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Tila Nguyen (born October 24, 1981), better known by her stage name Tila Tequila, is a Singaporemarker-born singer, model, and television personality. She is known for her appearances in Stuff, Maxim, Penthouse, her role as host of the Fuse TV show Pants-Off Dance-Off and her position as the most popular artist on MySpace (according to page views) circa April 2006. She was raised in Houstonmarker, Texasmarker and now lives in West Hollywoodmarker, Californiamarker. Her MTV reality show A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila aired for two seasons.

Early life

Nguyen was born in Singaporemarker to French Vietnamese parents, where her family emigrated from Vietnammarker after the Vietnam War. When she was one year old, she and her family lived in a neighborhood in Houstonmarker until they were admitted to a gated community run by a strict Buddhist temple. The family left the community when Nguyen was eight.

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. While in high school, she used her sister's identification card to enter nightclubs, where she began taking drugs and joined a gang. 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". Later, friends outside the gang briefly helped turn her life around. However, her past caught up with her, and she fled to Queens, New Yorkmarker at the age of 16.


Modeling and acting

Nguyen's career began at the age of 18 when she was discovered at the Sharpstown Mallmarker by a Playboy scout and was offered a chance to model nude for the magazine. She did a test shoot, 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. A few more pictorials for the magazine followed.

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. 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. 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.

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. She appeared on the August 2006 Maxim UK cover, was named #88 in their Hot 100 List, and also appeared in the December 2007 issue. She was ranked #100 on the Maxim Hot 100 list in 2008.

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." 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. 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 sixteen straight men and sixteen lesbian women compete for Tequila's affections, the twist being that the contestants were not aware of her bisexuality until the end of the first episode. The ten-episode series is produced by 495 Productions and MTV.

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. 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.

The show premiered for a second season in April 2008 and became a popular gossip subject in Asian media, such as AsianWeek. 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.

Online business ventures

In July 2001, Nguyen started up her website entitled "Tila's Hot Spot". Originally it was a website featuring her information, quotes, blog, and pictorials including content that required adult verification and a monthly payment fee to view. 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. In 2008, Buzznet partnered with Tequila to transfer the site and transform it into a social network.

During 2005 Nguyen launched, 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!" In 2006 Tila created a website entitled "Tila Zone," which features content to use on Myspace and other social networking websites including layouts, widgets, and clipart.

Music career

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. Tila Tequila became the lead singer of a band called Jealousy, which released a few songs online before breaking up.

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. 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. 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. However, Tila claimed in a MySpace bulletin 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". 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.

On April 7, 2009 the "I Love U Remixes" EP was released to digital music retailers.

Hooking Up with Tila Tequila

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."

Personal life

As of December 2006, Tequila has a total of ten tattoos on her back, neck, and wrists, the first being a scorpion she received at the age of fifteen.

On September 6, 2009, Tequila was allegedly choked and restrained by boyfriend Shawne Merriman, who was later arrested. She was allegedly intoxicated at the time of the incident, though Tequila denies these claims, citing an allergy to alcohol, though her allergy has been disputed. 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. and

On November 17, 2009, Tequila filed a lawsuit against Merriman for $1.5 million.

On October 5, 2009, Tequila claimed on her Twitter account that she was suicidal, writing, "I am going to kill myself cuz I don't want to life in a world where its filled with IGNORANCE! which majority of you ARE! & racists! As dark descends into my world ... I drown at night, without a fight. One last breath before I go. Don't mourn me world, I will die slow." She later assured the press and public that she was receiving help for her mental problems.








  • 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
2008 Spike Annual Guy's Awards for So Hot They're Famous
Bravo's A-List Awards for A-List Drama Queen


  1. (Retrieved through the Wayback Machine
  2. (Retrieved from the Wayback Machine.)
  3. Tila Tequila's MySpace Blog - "Should I Get Another Tattoo?" December 6, 2006. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  4. Tila Tequila's MySpace Blog - "WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW? ***UPDATED-MAY 13***" April 16, 2005. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  5. "DA dismisses case against Merriman". Yahoo. September 11, 2009.
  7. "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.

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