Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

Every year during hurricane season, spare gas tanks are filled, food and water supplies are replenished, and go bags are packed. However, one aspect of storm preparation that shouldn’t be overlooked is your pet’s preparedness. Make sure they’re included in your emergency plans just like your human family members.

Not sure what that entails? Follow this handy guide from Houston SPCA:

1. Never leave your pet behind when evacuating
It’s critical that your pet is prepared to come with you should you need to evacuate during a storm. Don’t wait until it’s time to leave to put your pet in a crate for the first time. Make sure they’re comfortable in a travel carrier every now and then by encouraging them to enter and exit the kennel with plenty of positive reinforcement.

If you know your pet becomes carsick or anxious when traveling and requires medication, be sure to have a current prescription. Administer the medication at least once in advance to know how your pet reacts to it.

2. Ensure a happy reunion
In the event that you and your pet are separated, confirm that they have a properly fitted collar and tag with your current contact information.

Also check that their microchip information is up to date, and that you have a recent photo of yourself with your pet to help prove ownership.

3. Be medically prepared
Obtain vaccination and medical records from your veterinarian. Write down any care or medical instructions as well, and seal this information in a plastic bag with the medications they take.

4. Secure your yard
Walk around your yard to ensure that your fence is secure and there are no weak spots that your pet could escape through if they get spooked. If they wear a tether or use a leash to go outside, test it to confirm it won’t break when pulled.

Dog with first aid kit

Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

Never evacuate without your pet.

5. Build an emergency kit
Save this disaster checklist to make sure your pet has everything they need before leaving home in an emergency.

Pack the items in a sturdy backpack or duffel bag and have a secure travel carrier in good shape ready to place in the car. Ensure that it fits in advance if you have a large animal.


Follow Houston SPCA on Twitter and set notification for real-time updates in the event of a local disaster.

Courtesy of ABC13.com [http://abc13.com/]

Hurricane Harvey in photos: A look back at the Houston heroes who rose above the rising waters

harvey, in pictures

CultureMap looks back at the Hurricane Harvey heroes who rose against the rising flood waters.

Five years ago, residents, first reponders, and visitors united to rescue the tens of thousands caught in the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. "It was a devastating storm with a tremendous impact," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tells CultureMap. "More than 150,000 single-family homes were either substantially damaged or destroyed. Probably about another 150,000 apartment units were impacted. When I look back now, this storm had no respect for a person's community. There was rain everywhere, in the lowest socio-economic communities and in affluent communities. It didn't matter whether you were a Democrat or Republican. What I remember is water — everywhere." The water was indeed everywhere, with a seemingly endless deluge of an estimated 52 inches of rain. That catastophe led to 6,000 calls made to 911 in the Houston area and some 10,000 rescued by first responders. Worse, the most costly rain event in U.S. history claimed 103 direct and indirect deaths and caused some $125 billion in damage. The nation would respond, celebrities such as our own Beyoncé came home, and hip-hop legend Bun B spearheaded a star-studded relief concert [https://variety.com/2017/music/news/hand-in-hand-hurricane-harvey-telethon-bun-b-scooter-braun-1202554429/]. Houston Texans icon J.J. Watt raised [https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/08/29/texans-jj-watt-hurricane-harvey-funds-homes-built-meals-houston] more than more than $37 million to rebuid some 1,100 homes. A hashtag emerged: #HoustonStrong. Strong, indeed. Here, we look back at CultureMap's photos from readers and news partner ABC13 that captured our triumph over tragedy. (Specal thanks to former CultureMap staffers Marcy de Luna and Clifford Pugh for their efforts during the worst days.) ___________________ Houston SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck rescues Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden after their home was flooded.

Houston, Hurricane Harvey, first responders, August 2017, Houston SWAT Daryl Hudeck
Courtesy of ABC13.com [http://abc13.com/]
Five years ago, residents, first reponders, and visitors united to rescue the tens of thousands caught in the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. "It was a devastating storm with a tremendous impact," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tells CultureMap. "More than 150,000 single-family homes were either substantially damaged or destroyed. Probably about another 150,000 apartment units were impacted. When I look back now, this storm had no respect for a person's community. There was rain everywhere, in the lowest socio-economic communities and in affluent communities. It didn't matter whether you were a Democrat or Republican. What I remember is water — everywhere." The water was indeed everywhere, with a seemingly endless deluge of an estimated 52 inches of rain. That catastophe led to 6,000 calls made to 911 in the Houston area and some 10,000 rescued by first responders. Worse, the most costly rain event in U.S. history claimed 103 direct and indirect deaths and caused some $125 billion in damage. The nation would respond, celebrities such as our own Beyoncé came home, and hip-hop legend Bun B spearheaded a star-studded relief concert [https://variety.com/2017/music/news/hand-in-hand-hurricane-harvey-telethon-bun-b-scooter-braun-1202554429/]. Houston Texans icon J.J. Watt raised [https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/08/29/texans-jj-watt-hurricane-harvey-funds-homes-built-meals-houston] more than more than $37 million to rebuid some 1,100 homes. A hashtag emerged: #HoustonStrong. Strong, indeed. Here, we look back at CultureMap's photos from readers and news partner ABC13 that captured our triumph over tragedy. (Specal thanks to former CultureMap staffers Marcy de Luna and Clifford Pugh for their efforts during the worst days.) ___________________ Houston SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck rescues Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden after their home was flooded.
Photo by Michal Wycoff

Houston's longtime hurricane head honcho Ed Emmett shares valuable lessons from Harvey

ed emmett on harvey

“I say it over and over and over,” Ed Emmett, former Harris County Judge, tells CultureMap in his signature, measured tone. “Harvey was not a hurricane. Harvey was a rain event — an unprecedented rain event in North American history.”

Hurricane or rain event, the maelstrom known as Harvey made landfall in Texas five years ago on August 25, 2017, technically as a Category 4 hurricane. Houston and surrounding areas were pummeled for days with endless rain and subsequent flooding. In the end, Harvey would be responsible for 103 direct and indirect deaths and cause some $125 billion in damage, making it the second-most costly hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland since 1900.

For days and weeks after Harvey dissipated, the city, nation, and even world watched Emmett and city officials — namely Mayor Sylvester Turner, who tells CultureMap that Emmett was nothing short of “masterful” in his dealings — navigate the treacherous terrain in the storm’s wake.

Five years after the disaster that displaced hundreds of thousands and caused irreparable damage to so many, Emmett is a fellow in energy and transportation at Rice University’s Baker Institute and a distinguished senior fellow at Northeastern University.

It is, to observers, a sudden career change for the decades-long local, state, and national public servant. In news that shocked many, Lina Hidalgo, a Democratic newcomer to major metropolitan politics, defeated Emmett in the general election for Harris County Commissioners Court Judge on November 6, 2018. Emmett and many politicos and experts (on both sides) cite the narrow win margin — little more than 19,000 votes — as proof that the bipartisan-minded and generally beloved Emmett was a casualty of straight-ticket voting, which ultimately ended in 2020.

Now, the man who guided Harris County through Hurricanes Ike and Harvey, and myriad storms, generally avoids the spotlight. But he makes an exception to share his memories, his thoughts on what we here dub the “Houston Way” of helping one another, and five lessons learned from the historic event with us. Emmett, in his own words, as told to CultureMap:

1. The piles of debris created by Harvey really represented people’s lives.
The first day I was out of the office of emergency management and had gone home to take a shower, my daughter and her family were working with a local church. They were giving away shoes in their Braes Heights neighborhood, which had flooded. People were trying to muck out their house — it was a term I’d never really heard before, mucking.

She asked if I’d come by and say hi to the folks. I was actually talking on the phone when I turned on her street and saw the piles of debris. They were eight and 10 feet high on both sides of the street. I told the person I was on the phone with, ‘you know, I'm going to have to have a minute, just to collect myself.’ I was doing pretty good until I saw this elderly couple come out of the house. I watched them and when they got to the pile, they were trying to sort through it and find things.

It’s at that point that I thought, ‘you know we’ve got to do better than this.’ We talked about debris contracts. We talked about dollar damage, in terms of dollars. But really, those debris piles were people's lives and that's my biggest takeaway.

People, not just in elected office, but everybody needs to always remember that these are people’s lives out there on those streets. These people are not going to talk about the dollar value, they’re going to talk about the memories that were lost and the heirlooms that were lost. The dollar value is one of the less-important aspects of it.

Now, when I see the floods in Kentucky or a tornado in Tennessee, my thoughts immediately go back to that elderly couple. I didn’t used to do that — I’d say, ‘Oh, look at all that damage, that’s horrible.’ But now I say, ‘I’m glad nobody died’ and I wonder about the personal cost. Harvey just seared that into my soul.

2. Floodwaters respect no boundaries.
Whether you’re rich or poor, black or white, it doesn't matter: Floodwaters don’t discriminate at all in that regard.

Also, in politics, we like to talk about counties, authorities, all these entities that have boundaries. Harvey was a regional event. What happened in Montgomery County impacted Kingwood and Harris County. In Conroe, they decided to open flood gates, and that flooded part of Kingwood. So, the water may fall in one commissioner’s precinct, but it's going to go downstream and impact another commissioner’s precinct.

One of my frustrations — after the fact — has been that I’ve watched the elected officials get into these territorial debates. They say, ‘Well, I need more projects in my area.’ I say, if one neighborhood is improved, then that improves everybody. You can’t just pick and choose.

3. The best plans for dealing with disasters have to be flexible.
I’ve never been in the military, so I don’t want to imply that I have, but I've always read a saying in the military that battle plans are good … until the first bullet flies and then, everything changes rapidly.

We can plan for hurricanes, which we did. I never thought I would find myself saying hurricanes are ‘easy,’ but you know where the storm surge is supposed to hit and you know the areas you need to evacuate in advance. You know what the winds are going to do as they come inland.

But with Harvey, we didn’t know where the water was going to fall. The normal plans we have for dealing with flooding and storms, we just had to change. By the time the State of Texas pivoted after helping Rockport and tried to get the Texas Task Force One, and others, here to help Harris County and the surrounding counties, they couldn't get here. So we had to then suddenly say, ‘well we’ve got to rely on somebody else.’

So, Harris County had to set up a major shelter. FEMA couldn’t get here, the Red Cross couldn’t get here. And so we turned to BakerRipley, the nonprofit and they set up a 10,000-occupancy shelter that really became kind of the model for the rest of the world. Angela Blanchard, BakerRipley's president and CEO, now goes around the world telling people how to set up shelters. That wasn’t even their business. But, we knew it was a competent organization and that they cared deeply about the local community. So, we found new partners.

4. Leaders must ignore the critics and concentrate on the job at hand.
The group ProPublica criticized me heavily for not following my plan because we used BakerRipley instead of FEMA and the Red Cross. I thought it was a joke when I read that. My response was, ‘well, hell, Harvey didn’t follow my plan either.’

I really couldn’t even believe that they were being critical, because we had to set up a shelter and we had to find someone to do it and everybody said it worked great.

Then, General Russel Honoré, who had evidently done good work in New Orleans during Katrina, was on national television, on CNN, just blasting me and the mayor for not evacuating in advance. Anybody who was here knows that was ludicrous, because we had clear weather Tuesday and Wednesday, and you can’t just evacuate six or seven million people from the entire region. Nobody knew where the rain was going to fall, so you couldn’t say, ‘well, we need to evacuate the 1960 area, but not Kingwood.’

Unfortunately, Mayor Turner and I both had to answer way too many questions from people saying, well, he [General Honoré] says you should have evacuated. Our response was always, ‘well number one, we couldn’t have evacuated and if he was here, he would understand that.’

But, you can’t spend a lot of time on that, because you have other things you need to be doing. Something’s always going to happen in the midst of a disaster.

There’s always somebody in the media who asks, ‘Who screwed up? Who made the mistake?’ My attitude was always, we’ll work that out after the fact. Right now, we’ve got a job to do. We’ll get together and do the after-action, who screwed up, who needs to be retrained, or whatever. But, in the midst of the storm is not the time to do that.

5. Trust people to perform and work together.
Going way back to [Hurricane] Ike with Mayor Bill White: A certain statewide, elected official of the Republican Party once looked at me and said, ‘your job is to make Bill White look bad.’ I answered, ‘No, my job is to work with whoever is elected as the mayor of Houston.’

The general public, particularly outside of Houston and Harris County, know what a mayor is. They don’t know what the county judge is, necessarily. Yes, under state law, the county judge is the director of Homeland Security and emergency management for the entire county, including the city. But people are going to interview the mayor, and so when Bill and I were dealing with Ike, we always had joint press conferences. We alternated who went first, so there wasn’t any of this ‘he’s upstaging the other guy.’

Sylvester [Turner] and I had the same situation throughout Harvey. Sometimes we weren’t even together, because the floods were so bad and he couldn’t get to where I was, or I couldn’t get to where he was. But the last thing the public wants to see at a time like that is any kind of bickering among officials.

You mentioned the ‘Houston Way.’ Yes, we’re a very large city and county, but here, we take an interest in each other as individuals. I think that’s the key. That to me is the ‘Houston Way.’

Photo by Getty Images

Forget 'feels like': How hot is it in Houston for real? Ken Hoffman has burning questions for ABC13's expert

on the hot seat

The TV weather forecaster says today’s high temperature will be 100 degrees … dew point, feels like, sunrise, wind direction, barometric pressure, sunset, yadda yadda, back to you, Gina.

Then, you open your front door and it feels like you’re walking into a blast furnace.

So how hot is it? For real?

Before I moved to Houston I lived in Phoenix. The TV weather forecaster would say the current temperature was 114. The thermometer in my backyard, less than a mile from the TV station, said 122. Some days it would hit 125. For real.

I’ve heard that a city’s “official temperature” is taken at a local airport, in a shady, grassy area away from buildings and asphalt. So, the official temperature is accurate and meaningful … if you’re a squirrel who lives near the airport.

But, if you’re a human who lives near concrete streets and brick buildings, the official temperature has little to do with anything.

So let’s put ABC13 meteorologist Travis Herzog under oath and find out: Just how hot is it these days in Houston?

CultureMap: Are we in an historic heatwave or does it just feel that way?

Travis Herzog: You just lived through Houston’s hottest June on record. I’d call that historic.

CM: Last weekend, you predicted a high temperature of 103 for Saturday and 104 for Sunday. I live a few blocks from your TV station. My indoor-outdoor thermometer said it was 106 on the mean streets of West University Place. What gives?

TH: I don’t know whether to be flattered or creeped out that you keep buying houses near TV stations. But your thermometer is probably accurate. If you were to measure the temperature directly above the mean streets, it would read even hotter, probably around 120 degrees.

CM: Where is the official temperature taken in Houston?

TH: Houston’s official thermometer for record-keeping purposes is located at Bush Airport. The thermometer must be mounted five feet above the ground, protected from direct sunshine (shaded), and well-ventilated (adequate air flow).

It should be located at least 100 feet away from buildings and paved surfaces, and any grass or vegetation within 100 feet should be clipped to 10 inches or less. And you thought your HOA was bad!

These siting standards help us to make apples-to-apples temperature comparisons across the country, but they don’t come close to replicating the actual conditions we city slickers live in.

CM: Your weather map shows temps in various parts of the Houston viewing area. Who supplies those temps, how often are they updated?

TH: Most of them come from the ASOS weather stations operated by the National Weather Service and FAA at local airports. Some of them come from a network called MADIS that is a mixture of commercial, government, and personal weather stations, but those have less quality controls in place.

Hourly readings are given at 55 minutes after the hour, but they will update more frequently if significant weather changes occur, like a dramatic temperature drop, change in sky conditions, or strong wind gust.

CM: Why do you report the dew point when I have no idea what that means?

TH: Because our average viewer is smarter than you. Plus, it’s a better indicator of how much moisture is really in the air.

CM: What is “feels like” temperature?

TH: It’s either the heat index or the wind chill factor. Another name for it is the “apparent temperature.” This is an attempt to describe how the weather conditions make it feel to our bodies.

We all know it feels a lot colder when the wind is cranking, and a dry heat is more pleasant than dog-breath humidity. The heat index takes into account the temperature and dew point, and it assumes you’re in the shade and the wind is about 5 mph.

CM: Is it ever going to rain again?

TH: As surely as the sun rises. If for some reason the sun does not rise, then we’ve got a problem and I’ll need to rethink my answer.

CM: Where in the world would you find the single best weather city?

TH: The Canary Islands claim to be the “Land of Eternal Spring” and boast of the best climate in the world. But if I wanted to be in the thick of extreme weather like droughts, floods, hurricanes, heat waves, severe storms, and occasional winter storms, I suppose I’d stay right here in Houston.

After all, Harris County was recently declared by NOAA to be the most at-risk county in the country for weather and climate disasters.

CM: In your career, whats the biggest wrong forecast you ever made?

TH: I once predicted the Texans would win the Super Bowl. Oops. (Editors note: No worries, Travis. We have you beat on the worst Texans prediction ever.)

We've just endured the hottest June on record. What's next?

thermometer heat hot sun
Photo by Getty Images
We've just endured the hottest June on record. What's next?
Photo by Nicole Raney

Houston SPCA drops hot tips for keeping your pets cool this summer

Hot Dogs

Summer is upon us, and with it comes the responsibility for pet parents to keep their furry friends cool and comfortable.

Houston SPCA has a few helpful reminders, along with the important signs of heatstroke.

1. Make sure your pets are safely inside during the hottest day parts, 2 pm-4:30 pm. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them!

2. Taking your pup to a pet-friendly bar or restaurant? Be sure to test surfaces by holding your hand on it for at least seven seconds before letting your pet sit there.

3.Never leave your pet in the car, even if the windows are partially rolled down and the car is in the shade. Cars can reach an internal temperature of 119 degrees in less than 10 minutes on a 100-degree day.

Keep an eye out for these signs of heatstroke:

  • Heavy panting
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Uncoordinated movements, lethargic

Houston SPCA chief veterinarian Dr. Roberta Westbrook recommends removing the pet out of the heat first before offering cool — not cold — water to drink (cold water can shock their system).

Next, wipe them down with a large, damp towel to help lower their body temperature. Contact your veterinarian if you don’t see any immediate changes.

"Leaving your pet outside can have devastating consequences, as we have seen recently with several cases where animals were left outside," says Dr. Westbrook. "If you plan on leaving your home, please check to make sure your pet is inside to ensure their safety during this potentially deadly heat wave."

If you see an animal injured or in distress, please call the Houston SPCA at 713-869-7722 immediately.

Photo by Getty Images

Houston moves to Stage 1 drought plan as temperatures soar

the heat is on

Lowered rainfall amounts and higher-than-normal daily temperatures have pushed the city of Houston into Stage 1 of its drought contingency plan.

In a recent statement, Houston Public Works urged residents to take voluntary conservation measures in order for the city to reduce water use by 5 percent.

"During the past month, the City of Houston has had record-setting high temperatures above 90 degrees and a significant decrease in rainfall. As a result, most of Houston's service area is experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions," Houston Public Works' statement read.

A significant measure that the city is pushing is a limited watering schedule that allows single-family residences certain days to water their lawns based on their street addresses.


Continue reading this story on our news partner ABC13.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

River Oaks-area Japanese restaurant set to shutter after 4-year run

sayonara shun

A popular Houston Japanese restaurant will soon serve its last meal. Shun Japanese Kitchen will close its doors on Saturday, June 10.

Chef Naoki Yoshida opened Shun in October 2018 to serve his Texas-influenced take on traditional Japanese cuisine such as lamb barbacoa gyoza and smoked miso baby back ribs. Yoshida is a second generation restaurateur, as his family owns staple Montrose sushi spot Nippon.

Over time, the restaurant became known for a number of initiatives, including serving Japanese-style soufflé pancakes, launching the Hako Bento Box Company ghost kitchen, and hosting a Christmas Day fried chicken dinner that paid homage to Japan’s love for KFC. Yoshida also created events such as the Tokyo Night Festival and Tokyo X to celebrate Japanese culture.

"We are very thankful for all the support over the last five years," Yoshida said in a statement. "Although I am saddened to close this chapter of Shun Japanese Kitchen, I am excited to open another chapter for the future. We have some thrilling events and concepts planned in the future with the same goal to continue promoting Japanese culture in Houston."

Those “thrilling events” start with the Tokyo X festival, which will be held at NRG Center on June 17-18. The festival will feature more than 200 vendors, a Japanese car show, a $1,000 cosplay contest, martial arts demonstrations, and more.

After the festival, the chef plans to travel to research his next restaurant, described as the first Japanese-owned omakase restaurant in Houston. It’s expected to open in the fall of 2024.

Starry style: Where to score the most fashionable summer color trends for every zodiac sign in Houston


Summer is here, which means it's time to start thinking about the perfect outfits to make a statement all season long. With so many hot trends on the horizon, it can be overwhelming to decide where to begin.

Not to worry, we've curated this summer's wardrobe essentials using power colors related to each zodiac sign. By aligning summer attire with zodiac signs, fashionistas can find outfits that perfectly match specific personality traits and energy, helping to radiate positivity and, who knows – maybe even manifest summertime goals.

So why wait? Dive into the latest summer trends, and discover the perfect look based on the stars — and where to find them in Houston.

Capricorn: Brown and gray

Body-con dresses are everywhere this summer; this color combo is neutral enough to go from summer to fall. Capricorns love to feel beautiful without drawing extra attention to themselves, and this summer drop from Veronica Beard in River Oaks District does the job.

Brown and gray are power colors for Capricorns who like to go under the radar. Photo by Veronica Beard

Aquarius: Blue

Associated with water, thoughtfulness, serenity, and tranquility, blue is perfect for channeling your inner zen while watching the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in this Baseball Y'all tee from Julia Morales.

The Baseball Y'all shirt is the perfect blue for summer and a Houston Astros game. Photo by Julia Morales

Pisces: Light green

Pretty and fresh, the light color green is associated with nature, relaxation, and vitality. This Orite Choker from Houston designer Susana Vega is a classic piece to wear with just about everything this season.

Houston designer Susana Vega designed Orite Chocker in a great shade of green for Pisces. Photo by Susana Vega

Aries: Red

Known for passion, determination, and leadership abilities, the power color for Aries is red. Every Aries will be ready for adventure in Kick Pleat'sJersey Dress in color Poppy.

Visit Kick Pleat on Kirby for this relaxed dress in the color poppy. Photo courtesy of Kick Pleat

Taurus: Green

Green is linked to being dependable and consistent, just like a Taurus who likes to feel grounded in their earthy power color. This flouncy green dress from the brand ASOS is available at Nordstrom in the Galleria and is a great pick for spring and summer events.

Taurus can feel confident in this party dress by ASOS. Photo by ASOS

Gemini: Yellow

Yellow is known for happiness and optimism, which is exactly what you'll feel wearing the Christy Lynn Parker Top embroidered in just the perfect shade of lemon.

Gemini can wear this yellow top by Houston designer Christy Lynn Lee on repeat all spring and summer. Photo courtesy of Christy Lynn

Cancer: Silver

Shine bright like a diamond all summer in Aquazzura's Sundance Plateau Sandals from Tootsies. Wearing silver helps Cancers feel calm, comforted and hopeful – all the ingredients for a fantastic warm weather season.

Stand tall in these sky high heels from Tootsies. Photo courtesy of Tootsies

Leo: Gold

Feel like a star in a shimmering gold bikini by famed swimsuit designer Shoshana. The color gold is typically associated with confidence, wealth, success, and extravagance – yes, please! Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, the bikini is giving ultra-luxe mermaid vibes.

Bring ultra-luxe mermaid vibes in this bold gold bikini by Shoshana, available at Saks Fifth Avenue. Photo courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

Virgo: Brown

Even earth signs have to protect themselves from the sun, and this Panama Hat from Freya is an excellent combination of sand and neutral colors for any summer outfit. The color brown is often found in nature and is the power color for Virgos, who are known to be reliable and wise.

Virgos can protect themselves from the sun and wear a power color in this hat by Freya. Photo by Freya

Libra: Pink

Libras are lovers of balance, peace, generosity, and indulgence. Their power color is pink which is linked to love, femininity, optimism, and kindness. This Taffy Rainbow Zinnia Crystal Paillette Knotted Headband from Lele Sadoughi in River Oaks District is the ideal way to incorporate Libra's power color into a fun summer style.

Lele's store in River Oaks is brimming with pink for Libras. Photo by Lele Sadoughi

Scorpio: Black

Scorpios can channel their sophistication and power vibes in this Black Sweetheart Strapless Vinyl Jumpsuit from Chloe Dao. It is an eye-catching outfit made for a night out on the town this summer.

Scorpios will turn heads in Chloe Dao's vinyl jumpsuit. Photo by Chloe Dao

Sagittarius: Purple

Wearing purple can make a Sagittarius feel even more optimistic, funny, open, and social. That's at least four reasons to pick up this lovely Irene Recycled Vegan Crossbody Bag from Edit in Memorial.

Purple in any shade is perfect for Sagittarius.Photo courtesy of Edit

Ken Hoffman catches up with the Houston face of famed American Gladiators series now focus of 2-part ESPN doc

houston gladiator

As longtime Houstonians know, Lisa Malosky has been a media trailblazer since joining Channel 2 in 1991, as the first female sports anchor in Houston and going on to host the Houston Rockets studio show. She also covered college football and the WNBA for several networks.

But for all Malosky’s accomplishments in “serious” sports, her most memorable, certainly wildest and wooliest, role was hosting the runaway hit show American Gladiators for two seasons in the early ’90s.

A two-part documentary on the American Gladiators is airing this month on ESPN as part of its 30 for 30 series. The documentary also is streaming on ESPN+.

American Gladiators aired seven seasons debuting in 1989 and quickly becoming a global sensation. The sports-entertainment show pitted everyday contestants against musclebound superheroes with names like Gemini, Malibu, Thunder, and Ice in perilous games including Joust, Powerball, the Gauntlet and the Eliminator.

Basically, it was like watching your neighbors get the daylights knocked out of them by genetic freaks with biceps the size of bowling balls.

Sure, on TV it was all fun and games (until somebody gets their block knocked off), but behind the scenes the show was a tangle of deceit and greed involving a former Elvis impersonator who stole (let’s say took credit) for the idea of American Gladiators and didn’t mind stabbing his best friend in the back.

Malosky is all over the documentary. Since she lives only a few blocks from me, just over the border into Southside Place, it wasn’t hard catching up with her.

CultureMap: So how does a weekend sports anchor in Houston get to host one of the most popular shows in the world?

Lisa Malosky: They came to Houston, to The Summit back then, to have tryouts. I did a story for Channel 2 about them looking for new competitors for the show. So I got out there and did a couple of the events, you know, that’s what we do, reporter involvement. I remember doing the event where contestants had to slam dunk a ball into a cylinder while dodging the Gladiators.

Anyway, I shot the ball like a basketball and it happened to go in. (It wasn’t a fluke shot – Malosky had been a star hoopster at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.)

A month or two later, I got a phone call at the station. It was from the American Gladiators. I thought they were looking for footage we shot at the tryouts. No, they were looking for me.

Samuel Goldwyn, the studio boss, saw an interview I did on PBS about being a female sportscaster and how Title IX had affected my career. The American Gladiators were looking for a new host for the 1994 season and they wanted a female. That’s what got the ball rolling. I called my agent and we went off to Los Angeles for an interview. That’s how I got the job.

CM: You continued to anchor sports at Channel 2 during those years. How did it work – did you use your Channel 2 vacation time to tape American Gladiators?

LM: Channel 2 let me take the month of June off. I went to Los Angeles and we taped the entire year’s worth of shows during that one month. We taped two shows a day. We’d work four days, then have a day or two off, and then work four more days.

CM: Raise your right hand. How much of American Gladiators was fake?

LM: It was absolutely real. None of it was staged, 100-percent swear on the Bible. Clearly there were times when the Gladiators lost their temper, but no one got hurt.

I never witnessed anybody trying to hurt someone intentionally. I remember if someone knocked off a Gladiator in Joust, I felt sorry for the next contestant who had to face that Gladiator.

CM: Who were your favorite Gladiators to hang out with?

LM: I have to be honest with you. I approached this job like I did my sportscasting job. Which is that I didn't fraternize with the people I covered and that's the truth. I didn’t spend much time with them, but I would say that Siren made the biggest impression on me. She was the young Gladiator who was deaf. I enjoyed her because she was just lovely and kind and sweet. Laser was a really good guy. He's a former football player from Montana State. We're Facebook friends now.

CM: American Gladiators reruns played for years after it was canceled in 1997. Did you get residuals? Was there a Lisa Malosky action figure?

LM: Ha! Maybe I should check to see about that action figure. Sorry, no residuals.

CM: So what are you doing now? How do you follow a phenomenon like American Gladiators?

Lisa Malosky American Gladiators

Photo courtesy of Lisa Malosky

Malosky quickly became a face of the American Gladiators as the Houston-based host.

LM: I have my own video production company, Lisa Malosky Productions. I work mostly with nonprofits, doing videos for their galas and websites. It’s extremely gratifying work.