Gift Guide

Community consumption for the holiday season
by Marene Gustin


Give the gift of words. As Groucho Marx said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

Butch: Never Judge a Butch by Her Cover

by Kanithea Powell, $40, Qwest Films

A gorgeous coffee-table book by award-winning filmmaker Kanithea Powell, Butch: Never Judge a Butch by Her Cover depicts mind- and gender-bending photos of the most amazing butches you’ll ever see. This lavishly illustrated tribute to butch women showcases dramatic and spectacular styling layered with passages that speak to the heart of any (wo)man on the journey to find her true inner beauty. Loaded with breathtaking photographs, this art book celebrates the incredible creations of an imaginative and inspirational artist whose work and ideas push the stereotypical norms. Whether or not you’re a fan of Powell’s Qwest Films, like Kill Her! and the TV reality show Desperate House Hags, you’ll find Butch a fascinating read and a beautiful addition to your collection of lesbian literature. Qwestfilms.com

Bi-Curious George: An Unauthorized Parody

by Andrew Simonian, $14.95, Cedar Mill Press

That charming monkey is back, but this time he’s going bananas over sex! In this hilarious illustrated short novel, George isn’t just curious about the zoo. He’s bi-curious at the Zoo, a fabulous LGBT club in the city where he and the Man with the Purple Beret go. And there’s more monkey business: the duo join a gay cruise full of boozed-up, salacious seamen; report a fire in the hopes of reeling in calendar-worthy hunks with fire hoses primed for pumping; and there’s drugs and a stint in jail. Maybe George won’t be so curious after all this. Cedarmillpress.com.

Kevin Keller (hardcover graphic novel)

$19.99, Archie Comics

You knew gay was the new normal when Kevin Keller joined the gang of Archie, Jughead, Veronica, and Betty in the Riverdale comic universe. And now the first openly gay character of Archie comics has his very own deluxe oversize full-color hardcover graphic novel. The book includes Kevin’s first two appearances in the Veronica comics and the full-issue run of the Kevin Keller miniseries. This graphic novel would make a great gift for your comics-loving friends, particularly if you add a stocking-stuffer like the December issue of Kevin Keller #6 that has two covers (a real collectible issue). The new comic book features a story line about the beloved George Takei, of gaydom and Star Trek fame, meeting Kevin. How cool is that? Archiecomics.com.

The Art of Meaningful Living

by Christopher Brown, with artwork by

John Ross Palmer, $29.95, Synergy Books

A beautiful self-help book for a loved one in need of some motivation, by psychotherapist Christopher F. Brown with inspiring artwork by Houston’s John Ross Palmer (whose artwork is featured at Tony’s restaurant). If you pick up a copy at Palmer’s gallery at 1218 Heights Boulevard, Palmer will even sign it for you.

The Dead Celebrity Cookbook presents

Christmas in Tinseltown: Celebrity Recipes and Hollywood Memories from Six Feet Under the Mistletoe

by Frank DeCaro, $14.95, HCI Books

Frank DeCaro, the wonderful gay author and performer best known as the flamboyant movie critic on The Daily Show and as the host of his own call-in Sirius XM Satellite Radio show, follows up his Dead Celebrity Cookbook with a holiday edition. This is a must-have for home cooks, old-movie buffs, and generally anyone who loves funny film anecdotes.

Try these recipes yourself: Peggy Lee’s Holiday Halibut Casserole, Burl Ives’s Stuffed Leg of Goat Hawaiian, Lucille Ball’s Brazil Nut Stuffing, Nat “King” Cole’s Baked Ham Loaf, Guy Lombardo’s Lobster Lombardo, Dick Clark’s Spicy Turkey Meatloaf, Rosemary Clooney’s Viennese Goulash, Bing Crosby’s Sugar Cookies, Shirley Booth’s Pumpkin Bread, Dinah Shore’s Fruitcake, and Spike Jones’s Molasses Jumbles. Then wash them all down with Robert Mitchum’s Eggnog (heavy on the booze) or Edmund Gwenn’s Christmas Cup. Besides the recipes, the bios of the dead celebs are pretty darn entertaining reading. Hcibooks.com.



Who doesn’t love a little extra bling for the holidays? As Sonja Henie said, “Jewelry takes people’s minds off your wrinkles.”

The Marriage Equality Pendant ($39) and The Matthew Shepard Erase Hate Pendant ($59)


Both of these beautiful pendants are more than just bling; they make a statement and help support the LGBT community. The online jewelry store is donating one hundred percent of the sales of the Marriage Equality Pendant to Marriage Equality USA, whose logo is engraved on the military dog tag-style pendant. The company is also donating one hundred percent of sales from The Matthew Shepard Erase Hate Pendant to the Matthew Shepard Foundation and has already raised more than $250,000 for the organization. And if you find something else you like on the site, feel free to buy away because five percent of any purchase will go to your LGBT charity of choice.

Equality Bracelet

$95, Lyon Fine Jewelry

In a similar vein of making a statement with bling, we like designer Lauren Russell’s (The Real L Word) Equality Bracelet of sterling silver and leather. It’s a beautiful unisex piece that makes a statement we can all love. Lyonfinejewelry.com.

Silverlust Timepieces

From $180 and up

Silverlust, 1338-C Westheimer

Keep them on time all year long—Silverlust now has

“Limited Edition” watches. These beautiful timepieces

are made in the USA from Swiss parts. Each one includes the Silverlust brand and a three-year warranty.

Shirley of Hollywood Men’s Velvet & Charmeuse Smoking Jacket

$65.50 online,

Erotic Cabaret Boutique,

1222 Westheimer

Even if he doesn’t smoke, your favorite guy will be smoking in this luxurious velvet and charmeuse robe that features satin charmeuse lapels, patch pockets, and a tie belt. Either way, he’ll be hot! Eroticcabaret.com.

Superdry Bag ($88), Diesel Watch ($106), and the Nixon Wallet ($50)

Fashion Studio, 1111 Westheimer

Shopping for that gay guy in your life? Swing by Fashion Studio for the coolest bling and fashions. We like the Superdry bag, awesome Diesel watch, and the streamlined Nixon wallet—they all make perfect holiday gifts. And the best part? There’s a bar inside the store. Yeah, you can get your shopping done and check out such lines as Penguin, G-star RAW, and Love Moschino while sipping a cocktail. Is there a better place to shop than this?

Salt. Optics eyewear

Various prices

The Eye Gallery of Houston,

1806 B Westheimer

Salt. Optics creates premium handcrafted eyewear for individuals with a unique sense of style. The retro frames, like the Norton, will make you look good and…look well. The Eye Gallery of Houston carries Salt. Optics and other fine lines of eyewear.



Jane Austen wrote, “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” So why not give your friends and family a little something for their homes?

The Perfectly Tailored Gift

Laura U Collection

1840 Westheimer

Throw-pillows are the easiest way to spruce up a living room, and these pillows from one of our favorite designers, Laura Umansky, are custom-made for your giftee. Choose from the many fabrics, threads, and monograms for a one-of-a-kind gift. Prices vary.

Platters, bowls, and art

Various prices, Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy

There are lots of great unique gift options at Archway Gallery. With more than thirty member-artists and such a diversity of media, the choices are limitless. From painting, pottery, and photography to woodwork, glass, and sculpture, there’s something for everyone at very affordable prices. Shopping at Archway means buying directly from a local artist, which is enough to give anyone warm fuzzies this holiday season. Archwaygallery.com.

Sage Machado Candles

Various prices

Blue Leaf, 2303 South Boulevard

Candles make the perfect hostess and co-worker gifts, and these lightly scented and slow-burning candles from Sage Machado are just lovely. They’re non-allergenic, non-toxic, and made of soy, palm, and coconut waxes. Come check out all of the candles, as well as the other cool gifts at Blue Leaf’s new location in a cozy house in Rice Village. Blueleafhouston.com.

Citrus Squeezers by A+J

$65, Houston Center for

Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main

How about a little functional art for the kitchen? These glass and porcelain juicers are adorable, and great for the morning’s fresh OJ. There are also plenty of other great gifts at HCCC’s gift store. Sales help sponsor local artist residencies, so your purchase supports a good cause. Crafthouston.com.

Margareta Cushion Covers

$6, Ikea

These cushion covers from Ikea in Santa Claus patterns and solid colors are just too adorable. And as an under-$10 gift they’re perfect for stocking stuffers. Of course you’ll want to get some for yourself, too. And IKEA has plenty of other holiday gifts and party essentials. Ikea.com.

Lazarus House’s First Annual Holiday Ornament

$25, Lazarus House, 4106 Austin

Lazarus House, our community’s leader in helping combat and manage cachexia, the devastating cycle of malnutrition and muscle-wasting that accompanies numerous chronic illnesses like cancer and HIV/AIDS, has created a memorable keepsake ornament to add to your holiday decor. Featuring their logo of hope, Lazarus House offers you an opportunity to share your joy in charity. Choose from one of two great styles: a beautiful glass version or the edgy colorful galvanized metal version. Thelazarushouse.org.



Don’t know what to get someone? You can’t go wrong with the gift of food or booze. Especially booze, because as W. C. Fields often said, “Water? Never touch the stuff—fish f–k in it.”

Ketel One Vodka

Price varies. Sold at all fine liquor stores

Come on, who doesn’t keep a bottle of vodka in their freezer? Ketel One is the vodka of choice for many—with more than 300 years of classic family distilling experience, it is one smooth sip. The Ketel One Citroen offers a crisp, smooth vodka infused with a subtle hint of citrus zest, perfect for making holiday cocktails.

Spec’s Pre-assembled Gift Baskets

Starting at $27.99

Spec’s stores

You know you’re going to hit up Spec’s at least once during the holidays, so why not grab a couple of their fabulous gift baskets while you’re there? Spirits and food make the perfect gifts for almost anyone, and if you have one left over, you can always break into it yourself in the new year. Buy a basket that’s already made, or select your own goodies for a custom-made basket. Specsonline.com.



Don’t forget your fur babies this holiday season. You know they are the ones you spoil the most. As Bruce Foyle once reminisced, “Many years ago when an adored dog died, a great friend, a bishop, said to me, ‘You must always remember that as far as the Bible is concerned, God only threw the humans out of Paradise.’”

Tajo Pet Bed

$350, The Frog at Home, 2427 Westheimer

Okay, a tad pricey for a doggie bed, but you know you can’t refuse that furry child anything. And this bed is a cozy 36”x14”x25” sleep cushion that’s just perfect for your pet. The Frog at Home also has other pet slumber chambers, from contemporary to traditional-looking, that are sure to fit your home decor while keeping your pooch warm and snuggly. Woof! Frogathome.com.

Wags Gift Certificates

Various prices, Wags, Houston inner loop

For your busy pet-loving friends, a gift certificate from Wags could be a godsend. Wags is an inner-loop dog-walking and pet-sitting service that is bonded, insured, and even certified in pet CPR and first aid. Friends and family will thank you for this gift for their fur babies. And yes, they even do cat-sitting. Wagshouston.com.



A few ideas outside our usual categories.

Release Me

by Barbra Streisand

Various prices


Be still, my dancing feet! Diva Babs has produced eleven previously unreleased recordings going back decades in her career. Release Me is available on iTunes, as a CD, and even on vinyl for old-school fans and DJs. Get ready to party with such hits as “Home” from The Wiz and “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” from Finian’s Rainbow. Hello, gorgeous!

Lilly Roddy Astrology Gift Certificates


Lilly Roddy, 713/529-5842

For those on your gift list who are into astrology, how about a gift certificate from Lilly Roddy? She’s been doing readings and consults for more than twenty-five years and will conduct them in person or over the phone. It will give a whole new meaning to “What’s your sign?” She also does past-life readings.

Lady Gaga Fame

$55–$79, Macy’s

That’s right—the-singer-in-a-meat-dress has her own scent. Did you miss the summer launch? Not to worry—you can pick up a bottle of Lady Gaga Fame at Macy’s for your favorite little monster. The bottle, like Gaga, is in your face. The perfume itself is black—“like the soul of fame,” the packaging reads. But when you spray it on, it turns clear. But don’t expect anything too weird from the smell—it’s a nice, fruity, and light floral fragrance. No meat in it at all. Macys.com.

Bear City 2: The Proposal


One of the best gay romantic comedies ever—think Sex in the City but with gays, not gals. The plot revolves around several couples vacaying in Ptown. Written by Lawrence Ferber and Douglas Langway (who also directs) Bear City 2: The Proposal is now out on Blu-ray and DVD. Just in time for holiday shopping, this movie makes a great stocking stuffer for bears, cubs, and pretty much anyone else. There’s also a holiday box set with the original and its sequel. Bearcity2.com.



And for that special someone, how about a little erotica? How is erotica different from pornography? Isabel Allende said, “Erotica is using a feather; pornography is using the whole chicken.” ‘Nuff said.


$11.99, or $59.99 for a six-pack

Yeah, you read that right. Bacon. Lubricant. Because really, doesn’t everything—and we mean everything—taste better with bacon? Stuff a tube of this into your loved one’s stocking and watch their eyes light up. There’s even a strip of real bacon in the bottle. Buy now—it’s only available for a limited time. Baconlube.com.


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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.

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