Why THIS Malibu Dream Girl is NOT just some vacuous LA socialite…
Caroline D’Amore made her debut as a Los Angeles “It Girl,” appearing on the scene with her famous pals Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Eventually the modeling, acting party girl made her musical debut in West Hollywood gay clubs, where she caught the attention of the legendary DJ Skee, who signed her to her own show on Skee 24/7 called Heartbeatz. Following that was a residency at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, and her single “Kill the Clock.” Now D’Amore is concentrating on her upcoming Billboard.com Web series, DJ Diaries.
D’Amore produces and hosts DJ Diaries, where she tags along with big-name DJs including Crystal Method, Steve Aoki, and 12th Planet. The Advocate spoke with D’Amore about her troubled childhood, her mother’s AIDS-related death, her connection to the West Hollywood gay scene through her sister, outed actress Christie, and her thoughts on Paris Hilton’s recent remarks about gay men and AIDS.
The Advocate: You used to run with a pretty high-profile crowd, including people like Paris Hilton. How did you guys know each other?
[D’Amore]: I started DJ-ing about eight years ago. I used to hang in the DJ booth with DJ AM a lot and he really inspired me. I loved watching how happy he was while making other people so happy as he dropped each track. He really was my inspiration and my motivation. He was the one that told me I could do it. Paris actually hired me to DJ all of her record release parties around the world. This was before it was “cool” to be a chick DJ. We actually had a lot of fun.
What was it like growing up in L.A.?
Growing up in L.A., for me, was a lot different than you’d think. I was the daughter of a hardworking pizza man who ended up kickin’ it with the rich kids. I lived in Malibu because we opened a D’Amore’s pizza there. I’d make just enough money delivering pizzas so I could pay for gas and valet at the hottest clubs. I worked to party. I must have been fired from D’Amore’s 100 times. But being the owner’s daughter had perks. And, of course, free pizza for life, so I never starved.
Your mother died of AIDS when you were very young, and you were raised mostly by your dad, correct? What was that like, and how do you think it affected your life?
Yes, I was raised by my pops. I think it made me super strong, maybe too strong at times. I remember I was the only kid who didn’t cry for their mommy at sleepovers. Which turned into not really needing anyone. Which made it hard to date me. Every guy always cried long before I ever did in a relationship. I’m so lucky I met someone who could handle me. My husband [rocker Bobby Alt] changed me for the better, but he loves me for the tough bitch I am. If he’s not happy, even for a moment, I will totally cry.
My mother contracted the AIDS virus when I was very young by the doctors at the hospital. They gave her a precautionary blood transfusion and did not check the blood they gave her. It was a total fluke. I was lied to for 15 years about it. I always thought she died from toxic shock. I was very angry that my father lied to me, but I now understand that he just did not want the stigma of the disease to affect my friendships at school. As we all know, kids can be mean, and my father was trying to protect us. The stigma of this disease has always been something I’d like to help remove. Anyone at any time can contract this disease—gay, straight, a mom of four with no drug history. Anyone. Everyone needs to educate themselves on how to be protected and also about how to discuss this disease without adding to the stigma.
It shaped my outlook on life by reminding me that life is so precious and can be very short. Live life to the fullest, but be smart and take care of yourself.
You have a pretty significant relationship and fan base in the LGBT community. What does that stem from?
My sister and best friend, Christie, came out at age 15 to only me. Slumber parties weren’t always what my dad thought. I always had to stick up for her within the family and outside of it, so I’ve always had an open heart from a very young age. My first club experience ever was Ultra Suede and I totally fell in love with the culture and scene. One of my first gigs as a singer was at Cherry Pop, and my sisters and I do the AIDS Walk every year in honor of my mother under the name Team Bonnie Major. These walks are always eye-openers because even in West Hollywood there are people spreading hate on the sidelines. I literally have to stop myself from kicking some ass when I see these hate-filled people with demeaning signs, as we are all trying to help a cause that’s dear to our hearts. I now just feel sorry for them as they live these dark, shallow, ignorant lives…
I will always stand up for what I believe in, and that’s simply every human being on earth should be treated as equals.
How do you feel about the remarks that Paris Hilton recently made about gay men having AIDS? Did that upset you?
When I heard the news about Paris I was shocked and did not believe it. She has always known about how my mother passed and has always had many gay friends. When I heard the recording I was very disappointed. I know that she did not mean what she said and was just joking with some gay friends. However, I do think it’s time to grow up and always think about what you say and how it can affect others. I’m always the first to snap at someone who makes a negative remark about anyone because of how they were born. Whether it’s skin color, race, sexuality, whatever it may be. I’m not perfect, and I’ve absolutely said things I regret, but let’s all take Paris’s indecency as a lesson learned and be more thoughtful about the things we say.
What thrilled you the most while doing DJ Diaries?
Walking onto the giant stage with the DJ that everyone is there to see is pretty thrilling. Gives me motivation to do larger gigs myself. The energy and adrenaline is most thrilling. It makes me want to stage dive. The Crystal Method Episode was really cool. Not only did I learn a lot about the EDM [Electronic Dance Music] scene’s history, but damn those guys really know how to party. We ran around together until 6:00 a.m. when I opened for them in Dallas. Loved every minute of it.
I recently listened to your new single “Kill the Clock”, which I think has a killer Big room Electro Sound. Which Musical Act do you believe influenced you to go into that style?
I’ve been playing the EDM vibe for several years now but mostly overseas. Bob Sinclair’s “World Hold On” was my 1st real EDM obsession. I dropped it in Egypt on the beach under the stars and was just mesmerized by how happy it made everyone . I knew my sound would eventually go in that direction. “Kill the Clock” is my forget-about-your-troubles-and-just-dance-your-ass-off anthem. I’ve been playing Big rooms for the past 3 years now and I plan to keep growing my sound in this direction.
Every vibe is different. You can’t beat a giant beach party under the stars but club wise Both Vanity and Body English have been favorites of mine. Any gay club really. My 1st club ever was Ultra Suede in West Hollywood. My sister snuck me in with her ID and I literally danced my ass off. I feel free to dance my heart out to the fullest with no judgement at gay clubs. In most Hollywood clubs I go to, everyone is just standing there and staring at you. Like, “Eww, that girl is having way too much fun—who does she think she is?”
Not my idea of a good time.
When you aren’t DJing or working on music, what do you like to do for fun?
When not working, I love to run around the house naked with my husband, or fall asleep on a beach with him. We are both so busy and always traveling so when we get to be together, we pretty much smother each other with love. Its pretty rad.
A version of this story was previously published on The Advocate.
Read more in A&E.