Pictured Art Sims.
Five years ago Art "Chat Daddy" Sims walked into an after-work singles party at the Art institute of Chicago, where a room full of well-coifed, heterosexual African American professionals, players, perpetrators, sorority women and fraternity men stood around poised and posed. However, once they caught sight of Sims, they descended on him like Barney the dinosaur at a children's birthday party. Dressed in a finely coordinated spring suit, matching shoes, scarf at the neck, Sims maintained his cool and greeted everyone personably. This scene looked as if it could have been lifted out of an Austin Powers film, with Sims being the man with the mojo.
For almost eight years now, Sims has hosted, The Original Real Deal Ultimate Relationship Chat. In a talk-show format, he brings together people who are looking to have open discussion about courtship, relationships, sex, fetishes, fantasies, baby's daddy, mama drama and everything in between. He expertly navigates issues of race, class and quirks by 'keeping it real,' while continuously drawing a dedicated following to eclectic venues around the city of Chicago like the current location, The Spoken Word Café on 47th and King Drive. Over 10,000 people have attended these chats, there have been numerous couplings and a total of eight marriages.
'The Real Deal Chat started in my livingroom over seven years ago,' Sims said. 'Some friends, all from different walks of life, and I were sitting around talking. I requested that they take their sexual preferences, and the fact that they wanted to be loved, out of the picture and proceeded to ask them, 'What do you most want from a relationship?'
'That discussion,' Sims continued, 'went from seven that evening until seven o'clock the next morning. We were able to talk about everything from spirituality to sexuality, to what turned them on and what didn't.' He pauses, then says, 'I've learned that a lot of people go through their entire lives not knowing what they want, sometimes discriminating against people who don't seem 'perfect' to them. But the bottom line, I find, is that we need mental love more than the physical; we really need to be nurtured.'
Sims always thought that he would be a motivator but through working in education. Since his early childhood days in school on the South Side of Chicago, he says other people always asked his advice. 'For as long as I can remember, people brought their problems to me. I used to think there was a sign on my forehead that said, 'Ask me'. In school, I would break up fights and mediate disputes.'
Parlaying his skills into the Real Deal Relationship Chat has been a stroke of genius. Sims has been featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, N'digo, Rolling Out, New City, Jet, Ebony and Chicago magazines. Recently, he started doing a call-in segment on Fox Thing In The Morning with Tamron Hall, where he seems to be a natural in front of the camera.
Before becoming Chat Daddy, Sims held many different jobs, yet he always had his own business on the side. As a promoter, he worked with Afrocentric Bookstore to present James L. Hardy, one of the first authors to fictionalize homo-homeboys, to a booksigning at the Generator (now closed, Black male, house music club), in 1994. They also collaborated to bring in E. Lynn Harris, for a reading and booksigning, when he was just starting out. These events were successfully crafted to attract key audiences. Sims has also regularly worked with Merry Green Promotions Group on the Expo For Today's Black Women and the V-103 Steppers Contest.
Sims is now on the A-list for many Chicago events, restaurants and clubs. He is invited to movie wrap parties, concert after-parties, celebrity martini sips and the like. However, the roads to these open doors have been dotted with closed ones. Some years ago, Sims ran into an old friend at a party. That friend invited Sims to join him at another party. On the way to the other party, being in different cars, they became separated. When Sims arrived at the door, stating who his friend was, the host gave him the once-over and told him that he was not welcomed; welcoming him to the world of the 'fu-fu,' Black gay male world, where many are included and excluded based on exteriors. That experience became engraved into Sims heart as he again promised to himself two things: that he would always treat others with respect and as a result of fulfilling his dreams, people would know his name.
Now, Chat Daddy is ready to venture into uncharted territories. He is going to start relationship chats specifically for lesbians and gays. 'Lesbians are serious lovers. They are some of the most outstanding lovers I've ever met. On the other side, many gay men seem to never be satisfied.' Sims feels confident that these chats will bring new energy and a lot of fun to the lesbian and gay dating and social scene.
When asked where all of this is going, Sims simply replies, 'A nationally syndicated talk show, bottom line. I love Oprah but I would love to be up against her.' With his motto, 'Never give up,' and his constant work towards that goal, it will probably happen.
Chat Daddy relationship tip: Write down three goals you would like to obtain three months from now, six months from now and a year from now. Put that paper in your wallet. When you are out socializing or at a party and someone asks for your phone number, pull out that piece of paper and look at it. If that person can't encourage you toward your goal, pass. 'Don't let the Remy (Remy Martin) and the Henny (Hennessy) fool you,' Sims warns. 'So what, if you want to go on a date (because it's been a while). In this day and age anyone can take you out to dinner. That is the cheapest date you can have. Stop wasting your time. You know in the first five minutes of conversation when someone is not for you.'