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By B. Voss
She might be young, rich and beautiful, but don’t dare lump Hilary Duff in with the tabloid tramps. For starters, she’s got “Dignity” — and we’re not just talking about the title of her new electro-flavored CD that she co-wrote with some of the most prominent pop producers in the biz. By phone recently, the 19-year-old star discussed her growing gay fan base; came clean about her ex-boyfriend, Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden; and gave us the skinny on her supposed feud with Nicole Richie.
Q. It was great seeing you present at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York.
A. It was so much fun! I’d never been before and everyone was so nice to me. I was really surprised but really excited that they wanted me to be a part of it. And it’s fun to get dressed up and go do things that you believe in and that you want people to know about.
Q. Who’s your favorite gay celebrity?
A. I love Carson Kressley. I’ve actually worked with him before on “The Perfect Man.” He’s so funny because I was standing there taking a picture with the president of GLAAD and Carson was like, “I don’t want to interrupt, but I have to come in!” So he jumped in and gave me a big hug. He has the best energy and he’s so sweet.
Q. Tell me about your recent performance at G-A-Y in London.
A. It was incredible. I actually was so shocked that they asked me to perform there just because so many really talented people perform there. It’s quite an honor. The whole place was packed and they all knew all my songs.
Q. Was that your first time in a gay club?
A. I’d been to The Abbey once before to dance with my one of my best guy friends in L.A. He’s gay and his name is Drew.
Q. Were the boys all over you?
A. They kind of were, but I love it! They just have so much fun and they’re much more accepting. Walking into a regular club, there’s so much more attitude to deal with.
Q. What do you and Drew do together?
A. He comes over and we cook. Oh, and we love watching “Flavor Flav” together! He loves “I Love New York,” so we did a fun evening at my house and he brought Cheez Whiz. He loves to have theme parties and wants to have a hoedown barbecue at my house this summer. Once we did an ’80s prom night with a DJ and all of our friends.
Q. When did you realize you had a big gay following?
A. A lot of full-grown men would come up to me that loved Lizzie McGuire, but it wasn’t up until this year that I found out that they really liked my music and that my music was playing in some gay clubs. Once I was at Barney’s and there was this hardcore kid about 22 or 23. He looked pretty intense with the tight black pants, creepers and tattoos, and when he came up to me I was like, Oh my God, I’m about to get beat up. But he was like, “I’m gay and I’m obsessed with you and I want to see your concert, so you better hurry up and go on tour! When can I buy ‘Play With Fire’? I love you so much!” I was just so flattered.
Q. Sounds like we’re just like your tween girl fans. But more fun and more wild and crazy! Dignity has invited comparisons to Kylie Minogue. Did she inspire you?
A. Some of the tracks definitely sound Kylie-ish, but I tried not to listen to any other music when I was making my record because I just wanted it to be mine. But it’s so flattering when people tell me that or when I’ve read articles that compare me to Kylie. That’s huge. I love Kylie’s music and think she’s incredible.
Q. So many songs on “Dignity” deal with imperfect relationships and breakups. How much of the album was inspired by your two-and-a-half relationship with Joel Madden?
A. A lot of it, definitely. That was the one big relationship that I had been in. Making the record half of the time being with him and then while going through the breakup, I got to cover a lot of emotions. Obviously people like to talk more about the negative, but there are songs about how great our relationship was, too.
Q. Are there any songs that you’re nervous for Joel to hear?
A. No. We’re very cool with one another. I just saw him when I hosted TRL for a week and he was like, “Congratulations on the record, I can’t wait for it to come out!” I’m not embarrassed by anything I wrote. The only thing that sucks is that there’s been stuff said about songs on my record being about Nicole Richie because he’s dating her now. It’s absolutely not true. When you break up with someone you expect them to be with someone else. She’s never done anything to me and I’ve never done anything to her. I don’t know her and I have no reason to write a song about her on my record.
Q. But the track “Dignity,” which criticizes paparazzi princesses, certainly isn’t going to help fix any feuds!
A. I don’t think so either, but this record was about being open and being myself. The song “Dignity” — that’s how I feel. It’s blunt, it’s honest and I think a lot of people agree with it no matter how much they might love to talk about those people. It interests me, too. I see them in magazines and I’m like, “Oh, what’s so-and-so doing now?” But it’s kind of ridiculous and I don’t care if people know that I say that because it’s the truth. She is definitely in that group, but I’m not specifically talking about her.
Q. Gossip bloggers such as Perez Hilton suggest that you’ve been out partying harder since your breakup. Should we be concerned?
A. Oh my gosh, I’ve been going out for a long time. Just now because other people are going into rehab they start to notice that I’m going out. I like to go out and have fun with my girlfriends, but I don’t like to make a big deal out of it. I don’t like to go in the front door and I don’t like to walk out stumbling and crazy. When you do that kind of thing you know what kind of attention you’re going to get. But I don’t think there’s any cause for concern.
Q. How are you like your new fragrance, With Love?
A. The scent is very diverse. It’s sweet but also woodsy and dark, and that’s a different part of my personality that people don’t always see. The top note is the sweetest, but then the dry down, the one that you’re left with the longest, is warmer and more exotic.
Q. When are you coming to Broadway like your sister Haylie did in “Hairspray”?
A. I would love to, but I don’t know if I could do that. It’s so hard. They actually asked me to play Sandy in “Grease.” Every single day and sometimes twice a day? That’s insane. I’m so proud of her that she did that. Hopefully, it’ll be something that I’ll get to experience in my career. I would love to come live in New York.
Q. Who’s your “American Idol” pick?
A. I don’t really watch “American Idol”! But for some reason I know about somebody named Sanjaya and his fantastic hair or his crazy, ridiculous hair. People can’t figure it out, right, whether it’s ridiculous or good?