Name: Trent Vanegas
Title: Creator of ‘Pink is the new Blog’
School(s): University of Oklahoma, University of Michigan - Dearborn
On the job: ‘Pink’ receives over a million unique hits per week
Admit it. We all love a good dose of celebrity gossip – who’s dating who, who got arrested, who’s sporting some fugly fashion, who’s flashing the paparazzi. Some of us stick to the confines of US Weekly while others make their celeb-obsession an integral part of everyday life and in some cases, their livelihood. Such is the case of Trent Vanegas, who has turned his website Pink is the new Blog (www.pinkisthenewblog.com) into one of the most popular gossip sites around, simply by writing about his fondness for everything from Britney and Jakey Gyllenhaal to Tori Amos and Heroes.
Long before Britney met Kevin and Lindsay met the bottom of a vodka bottle, Vanegas graduated and fell into a two-week gig as a high school history teacher where he remained for the next five years. In 2002, he fell into the blogosphere in a similar way. “I started the blog as a hobby because I wanted to get into the habit of writing everyday. I didn’t even call it a blog. This was before a blog was called a blog. It was basically an online journal,” he explains. It wasn’t until Vanegas decided to revamp the site in 2004 that it officially became Pink. He found a new template that was hot pink on black and after he casually posted the tagline "Pink is the new Blog", people assumed that was the name and it stuck.
As word of mouth spread and his web traffic increased, Vanegas pulled focus away from his personal journal and found that the more he wrote about media and pop culture, the more attention the site received. In early 2005, Pink got press in the New York Post, then Blender Magazine, New York Times and Entertainment Weekly. In June 2005 he quit his teaching job in Detroit and moved to Los Angeles. During that summer he was also first approached by advertisers. “In the beginning I was like ‘Great! It’ll be like spending money, an extra $100 a month’. Now I’m able to live comfortably off it.”
So Vanegas' well-paid job is to sit on his couch writing about Brangelina all day? Seriously? “Yeah, I definitely treat it as if I hit the jackpot,” he admits. His one complaint? “I would love to take days off but the original plan when I started was to see how long I could do daily postings.” The other downside is that Vanegas gets up at 6 a.m. in order to deliver a scandalicious daily wrap-up by 10am (although he has a “no alarm clock policy” on weekends). Rather than updating 24/7, Vanegas gives Pink readers one daily blast of catty commentary fuelled by his bright personality - “I want you to come away with the feeling that you were gossiping with a friend. I want it to be fun and ridiculous and cheesy.” Of course, in Hollywood there’s never a shortage of ridiculousness. “Gossip happens every day. Even on the days when nothing is going on, something is going on.”
Combine Vanegas' passion for pop culture with his Everyman appeal and signature quippy lingo and it’s easy to see what makes Pink brighter than the average blog. The site has attracted a loyal fanbase of readers and a even a few celebrity fans. “I recently saw Hayden Panettiere from Heroes at a party and even though I wanted to get a picture, I didn’t want to bother her. But then she saw me and came over saying ‘Trent! Are we gonna do a picture for the blog?’" Despite his popularity with the Hollywood 'it' crowd, Vanegas is always fearful that some celebs might not appreciate his playful barbs. He recalls a time in 2005 when he dubbed Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie the ‘Skeletwins’ and was horrified to find himself at a party with Nicole later that year. “A friend of hers came over and said, 'Nicole wants you to speak to you'. I felt sure she was going to throw a drink in my face or ask how I could be so mean to her. Finally I went over and she gave me a big hug and said ‘It’s so good to meet you, your blog is so funny’. At that point I figured if Nicole Richie can get the joke then anyone can.”
But out of all his celebrity encounters, there’s one experience that shines above the rest. “I don’t think anything will be able to top meeting Madonna.” Indeed, Vanegas had the good fortune to talk to Madge after her TRL appearance back in 2006. “It was a religious experience,” he says, “I had this cheesy grin on my face the whole time. I think the only other people who could do that to me would be Kylie Minogue or David Beckham. Any time of day I run into them I’m knocking people out of my way.”
So what lies ahead for the blogger extraordinaire? “Sometimes I think ‘Will I still be able to do this in 5 years?’ Some days it’s hard but I’ve stayed committed to it all this time and I plan to stay committed to it as long as it’s still fun for me…because then I know it’ll still be fun for other people as well.” So long as Britney & pals keeps drinking the crazy sauce, there’ll be enough fun for everyone.