‘American Idol’: Jason Castro’s wacky gift


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Jason Castro was having a rough week, and the dreadheads knew it. The loyal fan club, whose website includes downloadable Support Jason fliers, watched Jason get slaughtered for his rendition of “Memory” and then learned from their sources in the Castro camp that he was coping with a mix of exhaustion and fever chills to boot.

So what were the devoted fans to do when their Idol was suffering from a high temperature and low morale? Why, send presents, of course. “We’re always trying to think of things we can do to lift his spirits,” explained Christalle Baxter, known to her fellow dreadheads as “dreadhead No. 1201.”


Concerned that a gift of flowers could worsen Jason’s illness by aggravating his allergies, the dreadheads settled on balloons. Christalle set up a Paypal account, and it wasn’t long before the donations poured in.

In the end, the dreadheads collected $450 and ordered seven bouquets of balloons from Planet Florist in Westwood. According to Paul Psai, a designer at the florist, it took three cars to transport all the balloons. “It was the biggest order that we ever had.’

“I get an e-mail saying, ‘Can you talk to the delivery person for the balloons?’ ” recalled Stephanie Baisey, a loyal dreadhead and friend of the Castro family. “It’s taken a team of people to deliver these things,” the deliveryman told her, adding that since Jason Castro was not available, he had left the balloons at the site. When Stephanie asked who’d taken the balloons, the incredulous deliveryman replied, “Lady, who took ‘em? Everybody in the building took ‘em!”

Planet Florist employees described the order as “very specific.” The balloons were printed with messages like, “congratulations,” “thinking of you,” “thank you” and “get well soon.” And of course there were plenty of smiley-face balloons.

So don’t be fooled by the implications of their name; the dreadheads are an active bunch. And when they aren’t busy ordering truckloads of balloons, they are busy inhabiting the unique and complex virtual world they have built around their dreadlocked Idol.

The dreadheads ride around in virtual tour buses and gather for virtual pep rallies and bonfires in Jason’s honor. When Jason sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” the group hosted a Hawaiian-themed bonfire, complete with virtual lawn chairs, tiki torches and, of course, virtual firemen.

And although a love of Jason unites the dreadheads, their affections aren’t reserved for their figurehead alone. They have invited Kristy Lee Cook and David Cook’s fan clubs to their bonfires, and they even collected money for David Cook’s sick brother.

According to Stephanie, the site “really represents Jason.” She describes Jason as a “hey, how are you, everyone’s my friend, kinda guy.” In keeping with that mindset, the dreadheads prohibit negativity on their website, even toward Jason’s competitors.

Despite their share-the-love mentality, however, the dreadheads are none too pleased with the widespread belief that the battle will come down to the two Davids. To them, Jason Castro is the real deal. “What you see truly is what you get with him,” Stephanie explains, noting that Jason has no vocal coaches or managers picking his songs or telling him what to say. “He just sang [‘Memory’] because he liked the words,” she says simply, referring to Jason’s decision to tackle the sacred cow from “Cats” during Andrew Lloyd Weber week. “I doubt he even knows what he’s wearing.”

- Stephanie Lysaght