The world first met them in photos from exclusive parties. Now dedicated packs of paparazzi track their every move, capturing each festive (and sometimes bizarre or law-breaking) moment.
Hilton, 26, and Richie, 25, say the fun continues on "The Simple Life," the reality show that throws the privileged pals into everyday situations. After famously feuding and filming their parts separately last season, the celebutantes reunite as camp counselors for the show's fifth installment, which premieres May 28 on E!
Their task? Leading campers through fitness sessions, couples counseling, drama lessons and beauty-pageant preparations -- and surviving without cell phones.
Hilton, in a lemon-yellow minidress, and Richie, wearing black jeans and a bustier, talked with The Associated Press Monday about their latest on-camera adventures, their friendship and what they've learned from "The Simple Life."
AP: How did you prepare for camp?
Richie: We actually didn't prepare, which I guess was a problem because we were wearing heels and just not camp-appropriate things. But during the fitness camp we wore sweats a lot which was a nice break.
Hilton: We had fun with everyone who came in. All the camps were completely different. We would have to do all the challenges that they would have to do. We had to stay with them in the same rooms, so basically we were living the camp life. It was hard, you know, not having cell phone service, being away from our friends and our family, but we had each other, so that was a lot of fun.
AP: Neither of you had been to camp as kids. What did you think of the whole experience?
Richie: It was interesting. It's definitely not for me. I'm not a camper. But I'm glad that I did it once. I'm always up to try anything.
Hilton: I think just being the camp counselors is being a lot different from actually having to go to camp as a kid. But I don't know. I didn't really like the camp life either. I'd rather go to Europe for the summer.
AP: You two have had some ups and downs in your friendship. Where do you stand now?
Hilton: We've been best friends since we were two years old. I haven't had a friend as long as Nicole. She's my sister. Everyone has a fight, you know, it's just not going to be publicized, you know, and have things construed and changed around. You know, we're friends. We know the truth. The media made up a lot of silly stories and you just have to not pay attention to it.
AP: What was the worst media incident and how did you get through it?
Richie: I don't know if there's something that stood out as being the worst, but I mean, people really banked off of it. There were Team Paris and Team Nicole shirts. We didn't make them, you know? And it was really awkward when people would ask me to sign them because I'm not going to sign them. (Hilton giggles.) It's true! Like, I'm not going to sign a Team Nicole shirt that says, Yeah, I'm against Paris or anything like that, you know? Even though it's public, it's not my choice for it to be public, you know? We just had a falling out and it happened to be public. It wasn't my choice at all. And the fact that we're friends again, the fact that that's public isn't my choice at all. I mean, we're human beings and we get into fights, and, it happens. Well, we had one fight in 23 years, so I guess that's a good thing.
AP: What is it about "The Simple Life" that fans have connected to?
Hilton: Just that it's about two best friends who are together and I think people can relate to that, because everyone has a best friend. We have our secret languages and our secret looks to each other and we just have fun together. I don't know. It's hard to find a group who can be like that together.
Richie: I think that originally people thought "Oh, this is going to be about two spoiled blond girls that don't know how to do anything and make fun of people," and that's not what it's about. If anything, we're making fun of ourselves. We're very different. We're very opposite, so it's a good balance, you know, between the two... She has strengths where I have weaknesses and I have strengths where she has weaknesses and it really creates a good dynamic.
AP: What has doing the show taught you about life and about each other?
Hilton: I've just been doing the show now five seasons so I've definitely, you know, learned a lot. I've traveled the world and met all these different families and different people and, I don't know, just learning about other people. With Nicole, I've been best friends with her my whole life so I already knew everything about her. I don't know, just that we can survive any situation and we can have fun no matter where we are as long as we're together.
Richie: It's funny because a lot of people, as close as they are, when you spend so much time with someone, it's like you see habits that you know, you're just like ugh, I can't spend this much time with someone. But I love spending time with her and we have so much fun and, you know, I really just look at it as nothing but fun.
AP: How are your pending legal problems affecting your projects? (Hilton and Richie were each arrested for driving under the influence in the past year.)
Richie: We're not talking about that.