The man behind the mask tells all about the birth of Billy Blue Demon.
Before there was DIBS, there was Billy Blue Demon, the first costumed mascot to regularly entertain fans at DePaul basketball games. Sporting enormous blue ears, a black goatee and fat, furry hands and feet, Billy was born in the wake of the famed San Diego Chicken, who captured the nation’s fancy in 1974 with his wild antics. Eddy Formanski (LAS ’80) was the first to appear as Billy, and Evelyn Duff (BUS ’80) wore the costume once, making her the first woman to serve as DePaul’s mascot.
And then along came Terry Shields (LAS ’86). As soon as he donned the costume in 1980, he “tried to do the crazy, to see what I could get away with, like little skits and funny little moves, and it snowballed,” Shields says. Over the next three seasons, he developed a signature shtick. He created a jazzy, strutting walk, three steps forward and one step back. He mugged with fans. He accessorized the costume, adding giant hands or cowboy hats. He parodied popular culture as characters such as Billy “Blues Brother” Demon. He brandished signs, drawing roars from the crowd. Then he started messing with the Blue Demons’ opponents.
“I used to rib the other teams, not in a mean-spirited way, but as a joke. When we played Syracuse, the Orangemen, I used to come out and squeeze oranges or call their mascot the Banana-man,” he says. He routinely clobbered stuffed animals representing the opposing team, such as Old Dominion’s lion.
The costume was heavy, Shields recalls. “The inside suit was a fat suit that made the outside suit plump up a little, followed by a huge body vest. The giant head was on a construction helmet,” he remembers. “I’d be soaked with sweat by the time the game was over.” Despite the discomfort, Shields says being Billy Blue Demon was a blast. “It was fun to be there with that team, those five men of steel. It was a great time.”