Summertime in DFW is nothing if not predictable: It’s hot. And then hotter.
Which is why we like to celebrate the end of every blast-furnace season with some of the coolest people and places around town.
For the seventh annual DFW.com Hot Issue (lucky 7, if you will), we actually took a road trip to the world’s largest casino to try our hand at the WinStar World Casino’s Vegas-style resort pool. We also splashed down at The Whiskey Garden in Fort Worth’s bustling West 7th area, and took a dip at a private lake with a trio of former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
We also returned to one of our favorite spots from the inaugural Hot Issue — the W Dallas-Victory Hotel’s WET infinity pool — to get a few more breathtaking views of the Dallas skyline.
This year’s roster of models includes current and former Dallas Mavericks Dancers, the owner of a local boutique clothing store and, if you need to get back in shape after a lazy summer, the owner of a soon-to-open fitness spot in Southlake.
There’s also a popular local lifestyle blogger, a radio personality, reality-show stars and an image consultant, naturally.
If you need a new home (preferably with A/C), one of DFW’s most well-known real estate agents is here. And if you simply need to cool off, our talented bartenders will be happy to mix you an icy-cold adult beverage while you enjoy this year’s Hot Issue.
Ashton Kay Theiss
Lives: Fort Worth
Day job: Realtor with Rogers Healy and Associates.
Dream job: If I could take Anthony Bourdain’s job, I would in a heartbeat. (Bourdain is a globe-trotting chef, author and TV host.)
Favorite sports team: While I love watching some Rangers and Stars, TCU has my heart. Go Frogs!
Favorite athlete: Former TCU and current Bengals QB Andy Dalton
Favorite place (or places) to hang out in DFW: I love being outdoors, so I spend lots of time at the Trinity Trails with my friends and pups.
Favorite restaurant in DFW: We have some pretty incredible food options here in Funkytown, but my absolute favorite is Reata. The food, drinks and rooftop make for a perfect 10.
Favorite summer patio: Press Cafe at Clearfork. It’s a consistent go-to for me at the moment.
Favorite guilty-pleasure food: It’s a toss-up between chips and queso and mac and cheese (specifically the jalapeño-bacon mac and cheese from Del Frisco’s).
Greatest achievement so far? I was the first person in my immediate family to attend college, so graduating with a double degree from TCU was a huge accomplishment not just for me, but my family as well.
Born: New Orleans, La.
Day job: Freelance writer; Bar Method instructor, dance instructor
Dream job: Features and profile writer for Sports Illustrated
People may recognize you from: Four years as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.
Bucket list items you have yet to do but will: Write a book, travel to Italy, visit all 50 states
Favorite athlete: Steph Curry ... not a bandwagon fan. I’ve been rolling with Steph since he was at Davidson.
Favorite performer (actor, singer, etc.): Beyonce ... her concerts are everything!
Favorite movie: Remember the Titans
Favorite restaurant in DFW: I’m obsessed with this small sushi restaurant called Sushi House. I go at least once a week.
Greatest achievement? Founding a nonprofit in memory of my mother. Declare HOPE is dedicated to the fight against pancreatic cancer.
If you won a $100 million lottery, what are the first three things you would do? 1. Double check to make sure I really won. 2. Cry. 3. Call my dad so he could tell me what to do with my life!
If you could go on a summer road trip with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and where would you go? I’d call my sister and we’d travel all 50 states. Double trouble, right there!
Day job: Frisco school district high school teacher and assistant drill team director. Every day is an adventure!
Dream job: Backup dancer for a performing artist or a dancer in a show or movie.
People may recognize you from: From being a Dallas Mavericks Dancer for six years. Go Mavs!
Favorite sports team: Dallas Mavericks, 2011 NBA Champions!! And of course, my alma mater ... Texas A&M Aggies! Whoop!
Favorite athlete: Dirk Nowitzki
Favorite movie: How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days ... I love a good rom-com!
My best feature: My hair. I get asked all the time. Yep, it’s real!
Favorite restaurant in DFW: Hopdoddy, classic burger with truffle fries.
Most influential person in your life and why? My parents. They are amazing role models to my sister, brother and I, which is why my family is so close. They are our biggest cheerleaders, coming to any and every event/competition/game there is. Yes, including ALL my Mavs games ... 45-plus games each year for six years ... you do the math! They’re the best!
Social media: Twitter and Instagram: @Emily__Morales
Ashley Aaron Hancock
Born: Oklahoma City, Okla.
Lives: Downtown Dallas
Day job: Fashion industry and merchandiser
Dream job: New York City Rockette
People may recognize you as: A Dallas Mavericks Dancer
My favorite place (or places) to hang out in DFW: Alamo Drafthouse Theatre or any pool with a skyline view
Favorite restaurant in DFW: Capital Grille and Nobu
Favorite summer patio in DFW: The Tipsy Alchemist
Fantasy person to date? (TIE) Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey and Leonardo DiCaprio
If you could go on a summer road trip with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and where would you go? Carrie Underwood; Nashville
Born: Orange County, Calif. I’m not from Texas, but I got here as soon as I could.
Lives: Uptown Dallas
Day job: Lifestyle blogger on themeghanjones.com
Dream job: To have my own cooking show.
Favorite summer cocktail: Dirty martini with blue cheese stuffed olives — summer, spring, winter or fall.
What are you most looking forward to when the weather cools off? Fall fashion!
Day job: Owner ELLE LAIN, ellelain.com
People may recognize you from: Four years as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader
Favorite restaurant(s): Victor Tangos, Bolsa, Javier’s, Rise No. 1, Cafe Pacific, the list goes on. Dallas has such a great restaurant scene, it’s hard to pick.
Favorite sports team: University of Texas Longhorns football
Did you ever see yourself owning a store? I’ve always been a huge fan of the fashion industry and worked for Ralph Lauren for years, so it was a fit to transition into owning a store.
When not focused on your store, where might we see you on a hot summer afternoon in DFW? After work, most of my summer afternoons are spent at home on the lake. Weather it’s fishing, or working on a summer glow, no day can end without getting in the water.
Born: Fort Worth
Lives: Fort Worth
Day job: Radio host, afternoons 3-7 on 103.7 KVIL
Dream job: Television host
People may recognize you from: The Amazing Race, season 27 (2015)
Bucket list items you have yet to do but will: I’m Norwegian, so I definitely want to explore Norway.
Favorite movie: 8 Seconds … Don’t judge me, I’m country! RIP, Lane Frost
My best feature: My untouchable hair, haha
My favorite place (or places) to hang out in DFW: Chimy’s in Fort Worth; Katy Trail Ice House in Dallas.
Favorite restaurant in DFW: Terra’s Mediterranean Grill
Favorite summer cocktail: I could knock down a couple Mambo Taxis (at Mi Cocina) about right now.
If you won a $100 million lottery, what are the first three things you would do?
1. Give my family $10 million. 2. Build a house on the lake and buy a new truck and boat. 3. Season tickets to see the Cowboys play.
Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? My brother, Tyler. He’s a great husband, father, son and brother. He has always kept his priorities in order: God, family and then himself.
Social media: Instagram and Twitter @tannerkloven
Born: Twin Falls, Idaho
Day job: Co-owner, The Bar Method Southlake
Dream job: I have it!
People may recognize you from: Five years of cheering with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
Favorite movie: Singing in the Rain. If you haven’t watched it then you should. It has history, dance and a romantic storyline that guarantees to entertain.
My favorite place (or places) to hang out in DFW: The Katy Trail, Ascension Coffee and The Rustic, which has the best Texas ambiance in town
Favorite guilty-pleasure food: Gelato … here’s how you say Paciugo: pah-choo-go.
Greatest achievement? At any point in the last six years I would’ve said it was getting my two degrees from college, making five years with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders or getting to cheer at the Pro Bowl, but right now it is taking the leap with my sister to become a business owner.
Most influential person in your life and why? My mom. She owned her own travel agency when I was little (wonder where I got my desire to see the world?) and I remember how proud and supportive my dad was of her business. My mom has always led with optimism and patience.
Born: Merced, Calif.
Day job: Bartender
Dream job: Marine biologist
My best feature: Eyes
Favorite restaurant in DFW: Via Real
Favorite summer patio in DFW: Katy Trail Ice House
What’s the worst way for a guy to approach you? When I’m zoning at the gym.
Favorite guilty-pleasure food: Nothing Bundt Cakes
Social media: Instagram: @brandicoley, SnapChat beedarling
Kenny R. Gardner
Born: Alexandria, La.
Day job: Substitute teacher, high school and middle school math
Dream job: Full-time actor
Interesting fact about you: I was a high school basketball coach for seven years. We won back-to-back state titles.
People may recognize you from: Television commercials
Favorite sports team: Texas Rangers
Favorite movie or movies: Malcolm X, Ray, Ali, Casino and Reservoir Dogs
My favorite place (or places) to hang out in DFW: Prophet Bar (in Deep Ellum) on Wednesday Nights for their Jam Session, Scat Jazz Lounge in downtown Fort Worth, and Four Day Weekend.
Favorite restaurant (s) in DFW: Buttons, Shell Shack, TJ’s Catfish & Wings
Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? My grandfather. He is a true leader by example. He has been married for 50-plus years and is the father of five children. He has the been the male influence of my life in showing how to love, how to teach and how to treat people and carry yourself with respect.
Born: Duncan, Okla. (Don’t worry, I was raised in the Great State)
Lives: Fort Worth
Day job: Bartender
Dream job: Homicide detective; I am addicted to The First 48 (the A&E documentary series about investigators and the first 48 hours after a homicide). Creepy, I know
Interesting fact about you: I hate cooking. Sorry, future hubs.
People may recognize you from: They don’t yet, but they will.
Favorite movie: The Holiday, with Jude Law, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. Watch it and thank me later.
Favorite place (or places) to hang out in DFW: Whiskey Garden, Trophy Ranch, Varsity Tavern. West 7th in general.
Favorite restaurant in DFW: Social House, I love the atmosphere … and the champagne.
Fantasy person to date? Gerard Butler or Nick Lachey, it’s a toss up I can’t pick between my favorite men.
What’s the worst way for a guy to approach you? Without a drink or at least a taco in hand … just kidding!
Favorite summer cocktail: Vodka water with 2 lemons and 2 limes️
What’s something in your purse right now that no one would believe? A pair of scissors, so don’t mess with me.
Social media: Instagram and Snapchat: @madison.barnard
Born: Cleveland, Ohio. But I grew up in Plano.
Day job: TV host/brand spokesperson/image consultant
Dream job: Hosting my own makeover or lifestyle TV show
People may recognize you from: Good Morning Texas, FOX-4 Good Day or The Oprah Winfrey Network
Favorite athlete: Emmitt Smith. He’s a hero on and off the field.
Favorite movie: The Notebook
If you won a $100 million lottery, what are the first three things you would do? 1. Hire a full-time massage therapist to follow me around 7 days a week. 2. Plan some really cool over-the-top surprises for kids in the Make A Wish Foundation. 3. Take a year off and travel around the world.
What’s something in your purse right now that no one would believe? I ALWAYS have a 72% dark chocolate bar in my purse! I like to refer to it as “my medication.”
Social media: Instagram and Twitter, @styledbylaurie
Hot issue: Returning favorites
One half of the dynamic duo known as Team Texas on Season 27 of The Amazing Race, Ahern was also one of the stars of the 2015 DFW.com Hot Issue. We caught up with the Grapevine native.
JAY: After such a big year, do you get recognized a lot around DFW?
JOSH: I think the funniest story happened when I was at the mall. I noticed a couple staring at me. I was in the men’s swimsuit section and noticed the girl “looking” at the rack right beside me. ... at this point I knew something was up. Suddenly she took two quick steps towards me and goes: “OK. I am really sorry, but you are Josh from the Amazing Race, aren’t you?” The guy swoops in and says, “See, I told you it wasn’t him!” After taking off my hat and telling them it was me, they admitted they had made a bet if it was me or not. I wonder what she won?
JAY: Last year, your girlfriend Kelsey got to watch you on The Amazing Race, this year the tables have turned and you are watching her on DCC: Making the Team. How different is it being on the other side of things?
JOSH: When I was gone, I had no phones or anything. This year, I went through it with her every day, and felt the stress with her. Every day, we would devote time to studying Dallas Cowboys history and football trivia as well as current events and news topics.
JAY: What was you favorite part about shooting this year’s Hot Issue?
JOSH: I got to shoot at the same time as my buddy Amazing Race teammate Tanner Kloven, so it was a lot of fun making fun of each other. I really hope the photographer got the look on his face when we took pictures on the sky terrace at the W Hotel. He does not do well with heights.
JAY: You recently took a trip to Croatia. Tell me a little about that and compare summer in Croatia to DFW.
JOSH: Croatia was BEAUTIFUL. I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones and they actually shoot a large portion of the show there. In terms of climate, it’s the same as Texas in the summer: Hot! Luckily we had crystal-clear ocean waters to jump into anytime we needed to cool off, a luxury we unfortunately do not have here in Dallas. I had an amazing time, but there is still no place like Texas.
JAY: Talk about your favorite spots to hang out in DFW? Where might we find you during the summer in DFW?
JOSH: When the sun is out, you can find us on the sand volleyball courts at The Grove or at the lake. When the sun sets, a great way to start the night is on the patio at Happiest Hour. For dinner spots, I really like Hg Sply. Co. (Greenville Avenue location) and Wayward Sons.
Social media: Instagram and Twitter: @joshmahern
JAY: A lot of DFW sports fans probably recognize you from your six seasons with the Dallas Mavericks Dancers. You recently retired, talk about what it was like to come off the court for the last time.
LAUREN: As soon as we came off the court, I started crying. The past six years, I’ve been able to experience more than a lot of people do in a lifetime, so my tears were really more being grateful.
JAY: After being with the Mavs Dancers and the Kilgore Rangerettes prior to coming to Dallas, what will you miss the most about dancing?
LAUREN: Performing in front of the big crowds. I am still involved in teaching in studios and choreographing, but actually getting out on the court and performing in front of 20,000 fans is a feeling you can’t replace.
JAY: Off the court, what are some of your favorite Mavs memories?
LAUREN: For my second year, we went to Barbados to shoot our swimsuit calendar, in honor of winning the NBA championship. From the moment we landed, we were greeted and treated like celebrities and it was just a really fun trip. Then two weeks after the calendar shoot, I was selected to go to Italy for an NBA Fan Zone appearance. That trip was also amazing and after our appearance, we actually got to visit the area and do some tourist-type stuff that really made it unforgettable.
Hot Issue credits
Special thanks to location hosts:
WinStar World Casino and Resort
W Dallas - Victory Hotel
The Whiskey Garden
Club Lake, Greenville, TX
Jay Betsill, interviews
Jamie B. Ford, photos
Roman A. Pena, photos, video
Hair and makeup (for Lauren Oliver, Jacie Scott and Nicole Bulcher)
Brittany Buckner, Instagram @BrittanyStylesDallas