Photo by Marco Torres

With Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15) now underway, a convenient new calendar courtesy of a local nonprofit dials Houstonians into a host of Latino arts and culture events to celebrate the occasion.

The calendar (find it here) is created and curated by Advocates of a Latino Museum of Cultural and Visual Arts & Archive Complex in Houston, Harris County (ALMAAHH) and is meant to showcase the myriad cultural offerings of the the largest population in Harris County.

Special attention is paid to under-the-radar Latino creators and creations, according to the organization’s board chair, Geraldina Wise. “We want to use this online tool as an opportunity to showcase events with artists you might not otherwise meet,” said Wise.

Users can navigate the calendar via several options, including by type of artistic endeavor, region, date, and more. Those interested can submit requests to include events or activities here.

While the one-stop guide was created specifically for Hispanic Heritage Month, Wise notes that users can visit the guide going forward to support the community.

“We have started with events happening during Hispanic Heritage Month to kick off the calendar,” she said. “But we will continue to add new events and to turn this into the most comprehensive online Latino arts and culture resource for the Greater Houston area.”

Photo by Daniel Ortiz

Outspoken Houston performer lands prestigious national poetry award

The Write Stuff

A local wordsmith has received one of the highest honors a writer can achieve. Outspoken Bean, the noted poet/spoken-word performer/raconteur/renaissance man, has been named the 2022 official Poet Laureate Fellow for Houston, the American Academy of Poets announced.

He will receive $50,000 for the honor, as part of the $1.1 million worth of funding from the Academy awarded to all national fellows to support their respective public poetry programs during their year-long term.

As fans are aware, Emanuelee Outspoken Bean is an acclaimed spoken word artist. He was the first poet to perform on the Houston Ballet stage in the company's production of the popular Play. He also conceptualized and produced Plus Fest: The Everything Plus Poetry Festival. He most recently took the stage for Loveletter, the multi-disciplinary concert hosted and produced by local legend DJ Sun.

During his term as Poet Laureate Fellow, he will complete Space City Mixtape, a spoken-word and creative audio experience of Houston featuring more than 20 tracks from Houstonians telling their stories, the academy notes. Houstonians should look for him at Houston Public Library locations around Houston, as he intends to conduct bi-weekly writing sessions for the next six to eight months in order to capture stories for Space City Mixtape, which will be produced by local producer Russell Guess.

Space City Mixtape is slated to be released next year.

Outspoken Bean joins another Texan to win the honor. Austin resident Cyrus Cassells has been named the 2022 Poet Laureate Fellow for Texas (he'll also receive $50,000 for this work).
Cassells teaches at Texas State University. He's received multiple awards for his work, including a Pushcart Prize, the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim, the Lannan Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
He plans to hold a statewide poetry contest in honor of Juneteenth, inviting students in the sixth through twelfth grades across Texas to submit entries describing what makes the day significant to them.
Ten winners will be selected; they'll receive a travel stipend to the state capital, where the contest will end with a public reading and ceremony at the Neill-Cochran House Museum. The space features Austin's only intact slave cabin and has long served as a venue for African American events and cultural exhibitions.
Judges for the contest include Texas poets Wendy Barker, Jennifer Chang, Amanda Johnston, and Roger Reeves, and Texas historian Martha Hartzog, according to the academy. The contest screeners and judges, along with the top three winners and seven honorable mentions will receive an honorarium, plus copies of Pulitzer Prize winner Annette Reed's book On Juneteenth and Edward Cotham Jr.'s Juneteenth: The Story Behind the Celebration.

Public Poets Laureate have been around since 1919, when the state of Colorado named the first. Fifteen other states named laureates of their own soon after. On the national level, the Library of Congress named Joseph Auslander its first Consultant in Poetry in 1937. This position was renamed the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in 1985.

Ada Limón is the current Poet Laureate Consultation in Poetry and was named to the position last month.

Poets Laureate at every level promote and advocate for poetry, working to not only bring attention to the art form, but also using their platform to bring attention to issues of importance in their communities. The Academy of American Poets is the largest supporter of poets around the U.S. and has donated more than $4.3 million in fellowships to 81 poets since 2019.

The other poets and the communities they represent are Andru Defeye (Sacramento, California); Ashanti Files (Urbana, Illinois); B. K. Fischer (Westchester County, New York); KaNikki Jakarta (Alexandria, Virginia); Ashley M. Jones (Alabama); Holly Karapetkova (Arlington, Virginia); Kealoha (Hawaiʻi); J. Drew Lanham (Edgefield, South Carolina); Julia B. Levine (Davis, California); Matt Mason (Nebraska); Airea D. Matthews (Philadelphia); Ray McNiece (Cleveland Heights, Ohio); Huascar Medina (Kansas); Gailmarie Pahmeier (Nevada); Catherine Pierce (Mississippi); Rena Priest (Washington); Lynne Thompson (Los Angeles); Emma Trelles (Santa Barbara, California); Gwen Nell Westerman (Minnesota); and Crystal Wilkinson (Kentucky).

Photo by Marco Grob

Best-selling author Daniel Silva returns to Houston to discuss highly anticipated new book

Gabriel Allon returns

Acclaimed author Daniel Silva's latest thriller, Portrait of an Unknown Woman, has just been released, and if the past is precedent, there's no reason it won't become a New York Times bestseller — like so many others in Silva's Gabriel Allon series.

Yet, there's something different about this particular Gabriel Allon novel, in which the protagonist, the former art restorer turned director of the Israeli intelligence service and assassin, finds himself living quietly with his family in Venice, enjoying retirement and trying to put his violent past behind him. And then, that painting turns up. Is it real or a clever forgery? Can Gabriel figure it out before it ruins his friend's life?

Silva may answer some of those question when he makes highly anticipated appearances in Houston and Dallas this month. He'll be in conversation with Jean Becker, former chief of staff to George H.W. Bush, here at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center on Wednesday, July 27 in an event also produced by Murder by the Book. Fans in Dallas can catch him with Michael Granberry of the Dallas Morning News at the Aaron Family JCC on Monday, July 25.

Both events require tickets ($34; find them here). Importantly, Silva will not sign copies of the new book; each ticket purchase with a pre-signed copy of Portrait.

CultureMap caught up with the best-selling author to talk his new book and being back on the road again, after previous virtual events.

CultureMap: You're back on tour. How excited are you to be traveling again?

Daniel Silva: I'm very excited to do it. We thought about it very carefully and looked at the [COVID] numbers, and put some protocols in place. It in its own weird way though, it's still going to seem sort of virtual in that I can't sit and have a signing. That's the one big component that we'll be missing, those moments with readers, which is a shame, because hat's what I like best.

CM: As a reader, this book felt different. Maybe not so much a transition into something that Gabriel's going do next in his life, but certainly this was Gabriel in a whole different world. Did you think that you were going to get to this kind of a point, when you made your assassin an art restorer and a painter?

DS: Yeah. I actually wanted to get him to this point a long time ago, that the series would be much more art based than it became. My editor at the time really wanted him to be more violent character and to mix it up with these really, really bad, bad guys. I let [Gabriel] get drawn into the global war on terror.

From there, he got drawn into his long-running duel with the Russians and that really changed the, the series. I mean, Moscow Rules [published in 2008] was a very important book for me. This is what I always had in mind for the series as the final act, that I was going to return Gabriel to the art world.

The first thing that I wanted to do with this novel is to just sort of wall it off from Israeli intelligence. He's on his own and. I just enjoyed writing this book so much.

CM: Of course, Gabriel has had capers that involve the art world before now.

DS: Yes, I had books that started in the art world and then branched into, for instance, the Iran nuclear program. But, this one stayed in the art world and I did something that I wanted to do for a very long time.

CM: When we talked last year, we spoke about your love of classical music, which informed what you did in The Cellist. Are you an art lover, too?

DS: I wouldn't have handled [Gabriel] the way I have if I wasn't. Writing the series gave me a sort of an amateur master's degree. I'm fascinated by the business of art and I'm really fascinated by the dirty side of the art business that I've explored in the past.

CM: And that is where Portrait of an Unknown Woman is set.
Yes. There are a lot of very, very, very fine and very reputable art dealers and galleries. But there are a lot of dirty, disreputable art dealers out there, too. And they will sell anything if they think they can make money. That's something that the book explores.

Money has always been at the heart of art, going back to the Renaissance, when rice Italian noblemen would hire artists to paint their portraits or their palazzos. And, of course, there's the relationship between art and the Catholic Church, which hired artists to decorate their churches.

CM: Did it feel different writing this novel, as opposed to the others in the series?

DM: I very deliberately reset character. In the first chapters, his wife won't let him work. She sends him out to explore [Venice]. So, he wanders the city and visits paintings he's restored there. And he is able to let go of these nights of blood and fire and he changes; his physical appearance changes a little bit.

I love the subtle changes that I was able to bring to the character. I love the fact that humor that found its way into the book book totally by accident. I did not realize that it was going to such a rocket journey through the art world.

CM: What should fans expect when they come and see you in conversation in-person after all these virtual visits?

DS: I hope that it's both a relaxing, funny and informative evening. It's gonna be interesting. You know, I literally have not been in public in three years.


Daniel Silva will discuss his new book and career with Jean Baker, former chief of staff to George H.W. Bush, at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center (5601 S Braeswood Blvd.) at 7:30 pm Wednesday, July 27. Tickets are $34; all tickets come with a pre-signed copy of the book. For reservations, visit the event page.

Photo by Michelle Watson, CatchLight Group

Crazy Rich Asians author returns to hometown Houston for bookish Inprint Ball

A crazy rich party

The Inprint Poets & Writers Ball, Houstonian literati and bibliophiles’ favorite gala, returned to in-person celebration with one, crazy, rich night thanks to best-selling author Kevin Kwan. The Crazy Rich Asians novelist, who grew up in Houston along with a special anniversary for Inprint director Rich Levy, made the dazzling evening one to remember.

Chaired by Cullen Geiselman, with help from Host Committee, the Inprint board, advisory board, and Presidents Council, supporters and the 350 guest, the Ball raised more than $442,000 for Inprint’s mission to bring the best writing to Houstonians and its many community activities and support for emerging writers attending University of Houston and Rice University.

For a punily good evening, guests also celebrated and raised a glass to another rich literary tradition, Inprint’s executive director, and award-winning poet in his own right, Rich Levy’s 25 years at the organization.

Inprint supporters were excited to be back in the room together-this year at the Briar Club-for a ball like no other. Along with a headlining literary star as speaker, what makes the Poets & Writers Ball truly unique is its pre-dinner salon readings from up-and-coming writers and poets who have benefitted from Inprint’s support, usually while attending the University of Houston graduate creative writing programs.

This year, the writers giving guests a preview of their next literary obsession were poet and essayist Niki Herd, whose essay “George Floyd and the White Gaze,” was selected as Salon’s “Best of 2020;” poet Justin Jannise author of award winning How to Be Better by Being Worse and fiction writer Isle McElroy author of The Atmospherians, named a Best Book of 2021 by Esquire. All three authors praised Inprint’s support during their time in Houston and stressed how vital those prizes and fellowships had been to their work. Some also recounted how leading Inprint community writing workshops and programs had especially influenced their writing and personal lives.

After a poetic dinner designed by Robert Del Grande, who contributed an actual culinary poem about the inspiration for the meal, it was time to get crazy with Kevin Kwan.

ABC-13 News journalist Melanie Lawson led Kwan on a journey into his life in writing. Born in Singapore, he now calls New York home, but Kwan recalled his formative years growing up in Houston. It was at UH Clear Lake that he wrote a poem the would become the foundation for the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, and that iconic second scene from the film when the family matriarchs gossip during Bible study. Kwan also revealed coming back to Houston to take care of his ill father and listening to his stories of Singapore became a large inspiration for the novels.

At the end of the evening, guests received a very special thank-you gift designed by artists Fiona McGettigan and Alan Krathaus of CORE Design Studio, a handmade limited-edition chapbook based on the opening pages of Kevin Kwan’s latest novel Sex and Vanity, each copy of which was numbered and signed by the author.

Seen having a crazy, literary night were Eloise and Steve Brice, Mary S and Jack Dawson, Kate Dearing and Steve Fowler, Consuelo Duroc-Danner, Brooke and Dan Feather, Sarah Flournoy, Debbie Gary, Judy and Marc Herzstein, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Sabria and Kevin Lewis, Meg Malone, Nancy Powell Moore, Beth Robertson, Lillie Robertson, Sarah Rothenberg and Robert Azencott, Sarah Beth and Paul Seifert, Doreen Stoller and Dan Piette, Liara Tamani and Larry Animashaun, Brad Telford and J. Mark Deaton, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Michelle and Rishi Varma.

Writers Isle McElroy, Niki Herd, Justin Jannise.

Inprint Ball 2022: Isle McElroy, Niki Herd, Justin Jannise
Photo by Michelle Watson, CatchLight Group
Writers Isle McElroy, Niki Herd, Justin Jannise.
Photo by Marco Grob

Best-selling author Daniel Silva visits Houstonians' living rooms in new virtual event

a chat with silva

New York Times best-selling spy thriller author Daniel Silva is in conversation with CNN's Dana Bash, and Houstonians can get in on the virtual event.

The Bayou City's Murder By the Book has partnered with the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and the National JCC Literary Consortium for this In Your Living Room Live event, marking the publication of Silva's latest book in the mega-popular Gabriel Allon series, The Cellist.

This virtual event will be held via Zoom on Monday, July 12 at 7 pm. Those who want to take part must purchase a copy of The Cellist from Murder By the Book in person or online, and will receive a link to the discussion.

It promises to be a lively one. Silva's thrillers, with their cosmopolitan international locales, starring spymaster, art restorer and assassin Gabriel Allon have, for two decades, offered readers insight into global intrigue. Plot points feel ripped from the headlines; in some cases, they even precede the deadlines.

"You can't be behind the curve in this genre," he tells CultureMap.

In book after book, Silva has looked ahead across world affairs, and crafted fast-paced, elegant, smart narratives that have not only proven his writing prowess but propelled him to the number one spot on the New York Times Bestseller List.

The Cellist sees the return of Gabriel Allon and his team. This time, in tracking down the truth behind the death of a Russian exile, Gabriel uncovers a Russian plot that seeks to undermine Western democracy from within.

Silva has written about Russia and its meddling before in the series. Fans will recognize that The Cellist continues the string of developments seen in Moscow Rules, The Defector, and The OtherWoman, among others. Bur those just entering the world of Gabriel Allon need not worry; every book is easily approached on its own. The Cellist explores how Russia uses money as a weapon.

"Money is Russia's greatest weapon," a Russian prisoner tells Gabriel in The Cellist. "A nuclear bomb can only be dropped once. But money can be wielded every day with no fallout and no threat of mutually assured destruction. Russian money is rotting the institutional integrity of the West from within."

"That," says Silva emphatically, "is the nub of the book."

Silva had just about finished writing it when insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

"How could I not write about that?" he asks rhetorically.

The event forced him to not only write an entirely different ending, but forced him to go back and rework the front two-thirds of the novel, causing him "many, many 14, 15-hour days." That's just about double his average writing time.

Like many others, the author spent the pandemic at home. Last summer's release of The Order, the 20th book in the Gabriel Allon series, launched amid a flurry of virtual events, a trend that's continuing this year, as the U.S. grapples with the coronavirus Delta variant, vaccinations, and a slow return to normal life.

Silva notes that there was "an enormous audience" for one of the Facebook Live events last year, but he recognizes there's no comparison between that and the few precious minutes he spends talking to fans who turn up to his in-person signings. Still, his discussion with Bash will likely prove interesting viewing, especially given Silva's keen observations of current affairs.

The Cellist also offered Silva the opportunity to drop in something else he's keen on: classical music.

"I love classical music," he says. "I listen to classical music first thing in the morning. I don't really sleep very much, so I listen to classical music much of the night. I am one of those people."

Two of the book's main characters share the author's enthusiasm, with very different approaches and story arcs.

"The initial inspiration some had to do with the musical background of my villain," he explains. "And then, as I pulled the thread and plotted and plotted and plotted, I decided to make that musical background a big, big part of the story."

It afforded him the opportunity to include some of his own favorite pieces into the writing, including Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, which he calls, "one of the most beautiful little pieces," some of Brahms' cello sonatas and pieces by Haydn. Astute readers will see some name drops for some of Silva's favorite real-life musicians and conductors as well.

"And I got to bring back a character I've always wanted to bring back," he relays.

As he gears up for another series of virtual book tours, Silva's looking ahead. He's hopeful that next summer there will be a return to in-person events, possibly coming back to Houston, a city he's visited several times before, both for events the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center and at Murder By the Book.

He's also taking meetings about bringing his books to life on-screen. Previous deals have fallen through, but Silva says he's hopeful about the prospects this time.

So, there's much more to come for Silva, his characters, and his fans. When we spoke, he was already on page 66 of the next novel.

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Mega-celebrity photographer of Beyoncé's all-time favorite portrait holds court in Houston to honor Queen Bey

royal portraits

Only a select few humans — ever — have been photographed as often as pop culture’s undisputed queen, Beyoncé, over her illustrious, 26-year career. Even at her young age, Houston’s queen possesses a singular trait that elevates her above even the most apex celebrities: immortality.

Just how do the ultra-famous unlock the loftiest achievement of immortality? For many, it’s often through a single, transcendent photograph, which can transform a performer into an icon — and rocket a mere mortal into immortal status. And few photographers on the planet can bestow immortality on the globally famous like A-list artisan Markus Klinko.

To celebrate Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour homecoming — and his now legendary photos of her over the years — Klinko will meet fans from 1 pm to 3 pm Saturday, September 23 at Tootsies for a showcase of some of his most famed works — including the ultra-rare Beyoncé “Diamond Dust” series, on view at Nicole Longnecker Gallery.

A statuesque, towering presence (he’s six-foot-four) with chiseled features and a flair for fashion, the Swiss-born Klinko looks every part a celeb himself. That star quality has no doubt helped him break the ice when photographing superstars like our Beyoncé, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Naomi Campbell, and Iman — to name a few. Not a bad resume for a former professional classical harp soloist who — sort of amazingly — only fell into photography after a hand injury (more on that later).

Before she became a one-word brand, Beyoncé Knowles was just 22 when she experienced Klinko’s wizardry firsthand in 2003. Already drawing It Girl attention as a member of Destiny’s Child, the young Houstonian had met Klinko during a Destiny’s Child photo shoot for Vibe magazine in 2000. With his trademark, sixth-sense for superstardom, Klinko pointed to Beyoncé while she was lounging with the group and told her mother, Tina Knowles, “Her, she’s going to be huge.” Tina’s response: “We know.”

Three years later, Sony reunited Beyoncé and Klinko to shoot the cover of Dangerously in Love, Beyoncé’s now legendary 2003 debut solo album. The match, now, seems predestined: both Beyoncé and Knowles were in the early stages of their careers. Beyoncé and Klinko vibed immediately, and in a simple snap of his Fuji camera, Klinko shot the stunning and shimmering photo that Queen Bey recently told French newspaper Le Figaro is her most favorite of any portrait taken of her.

Staying true to his organic, in-the-moment approach, Klinko flawlessly captured Beyoncé’s effortless pose in her now-famed diamond top and created one of music’s most iconic celebrity photos and yes, helped cement Beyoncé’s immortal status. And it only cost him his pants. (More on that later, too.)

CultureMap caught up with Klinko ahead of his Houston appearance and fresh off the opening of his latest installation: His celebrity images are on display at the legendary Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino in, naturally, the vaunted Elvis Presley Suite. Perfect timing, then, for Klinko to star as a cover model in the familiar Tootsies window displays.

CultureMap: Congratulations on landing the Tootsies window display. It looks gorgeous.

Markus Klinko: Oh yeah, it’s spectacular, isn’t it?

CM: Quite! So, what’s it like seeing yourself as one of the main features of an exhibit — as opposed to being behind the camera?

MK: You know, I’ve never been in the window of a major fashion department store, so this is pretty fun.

CM: Never in the window, but you’ve certainly been the focal point of attention as an acclaimed harpist.

MK: Yes, I started my life on the ‘other’ side, and as you say, as a classical concert harpist. I was signed to EMI Classics and represented by Colombia Artists and traveling around the world making recordings. I was on television very often and on magazine covers and all that throughout my 20s and early 30s — everything from Italian Vogue and Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar and GQ and all those fashion magazines for which I later worked as a photographer. So it’s not completely. new. But this is sort of a different twist.

CM: You clearly had an understanding of being in the spotlight, and the butterflies-in-the-stomach pressure to put on a great performance and give of yourself to an audience. Did that experience help you relate to your celebrity performer subjects in a way that just maybe a Mark Seliger or an Annie Leibovitz — not disparaging either — could not? Do you have a window into these performers’ worlds where they relate to you, and you to them?

MK: You know, that’s an amazing question and I’m glad you’re asking me this.

I switched from my classical music career, which was very successful at that time, to becoming a photographer at 33 under dramatic circumstances. It was tragic; basically a hand injury forced me to abandon my career at the height of my success in the summer of 1994.

I was forced to cancel recording sessions, touring engagements and all of that. I had no clue where my income would be coming from, so it was not like the happiest moment in my life. It was actually sort of a panic-stricken time.

CM: And then came the moment.

MK: Yes, I had this epiphany that I will become a fashion photographer, actually had no intention at all to ever become a celebrity photographer. In the beginning of my photo career, I was 100-percent interested only in shooting models — mainly female models to be honest. I would have liked to be a Playboy magazine photographer or something.

So in other words, I just wanted to have fun. It was the last thought on my mind to help other musicians succeed.

CM: You almost seem like you were dragged into fashion and celebrity photography.

MK: A few years into my photo career, around 1999, I was still completely focused on shooting models, models, models. I wasconfronted with proposals from record labels and magazines to shoot covers for them. And I distinctly remember telling my agent at the time that I was not interested and that why would I shoot musicians, when I could just shoot models who are more beautiful in general. And that was that.

CM: And how did that go over?

MK: At some point my agent picked up the phone and screamed at me and said, ‘Markus, you’re an idiot! We have record companies wanting to pay you $100,000 a day and you would rather shoot some girl.’ And I said, ‘Okay, fine, I’ll try it.’ My first record cover shoot was Vitamin C; at that moment she had the biggest hit of the year.

I asked my friends from Interview magazine to style it and she was lovely and I had no problem with it. But about a month later, I got up in the morning and I went to the gym. As I walked through the streets of New York, there were thousands and thousands of posters of Vitamin. I saw my image of Vitamin C a million times on the way to the gym. And I was like, ‘Hmm, that’s not so bad.’

A couple of months later, GQ called me from the UK and wanted me to shoot these different celebrities. And I told GQ — it was very funny — I said under one condition, I’ll shoot the celebrity you want me to shoot, but I want you to let me shoot some nude girl for the centerfold of GQ. And they just said, ‘Okay, whatever you want.’ So I invented the GQ Pin Up 2000 and for a whole year as a reward of shooting some British pop star girl for them — who I couldn’t care less but whatever, I did it. But then I shot Little Kim and Molly Sims and a bunch of really big models and supermodels.

CM: And then you shoot the world’s biggest supermodel, Iman, for her book, which leads to shooting a rock god David Bowie — her husband — for his now-famous album cover [Heathens, 2002] in 2001. Talk about a word-of-mouth reference.

MK: By that time, I was already inundated with. requests from labels. I shot nonstop for different labels and then Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez. That all came as a reaction basically to that first celebrity shoot with Vitamin C, and I guess just my style. The way I shot models was very different from what was in fashion at the time. I just sort of did my own thing. And that really appealed to major advertising record covers, iconic photo shoots, big comeback shoots for artists like Mariah. Mariah really needed a big comeback shoot in 2005 when she launched The Emancipation of Mimi.

CM: Let’s go back to that magical moment in 2003 when you shot perhaps the most legendary photo of Beyoncé ever.

MK: Sony music called me and they said, 'Beyonce from Destiny’s Child is going solo and she requested you shoot her album cover. Apparently, you had worked with her before for Destiny’s Child and she wanted to only work with you for this.'

So then, Sony Music organized a phone call between me, Beyoncé, the Sony team, and her mom Tina [Knowles] who was styling it. Beyoncé on the phone mentioned specifically my photograph of Leticia Costa, the French supermodel and actor in the "Spider Web" shot. And she said she really loved that photo — She called it the Diamond Spider or something. And she said she would love something like that, but smaller on her. And to be honest, I had no idea what that meant, but I was just like, 'Okay.'

Fast forward to a week later when the photo shoot actually happened and they arrived in the morning. I noticed that there was this diamond top and I grabbed it and I went up to Beyoncé. I said, 'This is exactly what you were talking about. We could do this.' And then she said, 'Oh yeah, I was thinking about it, but my mom has these skirts and I don’t wanna wear those because it reminds me of a prom and I don’t wanna look like a prom on my album cover.'

And I said, 'Yeah, of course not. Let’s do it with denim.' And then Beyonce said, 'No, we don’t have any, we didn’t bring any denim.'

CM: And then...?

MK: And so I said, 'Oh, don’t worry, maybe you’ll fit into mine.' And she said, 'Oh, really? Can I try them?' And so that’s the story.

CM: I’m guessing you had another pair handy?

MK: Oh, sure, I just grabbed another pair from upstairs I had. You know, back then and until now, my favorite pair of jeans are always DNG — Dolce & Gabbana.

CM: I love the story of how she returned them to you.

MK: She brought them back a couple months later. She had dry cleaned them and she packed them into some sort silk paper thing and a ribbon. She brought him back and said, 'Please don’t sell them on eBay, ever.' And she laughed.

I thought that was really sweet and I just took them and I put them somewhere. This is crazy, but I’m actually talking to Botswana Diamond Dealers to fill up a bathtub at the Vegas suite and to put those Beyoncé jeans into the bling bathtub as a joke. You know, almost as a shrine.

CM: Markus, it certainly seems to me that right when you looked through the viewer and fired off that exposure, she went from Beyoncé Knowles from Houston, Texas to the immoral global brand all in one second.

MK: You are right, yes. Absolutely she did. I had a jolt in my, in my whole body when that moment happened. And I told her that right then as soon as I clicked that shot. I said, 'We got the cover, you’ll see.' There's alternate shots of that, which are all beautiful, and some of them will be in Houston.

CM: It seems you predicted her future while announcing her to the world. Is that fair to say?

MK: Well, the way I see it is with that image, I sort of anticipated who Beyoncé was going to become. I think that my job that day was to take a young girl from Houston, Texas, a member of an R&B group, and present to the world who she will be. And she would have become that regardless of whatever I did photographically, because she’s such an enormous, enormously talented musician and performer and icon. She’s a great actress. But, my opportunity was to showcase to the world quickly and immediately who she will be. And so that’s what I’m proud of.

CM: You have shot countless celebrity portraits — many the most memorable of said celebrity, like Britney Spears. How does it feel to hear that your 2003 shot is Queen Bey’s favorite of all time?

MK: The fact that Beyoncé is probably the biggest celebrity in the world today, and having photographed the most famous photo — of the most famous celebrity — is an honor that I take with great humility. I’m not saying that to show off — I’m saying that to thank God for the opportunity. I am glad that Beyoncé loves the photo so much. I’m glad that the world recognizes it as her most famous photo: It's been said many, many times that it is the most recognizable Beyoncé photo. So I'm very honored that people feel that way about it.

CM: What do you remember of the Beyoncé then, and the Beyoncé you've worked with since for other projects?

MK: I remember Beyoncé and being around her, seeing her as an extremely kind, very humble, very normal person. I’ve never felt any sort of diva behavior from her. Beyoncé was just really, really nice and normal. And she’s extremely hardworking, obviously extremely talented, not just with music and singing and acting, but also in the process of collaboration of a visual product such as these photographs I’ve done with her. She’s a very, very good collaborator.

There are people who are very famous, especially actors who sometimes, in front of the still camera, feel awkward. Sometimes comedians and actors need the movement, the momentum, the storytelling, the words in order to showcase their brilliance and their talent.

Not everyone is able in a 2/50th of a second to express all of that, but Beyoncé certainly has that incredible ability and I think that’s innate and subconscious and subliminal. She just knows where the light is coming from and she knows how to position it all in the most phenomenal way. And I guess I subliminally know how to catch it. So it’s really one of those very, very easy collaborations.

CM: Speaking of collaborations, you are able to crystallize a pop icon’s entire era in a single exposure unlike perhaps anyone I’ve ever seen. Did you know that Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, and Lizzo are all from Houston — they all grew up just a mere 30 minutes from each other.

MK: Wow, I did not know that.

CM: Yes, we’re home to three of the biggest female pop stars in the world. So I wonder: Megan Thee Stallion is truly in the midst of her moment. Is she someone you’d like to shoot next?

MK: Well, let me answer it this way...I hope that Megan reads your interview, because I absolutely love Megan and I would love to work with her — and they should call me. I love her.

CM: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask: What is your favorite Beyoncé song?

MK: Oh, I would say “Crazy In Love” is one of my favorites. There are obviously many, but I'm probably biased to that album. That's one of my proudest collaborations, so, of course, I’m biased. Can you blame me? [Laughs]

Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Beyonc\u00e9 Dangerously in Love

Courtesy of Markus Klinko

Markus Klinko captured Beyoncé's favorite portrait in 2003 for her Dangerously in Love debut solo album.

Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Countdown to Beyoncé: Trill Burgers shortens hours to serve massive NRG Stadium crowd

respect the beyhive

Since it opened in June, Trill Burgers has been unstoppable. Bun B’s burger joint has seen lines out the door, fed celebrities ranging from Drake to Mike Tyson, and caused literal traffic jams with its drive-thru.

But even a juggernaut like Trill Burgers knows better than to mess with the Beyhive. For this weekend only (September 23 and 24), the Montrose-area restaurant will only be open from 11 am to 2 pm. Operating with such limited hours will allow Trill Burgers to feed the sold out crowds flocking to NRG Stadium for Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour.

“We want to make sure that we have our stations fully stocked so that people don't miss this amazing show that she's bringing,” Bun said in a video posted to social media. “We know the Beyhive don't play and Trill Burgers don't play either.”

In order to ensure people get their burgers as quickly as possible, Trill Burgers is slimming down its menu to only serve beef burgers — sorry, vegans. In addition, it will impose a limit of two burgers per person.

Due to the stage setup, Trill Burgers will only operate two of its usual four stands. They are Sections 135 and 548.

Of course, CultureMap has you covered for everything related to this weekend’s concerts. Don’t miss our guides for what to wear, events celebrating Beyoncé, and the latest traffic and parking info.

Countdown to Beyoncé: Parking, closures, rideshares, and more for NRG Stadium

bey prepared

The countdown is on for Beyoncé's highly anticipated shows in Houston this weekend, and ABC13 has everything you need to know for an easy ride over to NRG Stadium to see Queen Bey.

This weekend's gridlock alert isn't like any other, as more traffic is anticipated than usual in the South Loop area towards the venue on both Saturday and Sunday.

Here's what you need to know:


Drivers, if you decide to park directly at NRG Stadium, know all lots will have $40 cashless parking.

Parking is available in the orange, red, maroon, blue, yellow, green and purple lots. ADA parking is available in all of the lots.

If you're getting a ride, you can get dropped off and picked up at the Yellow Lot. The entrance will be through Gate 16B off Main Street.

METRORail riders can take the Red Line from the Fannin South Lot, which has $20 parking, and get off at the Stadium Park/Astrodome Station exit.EMBED <>MORE VIDEOS

Ready to Renaissance? Here's what you should know before Queen Bey's Houston concerts.

SEE ALSO: Beyoncé's favorite things: 9 places star has stopped before in Houston


But what about getting there on time?

If you're driving in from Fort Bend County or the southwest side, the Southwest Freeway will be closed at the West Loop, so you might want to avoid that.

All mainlanes will be closed starting Friday at 8 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m. You can use US-90 as your alternate route.

For those coming from the east side, including San Jacinto and all points beyond that along the East Freeway, avoid the East Loop altogether.

You'll see northbound and southbound closures between Market and Clinton Street from 9 p.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. on Sunday.

So, for Saturday night's concert, you can drive toward downtown and south on Highway 288 to catch the West Loop over to NRG Stadium.

If you plan to use METRO to head to NRG, they plan to put more of their trains in service about three hours before the start of Beyoncé's concerts each day.


Continue reading this story on our news partner ABC13.