Fashionista of the Month | Michael Pearce
His favorite thing is make wildly inappropriate jokes and he has often told very important people that he has worked in adult films or that they might have served in prison together. He has a warped sense of humor. But all jokes apart, Michael Pearce is a senior legal counsel for a global energy services company, but rarely do people know him from his professional career. Along with husband Matt Burrus, he also writes a parenting blog for the Houston Chronicle called the Gayby Boom Blog in which they share a great deal about their journey of having two small children via surrogacy.
Spotted at various charitable social events fashionably dressed, Michael was our choice for Fashionista of the Month as the month of June marks 20 years of his sobriety. A milestone, a true achievement of self improvement. “Today is my anniversary. Not that one. Twenty years ago today I checked myself into rehab and admitted I was powerless over alcohol and sincerely wanted to do something about it. I remember I wore an Armani suit I purchased with money from waiting tables. I’ve always thought it was important to look nice no matter who you were, even if you were going to rehab. My rehab was more prison than spa, but I am forever grateful for that experience. There I was, educated, humbled, horrified and built back up. In that visit I learned I needn’t be ashamed of being an alcoholic, not any more than a diabetic having diabetes. The shame would be in not treating the disease. For me that meant drastic sweeping changes. I emerged from rehab empowered with all of this knowledge and terrified with fear that I couldn’t do it. My name is Michael Pearce and I’m an alcoholic,” explains Michael.
Lights Camera Action was thrilled to sit down with this fashionista who was described in his law school as very “East Coast”. Although Michael was not sure what that meant but he loved it. To be stylish and fashionable comes natural to him. He is sophisticated, funny and stylish, Michael Pearce is all about glamor. International Correspondent and Lifestyle feature Editor, Ruchi Mukherjee sat down with Pearce to learn about about how he balances the bigger-than-life style of Texas with a slightly avant-garde, European flair who likes to take fashionable risks.
Why is looking good so important for you?
I think I inherited that. My grandparents weren’t really wealthy people, but they were proud and creative. They taught my mother and aunt that you don’t have to be wealthy to take pride in yourself, and your appearance is a reflection of that. My mother came to the United States when she was a teenager and was later widowed with four small children. Still, if you look back through the photo albums, everyone of those photos will show a smartly dressed, happy family. That’s the benefit of growing up without money; you learn that it isn’t the source of happiness. My mother eventually remarried and had me with her current husband, my father. While they were financially in a much better place, she continued to instill in all of us that sense of pride. She would fly us to Europe, and I remember getting dressed to go to travel. I still do.
You have been spotted everywhere in Houston. Tell us about all the charities you are are involved with.
I suppose I’m known for a variety things. Giving back to community and supporting my friends and various causes feels good. There are so many amazing people doing phenomenal things in our city. It’s a great privilege to be able to support the work going on. My husband and I have chaired (and are now chairing) numerous philanthropic events. We are always to happy to lend our name and resources to a worthwhile endeavor, but are happiest when we are able to give of our time too. We have served on the boards or host committees for organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, Recipe For Success Foundation, K9s4Cops, Stages Repertory Theatre, READ3Zero, Houston PetSet, The Women’s Home, and many others. We contributed our resources to more than 25 different charities last year. These are important lessons for our children and help instill a sense of community. Finally, I’m known for being a bit of a ham on social media. The Houston Chronicle might have named me one of the most fascinating people in Houston in 2013, along with people like Kelly Rowland, Tony Vallone, the late Dr. Michael Brown and the “will rap 4 weed” lady. I suppose that was a compliment to be included. I love to spread a laugh, even at my own expense. I am notorious for saying something completely unexpected and leaving it there. I call them joke grenades. Nothing pleases me more than getting messages about how people look forward to following me on social media and laughing along.
What are your favorite designers or brands and why?
Oh that’s tough. I like to mix it up. I’ve lost a great deal of weight this past year, so my closet has been in a constant state of flux. I can’t keep a suit to save my life. No sooner than they are fitted, I’ve lost so much weight they are too big, so my focus lately has been on my accessories, neckwear, shoes, and leather goods. I love Hermes, McQueen, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. I’m a complete sucker for a Gucci horsebit shoe. I won’t confess to how many I own, but will say my husband has given up on staging interventions.
I am well known for my devotion to Louis Vuitton. I’ve been collecting since I was 16. I got my first job when I was 15 years old to save up and buy a wallet the following year. I know all too well how many hours it takes to buy one of these items. During the past *mumbled voice* years since then, I’ve brought back pieces from every trip I’ve taken. They are my souvenirs, but my favorite item is an Armani suit I bought when I was in college. I got a job waiting tables to buy that suit. I was so proud of it. Every time I wore it, I felt like a million bucks. Maybe it was because I knew how hard I worked to get it, or maybe it was you can’t help but look good in a tailored suit. Whatever it was, I love this suit. I just had it cut down this past week, so I can wear it again. It, along with that first wallet, are probably my most cherished fashion items.
If anyone in need is reading this story what is the one suggestion you would give?
I am a big believer in paying forward the support you are given. So, I’m pretty open about my struggle and have shared it in talks publicly or in one-on-one conversations with people. That, and I learned that being an alcoholic isn’t something to be ashamed of. Not treating the disease, sure, but having it certainly isn’t. I didn’t choose to be an alcoholic. In rehab they taught us that alcoholism is a lot like diabetes. It’s a medical condition. Untreated it can kill you, but it can be treated. When I let go of the shame and focused on getting better, a great weight was lifted. It wasn’t easy. I don’t want to sugar coat it for anyone, but it can be done. So, my one bit of advice would be to let go of that BS and take the first step. The longest journeys start with that first step. That, and always wear nice shoes. Just because you’re walking doesn’t mean you have to be wearing sneakers.
What do you love about Houston and favorite hot spots?
There are SO many things I love about Houston. It’s given so much to me and my family. The people. The arts. The sense of community. We are truly diverse city where success is absolutely possible with hard work and ambition. I moved here with not a dollar in a convertible that I couldn’t afford to keep and two suitcases of clothes (one of which was winter clothes. TOTALLY useless in Houston). The first few years were really hard. I didn’t have a bed. I slept on an inflatable mattress on the floor and studied my butt off in law school. I had to take out loans to pay the rent. Funny though, even then I had so much fun. I met a lot of amazing people and that hasn’t changed; though I’m no longer sleeping on the floor.
FAVORITE HOT SPOTS – My husband is a self proclaimed foodie so I get to go to out to eat a lot. We are truly fortunate in Houston to have so many amazing choices. It truly is a culinary city. Still, if I’m being honest, my favorite hot spot is at home with my husband and our two smallest children (Estelle aged three and Winston aged one). Estelle hosts the fanciest tea parties. You never know who you’ll meet there. This morning I sat next to BOTH Mickey and Minnie Mouse!
Celebrity you want to meet and why?
George Clooney. Which, as you know, is pretty funny because he was just here. My husband put me on lock down to keep me from seeing him when he was in town, which was rough because I had just bought a huge net to nab him with. Now what am I going to do with 500 ft of fish netting?!
Is Houston a fashionable city?
Houston is an incredibly fashionable city. Anyone who doubts that only need show up to one of the many galas, walk down the side walks at West Ave or Uptown Park, or dine at any one of our amazing restaurants. You’ll quickly see that Houstonians have a distinctive sense of style. It’s a relaxed chic. I’m not sure I’ve been able to pull it off, and I’ve been here for 15 years. I’m still a bit fussy, but I love it. The women here can go from rodeo and Cattle Baron’s to the Symphony Ball and not miss a beat. I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen in November with the Heart of Fashion. I love the concept of combining fashion and philanthropy.