Today a new docu-series, The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist, is coming to Netflix, bringing new details and original interviews with members of the robber gang who, in true early meta-fame fashion, became celebrities because they stole from celebrities. But the most shocking revelation in the three-part document involves an old allegation.
“One time we found a good bag of coke,” Bling Ring member Nick Norgo (née Prugo) told director Miles Bladen-Ryall of breaking into Paris Hilton’s home. “His cokes were like scarface Coke it was the best coke I had ever made, just neat. We do Paris Hilton’s coke, who can say that?”
It’s an allegation Norgo has made in the past – and one Hilton has denied (including in this movie: a disclaimer at the end states, “A representative for Paris Hilton has denied that illegal drugs were found in her home” ) – but it’s nonetheless shocking to hear someone who shamelessly robbed him gleefully recount the alleged drug-taking and drug-using experience.
In 2011, Hilton was arrested after an officer found 0.8 grams of cocaine in her possession after a traffic stop. She pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to probation.
Norgo, along with Alexis Haines (née Neiers), who also appears in the documentary, and a group of acquaintances made headlines in the 2010s for breaking into the homes of Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson and Audrina Patridge (who also appears) and taking away hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods. It’s well-worn territory – Sofia Coppola’s 2013 film, The bling ringstarred Emma Watson as Neiers, who, despite her claim that she was barely involved, became the face of the group – and the new doc introduces new timeline clarity and has Norgo and Haines recounting their stories – which are often in conflict – in parallel.
Bladen-Ryall and executive producer Larry Walford hope that the perspective of time can bring some empathy and understanding to the criminals – children, really – who committed these acts and, more importantly, their motivation and their state of mind.
Walford said Pleasemynews“When Myles and I first looked at the story, we thought we should do two things: we should tell the story as authentically as possible in terms of a linear story, but there’s also a thesis here really, for a documentary filmmaker, who’s talking about kind of a moralizing cautionary tale.… A lot of people thought that [the Bling Ring] were like rich kids. But in fact, they all had a very problematic upbringing, which led to the events. And those were never really reported.”
Haines’ chaotic family life was chronicled on the short-lived E! reality series rather wildand in the years that followed, she was open about her life at the time, particularly her drug addiction, and became an addiction counselor. Hollywood heist shines a light on the toll of a young drug addict whose lawyers, TV producers and even parent figures all put fame ahead of caring for her as a person, and how that fueled a cycle of behavior .
Norgo also talks about his state of mind at the time of the robberies, detailing a struggle with his sexuality and his inability to truly connect with people until he met Rachel Lee, the alleged mastermind of the Bling Ring.
Said Bladen-Ryall, “I think it’s very easy in this case [and] what a lot of reporting and media did at the time was basically kind of pointing and scolding these young people for doing what they did. This does not mean that they do not need to take responsibility for their actions and that they are not responsible for their actions. Of course they are, but [it’s] more convoluted and complex than just pointing fingers at people for committing crimes. You have to look at the larger context, you have to look at their upbringing, their environment, the culture, the society in which they live. And sometimes I think it’s important to wonder if we’re somehow [tacitly complicit].”
The doc takes viewers back to the mindset of the dawning era of sites like Perez Hilton (the blogger appears as a talking head) and the 24/7 surveillance of stars like Paris and Kim Kardashian, who, for the very first time, ushered in a type of celebrity that was still new at the time: one who was famous for being famous (or in their particular cases, famous for having leaked sex tapes). Norgo, Haines and the other members of the Bling Ring – all of whom were eventually sued – weren’t entirely different from Hilton in this regard.
Hilton herself has given context in recent years to her early party reputation, revealing in her 2020 documentary, It’s Paris, a history of anxiety stemming in part from repeated trauma at youth treatment centers, including Utah’s Provo Canyon School, which she attended at age 17. In 2021, she appeared before Congress to demand federal reform of youth congregate care facilities. She wrote in The Washington Post of her experience, “I was woken up one night by two men in handcuffs. They asked me if I wanted to go ‘the easy way or the hard way’ before carrying me out of my house as I shouted at help. I had no idea why or where I was being taken against my will. I soon learned that I was being sent to hell. Hilton also launched a podcast in 2021 called Trapped in treatment.
When asked how they made the decision to stay in Norgo’s drug revelation about Paris, Walford said Pleasemynews“Obviously that person has the right to respond. So they have the opportunity to respond to the accusation that’s been made. And each case is individual, so you can never have a broad brushstroke with that.… But my understanding is also it wasn’t the first time it was reported. I think it’s been reported in the press before.”
Norgo has repeatedly claimed that when he and his friends robbed Paris’ house, they found and took a bag of cocaine.
Walford continued: “And so it makes the balance of the charge less of a charge, if you can say that. But as long as we get all of our people talking about the right to apply, then legally it’s OK, I think if we’re talking about something much more serious, like violent crimes or, you know, domestic abuse of some kind, then you have to be really careful about what you allow and what you allow in. But in this particular case, it was carefully considered by the attorneys, and they felt that comment could be allowed to stand as long as Paris had a right of reply, which it was.”
The three episodes of The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist are now on Netflix.
Pleasemynews has contacted Paris Hilton representatives for comment.