WATCH: New JCPenney Black Friday commercial with Dallas talent

Recognize any of the folks in this ad? You should. I spotted at least three: Doug Miller (far left front), Denise Lee (next to Doug) and Bruce DuBose (right rear). Of course, it’s also for one of our favorite retailers, JCPenney, which is not only local but gay-friendly.

Check it out after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

JCPenney taps Girl in a Coma’s brand new “Heatwave” cover for July national ad campaign

To get in the summertime groove, Girl in a Coma just released their cover of the classic “Heatwave.” Personally, as a big Martha and the Vandellas fan, this made my day and am adding to my summer playlists. But the bigger news is that North Texas-based retailer JCPenney has picked up the song for its July national ad campaign. Whether by coincidence or design, this should reinforce the company’s support of the LGBT population. But they pretty much have won the community over already.

“Heatwave” is now available on iTunes.

—  Rich Lopez

“Gay is Okay” rapper Adair Lion, beauty queen fiancee, to receive first Equality Texas Ally Award

Equality Texas just announced the honorees for its firs- ever Ally Awards. Earlier this month, I spoke with rapper Adair Lion about his viral song and video “Gay is Okay,” which garnered a whole lot of buzz. Now comes word he will receive the Equality Texas Ally Individual of the Year Award alongside his fiancee, Miss West Texas Kaylee Anne Keith, whose platform includes bullying prevention. Lion is in good company. JCPenney was named Business of the Year and the POTUS (and VPOTUS) were named Civic Leaders of the Year.

I called Lion for his response. He was both nervous and thrilled.

“I don’t know what to wear,” he said at first. But he finds himself rather amazed by the honor and his fellow winners.

“Isn’t that awesome? I feel ecstatic especially since this is the first time for the awards. I’m so honored and it’s really crazy,” he said.

It also meant a great deal to share it with his fiancee. He felt Keith may have crashed-and-burned with her LGBT-friendly platform at the Miss Texas pageant, but he’s more proud that she stayed true to her platform where others advised her not to.

“She really stuck out her neck in an area of Texas where this talk is still a bit taboo. To stand up for the community in West Texas, people would tell her not to push this platform. It could have been great or disastrous for her. It worked in Miss West Texas though, but not so much in Miss Texas. But I’m so proud of her and this award is like a validation of that. The dialogue needs to be open for everyone — rappers, beauty queens, artists — and this won’t be taboo anymore. When morality changes, that’s when the laws change. We’re seeing that now.”

The Ally Awards will take place June 22 at the Vendome. Read the full press release here.

—  Rich Lopez

JCPenney returns to Dallas retail

It has been an irony on the level of the Big Tobacco office building being smoke-free or the beef industry lobbying group having vegetarian options on its cafeteria menu. JCPenney, once the ruler of catalogue sales and a retail captain, is based in North Texas but has not had a Dallas store since the one in NorthPark Center closed in the late 1990s.

Well, it’s back. And with a lot of style.

The new store, which officially opened at Skillman Road and Northwest Highway last weekend, is part of a huge new complex that includes a gigantic Wal-Mart that probably warrants its own congressman. The JCP store isn’t as big, but it is fairly fancy.

JCP has always been a mid-range seller that doesn’t compete with fellow Dallas-based icon Neiman Marcus but brags that is does offer style for less. (It’s VP in charge of design, Geoffrey Henning, is a longtime supporter and designer for DIFFA.) The new store — clean and fresh as a newly minted penny — lives up to the promise.

JCP staffers brag that the store is now the exclusive retailer for what they say is the most recognized name in women’s fashion, Liz Claiborne, though the designs have been updated from the 1970s-era when the brand became famous. Credit uber-gay Isaac Mizrahi, its comparatively new creative director, with turning things around. There are a number of exclusive deals and in-house labels at JCP, including a juniors line from the Olsen Twins, but the new venue is most excited about its MNG by Mango store-within-a-store, which does fast fashions for women. Another innovation: An in-house salon where you can get your hair cut or an entire makeover if you need it, then continue on with your bargain shopping.

The men’s department is smaller than the women’s, but the J. Ferrar line of clothes, pictured, is worth a look, and if you’re a fragrance junkie, an in-store Sephora shop.

For shopaholics like me, it’s always fun to browse at a new store, not only to see what’s new (lots of fall fashions are already out, despite the 99-degree temperatures this week) but also to take advantage of the bargains and enjoy the enthusiasm of a fresh staff in a beautiful space. And JCPenney doesn’t scrimp on the sales, coupons and discounts. It’s a great place to check out something new and save money doing it.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones