New ’A-List’ cast bring ’Dallitude’ to the red carpet

by JC Alvarez
Tuesday Oct 11, 2011
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Looking to capitalize on the success of "The A-List: New York," LOGO expands the franchise by heading to Texas, specifically Dallas. Like its New York City "big brother," the new show will follow five well-connected, established scene queens and one woman who loves them in the same way the show followed its New York counterparts; but already this "A-List" is proving a significant departure from what fans have seen before.

Unlike the NYC batch there isn’t a single celebrity (or pseudo celebrity) among them. "The A-List: New York" had the advantage of showcasing the familiar faces of Reichen Lehmkuhl and Mike Ruiz. What "The A-List: Dallas" has is a bunch of fresh faces from Rick Perry territory, including a cowboy, a gorgeous blond and (hold your breath) a gay Republican!

As part of this year’s New York Television Festival LOGO premiered the new cast, paraded them on the red carpet, and previewed the show’s first episode to an audience full of A-List fans. (Everyone else got to watch that first episode when it aired on Monday, October 10. For those who missed it, go the LOGO website for the repeat schedule or to watch the episode online.)


A bit of ’Dallitude’

What they got was a taste of "Dallitude" -- that’s Dallas attitude for the as-yet uninitiated. While it contained the cattiness we’ve come to associate with the reality show brand, it all seemed a bit fresher when heard with a drawl.

A major difference this time around is the God factor, as represented by Taylor, 27, a committed Christian who is also a gay Republican fund-raiser. In the first episode, he is seen wooing a wealthy Republican matron (who urges him into a political career) and in Bible study with his best friend (and fellow A-Lister) Ashley. It’s something you definitely didn’t see in the New York version.

"I’m a Republican and I’m also a Christian and I’m proud to represent that small group that normally doesn’t get to be heard from," Taylor explained.


Committed Republican

We’ll also see Taylor’s politics color his relations along with the rest of the group, which will of course lead to some complications. Nonetheless Taylor is committed to politics and ambition. "I work in politics... and wanted to take my career in politics in a different direction," he explained from the red carpet.

None other than Ann Coulter is helping Taylor to refine his skills to provide more political analysis in media. The divisive Coulter even appears in an upcoming episode along with GOProud’s Executive Director, Jimmy LaSalvia for lunch. The encounter was filmed for inclusion in a future episode of the program.

It surprised no one that Taylor’s politics colored the red carpet event, which became noticeably tense when media poked hard-hitting questions in his direction. This prompted this response at the scheduled Q&A session after the screening: "You don’t have to live on the Democrats plantation and be their slave because you’re a minority." As for the ensuing comparisons to his New York counterparts, Taylor dished, "I think we’re very different -- we’re younger, cuter, and have less wrinkles."


A hate crime or hoax?

While Taylor’s unabashed Republicanism and religious convictions may create issues in upcoming episodes, it was sexual politics that defined the dynamic of the first episode as Taylor attempted to re-kindle a relationship with a fellow cast member, which will have an immediate ripple effect on the show’s second episode.

And it was those political/religious beliefs that put Taylor in the news this week when it was reported a rock was thrown through a window in his home with an obscene note that read in part: "You are not A-List. More like Z-List. You are nothing but a nellie twink trying to get attention by calling yourself a republican.

"You are nothing but an embarrassment to the gay community," the note continued. "Watch your fucking back you pathetic mother fucking twink."

Some, though, in the LGBT media are speculating .


The only ’true’ girl

If Taylor is quickly becoming the show’s lightning rod of controversy, it his Bible-study partner, 25 -year old Ashley, who is becoming quickly the fan favorite. "Taylor and I both have very similar religious values and love the Lord and we’re happy to share that," she explained.

But pursuing her career as a wedding photographer means time spent away from her husband, but she cites those religious beliefs as helping her get through those separations. "I’m so happily married. He’s everything to me." (Her husband, it is reported, will become a participant in the show as its drama unfolds.)

Her All-American Barbie-doll appeal immediately sets a contrast with New York’s very own Nyasha whose popularity is still the subject of much debate. Ashley on the other hand brings in a shot of sunshine to the group. "I’m the only ’true’ girl," she joked, "but we have a couple of people who could be more feminine than I am."

Her stylish looks and ample personality led to her being called a "fag hag" by some. When asked to define that term, she replied: "I just have a relationship with these boys, and I love my gay boys."


The show’s heartthrob

The show’s heartthrob/heart breaker and object of Taylor’s affection is the ultra-charming Levi. At 25, he’s a homegrown, horse-riding cattleman. "Rodeo is in my blood -- I’m as real as it gets," and just in case there was still any doubt about it Levy colorfully added: "I’m a fucking real cowboy."

Happy to be on the red carpet for the premiere of the new show, Levi did hint at possibly broadening his horizons. "I like New York a lot! If I ever left Dallas I would come to New York."

And asked about what it was like to shoot this season of "The A-List: Dallas" he answered: "Debauchery and scandal, we get a whole lot in."

But how "real" does he think the show is?

"It’s all so very true," Levi said about his experience. "There’s no filter. We haven’t changed our personas to meet the public eye. As gay individuals that’s the way we have to be in order to get attention in this world -- that’s the biggest platform that we [as a cast] all stand upon."


Bad-boy James

Creating a lot of drama will be the show’s token bad boy, 25-year old James. With an unlimited cash flow and partying ways he’s ready to shake the foundations and push the limits of reality-show excess. "I’m loud and I don’t hold back," he said. "I kinda went out there... balls-to-the-wall."

Look for spark between James and Levi. The two had a ’thing’ a few years ago with numerous unresolved issues. Add to this that Taylor may be re-starting his earlier relationship with Levi, and you have the makings of true A-list friction.

James will certainly mix up controversy among his cast mates, already citing: "I didn’t go above and beyond, like some other people." And when asked if there exists a healthy rivalry between the A-List its two cities and their perspective casts, James confidently adds: "I think we’re gonna kick ass."


Chase’s hair

Rounding out the new A-Listers is 27-year old Chase, a financial specialist who has worked very hard to establish himself as one of Dallas’s elite. Transplanted to the Manhattan event, he appeared notably overwhelmed on the red carpet, and this made him all the more devilishly charming for the moment. "I’m mortified," he admitted with a grin. "There are a lot of offensive things I’m sure I’ve said -- and this could ruin my reputation and I might have to move away."

His coif, though, was perfectly in place, and to Chase that is very important. "That’s all that matters!" (Watch the show’s premiere to understand why.)

Chase is also wildly excited about viewers tuning in to see Dallas in a very new light. "We have a lot of tumbleweeds, cows and horses," he offered, "but it’s a pretty fast paced city."


Larger-than-life Phillip

If there’s one cast mate that has the potential to explode as a larger than life personality it is the stars’ stylist, 23-year old Phillip. "You know people in Dallas really dress really nice," Phillip immediately wanted folks to know. "If you want to get noticed you have to dress well." It’s also a welcome note to see that this cast has proven all the more diverse. "I can only be myself," Phillip promises, "and I hope that members of the African-American community can look up to me. I hope I can inspire some people."

With his sharp wit and ability to call out fashion faux pas in an instant Phillip, will be the eyes through which Dallas will come alive. "Honestly, I don’t ever bite my tongue. I never thought my summer would have been so dramatic. You will not be disappointed."

So as the summer sun set on the big New York City premiere of LOGO’s new hit "The A-List: Dallas," fans eagerly indulged themselves on what is certain to become the next guilty pleasure on Monday nights this fall.


Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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