July 26, 2004 -- YOU don't have to be a blonde to play Paris Hilton. You don't even have to be a woman.
Ask Kevin Shinick. In "I Love Paris," premiering tonight off- Broadway, he portrays the "Simple Life" star as simply as possible — as himself, a 33-year-old man in white briefs and black socks. No drag.
"It's about the words," Shinick says. "I think they summarize all that Paris stands for."
Set in a dressing room as Hilton awaits an audition (she's hoping to get a spot on "The View"), "I Love Paris" is a deliriously scatalogical stream-of-consciousness rant that starts with her hair and meanders from there — to dieting, Demi Moore and democracy, in no particular order.
Delivered by Shinick in his own light tenor, the monologue is rife with such Paris-ian phrases as "skanky" and "hot" — punctuated by the steady nibbling of almonds.
In fact, says playwright Doug Field, it all started with the nuts.
"Someone had left an Us magazine on a treadmill at my gym," he says. Paris' face was on the cover, but what fascinated him was a story about Christina Aguilera, and the secret behind the singer's "miraculous" 3-pound weight loss:
"Turns out, to control her appetite between meals, she has 12 almonds and a piece of fruit," Field told The Post.
"Not 11 almonds, not 8 — but 12. And the thought of counting out 12 almonds, three times a day. . . "
Soon after, Field found himself writing a one-person play in a fury he describes as "one long Paris burp."
While it started with Aguilera's almonds, he says, it was really about the public's appetite for celebrities, pure and simple.
"If you were in a lab and wanted to distill the essence of pure media pop celebrity famedom, Paris is it," he says.
So prevalent is she, he argues, he didn't even have to do any research to write it — having seen neither the infamous sex video nor "The Simple Life."
"But subconsciously, something must be going on because there are a lot of things in that play I've since been told are true," Field says.
"Like, 'How did you know her acting teacher was named Howard?' " (Field says he didn't, he just made it up.)
Having decided the part should be played by a man — "the antithesis of Paris" — he called Shinick, whose credits include an earlier Field play, "Down South," plus Shakespeare, Chekhov and "Spider-Man Live."
"My wife laughed a lot," Shinick says. "She said, 'I think you'd be perfect.' But I don't know exactly what that means."
Neither he nor Field has met Paris, but a free ticket awaits her at the door.
Unless, of course, she'd rather play herself.
"In that case," Field says, "Kevin would have to find a new job."
"I Love Paris" plays Mondays through Aug. 30 at the Blue Heron Arts Center, 123 E. 24th St., at Park Avenue South. (212) 868-4444.