Mike Copenhaver, Re/Max
Do you know what Houston Texans backup quarterback T.J. Yates has in common with Aggie linebacker Reggie Chevis and Aggie wide receiver Mike Evans? All three sport the number 13 on their jerseys. Like many football fans, Mike is superstitious about his teams, scrutinizing how his actions contributed to a loss. Did they lose because he was running late and missed “The Star-Spangled Banner”? Did he upset the advertising gods by taking a bathroom break when he shouldn’t have? He doesn’t apply the same reasoning when the Texans or Aggies win. That’s how superstitions are. Mike lets trending news inspire him for his Halloween costume, but if nothing trips his fancy, he’ll go as himself. One of his favorite costumes was during the first Gulf War. As a bartender at JR’s, he dressed in a black burka with a sash reading Miss Gay Saudi Arabia 1995. Perhaps this year, he’ll blend football and current events and go as Johnny Manziel.
Best New Restaurant
Wait a second. Whoa x3! Stop the presses! (Who hasn’t always wanted to say that?) This feature celebrates the number 13 and we’ve got a restaurant named “Eleven XI”? We’re just two integers away from traditionally lucky 11, so we’ll let it slide this time. Eleven-eleven is the wishing hour. 11:11. It’s said that if you make a wish at that moment, it will come true, but maybe that’s all whack. What isn’t bunk is the Southern Coastal cuisine served in the renovated old Bibas Diner at 607 West Gray. Eleven XI recently started serving brunch on Sundays, which we all know is mandatory for everyone in the LGBT community on the day of rest. One of these days, we hope to see you on the patio.
Best Radio Personality – Female
Sarah Pepper, The New HOT 95.7
Sarah Pepper delays her own adulthood as much as she can, frequently letting out her inner child. Her advice for thirteen-year-olds who are just entering their teen years: “Be a kid. Don’t try and grow up now. There will be plenty of time to be old later.” She’s not the kind of person who says, “Do what I say and not what I do.” A few years ago, she won an award dressed as Honey Boo Boo for Halloween, with her coworkers playing Mama June and a pageant announcer. Looking back at her own life, she would go back and tell her younger self, “Listen to your mom; she is right! Hug your brother and tell him you love him. Let him tag along. Listen to your big sister, she is right, too. Enjoy being thirteen!” Sarah does a lot of appearances at Houston-area schools, and the children adore her. She recently hosted a segment on Radio Lollipop at Texas Children’s Hospital. What else can we tell you about Sarah “Peter Pan” Pepper? She raises money to build a school and boarding house in memory of her younger brother, Andrew, believing that every child deserves an education.
Best Italian Restaurant
It’s so refreshing to walk into an Italian restaurant that isn’t hung up on visual cues instead of letting the food speak for itself. Nestled in the Upper Kirby district at 3215 Westheimer, you won’t find red-and-white-checkered table cloths, sangria bottles on the table, or ivy and grapes falling abundantly from baskets adorned with swatches of red, white, and green fabric. Oh no, not here. Bright and bold meet your palate. The food is authentic. If you decide to order the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, twirl the pasta on a spoon. Italians believe that it’s bad luck to cut your pasta. Italians aren’t as superstitious about 13 as they are about the number 17. Rearranging the Roman numerals XVII spells VIXI, which means “I have lived” in Latin, or in other words, “My life is over.”
Best Drag Performer
Charo Beans DaBarge
“It was horrible. I had fun that year” says the notorious emcee/host of FBar’s “Dream Girls and Legends.” Charo likes to push herself out of her comfort zone. The year of the horrible fun was the Halloween she went dressed as Pebbles from the Flintstones. Except that Pebbles was all grown up. She wore denim shorts and “an awful wig with a bone in it,” dangling a cigarette from a toothless snear. For 2013 she plans to switch it up with a costume influenced by a beautiful and bloody Spanish tradition. Charo says her guilty pleasure is never having enough wigs and costumes. “It’s always Halloween for me.”
Best Furniture Store
Chant with us: “Malm, Brimnes, Brusali, Mandal, Fjell.” What are we conjuring? A bedroom suite from IKEA. “Hemnes, Expedit, Bestå!” is the spell to organize your cookbook library. Just outside of Smaland, you can smell the Swedish meatballs and cinnamon rolls. Just a friend and a set of allen wrenches are all you need to assemble your Scandinavian furniture. For those who can’t wait to get their IKEA catalog each year, you’ll be excited to find out that in 2014, IKEA is reintroducing the piece that started it all—the “Lövet” leaf table from the 1950s. If you want one, the incantation is easy to remember. Although now it’s spelled “Lövbacken,” who can forget the phrase Love Bacon? It’s perfect for a witch’s brew served in a Blanda.
Best Volunteer – Female
Christina was born in the month of October, so she says Halloween is her favorite. She loves how Halloween stories always begin with something like, “I was dressed up as a flamingo and accidentally got locked out of my house…” She also loves drag, and in her words, “Halloween is the draggiest holiday on the calendar.” Christina dresses up every year, usually as a celebrity, and remembers back to grade school when she used her allowance to buy a blonde wig at Walgreens and an eighties prom dress from a thrift store. Instant Vanna White. If she could give a thirteen-word acceptance speech for being selected as Best Volunteer, it would be, “The best volunteers recruit other volunteers. Thank volunteers—they’ll be dedicated for life.”
Best Dessert (tie with Dessert Gallery)
Sandra Jean Bubbert, The Acadian Bakers
The ghosts of specialty cakes past haunt the walls of the Acadian Bakers. Owner Sandra Jean Bubbert is known around these parts as Baker to the Stars, so it was no surprise when Gothic novelist Anne Rice came to town several years ago for a book signing and the bookstore asked Bubbert to make a black wedding cake. She had so much fun with it that she attended Rice’s book signing dressed as a priest, convincing the author for a minute that she actually was one. She’s created a cake to look like the old governor’s mansion in Austin, so she can probably make a haunted one, too. Bubbert is a little superstitious, knocking on wood for good luck. But luck doesn’t factor into baking—it’s all about very precise measurements. Sandra has that down to a wickedly delicious science.
Best Eye Doctor
Stewart Zuckerbrod, MD
Dr. Zuckerbrod knows the trials that come with 13, although with a birthday on October 13, he’s always considered it a lucky number. His daughters, Samara and Frances, turned 13 in August, which means daddy is planning two bat mitvahs. We think his good fortune may be because he has rescued so many of his patients from the evil eye. It’s easy to see that Stewart has the gift of the good eye—or, in Jewish culture, one who enjoys seeing others prosper. If the gematria for “chai” (the Hebrew word for “life”) is 18, then we’ll add five to wish the Zuckerbrods “Kina Hora” for added measure.
Best New Restaurant – Galveston
Farley Girls Café
Ghost tales haunt Galveston, considered to be one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. after New Orleans. Frightful tours are offered throughout the month of October. During a séance at the Menard House, you feel a cool breeze and hear someone whisper, “Farley Girls Cafe.” The building on the corner of 8th and Postoffice looks as if it could have been haunted. If the paranormal are present, it’s not hard to figure out why they stay. Order the thirteenth item on the dinner menu, the “Very Popular Shrimp & Grits.” It’s grits made with gouda and mushrooms with grilled shrimp on top. Toast the fact that your parking will be validated, so you can head off to the Hotel Galvez for more spooky fun.
Best Volunteer – Male
October is one of the busiest months for Gary Wood. He and his partner, Bryant Johnson, throw Houston’s annual Coming Out Day Party, raising money for various charities. When it comes to superstitions, Gary says that he doesn’t believe in them as much as he’s “not willing to put fate to chance.” He says that if you do random acts of kindness and have unwavering ethics, good karma will follow. Thirteen words to describe his outlook: “My advice to everyone—get involved, make a difference, and leave a legacy.” The same applies to today’s youth. He says it’s not too early to start the good karma. “Put down the electronic device and go outside. Start working now on what you want to get out of life tomorrow.”
Best Automobile Dealership – Import
Kris Cogliano, Momentum
You can’t work for Momentum without understanding that both less is more, and more is more, whether it’s a BMW with all the icing on top, or a Mini that packs a world-class punch. Kris Cogliano puts it this way regarding a baker’s dozen: “There are never enough cupcakes!” He doesn’t go for faux, so if he has to knock on wood, he won’t go artificial. One year, Kris dressed up as Steve McQueen (not Lightning or Alexander), the anti-hero’s hero, for Halloween. He hasn’t decided what he’s going to do come October 31 this year, but he is hoping it doesn’t require a wig.
Best Drag Performers – Galveston
Tara & Kara Dion
Tara Dion is the show director at 3rd Coast Downtown in Galveston and hosts Fab Friday and the Super Saturday Shows. Members of the audience laugh a little when she’s introduced as “the one and only Tara Dion.” Everyone knows she is one half of the notorious Texas Twins, the Dion sisters. Kara often performs there too, and in Houston at Guava Lamp and FBar. Imagine all the tricks a pair of identical drag queens can pull. And the treats. (All puns intended.)