Not many people outside the southern United States have heard of the Miss National Peanut competition, but it's a big problem in southern Alabama, and Allie Phillips, 17, wants to win. She is a slender, tall, soft-spoken blonde in the color guard at her high school, the only high school in Andalusia, a city of just over 9,000 known for her annual World Championship domination competition and her status as the singer's place The 1944 garage wedding of Hank Williams (later invalidated when it turned out that the divorce of another man's girlfriend was not yet final).
Allie has already won the title of Miss Covington County, among others; the most interesting band was the one that said Miss Rattlesnake Rodeo, which required that she pose, terrified, while a handler held a live rattlesnake on her shoulders. But Miss National Peanut's crown would increase things a bit, which earned the senior a coveted title in her senior year of high school.
And that's the hope that Allie has standing in four-inch heels and a bright silver dress of $ 1,000 in a gym in Andalusia on a sweltering September Sunday, practicing the walk she will show to the judges of the peanut contest that with luck the title will secure it.
That walk is being criticized and shaped by an unlikely trainer: a 57-year-old lawyer with three grown children whose unconventional secondary business inspired the new and controversial Netflix Insatiable series. Currently, one of the best programs in the broadcast service, the show was renovated for the second time.
The dark comedy follows the exploits of a teenage Georgia, who in the past was obese and her name was Patty, who leaves the weight and enters the circuit of parades, helped by an extravagant local lawyer, Bob Armstrong, who trains the contestants when does not practice law. (The controversy originated with critics who believed that the program promoted shame and sparked a backlash in social media).
The twists of the plot may be exaggerated and savage, but it takes less than a minute in the presence of Andalusian lawyer Bill Alverson to realize that many of the character traits that steal scenes attributed to Armstrong – played by actor Dallas Roberts – are firmly rooted in reality. With his characteristic accent, his quick wit, his sharp style and his reproaches for not taking prisoners, Alverson is a bigger anomaly than life in this sleepy southern city.
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Lawyer Bill Alverson, 57, trains Allie Phillips, 17, in a gym in his hometown of Andalusia, Alabama, and offers tips on how to walk impressively on the stage in a contest.
Alverson inspired the controversial new series of Netflix Insatiable, a black comedy centered on the world of entertainment, starring actor Dallas Roberts as Bob Armstrong, a lawyer / trainer of parades inspired by Alverson, and Debby Ryan, who plays his protégé
Alverson married his Alabamian colleague Doug Benefield, left, in June at a Studio 54 wedding; the lawyer was previously married to a woman and they have three adult children
He is far from being the sole trainer of parades in the United States, but is perhaps the most unusual and definitely one of the most requested. Alverson is standing on the gym floor with moccasins and a suit next to Allie, swinging her hips and looking forward with witty confidence as she demonstrates the kind of gait she needs to perfect.
He offers and exhibits the following tips: Make your right arm a trapeze. Roll your pelvis. Your left arm should disappear as you lean your body and pose. Look at & # 39; Jesus & # 39; and turn sharply to give a proud and high smile. Extend your ass like a Kardashian.
They are surrounded by both, the teenage Allie and her lawyer coach, a man who avoids sugary advice for blunt criticism.
Many parade coaches, he says, "are all bowling and rainbow", "you are an animator and we make you beautiful".
"It's very superficial and superficial, but I do not do that, I think maybe because I have daughters," says Alverson, who is also the grandfather of two young children. I just want … the same opportunities for my daughters as my son. So, in a way, I consider it a little different. "
He is so likely to challenge his clients and ask them about the Kaepernick / Nike controversy and its adoption by homosexual couples, since he must criticize his makeup and adjust his position, and the contestants he works with have to prepare for his inevitable evisceration of your interview. answers.
"There is a method for madness," Alverson tells DailyMail.com. "It comes intrinsically from the preparation of the case, from the legal practice, and that's what I have that no one else has."
First they cornered him in contests more than 25 years ago when his choir director called him and asked him to train a local teenager.
"She knew I was interested in music theater and the arts, and she just thought, 'He could help,' says Alverson, slipping into Southern syntax." Already when I was in law school, I was already working with people about how to apply for interviews and correct problems with the costumes, but I did not actually do any interviews, per se. but I guess in the conversation maybe he had talked about that.
However, his skills were translated well when it came to his first contest contestant; she won the Miss Miss Junior Miss Covington County contest. Word spread locally, and more girls and their mothers began to approach him for help. His reputation was further strengthened when he trained the winners and finalists of Miss Alabama and Miss America and began receiving calls from contestants from the contest beyond; programs sessions through Facetime and Skype, in addition to appointments in person.
& # 39; As if he had perfected it and said it; first I did it from the bottom, what I thought, "says Alverson about his training regime." So it was like, I need to have a planned practice; You need to be more like a teacher in a classroom with a study.
& # 39; And that's what I do; I think about it before I meet the person or see what they are doing. I have specific questions about what we are trying to obtain, where we are trying to reach and what we can do to correct that and move forward. "
He was also invited to attend shows at the famous formal clothing store Lasting Impressions in Columbus, Georgia, where he was "the additional incentive:" Come and find a dress, but while you're here, I have a guy who is the coach of the last Three Miss Alabamas, "he jokes.
Clients can book their advice during consecutive time intervals, and Alverson still participates on those weekends, charging $ 175 per hour; He has one scheduled in the next few weeks. He is cautious with his other coaching fees, and only offers that they are cheaper than his attorney fees per hour.
Last Sunday, Allie Phillips showed up with her mother shortly after noon at Alverson's two-room house in Andalusia to work on her interviewing skills. He used to live in the larger house next door with his teacher wife, Cindy, and their three children, but their marriage fell apart a decade ago, and Alverson came out as gay (without giving spoilers, this topic is also addressed in Insatiable ).
Alverson sits at home and trains Emory Garner, 17, who competes in the Distinguished Young Women scholarship contest; he interrogates her about current controversial events and urges her to keep up with the news, so she is prepared for questions from the judges
After Emory practices her piano piece for the talent part of the competition – she is playing Beethoven – Alverson offers advice on getting up gracefully from the piano bench and leaving the stage, emphasizing the posture and the need to keep the chin high
Moving from the piano to the dance studio, Alverson helps Emory to perfect his movements for the fitness part of the multifaceted competition
Although the plot lines are exaggerated and fictional, the parade coach played by Roberts, on the right, undoubtedly reflects Alverson's extravagant and extravagant personality.
Alverson does not stop when it comes to criticism; he reprimands Allie Phillips and his mother, Kristy Nixon, for not having a proper way to parade, saying: "You came here with several sets but they did not have the main information sheet. & # 39; When Kristy tries to protest, cut her off. & # 39; Shoulda, woulda, coulda & # 39; says. & # 39; You're a business woman & # 39;
Alverson married another alabamamist, flight attendant Doug Benefield, in June at a Studio 54 wedding and the night before Allie and her mother arrived, the couple enjoyed cocktails with sparkling golden wine, proudly showing off their patio. In-ground and airy pool house decorated with diving photos from Doug's family college and Alverson that can trace their relatives to Jamestown.
However, when Allie arrives with her mother, Kristy Nixon, it's all a matter, and the lawyer immediately scolds them for not having brought a copy of the personal information previously presented to the peanut festival officials. The festival asks the contestants several questions, such as their likes and dislikes, and Alverson wants to know what Allie wrote so that they can work on the interview responses that align with that information.
She is not 100% sure of what she said, and he is not happy with high school or his mother.
"They came here with several sets but they did not have the main information sheet," he snorted. When Kristy tries to protest, she cuts it.
"Shoulda, woulda, coulda," he says, with a glass of unsweetened tea by his side. & # 39; You're a business woman & # 39;
He turns to Allie and tells her not to trust her mother to do things.
"Your mother has just become Helen Keller in your world," he says. "You need a date for your hair, do it, do you hear me, you need to go to the gym, go in. You can drive in. It looks like I'm hitting you, I am … but not just for any purpose.
"The purpose is that, once you empower yourself, you have power."
Alverson insists that he wants to convey the feeling of "# Mexico, modern women, come on, come on, come on, that's what we want to see in the beautiful girls of the parade".
Through lively conversation, mostly on his part, while Allie tentatively responds "Yes, sir," he states that he likes pizza and volunteering, does not like mayonnaise and roller coasters, and wants be an anesthetist nurse.
Alverson repeats all these details to Allie, reformulating them in a more articulated way in a more acceptable package for the judges. She is also dyslexic, and he knows that the condition can help her structure her "story". He has her describe how she makes fun of her inability to read and then learn through high school students who sat her down patiently, prompting her own interest in volunteering.
"Now you're telling me something real," he says, although his criticism is not over; At one point, he accuses her of "making garbage", and in another reprimands: "I have already fallen asleep." You are saying real things, but this is lack of practice.
The parades themselves, however, helped Allie with the self-confidence problems that accompanied dyslexia, her mother says.
"When Allie works with Bill, it's like changing the oil," Kristy Nixon tells DailyMail.com. & # 39; She is a different person. He is very direct, and she listens well, and since she started working with him, you know, she has grown by leaps and bounds, maturing as a young lady.
When they finish practicing the interview and walking, Alverson sends Allie home with instructions. She has to review current events; she has to try to arrange a visit with some of her classmates to a nursing home; he has to get a copy of the sheet he gave to the parade officials; Perhaps the most important thing is that you have to learn more about the peanuts before the festival, visiting a farmer with baked goods with peanuts in hand and asking him to drive the tractor.
Then he goes to a dance school five minutes to work with another client, also a senior, who is preparing for the scholarship competition for Distinguished Women. There is more than one academic and academic element for this particular contest, but the aspects of the parade remain undeniably; the next client Emory Garner arrives with her mother for more practice.
She will quickly change into a dress from her white pants set and a blue shoulder shirt (her mother sent a text message to Alverson to make sure it was okay for her daughter to dress in white the week after Labor Day. before leaving home and he said yes).
"She was very scared when she started working with him," laughs her mother, Becky. "She would go to her law office and they would have sessions there, and she would send her a text message and say, 'She's coming now, but she's scared, so start being nice to her.' 'Because she knew how it was going to get there. straight.
Allie, who hopes to win the title of Miss National Peanut, has won many other parade crowns, such as Teen Miss Rattlesnake Rodeo, which required her to pose as a handler holding a live rattlesnake on her shoulders.
Alverson chose Emory's piano piece, Moonlight Sonata, and advised him to play as well as his posture and presentation.
Emory, on the left, is a principal animator of the Secondary School of Andalusia and hopes to study environmental engineering; Allie, on the right, is in the color guard and wants to become a nurse anesthetist
Allie's mother, on the right, tells DailyMail.com: "When Allie works with Bill, it's like changing the oil … She's a different person, she's very direct, and she listens well, and since she started to work with him, you know, she has grown by leaps and bounds, maturing like a young girl.
"She's a little shy, he took her out of her shell a lot, she says she's 5, but I would dare say she could be a little taller than that, but one of my favorite things that he does with She is the one who taught her to have her stature.
"He will say," In my family, we celebrate height, "and he taught her to do that, she used to refer to herself as a giant and now she knows it's an advantage.
Becky, a teacher, says about Alverson's bold exhortations: "She only knows how to laugh, because he means the best for her, but she still takes her corrections seriously." So she drops it from his shoulders.
She smiles as she remembers how Emory showed up for a session the day before the Distinguished Young Women of Covington County competition.
"She puts on her robe and wants to practice entering and leaving, and he says:" My God, you walk like a cow. "You do not look like a cow, but you walk like a cow. And he taught her to walk. And I tell you that she is also a quick study, but between the two, from the day before to the day of the competition: black and white. Totally transformed.
Today, Alverson is helping Emory, who wants to be an environmental engineer, with her talent and lots of competition. When she returns with her long white dress, sitting perfectly on her tall body, she enters a room with a piano she has never played before, a deliberate movement by Alverson to make her comfortable with an unknown keyboard.
However, before sitting down to play, they should walk with elegance, and their departure from the piano bench and stage will soon receive the same attention. Before that, however, Alverson removes a hair tie from his wrist in an uproar; That is his "favorite reason," he says. (He also hates flip flops, among other things).
The song he will perform was, as expected, performed by Alverson (who also plays the piano): it is Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and a difficult move. She touches him repeatedly, almost without problems, then rises gently from the bench, moves away from the piano and, raising her chin, gives an elegant twist of the arm and bends before moving away with pride.
Then she changes back to practice an exercise routine in the hall, Alverson keeps giving advice; his advice ostensibly knows no limits and extends through a myriad of subject areas.
Finally, after a long day, he returns to Alverson's house, where this time Emory is in the hotseat, and Alverson increases the level of difficulty for a competition so focused on the brain. Paul Manafort, Trump's border wall, homosexual adoption, Kaepernick, Brett Kavanagh, illegal immigration … all current issues are being thrown at the 17-year-old principal cheerleader, whose safe sitting position, probably a testament to Alverson's training, never She also has the task of studying more about politics and recent events, and she is also given homework: Watch CNN and not just Fox News, the favorite channel in your home.
Alverson is clearly pushing the limits to force these girls to think outside the box and their comfort zones.
Alverson had Emory practice deliberately with her dress on a piano she had never played before to help her feel comfortable with unfamiliar keyboards before the competition.
Emory tells DailyMail.com: & # 39; It is direct and somewhat hard at times, but at the end of the day, I realize how animated his heart is … he is doing everything possible to make me the best he can be. . & # 39; She adds: & # 39; She really treats the girls in her hometown well & # 39;
Emory's mother, Becky, says: "She's a little shy, he took her out of her shell a lot, she says she's 5, but I daresay she could be a little bit taller than that, but a of my favorite things that he does with her is that he taught her to own her stature.
The lawyer says that other coaches of the contest are all bowling and rainbow: "You are a cheerleader and we make you beautiful". It's very superficial and superficial, but I do not do that, I think maybe because I have daughters. I just want … the same opportunities for my daughters as my son. So, in a way, I interpret it a bit differently "
Allie overcame dyslexia as a child, and said that the help of older students in learning to read aroused their interest in volunteering; her mother also gives credit to the parades with a boost to her confidence when she previously had academic problems
"When you enter it, of course it's intimidating, because it's just so successful," Emory tells DailyMail.com. & # 39; So I knew he knew what I was doing.
"It's straight and a little hard sometimes, but at the end of the day, I realized how animated his heart is … he's doing everything he can to make me the best I can be."
She adds: "She really treats the girls in her hometown well."
Insatiable, however, has brought the world of contests, and the personality of Alverson, to a much larger stage. He made a short-lived TLC reality show before the Netflix program called Coach Charming; both emerged from a 2014 New York Times profile that qualified him as the "king of the Alabama parade."
Telephone calls began to accumulate from production companies and interested parties, and CBS bought their life rights. She did not discover that Insatiable would air on Netflix, however, until June 2017, and is an avid fan of the show, including visiting the set and sharing drinks last week in New York with the actor who plays it when Alverson and her husband He visited his youngest daughter, a freshman at NYU.
Alverson, who shares a legal practice with his son in Andalusia, loves attention and opportunity, and takes it with pleasure.
However, what he does not really love is a surprise: the contests themselves.
"Many parade coaches become contest contestants, they just love contests and want to go to contests," he tells DailyMail.com. "I could say shit about the contests, to be honest, they bored me."
Instead, he likes to train the girls, taking them out of their shells, capitalizing on their strengths and helping them to be "the best version of themselves."
& # 39; It's a part-time job; It's not a full-time job, and I would not like it to be a full-time job, to be completely honest, "he says." When I do those concentrated weekends, I live in a lot of Red Bull, energy drinks or coffee, porque la chica a las ocho de la noche tiene la misma razón para tener el mismo tipo a las 11 en punto de la mañana. . Así que soy muy concienzudo, como padre, de: obtienes lo que pagas ".
No tiene interés en la competencia entre entrenadores o en la escena de murmuraciones sarcásticas que puede suceder fuera del escenario, que se caracteriza principalmente por las historias ficticias de Instatiable.
"Soy una de esas personas, tengo una vida real", dice, y luego agrega críticas: "Cuando están casados, divorciados y son homosexuales, y practican la ley a un nivel significativo y tener tres hijos, me preocuparé ".