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What’s An Elliot Mintz?

Posted by tinselkitty on January 26, 2011

So you watched the YouTube video of Kyle and Taylor already and you’re wondering who that little Oompa Loompa is, aren’t you? Well, dearies, that’s an Elliot Mintz.

He’s what you call a celebrity hand holder. No, really, it’s right there in the NY Times article below, Walking Miss Hilton. I didn’t make it up. His whole job is to go out with celebrities and…well, I guess it’s just to go out with celebrities. Do you suppose Kyle gets a family discount on his services?

IT was just before 1 a.m. on a late summer Saturday outside Hyde, a nightclub on the Sunset Strip. The paparazzi were restless, rallying briefly at the sight of a departing Nicollette Sheridan, then going through the motions with a few obligatory shots of a professional wrestler, Stacy Keibler. The night was beginning to feel like a bust.

Then a black BMW with tinted windows rolled up, and the milling figures assumed a sudden collective focus. Elliot Mintz, the meticulously groomed man who emerged from the sedan, is unrecognizable to most readers of celebrity glossies. But as the personal representative of Paris Hilton — press agent, quasi bodyguard and all-around hand-holder — he was a harbinger of her arrival. Wearing an old-school dinner jacket and a George Hamilton tan, he chatted with the paparazzi and embraced the unsmiling doorman.

He headed into the club and spent the next hour and a half sipping chardonnay, waiting for his eternally late charge to show. When she did, he emerged from the club and ran interference with the photographers, who finally got their shots.

In the world of celebrities and their handlers, the job of accompanying stars after hours as they carouse and embarrass themselves is usually relegated to 25-year-old junior publicists, who tend to be preternaturally equipped with enthusiasm and stamina.

So in many ways the 61-year-old Mr. Mintz is an unlikely figure to be working the graveyard shift of Ms. Hilton’s social life. Rarely leaving the house in anything less than a suit, tie and silk shirt — often all of the same hue — he is the kind of person who seems both younger and older than he is. His blow-dried hair and manicured hands suggest fastidious upkeep, but it is the upkeep of an older generation and seems almost kitsch against the backdrop of Ms. Hilton and her celebutante friends.

Once a well-known figure in Los Angeles’s hippest music scenes — he was an underground radio D.J. in the 1960’s and a confidant of John Lennon’s — Mr. Mintz now scurries after Ms. Hilton as she sashays in and out of clubs, hair salons and restaurants. She tells him where she plans to go, and he shows up early, inserting his diminutive frame between the 25-year-old heiress and unwanted gawkers and cameramen, so that they do not scare or fluster her.

And it is Mr. Mintz who speeds through the night when his biggest client, bitten by her pet monkey, awaits his counsel at a hospital, as occurred this month. They talk or e-mail up to a dozen times a day.

“I speak to him more than anyone else in my life,” Ms. Hilton said in an interview.

When asked about his improbable journey from Lennon to Hilton, Mr. Mintz explained that in his eyes he once represented an artist who stood for the dreams and values of a generation. And now he represents an heiress who, well, stands for the dreams and values of a generation.

“Young people don’t believe in politicians,” he said. “They don’t believe in their leaders. They look to celebrities to represent them.”

Far from seeing Ms. Hilton as a damage-control project — he took her on as a client well after her infamous sex tape — Mr. Mintz believes he is shaping her image as a multimedia star. “She created this brand,” he said, citing her line of perfume; her reality TV show, “The Simple Life”; and her first CD, “Paris,” made with the hit R & B producer Scott Storch and released last week.

One reason Ms. Hilton trusts Mr. Mintz, she said, is that he understands that she’s playing a role: an heiress with an artificially breathy voice who desperately needs attention to survive. “He really gets me, the whole Paris thing,” she said. “He knows it’s all a game.”

But to hear Mr. Mintz tell it, he has just about had it with the game — celebrities, nightclubs, paparazzi — which he finds demoralizing and embarrassing. “I’m at the end of the trail,” he said. “I’m done with it. If I’m still doing this 12 months from now, I will have failed.”

He drew a distinction between Ms. Hilton, whom he adores, and the media maw that surrounds her, which he can’t stand. While he agreed to be interviewed, he did so reluctantly. His dream, he said, is to retire and raise thoroughbred horses. His intentions were news to Ms. Hilton, who responded to the idea with a shriek. “Noooo,” she screamed, “I trust him with my life.”

Born in the Bronx, Mr. Mintz arrived in Los Angeles in 1963 and attended Los Angeles City College. In the late 60’s and 70’s he was a fixture on the rock scene, working as a radio D.J. and serving as host of a television show, “Headshop.” He interviewed Frank Zappa and Timothy Leary, John Lennon, who became a close friend, and Bob Dylan, who became a client. He accompanied Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Woodstock.

His two-story house in Laurel Canyon, reached by a tram, overflowed with candles, and Mr. Mintz speaks of those years as his most cherished. He pays about $160 a month to keep his old Laurel Canyon phone number, though he lives in Beverly Hills, in a house filled with mementos, including books autographed by Leary and albums signed by Lennon, Gregg Allman and David Cassidy, whom Mr. Mintz accompanied on a European tour.

By the late 70’s, he was burned out on broadcasting. He built on his music contacts to become a publicist. After Lennon’s murder in 1980 by Mark David Chapman, Mr. Mintz represented the estate, becoming an adviser and protector of Yoko Ono. In an e-mail message, she described Mr. Mintz as “a dear friend who went through the storms with me for the past 25 years.” He is working on projects with Sean Lennon, John and Yoko’s son.

Today, Mr. Mintz is immersed in a very different world. He lives like a 23-year-old, sleeping until around noon, then spending the next hours working from one of the 17 telephones in his house. Most days he works until about 7, exercises in his downstairs gym and heads out into the night around 9. He said he drinks the equivalent of a bottle of wine a day (almost always chardonnay, which is why Ms. Hilton and her buddies call him Chardy).

Mr. Mintz said he accompanies Ms. Hilton almost everywhere because she asks him to, surrounded as she almost always is by the news media. Some suspect he simply likes being part of the scene. Ken Baker, the West Coast executive editor of Us Weekly, attended a 24th birthday party for Ms. Hilton at her home last year. He remembered Mr. Mintz’s showing up at the party less as an adviser than as part of her clique. “He just fit in perfectly,” Mr. Baker, 36, said. “There I was standing in Paris’s living room, thinking I was too old for this. But Elliot blended right in.”

Other high-level Hollywood publicists said they don’t understand why Mr. Mintz must accompany Ms. Hilton everywhere. None would allow their names to be used, but a number wondered whether the saturation coverage of Ms. Hilton’s every move detracts from her ability to promote her television show and her record.

Mr. Mintz replied that it is because he devotes so much attention to clients that people like Ms. Hilton hire him. He said he has devoted similar time to many of the 40 clients he has had over the years. One of the latest, Christie Brinkley, was in the news this summer when her husband’s affair hit the tabloids.

The interest in Ms. Hilton, Mr. Mintz said, is almost a force of nature. Every time she leaves her home, she is followed by a caravan of paparazzi, who record her shopping sprees and minor traffic-police brushes.

It was a paparazzi encounter with Ms. Hilton that generated Mr. Mintz’s professional low point, a notorious rant outside Hyde by Brandon Davis, the grandson of the late billionaire Marvin Davis. Brandon Davis, who has known Ms. Hilton since they were children, was caught on videotape spouting obscenities about the actress Lindsay Lohan, who has been portrayed in the tabloids as a Hilton rival. Ms. Hilton, who was with him, can be seen on the tape, which was streamed over the Internet, laughing and almost egging him on.

Later they emerged from the club, joined by Mr. Mintz. On the video Mr. Mintz nervously tries to steer Ms. Hilton away from her friend, with no luck. At one point, Mr. Davis clumsily grabs Mr. Mintz by the tie.

The episode was “the longest walk of my professional media life,’’ Mr. Mintz said. “I never want to take that walk again. There were no winners.”

In interviews on the phone, at the Polo Lounge and inside his Mulholland Drive home, Mr. Mintz repeated his desire to quit his business. “I derive no pleasure from this at all,” he said at the Polo Lounge, where the receptionist and waiters address him by name. “The only way I get through this experience is through meditation and chardonnay.”

Yet, there are no signs of substantive steps to retire. While he talks of living on a ranch, he doesn’t own a horse or a place to stable one. Some who know him said they have heard his retirement talk for years. “I don’t think he will ever step down from where he is,” Ms. Ono said by e-mail. “Since John’s passing in 1980, he has been saying he wants to quit and watch the wheels in a horse farm. In his heart, he’s an L.A. cowboy.”

Mr. Mintz said his plan is to ride out his current obligations, but not to take on any more clients. “I almost have a plea, a wish: Please don’t call,” he said of new business. “All that will do is imprison me more. In July 2007, if I’m not out of it, come back and talk to me about what went wrong.”

But that’s almost a year away. For now, Mr. Mintz was off to Hyde, with its copper ceilings and wooden tables, where he would stay until last call.





4 Responses to “What’s An Elliot Mintz?”

  1. Olive the other Reindeer said

    There is a very lucrative business in “Walkers”,,but they are usually handsome gay guys..

    I just wish,,I wish Paris,,or people like her would NOT get recognized,,no paparzzi running after her,,,it kills me when a real celebrity “HATES” being bothered by fans etc,,hey buddy..I got news for ya’..if they didn’t bug you,,you would be washed up.

  2. Mrs. Hugh Jackman said

    Hi Olive! 🙂

    17 telephones?! Well, some days I feel like having that many when I don’t want to leave a room.

  3. Rosie said

    I remember Elliot as a friend and advisor to John and Yoko. He’s always featured on documentaries of Lennon and Rockers from that time. I had no idea he was involved with the Hiltons. I couldn’t understand what Taylor was doing with him, but it makes sense that he was with Kyle.
    Good article TK!

  4. […] that’s an Elliot Mintz. […]

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