John Paul Weier, 25, wants to be the official Cubs mascot, but when he dresses as "Billy Cub" he's not even allowed into Wrigley Field, which has a no-costumes policy. Undeterred, he's greeted fans outside the stadium at every home game this season. Weier is the author of a football novel, 4th & Inches; his Web site is billycub.com.
Tell me about your costume.
It's basically a full bear suit in three pieces: a huge body piece, feet, and head. And then everything I wear underneath is kind of a whole outfit in itself.
What do you wear underneath?
Long-sleeve body armor and a whole cooling system with ice inserts. I can be carrying around an extra 40 pounds before I even put the suit on. With the suit, you're looking at around 45, 55 pounds of stuff that I wear.
How long does the ice last?
With the humidity, usually about four hours.
How long are you usually outside the stadium for games?
For about three hours before games and two to three hours afterward. I go home in between to take a break. When it's humid and in the 90s, I lose five to ten pounds during every game.
Why do you do it?
As a Cubs fan, I wondered why they never had a mascot. It'd be a good thing to have: they're a very popular team, a very marketable team. And so this season I decided to go ahead. It was something I wanted to do and I figured it might pay out.
Where'd you get the suit?
That was actually a favor from a friend. It comes from the same place where Disneyland gets all their costumes.
Can I ask how much it cost?
The suit alone was $1,300, and I've got more than that in the cooling system. There's probably close to $1,500 wrapped up in that. It was probably over $3,000 for the entire thing.
What's in your cooler?
Well, on the other side it says, "TipBilly, he's hot." So when I'm posing for pictures I'll show people, and everyone throws in a buck or two. It's paying my bills right now.
How much do you make during a game?
It depends--day games I usually make $200, $300. Night games I'm happy if I make $100.
If you love the Cubs so much, doesn't it bum you out that you don't get to see any of the games?
I get to watch the away games, and I stand in front of the Cubby Bear [for the home games], so I see it on TV and I know what's going on. It's more fun doing what I'm doing in the suit even though I do miss some of the games. --Julia Thiel
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): John Paul Weier photo by Jon Randolph.