5 min

The elusive A-list

He lives in Riverdale, does volunteer work

I don’t notice the guy passing my table at the restaurant. My friend does. “He’s A-list,” I’m informed. My friend fairly quivers with the excitement of it all. I look to ascertain who has been awarded such a lofty title but A-list homo disappears into the loo.

I grab my notepad and pen and scribble: do A-list homos shit? And if they do, does it stink?

In full investigative reporting mode I fight the temptation to burst into the washroom to find out. As such my list of questions about A-list gay men is now even longer.

My mission: To get a hold of one who’ll offer some answers, which shouldn’t be hard because apparently A-list men are running rampant; with worrisome regularity I hear this moniker applied to gay men by others. Worrisome because I wonder if this isn’t just worshipping at the base of a very tall pedestal that supports nothing.

But give me a gay man who will actually describe himself as A-list – or as we like to say, A-gay -and let’s find out. Inquiring minds want to know and I’m willing to be proven wrong. My biggest question is a simple one. What makes an A-list man? A definition from an A-list mouth is needed once and for all; those from non-A-listers are never the same:

• “An A-list gay man has money and influence and uses it to make his community better,” is one description I am given

• “An A-list homo goes to Fly nightclub and works out at Epic Fitness. He has the best body, the best-looking friends and goes to the best parties,” another friend – one with body issues and a penchant for the assembly line look -tells me over dinner

• “An A-list fag is in a relationship and has a house in prime Riverdale. Both have good jobs and travel and volunteer a lot,” says a single friend, who does not live in Riverdale but does have a good job, travels and volunteers. That makes him about 60 percent of an A-list man, I guess.

Clearly, the real truth will only be obtained from a real A-lister. I post signs at Epic Fitness:

WANTED. An A-list gay man. Are you on the A-list? Writer working on a story about A-list gay men wants to hear from any who will speak on the record. Serious only:

I wait for the responses and begin to organize my list of other pertinent questions: How did you make it to the A-list, and did you have to campaign? What are the privileges of being A-list? Do you receive a membership card for your wallet? Are you better in bed than me, and if so prove it? Do your lips kiss better and is your ass tighter? Do you shoot higher, further, faster than the rest of us? Are your conversations deeper and is your spirit wider? Do you have your own A-list or is that just silly? Have you met God?

I’d also like to see what an A-list cock looked like, if I were permitted, and an A-list asshole. Just to say I’d seen them.

Navigating through the misty mystique of it all I pop in on my friend with the body issues with more questions. Do you think you’ll ever be A-gay? I ask him.

He hesitates to answer but his face reads full of uncertainty. Maybe if he got into better shape, he finally offers. Lost a little weight.

Next question: Who would decide the appropriate amount of weight to lose for you to be eligible for A-list? You or someone on your A-list? Seriously. My friend doesn’t like the question and besides, it’s more than just looks, it’s who you know, who your friends are.

In that case, can I assume none of your friends are A-list? I ask. And do they know they’re not? Is it a case of “guilty by association” so that your friends aren’t A-list because they are your friends? Can you imagine a life for yourself without an A-list in it? He asks me to leave.

I ask my single friend who doesn’t live in Riverdale why he has an A-list in his mind.

“I can’t help it,” he tells me. “Anyone who has more than I do in some way is on it.”

So A-list is a label we give to people we envy?

“That could be,” my friend says and then leans forward in confesses in a low voice. “Because when this A-list muscle guy I know got so hooked on drugs he lost his job, it was kind of satisfying to see his perfect everything wasn’t so perfect.”

Is the idea of an A-list merely a method of propping people up to rip them down? No, says a friend who recently enjoyed the experience of having someone he’d lusted after for years (a male model no less) finally lust back. The only trouble was that the model had an awkward and graceless personality that turned my friend off; his looks held no currency anymore.

“That experience made me realize that we go through our lives assigning ourselves different class levels depending on who we’re with. Anyone we feel beneath in some way is better than us, is A-list.”

Like people we think are better looking. I get it… but not really. Can the spell of an A-lister be so easily broken just by getting to know them? This raises the question of who is actually casting the spell, where this desire to “class” ourselves comes from. Perhaps gay men so used to a society putting us in our place that we follow suit and do the same thing to ourselves within our own lives and surroundings.

Still not a single response to my signs at Epic and 48 hours after they are posted they disappear. I learn that none of the staff removed them. Perhaps an irate A-lister ripped them down, possibly while on his way to take a post-workout dump?

By accident one evening I almost come close to Internetting myself an actual A-gay. On a sex hook-up site (where ads are safe from being torn down) DirtyPigBoy (not his real nick) catches my attention with his live chat message inviting me to a multi-man shagfest.

DirtyPigBoy: Send me your pics and my friends and I will check you out and let you know if you qualify.

LittleVirgin: What? Qualify?

DirtyPigBoy: We’re all A-list guys who only play with the same.

A-list! Eureka!

LittleVirgin: Um, okay, I’ll send my pics. But can I see pics of you and your friends?

DirtyPigBoy: No. We like our privacy. But we are truly A-list men.


LittleVirgin: But of course. Just out of curiosity, what do you mean exactly by A-list?

DirtyPigBoy: I mean that we’d rather look good and have cocktails at the Four Seasons than eat with a bum at Burger King.


LittleVirgin: The Four Seasons over Burger King? That is your entire definition of how it is you’re A-list?

Long pause.

LittleVirgin: Say, do you guys ever have to take a shit like the rest of us?

DirtyPigBoy: [Disconnected.]

Gosh. I hope that A-list men define themselves with a little more depth. Maybe they need a mascot. Like the Sasquatch. Or maybe even Snuffalupagus, Big Bird’s imaginary friend from Sesame Street.

* Shaun Proulx can be reached at