All About the Island

Enjoying Galveston with OutSmart.

July07coverPlanning to make Galveston a destination during the dog days of summer? Here are a few of our favorite things to do, places to see, and people to meet.

Besides the miles of getaway beaches, Galveston offers plenty of attractions for visitors. This summer, highlights include the world premiere of another chapter in the rollicking Greater Tuna saga, the 20th anniversary of an AIDS fundraiser, and an exhibition that recounts the years that the Island rose out of the Gulf after the catastrophic 1900 storm.

Beach Beauty

Artist Jim Tweedy, a favorite of the humans here at OutSmart, creates whimsical and incredibly sweet illustrations of canine creatures. As a tribute to summer on the Island, Tweedy painted a portrait of Peggy riding a wave. Get in the mood for your own beach adventure by picking up this or another wonderful Tweedy work at Hollywood Frame Gallery here on the mainland.

Jim Tweedy at Hollywood Frame Gallery, 2427 Bissonnet, 713/942-8885, www.hollywoodframegallery.com.

Joe Sears and Jaston Williams return in Tuna Does Vegas.

Tuna Twist

Probably the biggest Island news this summer is the world premiere of a new comedy from the creators of Greater Tuna and its rollicking sequels. Jaston Williams and Joe Sears, who have made the lovely 1894 Grand Opera House something of a theatrical home away from home over the years, bring their latest creation, Tuna Does Vegas, to the historic showplace with its first night on August 4. Performances continue through August 19. Apparently, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas when the denizens of the third smallest town in Texas arrive.

1894 Grand Opera House, 2120 Postoffice, 800/821-1894, www.thegrand.com.

Up Where We Belong

Even after Hurricane Katrina and its devastation of New Orleans and the central Gulf coast, the 1900 storm that nearly wiped out Galveston remains the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. This summer, the Galveston County Historical Museum presents an exhibition of photographs and artifacts that reveal the determination of Island residents to rebuild after that catastrophe. A City on Stilts: Galveston, 1902–1912, features photos of everyday life that continued even as the Island was   raised behind a new 17-foot seawall.

Galveston County Historical Museum, 2219 Market, 409/766-2340.

Rob Gallagher stars in South Pacific.

Enchanted Evenings

Some us remember motoring out to the far west end of the Island with Mom and Dad to sit outdoors, swatting mosquitoes, and watch one of the high-minded historic shows in the Galveston Island State Park Amphitheater. Beginning this month, the Galveston Island Musicals have a new uptown home, the Galveston Island Convention Center at the San Luis. The 2007 season debuts with the Rodgers-and-Hammerstein classic South Pacific (July 4–22), and the season continues with the Huck Finn-inspired Big River (July 24–August 5), J oseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the world premiere Patsy Cline–The Early Years (August 21–26), and The Night the Music Died (Labor Day weekend).

Galveston Island Musicals at the Galveston Island Convention Center at the San Luis, 5600 Seawall Blvd., 409/316-0316, 800/547-4697.

Island Princess

Theater buffs know that 1959 Broadway production of the The Princess and the Pea introduced Carol Burnett to a grateful world. Nearly 50 years later, Island East-End Theatre Company debuts the fractured fairy tale in Galveston on July 20 (through August 18). In keeping with the Island’s summertime family vibe, the company keeps it pure, at least for some productions, reveals artistic director Kim Mytelka. “We will be producing this musical with a PG rating on Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon performances. And this will be done without changing any characters, music, or lines. It’s a great chance for people to see how much acting is done with facial expressions and line delivery.”

Island ETC, 2001 Postoffice, 409/762-3556, 877/762-3556, www.islandetc.org.

Art on Foot

Presented several times a year on a Saturday night, ArtWalk has become a major new draw on the Island. The Galveston Arts Center, always one of the main stops on the pilgrimage, presents an annual exhibition of works created by artists who use glass as a medium for the July 14 ArtWalk. Alongside Texas Juried Glass 2, the nonprofit center presents paintings by Houston artist Lillian Warren and photographs by Baton Rouge-based artist William Greiner. For the next ArtWalk on August 25 the center presents The Art Guys Go Public, a 20-year survey of the Houston artistic team of Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing.

Galveston Arts Center, 2127 Strand, 409/763-2403, www.galvestonartscenter.org.

Joyce Barker

Scissor Sister

Mayberry had Floyd Lawson, the much-loved barbershop proprietor of the fictitious ’60s-era television town. Locals flocked to his shop, knowing they would get a quality haircut from someone they could trust, someone who knew the lay of the land as well as the lay of their cowlicks. One of their own.

Galveston has Joyce Barker, the no-nonsense, out commander of the clippers for many of the Island’s residents—gay and nongay alike.

Barker has been barbering for 11 years at Uppercuts Barber Shop, her shop located at 2502 39th St. As one who has seen a number of changes come to Galveston in those years, particularly in terms of the ever-increasing emphasis placed on tourism, Barker reminds OutSmart readers of the appeal of the off-season.

“You’re not dealing with the crowds, but you still have the artsy-fartsy stuff down on the Strand,” she says. “You still have the same restaurants that are open, but you’re not standing in long lines waiting for your favorite seafood dish. It’s a great place; you’re not paying top dollar for the hotels, and you’ve got the beach basically to yourself. Yes, you might have to wear a windbreaker and jeans, but you’re still walking along the beach.”

When Barker, 56, is not busy tending to the sartorial needs of her clients, she’s on a tractor, tending to the needs of her five-horse, 10-acre ranch in La Marque.

“If I’m not cutting hair, I’m cutting grass,” she says.

Though a former resident of Houston, Barker maintains a small-town approach to her personal code of ethics: her community philanthropy is legendary, whether it be supporting a scholarship fund at Ball High School, buying signage for the Little League baseball field, sponsoring walkers in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the MS 150, contributing to Toys for Tots, or preparing a busload of goodie boxes for troops in Iraq.

“It’s just who I am,” Barker explains with no fanfare.

Sheriff Andy would be proud. —Nancy Ford

On the Town: Kirk and John at Robert's LaFitte.

On the Town

Everybody may not know your name at these Galveston gay bars. But at these spots you will be treated like family. (That’s a good thing, right?)

3rd Coast Beach Bar  
31st St. @ Seawall Blvd.

The Pink Dolphin
9th St. @ Seawall Blvd.

Robert’s LaFitte
2501 Avenue Q @ 25th St.

2409 Market


Misty Valdez hosts her 20th AIDS fundraising show.

Play Misty

Since the early years of the AIDS epidemic, the Island diva Misty Valdez has hosted an annual series of fundraising shows to raise money for the AIDS Coalition of Coastal Texas. This year, she marks the 20th   anniversary of this traveling show, which takes place at multiple Galveston clubs. The finale of the 2007 tour takes place on July 7 at Undercurrent (where Valdez—the perennial favorite Galveston drag diva in the annual OutSmart Gayest & Greatest reader poll—also performs every Thursday night). Following a 9:30 buffet supper, the show begins. Guest stars include C.C. Ryder, Mayra Sanchez, Felicity Bliss, Destiny Lee, and more.

Misty Valdez’s 20th Annual AIDS Benefit Tour 2007 at Undercurrent, 2409 Market, 409/750-8571, www.undercurrentgalveston.com.

A cruise ships docked in Galveston.

On the Water

Galveston now ranks as the 11th- largest cruise port in the world in terms of passenger volume, according to Lloyd’s Cruise International, the industry magazine that publishes a yearly ranking of top cruise ports. Even more impressive: Galveston is the fourth-largest cruise port in the continental United States and the number-one Gulf of Mexico cruise port. So cruising is obviously big business for the Island. Two major carriers, Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International, regularly send ships out of Galveston.

If you’re pondering a cruise vacation with a Galveston connection and GLBT flair, here are a couple of locally connected options:

• In December, Tom Baker, president of Houston-based Aquafest, hosts his annual President’s VIP Cruise, which originates in Barcelona and ends in Galveston. The dates for the seven-port cruise on the ship Voyager of the Seas are December 8–23. At press time, rates started at $670/person. Details: www.aquafestcruises.com, 800/592-9058.

• Jeff Greider of ASAP Cruise Vacations of Houston recently announced the first Mardi Gras Cruise, offered in conjunction with Mardi Gras Galveston. The February 4–9 excursion departing Galveston for the western Caribbean is an official Mardi Gras event for 2008. Festive events include a Formal Masquerade Ball at Sea on Fat Tuesday. Rates at press time started at $336.99/person. Details: www.asapcruisevacations.com, 832/875-4800.


Can’t get to Galveston right now? Savor a bit of the Island experience by preparing these signature dishes from The Steakhouse at the San Luis, one of the premiere dining destinations on the Texas coast.


Sunsational Celebration


Serves two

Tropical Island Shrimp Cocktail
1/2 pound large shrimp
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 lemon
4 cups water

1/2 cup diced ripe red tomatoes
1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons diced fresh mango
3 tablespoons diced fresh pineapple
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
2 shakes Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Broiled Lobster Tail
1 each 12-14 ounce lobster tail
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/4 pound salted butter

Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chops
2 six-ounce domestic lamb rack chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
1 clove garlic


For the shrimp: Bring the water to a simmer in a 4-quart saucepan. Add the spices and squeeze the lemon into the pot before adding it. Boil the shrimp for 3 minutes. Drain shrimp and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before peeling. Meanwhile, mix all sauce ingredients together.   Place half of the mixture in a blender and pulse until smooth, then fold in the other half of the mixture. Chill at least an hour before serving.

For the lobster: Melt the 1 / 2 pound butter in a saucepan and keep warm. Using kitchen scissors, make a cut in the top shell extending back to within a half-inch of the tail. Crack the shell with your hands while lifting the meat up so that it rests on top of the shell. Use a sharp knife to score the meat in several spots about a third the thickness of the tail. Brush the tail generously with butter (reserving some butter) before seasoning with the salt and white pepper. Broil the tail in a hot broiler until just done, 10-12 minutes, and serve with remaining butter for dipping.
For the lamb: Smash the garlic and rosemary to make it fragrant. Add the olive oil and lamb chops, mix well and marinate 1 hour. Discard rosemary and garlic and season chops with salt and pepper to taste. Grill over a medium high fire until desired degree of doneness, about 10 minutes for medium rare.


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