EMPOWERING ATTORNEY: Rebecca S. Covell, an expert at drafting documents specifically tailored for gay Texans. – DANIEL A. KUSNER/Dallas Voice

Rebecca S. Covell
The Law Offices of Rebecca S. Covell
3710 Rawlins St., Suite 950
Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

You and your partner fixed up that slummy house in Oak Cliff. You even learned how to solder copper pipes because paying a plumber was crazy expensive. While you were dreaming about that civil union ceremony on a Galveston beach, your same-sex beloved has a massive coronary on the ultra-suede sectional you both splurged on.

At the funeral, your partner’s brother mentions that he now owns half of your home — and the copper pipes.

While you were busy scrimping and mowing the lawn, you never got your affairs in order: powers of attorney, advance directives, joint-tenancy agreements — not even a last will and testament. And now, while you’re still grieving, you’re also trying figure out how to buy back half of your home from your deceased partner’s brother — just so you don’t have to move out.

"GLBT couples have no rights in Texas — unless they’re in writing. With our constitutional amendment [banning same-sex marriage], there are particular challenges for LGBT couples that can really snakebite them if they haven’t documented things," Rebecca S. Covell says.

With 27 years of experience, Covell is an expert at strengthening the relationships of LGBT Dallasites — on paper.

A Virginia-born military brat, Covell was captivated by the drama of "Perry Mason." She got her law degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. After working with a federal judge in Kansas City, she eventually migrated to Dallas in 1984 to work for federal judge, Robert W. Porter. In 1990, she began running her own practice.

While in Big D, she says she’s helped empower "thousands" of her gay brothers and sisters.

 "I do seminars to educate the community about how perilously thin the ice is under their relationships. I go to church groups. And in a couple of weeks, I’m doing another one at the Resource Center of Dallas," Covell says. "I hear couples who own a house together say they’re not worried. But what they don’t understand is they only own half the house. And they’re going to end up owning it with the in-laws if they don’t get some documents put together."

And she says buying that last-will-and-testament kit at Office Depot isn’t really tailored for gay Texans.

"A cheap will that you downloaded off the Internet doesn’t have the magic language that’s going to give your partner the ability to handle the affairs and fend off challenges from the family," Covell says.

Getting your significant documents prepared isn’t cheap ($500 to settle the simplest estate is inexpensive). Covell says after a free consultation, she’ll quote prospective clients a flat rate.

"I don’t ever want cost to be the reason why someone doesn’t get their documents in order. I have done wills for people in hospitals — clients with terminal illnesses who only had weeks left, according to prognosis. But I’ll do payment plans. I’ll hold checks. Clients can use credit cards … I will work with someone," Covell says. "I want clients to focus on getting better and not wringing their hands. I want to give them a sense of security and peace of mind."

— Daniel A. Kusner

GREAT HEAD: From left, Eddie Vasquez runs the clippers on Derrick Brown while Ray Vasquez trims Paul Ryan at Brownie’s, where you can also get a mean taper fade, flattop and buzz cut. – BRYAN AMANN/Dallas Voice

Brownie’s Barber Shop
4317 Lemmon Ave., Suite A.
Sat. 8 a.m.-3 p.m.,
Tue.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Tucked away in a Lemmon Avenue strip mall, Brownie’s Barber Shop is easy to pass by — even if you’re looking for it. But once you find it, it’s like walking into 1962.

With a barebones aesthetic, it’s the antithesis of the modern "metrosexual spa" experience. Sitting in the barber chair might remind you of sitting in your grandpa’s lap the first time he took you to get your haircut. And if the feel of the red leather barber chair doesn’t do it, the smell of old school Pinaud Clubman talcum powder will take you back.

Although they moved from their original location on Rawlins Street 10 years ago, this is the same Brownie’s that has served Oak Lawn men since 1929 — in feel and tradition.

Current lead barber Ray Vasquez took over Brownie’s from his father nine years ago. And Ray’s dad had the shop since he got it from Mr. Brownie in the late-’60s.

With a staff of two barbers, Ray and his nephew Eddie keep the atmosphere low-key and intimate. You might talk about the Mavs game or the Cowboys’ draft pick while you get a clipper cut, flat top or a high ‘n’ tight.

"I feel really fortunate to get to work all day in this environment," Eddie says. "I grew up in my grandpa’s barber shop sweeping and listening. And now I get to work in the same place cutting hair with my Uncle Ray."

And if you want to get a really close shave, Ray is one of the only straight razor-shave barbers left in Dallas. It’s a vanishing art. And he must be good — his very first customer still comes in after 20 years.

If you’re a man’s man and you simply want to go to a place where other guys know how to give a good haircut, Brownie’s will take you back without setting you back. Haircuts are $20, and a straight razor shave is $15. And no, they won’t wax your eyebrows.

— Truitt Ray

KNOW THE DRILL: From building decks to overhauling bathrooms, David Beshears has 34 years of contractor experience. – DANIEL A. KUSNER/Dallas Voice

David Beshears, Chip’s Custom Cabinets
7503 U.S. Highway 287, Arlington.
800-838-2447, 817-478-2447
Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

In 1974, David Beshears started his remodeling company, David Beshears Construction Company. He had just moved to Texas after getting divorced and coming out. Beshears had learned the trade from his father, and a friend suggested he start the business.

Chip Hombeek started his business, Chip’s Custom Cabinets, in 1979. His impressive work at less-than-break-the-bank-prices had people clamoring for his creations. Beshears and Hombeek began collaborating on jobs in 1980. But in the last four years, they have begun advertising their work together as well. Although Hombeek has a few projects all his own, the preponderance of their work is done together, so it only made sense.

Beshears physically does the work himself, which means he can offer people better work and better prices. And Hombeek’s work is done all in solid woods and is all true custom. None of that particleboard and MDF stuff.

The two take on projects of all sizes, great and small, from replacing a cabinet or two to redoing entire homes. They specialize in bathroom and kitchen overhauls, but also do decks, granite and extensive tile work. Their work is dependable and creative, and Hombeek is a whiz at drawing, which means he can create or reproduce anything a client can imagine. From incredibly competitive pricing to actually showing up and completing work on time, customers consider them and their work a real dream team.

— Jenny Block

WELL-FED RECOMMENDATIONS: Almost all of Susie Buck’s delicious catering gigs have come via word of mouth. – DANIEL A. KUSNER/Dallas Voice

Susie’s Cuisine
420 W. Davis St., Suite B.
By appointment only.

Without ever attending culinary school, Susie Buck has established a business popular enough to gain almost of its business strictly from word of mouth. How she’s done it seems simple enough: She promises her customers deliciously prepared food that’s beautifully presented. And she delivers. Not just the food, but also on the promise. Buck uses the freshest ingredients and makes everything from scratch.

She’s always loved to cook. And after a few years working at Crescent Club and two more years as a private chef — where she brought a diabetic customer’s blood sugar count down 180 points in one month — Buck took her friends’ advice and opened her own catering company. She does everything from intimate dinners to massive weddings and corporate events. And she does it without ever compromising on the promise on which she founded her company: great food that looks great. Buck does have a few tricks up her sleeve that other companies are not privy to — family recipes.

She still to this day makes her mother’s sausage balls and her grandmother’s cold rum crème pie. And customers love her for it. Recipes are not the only thing Buck’s mother gave her. When she passed away, Buck used her inheritance to start Susie’s Cuisine. In 2000, she began, like many caterers do, working out of her own kitchen. But by 2004, she had more than outgrown that space and so moved to her current location in the Bishop Arts District.

What’s next on Buck’s plate? Creating the menu for her partner Kathy Jack’s new venture — a restaurant called Jack’s Chill Grill scheduled to open this summer.

— Jenny Block

GET BAKED: Get your bronze on at Palm Beach Tan

Palm Beach Tan
(50 Metroplex locations)
14760 Preston Road, Suite 108.
888-725-6826, 972-385-1425
Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Tanning is easier than working out, and less expensive than plastic surgery. And if you’re in Dallas, it’s in high style.

Whether you’d like to lose your way-white thighs for Jonathan’s extravagant pool party, or you need to tan everything but your baby-white butt for the Mr. International Leather Weekend, the time to tan is now.

If you want to tan everyday or only every once in a while, Palm Beach Tan offers the most locations and the best equipment in the Metroplex.

Starting out as a single salon in lower Greenville in the 1990, Palm Beach Tan now has 50 metroplex locations and 120 locations in 18 states.
In addition to five kinds of the traditional horizontal beds, Palm Beach also has a stand-up oval enclosed tanning bed that will help you better tan your sides and avoid the white-butt crease.

And if you want to turn that base tan into a golden brown color, there’s the Level-Five Midas bed that will bronze your buns with rays from four different angles.

In contrast, if you have seen the light and you’d rather go sunless, you can opt for the Mystic spray non-UV tan. In just 60 seconds of spray time, you will be two shades darker for up to seven days.

If you absolutely need to be brown, Palm Beach Tan and it’s engaging staff make tanning in a salon as easy as laying out at the pool.

— Truitt Ray

Bank of America (various locations worldwide)
4023 Cedar Springs Road
800-432-1000, 214-520-0473
Sat. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.,
Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Shelter Mortgage
4514 Travis St., Suite 316.
Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Supercuts (various locations in the U.S.)
4107 Lemmon Ave.
Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m.,
Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.,
Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Hollywood Nails and Spa
3517 Oak Lawn Ave.
Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m.,
Sun. noon-5 p.m.,
Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Advanced Skin Fitness
2928 Oak Lawn Ave.
Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Advanced Skin Fitness
2928 Oak Lawn Ave.
Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Advanced Skin Fitness
2928 Oak Lawn Ave.
Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Stephen P. Karns
The Law Offices of Stephen P. Karnes
6116 N. Central Expressway, Suite 450.
866-750-9010, 214-750-9010
Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Steven Graves Insurance Agency
3500 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite 110.
888-526-4339, 214-599-0808
Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Forest Lawn
3204 Fairmount St., Dallas.
Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

4000 Cedar Springs Road, Suite B.
Fri.-Sat. noon-10 p.m.,
Sun. 2 p.m.-8 p.m.,
Tue.-Thu. noon-9 p.m.

Bob McCranie
William Davis Reality
17732 Preston Road, Suite 100.
Office: 972-732-6002, Cell phone: 972-754-0582
Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Kathy Hewitt
Hewitt & Habgood Reality Group
3131 Turtle Creek Blvd., Suite 100.
Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 21, 2008

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