that was never run. It was a picture someone took of Paris with this diamond choker with a belly shirt on at the party, and Donny junior is, like, trying to touch her bronzed, glowing stomach. We subtitled it ‘Art of the Feel.’ But it never ran.”
Increasingly odd family dynamics aside, Hilton has remained fairly mum about her not-so-secret admirer’s presidential campaign. In a CNBC interview in September, Paris praised Trump, reminiscing, “I’ve known him since I’m a little girl. He’s a very nice man. I think on TV people like to say things about certain people, but he’s actually a very sweet person. I like him a lot.” But when the hosts asked her whether she plans to vote for him come November, Hilton replied, “My mom always told me not to talk about money or politics.”
That was a savvy bit of maneuvering from Paris Hilton, who is, contrary to public belief, smart. At just 35, Paris Hilton has built a wildly profitable brand based around a handful of non-talents. She’s become one of the highest-paid celebrity DJs in the world, raking in millions for standing behind booths in Ibiza. There are currently three Paris Hilton apartment complexes and 44 Paris Hilton stores worldwide. Hilton earns over $10 million a year in product sales, and her perfumes alone have brought in over $2.5 billion in revenue. In fact, Paris’s celebrity fragrance is second only to Liz Taylor’s, which is an honor in and of itself.
All in all, Paris Hilton has taken a name that was once associated with rich kid laziness and excess, and parlayed it into a popular brand, fashioning a niche for herself outside of the family business. Meanwhile, Hilton Worldwide Holdings boast 4,820 properties in more than 100 countries and territories, making it the second largest hotel chain in the world. In terms of gross comments versus graceful deflections, Paris Hilton has clearly come out on top. Trump’s statements about the young Hilton will go down as yet another pervy faux pas. And unlike Paris, who managed to turn her sex tape scandal around, Trump will have a hard time recovering if his “Victory Party” doesn’t go as planned. Associating himself with a far more stable, less scandal-ridden hotel brand won’t magically make Trump trustworthy—or presidential—come Tuesday night.