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The 20th Annual Gayest & Greatest Awards!

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It’s the 20th anniversary of our annual Gayest & Greatest awards, and we’re thrilled to present this year’s winners. It’s a landmark for us and, we think, for Houston’s LGBT community.

It’s been 20 years of holding up individuals, businesses, and organizations, saying, “These are our leaders. These are our allies. We’re proud of them and the work they do.”

In recognition of two decades of Gayest & Greatest awards, we decided to play “20 Questions” with some of the winners. We uncovered some whimsical facts (singer Nina Lombardo proudly knows every word to every song on TLC’s CrazySexyCool album), some little-known trivia (a rapper once asked The Chocolate Bar to close on Valentine’s Day—the busiest day of the year—so he and his girlfriend could have a private chocolate body-painting session) and some more serious sentiments (Dr. Angela Sturm considers the facial feminization work she does to be life-changing and, in some cases, lifesaving for her transgender patients).

Congratulations to all of our winners and finalists! —Olivia Flores Alvarez


PEOPLE

OutSmart will be announcing the winners of the People category at our 20th annual Gayest & Greatest Awards ceremony, which will be held on October 19, 5–9 p.m., at Rich’s Houston (2401 San Jacinto St.). Please join us then for an evening of live entertainment, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, prize giveaways, and much more.

Best Female LGBT Business Person
Finalists: Sandy Bubbert, Kathy Hubbard, Julie Mabry, Kiki Neumann, Tammi Wallace

Best Male LGBT Business Person
Finalists: Charles Armstrong, Mark Delange, Woody Gould, Bradley David Janacek, Irwin Palchick, Grey Stevens

Favorite Female (Commercial) Radio Personality
Finalists: Roula Christie (104 KRBE), Sarah Pepper (HOT 95.7), Erica Rico (93Q)

Favorite Male (Commercial) Radio Personality
Finalists: Al Farb (93Q), Blake Hayes (Coast 93.1), Special K (104 KRBE), Ivan Trujillo (HOT 95.7)

Favorite Female (Community) Radio Personality
Finalists: Jenifer Rene Pool, Judy Reeves

Favorite Male (Community) Radio Personality
Finalists: JD Doyle, Ray Hill, Bryan Hlavinka

Favorite Female Community Hero
Finalists: Julie Mabry, Annise Parker, Fran Watson, Carol Wyatt-Woodell

Favorite Male Community Hero
Finalists: Dalton DeHart, Don Gill, Brad Pritchett, Lou Weaver, Gary Wood

Favorite Female Community Photographer
Finalists: Dawn Browne (Degrees North Images), Julie Christine, Yvonne Feece

Favorite Male Community Photographer
Finalists: John Cox, Dalton DeHart, Eric Edward Schell

Favorite Female Local Politician
Finalists: Ellen Cohen, Sylvia Garcia, Annise Parker, Fran Watson

Favorite Male Local Politician
Finalists: Garnet Coleman, Robert Gallegos, Mike Laster, Lane Lewis, Sylvester Turner

Favorite Female TV Personality
Finalists: Deborah Duncan, Maggie Flecknoe, Melanie Lawson, Dominique Sachse

Favorite Male TV Personality
Finalists: Frank Billingsley, Andy Cerota, Bob Slovak

Leading Female Fundraiser
Finalists: Robin Brown, Marion Coleman, Tammi Wallace, Carol Wyatt-Woodell

Leading Male Fundraiser
Finalists: Domenic Cusano, Don Gill, Skylar Gutierrez, Kent Loftin, Craig Sanford, Gary Wood

Most Prominent Female LGBT Activist
Finalists: Christina Gorczynski, Januari Leo, Melanie Pang, Fran Watson

Most Prominent Male LGBT Activist
Finalists: Ray Hill, Ryan Levy, Brad Pritchett, Lou Weaver, Gary Wood

Most Valuable Female Volunteer
Finalists: Nina Lombardo, Melanie Pang, Fran Watson, Carol Wyatt-Woodell, Sallie Wyatt-Woodell

Most Valuable Male Volunteer
Finalists: Mark Eggleston, Skylar Gutierrez, Brad Pritchett, Craig Sanford, Gary Wood

Favorite LGBT Philanthropic Organization
Finalists: Bunnies on the Bayou, The Diana Foundation, Out For Education

COMMUNITY

Best Local LGBT Website
OutSmartMagazine.com
Finalists: EqualityTexas.com, HoustonLGBTHistory.org, MyGayHouston.com

Best National LGBT Website
Huffington Post Queer Voices
Finalists: gayusapages.com, theadvocate.com

Favorite LGBT Benefit Event of the Year
Bunnies on the Bayou
bunniesonthebayou.org
Finalists: AIDS Walk Houston, Krewe of Olympus Ball, OutReach United Coming Out Party

Favorite LGBT Social Organization
The Diana Foundation
thedianafoundation.org
Finalists: EPAH, Houston Gaymers, Krewe of Olympus-Texas, Inc., Lambda NextGen, Montrose Softball League Association, OutReach United

Favorite Local LGBT Community Organization
The Montrose Center
401 Branard St.
713.529.0037
montrosecenter.org
Finalists: Bunnies on the Bayou, The Diana Foundation, EPAH, Krewe of Olympus-Texas, Inc.

Favorite National LGBT Organization
Human Rights Campaign
Finalists: The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

Favorite Place to Take Out-of-Town Visitors
Discovery Green, Barry Mandel, President/Park Director
1500 McKinney St.
713.400.7336
discoverygreen.com
Finalists: The Menil Collection, Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Discovery Green
Discovery Green

An award-winning urban park, Discovery Green attracts some 1.2 million visitors a year. Along with a variety of green spaces, the park features a stage, dog park, playground, library, putting green, and lake, along with several eateries and water features. Public art, such as Jean Dubuffet’s landmark Monument Au Fantome, dots the park’s lawns and gardens. The park’s year-round programming includes more than 600 public events annually, including festivals, concerts, dance performances, and outdoor ice-skating. The park was created through a partnership between several Houston philanthropists and charitable foundations and the City of Houston. The 12-acre park is managed by the Discovery Green Conservancy.

Question: Besides Discovery Green, what’s your favorite spot in Texas?
Answer: The deck of our house overlooking Galveston Bay.

Favorite Place to Worship
Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, Rev. Troy Treash, Senior Pastor
2025 W 11th St.
713.861.9149
resurrectionmcc.org
Finalists: Bering Memorial UMC, Kindred, Living Mosaic Church, Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, St. Paul’s UMC, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Rev. Troy Treash, senior pastor of the Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, has a relatively simple job description: “To love,” he says. That short phrase is translated into dozens of ministry, outreach, and advocacy programs and activities; along with offering spiritual guidance and regular worship services, the church offers food and clothing to the community as well as financial assistance to those affected by HIV/AIDS. The church, based on the belief that God loves all people, had its first Houston home in an apartment in 1972. Two years later, with 14 people in attendance, it opened a tiny storefront facility. Fast forward to today, and the church has close to 1,000 members and a nine-acre campus. Rev. Treash, who joined the congregation as senior pastor in the spring of 2013, had long been a supporter of RMCC, including helping in its recovery after flooding from Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. While at RMCC, Rev. Treash has led the church in its continued fight for inclusivity and justice for all people.

Question: What’s your favorite quotation outside of the Bible?
Answer: “When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together,” from All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum.

Favorite LGBT Blogger
A.J. Mistretta
mygayhouston.com
Finalists: Joey Guerra, Simon Houston, Monica Roberts

A.J. Mistretta
A.J. Mistretta

A. J. Mistretta started to blog regularly when he joined Visit Houston in 2010. He was tasked with being the gay voice of the site, which included writing for MyGayHouston.com. As a blogger, Mistretta, who was a working reporter for several publications before joining Visit Houston, enjoys the ability to get information to readers quickly. “What I love about blogging is the immediacy. We can tell a quick story. Our readers on MyGayHouston.com love that sort of information, and we’re able to serve it to them through a rather robust social presence.” The opportunity to be a booster for Houston and especially to reach out to gay visitors is one Mistretta embraces. “I’m proud I get to tell the world about Houston and what makes it a great, diverse, and welcoming city.”

Question: Is there a filter or auto-correct you would like to add to your blogging?
Answer: An “Is this PC enough?” crosscheck. I think as bloggers, particularly in the gay arena, we like to be a little snarky or sort of tongue-in-cheek to get a laugh. But you have to be sensitive to the broader community. The laugh isn’t worth it if it comes at someone else’s expense, so it’s important to read it through others’ eyes.

Favorite LGBT Tweeter
Joey Guerra
@joeyguerra
Finalists: Shelby Jeffcoat, A.J. Mistretta

Favorite (Community) TV Personality
Ernie Manouse
Houston Public Media
ernieontv.com

Leading Entertainer Fundraiser
Kofi
Finalists: Tara Dion, Skylar Gutierrez, Nina Lombardo

Most Supportive Local Business of the LGBT Community
Legacy Community Health
1415 California St.
832.548.5100
legacycommunityhealth.org
Finalists: Avita Pharmacy, Charles Armstrong Investments, F Bar, Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, Pearl Bar, Silver Eagle Distributors

Most Supportive National Business of the LGBT Community
Target (tie)
target.com
Wells Fargo (tie)
wellsfargo.com
Finalists: Shell, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines

ARTS

Favorite Local Female Actress
Tamarie Cooper
Finalists: Emily Neeves, Holland Vavr

Favorite Local Male Actor
Charles Swan
Finalists: Nathan Cruz, Brett Cullum, Mark Ivy, Fred White

Favorite Houston Museum
The Menil Collection, Toby Kamps, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
1533 Sul Ross St.
713.525.9400
menil.org
Finalists: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Gulf Coast Archive & Museum of GLBT History, Inc., Houston Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Fine Arts Houston

The Menil Collection
The Menil Collection

The Menil Collection is more than just a museum; it’s a neighborhood. Toby Kamps, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art for The Menil Collection, calls it, “one of the most amazing neighborhoods of art in the world.” There’s the main building, an award-winning structure designed to blend into the low-key residential area that surrounds it, and there’s the Cy Twombly Gallery, the Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall, and the Rothko Chapel. The Byzantine Fresco Chapel, Bistro Menil, a bookstore, and park dotted with dozens of old growth oak trees complete the current campus. A new building, the Menil Drawing Institute, is set to open in 2017. The Collection was initially built from the private holdings of 10,000 art works and artifacts collected by John and Dominique de Menil ranging from antiquities and African art to art of the Pacific Islands, Native American art and Byzantine art to modern and contemporary art. The holdings have doubled in size in the years since the death of Mrs. de Menil in 1997. The art, campus, and programming of The Menil Collection reflect the interests and values of the couple, who were activists as well as art collectors. “It’s fair to say that a kind of humanism, an interest in the struggles and the condition and the power of the individual, is baked into everything the museum does,” says Kamps.

Question: What’s your favorite piece of trivia about the Menil Collection and campus?
Answer: All of the trees were placed by Mrs. de Menil.

Best Local Theater
Stages Repertory Theatre
3201 Allen Pkwy #101
713.527.0220
stagestheatre.com
Finalists: Alley Theatre, The Catastrophic Theatre

Best Performing Arts Company
Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS), Jeff Cleveland, Director of Marketing and Brand Strategy
800 Bagby St., #200
713.558.2600
tuts.com
Finalists: Alley Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, Society for the Performing Arts, Stages Repertory Theatre

TUTS' performance of Matilda.
TUTS’ performance of Matilda.

It was a one-night-only performance of Bells Are Ringing in 1968 at the then-newly constructed Miller Outdoor Theatre that was the start of Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS). The production had been the brainchild of Frank M. Young, a pre-med student who worked part-time at the Houston Grand Opera. In the almost 50 years since, TUTS’ summer musical at Miller has become a mainstay of the Houston theater scene. TUTS performs its regular season at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, where, in a nod to its outdoor beginnings, fiber-optic lights on the ceiling of Sarofim Hall replicate the Texas summer sky. Highlights from last year include Mary Poppins flying over the audience in the Disney musical and a showcase of child performers in Matilda’s famous “maggots” scene.

Question: Is there a character that best represents the TUTS spirit?
Answer: Thoroughly Modern Millie! She is kind, brave, daring, fun, and flexible.

Best Art Gallery/Place to Buy Artwork
John Palmer Art Gallery & Studio
1218 Heights Blvd.
713.861.6726
johnpalmerart.com
Finalists: Archway Gallery, Jumper Maybach Fine Art, McClain Gallery, Ryan Fugate Fine Art

AUTO

Best Auto Mechanic
Montrose Automotive Center (tie)
4720 Montrose Blvd.
713.523.4406
montroseautomotivecenter.com
Tech Auto Maintenance (tie)
37 Waugh Dr.
713.863.8244
techautomaintenance.com
Finalists: Clear Lake Body Shop, RMS Automotive

Best Domestic Auto Dealership
River Oaks Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram
4807 Kirby Dr.
713.524.3801
riveroakschrysler.com
Finalists: Beck & Masten, Central Houston Cadillac, David Taylor Cadillac, Gillman, Knapp Chevrolet, Planet Ford, Tesla, Tommie Vaughn

Best Import Auto Dealership
Audi Central Houston
2120 Southwest Fwy.
855.627.5368
audicentralhouston.com
Finalists: Advantage BMW Midtown, Clear Lake Fiat, Jaguar Land Rover Houston Central, Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land, Momentum BMW, Momentum Mini

HEALTH & BEAUTY

Best Male Chiropractor
Dr. Ken Lester
1603 Shepherd Dr.
713.526.5252
kennethlesterdc.com
Finalists: Dr. Matt Arnold, Dr. Edwin Hamlett,
Dr. Sherman Yeager

Best Female Chiropractor
Dr. Jackie Doval
404 Westheimer Rd.
713.627.9355
docjackie.com
Finalists: Dr. Kay Rankin, Dr. Day Lee Snell

Dr. Jacqueline A. Doval (aka Doc Jackie) has treated both the human and equine members of the Houston Police Department. A licensed doctor of chiropractic, she’s also certified in animal chiropractic. After a mayoral candidate in the recent election proposed to eliminate the HPD Mounted Patrol, Doval launched a social media campaign to rally support for the unit. “Thankfully, the HPD Mounted Patrol is still with us!” Doval tells us. “Can you imagine events like the Pride Parade without their presence?” Among her other human clients are members of the Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, the Houston Astros, and Team USA athletes. Her non-human clients include animals from Houston World Series of Dog Shows, Search and Rescue Canines, and World All Around Rodeo Horses. We asked Doval if humans or animals make better clients. “Chiropractic on animals can be quite dramatic, as the impact is often immediate. The demeanor and stance of an animal will noticeably change. Humans tend to complain more. As soon as they feel better they go right back to the behaviors that brought them to me in the first place.”

Question: Any species of animal you would like to work with but haven’t yet?
Answer: My dreams include adjusting a giraffe and an elephant. To adjust a lion would be way cool! I would love to adjust animals in the Houston Zoo!

Best Cosmetic Skin Care Center
The Skin Renewal Center
1512 West Alabama St.
713.533.0800
theskinrenewalcenter.com
Finalists: Bellaire Dermatology, BeYOUtiful Anti-Aging & Skin Care, Skin Day Spa, Skin Renaissance Center

Best Cosmetic Surgeon Center
Camille Cash, MD (tie)
2150 Richmond Ave., Ste. 103
713.571.0600
camillecashmd.com
Facial Plastic Surgery Associates (tie)
6655 Travis St., Ste. 900
832.981.7747
todaysface.com

Best Day Spa
Skin Day Spa (tie)
240 W 29th St.
713.485.5088
skindayspahouston.com
The Petite Retreat (tie)
1034 Heights Blvd.
713.520.8999
thepetiteretreat.com
Finalist: Alira Boutique Salon and Spa

Best Female Aesthetic Physician
Angel Sturm, MD, FACS
Facial Plastic Surgery Associates
6655 Travis St., Ste. 900
832.981.7747
todaysface.com
Finalist: Krista Olson, MD, FACS/Baylor College of Medicine Facial Plastic Surgery Center

If you go to Dr. Angela Sturm and tell her you want to look like this celebrity or that movie star, you can expect to have a lengthy conversation. The chief of staff at Houston Hospital for Specialized Surgery, Sturm finds that understanding the “what” and “why” of a patient’s quest for physical transformation helps her to find the “how” of it. “My philosophy is that each person is beautiful and plastic surgery [is] an option that can amplify that beauty and boost their confidence,” she tells us. “I think most people know but do not acknowledge the impact that confidence has in our personal lives, professional lives, and every personal interaction. I think, as a society, we should place higher value on having a high self-esteem and confidence and accept that there are many ways to achieve this.”

Question: What part of your work do you find especially satisfying?
Answer: One of the most rewarding parts of my practice is facial feminization, when I get to be a part of my transgender patients’ transition. These procedures are absolutely life-changing, and transitioning can be lifesaving.

Best Male Aesthetic Physician
Patrick McNamara, MD
The Skin Renewal Center
1512 West Alabama St.
713.533.0800
theskinrenewalcenter.com
Finalist: Russell W. H. Kridel, MD, FACS/Facial Plastic Surgery Associates

Best Female Dentist
Carol K. Alvarado, DDS (tie)
3010 Philfall St.
713.523.5446
drcarolalvarado.com
Cynthia Corral, DDS (tie)
Bayou City Smiles
2313 Edwards St., Ste. 150
713.518.1411
bayoucitysmiles.com
Finalists: Jewel Day, DDS; Dianna Wilde, DDS

Best Male Dentist
Bruce Smith, DDS
1006 Missouri St.
713.529.4364
brucesmithdds.com
Finalists: Marcus De Guzman, DDS; Cory Logan, DDS; Randy Mitchmore, DDS

Best Female Eye Doctor
Juliet Farmer, OD
Boutique Eyecare
2502 Woodhead St.
713.528.2010
boutiqueeyecare.com
Finalists: Mary Green, MD; Christine Tyler, OD; Lisa Woo, OD

Best Male Eye Doctor
Stewart Zuckerbrod, MD
Houston Eye Associates
5420 Dashwood Dr., Ste. 101
713.668.9118
houstoneye.com
Finalists: Bimal Patel, OD; Scott Sawyer, MD; Crosby Wallace, MD

Best Female Hair Stylist
Lana Blake
Alex Burton Studios
6100 Westheimer, #135
alexburtonsalons.com
Finalists: Celina Arezola, Krislon Lona

Best Male Hair Stylist
Joel Quinones
Q The Salon
1512 West Alabama St.
713.807.0000
qthesalon.com
Finalists: David Armendariz, Don Gill, Trey Gillen, Michael Kemper, Anthony Skoogie

Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour and entertainment icon Liza Minnelli are just two of the clients Q the Salon owner and artistic director Joel Quinones has worked with over the years. His work has been on the cover of Town & Country, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue, among others. An in-demand stylist and makeup artist since the beginning of his career in 1987, Quinones leads a talented and experienced staff in providing hair and skin-care services at his Montrose-area salon.

Question: What’s your definition of beauty?
Answer: My idea of beauty is being healthy inside and out. When your mind and body are connected . . . then everything clicks. At that moment, people feel great about themselves and, in turn, help others to want in on that vibe. Alicia Keys, who’s wearing no makeup right now, Kendall Jenner, [a] young, classic beauty, [and] Amy Schumer, [a] curvy girl with a tough, smart mindset, [are] all beautiful, all different, and all successful!

Best Female Mental Health Therapist
Denise O’Doherty,
LPC, LMST, LCDC, RN
3730 Kirby Dr.
713.524.9525
relationshiptherapistrn.com
Finalists: Kristen Anderson, PhD; Enod Gray, LCSW, CSAT-S, CGP; Dee Young, LPC

Best Male Mental Health Therapist
Robert Snellgrove, LCSW
4200 Montrose Blvd.
713.522. 7014
robertsnellgrove.com
Finalists: Tony Aucoin, LCSW, LCDC; Ty Lerman, MA, LPC; Ken McLeod, LCSW, ACSW

It was the HIV/AIDS crisis 20 years ago that pushed Robert Snellgrove into the mental health field. Then a practicing architect, Snellgrove decided to change careers after an ah-ha moment on a job site. “The president of a major bank was on his hands and knees inspecting his new wood floor to find any flaws. He found a dot of unstained wood. I thought, ‘Wow, everyone I know is dying and this is what is important to the president of a multi-billion dollar banking institution.’ On that day, I knew what I needed to do.” Snellgrove returned to school, earned a graduate degree from the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work and began working as a therapist. Snellgrove says his work with HIV-positive clients has changed over the years since the disease is no longer the immediate death sentence it once was. “[At first,] it was a time of hopelessness, but also a time that the LGBT community was at its very best. At [one point] the new issue was survivor’s guilt. I still work with young people who have just seroconverted, and today, this has its own different challenges. [Now, newly seroconverted people think], ‘I knew better.’”

Question: Any television or film characters you think need your professional help?
Answer: I’ve been binge-watching Nurse Jackie, and [those characters] would qualify for some unhealthy behavior.

Best Mental Health Therapist/Psychiatrist
Daniel Garza, MD
2323 Shepherd Dr., Ste. 805
281.610.8190
Finalists: Barry Gritz, MD; Chad Lemaire, MD

Best Mental Health Therapist/Psychologist
Woodja Flanigan, PhD (tie)
2211 Norfolk, Ste. 206
713.589.9804
dwoodjaflanigan.com
Mike Harrison, PhD (tie)
1501 Crocker St., Ste. 1
713.504.7772
mdharrisonphd.com
Finalists: Kaden Stanley, PhD

Best Female Mental Health Therapist/Psychologist
Kristin Anderson, PhD
9525 Katy Fwy., Ste. 200
713.263.0400
drkristinanderson.com

Best Female Personal Trainer
Shana Ross
Shana Ross Fitness
629 W 22nd St., Ste. 1
713.861.7272
Finalists: Angie Lynch, Kimberly Marler, Danielle Sampey

If you sign up to train with Shana Ross, you’ll be smart to pack a big sense of commitment in your gym bag. “We’ll support you and teach you, but you have to bring the commitment,” Ross writes on her website. It’s a refrain clients hear over and over: changing your health is possible, but it takes time and commitment. (Translation: if you’re looking to lose weight and get a chiseled body overnight . . . ah, Shana Ross can’t help you.) She helps clients set realistic goals and make gradual changes to their exercise and eating habits for optimum long-term results. That’s contrary, Ross knows, to the miracle pills and 30-day transformations promised by other trainers and health coaches. Ross doesn’t think much of the people who make such false promises. “There aren’t many fitness celebrities that I can get on board with. Most are in it for the money and will endorse any product that will make them a buck. I miss Jack LaLanne.”

Question: What’s the one concept you want to get across to clients?
Answer: Better health begins with better food. Period. No one can attain optimum health just by beginning to workout.

Best Male Personal Trainer
Dwayne Cookson
DCookson Fitness
281.960.6301
dcooksonfitness.com
Finalists: Justus Christianson, Michael Shallis, Michael White

Best Female Physician
Julia Kovacs, MD (tie)
427 W 20th St., Ste. 303
713.231.1880
Sandra Scurria, MD (tie)
6565 West Loop South, Ste. 300
281.661.5901
sandrascurriamd.com
Finalists: Patricia Salvato, MD

Best Male Physician
Gordon Crofoot, MD
3701 Kirby Dr., Ste. 1230
713.526.0005
crofootmd.com
Finalists: Octavio Barrios, MD; James Carroll, MD; Roland Maldonado, MD; Rudolph Marin, MD;
Shannon Schrader, MD

Best Gym/Place to Work Out
Houston Gym
1501 Durham St.
713.880.9191
houstongym.com
Finalists: 24-Hour Fitness, Club Houston, Define Body, EADO Crossfit, FIT, LA Fitness

Best Male Massage Therapist
Ryan Fugate (tie)
713.269.7926
ryanmassageworks.com
Tom Zeppelin (tie)
713.542.0426
zeppelinmassage.com
Finalists: Joel Leal, Stan McDonald/Stan’s Hands Massage, Jeremiah Sammons

Best Female Massage Therapist
Robin Mack, LMT & 200 RYT
Downtown Houston
713.302.7307
Finalists: Crysti Sherwood/The Petite Retreat

Best Pharmacy
Walgreens on Montrose
3317 Montrose Blvd.
713.520.7777
walgreens.com
Finalists: AVITA Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy, Kroger Montrose

Best Tanning Salon
Darque Tan
907 S. Shepherd Dr.
713.528.2663
darquetan.com
Finalists: JHL Emporium & Spa, The Tan Man

Best Tattoo Parlor
713 Tattoo Parlour
1533 Westheimer Rd.
713.533.1239
713tattoo.com
Finalists: Electric Chair Tattoo, Prison Break Tattoos, Secret Tattoo

HOUSE & HOME

Best Female Insurance Agent
Felicia Flores
3200 Southwest Fwy, Ste.1900
713.499.7655
newyorklife.com
Finalists: Pam Ellis, Kathy Huyhn

Best Male Insurance Agent
Shane McShane
3 E. Greenway Plaza,
Ste. 1700
713.439.7504
mcshaneinsurance.com
Finalists: Clay Boone, Jeremy Henry, E. Bailey Moore, Patrick Torma

Best Florist
AJ’s Urban Petals
1217 W 20th St.
713.957.0449
ajsurbanpetals.net
Finalists: Downtown Blooms, Glenwood Weber, John Friedman Flowers, Ronnie Seibert

Best Furniture Store
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
4091 Westheimer Rd.
832.397.5130
mgbwhome.com
Finalists: Cantoni, Gallery Furniture, IKEA, Joybird, Noel Luxury Living

Best Furniture Store on a Budget
IKEA
7810 Katy Fwy.
888.888.4532
ikea.com
Finalists: EC Home Décor & Furniture Outlet, Gallery Furniture

Best Gardening/Nursery Supply
Joshua’s Native Plants & Garden Antiques
502 W. 18th St.
713.862.7444
joshuasnativeplants.net
Finalists: Buchanan’s Native Plants, Fountains & Statuary, Frazier’s Ornamental Concrete

Best Home Remodeling Company
Unique Builders & Development
5320 Gulfton Ste. 9
713.263.8138
uniquebuilderstexas.com
Finalists: C House Renovations

Best Interior Designer
Kevin Hamby, RID, ASID
kevinhambydesigns.com
Finalists: Ben Johnston, Kelly Gale Amen Design, Ruben Freeman, Steven Alley with Elizabeth Cole

Kevin Hamby, RID, ASID
Kevin Hamby, RID, ASID

Have you ever been to the Diamond Club at Minute Maid Park? Or the presidential suite at the Doubletree Allen Center? Maybe you’ve been to one of the dining rooms at the Traditions Golf Club? Then you’ve seen interior designer Kevin Hamby’s work. A magna cum laude graduate from the University of Houston, Hamby has designed corporate offices, hotels, salon spaces, and restaurant dining rooms, as well as private residences. Throughout, Hamby adds a bit of fabulousness to form and function.

Question: What’s the one decorating rule you never break?
Answer: I have never been a designer who uses an excessive amount of pattern within my selections. Too much pattern creates a less unified approach to the space and your eye tends to not be able to rest. It’s like using too much hot sauce on your tacos . . . you can’t taste anything else except the spicy sauce.

Best Architect
Morningside Architects
4229 Bellaire Blvd.
713.529.2630
morningsidearchitects.com

Best Landscaping Company
AJ’s Landscaping and Design
1223 W 21st St.
713.957.0449
ajslandscaping.com
Finalists: McDugald Steele, Windswept Landscaping and Design

Best Plumber Village Plumbing
5403 Kirby Dr.
713.224.3747
villageplumbing.com
Finalist: Tom Pierce Plumbing

Best Pool Company
Tranquility Pools
1935 Richmond Ave.
713.533.0932
tranquilitypoolshouston.com
Finalists: Anthony & Sylvan Pools, Pools by James, Premier Pools and Spas

LEGAL & FINANCIAL

Best Bank/Credit Union
Wells Fargo
wellsfargo.com
Finalists: Amegy Bank, Bank of America, BBVA Compass, Capital One, JP Morgan Chase, Regions Bank

Best Female Attorney
Debbie Hunt
Moore and Hunt
3608 Audubon Pl.
713.522.4282
mooreandhunt.com
Finalists: Phyllis Frye, Diana Sims, Fran Watson, Clyde Williams

Best Male Attorney
Raed Gonzalez (tie)
Gonzalez Olivieri LLC
2200 Southwest Fwy, Ste. 550
713.481.3040
gonzalezolivierillc.com
Mitchell Katine (tie)
Katine & Nechman
1834 Southmore Blvd.
713.808.1000
lawkn.com
Finalists: John Nechman, Daniel O’Neil, Jerry Simoneaux, Dwayne Todd

Best Female Financial Planner/Advisor
Grace Yung
Midtown Financial Group
3355 West Alabama, Ste. 180
713.355.9895
midtownfg.com
Finalists: Felicia Flores, Britt Kornman

Best Male Financial Planner/Advisor
Rick Dickson
Galene Finanical
1700 West Loop S, Ste. 255
713.489.4322
galenefinancial.com
Finalists: Domingo Barrios, Shawn Kuehn, Mike Ryan, Reed Padgett

Best Female Accountant/Bookkeeper
Kathy Hubbard
Hubbard Financial Services
2615 Montrose Blvd.
713.522.9000

Best Male Accountant/Bookkeeper
Gary M. Gritz, PC
CPA Bookkeeping Service
230 Westcott, Ste. 210
713.784.3030

PETS

Best Doggie Day Care
Molly’s Mutt House
3407 Montrose Blvd.
832.581.2453
mutthouse.com
Finalists: Daisy’s Dog House, Rover Oaks Pet Resorts, West Alabama Animal Clinic

Best Place to Adopt a Pet
Houston SPCA
900 Portway Dr.
713.869.7722
houstonspca.com
Finalists: BARC, Friends For Life, Rescued Pet Movement

Best Female Veterinarian
Christie Cornelius, DVM (tie)
Last Wishes
1111 West Loop S, Ste. 120
713.452.0474
lastwishes.com
Danielle Rosser, DVM (tie)
West Alabama Animal Clinic
2030 West Alabama St.
713.528.0818
westalabamaanimalclinic.com
Finalist: Katie Eick, DVM (South By South Vets)

Best Male Veterinarian
Richard Clive, DVM
Midtown Veterinary Hospital
1434 West Alabama St.
713.528.4900
midtownvethospital.com
Finalist: Randy McBride, DVM (Neartown Animal Clinic)

Best Place to Buy Pet Supplies
PetSmart
petsmart.com
Finalist: Central Pet Market, Molly’s Mutt House, Natural Pawz, Petco

REAL ESTATE

Best Female Real Estate Agent
Karen Derr (tie)
Town and Country Real Estate
1135 Heights Blvd.
713.875.7050
karenderr.com
Debbie Levine (tie)
Greenwood King Properties
3201 Kirby Dr.
713.942.6857
debbielevine.com
Finalists: Melanie Combs, Pamela Efferson, Lynette Lew, Pat Walker

Best Male Real Estate Agent
Jeremy Fain
1616 S. Voss Rd., Ste. 900
713.677.4337
har.com/jeremyfain
Finalists: Jared Anthony, Edward Delgadillo, Tim Surratt, Andy Weber

Best Home Builder
Unique Builders & Development
5320 Gulfton Ste. 9
713.263.8138
uniquebuilderstexas.com
Finalists: Al Ross Luxury Homes, Farb Homes, Loyd Russel Homes, On Point Custom Homes

Best Mortgage Company
Academy Mortgage
Cody Grizzoffi
601 Sawyer, Ste. 660
832.541.1103
codygrizzoffi.com
Finalists: BBVA Compass Mortgage, John Frels-Sente Mortgage, Prime Lending Group/Steve Baker, Republic State Mortgage/Robert Spiegel

Best Title Company
Stewart Title
1980 Post Oak Blvd., Ste. 110
713.625.8702
stewart.com/houston
Finalists: Chicago Title Inner Loop, North Star Title Company

TRAVEL & VACATION

Best Airline
Southwest Airlines
southwest.com
Finalists: American Airlines, United Airlines

Best LGBT Cruise or Tour Company
Concierge Travel (tie)
4920 Mimosa St.
713.661.2117
conciergetravel.cc
Gayribbean Cruises (tie)
877.560.8318
gayribbeancruises.com
Finalists: Aquafest, Brand G Vacations, Olivia Cruises

Best LGBT Travel Destination
New York City
nyc.gov
Finalists: Galveston Island, New Orleans, Puerto Vallarta, Walt Disney World

Best Local Transportation
Uber
uber.com
Finalists: Lone Star Cab, METRO, Yellow Cab

Best Local Travel Agency
Concierge Travel
4920 Mimosa St.
713.661.2117
conciergetravel.cc
Finalists: Aquafest, Travel Experts–Mark Hoyer, Vanguard Travel

Best Travel Website
Trivago
trivago.com
Finalists: Concierge Travel, Gayribbean Cruises

WEDDING & EVENTS

Best Wedding Venue
Chateau Polonez (tie)
12612 Malcomson Rd.
281.655.5656
chateaupolonez.com
La Torretta Lake
Resort & Spa (tie)
600 La Torretta Blvd.
Montgomery, TX
936.448.4400
latorrettalakeresort.com
Finalists: 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Avant Garden, The Heights Villa, LifeHTX, Marriott-North Houston

Best Wedding Photographer
Anne Marie D’Arcy
1517 Bonnie Brae #1
713.240.3479
amdarcyphotography.com
Finalists: Dawn Browne (Degrees North Images), Wilson Parish Photography, Yvonne Feece

Best Wedding Planner
Gray & Associates Events
720 Rusk St.
713.931.9168
number1eventplanner.com
Finalists: A Day to Remember, Rexberry Luxury Weddings and Events, Pop Up Wedding Houston

Best Wedding Cake Bakery
Who Made the Cake, Nadine Moon, Confectionary Artist
1811 S Shepherd Dr.
713.528.4719
whomadethecake.com
Finalists: The Acadian Bakers, David Alcorta Catering, The Dessert Gallery, Three Brothers Bakery

Confectionary artist Nadine Moon counts NFL player Mike Evans and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst as wedding-cake clients. (Different weddings, of course.) She’s created cakes for Matthew McConnaughey, Sir Elton John, and Michael Jordan. She was named one of 2016’s Top 10 Cake Artists in North America by Dessert Professional Magazine and she’s also in The Knot’s Hall of Fame. Her A-list client roster means she’s baked, decorated, and constructed towering cakes, including a jaw-dropping 10-foot-tall Cinderella’s-coach cake and a life-size wedding dress. She’s also used 22-karat gold luster dust and $1.3 million dollars of real diamonds and jewels, not to mention thousands of sugar flowers and miles of fondant, to decorate her creations. The one thing she hasn’t worked with? Fireworks. “I don’t want to be responsible for a venue ending up on the 10 p.m. news because my cake set off the sprinkler systems and the wedding was ruined,” she says.

Question: What’s been your favorite reaction from a bride about her cake?
Answer: Every once in awhile I will have a bride that actually cries tears of joy. That is the ultimate compliment!

Best Catering Firm
Jim Benton of Houston
2811 Eastman St.
713.802.2860
jimbentonhouston.com
Finalists: City Kitchen Catering, David Alcorta Catering, Don Carlos Catering, Elegant Events by Michael, Melange Catering & Events

SHOPPING & SERVICES

Best Female Astrologer
Lilly Roddy
920 West Main St.
713.529.5842
lillyroddy.com

It was some 25 years ago when a young Lilly Roddy found out that a friend knew about astrology. Fascinated with the subject, she peppered him with questions so frequently, he finally just handed her a book and said, “Go find out for yourself.” She did. Enthusiastically. She’s since become a trained astrologer and built a loyal following of clients who go to her for advice about business, personal, and financial issues. (Thinking about buying a house? Or getting married? Having surgery? Go to Roddy first. It’s much, much easier to pick a good time to do it beforehand than to figure out how to overcome any problems caused by bad timing choices afterward.)

Question: What’s the biggest misconception about the Zodiac?
Answer: Skeptics will say the signs and constellations don’t actually line up. It’s hard to explain to people why they’re wrong, except to say that the signs and constellations line up every 26,000 years.

Best Male Astrologer
Kevin Casey
Body Mind & Soul
7951 Katy Frwy., Ste. N
713.993.0550
bmshouston.com

Best Copy/Print Shop
Copy.com
1201 Westheimer Rd.
713.528.1201
copydotcom.com
Finalist: 2 Day Post Cards

Best Grocery Store
HEB-Alabama
1701 West Alabama St.
713.528.1201
heb.com
Finalists: Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods

Best Jewelry Store
I W Marks (tie)
3841 Bellaire Blvd.
713.668.5000
iwmarks.com
Zadok Jewelers (tie)
1749 Post Oak Blvd.
713.960.8950
zadok.com
Finalists: Bulgari, Cartier, Loggins Jewelers, Silverlust, Tannenbaum Houston

Best Liquor Store
Spec’s Wine, Spirits, and Finer Foods
2410 Smith St.
713.526.8787
specsonline.com
Finalists: Economy Liquor, Goody Goody Liquor, Richard’s Liquor

Best Men’s Clothing Store
Billy Reid (tie)
2702 Westheimer Rd.
713.552.0333
billyreid.com
Jos. A. Bank (tie)
4081 Westheimer Rd.
713.850.8952
josbank.com
Finalists: Armani Exchange, The Ivy League Menswear, Under Armour

Best Women’s Clothing Store
Tootsies
2601 Westheimer Rd.
713.629.9990
tootsies.com
Finalists: Anthropologie, Armani Exchange, Zara

Best Place to Buy Cellular Phones
Apple (tie)
apple.com
Premier Wireless (tie)
12220 Murphy Rd., Ste. F
Stafford, TX
281.575.8500
premierwirelesstx.com
Finalists: RadioShack, Walmart

Best Place to Buy Erotic Playthings
Hollywood Super Center
2409 Grant St.
713.527.8510
hollywoodsupercenter.com
Finalists: Adam & Eve, Eagle Trading Co., Erotic Cabaret

Best Place to Buy Eyewear
The Eye Gallery (tie)
1806-B Westheimer Rd.
713.523.1279
eyegalleryhouston.com
Spectacles (tie)
4317 Montrose Blvd.
713.529.3937
wearusout.com
Finalists: Eye Contact, Eye Elegance, FOCUS, River Oaks Vision

Best Specialty Food Store
Central Market
3815 Westheimer Rd.
713.386.1700
centralmarket.com
Finalists: Phoenicia, Spec’s Wines, Spirits, and Finer Foods, Sprouts

Best Local Hotel
Hotel ZaZa
5701 Main St.
713.526.1991
hotelzaza.com
Finalists: Aloft Hotel Galleria, La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa, The Sam Houston Hotel

DINING OUT

Best 24-Hour Restaurant
House of Pies
3112 Kirby Dr.
713.528.3816
houseofpies.com
Finalists: Katz’s Deli, Midtown Bar & Grill

Best Barbecue
Goode Company Barbeque
5109 Kirby Dr.
713.522.2530
Finalists: Gatlin’s BBQ, Pappas Bar-B-Q

Best Breakfast
Baby Barnaby’s
602 Fairview St.
713.522.4229
barnabyscafe.com
Finalists: Lankford Grocery, Urban Eats

Best British
The Black Labrador
4100 Montrose Blvd. #8
713.529.1199
blacklabradorpub.com
Finalists: Red Lion Pub, Queen Vic

Best Brunch
Baba Yega Cafe (tie)
2607 Grant St.
713.522.0042
babayega.com
Gloria’s Latin Cuisine (tie)
2616 Louisiana St. #101
832.360.1710
gloriascuisine.com
Finalists: Baby Barnaby’s, Cadillac Bar, Urban Eats

Best Cajun
BB’s Café
2710 Montrose Blvd. #A
713.524.4499
bbscafe.com
Finalists: Gumbo Jeaux’s, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Ragin’ Cajun

Best Chinese
Ginger and Fork
4705 Inker St.
713.861.8883
gingerandforkrestaurant.com
Finalists: 369 Chinese, Ambassador Chinese Restaurant, Auntie Chang’s Dumpling House, Montrose Chinese Restaurant

Best Cuban
Cafe Piquet
5757 Bissonnet St.
713.664.1031
cafepiquet.net
Finalists: El Meson, El Rey

Best Deli
Katz’s Deli
616 Westheimer Rd.
713.521.3838
Finalists: Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen, Paulie’s Restaurant

Best Dessert
The Chocolate Bar, Eric Shamban, Co-Owner
1835 W Alabama St.
713.520.8599
theoriginalchocolatebar.com
Finalists: The Acadian Bakers, The Dessert Gallery, Rita’s of Houston Heights

You get your chocolate served up with a big helping of family-friendly hospitality at The Chocolate Bar, co-owner Eric Shamban tells us. Along with co-owners Gilbert Johnson and Tino Ramirez, Shamban works hard to meet every client’s request for the rich, delicious chocolate cakes, ice creams, and candies The Chocolate Bar offers. He admits there have been a few they haven’t been able to accommodate. “Little Wayne wanted us to close the store on Valentine’s Day—the busiest day of the year—so that he and his girlfriend could do body painting with chocolate,” he tells us.

Question: If you could create a flavor to represent Houston, what would it be?
Answer: We already have it—Totally Nuts. [It’s] chocolate ice cream with seven different types of nuts folded into the chocolate ice cream base. Do you really need an explanation as to why?

Best Food Truck
Eatsie Boys
eatsieboys.com
Finalists: The Rollin’ Kitchen, The Waffle Bus

Best French
Brasserie 19
1962 W. Gray St.
713.524.1919
brasserie19.com
Finalists: George’s Bistro, Le Mistral, L’Olivier

Best Greek
Niko Niko’s
2520 Montrose Blvd.
713.528.4976
nikonikos.com
Finalists: Myth Kafe, Theo’s Restaurant, Yia Yia Mary’s

Best Hamburger
Lankford’s Grocery & Market
88 Dennis St.
713.522.9555
Finalists: The Acadian Bakers, Barnaby’s Cafe, The Burger Joint

Best Indian
Pondicheri
2800 Kirby Dr. B132
713.522.2022
pondichericafe.com
Finalists: Indika, Khyber North Indian Grill

Best Italian
Riva’s Italian Restaurant
1117 Missouri St.
713.529.3450
Finalists: Carrabba’s, Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, Maggiano’s Little Italy

Best Japanese
Uchi
904 Westheimer Rd.
713.522.4808
uchirestaurants.com
Finalists: Aka Sushi House, The Blue Fish, Crave Sushi, Kata Robata

Best Lunch Spot
Barnaby’s Café
604 Fairview St.
713.522.0106
barnabyscafe.com
Finalists: Bambolino’s Pizza, Gloria’s Latin Cuisine, Maine-ly Sandwiches, Urban Eats

Best Mediterranean
Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine
912 Westheimer Rd.
713.942.2321
aladdinshouston.com
Finalists: Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill, Myth Kafe, Niko Niko’s, Theo’s Restaurant

Best Mexican
El Tiempo Cantina
1308 Montrose Blvd.
713.807.8996
eltiempocantina.com
Finalists: Gloria’s Latin Cuisine, La Mexicana Restaurant, La Tapatia, Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen

Best New Restaurant
Ginger and Fork
4705 Inker St.
713.861.8883
gingerandforkrestaurant.com
Finalists: Les Ba’get Vietnamese Café, State of Grace

Best Pizza
Star Pizza (tie)
2111 Norfolk St.
713.523.0800
starpizza.net
Bollo Woodfired Pizza (tie)
2202 W Alabama St.
713.677.0391
bollohouston.com
Finalists: Bambolino’s Pizza, Pink’s Pizza, Pizza L’Vino, Pizzeria Solario

Best Restaurant for Cheap Eats
Barnaby’s Café (tie)
604 Fairview St.
713.522.0106
barnabyscafe.com
Tacos A Go Go (tie)
3704 Main St.
713.807.8226
tacosagogo.com
Finalists: Fajitas A Go Go, Jax Grill, Jenni’s Noodle House

Best Restaurant for Elegant Dining
Rainbow Lodge, Donnette Hansen, Owner
2011 Ella Blvd.
713.861.8666
rainbow-lodge.com
Finalists: Café Annie, Caracol, Ouisie’s Table, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

We can’t tell you any of the big-shots and celebs who have dined at The Rainbow Lodge. That’s because, according to the restaurant’s owner Donnette Hansen, “What happens at The Lodge stays at The Lodge.” We can tell you that the food and atmosphere are perfect for any special-occasion dinner. With a menu that includes game (antelope, elk, and wild boar) and seafood (sea bass, lobster, and rainbow trout), The Lodge offers a casual, but refined approach to dining. “You don’t need to wear a coat and tie to enjoy a fabulous [dinner and] wine, presented with style and grace,” says Hansen. “The Rainbow Lodge is sophisticated, not stuffy!” The Lodge is housed in a rustic hundred-year-old log cabin and sits on an acre of grounds on the banks of White Oak Bayou. Over the years, Hansen has seen diners become more interested in the origins, preparation, and presentation of The Lodge’s offerings. “I love that guests want to know more about their food—such fun table talk. It allows us to talk about our onsite gardens, citrus grove, and beehives.” (Insiders know to order the off-the-menu buffalo chili in the winter.)

Question: Who would you like to have dinner with at The Rainbow Lodge?
Answer: Mother Nature rocks . . . hard to sit her down, though.

Best Restaurant for Outdoor Dining
Boheme
307 Fairview St.
713.529.1099
barboheme.com
Finalists: Backstreet Café, Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room

Best Seafood
Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen
4611 Montrose Blvd.
713.807.8883
dantonsseafood.com
Finalists: Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Little Pappas Seafood Kitchen, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen

Best Steak House
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse
1200 McKinney St.
713.658.1995
pappasbros.com
Finalists: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Steak 48

Best Sushi
Uchi
904 Westheimer Rd.
713.522.4808
uchirestaurants.com
Finalists: Azuma Sushi & Robata Bar, Crave Sushi, Miyako Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar, RA Sushi

Best Thai
Khun Kay Thai Café
1209 Montrose Blvd.
713.524.9614
Finalists: Nidda Thai, Thai Cottage

Best Vegetarian
Ruggles Green
2305 W Alabama St.
713.533.0777
rugglesgreen.com
Finalists: The Doshi House, Green Vegetarian Cuisine, The Hobbit Café, Phoenicia Specialty Foods

Best Vietnamese
Mai’s Restaurant (tie)
3403 Milam St.
713.520.5300
maishouston.com
Pho Saigon
Noodle House (tie)
2808 Milam St.
713.524.3734
phosaigonnoodlehouse.com
Finalists: Jenni’s Noodle House, Kim Son Restaurant, Les Ba’get Vietnamese Café, Thien An Sandwiches

DRINKS & SPIRITS

Club or Restaurant with Best Happy Hour
George Country Sports Bar
617 Fairview St.
713.528.8102
Finalists: Bayou City Bar and Grill, Crocker Bar, JR’s Bar & Grill, Pearl Bar

Club or Restaurant with Best Margarita
El Tiempo Cantina
1308 Montrose Blvd.
713.807.8996
eltiempocantina.com
Finalists: F Bar, Gloria’s Latin Cuisine, La Tapatia, Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen

Club or Restaurant with Best Martini
Guava Lamp
570 Waugh Dr.
713.524.3359
guavalamphouston.com
Finalists: Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room, JR’s Bar & Grill, Ouisie’s Table

Favorite Brand of Beer
Bud Light
budlight.com
Finalists: Karbach Brewing Company, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Shiner

Favorite Brand of Liquor
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
titosvodka.com
Finalists: Deep Eddy Vodka, Dripping Springs Vodka, Ketel One Vodka

Favorite Wine Bar
Boheme
307 Fairview St.
713.529.1099
barboheme.com
Finalists: Beckrew Wine House, Camerata at Paulie’s, Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room, Oporto Fooding House & Wine

ENTERTAINMENT & NIGHTLIFE

Best Drag Show Bar
F Bar
202 Tuam St.
713.522.3227
fbarhouston.com
Finalists: Michaels Outpost, TC’s Houston’s Premier Showbar

Favorite Bar to Shoot Pool
George Country Sports Bar
617 Fairview St.
713.528.8102
Finalists: Eagle Houston, Guava Lamp, Neon Boots, RIPCORD

Favorite Bar to Two Step
Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon
11410 Hempstead Rd.
713.677.0828
neonbootsclub.com
Finalists: Guava Lamp, The Room Bar

Favorite Club after 2 a.m.
South Beach
810 Pacific St.
713.521.0107
southbeachthenightclub.com
Finalists: Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon

Favorite Club for Dancing
Rich’s Houston
2401 San Jacinto St.
281.846.6685
Finalists: F Bar, Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, Pearl Bar, South Beach

Favorite Club If You’re Under 21
South Beach
810 Pacific St.
713.521.0107
southbeachthenightclub.com
Finalists: Bayou City Bar and Grill, Blur Bar, Numbers

Favorite Drag King
Ian Syder
Finalists: Damien Love, Zambi

Ian Syder
Ian Syder

It’s been just four years since Ian Syder first stepped on stage, but he’s done lots . . . and lots . . . in that short time. He was the first-ever Mister Meteor (2013), twice the About Magazine’s Drag King of the year, and has taken on the personal responsibility of promoting his art form across the state. Syder can sum up his approach to his work in one word: professionalism. “It is the single most important thing you can have as a performer,” Syder says. “Drag kings aren’t very common in our market, and we have to work hard and be completely professional, win, lose, or at a paying gig.” Syder appreciates his audience at every show. “I always perform with the knowledge that the audience is the reason I have a stage in the first place.” While he has a successful career with title wins and touring dates, all of his performances haven’t been glitch-free, Syder tells us. “During a competition once, I had a wardrobe malfunction. My pants split completely up the inseam! I kept going as if nothing had happened and won the competition that night. The show must go on!”

Question: Who was your celebrity crush when you were a teenager?
Answer: Luke Perry. It shows my age, I know!

Favorite Drag Show Host/Emcee
Kofi
Finalists: Roxanne Collins, Dessie Love-Blake

With more than 30 years on stage, female impersonator Kofi has lots of pageant titles to her credit. The most recent is Miss Continental Plus 2015. She also has crowns as Miss Houston America, Miss Black America Plus, and Miss Gay USofA at Large, along with dozens more. When she’s not winning titles of her own, she regularly hosts and emcees pageants and shows. She’s currently emcee for Charlie’s Angels at JR’s and So You Think You Can Drag at South Beach.

Question: What’s your signature song?
Answer: A few years ago, I recorded “Roxy” from Chicago with new lyrics. It’s called “Kofi’s Haute.” A friend helped me with the lyrics, and everywhere the original song said Roxy, it said, “Kofi’s haute.” I did it in a pageant.

Favorite Female Bartender
Sarah Tompkins-Gutierrez
Finalists: Crystal Murley, Rey ‘Lareyna’ Rodriguez

Favorite Male Bartender
Tom Rico McCumber
Finalists: Adam Hancock, John O’Brien, David Truong, Travis Webb

Favorite Female DJ

DJ Athenz
DJ Athenz

DJ Athenz
athenzmedia.com
Finalists: DJ Tina Langner, DJ Aracely Manterola, DJ Melle Mel

Athena “Athenz” Armylagos, who stays busy with a variety of music, acting, and modeling gigs, says she hasn’t yet had an “I’ve made it!” moment of success in her career—even though she’s opened for artists such as Adam Lambert and Duke Dumont. “I strive to become the best version of myself daily,” she tells us. “There will always be goals I have yet to reach because I am continually setting new ones.” A member of the HOT Chix Mix show on 95.7 KKHH radio, Athenz says her current go-to happy song is “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris and featuring Rihanna.

Question: What’s your favorite spot for canned music in Houston?
Answer: I would have to say Uptown Sushi because I am a big foodie and they always play the best music.

Favorite Male DJ
DJ Joe Ross
djjoeross.com
Finalists: DJ JD Arnold, DJ Ben Phoenix

Favorite Gay Bar
Houston Eagle, Mark De Lange, Owner
611 Hyde Park Blvd.
houstoneagle.com
Finalists: Crocker Bar, F Bar, Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, Pearl Bar, Rich’s Houston

eagle1
Houston Eagle

Houston Eagle, the self-proclaimed “home to the man’s man,” has a simple goal—to be a “friendly neighborhood bar where you can be yourself and come as you are,” says owner Mark De Lange. Part of the oldest continually operating gay bar brand in the world (there are currently over 30 worldwide) and catering to bears, jocks, and the leather-clad, Houston Eagle started in 2012 as a once-a-week party inside another bar. The weekly event grew in popularity, and The Eagle was moved to a new location, operating three nights a week. In 2014, it moved to its current Hyde Park location. Known for its 29-degree pour and ever-changing lineup of craft beers and liquors, Houston Eagle hosts an annual Mr. Texas Eagle competition with the winner going on to the International Mr. Leather competition in Chicago.

Question: Which celebrity would you like to visit Eagle?
Answer: [That’s] really difficult for me. Since I own bars and nightclubs, I literally have no life to tell you who’s a celebrity and who’s not. I guess for [a] celebrity, I’d say J.J. Watt, as he’s hotter than hell.

Favorite Local (Non-Drag) Entertainer
Nina Lombardo (tie)
Morena Roas (tie)
Finalists: Skylar Gutierrez

The host of Karaoke Wednesdays at Pearl Side Bar, singer Nina Lombardo mixes blond dreadlocks with pin-up-girl curls, colorful tattoos with body piercings, and a wonderful singing voice with a tough-chick persona. It works. On stage and off.

Question: What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Answer: I know every word to every song on TLC’s CrazySexyCool album. Really, zero shame though.

Morena Roas
Morena Roas

Singer Morena Roas didn’t like the way she was treated during an open-mic session at a local bar. Instead of complaining or slinking quietly away, she started The Floor Is Yours, a talent showcase for LGBT artists, at Guava Lamp. Recently she added emcee duties for the Notes & Jokes, a Tickle Me Tuesday event at Skol. She’s not a comedian, Roas wrote on her Facebook page, “[but] I’m a killer with the knock-knock jokes.” Roas, who counts Selena, Lauryn Hill, and Adele as musical influences, has an acoustic album in the works.

Question: What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Answer: Hmm, I really like Bollywood music. It’s like my Disney!

Favorite Local Band
Houston Pride Band
832.356.7476
houstonprideband.org
Finalists: The Band Hennessey, Colonial Blue, Fluff The Kat

Favorite Place to Show Off Your Leather
RIPCORD
715 Fairview St.
713.521.2792
ripcord.bar
Finalists: Club Houston, Eagle Houston

Favorite Place to Watch Male Dancers
Tony’s Corner Pocket
817 W. Dallas St.
713.571.7870
tonyscornerpocketbar.com
Finalists: JR’s Bar & Grill

Favorite Straight Bar
Boheme
307 Fairview St.
713.529.1099
barboheme.com
Finalists: Axelrad, Public Services Wine & Whisky, Rudyard’s British Pub

Favorite Women’s Bar
Pearl Bar
4216 Washington Ave.
832.740.4933
pearlhouston.com
Finalists: F Bar, Houston Eagle, Ranch Hill Saloon

Most Divine Drag Queen
Dessie Love-Blake
Finalists: Kofi, Violet S’Arbleu

Olivia Flores Alvarez is an occasional OutSmart contributor. She’s covered the arts and culture for more than 15 years. Her work has appeared in the Houston Press, BravoHouston!, El Día, digitalcity.com and, a really, really long time ago, in This Week in Texas (TWT).

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