Steve and Jody Newman's extreme makeovers
As she sits across from me on a backless, metal stool at B & D Icehouse in Southtown, Jody Newman, 38, admits that the adventures of the past five years have taken her way out of her comfort zone. She's switched careers, bore a second child, started five different businesses and earned a (figurative) Fiesta medal for political activism. And the surprises seem to flow ad infinitum. This year, her husband Steve Newman has not only been selected to be King Anchovy XLIX, but she herself has the unprecedented distinction of being crowned the first-ever Queen Anchovy I for Fiesta's Cornyation 2014, the biggest and baddest performance party to which the Alamo City holds claim.
“We were shocked,” says Jody regarding the announcement. Her reddish hair is modestly pulled back by sunglasses that rest on her head like an obsidian crown. “When [the organizers] asked us, we were like 'Are you sure? Isn't there like some senator or something ... [that you'd prefer to ask]?'” Last year’s King Anchovy was none other than longtime U.S. representative Charlie Gonzalez.
The Southtown cognoscenti may recognize the Newmans as proprietors of The Friendly Spot, a business which they opened with the severance check Steve, now 39, received after a 2009 job loss. Jody described the undertaking as their “answer to the recession.” In “typical business fashion,” their endeavor of going into business with a friend was anything but smooth. “Never go into business with a friend,” she says.
“I now know that great agreements make great partnerships. If we have a partnership now, it's governed by an agreement on paper so there's no wiggle room about what you can do. I'm very black and white. If I have an agreement with someone and it doesn't [work out], I'm programmed to very easily say, 'Ok. Well, then, we're done.'”
This view may help explain her public involvement during SA's recent Non-Discrimination Ordinance battle, which gently pushed her into the local limelight. “I didn't understand why it was such a big struggle,” she says. “The Friendly Spot is the amazing equalizer. And then Elisa Chan happened. I just felt like she did not speak for me as a business owner and a mother.”
The Newmans now own four other businesses, all of which they manage meticulously. Cornyation, however, will be different.
“Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do,” says Jody, despite Steve's stipulations. “I just told them they couldn't cut my beard,” he says. His long ZZ Top number has the glint of a mink coat.
“And he won't wear spandex,” she adds with a laugh. “We're not very stylish people. I don't wear lipstick or make-up. Ever.”
Their style rating may soar after they're featured in this glitterful showgasm that feasts on fashion, pomp and flavorful, political folly.
“I think people are going to be stunned when they see us,” she says.
“Next year we'll be back in our seats cheering on the next person,” says Steve.
As will, no doubt, his queen.
7:30pm & 10pm Tue-Thu
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