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Shy, abstemious and industrious are not the adjectives most readily associated with Paris Hilton, international It girl, heiress and star of the most notorious home video ever made. But, she protests, why must she always be so misunderstood? On the release of her 2006 debut album, Piers Morgan found out...

Paris Hilton is the second most talked-about human being on the planet after President George W Bush. Fact. I know this because I spent an hour Googling people's names to see how many hits they get. Bush is way out in front at 362 million, Tony Blair 45 million, Nelson Mandela, Adolf Hitler and Princess Diana just over ten million each. And Paris Hilton gets 76 million. Think about that for a moment. More than Blair, Mandela, Hitler and Diana combined. How. Scary. Is. That? I didn't know what to expect when I was granted an audience with this global icon.

An American version of Jordan I guess, someone who makes millions of pounds without having any discernible talent other than a fit torso and an awesome ability for self-publicity (two traits that I can empathise with, obviously). Oh, and someone famous for that video of course - the one of her having sex with her then-boyfriend. In the flesh, Paris is as petite, pretty and impeccably well-mannered as one would expect of a Hilton heiress. We met in Beverly Hills, ostensibly to discuss her latest career move as a singer. A condition of the interview was that I heard her debut album first, which I did amid extraordinary security at Warner Records earlier that day.

"Can I have your mobile phone please," demanded a PR woman when I arrived.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because this is the most wanted album in the world and we don't want you secretly recording it."

I laughed, but on reflection perhaps it is - after all, 76 million hits on Google suggests that young Paris is definitely popular. The music is fairly bland, quite catchy, Eurotrashy stuff, mildly irritating but definitely not as annoying as Coldplay. And Paris was nowhere near as annoying as Chris Martin to speak to either. I mean, you have to love a woman who can look you straight in the face and explain why she deserves nine times as many hits on Google as Nelson Mandela. Don't you?

Piers Morgan: I looked your name up on Google this morning and you have more than 70 million hits while Nelson Mandela has ten million hits. Discuss.
Paris Hilton: Oh? The last time I looked I had over 90 million hits.

Either way, you appear to be bigger than Mandela. What do you think of that statistic?
Erm... [Looks very serious] I feel proud of myself actually that I have accomplished so much at such a young age [Paris is 25].

Yes, but come off it, Paris, Nelson Mandela is an iconic world figure. Is that how you see yourself?
I don't see myself as a world figure.

Well, you are internationally famous, aren't you?
Yes, but that's my job.

No offence, Paris, but I'm not entirely sure what you do.
I have my brand.

You have your what?
My brand. My fragrance line, my make-up, shoes, hotels. Products I design under my name. And I've made, like, $200m in the last year, while J-Lo's only made $150m so it's doing pretty, like, well.

So just to clarify, if I want to define your job I say you're a brand?
And a singer.

A singer? Is that what you'd put down under "occupation" on your passport application?
Yes. I love singing. I've been a model, and then an actress, and now I'm a singer.

Does it worry you that your job seems to change every five minutes?
No. I'm an Aquarius. And there's no one really like me.

Well there is actually - in Britain we have someone just like you called Jordan.
Looking completely disgusted] I am nothing like her.

What do you mean?
I'm completely flat-chested and she's got huge breasts. And I don't know what she does...

She was a model, sings a bit, goes to parties, has her own product lines and makes shedloads of cash.
OK. Well, she does a great job at what she does but we're not the same at all. [Long uncomfortable silence] I read some nice stuff she said about me so I don't want to criticise her. She seems to be a nice person who has a nice family, and these, like, huge breasts, which I definitely don't.

Do you admire her, then?
Erm... [Longsilence, stares at her salad] Well, it's great that she's a mum and has her brand.

Would you say you're a professional celebrity?
I don't like that word.

What, professional?
No, celebrity. It sounds lame. I guess if people recognise you and write about you, and talk about you, then you are. I've always been quite shy...

Is that supposed to be a joke?
I am shy, very shy.

But you dance on tables in nightclubs...
I don't dance on tables.

Yes you do, I've seen you.
No, I dance on the banquettes, just below the tables, because I don't want to be on the dance floor with everyone sweating on me. It's gross.

I thought the whole point of clubbing was to get horribly sweaty?
No, I hate sweat. It grosses me out.