Gus Ruelas / Reuters
NEW YORK — A sex tape may have propelled Kim Kardashian to notoriety, but her deft use of social networking and reality TV since then have made the tabloid star the prototype of a new "aspirational celebrity," experts say.
Once Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan ruled the scene. But these days Kardashian gets the wall-to-wall coverage. She has her own reality TV show, is consistently featured in celebrity magazine stories and just last week saw her much discussed curves refashioned into a Madame Tussauds wax figure.
While many Americans may be stumped as to why exactly Kardashian is famous, celebrity watchers think it's pretty clear. The 29-year-old's rise to stardom marks a shift in the making of a celebrity from old criteria of hailing from a famous or wealthy family (Hilton) or finding success in movies, TV and music (Lohan) to being famous simply for being famous.
Kardashian has built herself into a brand through social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and her own fan site, kimkardashian.celebuzz.com. Her clever online messages engage fans, while other stars post tedious comments about new projects, People magazine Senior Editor David Caplan said.
Her website is currently ranked first among all talent sites with 24 million views and 1.5 million unique users monthly, according to her publisher Buzzmedia.
"When she first came onto the scene there would be stories saying, 'Who is Kim Kardashian?' " said Caplan.
Now, he said, "fans feel connected to her, they read about what she is doing on Twitter and she in turn asks fans a question. She will ask, 'Hey how should I wear my hair today?' That endears herself with fans.