Archives March 2011

Real Life Super Heroes on the Streets of SF

Originally Posted:
By Mathew Luschek
Justin Juul over at the Bold Italic spent a night hanging out on the streets of San Francisco, with some Real Life Super Heroes.

Photo by Peter Tangen

Photo by Peter Tangen

No really. The Real Life Super Hero movement started in 2008, shortly after the “Kick-Ass” comic book was released. The organization is a collection of everyday citizens who don super hero costumes, and roam their city looking for crime.
Believe it or not there are over 250 of these brave folks worldwide. There’s Axle Grinder Man in London, Nyx, a female hero in New York, and here in San Francisco Motor Mouth and his crew which includes Nightbug and Justified.
As you browse the Real Life Super Hero page, you can check out the costumes some of these cats have constructed. Some are rather impressive, like the one Death’s Head Moth wears as he patrols an unnamed city in Virginia.
And these people are serious about what they do. Motor Mouth has been threatened and beat up doing his part to rid the streets of crime. In Juul’s article, he describes walking the streets of the Tenderloin in the middle of the night, approaching crackheads and running into the police (who don’t care for the masked method of crime-fighting.)
“Our relationship with the police department is tenuous at best,” Motor Mouth said.
Photo by Peter Tangen

Photo by Peter Tangen

While you’re thinking what I’m thinking, “These guys are gonna get killed,” they do take some precautions. Motor Mouth, for instance carries a pocketknife, mace and a pair of Blast Knuckles which are like brass knuckles but with a 950,000 volt taser built in.
Maybe they’re just over-zealous comic book fans, but they do seem to do some good. So if you see a group of caped crusaders walking the streets, don’t heckle them, because they just might save your life one day.
Juul’s full article at the Bold Italic
The Real Life Super Hero website

San Francisco Bay Guardians

Originally posted:
By Justin Juul
motormouthposterI usually get a thrill out of treacherous street scenes, but this was freaking me out. It was so late on a Saturday night that it was actually Sunday and I was walking through a dark alley in the Tenderloin. I could see lighters flashing on crack pipes in the shadows up ahead and I could hear rough voices mumbling. I wanted to run the other way. But it wasn’t because I have a problem with junkies; I was scared because I was dressed like a comic book character and I was about to start a fight.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone.
For the past three hours, I’d been marching through the city behind a stocky man wearing an armored vest, a faceplate, combat boots, and a hat with a skull. To my right was a man wearing reflective goggles over a neoprene face mask, and to my left was a dude in a homemade ninja suit.
Motor Mouth, Nightbug, and Justified were their names and they are identified as Real Life Superheroes, brave men dedicated to protecting the public while indulging their childhood fantasies at the same time. They’re a lot like the kids from the movie Kick-Ass, which is no coincidence.
In fact, my leader for the night – Motor Mouth, the dude with the skull hat – told me the official Real Life Superhero Movement began gathering steam in 2008, right after the comic book version of Kick-Ass, the saga of a comics-obsessed teenager fighting real crime, came out. Since then, it’s grown from a handful of brave souls to over 250 RLSHs – they say it quick, like Are-El-Ess-Aitch – worldwide. There’s Axle Grinder Man in London, who wears a gold bodysuit and carries a giant saw to cut through clamps police put on illegally parked cars. Then there’s Nyx, a female RLSH who patrols New York sporting a goth-meets-slutty-schoolgirl ensemble and a bright pink Taser. There’s even a man named Supergay in Mexico City battling homophobia in a rainbow-emblazoned wrestler suit.
It sounds fairly ridiculous – grown men and women in shiny leotards and capes jumping from the shadows to stop crime, but you gotta hand it to anyone risking their life for the greater good. Which is to say, being a superhero ain’t all costumes and make-believe. I mean, sure, dressing up is fun. And who doesn’t fantasize about punishing bad guys? But the thing is, when you’re out there with real criminals, stuff can get messy quick. Phoenix Jones, a well-known RLSH from Seattle, for example, made headlines recently when a gang of thugs broke his nose and threatened his life. Motor Mouth has also seen his share of danger. He’s been beaten by criminals and apprehended by the police more than once. Most recently, he was nearly stabbed while stopping a mugger in the Castro.
But Motor Mouth’s dedication to justice has never wavered and he will defend the RLSH Movement until his last breath.
“We’re just a bunch of people trying to take back our communities,” he said. “We want to take back the streets and make the world that much better of a place.”
Motor Mouth has a very official way of speaking and he made the whole RLSH thing sound pretty legit, but there’s something that happens when you wear a costume outside of a party. People notice you. And let’s just say they’re not always nice about it.
Our patrol started near the 16th Street BART station at 10:30 p.m., right as all the drunks began to swarm the Mission. “Happy Halloween!” somebody screamed as we walked by Casanova Lounge. Girls yelled from cars, guys laughed, and some dude on a bicycle even chased us down 21st Street to hurl insults as we marched forward looking for crime. Which proved to be harder than expected. To tell the truth, I was worried we might never see a criminal and that this was all some weird exercise in humiliation. But Motor Mouth was happy. RLSHs, he explained, operate according to a system of steps, and the costumes are the most important part.
Step One is acting as a visual deterrent. “Say what you want about our gear, but the fact is, when people see us, they’re much less likely to commit a crime,” he said. In other words, who’s gonna mug somebody in front of a bunch of crazy guys in face masks? Step Two is threatening to call the cops. If, however, a criminal doesn’t respond well to these actions – if, for example, a criminal were to attack – then the Super Heroes would move on to Step Three: weapons, of which they have plenty.
Motor Mouth carries a pocketknife, mace, and a pair of Blast Knuckles, which are like brass knuckles with 950,000-volt Tasers at the end. It’s all (pretty much) legal, he assured me, but the cops have been known to get upset. “Our relationship with the police department is tenuous at best,” Motor Mouth said. Which proved to be true. Although no one was arrested, our fellow soldier, Kingsnake, who’d been patrolling another part of the Mission, was stopped and threatened with a citation. He went home afterward, but the rest of us were just getting started. The Mission, it turned out, was just practice, a “soft patrol,” Motor Mouth called it. Now it was time to get serious.
We left the Mission at 1:00 a.m. and headed to SoMa, where, Motor Mouth told me, things tend to be more dangerous. It was exactly what I needed to hear. It’d been fun just watching until now, but I yearned to feel the power, the thrill, of being super. So I ducked into the shadows and came out as Nightman, wearing a ski mask, goggles, black gloves, and a scarf from California Surplus in the Haight. I marched behind Motor Mouth under the freeway overpass at Harrison and 14th and out into the harsh streets of SoMa. The burden of the RLSH was now on my shoulders and it felt great.
I mean, sure, people were pointing and laughing, but I didn’t care because nobody could tell who I was. And that, I realized, is part of the draw. It doesn’t matter what people think or say because no one knows who RLSHs really are. And who they are might surprise you. “We have people from all walks of life,” Motor Mouth told me. “Paramedics, cops, you name it.” The one thing most RLSHs have in common is a tremendous concern for the safety of others. They’re good people doing good work and, in my opinion, they should be applauded.
Which is why, by the time we reached SoMa’s designated clubland near Harrison and 11th Street where people started lashing out, I no longer felt even a tinge of embarrassment. The sense of pride Motor Mouth takes in his work is just that infectious.
“What’s up with you guys?” a girl in a miniskirt laughed as we pushed through the crowd at Crepes A Go Go where clubbers from DNA Lounge, Slim’s, and Butter congregate to stuff themselves sober before heading home. “We’re Real Life Superheroes, ma’am,” he replied. “Check us out online.”
When a group of guys asked what we were doing, Motor Mouth puffed up and said, “Just out bustin’ heads, sir.”
The night went on like this for hours as we weaved through SoMa en route to Sixth Street and the Tenderloin area. We never actually got a chance to stop crime, but I could tell from the heckling that we were fulfilling our role as a visual deterrent to the max. Everyone noticed us.
It was now nearly dawn. The bars had been shut for hours and a hush had fallen over the city. Everyone was tired. Everyone except Motor Mouth, that is.
“Let’s hit this alleyway,” he said, “and then call it a night.” It wasn’t the best idea I’d ever heard, but whatever. I mean, sure, this is a dangerous neighborhood, I thought, but Motor Mouth knows what he’s doing. Then I saw the derelicts at the end of the alley and all at once realized how serious this was. Here I was dressed like a thrift-store superhero at the most dangerous time of night in one of the skeeziest neighborhoods in town and I was about to walk up to a bunch of street people to see if anything was wrong. I know Motor Mouth thought we looked tough, but we didn’t. We weren’t. And we were totally about to get our asses kicked!
Silence consumed the alley as we got closer and Motor Mouth whispered something like, “Get ready guys, there’s something going on.” I steeled myself for a showdown and considered fleeing, but instead followed my leader as he veered into darkness.
“How you doing tonight, folks?” Motor Mouth said.
There was some unintelligible muttering followed by silence. Finally a girl giggled. Then a man said, “Uh, great?” And we were off. As we rounded the corner I stuffed my mask and goggles into my backpack and said, “Shit, that was scary!” Motor Mouth, Nightbug, and Justified just laughed. I was wrong. These dudes are tough.
HEROES OF THE NIGHT from Justin Juul on Vimeo.
Check out the Real Life Superhero website for details on how to join Motor Mouth’s crew. You can also try to catch the heroes distributing food to the homeless on random Saturday nights near the entrance to Golden Gate Park at Haight and Stanyan.

Appear in Chelyabinsk superhero "Avenger": he patrols the streets, and promises to rid the city of "hooligans"

Originally posted:

Appear in Chelyabinsk superhero "Avenger"

Appear in Chelyabinsk superhero “Avenger”

English Translation
In Chelyabinsk, gets its own superhero. Dressed all in black and painted on his chest big yellow letter “M”, he patrols the night streets of the city. The townspeople do not yet know how to react to this new phenomenon for Russia. Someone compares it with the vigilantes of Soviet cinema, and someone with the Superman of Hollywood blockbusters.
Superhero himself understands confuse people, so he decided to explain in a video. He argues that began its mission some time ago. People were scared, some laughed, and so he decided to explain that the intention of something actually has a very serious and says, “The Avenger” in his movie.
He claims that have already been able to come to the aid of two people and promised to patrol the night streets of the city to rid it of “hooligans” and “trash.” According to him, with the gangsters he does not fight with their bare hands, and with the help of “several adaptations that help in the fight.”
In “Avenger” is a helper, like any decent superhero. Soon the hero is going to use it to start a page on the Internet. There he will spread information and videos about his adventures, as well as taking orders for the rescue.
 Dressed all in black and painted on his chest big yellow letter "M", he patrols the night streets of the city

Dressed all in black and painted on his chest big yellow letter “M”, he patrols the night streets of the city

“First Region” contacted the assistant superhero. “A lot of bullies, and all non-exploited. I realized that I need to do it yourself, help people, police, – sends word” Raider “his spokesman. – Suit – this remedy, as may hunt. And that is not frightened by the common people , made a poster. ”
Blogger artem_ventura tells of the exploits of “The Avengers”: “If you believe the words of a superhero, he has helped two people. So it’s not some high-poser, buy a suit, only to entertain themselves and others. On our hero so far, little is known, namely, it should be. Soon his personality should grow a legends and rumors that inevitably must play his hand. ”
He had his own group in a social network VKontakte. It is reported that “their activities Avenger began 11 days ago. His task to patrol the streets and not to give offense to simple Chelyabinsk. “On the street he goes out only at night because it was then in more crime. The city has very often taken cell phones, stick to simple guys and even girls. His task repel their attack. AVENGER not some crazy city, but simply citizen. He has an ordinary job and a normal life and not to be deprived of this he is hiding under the mask, “quotes a message portal LRNews .
The group is open discussion on the topic “Good night, whether you are walking the streets?”. Other fun of nouveau-hero, calling him a victim of radiation from a Japanese nuclear power plant and offering the chip in the armor on the form is not very strong, but the brave young man. Videos of his nocturnal walks through the city already runs on the web.
He's got like-minded people - a superhero "Chernobyl", which apparently felt deprived of glory after a stormy debate the exploits of his "colleagues"

He’s got like-minded people – a superhero “Chernobyl”, which apparently felt deprived of glory after a stormy debate the exploits of his “colleagues”

One user is calling “The Avengers” in Tver: “Get the support of domestic betmobilestroeniyu! Raider forward with the Einsatzgruppen in the annihilation of gopoty in company with Chuck Norris, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Bruce Willis in Tver,” We will render fire support howitzer artillery, rocket launchers, ” Grad “and” Hurricane “” All for getting rid of his native city of crime! ”
Meanwhile, in Ulyanovsk, it is not simply waiting. He’s got like-minded people – a superhero “Chernobyl”, which apparently felt deprived of glory after a stormy debate the exploits of his “colleagues” from Chelyabinsk. He has already posted his response “The Avengers” on the Internet: “Hail, Avenger, My name Chernobyl, I patrol the night of Ulyanovsk. I heard about your exploits. I am glad that other cities have started to appear politically conscious citizens. Patrol the city for two years. Unfortunately, this is known only to those whom I have saved. You’re lucky, and you started talking online. Congratulations, – he said.

The Real Life Super Heroes: Stand Up For What You Believe In

Originally posted:
By Trey Buffington

Photo by Peter Tangen

Photo by Peter Tangen

This isn’t a movie I’m describing: drugs run rampant in city parks, theft of money and property, & violence continues to escalate. Men and woman are terrified to take the subway at night. We live in fear. We give in to it. We welcome it. Well… not all of us.
There are those out among us who have taken a stand against such things that drag our society down. They are known as R.L.S.H.. The Real Life Super Heroes. They took it upon themselves to clean up the streets not by might and force alone but by acts of compassion and charity. They dedicate time to mentor children and giving food to the homeless as well as patrol streets to stop criminal acts. In other words, this is the new age neighborhood watch. Taking the persona of superheroes inspired by the comic books we all know and love, R.L.S.H. commit themselves to a hope of creating a better world for our children to grow up in.
Dark Guardian (R.L.S.H. member) is a man who patrols around Manhattan’s Washington Square Park after noticing the drug dealers in the area having no fear of distributing out in the open. Growing up with no father figure, he turned to comic books to be his role model. Using martial arts as his weapon of choice, he confronts drug dealers out in the open dressed in his costume to prevent further moral decay of his park. He has been harassed, threatened verbally and at gun point but still persisted in continuing he endeavor to “clean up the streets.”
Dark Guardian doesn’t just fight drug dealers for a living, he also volunteers his time at hospitals and does homeless outreach. He may not be taking down a Lex Luthor or a Norman Osborn but in our real world society he is doing a tremendous job cleaning up the streets and helping the needy in all forms.
Dark Guardian is just one of the many superheroes who have joined this project to help humanity in this day and age. Other superheroes include: Samaritan, Nyx, Mr. Xtreme, Knight Owl, Crimson Fist, Phoenix Jones and many more.
What does it take to be a superhero? What powers must you possess to do what is right and help others? If you ask any of these “superfolks” helping out their community around the world, I bet they would say “Just be a neighbor”. Reach out to those in need. Stand up for what you know is right. If you have the power and the ability to change you surrounding environment, do so. Everyone wants the world to change, but who out there will try


Catherine "Kitty" Genovese

Catherine “Kitty” Genovese

There seems to be a lot of controversy in the RLSH/RLSV community concerning KITTY GENOVESE DAY.
Some people feel it should be remembered. Others feel it should not. Still others seek to find the truth of the situation amidst a sea of urban legends and yellow journalism.
Let me state my position on this…I (and visiting professor AMAZONIA) chose to do a show on Kitty Genovese this past Sunday not because of any Watchman reference – in truth I was unaware of the reference until I read it a few days ago – but because I believe we can all learn from the past.
We’ve done shows on the real lives of Saint Nicholas, Saint Valentine, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Kitty Genovese because in looking at how they lived – or in Ms. Genovese case how she died – we can see the proper ways to serve the world around us.
Hindsight, as the proverb says, is 20/20 and those who forget the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat the same mistakes…therefore I stand by my decision to honor the life of Kitty Genovese on the anniversary of her death by encouraging others to be aware of the world around them and to step up when someone else is in need.
It was not a person patrolling that failed to call the police, it was the neighbors who witnessed it. It doesnt matter if it was the 28 witnesses claimed by the papers or the real 10-12 that actually saw parts of the attack because it would only have taken ONE…COUNT IT – O N E…person to intervene and possibly have saved her life that night.
For her that help was too late and her tragedy now serves as a reminder to act and a shout out against apathy and indifference.
For those who feel that its unfair to single her case out when there are so many tragic stories that are just as worthy, Let me assure you that she is not the only one who will be remembered on my blogs and my show. Hers is just the one remembered on that day – the anniversary of her death.
There are other examples that can – and will – be presented on SUPERHERO ACADEMY in the weeks and months to come…precious lost lives like Adam Walsh…missing children like Morgan Nick…tragic happenings like 9-11 and Columbine…and historic or mythical figures like St Patrick and Robin Hood…Each will serve as a glimpse into the souls of mankind and point the way for those of us who wish to serve the world in a better way.
If that offends you I am sorry. You have my permission to go off and pout somewhere if thats what you want.
Im not going to change the way I choose to honor her memory or the memory of so many others like her that have been lost to the evil of this world. But you can be assured that I will do my best to present each of these cases as accurately as I can with the facts available to me. No urban legends. No modern mythology. No Hallmark poem in a folded paper sentiments to mark another big sales day. Just the facts!
In the meantime I encourage each and every one of you to be alert for your OWN Kitty Genoveses – those people around you who need your help – and to put aside the apathy, indifference, and complacency that allows you to justify not acting on their behalf.
Its not about doing something for nothing.
Its not about doing something to make you feel good about yourself.
Its not about being altruistic.
Its about doing the right thing…and thats what it requires to change this world for the better

X-ALTS: Extreme Altruism Examined

I’d like to thank Zero ( the original Z ) for creating a phrase for those of us within what the media labeled the real life superhero ( RLSH ) community who may or may not quite fit that colorful brand.
“X Alts” or extreme altruists is his commendable contribution to the lexicon.
Yes I have a code name but I’m a bit costume lite compared to most. Yes I’m a member of this community of creative activists; glory seekers; actual crime fighters and ” visionaries ” but Zero’s new term resonates with me on many levels.
I’m a very creative concerned citizen- that’s it. I’m not a vigilante nor a naive do gooder. I’m simply a highly socially concerned member of the public. Being part of a mobilized, passionate public has been my goal from Day One, along with using my lifelong interest in things super heroic to inspire others.
Zero is a serious thinker about our emerging field of activism. I’m not surprised he coined this phrase and will undoubtedly produce a body of work that will go a long way toward explaining the various tribes under the RLSH umbrella.
Some of us see ourselves as superheroes come to life. Others are creative actvists paying homage to a genre that allows folks to soar above the commonplace. Still more have allowed fantasy to overwhelm their grasp on reality.
Wherever you fit on the RLSH spectrum, we should all thank Zero for his invaluable input!
NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT BLACK promotes crime prevention and self-development through creative activism. Whether his outreach is RLSH or X ALT is up to the beholder. (504) 214-3082.

Capt Blacks Birthday Food Giveaway

Capt Blacks Birthday Food Giveaway will be held April 11th, 2011 in downtown New Orleans. The creative activist will be 45 and plans to celebrate by walking the Central Business District and giving food to the homeless.
Donations may be sent via PayPal to [email protected] or Moneygram to Nadra Enzi ( Capt. Black’s real name ) 1421 General Ogden St, New Orleans, LA. 70112 and (504) 657-2259.
Contact Information:
Mr. Nadra Enzi
aka Capt Black
Creative Activist and Event Security Consultant
(504) 214-3082 CELL 1.
(504) 657-2259 CELL 2.

Russian News Article

Originally posted:
English Translation
The Real Life Superhero Project – a project of the American photographer Peter Tangen about ordinary people, donning a superhero costume to correct deficiencies in our society. Peter Tangen did photography for such films as “Spider-Man” and “Batman” with Christian Bale, so the phenomenon of “real superheroes” it is very inspired. The photographer wants to create a full series of posters of conventional superheroes in North America, to draw public attention to the fact that these people do. Perhaps it is because of these pictures people will discover the heroes within themselves. From the works of Peter Tangen can be found at .
Photo: Peter Tangen
Name: Zimmer (Zimmer)
City: Austin, Texas, then New York
Occupation: patrol the streets without a mask and does not hide his real name, worked in the ambulance.  After a serious accident, was left with partial paralysis of his hands, but did not leave his job.
Zimmer supports MagicCamp ( ).
Name: Knight owl (Knight Owl)
City: Vancouver, Washington
Occupation: daytime running paramedics, night patrolling the streets, distributing medicine, began writing a guide for the superhero.
Knight Owl supports the organization Heifer ( ).
Photo: Peter Tangen
Name: Guyst (Geist)
City: Rochester, Minnesota
Occupation: calling himself a “green space cowboy” patrolling the streets, punishing illegal graffiti and helps the hungry and homeless, armed with slingshots, and baton.
Guyst supports Ronald McDonald Charitable Foundation in Rochester ( ).
Photo: Peter Tangen
Name: Super Hero (Superhero)
City: Clearwater, Florida
Occupation: former wrestler, now owner of online store gym equipment, founded the “Team Justice” – the first non-profit organization for the “real superheroes” in the U.S..
Superhero support charities and .
Photo: Peter Tangen
Name: Nyx (Nyx)
City: New York, NY
Occupation: helping homeless and drug addicts, in his first patrol went to 16 years.
Nix supports the National Association of the Deaf ( ).

Russian News Article

Orignially posted:

Photo by Peter Tangen

Photo by Peter Tangen

English Translation
by Daniel Nash on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 12:37am
I was really excited to see this published after writing it last month. The PDF of my interview with Phoenix Jones was posted online yesterday. But if you don’t know Russian, there’s no easy way to translate it. So here is the English version. It’s severely cut down considering the length of our conversation: this is probably 10 minutes of an hour-and-a-half long interview, not counting almost three hours patrol time. Additionally, the information that did make the cut is pretty basic if you have followed the American coverage, but I wanted to make sure this was a solid introduction of who Phoenix is to an overseas audience. I’m trying to find the time to transcribe the whole interview so I can try to sell a fuller version of this story to an American publication.
Some of the answers are cut down, but I tried to avoid cutting in such a way that the quotes would lose context. I eliminated some questions and answers I really wanted to include because I couldn’t minimize them without losing the spirit of the answer.
The version published in Akzia included some mini-profiles of other superheroes, such as KnightOwl of Oregon, Geist of Minnesota, Nyx of New Jersey, etc. Since I didn’t write that portion, I don’t have the English immediately at hand, but I’ll try to translate it over the weekend as a courtesy to the superheroes who appear.
Hope you all enjoy.
Curriculum Vitae
Name: Phoenix Jones
Secret Identity: Withheld
Age: 22
Occupation: Fighter
Tools: 10,000-volt stun baton, pepper spray, tear gas, Bluetooth phone.
Phoenix Jones is a real life superhero living in Seattle, Washington. Five nights a week, he patrols the streets looking for crimes not already being handled by police, joined by any number of the other 10 members of the Rain City Superhero Movement he founded.
Guardian of Seattle
By Daniel Nash
phoenixjonesatcomicconI was met by superheroes Ghost and Pitch Black just inside the entrance of Trabant Coffee and Chai in the University District. They demanded my name and press affiliation. I told them, and offered them a seat.
Ghost waved my suggestion away: “Phoenix will decide all that when he gets here.”
When Phoenix arrived moments later, he explained his colleagues were ensuring his safety against anyone who might use an interview as a ruse to attack him.
On patrol with the Rain City Superheroes, there was no denying that public response was mixed enough to make security understandable. Many passersby asked to take a photo with Phoenix, a request to which he readily obliged. Some laughed at the novelty of a man walking the street in a rubber suit, while others openly shouted “You’re not a superhero,” or, “You’re a fraud.”
Whether hero, novelty or overzealous attention seeker, what follows is Seattle’s superhero in his own words.
AKZIA: I know you have a day job, and you get out on patrol five nights a week. I guess my first question is, when do you find time to sleep?
PHOENIX JONES: I take naps. Lots of naps. I get off patrol maybe five in the morning, and I don’t start work until about eight-ish (8 a.m.) so I’ll get some time in there, and I get off around four, so I’ll sleep a little bit there. But I try to spend as much time with my kids as I can. And I get to bed about eight, so from 8:15 p.m. to midnight I usually sleep.
A: You’ve mentioned in the past that your kids are part of the inspiration for how you got into this. I remember you specifically mentioned a car break-in that occurred, and the glass hurt your son.
P: Yes. I went to Wild Waves [water park] and we didn’t have anything that we took… just [swim] shorts. We go running back to the car and as we go back, he slips and falls in glass near my car. And he cut his knee open pretty bad. I didn’t realize where the glass was coming from at first, so I just held his leg shut, saying “Someone call 911.” I looked up and realized my car window [had been smashed]. Some guy comes running over to me with a phone. So I say “Call 911,” and he says “I can’t.” I say “Why?” and he says “It will ruin my YouTube video.” And I thought, does anyone help… anyone?
So I was cleaning the inside of my car and I find this rock inside a mask. And the mask is what [thieves] used to swing and break the window open. I kept it as a symbol that bad stuff happens, and I put it in my glove box and thought that would be that.
A week or so goes by and I’m at the club with my friend. A guy comes in and says, “Hey isn’t that your friend outside?” I say “Yeah, he’s out there, what’s going on?” and he says somebody hit him with a stick. I go out there and his nose is turned all the way sideways
The guy who did it had 50 friends with him. I go, “Great, nobody can do anything. It’s 50 to one.” I go back to my car to my glove box because I had a first aid kit and a couple other things there and I see the mask is still there. I picked it up and I kind of got this idea. No one knows who I am with the mask on, so I ditched the shirt, put the mask on, chased him around the block. The police pulled us both over and I was able to get him arrested. I asked if I needed to [be a] witness and they said “We don’t really need a witness, we have the guy assaulted and we have the other guy, so we don’t really need you, other than your name.” I asked “Does it matter what my name is?” They said, no not really, so I said, “My name’s Phoenix Jones.”
[NOTE: There is some contention as to the exact details of Jones’s origin story as he has told it to the press. In a November interview with author Tea Krulos for his blog, Heroes In The Night, Jones stated he went looking for his friend’s attacker the night after the incident, but never found him. A story in the Capitol Hill blog of KOMO News reversed the car break-in and assault altogether.]
A: When you began intervening in crimes you did it as yourself at first, yes?
PJ: Yeah, that was way before Wild Waves. My brother and a couple friends liked to go down to drink at different clubs. I wasn’t 21 and I don’t drink anyway. So I decided I would go and charge them money to drive them downtown. I was kind of stuck there, though, depending on when they wanted to leave. So my friend goes, “Why don’t we just, you know, break up bar fights?” So we went around and broke up bar fights. But six months of doing that and people start recognizing your face. And you’re out there and people just try to attack you. My wife became pregnant at that point and I realized I need to quit this or I’m going to get in trouble. So that’s why, when the second part rolled around, I’ve been so careful about my identity and who I talk to.
A: How old were you?
PJ: I started at 18.
A: What made you decide on your current suit?
PJ: Mobility. When I first designed the suit, I really wanted a full rubber suit. But it was like wearing a rubber band; it just wasn’t practical. So I started cutting things off the original suit.
A: What’s your martial arts background?
PJ: Black belt in tae kwon do, black belt in judo. I should have a black belt in kendo, but I found out the teacher wasn’t accredited. But I fought other black belts and in kendo tournaments I did very well. I have over 30 mixed martial arts fights and I’ve won all of them but two, and I lost by [judge’s] decision. I’ve never submitted or finished. And then I have a couple years of ROTC.
A: How did you decide on the name Phoenix Jones?
PJ: My official answer is “Phoenix,” because it rises up from the ashes and I hope that if I stop doing this or something happens to me, someone else takes up the idea. And “Jones” because Jones was the most common last name the year I was born.
A: I want to talk a moment about your broken nose [in January].
PJ: That really made me mad when they played it that way in the press. Because there’s a whole other part of the story people don’t think about. Let’s review what we do know: My nose got broken by a guy with a gun in a parking lot. But let’s answer the questions: Why was I in a parking lot with a guy with a gun? Because he was assaulting citizens. I did what superheroes do. I ran in to stop the situation and I actually did. I effectively got the guy on the ground, I was holding him. I called the police and they didn’t show up for 17 minutes. The whole incident took 22 minutes and I was winning for 19 of them.
Then out of nowhere his friend comes up and draws on me. Everyone else is gone, so it’s just an ego situation. My ego, what am I going to do? [He imitates a gruff voice] “I’m not going to let him go!” Come on. At that point no one is in danger, so I let him go. When I did, he kicked me in the face and broke my nose.
A: Do you ever worry about your kids losing you?
PJ: I think about that sometimes, but you know what I think is worse? My kids being alive. They’re living in this world that no one seems to want to change. Everybody seems to be pretty happy with the way things are going. And I think that me attempting to change this is much more important than it would be for me to be around longer. Do you know what I mean? They’re going to be in a world that’s getting progressively worse. The urgency is so great that they maybe won’t grow old if I don’t do this.
A: You have a Bluetooth under your mask, don’t you?
PJ: Yes. [He laughs] A lot of people don’t get that. People always try to pick apart my story and ask “How can you hold a guy down and call 911?” [He points to his earpiece].
A: So as soon as you see a crime, you make the call, and then you intervene?
PJ: I try not to intervene most of the time. The best thing I can do is record it. And I have a headcam that goes on the [mask] right here. So a lot of the time I’ll see a crime and then I’ll just videotape it and wait for the police to show up. And if he tries to leave the scene or hurt people, then I jump in.
A: Do you have religious beliefs?
PJ: I do, and I believe in God, but I feel like it ruins the message of being a superhero. It’s interesting how religion was originally brought in to bring hope, but today a word like “mundane” comes to mind, or “fake.” When you see a Union Gospel mission bring food to the homeless, you think, “That’s for points in Sunday school,” or “That’s because you think you’re going to heaven and not because you’re a nice person.” But you see a dude just randomly giving stuff to the homeless you think, “Wow, that’s really nice.”