WRITTEN BY: RYAN FU @FU_BEATZ
The mere mention of the word paparazzi induces such emotions of discontentment and anger, but why? It’s just another profession where there is supply and demand. People want more intimate stories about their favorite celebrities; so celebrity outlets provide a place where they can get it and photojournalists’ aka the paparazzi help provide that service.
The word “paparazzi” is an eponym originating in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita directed by Federico Fellini. One of the characters in the film is a news photographer named Paparazzo (played by Walter Santesso). In his book Word and Phrase, Robert Hendrickson writes that Fellini took the name from an Italian dialect word that describes a particularly annoying noise, that of a buzzing mosquito. As Fellini said in his interview to Time magazine, “Paparazzo … suggests to me a buzzing insect, hovering, darting, stinging.” Those versions of the word’s origin are confirmed by Treccani, the most authoritative Italian encyclopaedia, but sometimes contested. For instance, in the Abruzzi dialect spoken by Ennio Flaiano, co-writer of La Dolce Vita, the term “paparazzo” refers to the local clam and is also used as a metaphor for the shutter of a camera lens.
It is probably the only profession I know that is universally hated by everyone. It is lower than a vagrant and hated more than a parking meter maid. A drug dealer or a hooker has more clout than the paparazzi. Many of these snappers graduated from college and some even had professional training before they entered the other side of Hollywood. There is the other side of Hollywood away from the glitz and glamour, in which the public rarely sees. Sometimes we see super famous people doing things they shouldn’t and occasionally a paparazzi is there to document it all. They make headlines and everyone profits from it except maybe for the celebrity but as the adage goes, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” The people who profit the most are the celebrity outlets, but you don’t fucking hate them with a passion. I still see a bunch of assholes pack aTMZ tour bus every single day.
So, the question is why do you hate the regular Joe Schmo on a public street with a camera? Aren’t they just doing their job, in which you can probably see yourself doing if you didn’t have this ignorant view of the paparazzi. Let me be clear, not all of them are a bunch of angels but they are not all bad. Of course, you have a couple of crazy fucks willing to do, what they have to do to make a buck and there are others who are willing to comply with all the rules and regulations. Doesn’t this sound familiar? It sounds like every other job that is out there in America. What is the difference from being the paparazzi from any other occupation out there?
But to be fair being a paparazzi is not your typically 9 to 5 job. This is why I decided to interview one of the men that you vehemently hate, Rick Mendoza. Rick has been in this industry for many years in which he was there when TMZ first started and has seen the company rise to fame. He has been there for all the stories, in which he himself has been a part of. Do you remember Britney Spears running over a photographer’s foot? Yup, that was Rick’s foot. He’s seen it and done it all. Rick has many alias like The Man with the Black hat, Top Hat Rick, Sellebrity Rick or Robertson Rick. This is where I meet Rick on Robertson Blvd in “Paparazzi Central.”
Ryan Fu: What are you famous?
Rick: I’m not famous maybe popular for photographing celebrities for a long time. People start to recognize you for the things you do.
Ryan Fu: Is there is difference between fame and popularity?
Rick: I think there is because popularity is just recognizing you for what you do and fame is getting paid for what you do. Fame is on a different level because now you are generating income. It’s all about the income.
Ryan Fu: What did you do before you were a Paparazzi?
Rick: I was collector in Japan.
Ryan Fu: Why did you choose this profession?
Rick: I chose it because I was trying to indirectly sneak into Hollywood. I was looking for a way just to be a part of it because I’m not an actor, writer or producer. But if I can create an illusion that I am from this world maybe it will open some doors for me and it has open doors for me.
Ryan Fu: Do you like being paparazzi?
Rick: I have gotten used to it. I didn’t know the effects coming into it but I knew I had to change the bad stigma it had, so I guess I love it because I believe I’ve changed the bad stigma about what a paparazzi is.
Ryan Fu: How did you change it?
Rick: I changed it because I’ve given it a voice were it had no voice. It’s more recognized now. I will show you the real truth about this world.
Ryan Fu: What is the truth?
Rick: The truth is it is a game. It’s a game about hype, money, and economics. It’s about products and marketing. It’s like any other job out there. It’s about keeping the economical machine rolling called“Hollywood” going.
Ryan Fu: So it’s all about the money?
Rick: Hollywood is based about just money. People have story lines and great acting abilities but the bottom line is the financial gains that it gets.
Ryan Fu: What is the best shot you got?
Rick: I’ve got a handle full of money shots. A few of those shots involved Michael Jackson, and the Royal Family when they came to Los Angeles.
Ryan Fu: What are the dos and don’ts as a paparazzi?
Rick: Be confident and respectful. It’s such an easy game to make money. Just follow the rules and the laws. It’s just common sense and you’ll make money.
But don’t be cocky and believe every shot is the money shot. Don’t go out of away for a shot if it causes you harm and you must be always aware of your surroundings. Don’t think you know it all.
Ryan Fu: What do you like and dislike about your job?
Rick: I love the excitement, which I think I am a part of Hollywood indirectly. I’m my own industry in a different realm of Hollywood. I’m the villain of Hollywood and I like that. It’s like every movie, there has to be a villain and I guess I’ll play the bad guy.
What I don’t like is all the ignorant people who didn’t education themselves before they started judging us. They love to point fingers and blame us before they know the whole story. People should take the time to research so they can find out why they hate our occupation. I don’t like the ignorance.
Ryan Fu: You don’t mind the haters?
I don’t mind the haters but educate yourself to hate. Don’t just hate because you were taught to hate, learn why you hate.
Ryan Fu: How do you feel about the media portraying the paparazzi?
Rick: Personally, I don’t like it. It is usually one-sided and never from the perspective from the paparazzi and when it is, the media usually picks the story where the paparazzi are too aggressive and too reckless. We are not all like that and I hate it when they try to pigeonhole all of us.
Ryan Fu: What are your thoughts of the new paparazzi laws i.e. the “No Kids Policy.”
Rick: I can only speak for myself and say I follow all rules and laws. I never got out of my way to break any laws just to get a shot. But these celebrities have to realize that they chose this life. They made themselves into public figures and just because you are rich and have influence, you cannot just change the laws because it inconveniences you.
Ryan Fu: Are you the best at what you do?
Rick: I’m the best for myself and that’s all that matters for me. What makes me successful is that I know myself and I already know that I’ve been successful at this game.
Ryan Fu: What is your philosophy on business/relationships/ life?
Rick: Be true to yourself then you can be true to others. You have to live with PASSION.
Ryan Fu: Have you ever burned any bridges?
Rick: I’ve burned many bridges. I’ve burned down the mountains that held the bridges.
Ryan Fu: What is your ultimate Goal?
Rick: To live everyday to the fullest and make sure it’s memorable. That makes me excited to wake up everyday.
Does this sound like a guy you should hate? Or does it sound like every person you know that is just trying to make living. In this spiritual weekend I will leave you with this quote that I learned in Sunday school that maybe will change perspective on judging people before you know them, “ Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1
Check out Rick’s latest interview with Los Angeles Magazine