Tim “Butch Fish Toya” Peterson, 47, Hollywood Beach
What’s with the nickname “Butch Fish”? It was my stage name. When I was younger, I was a flaming queen. But I used to treat my man like this. [Makes whipping noises.] All the boys would say, “You’re such a fag. Why do you treat your man like that?” Well, because that’s what they want. I got the name tattooed on my arm.
I saw you officiating the volleyball battle. You had some controversial calls. How do you deal with the drama? Well, these two boys are lovers and they were playing on opposite teams. No matter what, I was gonna make one of them cry. I just have to stick by my calls.
What’s best about this beach? The view. The people are attractive.
Have you had any luck hooking up? I’ll tell you a little story. I was in the bathroom at the urinal and I looked over and saw that the guy next to me had a nice big one. So, I said, “Oh, can I help you with that?” And after he was finished we sat by the water drinking beers and talking. He said, “I have to go to the bathroom again.” I said, “Honey, don’t waste it.” So we went back and I got a little shower.
A golden shower? Oh, yes, honey.
Would you consider yourself a beach freak? Uh, no. Well, I am in the summertime. I’m going to be here tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock if you want to see me in my bathing suit. I don’t have to work tomorrow.
Yakini Haynes, 49, 57th Street Beach
How often do you come here? I would say maybe four or five times a week.… I spend a lot of time on the beach. You see, I’m from Barbados, so as soon as it gets hot I’ve got to be outdoors, getting sun. Shirt is off, shoes are off—trying to be at home, you know?
I hear that. You waited a long time for the weather to get nice. Yeah. Basically I’m miserable during the winter, man. Anything above 80s for me is cool. I like 80s and up. In Barbados, every day is 88.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen at the beach? Right now, they just took a big ol’ dead fish out of the water. It was maybe about 15 pounds.
Wow. You never think about fish like that swimming around you when you’re in the lake. Yeah, I’ve seen a guy catch a salmon off that pier right over there. It was, like, 34 pounds.
How many hours are you usually here? I try to do three to four hours.
Do you eat while you’re here? Yeah, I got some food here and some water. I don’t eat much of the stuff [the beach food stands] sell. They sell a lot of…regular food. Ninety-nine percent of my diet is fresh fruit. The other one percent might be vegetables.
That’s why you’re so skinny. What are you reading? [Pointing to book on how to write a business plan] I’m trying to focus on [my restaurant] business. My wife told me I needed to do the business plan. She comes yelling at me. I had to get serious.
—Laura Baginski and David Tamarkin
Janada Halbisen-Gibbs, 25, Hollywood Beach
What are you up to? I’m starting a new fad today with my new bikini technique for full-busted ladies. I wore my string-bikini top upside down, which actually gives more support and is more flattering to the female figure. My girlfriend did it on accident and I was like, “Oh, that actually looks really cute.”
Do you have a name for the technique? Uh, I’m horrible with names. Upside-down over-the-shoulder boulder-holder?
Why do you choose this beach over others? My girlfriend and I like the gay beach because there are no kids running by and kicking sand in my face. No dirty diapers floating in the water. Don’t tell people about it! I don’t want it to be spoiled. Tell people their kids might catch gay or something if they come here. [Laughs]
It can get a little crazy here, too, though. Seen anything weird? Oh, yeah, I had to tell a guy off one time. He was one of those really creepy staring guys. This guy was walking by multiple times with his hairy fucking potbelly, greasy hair—the quintessential leering ogler. He was totally Chester the Molester. He had that Jersey Shore look, with the gold glasses and lots of jewelry. Oh, and he had a comb and he kept combing his nasty-ass hair. Then he parked it really close to us and was just staring. Luckily, I have no problem telling people to back the fuck up. I was like, “What the fuck are you looking at?”
Imagine the different flavors of date rape he could dish out. Exactly! That’s the other thing that’s great about this beach: You can usually point out who doesn’t belong here. There’s plenty of cruising that goes on, but for women it’s really nice to fly under the radar.
Dean Wicklund, 65, North Avenue Beach
So you’re a juggler and chalk artist. I did yoyos as a kid. That’s when I started hanging out with jugglers.
When did you add drawing to your repertoire? I started probably six or eight years ago, doing letters or cartoons, but when the Thunderbirds came for the Air and Water show, I made a big jet, about 25 feet long, on the sidewalk.
Ever get in trouble for your work? When the Cubs were in the playoffs, I went up to Waveland and wrote on the sidewalk [with about 20 sticks of chalk], , GO, CUBS, GO. And I did it on the wall over there, too. But after I did that, the city came and painted over it. I sometimes just see this blank wall and feel it’s my job to make it look nice.
A lot of people congregate out here? We kind of refer to this spot as “the office.” A lot of people hang out in this area. Skaters, jugglers. It’s where the young and the beautiful play.
Ever meet a significant other out here? Nope.
Are you looking? Always. Occasionally the lifeguards yell at people and say, “No diving.” So, one time I wrote, NO DIVING, PLEASE. And then I wrote, PLEASE SWIM NAKED.
Barbara Ott, 64, Thorndale Beach
How long have you been coming to the beach? A good 15 years. When they took away the sun deck on top of my building along the lakeshore, I started coming to the beach. I’ve come to enjoy the lakefront. I prefer when it’s quiet.
Do you come every day? Every day that’s comfortable enough. If it gets too, too hot—upper 90s—I don’t.
What do you do? I’m a retired school teacher, so I always got to enjoy my summers.
Why do you love the beach so much? My parents brought me to the beach when I was a very small infant and I developed a liking to it. You know, I get tan very easily. I can get tan like this in just a few days.
Do you wear sunscreen? Sometimes I put on baby oil or olive oil.
Olive oil? So you’re essentially sautéing in the sun. Exactly!
Then you go home and have a little asparagus.… Yes! I go home and use the rest to cook.
What about those evil UV rays? My doctor keeps on telling me, “Don’t go into the sun!” But I need it. Psychologically, it’s good therapy.
Antonio Flowers, 52, Oak Street Beach
Why’d you start juggling? In high school I played baseball and had friends that fooled around with juggling. One of my good buddies…showed me how to juggle three balls. I was so overwhelmed by learning it, it’s been the art of my life ever since. I was a closet juggler [for a while]. Then 15 or 20 years later [when I was skateboarding with friends], I started shoving three balls in my pockets. One of the stops we would make was here at Oak Street. This guy came over and said, “If you can juggle three, you should do five.” It took me about two months to get it solid. Now I come here at least four or five times a week.
Is this something people at your workplace know about you? Oh yeah, some people at work now juggle, too. I’m at the U.S. Post Office downtown. On lunch breaks in the cafeteria I teach people.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve juggled? Oh, you know, just fire and knives. I haven’t been lucky enough to juggle numbers of women. I take ’em one at a time.
Daniel Brugioni, 32, 57th Street Beach
Do you have the day off? I’m a high-school English teacher. So I have the whole summer off.
I can tell you’re the “cool teacher.” Some students might disagree.
What can you tell us about this beach? When you come out in the morning, a lot of the time it looks like you’re in the Caribbean.
What are you reading? Pompeii by Robert Harris. Historical fiction. It’s actually pretty awesome, so I was hoping to finish it today. But I have so much other work to do….
And then there’s us interrupting you. Oh no, it’s fine. I’m just trying to get adequately hot enough to get in the water.
So what else is on your summer reading list? It’s funny because I actually have a summer reading list…. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Thomas Pynchon, but I’m going to read Gravity’s Rainbow, just because I heard it’s really out there.
Sounds pretty heavy. Yeah, the two types of books I read are either books that are just enjoyable or fun or intensely weird. Like I want to try Ulysses…
Ulysses on the beach? Maybe not at the beach.
You might want to read that in a cave or something. So what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on the beach? I saw two people playing catch with their baby. That was pretty funny. They were just tossing their baby back and forth.
—LB and DT
| Activities on Chicago beaches
| Beach bums
| The Last Four Miles plan