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    HomeNewsCatherine Eng Interviews WeHo Times Publisher Paulo Murillo

    Catherine Eng Interviews WeHo Times Publisher Paulo Murillo

    Weho Times has been serving our community for seven years. It is a constant source of updates for residents, and a large source of news for the Facebook pages I follow and moderate like WeHo Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Weho East.

    I learned that the news site turned seven last month and that editor and publisher, Paulo Murillo, recently reached a milestone of running WeHo Times for six years on April 17. I wanted to know what drives him to chronicle West Hollywood news and lifestyle with so much dedication. I sat with him on the anniversary of his stewardship to ask about his motivations and history with the city.

    ===

    I was so charmed to hear about your LONG history with this city – Please tell people about how you first came to Weho?

    Oh snap! My WeHo beginnings are not glamorous at all. My history with this city dates before its cityhood. I’m talking about as far back as 1981. I was a skinny Mexican kid with big hair and grass-stained jeans helping his stepfather mow lawns and rake leaves all over West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. They’d call it forced child labor today, but in the 80s and 90s, it was common to see kids working from sunup to sundown. I knew I was gay, so you best believe that I hated getting my nails dirty, but man, talk about character-building. I remember driving down Santa Monica Boulevard around 85, and I’d see the old West Hollywood Sign next to the Tropicana Motel. That sign was a beacon of hope that there were others like me because I’d see shirtless men walking around holding hands. My dad called this area Jotolandia, meaning Faggotland, so every time my mom beat me for playing with dolls, I’d fantasize about running away and finding a home in Jotolandia.

    Paulo Murillo over Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood CA – 1994 – Photo by Steven DeFalco

    I first came to WeHo in 1991 and immediately got a fake ID. I moved to the city in 1993, on Laurel Ave, by Fountain Ave (less than a block away from Ed Buck). Then I moved to Westmount drive in 98 (I lived around the corner from John D’Amico). What happened is I fell in love with a man and before I knew it, I gave up my rent controlled $1,100 2-bedroom/2-bath at Westmount Dr to continue living with him in Los Angeles (we’ve been together for over 12 years). I moved out of WeHo, but the truth, is I never left it. I’m nuts. I run WeHo Times and many people don’t know this about me, but I also manage the West Hollywood Recovery Center.

    Pacific Design Center in 2000 – Photo by Bruce Heller

    What inspired you to start the Weho Times – what lead to its creation?

    WeHo Times was founded by Marco Colantonio who was very active in the community. The website went live on March 15, 2017. I came on board as a freelance reported in May 22, 2017, and became managing editor shortly after that. Marco created this news site to give an alternative choice and voice to WeHoville. He didn’t think one man should control the entire West Hollywood narrative. We still think that today.

    How has the site evolved these last few years?

    Marco had a vision for WeHo Times being the TMZ of the W.E.H.O. He wanted to cover local news, but he also wanted to serve the community some hot juicy gossip similar to WeHo Confidential. I loved me some WeHo Confidential, but that’s not who we are today. I think it has evolved to a news site that people can trust for information. It has a reputation for bringing fair coverage and has often been at the forefront of breaking news in West Hollywood with no hidden motives or personal agendas.

    I have observed and discussed with you journalistic ethics; which you adhere to. How did you learn this craft? What led to this decision to observe more traditional reporting vs what we see so much of now in current media (snark, opinion and misleading stories?)

    I was first published for a local West Hollywood newspaper called FAB! In April of 1999. I wrote a trashy lifestyle column called “Luv Ya, Mean It”, which followed my sexploitations all over WeHo. It was all about me. It was controversial, attention-seeking, foul-mouthed, and it got me into a ton of trouble. I was dubbed the West Hollywood Queen of Mean. The column ran for about seven years and it damn near almost killed me.

    That column also landed me in rehab in 2007. I guess sobriety led to me pursuing a different style of writing from a point of view that wasn’t so self-possessed. Shortly after rehab, I landed a real WeHo news column called the “The West Hollywood Hot Topic” in Frontiers magazine and it had nothing to do with me or what I thought. It was very ‘stick to the facts ma’am’. I was lucky in that I learned on the job, which is how I first landed in West Hollywood City Council meetings. I bring everything I have learned these 20-plus years in media to WeHo Times. I don’t do it perfectly by any means, but less BS, means less drama and I’m OK with that. If you want to read about what’s happening in the city, this is the spot. I also don’t covet a city council seat, so I don’t hold any bitterness towards City Hall. If I don’t like a council member, you’d never know it by clicking on this news site. People know it’s not Paulo Murillo’s WeHo Times.

    What are some of the most outrageous – crazy stories you’ve covered?

    When journalist and activist Jazmyne Cannick was tasked with providing a detailed timeline on the death of a young man named Gemmel Moore who lost his life in West Hollywood at the hands of Ed Buck, she rewrote that history by stating that the story first appeared in LA Weekly. That’s a lie. WeHo Times risked financial ruin and possible political retribution by bravely breaking Gemmel’s story. Ask his mother, not one single news outlet wanted to touch that story, and Gemmel actually had a very close friend at KTLA. Jazmyne hated Marco for whatever reason. She used our breaking story, took our photos and then cut us out of the information pipeline and erased us once the story went national.

    I would say that was the biggest most outrageous story that crashed our website in 2017. I do not take any credit for it, and even though Ryan Gierach wrote it, the risk was all on Marco who owned the news site. I’m happy to have collaborated. I remember we were up all night having a heated debate on the main photo. Many don’t know this, but I’m the one who created the graphic of Gemmel’s photo leaning away from Ed Buck with the shredded edges to represent his life being ripped apart by the man next to him. I placed Gemmel over Hillary Clinton’s face because as a former crystal meth addict who traded his body for drugs in my active addiction, I related to Gemmel, and I did not want his life to be politicized and attached to Clinton’s baggage. My graphic was borrowed heavily by national media. Alas, not only did Jazmyne politicize his death, she also monetized it by shaking down democrats for some of Ed Buck’s money, but the breaking of the Ed Buck story is a story all by itself that needs to be told at some point.

    We’ve had a lot of crazy stories these past seven years. There’s my interview with then Mayor John Duran that lead to a national scandal that eventually forced him to step down as mayor, which was not our intention at all. We broke stories on the closings of Circus of Books, Rage, Gold Coast, FuBar, and other queer spaces that shocked the community. And we cover the many new businesses that have opened as well. We were the first to report on the queen that tried to steal a 30-inch dildo from Circus of Books recently, which was picked up by TMZ and went national. And our story on the little girl scout that sold cookies at the gay bars in WeHo was recently featured in the Drew Barrymore Show and Good Morning America. All of these things went down in the City of West Hollywood and you read it here first.

    What do you consider your greatest success with WeHo Times?

    When Lisa Belsanti, the former West Hollywood Director of Communications approached me to tell me that the City wanted to advertise with WeHo Times because she thought we were doing a great job, that was very validating. She admitted that never happens. People usually approach her. WeHo Times is award-winning. We don’t do it perfectly by any means, but we’ve been doing it every day for the past seven years. That consistency is harder than it seems. I’m also happy with the way the website looks and I’m proud of the photo journalism that goes into it. I think our photos connect with the community, which is why I believe people are so engaged with our Instagram account unlike any of our other social media platforms.

    What is your hope for the future of WeHo Times?

    We go back to the opening of this interview. I don’t come from money. I’m not privileged with a rich uncle leaving me his small fortune. All I have is a crazy work ethic and a group of community members who support what we’re trying to do here. There is no way I do this alone. My hope for WeHo Times is that we go back to 2019 before the pandemic hit. We won a Chamber award, advertising revenue was going up, we had a groove going before it all turned to shit and everything shut down–but regardless of the struggle, not once has anyone heard me crying about throwing in the towel or selling the business. My hope is that I make enough revenue to hire more people to get WeHo Times to its full potential. The potential is there and that’s what keeps this going.

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    Catherine Eng
    Catherine Eng
    Catherine Eng is a long time resident of the City of West Hollywood. She currently serves as a West Hollywood Business License Commissioner, was a journalism major, and is a supporter of Weho Times @thedamecat

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    catherine eng
    catherine eng
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    1 year ago

    I said to Paulo: You made it TOO MUCH about me (me, Cat Eng!).  This was meant to be an anniversary tribute! When I finally sat down and had a 1 on 1 with Paulo, I was so charmed about his Weho origin story. Hearing the ‘gay kid who dreamed of Weho because he could be safe here’ story is WHY our city was founded; it exemplifies why we even exist.  In the time I have known him, he’s never been snarky, he’s never taken the cheap shot and he’s never mean spirited- ever. A neighbor once saw a photo… Read more »

    catherine eng
    catherine eng
    Offline
    1 year ago

    I said to Paulo: You made it TOO MUCH about me (me, Cat Eng!). This was meant to be an anniversary tribute! When I finally sat down and had a 1 on 1 with Paulo, I was so charmed about his Weho origin story. Hearing the ‘gay kid who dreamed of Weho because he could be safe here’ story is WHY our city was founded; it exemplifies why we even exist. In the time I have known him, he’s never been snarky, he’s never taken the cheap shot and he’s never mean spirited- ever. A neighbor once saw a photo… Read more »

    eyeroll
    eyeroll
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    1 year ago

    The queen that is attacking Paulo Morillo does not know what he’s talking about, nor is he aware of how far this guy has come to get to where he is today. This is supposed to be a celebratory article on reaching a milestone. To use that to attack him is pretty damn shameful and goes to show how jealousy brings out the ugly in people.

    Tom
    Tom
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    1 year ago

    I’ve enjoyed your writing since fab! was glad to read that you had landed, sober, at WeHo Times (I didn’t realize you became publisher) I am very happy that there is a second outlet for news online that is focused on the neighborhood. Keep it up!

    Fernandoooo
    Fernandoooo
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    1 year ago

    HAHAHAHA!!! Omg I love all these crazy comments. They are giving me life. It’s like what are these people talking about? Thanks paulo for everything that you do. Let the haters hate.

    Brutally Honest Bard
    Brutally Honest Bard
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    1 year ago

    Paulo paces around his dimly-lit office, his mind ablaze with torment. The mistake he made was now exposed, casting a shadow of doubt over his once-spotless reputation. He couldn’t let that happen; he couldn’t let them see him as anything less than a flawless victor. A cunning grin spreads across his face as he takes a deep breath, his narcissistic tendencies taking hold. “I’ll write an essay,” he murmurs, his fingers twitching with anticipation. “A masterpiece of my achievements, my triumphs, my glory. They’ll see me as the invincible hero I am.” But the fear still gnaws at his insides,… Read more »

    Weho artist
    Weho artist
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    Reply to  Brutally Honest Bard
    1 year ago

    William West Seegmiller loves to leave comments under different pseudonyms.

    Jimmy palmieri
    Jimmy palmieri
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    Reply to  Weho artist
    1 year ago

    I’d say we are all very very aware of that. It’s a way to make obe voice sound like several. Paulo is certainly gracious to allow it.

    Nando Red
    Nando Red
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    1 year ago

    How wonderful my crazy friend. Always living on the edge. You took a lot of pictures from that rooftop back in the day.

    Doug
    Doug
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    1 year ago

    OMG that photo of Santa Monica Blvd from 1993 is insane! That’s Ramond Dragon in the background. I recall the median in the middle of SMB where guys used to job back and forth in skimpy shorts and there is the neon dog. It makes me really miss the old boystown before it was cleaned up and got all bougie. West Hollywood really sucks now. This city felt like my city and now I have no connetion to it all.

    Steve Hamilton
    Steve Hamilton
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    1 year ago

    I read somewhere that sometimes when we do things differently or push boundaries, people just don’t understand it, but they always follow in due time. Groundbreakers and trailblazers face that often, but never stop chasing their dreams. I remember you from those Fab columns and I thought you were indeed crazy. Thank you for continuing to share yourself so candidly. I learned some things about you in this interview that I did not know before. You had me at “I was a skinny Mexican kid with big hair and grass-stained jeans helping his stepfather mow lawns and rake leaves all… Read more »

    West
    West
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    Reply to  Steve Hamilton
    1 year ago

    it’s also a dire warning that one often becomes what they used to hate

    Pathological Narcissist Paulo
    Pathological Narcissist Paulo
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    1 year ago

    That didn’t happen.
    And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
    And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
    And if it is, that’s not my fault.
    And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
    And if I did, you deserved it.

    The truth is simply whatever serves the narcissist at that particular time.

    West
    West
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    1 year ago

    An activist was picked in the face after Paulo slandered the movement as a right wing militia-affiliated hate group… and Paulo failed to mention it in the follow up story. Real journalistic integrity there, Paulo. Catherine is a gem, but you Paulo are a turd.

    Paulo Murillo
    Paulo Murillo
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    Reply to  West
    1 year ago

    Thank you West. I usually don’t allow name-calling in the comments section, but I’m allowing you to call me a turd, so that people can see what I’m up against in the line of duty.

    West
    West
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    Reply to  Paulo Murillo
    1 year ago

    As you offer no response to your incitement of violence and the resulting assault on an activist. How lucky that you can always scapegoat me in a pinch, right Paulo?

    Weho artist
    Weho artist
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    Reply to  West
    1 year ago

    You are truly unhinged.

    Jimmy palmieri
    Jimmy palmieri
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    Reply to  Paulo Murillo
    1 year ago

    Lol.

    Jimmy palmieri
    Jimmy palmieri
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    Reply to  Paulo Murillo
    1 year ago

    Paulo I was told long ago that you aren’t making a positive contribution to the movement unless you have a stalker, are being called kindergarten like names or are trying to be dragged down by someone who has made absolutely no positive contribution to the movement. Nuff said. Keep rockin!

    eyeroll
    eyeroll
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    Reply to  Paulo Murillo
    1 year ago

    If I may, what is West talking about when he says you incited violence against an activist?

    Paulo Murillo
    Paulo Murillo
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    Reply to  eyeroll
    1 year ago

    You may. West has a soft spot for right wing hate groups. He’s always hated me, but right now he’s especially angry at me because I referred to such a group called Gays Against Groomers. Look them up. Wikipedia has 46 references that expose them and their ties to right wing extremists. GLAD, the Advocate, and such call them out for it, but West wants you to believe that I and I alone am responsible for a guy getting clipped in the jaw at a rally in WeHo recently. Nevermind that there were fliers posted all over the internet calling… Read more »

    eyeroll
    eyeroll
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    Reply to  West
    1 year ago

    I read WeHo Times for the news and I read wehoville for the comments. William West Seegmiller would never call Larry Block or Brandon Garcia a turd and those two guys have pulled some turdy moves. Where was West’s outrage when WeHo Ville put a bounty on homeless people by asking people to post photos of them with a hashtag on Instagram? That’s just one example of where this mean queen conveniently plays dumb because he knows that if he’d call Larry or Brandon a turd, they’d never publish his silly opinion pieces where they validate his anti vax nonsense.… Read more »

    catherine eng
    catherine eng
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    Reply to  West
    1 year ago

    West and I are neighbors and he’s always- for the as long as we’ve been aware of each other- been cool to me. I have no beef with him. Back in the day he went after Sepi + John hard and I told him I thought his method of criticism was immature and ineffective. He took it graciously. Gays Against Groomers – is a right wing group. and if that group was in these parts, and one of them got punched: it’s not hard to believe that was just waiting to happen. As for West being anti- vax: well, in… Read more »

    Marco Colantonio
    Marco Colantonio
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    1 year ago

    Congratulations, Paulo on 7 remarkable years chronicling West Hollywood in Weho Times with journalistic integrity, witt and passion. WeHo is a city with a small footprint and global impact. You are the best of the best scribes to have ever detailed life and times of this remarkable city! Honored to have been the founder/ publisher emeritus and thank you for your kind words of acknowledgement.

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