Sex, Scandal, and Sisterhood: Fifty Years of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

A fascinating look at the evolution of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders — a history that reflects how attitudes have changed through the decades.

What they introduced was sex and glamour into the gladiator arena of modern sports. They launched a wave of imitations across the NFL, creating a blueprint for beauty that’s practically branded on the cultural imagination.

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Aug 15, 2022
Length: 33 minutes (8,397 words)

The Unlikely Rise of Slim Pickins, the First Black-Owned Outdoors Retailer in the Country

While the numbers are slowly getting better, there’s no question that the world of outdoor recreation is still slanted heavily away from Black participation. It’s an imbalance that Jahmicah Dawes is trying mightily to change — and has been ever since he opened his Texas store in 2017. Which isn’t to say he hasn’t weathered some storms along the way, as Ian Dille’s profile makes clear.

Throughout the summer of 2020, Dawes would look at his young sons and wonder, How am I going to keep them safe? Stress mounted. The shop continued to struggle. To make payroll, Dawes took night shifts at Home Depot and H-E-B, stocking shelves. Heather, who at the time ran a nonprofit pregnancy support clinic, found herself looking around their home, thinking, Okay, what can we sell? When Dawes fell asleep driving home from an evening shift, Heather knew he needed help.

Author: Ian Dille
Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Aug 10, 2022
Length: 15 minutes (3,938 words)

The Cowtown Killer

Glen McCurley was living a quiet life in Fort Worth when new DNA evidence linked him to a notorious crime: the killing of a teenager named Carla Walker, more than 45 years prior. Police suspect it wasn’t his first murder — or his last. The story of how he got caught takes some surprising turns, including an amateur true crime podcast and a woman’s trip to CrimeCon:

The show, called Gone Cold Podcast—Texas True Crime, had a small audience at first, but one person who did listen to it was DiAnne Kuykendall, a retired mail clerk for the U.S. Postal Service in Fort Worth. “I had gone to high school with Carla,” she told me. “We didn’t know each other at all, but she had always smiled at me in the hallway. She made me feel good—the popular girl talking to someone like me. Listening to the podcast, I thought, ‘I wish there was some way I could pay her back.’ ”

Kuykendall decided to fly to Nashville to attend CrimeCon, an annual three-day true-crime convention that most recently attracted some five thousand fans (the majority of them women) who flock to see celebrity authors, podcasters, and broadcasters. She brought along eighty copies of a pamphlet she’d written about Carla’s case, which was based mostly on Strange’s podcast. She paced the hallways of the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, passing out the pamphlets to the likes of Dateline’s Keith Morrison, Fox News’ Nancy Grace, and Paul Holes, a retired homicide investigator who’d helped solve the Golden State Killer case and who hosted a true crime show on NBC’s Oxygen network. “I’m sure everyone thought I was one of those crazy true-crime ladies,” Kuykendall told me.

Holes was intrigued by Carla’s case, and in April 2019, his producers called Wagner and Bennett. Oxygen was willing to pay $18,000 to cover the cost of DNA testing on Carla’s clothes. The detectives were thrilled.

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Jul 18, 2022
Length: 36 minutes (9,164 words)

Welcome to Alphaland, the Disney World for Bodybuilders

Of the many species of internet entrepreneurship that preys on vanity and shame, “fitness influencer” might be one of the most fraught. Yet, that’s exactly who Christian Guzman is courting with his massive gym in the Houston exurbs. Emily McCullar investigates the Oiliest Place on Earth.

The line to buy day passes was steady, and sometimes out the door. I don’t think I saw any unoccupied equipment, and every mirrored nook and cranny—of which there were several, as this is, after all, a space designed to support content production—was taken up by someone trying to capture a 360-degree view of their musculature in a single photograph.

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Jul 25, 2022
Length: 8 minutes (2,072 words)

A Year of “Protecting Children” in Texas

In the days after the Uvalde school shooting, Christopher Hooks looks at how the government has failed the children of Texas, focusing on banning books and demonizing transgender kids rather than working on ways to keep children safe.

How can anyone be expected to live this way, let alone a fifth grader? We should remember that the seventeen-year-old shooter at Santa Fe High School and the eighteen-year-old shooter in Uvalde were children too, who likely grew up taking part in their own mass shooting drills. We have to help them—we must. But our state has spent the past year talking about library books.

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: May 26, 2022
Length: 11 minutes (2,925 words)

The Bronc-busting, Cow-punching, Death-defying Legend of Boots O’Neal

Boots O’Neal is up before dawn nearly every day, to do what he loves: to jump on the back of a horse and work as a cowboy at the Four Sixes Ranch. What makes Boots stand out from the average wrangler? He’s 89 years old.

That he’s been able to do it for so long makes him, to borrow a classic Boots-ism, “luckier than a two-peckered goat.”

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: May 11, 2022
Length: 24 minutes (6,139 words)

H-Town United: An Unlikely Soccer Power Rises in Texas

It’s hard to call Elsik High School’s soccer team an underdog — the squad from Southwest Houston has become a national powerhouse — but it’s also hard to call them anything but. A long, engrossing portrait of a program marked by love, second chances, and a ceaselessly nurtured sense of newfound family.

About half of this year’s Elsik players were born outside the U.S. In addition to Honduras, they come from El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Vietnam, and Mexico. Many hadn’t played organized soccer before high school. Hector came up playing in the streets of La Ceiba, a port city of roughly 200,000 on the Gulf of Honduras. Senior defender Toliat Ajuwon grew up competing barefoot in Nigeria, braving “no-mercy” pickup games he said were more aggressive than anything he’d seen in the States. Junior midfielder Oumar Berete arrived last year from Senegal, where “nine out of ten kids want to be a soccer player” and where he played informal games on the beach but never had a proper coach.

Author: Tom Foster
Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Apr 6, 2022
Length: 35 minutes (8,905 words)

The Boy From Booker T.

Twelve years ago, journalism student Jeffrey McWhorter structured his senior project around a group of boys in East Austin’s Booker T. Washington Terraces. He photographed them, interviewed them and their families, got to know them all. While those relationships began under the auspices of reportage, they lasted as a very real friendship, even after one of the boys perished in a fatal car accident. Now, on the tenth anniversary of Christian Martinez’s tragic death, comes this moving black-and-white photo essay in which McWhorter juxtaposes the past against the present — telling the story of where Christian’s friends and family ended up, how they got there, and where they’re going.

In 2019, when I realized that it had been nearly a decade since the crash, I began reaching out to Christian’s friends and family about the possibility of revisiting their stories. A quick scroll of Facebook told me that several of the original boys of Booker T. now had sons themselves, a few of them around the ages of my kids. I wanted to hear from them. How did they look back on their time in the neighborhood? Did they miss it at all? How did it shape them as men? As fathers? How had losing Christian affected them?

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Mar 22, 2022
Length: 25 minutes (6,340 words)

Me and My Truck: A Love Story

In this essay, Christian Wallace manages to deftly tell his life story through the memories he shares with his beloved 2005 GMC Sierra.

My friends back home were impressed, maybe even a little jealous. It was the first truck many of us had ever sat in that had heated seats. When we’d make excursions to Midland or Odessa, my truck was now the vehicle of choice. During baseball season, I was proud to park it just beyond the outfield fence, where we’d sit in the bed and watch the games. I wanted all of Andrews to see it.

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Mar 14, 2022
Length: 25 minutes (6,357 words)

How Much Is a Dog’s Life Worth?

“The court’s decision was unanimous. All nine justices voted against acknowledging sentimental value for wrongfully killed pets.”

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Jan 11, 2022
Length: 8 minutes (2,017 words)