‘Big Rich Texas’ star Leslie Birkland found house shopping in Dallas easy — with some high-end help, of course
By Rich Lopez
Being blonde and beautiful never hurts — especially in Dallas. Blonde, beautiful and rich is even better. Leslie Birkland dealt with some hefty drama in the just-finished season of Big Rich Texas, but maybe the biggest drama was finding a new home in the area to partake in Dallas society, men and the pageant scene. Birkland calls Big D home, for now, and becoming a denizen wasn’t so difficult.
“My house was pretty easy to find and prices are just right now,” Birkland says. “I kept hearing Dallas hadn’t been hit really in the [economic] crisis.”
She was a bit overwhelmed upon coming to the city to join her cousin (and castmate) Connie and to oversee her goddaughter Kalyn’s pageant career.
Thinking the idea was to settle in Dallas proper, she found that wasn’t reasonable to live a certain lifestyle and be comfortable. She found she didn’t have to live in Highland Park.
“Everyone was so willing and a lot of Realtors were coming out of the woodwork quickly to help out,” she says. “But it was Connie’s husband John that pointed me elsewhere to look.”
For anyone looking to buy another home, she says once you’ve done it, you know how to negotiate what you need and it goes far easier the second time. Although she won’t divulge exactly where she lives, she describes it as about 45 minutes northwest of Dallas. As for the house — well let’s just say she’s kept up with the Joneses just fine, if not blowing them out of the water.
“It’s about the same 6,000 square feet as my house in Washington with eight bedrooms and three kitchens,” she says. “It’s pretty grand! It’s so elegant and beautiful with these big columns. That’s new to me. And sometimes when you want a bit more land, you have to go out to where it’s spread out. I love it.”
But Birkland’s celebrity going to be an issue with the neighborhood? She says no. As the cameras are rolling for Big Rich Texas, the Style Network has stayed out of sight of the neighbors or respected their privacy as well. In turn, Birkland says the people around her seem not to care all that much about the little piece of TV reality happening right next door.
“They see what’s going on and they may ask, but it’s no thing for them,” she laughs.
For the average person, that amount of square feet seems like a daunting task to move in to. But rich folks do it differently. Birkland has no projects for the house per se. Updating a room with paint or doling pieces of furniture among eight rooms isn’t necessary. Higher end homes with specific interiors come as an entire package. Basically, this is not a fixer-upper.
“Yeah, I’m not doing anything,” she chuckles. “With homes like these, there are furnishings specifically designed for the house, so there’s nothing I’m doing in that regard.”
As for getting used to Dallas, Birkland is dealing with learning a new city, navigating high society and handling some real-life drama all in front of a camera. Before she moved here, she researched maps, but found it difficult to gauge distance from the heart of the city. Initially, she leased a house just a couple of miles from her cousin in Highland Park.
“People would ask me where I lived and I didn’t know,” she says. “Then I’d just say Highland Park, but where I was wasn’t Highland Park and that was a whole thing!”
She takes it all with a sense of humor. Especially since she’s been labeled the cougar of the show. Romancing the likes of Anthony Dorsett Jr. (son of the former Dallas Cowboy) and a young golf pro known only as A.J., she’s definitely a connoisseur of the younger man, but for her cougar-dom, she seems to roll her eyes at her cougar-dom.
“I do like men that are younger. but I didn’t realize I was a cougar,” she says. “It’s funny, but definitely not icky. There’s a line not to cross. I never want to be old enough to be their mother. I already have three sons! But the men I date are just about 10 years younger. If it was 15 or 20 years difference, then I could see that.”
The next season hasn’t started filming yet and Birkland is just fine with that right now. She has enough on her plate to keep her busy supporting her lavish lifestyle, whether it’s business or fun.
“Through my property investments and CDs, I have a comfortable lifestyle,” she says. “Plus, I’m very conservative with money and do some modeling on the side. As for being here, well, it’s only been six months and I’m not used to the roads, but I’m learning the neighborhoods and getting familiar with them.” DH
For more about the show, visit MyStyle.com/BigRichTexas
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.