A fuschia Bentley speeds along a twisting desert road toward the Neon Carnival, a Coachella after-party that takes place every year. Paris Hilton is on her way. Her hair is knotted with white flowers in pigtails, and she’s dressed in a glittering pink romper that matches her platform boots. She greets admirers on the red carpet, then moves on to a full dance floor before arriving at the go-karts.
Every year, Hilton attends the invite-only party in person, but this scene took place last month in Paris World, Hilton’s virtual world on the popular gaming platform Roblox, where she entered as an avatar. According to Hilton, around 400,000 Roblox players visited her virtual Neon Carnival over the mid-April weekend, roughly 40 times the amount of individuals who attended in person this year. (Levi’s sponsored the digital event, which was built in part by Brent Bolthouse, the original Neon Carnival’s founder.)
Hilton has had previous success with this concept. She performed a live show as her avatar in the same virtual world on New Year’s Eve. Users can also purchase virtual apparel, book a jet ski ride, or pay to gain entry to a VIP section of a club in Paris World.
In a recent interview with CNN Business, Hilton said, “I’ve always been an undercover nerd, so I’ve been obsessed with anything to do with technology and the future. Now my new nickname is ‘The Queen of the Metaverse,’” referring to a moniker she’s worn on the red carpet and in a number of social media images and that, according to her firm 11:11 Media, initially appeared in the NFT space on Twitter.
Hilton has always been ahead of the curve. After her reality TV show, “The Simple Life,” premiered in 2003, she arguably became an influencer before the phrase was even coined. Hilton, the great-granddaughter of hotel mogul Conrad Hilton, has been attempting to rebrand herself as a successful businesswoman and solidify her reputation as an innovator.
She’s recently embraced two buzzy but speculative tech trends: the metaverse, a vision for an immersive virtual world that has yet to materialize, and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, which refer to digital content linked to the blockchain, the digital ledger system that underpins various cryptocurrencies.
Hilton has invested in a number of software startups, including Genies, a digital avatar firm, and immi, an animation tool that allows some NFT owners to bring the characters in their digital artwork to life. She also purchased a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, a high-end and coveted collection that has drawn celebrity purchasers. Hilton has also made her own work for the NFT.
The “Iconic Crypto Queen,” designed in partnership with popular NFT artist Blake Kathryn, sold for $1.111 million, a tribute to Hilton’s new company, 11:11 Media, which is named after her favorite time of day.