Story By: Rebecca Riley.
Video By: Daniel Oramas & Alessio Summerfield.
Traveling on Interstate 85 in Georgia south of Atlanta take Exit 41 toward Newnan. Continue half a mile down the road and make a right at the fork onto Highway 16. Nine miles and 300 yards after the four-way stop and you’ve arrived in Turin, Ga., home to Barbie Beach.
A few inches from the road is a constantly changing beach scene featuring several dozen Barbies putting on a show on a patch of sand in Linda and Steve Quick’s front lawn.
Right now, the Barbies are on spring break. A few scrap pieces of plexiglass nailed together make for a water-slide for a few of the Barbies, while the others are posted up on several levels of miniature, wooden pallets, otherwise known as the local bar.
From the road you might pass by without giving it a second look. Those who are unaware of Barbie Beach’s existence might not even give it a first look. But pull over into Steve and Linda Quick’s driveway, marked off by red flags and “this way to Barbie Beach house” signs and you’ll see things differently.
Barbie Beach isn’t just something the Quicks do for themselves, but it’s for other people. The 6-by-4 feet sandy beach on their front lawn evolves with whatever is happening in the world that inspires the creators.
About 40 Barbies, some unclothed, others clothed, occupy the beach at any given time. Each of them possesses a specific quality that makes them stand out.
“The favorite down there to me is Mort,” says Steve. “He got his driver’s license, Social Security card and bought a bar.”
After opening in 2006, with a scene depicting the win for women’s volleyball in the winter Olympics in none other than Turin, Italy, Barbie Beach took on a life of its own.
“We had a guy come by and roll down his window and say to Linda, ‘Thank you for doing that. It’s the only vacation I’m gonna get all year,’” Steve said as he described a Barbie Beach Jamaica scene.
Steve and Linda take their own trip to Jamaica three times a year. So when they’re gone, their Barbies are too.
Using their granddaughter Sydney’s flip-flops, they converted what was once used as a bobsled for the winter Olympics into tubes for the water park for the Barbie’s spring break. Right before spring break, the beach was decorated for St. Patrick’s Day.
“Oh they love St. Patty’s. They stay drunk for weeks,” says Linda.
Linda and Steve live a life of freedom. Freedom of speech, expression and doing whatever they please, and Barbie Beach is an always-evolving reflection of that.
Dr. Donna Rosser and her friend Ann, photographers from Newnan, are local fans of Barbie Beach. “Barbie beach is our meeting place. Ann and I will drive here and come drink our coffee and take pictures,” Rosser said. Their photos ended up in an art gallery debut for the Barbies.
Wesley Cochran, who owns an art gallery in downtown Lagrange, came to talk to Steve and Linda about the beach. “He built us an 8-by-8 sandbox in the middle of the art gallery,” said Linda. “We were hot stuff that night.”
Barbie Beach has certainly made a name for itself, as have Steve and Linda.
Aside from their three trips a year to Jamaica, they’re local people, living local lives, bringing no-so-local people to their area to view Highway 16’s Barbie Beach.
While Barbie Beach is a creative outlet for Steve and Linda Quick, attracting local visitors and travelers, they don’t lose track of what’s actually going on in their world.
Since Barbie Beach opened, Linda has also devoted her time to The Pink Posse of Georgia. A local charity to support families who have been diagnosed with cancer, The Pink Posse, also formed in 2006, is second nature to Linda.
“We pay utilities for people undergoing chemo in the area,” she explains.
The Pink Posse puts on a walk every September to help raise money and awareness for their foundation to serve families in need. “We’re local, and all our money stays right here.”
While Linda and The Pink Posse are helping the foundation help others, the Barbies are right by their side.
“We had one guy donate an airplane, so the Barbies got in it and went around advertising’ for the annual walk,” says Linda.
While The Pink Posse is second nature to Linda, so is Barbie Beach. The Barbie Beach scene changes according to the goings on around the world, but they too remember their roots and stay local.
“They got their pink outfits on and what not,” says Linda. “They’re proud supporters.”
Since their first annual walk in 2006, The Pink Posse has picked up some serious followers. In 2011 and 2012, they raised more than $33,000 with a little help from their friends over at Barbie Beach.
From the outside, Turin, Ga., is home to a local school, church, some gas stations here and there and residential neighborhoods for a few miles. But it’s much more for those who discover Barbie Beach.