Chicagoans is a first-person account from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford. This week's Chicagoan is Art "Chat Daddy" Sims, 51, radio talk-show host.
It started in my living room with eight friends one night, relaxing, when I just started questioning people about their love lives. As a gay man, I understood that relationships are relationships, whether it's male, female, whatever the case may be. People are people, and they all are going to act a certain way.
"Then I started doing relationship events at coffeehouses around the city, where people would come and I would throw out various relationship questions to discuss. When they first started, people thought they were Bible discussions—they'd bring their Bibles—and I was like 'No, this is where you can come and be who you need to be, say what you need to say.' This was when the whole P. Diddy stuff was going on, and a friend of mine said, 'Man, you should be known as the Chat Daddy.'
"Real Talk, Real People With Chat Daddy is a nightly entertainment show on WVON. It's very much a full-time job. I start my day off by sitting in front of a computer with an iPad and a phone, and I just watch daytime TV, read newspapers, go online, figure out what the latest trends are, keep up with people on social media. I try to protect my voice as much as possible; I don't talk that much outside the show unless I have to talk to people on the telephone.
"The show was designed to give the audience something to cleanse their palates, something to refresh them. I provide them some entertainment, a way to laugh. I don't do anything heavy on the show. Last night we had women on giving tips about how to keep your marriage from being sexless. I've had famous fashion designers and photographers on; I've had Aretha Franklin on.
"The show ends at 9 PM. I come home, have a light bite to eat, and then I usually stay up. I have an addiction for the Jimmys at night—Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. Those are my mentors, my friends, I love 'em both. I watch what they do and then I try to catch late-night news so I can get updated, and then I finally hit the pillow.
"I'm very shy. I am. The personal me is so much different than the person that people have come to know. People who are in front of cameras and behind microphones, these are everyday-life people and they have issues to deal with, but they've got to put their best foot forward for the public. Any entertainer knows that.
"I never felt that my homosexuality was damned or like God wasn't approving of me, cause if that's the case, God could have had many chances of wiping me out.
"I always knew I wanted to be a star; I just think no one ever caught on right. For so long, people have ignored my gift or didn't treat it the way it should have been, and I'm grateful to do what I do every night on the radio, because I feel as if I speak to everyday people in a way that they enjoy it, love it, get it. I believe God ordained me to do this." v