Dallas without the Ewings

After months of sniping, ‘A-List: Dallas’ debuts and, surprisingly, entertains

ALIST_DALLAS_GROUP_retouched_3

SPOT THE HOT SPOT | Real-life gay cowboy Levi Crocker, center, is the breakout star of ‘The A-List: Dallas,’ which finally debuts on Logo after a summer of controversy. (Photo Mike Ruiz/Logo)

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

Lies, deception, cowboys, swimming pool fights and plenty of rich bitches (male and female): Sounds like a certain TV show we all know and love, right? Well, these are also the same ingredients for Dallas’ newest moment in the reality television spotlight. Taking the successful formula for The A-List: New York and creating a Dallas franchise may have been a head-scratcher for anyone who doesn’t live here, but for those of us that do, we know we have our fair share of camera-ready gays eager to bring on the drama.

I used to think that reality TV should be critiqued under different criteria than scripted shows, but then I realized that if a show wants to take up an hour of my time and valuable space on my DVR, it all comes down to one simple question I pose, whether million-dollar-per-episode comedy or a low-budget reality franchise: Am I entertained?

For The A-List: Dallas, the surprising answer is “yes.” Admittedly, I can barely squint my way through an episode of the New York version, so I had minimal expectations for Dallas. But by the time the first episode’s credits rolled and scenes from the entire season played out, I found myself hooked.

That’s in large part because of the casting. They’ve found a group of friends and frenemies with enough ready-made conflict to easily fill an entire season. Sure, much of it is exaggerated for effect, but give gays enough alcohol and stick them in front of a camera crew and how could sparks not fly?

At the center of most of the drama is Levi Crocker, the handsome cowboy that every guy wants to rope in. In the past, he’s dated Taylor Garret, a gay Christian Republican and now denies dating James Doyle, a trust-fund baby who remembers things a little differently. There’s also Chase Hutchison, a real estate investor whose hair becomes its very own character; Phillip Willis, a high-end stylist with a love for gossip; and Ashley Kelly, a female photographer who just loves her gays.

The good thing about this cast is their wicked sense of humor — and it appears that they’re in on the joke. I mean, who couldn’t be camping up a little saying catty things like,

“This is a genetic gift. Does it mean I’m superior? Maybe.” Or, “I’m one of Dallas’ hottest stylists.” Or maybe they’re just shallow jerks like most every other cast member of every single reality show ever created anywhere. Only time will tell, but for now, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Most of all, The A-List: Dallas is a fun watch just to see how many people you recognize and how many favorite restaurants and nightspots you can spot. If you’ve been to the same sushi bar and know a few of the same people, that makes you A-List by association. And that’s pretty much all it takes.

Premieres Monday on Logo at 10 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

REVIEW: ‘Mad Fashion’ excruciating

Bravo sends me every screener they can. I mean every one. Not only series and season premieres, but sometimes individual midseason episodes of their gayish shows. (I got a screener of the second season of Work of Art in my DVD player right now.)

So why, I wondered, did I have to learn about the new series Mad Fashion from on-air promos? Why no press releases, no screeners? Why did I have to watch it on debut night like everyone else?

Now I understand: Mad Fashion is mad bad.

In the unending trend of all reality TV shows including at least one former reality star among its cast or guest judges, Mad Fashion stars former Project Runway designer Chris March. March, pictured, was a fan favorite, a zaftig, lisping teddy bear with a drag queen’s sensibility whose droll, heavy-lidded pronouncements of fashion and outrageous designed seemed destined to grab attention if not praise from the judges. March is the star of this new half-hour show, wherein he and his crew (he spends most of the first episode, which premiered Tuesday night, introducing them it seemed) come up with tacky takes on haute couture to their horrified but equally delighted clients.

March was a hoot on Project Runway, but here, he seems catatonic and distracted, walking through the reality TV cliches (direct addresses to the camera, coyly sowing (sewing?) controversy among his staff and clients, etc., all while sounding like the bastard child of South Park‘s Mr. Slave and Roseanne Barr.

Everyone knows all reality TV is scripted, but the ability to make it feel improvised is what sets the good apart from the bad. March doesn’t possess that skill, so nearly every scene feels excruciatingly posed. Mercifully, the series forces us to endure its fake grotesqueries in only 30-minute increments. I suspect we won’t have many of those either. If Bravo doesn’t wanna preview this uber-gay fashion series to the gay press … well, that tells you something.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Drew’s clues

Our ‘Most Eligible’ gay gets real about reality TV

ON THE TOWN | Ginsburg, above left, attends DIFFA, showing Bravo audiences the gay side of Dallas.

Love it, hate it or maybe just love to hate it, reality television has put Dallas right in the middle of its crosshairs with shows like Big Rich Texas, the upcoming A-List: Dallas and Bravo’s newest beehive of bitchery, Most Eligible Dallas, filming around town in recent months.

Eligible promises a front row seat to the lives of six of our city’s most see-and-be-seen socialites (although popular opinion seems to question some of their pedigrees). We had a chance to visit with the lone gay member of this glitterati: Drew Ginsburg. As is boasted in his Bravo bio, the 29-year-old is “a proud gay man, [who] prefers cars to couture” and works for his family’s business of high-end automotive dealerships.

Ginsburg shared some local haunts that did not make it on camera, and how he felt Dallas’ reputation, and his own, were faring in the warmth of the Hollywood spotlight.

— Jef Tingley

…………………….

Dallas Voice: How did you get involved in the show to begin with? Ginsburg: I was actually approached on Facebook by producers.

What was your reaction to the first time you saw yourself on TV?  Was it the same as when you hear your own recorded voice and think, “I don’t sound like that?”  I was actually quite shocked. I thought I was going to come off funny. I didn’t know I was going to come out looking as good as I am. I really had no expectation of how I looked on camera.

The night the first show aired, we saw many Facebook posts about one of your first on-camera lines where you said you can “have everything you want at the push of a buddon.” You seemed to catch a lot of flack for that pronunciation, especially given the context. Anything you want to add in your defense? Well here’s a fact about the way that I said the word button: I’m dyslexic, I have ADD, and I was actually born with a speech impediment so some words just don’t come out right. And if you don’t like it, guess what? I’m lucky that I can even say “buddon.” If [people] are going to attack me on the way I say button, I think it’s kind of funny. Those are things I wear with honor and pride because they make me who I am. I was born this way, and if they don’t like it they can go complain somewhere else.

In the second episode, you went to a matchmaker — a very old-school one who relies strictly on index cards, no computers. How did you even find her?  My friend found her by Googling gay matchmaker Dallas. I was shocked to go to her house in Bluffview and meet her. For some reason, when I heard matchmaker, I was thinking like matzo balls and dates — my family’s Jewish. I was expecting Yiddish and Yenta… but I didn’t get Yenta.

Even though your date with J.P., a diminutive-statured redhead from Chihuahua, Mexico, whom you called an “endangered species” didn’t work out, would you recommend matchmaking for a friend? I’d recommend matchmaking to anyone. I mean, there’s nothing wrong in my mind in taking a shot in the dark sometimes…especially when it comes to love.

Who on the show would benefit the most from matchmaking? I think Courtney. I feel like sometimes you need to get your feathers ruffled and break out of your old routines.

How do you think Dallas comes across on the show? I think Dallas looks incredible. They got a picture of the new bridge. That was kind of cool.

Speaking of Dallas, we’ve seen you on the Katy Trail with cast mate Glenn Pakulak (and his dreamy washboard abs) and at other notable locations like Sfuzzi and Naan. Do you have any favorite local spots that didn’t end up on camera so far? The Grapevine has not ended up on camera. It’s one of my favorite hangouts. Same with Company Café and Bolsa.

Since you’re Most Eligible’s lone homo, where would you take your fellow cast mates to paint the town pink? [We’d] probably start at the Grapevine as a primer even though it’s not a gay bar. Then around 11 p.m., I would take them to the Round-Up. It’s fun and legendary… I got to meet Lady Gaga at my building after her performance at the Round-Up. She called me a “Little Monster,” but I explained to her that I was six foot four and not that little!

While we are on the subject of being “the only gay in the village,” were you out before the show aired? Did you just quote Little Britain to me? Yes, I was out before the show aired. But I have [heard from] a bunch of, like, high school friends … they were all shocked to find out. I was the one in high school who was caught drinking with all the cheerleaders. I was also on the football team, so everyone thought I was a playa. But I was just hanging out with them.

Weight loss seems to be a big catalyst in your life. How long has it been? And how did you go from gastric bypass to injecting yourself with HCG (a hormone produced during pregnancy that helps with weight loss)? I’m glad you brought that up. In 2002, after watching my grandma pass away I decided that I needed to do something. I was 420 lbs., and I realized dieting was not the path to do something drastic to jumpstart the process. I talked to several doctors who said my only option was gastric bypass.

I started that process and my alcoholism took into effect after my gastric bypass about two years later. I had to deal with that road bump, which I am glad I did because it helped me get to grips with my sexuality. Getting sober made me realize I had to be more honest with myself and come out of the closet.

When I came to Dallas, I did not have the same support system [as in California]. I went from 250 lbs. to 280 lbs. in 2010, and that’s when I started HCG and working with a trainer and on my nutrition. My weight still fluctuates. During filming, I jumped from 212 lbs. to 235 lbs. because of the stresses of filming, work and not getting to go to the gym. But I have not used HCG since April of this year.

One of your claims to fame is that you are a car fanatic. What are you driving right now? I’m in the 2012 Audi A6. It’s a brand new car. I’ve had every single model variation [of Audi] since I started driving. I’ve always loved this car: in my teens, in my 20s and now into my 30s.

Cast mate Tara Harper is very involved with Paws in the City, a North Texas animal charity. Do you have a favorite local charity you support? I support Legacy Counseling and Hospice and DIFFA. My family has been supporting DIFFA since I was 16 years old.

You mention that because of HCG, your pee will actually test positive during a pregnancy test. Have you ever been brave enough to waltz into the drugstore for your own box of EPT? Yes I did…and it did work!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

WATCH: Everyone’s reporting on Nikki Araguz’s reality show; no one’s reporting on her court case

Above is a report from Houston’s Fox 26 on Texas transgender widow Nikki Araguz’s plans for a reality show, Finding NIkki, which we first told you about Thursday.

Fox 26 also reports that there’s a book deal and a TV movie in the works for Araguz, whom it calls a “poster child for transgender rights.”

“I’ve gotten a lot of stalker men who’ve proposed marriage and proposed me moving all over the place,” Araguz says. “We’re going to see me going on dates. We’re going to see me lobbying Senate bills … ”

Despite all the media reports about Araguz’s reality show, we still haven’t seen any details about an apparent court date in Araguz’s case today, when a district judge in Wharton may rule whether on whether she’s entitled to death benefits from her husband, a volunteer firefighter killed in the line of duty.

Araguz tells Fox 26 that if the judge rules against her, she plans to appeal.

Meanwhile, a Senate bill prompted by the Araguz case and aimed at barring transgender people from marrying people from the opposite sex, is all but dead in the Legislature. But none of the reports we’ve seen mention this minor detail, either.

UPDATE: Here’s a report from Meghan Stabler, a transgender woman who serves as a board member for the Human Rights Campaign:

Wharton court now breaking for lunch in Nikki Araguz’s hearing. Lots of reporters are outside waiting for news and many of the broadcast reporters have headed downstairs for their noon news live shot. Court session will resume at 1:15 p.m.

Nikki commented, “Tough morning in court and it has become clear according to the judge this case will be the defining case for marriage in Texas.”

—  John Wright

More reality TV shows look to Texas for casting

Shangela

I received a call from Joe Pinzone, a casting producer for Leftfield Pictures with word of a TV show looking to add some gay flair. In-Laws sounds more than just your typical high-drama lowbrow affair (but keep reading) and it is on A&E. He tells me the premise touches on the relationships between family members and, yeah, the in-laws. He reached out to the Voice because they are definitely interested in finding a same-sex couple and how they deal with meddling mothers-in-law or disapproving family members — healthy relationships can apply as well, but it is TV:

Do you and your in-laws have different ways of doing things that can sometimes be frustrating? Do your in-laws old-fashioned values differ from your modern lifestyle?  Does the statement, “When mom says no, ask grandma” ring true in your family?  Do your in-laws do strange things that get on your nerves? Do you wish your mother-in-law wouldn’t baby your husband so much when she is around because when she leaves he won’t do anything around the house?

If you love your in-laws but want to learn to adapt to each other’s way of life, this is the show for you!

What’s more, you’ll get paid for participating. We know the Dallas market is prime for gay reality show participants (RuPaul’s Drag Race, The A-List), so I have a feeling that the perfect couple is out there. Pinzone says to either apply, to nominate a couple or just learn more, contact him by email or by calling 212-564-2607 ext. 2395.

• Not much for family drama, but all about the partying and drinking? Lost in Austin invites all kinds of peeps who are at least 21 years old to make a full out Tex-ass of themselves. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as one of the producers is behind Jersey Shore. You could be the next Snooki — provided you move to Austin:

Lost in Austin will feature a house full of outrageous Texans who will live it up in the ultimate pad in the heart of Downtown Austin as they rule the bar scene, rope in the hottest of the hot and drink anyone under the table.

This has glorious train wreck written all over it. Non-Austinites must supply a video of themselves via the website for casting which will be held in May.

—  Rich Lopez

B-Pax brings you ‘The Drama of Dallas’


Dallas Voice contributor Brent Paxton, aka B-Pax, is putting together a local reality show called The Drama of Dallas.

B-Pax, perhaps best known for his Street Talk segments filmed on the Cedar Springs strip, tells us he’s already received more than 200 applications for The Drama of Dallas, but he’s hoping to get even more by the deadline of midnight on Friday. He says only eight contestants will be selected for the show, which involves them living together at a residence in Dallas. Beyond that, he isn’t disclosing many details, but here’s what it says on his website:

BPAX.TV is VERY excited to announce a new reality TV show filming in Dallas, Texas! The show is all about people going through their life experiences together. Think MTV’s Skins and The Real World. Are you interesting and have a unique perspective on life? Do you think people would relate to you on TV? Do you have a special skill you’d like to share with the world? Please fill out the form below and we’ll contact you for an audition if we like what we see!

To apply to be a contestant, go here. Or to apply to work on the set of the show, go here.

—  John Wright

Palin says rhetoric not to blame for Arizona shootings, but recent history suggests otherwise

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left, and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin

Within hours of the Saturday, Jan. 8, shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 14 — including the gunman’s apparent primary target, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — wounded, a nationwide discussion — perhaps “argument” is a better word — had begun over the role that extreme political rhetoric had played in the massacre. And one of the first names to pop up in that discussion was that of Sarah Palin, the former Alaskan governor and former vice presidential candidate turned rightwing political pundit and reality TV star.

Giffords was one of the Democratic members of Congress who, in a campaign flyer posted on Palin’s website, had been “targeted” for defeat by Republicans in last November’s elections. The flyer included a graphic of a map with the “targeted’ districts marked by gunsights. That flyer along with Palin’s “don’t retreat, reload” comment, along with Nevada rightwinger Sharon Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies” comment, have gotten a lot of play in the days since the shootings.

Palin’s people took the flyer off the website within hours of the shooting, but it wasn’t until today that Palin herself spoke up, releasing a video in which she declares that political rhetoric had nothing to do with the shootings in Arizona  and decrying the “irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame” for the massacre to her and other rightwing pundits. The responsibility, Palin declared, lies solely with the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner.

Since we don’t know yet — and really may never know — what prompted this young man to open fire at Giffords and the others on Saturday, I find myself agreeing with Palin, at least a little. Let’s get our facts straight, so to speak, before we start laying blame.

—  admin

Our most read stories of 2010

Zach Harrington

In this week’s print edition (which, by the way, is now on the streets) we told you how our LGBT Person of the Year, Joel Burns, was inspired to deliver his “It Gets Better” speech after reading about the death of Zach Harrington, a gay teen who committed suicide after attending a City Council meeting in Norman, Okla. Well, our post about Harrington’s suicide also happens to be the single most read post on this website since we launched it in June, with nearly 15,000 page views. Here are the top 10 most viewed posts:

1. Gay Oklahoma teen commits suicide following ‘toxic’ city debate over GLBT history month

2. Trans fit: Chris Bruce proudly and bravely went from 230-lb. male bodybuilder to 180-lb. female fitness guru Chris Tina Foxx

3. 11 arrested in raid at Club Dallas

4. Record 106 gay candidates elected in 2010

5. DeLay, who warned U.S. would ‘go down’ because of gay marriage, is brought down by a lesbian

6. Gay Dallas couple legally weds in Texas, aims to bring ‘e-marriage’ to the same-sex masses

7. Joel Burns responds to Arkansas school board member who encouraged gays to kill themselves

8. Gay porn star Mason Wyler says he has HIV

9. Local chef, reality TV celeb dies

10. Exploring spirituality, Radical Faerie style

—  John Wright

Attention, design stars and master chefs: Get ready for your reality TV close-up this weekend

Gordon Ramsay

Dallas and reality TV have a big time date this weekend. Two shows are coming to town in search of their next big stars.

First, interior designers and decorators take note. HGTV’s Design Star is having an open casting call on Sunday. They are looking for “someone with a creative point of view, the ability to execute under pressure and a sparkling personality. All level of expertise are welcome — from professional designers and architects to at home ‘do-it yourselfers.’” If you have a portfolio,they recommend bringing it. Plus, a couple of photos of yourself. And if you do really well, then go on to win, be sure and grant us the first interview. The casting call will be held at Westin Park Central, 12720 Merit Dr. from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, go here.

Second, for the non-chef chef, Fox brings its nationwide search “for the best home cooks in America” to Dallas casting for the next season of Master Chef. If you make a mean mac-and-cheese from scratch, you have two options: call me for dinner or head to the casting all weekend. If you make the show, Gordon Ramsay, above, might make you cry, but if you win, then it’s all worth it. Just be prepared going in. The casting website says the following is required for open calls:

    • Your completed application• A current photo of yourself

    • A photo of your plated dish

    • Your one plated dish to impress us!

    • Please plan to be at the auditions all day. We suggest bringing snacks and water. Be comfortable and be yourself!

Got it? Good. The casting call happens at Le Cordon Bleu, 11830 Webb Chapel Road. Saturday from 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

And if you make both casting calls, then we just don’t like you for being so talented. But good luck anyway.

—  Rich Lopez