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Tila Tequila

Tila Tequila attending the Mosci fashion show at Club AREA, West Hollywood, California on October 24, 2008
Background information
Birth name Tila Nguyen[1][2]
Also known as Tila Tequila
Born October 24, 1981 (1981-10-24) (age 28)
Origin Houston, Texas, United States
Occupations Singer-songwriter, glamour model
Years active 2001–present

Tila Nguyen[1] (born October 24, 1981), better known by her stage name Tila Tequila, is a Singapore-born singer, model, and television personality. She is known for her appearances in the men's magazines Stuff, Maxim, Penthouse, her role as host of the Fuse TV show featuring performance striptease, Pants-Off Dance-Off and her position as the most popular artist on MySpace (according to page views) circa April 2006.[3] She was raised in Houston, Texas and now lives in West Hollywood, California. Her MTV reality show A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila aired for two seasons.


Early life

Nguyen was born in Singapore to French Vietnamese parents,[1] where her family emigrated from Vietnam after the Vietnam War.[4][5] She is the youngest of three children: she has one brother, Daniel (b. 1976), and a sister, Terri (b. 1979).[6] When she was one year old, she and her family lived in a neighborhood in Houston until they were admitted to a gated community run by a strict Buddhist temple.[7] The family left the community when Nguyen was eight.[8]

While in middle school, Nguyen became a tomboy and was eventually sent to a boarding school for six months for her combative behavior before transferring to another school.[8] While in high school, she used her sister's identification card to enter nightclubs, where she began taking drugs[8] and joined a gang. In her memoir, she would later explain that she felt "confused" and "lost" from various personal family and environmental issues and remained a virgin until she reached 15 years of age, when she also began smoking and engaging in drug abuse. She received her first of a series of tattoos, a scorpion on her back, during this time.[9][10] She also states that she recalled "punching walls until I passed out", and soon turned to writing poems in an attempt to release powerful emotions. In an interview with Import Tuner, Nguyen said she had been searching for a sense of identity: "I was really confused then, [because] at first I thought I was black, then I thought I was Hispanic and joined a cholo gang".[11] Later, friends outside the gang briefly helped turn her life around. However, her past caught up with her, and she fled to Queens, New York at the age of 16.[7] While still 16, she experienced a drive-by shooting in Houston. The following year, she became pregnant and suffered a miscarriage.[12]


Modeling and acting

Nguyen's career began at the age of 18 when she was discovered at the Sharpstown Mall by a Playboy scout and was offered a chance to model nude for the magazine. She did a test shoot,[13] then eventually moved to Southern California and was featured as Playboy’s Cyber Girl of the week on April 22, 2002, and soon thereafter she became the first Asian Cyber Girl of the Month.[14] A few more pictorials for the magazine followed.[4]

Nguyen gained further popularity through the import racing scene. She has been featured on the cover of Import Tuner magazine, at car shows such as Hot Import Nights, and in the video game Street Racing Syndicate.[13][15] In 2003, she was a contestant on VH1's Surviving Nugent, a reality TV show where participants performed compromising tasks and stunts for rock star Ted Nugent.[16] She was also the most frequent host on the first season of Fuse TV's dance show, Pants-Off Dance-Off, on which a group of contestants strip to music videos.[4]

Nguyen was featured on the cover of the April 2006 issue of Stuff magazine; in the interview, she claimed that her nickname "Tila Tequila" came about when she experimented with alcohol at the age of thirteen.[17] She appeared on the August 2006 Maxim UK cover, was named #88 in their Hot 100 List,[18] and also appeared in the December 2007 issue.[19] She was ranked #100 on the Maxim Hot 100 list in 2008.[20]

Tequila made an appearance as one of the 12 strangers in the first game on the April 6, 2007 episode of NBC's game show Identity. On March 4, 2007 she made a cameo appearance on the show "War At Home."[21] She also appeared as a Hooters Girl in the 2007 film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

Reality television

On March 26, 2007, Tequila announced in her MySpace blog that she would be filming a reality show for VH1.[22] Filming started in May 2007, but the show was moved to VH1's sister network MTV that summer. On October 9, 2007, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila aired on MTV. The program is a bisexual-themed reality dating show where 16 straight men and sixteen lesbian women compete for Tequila's affections, the twist being that the contestants were not aware of her bisexuality[7] until the end of the first episode. The ten-episode series is produced by 495 Productions and MTV.[23]

Tequila in October 2007

The show was at the heart of a heated online debate between Tequila and conservative Christians after an article appeared on The Christian Post on September 13, 2007.[24] After seeing the article, Tequila wrote an impassioned response in her blog on September 28, 2007, criticizing churches for "bashing" the gay community while thanking God for saving her life.[4][25]

The show premiered for a second season in April 2008 and became a popular gossip subject in Asian media, such as AsianWeek.[26] The season finale premiered July 8, 2008, the winner being Kristy Morgan who declined her "shot at love". A new season of the series was announced. However, bisexual twin women were the bachelorettes.[27]

Tequila was also a contestant on Ted Nugent's 2003 reality show "Surviving Nugent", which was filmed on his ranch in Jackson, Michigan.[28]

Online business ventures

In July 2001, Nguyen started up her website entitled "Tila's Hot Spot".[29] Originally it was a website featuring her information, quotes, blog, and pictorials[30] including content that required adult verification and a monthly payment fee to view.[31] Later, the site format was revamped by TAJ Designs Inc. to feature all-ages content and information to promote her current career, business ventures, personal information, and a premium membership section including videos, non-nude picture galleries, blogs, and chat sessions.[32] In 2008, Buzznet partnered with Tequila to transfer the site and transform it into a social network.[33]

During 2005 Nguyen launched,[34] a site featuring her custom line of clothing for men and women originally using the slogan "So hot you'll just want to take it all off!"[35] In 2006 Tila created a website entitled "Tila Zone,"[36] which features content to use on Myspace and other social networking websites including layouts, widgets, and clipart.[37]


Nguyen used modeling as a stepping stone for other ventures. At age 20, she acted on her interest in rock music and started looking for bands willing to have her join. She eventually assembled a band called Beyond Betty Jean, for which she was singer and songwriter. Following the breakup of Beyond Betty Jean, Nguyen started working in recording studios to sharpen her vocal skills and wrote music.[14] Later, she became the lead singer of a band called Jealousy, which released a few songs online before breaking up. Around this time, she began to establish the stage name of "Tila Tequila".

A major turn in Tequila's music career occurred during the April 24, 2006 taping of MTV's Total Request Live. In an interview with the TRL VJs, announced that Tequila was signed to the Will.I.Am music group, a record label under A&M Records. Despite her major-label signing, Tequila independently released her first single "I Love U" through iTunes on February 27, 2007, justifying the independent release through her desire to become famous by herself.[5] She shot a music video for the song, which is available for free after the song is downloaded. A preview for the video debuted on February 14, 2007 on her MySpace page.

In March 2007, Washington-based record label The Saturday Team released an EP called Sex, by Tila Tequila.[5] On July 27, 2007, Italian website MusicBlob reported that The Saturday Team and distributor Icon Music Entertainment Services sued Nguyen over breaching her contract related to the album.[38] However, Tila claimed in a MySpace bulletin[38] that the EP was not authorized for release by her, and was removed from most retailers. The Saturday Team won a legal case, making Sex available for digital purchase.

On October 9, 2007, the same day her reality show A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila premiered, Tequila released her second official single, "Stripper Friends".[39] In mid-November, Tequila shot the video for her third single "Paralyze".

She shot the music video for "Stripper Friends" in early December 2007 at a Los Angeles strip club. The video premiered via Yahoo! Music on February 26, 2008 and was released to iTunes on March 4, 2008. The single failed to chart. On April 2, 2008 the music video for "Paralyze" was released, again via Yahoo! Music and the single was released to iTunes on April 8, 2008.[40]

On April 7, 2009 the "I Love U Remixes" EP was released to digital music retailers. On February 14, 2010 was released the single "POP ROX" as digital free download.


On December 2, 2008, Tequila released a self-help book, Hooking Up with Tila Tequila: A Guide to Love, Fame, Happiness, Success, and Being the Life of the Party (ISBN 9781439101537). She herself has said of the book: "After all these years, there are so many fan questions, and I always have given little spurts of advice, but I always sensed that everyone wanted more. I can't just write a blog on it, because it would be the size of a book... So I decided, 'Why don't I put it all together?'. That way they can keep it as memorabilia and go back to it whenever they need help and hopefully inspire them".[41][42]

Personal life

Tequila graduated from Alief Hastings High School in 2000. She has cited the violent adolescence she had in Texas as her reason for becoming a model and moving to California in 2001.[43] In March 2003, she revealed that she has taken some college classes but does not have a degree, stating, "I knew out of high school I didn't want to go to college. I knew that whatever I did wouldn't have anything to do with college. The only reason I wanted to go was to further educate myself. Right now, I'm still interested in taking classes, but only to educate myself with subjects I like, like history or English. What I didn't want to do was go to college for an actual degree because there's nothing out there I like besides doing something that involves the entertainment industry."[13]

Although not known to be politically active, in September 2004 Tequila said "Yeah, I admit I was never one to really get all political and go to rallies and vote. But you know what? If you really think about what the fuck is going on, I really think you all should vote. I will not say who I'm voting for but I most definitely will say that I fucken hate George W. Bush even though he's from Texas and so am I. What a shame!".[44]

In June 2007, Tequila bought a loft in New York City for herself.[45]

Throughout 2008, Tequila confirmed that she had maintained friendships with Courtenay Semel,[46] Billy Corgan,[47] and Meghan McCain.[48]

On September 6, 2009, Tequila was allegedly choked and restrained by former boyfriend Shawne Merriman, who was later arrested.[49][50] She was allegedly intoxicated at the time of the incident,[51][52] though Tequila denies these claims, citing an allergy to alcohol,[53] though her allergy has been disputed.[54][55][56] San Diego district attorney Bonnie Dumanis decided not to charge Merriman after her office spent three days reviewing reports from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.[57] On November 17, 2009, Tequila filed a lawsuit against Merriman for $1.5 million.[58]

On December 9, 2009, Tequila stated she was engaged to heiress Casey Johnson and was photographed with a diamond ring.[59] On January 4, 2010, Johnson, who had long suffered from diabetes, was found dead. On February 4, 2010, the Los Angeles Coroner's Office announced that "Casey Johnson died from complications related to her diabetes. The Johnson & Johnson heiress died of diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition caused by a lack of insulin and high blood sugar, chief coroner Ed Winter said. 'She wasn't taking her insulin. She wasn't taking good care of herself,' he said. The cause of death has been ruled natural, and a full autopsy report will be completed in two weeks, Winter said."[60] Tequila has arranged plans to seek legal custody of Casey Johnson's adopted daughter, Ava.[61]

On December 20, 2009, Tequila announced she was currently having a surrogate pregnancy for her brother.[62][63]








  • Tila Tequila with Sarah Tomlinson, Hooking Up With Tila Tequila: A Guide to Love, Fame, Happiness, Success, and Being the Life of the Party, Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, December 2008 (ISBN 9781439101537)

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result
2007 The Soup Awards for Entertainer of the Year[64] Won
2008 Spike Annual Guy's Awards for So Hot They're Famous[65] Won
Bravo's A-List Awards for A-List Drama Queen[66] Won


  1. ^ a b c "Biography for Tila Nguyen". The Internet Movie Database., Inc.. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  2. ^ "My Real Name Is Tila Nguyen!" (blog). Tilas Hot Spot. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  3. ^ Weiner, Jonah (April 11, 2006). "Tila Tequila, the first star of MySpace". Slate. Retrieved January 14, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d Bozell, L. Brent III (2007-11-30). "Tila Tequila, MTV's Latest Poison". Media Research Center. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  5. ^ a b c Brown, Marisa. "Biography". Tila Tequila. Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  6. ^ Tequila, T: Hooking Up With Tila Tequila. Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, 2008. p. 6
  7. ^ a b c "Full Biography". A Shot At Love 2 With Tila Tequila. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  8. ^ a b c Nguyen, Tila (2005-11-10). "The Truth About Tila". Tila's Hotspot. Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2006-02-17. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  9. ^ "Tila Tequila's MySpace Blog - "Should I Get Another Tattoo?"". December 6, 2006. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Tila Tequila's MySpace Blog - "WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW? ***UPDATED-MAY 13***"". April 16, 2005. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Up Close & Personal: Tila Nguyen". Import Tuner (Interlink Media, LLC). 2006. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  12. ^ "THE TRUTH COMES OUT! I WAS PREGNANT WITH A BABY BOY!". Tila's MySpace Blog. October 26, 2009. Retrieved December 21, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c Rodriguez, Tyrone (2003-03-13). "SRS Babe of the Week: Tila Nguyen". (IGN Entertainment, Inc). Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  14. ^ a b Nguyen, Tila (2006). "Quick Bio". The Official Tila Nguyen Website. The Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2006-05-07. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  (Retrieved through the Wayback Machine
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  16. ^ "Surviving Nugent: Interviews: Tila - Contestant". (MTV Networks). Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  17. ^ Glibert, Laura (April 2006). "Enter The Dragon". Stuff. 
  18. ^ "Tila Tequila of 2006 Hot 100". 2006. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  19. ^ "Her Space". December 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  20. ^ "2008 Hot 100". Maxim. Retrieved January 22, 2009. 
  21. ^ Staff (2007-03-15). "Tila Tequila Comes Home". (IGN Entertainment, Inc.). Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
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  23. ^ Lafayette, Jon (2007-09-07). "MTV Greenlights Tila Tequila Dating Show, Debuts Oct. 9". TVWeek (Crain Communications Inc.). Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  24. ^ Black, Nathan (2007-09-13). "MTV to Air Bisexual Dating Reality Series". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  25. ^ Black, Nathan (2007-10-02). "MySpace 'Queen' Tila Tequila: I Made Amends with God". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  26. ^ Shin, Elise (2008-07-03). "Tila: Happily-Never-After III". (AsianWeek). Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  27. ^ "Shot at Love 3 Casting". 
  28. ^
  29. ^ Nguyen, Tila. "Tila's Hot Spot". The Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2001-07-16.*/ Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  30. ^ Nguyen, Tila. "The Official Tila Tequila Website". The Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2004-06-10. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  (Retrieved from the Wayback Machine.)
  31. ^ Nguyen, Tila. "The Official Tila Tequila Website". Archived from the original on 2003-04-01. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  32. ^ Nguyen, Tila; Taj Designs Inc. (2007-01-03). "Tila's Hot Spot Membership". Archived from the original on 2007-01-03. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  33. ^ Chowdhry, Amit (2008-04-05). "Pop Culture Media Community, Buzznet Acquires Stereogum Music Blog". Pulse 2.0. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  34. ^ Nguyen, Tila. "The Tila Fashion Website". The Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on September 6, 2007.*hh_/ 
  35. ^ Nguyen, Tila. "The Tila Fashion Website showing original slogan". Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2005-12-11. 
  36. ^ Nguyen, Tila. "The TilaZone Website". The Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on September 6, 2007.*/ 
  37. ^ Nguyen, Tila. "The Official TilaZone Website". Retrieved September 6, 2007. 
  38. ^ a b MusicBlob (July 27, 2007). "What happened to Tila Tequila?". MusicBlob. Retrieved July 27, 2007. 
  39. ^ "Tila Tequila Gets a Little Help From Her 'Stripper Friends'". Popeater. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  40. ^ "Tila's Hot Spot News". 
  41. ^ "Scribner Signs Internet Celeb Tila Tequila". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved December 3, 2008. 
  42. ^ "Talking to Tila Tequila About 'Hooking Up'". MSN TV. Retrieved December 3, 2008. 
  43. ^ Tequila, T: Hooking Up With Tila Tequila. Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, 2008.
  44. ^ "GOD DAMN MOTHERFUCKERS!". MySpace. September 2, 2004. Retrieved December 22, 2009. 
  45. ^ "CHECK OUT MY NEW VIDEO!". June 18, 2007. Retrieved December 22, 2009. 
  46. ^ "Tila Tequila & Courtenay Semel Sizzle by the Pool". People. August 22, 2008.,,20220852,00.html. Retrieved December 9, 2009. 
  47. ^ "Corgan Has A Shot At Love With Tequila". San Francisco Chronicle.. April 7, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2009. 
  48. ^ ""Tila Tequila on Meghan McCain: We Aren't That "Different""". omg!. April 6, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2009. 
  49. ^ "DA dismisses case against Merriman". Yahoo. September 11, 2009.;_ylt=Ap_gBdCfmh7Ctte4NNY8PDFDubYF?slug=ap-merrimanarrested&prov=ap&type=lgns. 
  50. ^ "NFL's Merriman arrested, accused of choking Tila Tequila". September 6, 2009. Retrieved September 6, 2009. 
  51. ^ Florio, Mike (September 6, 2009). "Report: Nguyen was intoxicated, not seriously hurt". NBC Sports ( Retrieved September 7, 2009. 
  52. ^ Gustafson, Craig (September 6, 2009). "Chargers' Merriman arrested; battery of girlfriend alleged". San Diego Union Tribune (The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC). Retrieved September 7, 2009. "Merriman's attorney, Todd Macaluso, said Tequila was “extremely intoxicated” early Sunday morning and his client tried to arrange transportation for her to leave his home." 
  53. ^
  54. ^ Leahy, Sean (September 7, 2009). "Nightclub owner: Tila Tequila lying about not drinking on Saturday". USA TODAY (Gannett Co. Inc.). Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  55. ^ Wilson, Bernie (September 8, 2009). "Chargers LB says he didn't harm reality TV star". Associated Press. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  56. ^ "Tila Tequila Claims Alcohol Allergy". Pop Eater (AOL LLC). September 8, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  57. ^ Wilson, Bernie (September 11, 2009). "DA dismisses case against Merriman". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-09-12.  and
    "District attorney dismisses case against LB Merriman". (CBS Broadcasting Inc.). September 11, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009. 
  58. ^ "Tila Tequila sues ex-beau NFL star Shawne Merriman for assault, battery, false imprisonment". New York Daily News. November 17, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  59. ^ "Tila Tequila Flashes Nipple, Claims Engagement To Troubled Heiress Casey Johnson". Huffington Post. December 9, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2009. 
  60. ^ "Casey Johnson Died from Diabetes-Related Condition, Coroner Says". 
  61. ^ "Tila Tequila Planning To Seek Custody Of Casey Johnson's Daughter". AHN. 2010-01-14. Retrieved 13 January 2010. 
  62. ^ Gina DiNunno. "Tila Tequila Says She's Pregnant as a Surrogate for Brother". 
  63. ^ ""BUZZ: Tila Tequila Says She's Pregnant as a Surrogate Mom"". People. December 20, 2009.,,20332132,00.html. Retrieved December 21, 2009. 
  64. ^ Tila Tequila. (2007-12-20) (YouTube). The Soup Awards: Entertainer of The Year Award. The Soup Awards. Event occurs at 0:54. Retrieved 2008-11-14. "The Soup's Entertainer of The Year! Tila Tequila!" 
  65. ^ Barnes, Marcus (2008-06-01). "It's Miller time at Spike awards". The Sun. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  66. ^ Tila Tequila. (2008-06-12). Hulu - 2008 A-List Awards: Tila Tequila. Hulu. Event occurs at 1:11. Retrieved 2008-12-21. "I won the Drama Queen Awards! You know, there's actually, uh, a lot of good contenders up there, so the fact that I won is awesome! I didn't realize I was that dramatic." 

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