America’s next top (role) model?

‘A List Dallas’ casting stuts out one gay couch potato even before getting started. You might be luckier

RICH LOPEZ  | lopez@dallasvoice.com

cpj
GETTING DOUCHEY WITH IT Wanna know how to go from d-bag to A-list? This writer may not know, but he’ll get you started. (Arnold Wayne Jones Dallas Voice)

Using my connections, I could get into most snazzy events in Dallas if I, you know, tried. I know enough highfalutin’ types to be able to drop a few names. This all comes with the territory of working for a newspaper — kinda A-list, right?

Maybe not so much. Along with all that comes a journalist’s salary, a nine-year old Ford Escape without a radio and a gym membership that rarely gets used. I might call it more D-list, though even Kathy Griffin is a rung up from me.

So when I heard The A List, Logo’s new reality series, was casting in Dallas, it was without question I’d need to apply. TV stardom could be my way to the big time, and since I can’t find a reliable Amazing Race partner, this could be my ticket. Already, thoughts of an auto-tuned dance album filled my head.

The first step was the online application, where I saw these words in the intro: “…presents the unprecedented invitation to the ‘A List’ in the age range of 20–mid 30s…” At 38, I might already be out of the game before filling in the first blank. But audacity is an A-list quality, so I proceeded. But I was gonna need help.

“Anyone can apply online, and if you fit what the network’s looking for, we’ll interview you,” said Chad Patterson, casting agent for the Dallas version of the show. “It’s my job to make each applicant an individual and stand out on their own.”

Patterson is in town this week through Dec. 19 doing follow-up interviews after an initial cut, but don’t think you can crash the sessions. Only those with stellar applications are invited to meet. (But you can still apply after he’s gone.)

As I filled in my name, occupation, etc., I halted at the blank for a MySpace/website address. Um, MySpace was A-list like five years ago. Hello! Maybe this is a list I don’t wanna be on.

The inevitable body image complex came up. The app asks for height and weight, which I get. Then it asked for my body type and waist size. Despite what Patterson told me, there seemed to be a specific response needed here.

“There are no wrong answers when applying to a reality show. This is all to uncover the reality of you,” he said. Yeah, but I needed more convincing that anything above a 31 inch waist wasn’t an immediate cut.

The app went on to ask about my relationship and if I have children; my personality type and why I think I’m fabulous — all easy enough. Then it listed celebs like Brad Pitt, Anderson Cooper, Madonna and Rachel Maddow as “dream date” choices. For some reason, Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t an option. This actually excited Patterson and he kinda made me believe I could be on the show. He’s that good.

“See? This is where your unique personality shines through,” he said. “You might be what we’re looking for, this anti-establishment guy who doesn’t buy into all the bullshit.” It was like he was looking into my soul over the phone.

What he doesn’t want, he said, is the self-entitled queen who thinks he’s fabulous just because. Patterson is looking for specifics as to what makes an applicant A-list material. A heavy helping of personality goes a long way, though he admitted he wouldn’t mind stereotypes.

“We do want to make it specific to Dallas so I’d love to find a gay boy who’s parents are in the oil business or even a gay cowboy. Stereotypes in certain regions will make it unique.”

Oh, that’s another thing: Patterson used the term “boy” a lot. This worried me.

“Yeah, it’ll be fun to have a few boys that are actually A-list, but we’re not ruling people out if you’re a go-go boy who’s broke but knows how to work it,” he said.

He wanted to offer one piece of advice to all the Dallas men (er, boys) who apply. Because there isn’t a guarantee the show will be cast like New York, there’s no telling the direction it could go.

“You shouldn’t decide it’s not for you before applying,” he said. “Just be open to it. There are no points off for anything.”

Until they read my application; which, at that point, it’s back to finding that Amazing Race partner.

To apply online, visit TheAList Casting.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Top Republican TV shows are also gay favorites

‘Modern Family’ was No. 3 on the Republicans’ list.

A new study of TV viewing habits of Republicans vs. Democrats reveals something not surprising — that the two groups like completely different shows. What is surprising is that on the Republican list are more shows that are popular among the LGBT community than on the Democratic list.

Most glaring is the No. 3 Republican show — Modern Family. That program features one of the best portrayals of a gay family ever seen on television. And Ed O’Neill, the patriarch of the family, is married to a woman from Columbia who has moved to the United States with her son. Immigration is not usually a popular Republican theme.

At No. 12 is another very gay show, Desperate Housewives. Bree’s son is gay. There’s a gay couple living on Wisteria Lane. Marc Cherry, the show’s creator who earned his TV cred as a writer for Golden Girls, is gay. Gay, gay, gay. But it’s on the Republican favorites list, not the Democrats’.

Coming in at No. 2 on the Republican side is yet another gay favorite, Dancing With the Stars. I guess that explains Bristol Palin’s continued appearance. Next season there’s talk of a gay couple. The Israeli version of DWTS tried that this year and it’s become the most popular show in that country this season.

And No. 1 is Amazing Race, which usually features gay contestants. The winner of the fourth season was Reichen Lehmkuhl and his partner at the time Chip Arndt. Mel White has appeared. Are Republicans watching to root against these players?

On the Democratic side, the No. 1 show is something called Flashpoint. Really? It’s a CBS show apparently. No. 2 in popularity is a PBS show called Hometime. OK, did Democrats answer this poll seriously?

About the only two shows on the Democratic list that would also be up there on the LGBT list are Brothers and Sisters (No. 10), which features a gay couple living in a family of Democrats with the exception of one progressive Republican sister, and Palin-impersonator Tina Fey’s 30 Rock (No. 15).

Law and Order? Good show but sounds perfectly Republican, right? Nope. Democrats prefer that show. America’s Most Wanted on FOX? Democrats. Really?

Republicans prefer The Mentalist. Democrats prefer Medium. There’s a difference?

Glee? Not on either list.

Only one show made both lists — Friday Night Lights. Great choice by both sides. Republicans rate the show one notch higher than Democrats. The writing is smart, although I’ve never seen anyone actually stick to the script. It’s something other than a police or hospital procedural show. Great character development. Interesting plot. And I’m on the show. (I play a Dillon, Texas reporter on the sidelines of the football games and at press conferences on the show. It’ll be back for its final season in the spring.)

—  David Taffet

‘A’ gay

Former Air Force captain Reichen Lehmkuhl has choice words about the Obama Administration and DADT, and the editing on his Logo series ‘The A List: New York’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

Reichen Lehmkuhl
THAT’S CAPTAIN QUEER TO YOU! Former Air Force captain Reichen Lehmkuhl is an avid skier, and spokesman for the inaugural Matthew Shepard Gay Ski Week in Crested Butte, Colo., next March.

SHOOT THE BUTTE
Dish at the ilume,
4123 Cedar Springs Road.
Nov. 5, 6–8 p.m. Free.
MatthewShepardGaySkiWeek.com.
Reichen will also host a
meet-and-greet at Woody’s,
4001 Cedar Springs Road,
Nov. 5 at 10 p.m.

…………………………..

If all you know about Reichen Lehmkuhl is what you see in reality shows — he won Season 4 of The Amazing Race, and is currently one of the “gay housewives” on Logo’s The A List: New York — then you’re missing a lot of what drives him.

Formerly an airman in the U.S. Air Force, Reichen (nobody uses his last name) is an outspoken advocate for gay rights, especially the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And on this election week, he has some choice words for the Obama Administration.

“What Obama has done is disappoint all of his voters and really squandered away all of our affection,” Reichen says without hesitation, reflecting his displeasure that the president — after claiming a desire to repeal DADT, nevertheless appealed a California court’s ruling that the law was unconstitutional. “He made a choice he didn’t have to make — one of process over basic values. And he flat-out lied about what his values are. He said he thought all gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve, and when the opportunity was presented to him without any effort at all, he did not support it.”

Reichen knows that, especially within the gay community, his harsh words about the country’s top Democrat might not be popular. But he has too much invested in this issue to remain silent.

“I’m getting a lot of hate mail,” he admits. “I think [some] people are being apologists and are blinded because they are afraid of looking like they don’t support [Obama]. But for those of us on the front lines — and I am — it has just been awful. And I just won’t be an apologist for the president.  I won’t do it. You can’t apologize for people who swore to do what they say they will and don’t.”

He was especially confused when, immediately after the Pentagon announced it would accept openly gay military applicants, the Justice Department filed its appeal in the lawsuit, even though the deadline to appeal (if at all!) was more than a month away. Reichen says the decision was basely political before the midterm elections.

“The day the president appealed the decision, I was asked to go on MSNBC the next day, but I was so baffled I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to say something wrong, so I turned down the request.”

All this is a far cry from why Reichen will be in town this week: Promoting Shoot the Butte, a gay ski week starting next year in Crested Butte, Colo., for which Reichen is a spokesperson and attendee (he’s a huge snowbunny, and in fact a certified ski instructor). But the ski event is actually in conjunction with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, for which he is a strong supporter.

And even talk of Judy Shepard steers him back to politics. As a former servicemember, Reichen firmly believes that people have lost sight of the easiest way to advance gay rights: Just let the discharges stop.

“If you stop the discharges and let people come out and say, ‘I am a professional and you can’t assume I am not because I am gay’ … once that happened for 30, 60 days, it would be impossible to reverse the decision,” he says. “Just [this week], the administration ordered that DADT is back in effect so the discharges are continuing.”

He sighs. You can tell it’s something he internalizes and takes very personally.

“I’m really worried about what the president did to the support of so many gay people. He really just slapped us all in the face. He is political and doesn’t believe in equality for LGBT people. If this had been a race issue, would he have put politics before values? No, he wouldn’t. It shows how low he thinks of us as a community.”

You might not expect such political passion from someone best known for playing himself on TV, especially in light of the persona he projects on The A List. But even there, Reichen has his criticisms. When I say he comes off as a jerk on the show, he immediately says, “I hope you put that in your article.”

“I’ve tried to explain that even to the producers,” he says. “What you’re seeing is what they wanna show. They say I’m not gonna come off as a jerk as the later episodes air [but we’ll see]. You see me hit on a guy in a club, but what you don’t see is this guy is a friend of mine for 13 years. And the editing with Austin makes it look like we had some big, long relationship — we spent one day together [in Palm Springs]! I kept in touch with him by text, but that’s it. He says I have a small cock and am a bad cocksucker. The guy’s never seen my cock and I’ve never been near between his legs!”

The show also makes it look like his relationship with boyfriend Rodiney is doomed. He’s contractually forbidden from saying where they stand, although he does reveal, “I saw him this morning. And we love each other very much — I can say that much.” (Not so for Austin, whom he says he ignores now.)

What he does say is not wrong about the editing on the show is what we learned this past week: Reichen looks hot in a dress.

“This is a big secret, but I love to do drag!” he says. “I totally get why drag queens do what they do. I have so much fun, though I look better when I do my own makeup. I have complete anonymity [when I go out in drag] and people are scared of me.”

Scared of him? Sounds like that could be an advantage against an enemy in battle. And maybe one more reason Reichen can list to bring down “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

‘A’ game

Logo tries to beat Bravo at its own reality game with ‘The A-List’ and ‘The Arrangement’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

MEN BEHAVINGLY GAILY  |  Is Reichen Lemkuhl, above left, an ‘A-Lister?’ In those swim trunks, he is; below, a naked challenge kicks off ‘The Arrangement.’
MEN BEHAVINGLY GAILY | Is Reichen Lemkuhl, above left, an ‘A-Lister?’ In those swim trunks, he is; below, a naked challenge kicks off ‘The Arrangement.’

With the success — and appeal among the gay community — of the Real Housewives franchise, it seemed only logical that someone would eventually come up with a gay version … only it’s not on Bravo, but Logo.

So as we watched a screener of The A-List: New York, I asked the man sitting on the couch next to me — my frequent plus-one at events — whether either of us could be considered “A-listers.” “No, honey,” he said without hesitation. “Not even in Dallas. We’re not important enough.”

I’m not sure I agree, assuming the standard for “A-list” status is the klatch of bitchy queens who snipe at each other on this new reality series. They go see Reichen Lemkuhl in a dopey off-off-Broadway play and hang around for the reception after; I do stuff like that three times a week. They gossip over coffee and attend fashion shows and museum openings; I turn down more of those invitations than I accept.

I’m not claiming to be an A-lister, and might even admit I’m lower on the totem than Kathy Griffin; I just don’t see that they are any higher. Except that they are on TV.
That must be it.

But that is not to say the show doesn’t have its appeal. In fact to me, self-delusion is almost juicier than actual achievement. To be fair, some of these men have accomplished something: Mike Ruiz, a daddy who likes to take his shirt off (bless ‘im), is a famous photographer, and Lemkuhl won The Amazing Race. But hairdresser Ryan? Wannabe model Austin? I don’t think so.

Of course, the “real” housewives never struck me as real anyway (there, like here, the “friendships” feel manufactured). While The A-List is just as un-real, it’s also hotter, especially Reichen’s Brazilian boyfriend Rodiney. Looks like there could be some claws coming out with that sexual tension. Thing is, I wanna know what happens. Guess I’m hooked.

Grade: Three stars

Rodiney isn’t the only cute South American debuting on Logo this week; there’s also Argentinian Guillermo, one of the florists competing for title of top flower arranger on The Arrangement, from the Bailey-Barbato team that produces RuPaul’s Drag Race. Just how suspenseful, or interesting, is a competition show about floral design? Well, considering that Tyra Banks has made a TV career out of herding a pack of empty-headed waifs through the rigors of walking while chewing gum, at least these folks have marketable skills.

At least part of the appeal of reality series is the cleverness of the terminology (quickfire challenges, “You’re fired!,” etc.). The jargon here is hokey: “Are you a grower or a shower?” Gigi Levangie Grazer, the smug and uninteresting host, asks the contestants, before setting them on their “seedling challenge” to find out who will be “weeded out” and who gets to wait in the “greens room.” Uggh.

Butch florist Russ says he’s here to “promote masculinity” in floral arrangement, but having to decorate naked people with sushi and rose petals doesn’t really convey that to me. But ehh! These crafty game shows long ago ceased being about the prizes or the skills and all about the personalities. There are some here. Whether they will wilt on the vine before the final challenge is anyone’s guess. But this is the new reality of television — I guess we should be thankful it’s also where gays are just as prominent as their straight counterparts. Even if it is on Logo.

Grade: Two stars

The A-List: New York debuts Monday at 9 p.m. and The Arrangement at 10 p.m. on Logo.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 1, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

NBC’s Texas-filmed ‘Chase’ premieres

The new Jerry Bruckheimer show “Chase” premiered on Monday and it’s not just “CSI Dallas.” Unlike other procedurals, this one lets you know right away who did it and the story’s about the chase (around Dallas and across Texas) to catch the perp.

The preview above includes a helicopter chase filmed earlier this summer that followed a route down McKinney Avenue and right over the Instant Tea Brewery.

The show is filmed primarily in Dallas, but the pilot that aired Monday was filmed around the state. The show opened in the Stockyards in Fort Worth. They checked out some witnesses in Houston and the final scene was filmed on a bridge over the Rio Grande (at least I think it was — anyone know?)

The networks have had lots of luck with Dallas-based shows. “Dallas” and “Walker, Texas Ranger” each lasted more than a decade. And Bruckheimer currently has five hits on CBS — three “CSIs,” “Cold Case” and “Amazing Race.”

This one looks like a hit for NBC (Mondays at 9, or available on Hulu).

And a successful show filmed in Dallas means lots of jobs and lots of publicity for the city. And acting jobs means lots of work for the city’s many gay actors. Any of our readers work this show yet? Let us know.

—  David Taffet

New season of 'Amazing Race' to feature gay brothers, including one from Fort Worth

Dan, left, and Sam McMillen
Dan, left, and Sam McMillen

The new season of CBS’ “Amazing Race” will feature a pair of gay brothers, one of whom is from Fort Worth. Dan, 21, and Sam McMillen, 23, are natives of Liberty, Mo., but CBS says Sam currently resides in Cowtown, and reports indicate that he may be studying medicine at Texas Christian University. Sam and I have one mutual friend on Facebook, campus LGBT leader Skye Newkirk (and he has a whopping total of 1,561). It will be interesting to see how his appearance on the show is received at conservative TCU. According to their bio on the Amazing Race Web site, “Sam and Dan will tell you that their relationship did not truly start until last summer when they both came out and told each other that they were gay.” Read the full bio after the jump. Below is a video interview with Dan and Sam.

—  John Wright