I had no intention of watching Bravo's new reality competition Step It Up and Dance, hosted by Elizabeth Berkley (Showgirls) and Broadway veteran choreographer Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray, La Cage aux Folles), but after the first five minutes I was hooked and James Alsop is to blame for my new addiction.
With the lack of black gay characters on scripted television shows, I think it's fair to say that when audiences have been exposed to gay people of color it's been through the format of reality TV. The short lived series Noah's Arc, Paul James on ABC's Greek, Michael Boatman on Spin City, Michael K. Williams on The Wire, and Taye Diggs' special appearance on Will & Grace being the exception. Yet most of these characters were either underdeveloped or the show itself was not given a chance to grow in order to have an impact on a broader audience.
Who could forget Karamo Brown's appearance on The Real World Philadelphia or Ray Cunningham on College Hill? These were black gay men who rejected the notion that they should be ashamed to be openly gay and chose to live truthfully in front of millions each week.
Well now you can add Charlotte, North Carolina native and dancer James Alsop to the list. He's beautiful, talented, flamboyant, and you're gonna love him. James was born to dance and as a contestant on Step It Up and Dance his infectious personality and amazing gift to captivate audiences has placed him as an early front-runner to claim the $100,000 prize.
While James' talent speaks volumes about who he is as a performer, he has been extremely forthcoming about who he is as a person, coming out in the very first episode with no obvious baggage about his sexuality, only confidence.
Yes he's a little flamboyant, and yes he wears scarves from time to time to accessorize his dance gear. I guess I've always had a soft spot for flamboyant men, because unlike their gay masculine counterpart they've never been able to hide, therefore they're usually tough as nails.
James counts Janet Jackson as his inspiration. "My first video image of Janet as a child was her Escapade video. I wanted to be one of those Africans in the video so bad. I wanted to shake one of those straw skirts! But don't tell my momma that."
Yet another reason for me to love this kid.
You can catch James on Step It Up and Dance on Bravo on Thursdays 11/10 C. But of course you know I've got a link for you to watch James in action now.
Update: James was eliminated last night. I'm so sad. However, this is only the beginning for him. Keep dancing James.