Public Service With a Side of Spandex

By Delphine Schrank
Washington Post Staff Writer

Beltway traffic marooned the roast turkeys, but that didn’t stop a dynamic duo of world-saving, justice-championing, despair-fighting masked crusaders — one with red cape aflutter — from charging down the streets of the capital yesterday, dispensing Chinese-takeout cartons of corn bread, dressing and green beans to homeless people.
Yes, superheroes are alive and well.
Be not fooled. This is no tryptophan mirage. Nor is this a post-prandial attempt to take refuge from a feast-induced family feud by diving into an old Marvel comic book.
On a day when area nonprofit groups and armies of the charitable assisted the needy by distributing food or hosting Thanksgiving dinners in shelters, members of the all-volunteer Capital City Super Squad ventured out in their trademark disguises, each representing an invented superhero alter ego. Their mission: bringing smiles to the faces of many a homeless person as they proffered cartons of home-cooked fare.
That blur of red-and-white lycra brandishing a plastic fork who you could’ve sworn dashed by your window yesterday? That’s Captain Prospect. The one with a pair of scales emblazoned in scarlet felt across her chest? Justice. Sworn members of the six-person Super Squad, the pair sacrificed family mealtime to do what they do: do-gooding. Sometimes that means circulating abuse-awareness pamphlets, but most often it means cooking and handing out food.
“Do you need a box, sir?” asked Prospect, a 31-year-old who allowed a reporter to tag along on the condition of anonymity, citing a possible compromise of his secret identity. He pulled a carton from a Whole Foods bag, as Justice, a.k.a. Jasmine Modoor, handed over napkin and fork.
Quotidian reality, however, sometimes imposes its limits.
“The poultry delivery didn’t make it because of traffic,” Prospect said, his cape flapping behind him as he leaned on a marble statue in front of Union Station. Nice Ninja, another squad member, was meant to provide the turkeys and chicken but was caught in a Beltway tangle for an hour, so Captain Prospect told him not to bother.
“See, your costume is very cute, but he’s scaring me,” said Anthony Jackson, 41, laughing as he accepted a carton from Justice. Jackson, who sat on a bench at I and Sixth streets in a handout jacket with the price tag still hanging from the sleeve, has been homeless for 18 months, he said, since he and his wife separated. “My life hasn’t been right since,” he said. He’d eaten in a shelter yesterday, but the carton was most welcome, he said.
“It beats what I’ve had all day. Nothing,” said Samuel Sterling, 52, on the bottle-littered mound of grass between Massachusetts Avenue and H Street where he had slept the previous night. As he plunged into the green beans, Sterling said he had worked as a handyman in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina destroyed everything. He made his way up to the District and sleeps where he can, he said.
“Hey y’all, I like your outfit!” he called as the duo bounded off.
Dozens of others sitting on walls or benches silently nodded their thanks. But others politely declined the offer.
“I don’t want a handout. I want a hand up” to find a job, said Bernard Hamilton, 51, a former Marine who regularly sleeps on the marble wall in front of Union Station.
If they only had real superpowers, Captain Prospect and Justice said, they know they could do so much more. Prospect, who works weekdays in social services, would opt for invulnerability. Justice, a first-year student at Howard University’s law school, would choose foresight. Her superhero identity conveys her desire to one day practice law as a social engineer, rather than a “parasite,” she said.
Last summer, Modoor was planning her move to the District for school and browsing Craigslist for furniture when she stumbled on a notice from Captain Prospect calling for volunteers.
“I thought it was a very unique way to approach community service,” Justice said.
Captain Prospect, whose business card identifies him as “the Washington DC Superhero,” dreams of building up the network to a dozen active superheroes and applying for nonprofit status so the group can stop paying out of pocket and fund more ambitious projects.
Meanwhile, he said, “There really isn’t any good reason someone can’t put on a costume and do good deeds like a superhero.”

Why real-life superheroes have few friends

 Stefanie Marsh
It is with regret that “Geist”, a self-appointed “real-life superhero” is unable to accept your request for friendship. “If you don’t have a secret identity,” he writes, “for your own safety and protection, I’m afraid I’ll need to turn down your kind request to become MySpace Friends.”
Geist, a resident of Minnesota – real name and age unknown – spends his spare time dressed up as a masked Lone Ranger, attempting to “make my city of Rochester a better, kinder and safer place”. This he does by, in one instance, helping out incognito during a recent flooding episode: “My equipment and methods are completely legal,” he states on his blog, but: “I’m prepared to make citizen’s arrests.” Fondly, he recalls the time a man in need “called me his Personal Masked Avenger”.
Geist meets other Real-Life Superheroes online: “Street Hero”, a former prostitute, wears a black eye mask, matching bustier and knee-high boots to protect women working the streets of New York (she is also a martial arts expert); “Red Justice” patrols the New York subway in red briefs and red cape fashioned from an old T-shirt and a sock with eyeholes, encouraging young people to give up their seats to the elderly. “The Cleanser” picks up litter in a white cape and yellow rubber gloves. “The Super” fixes minor electrical faults in a red cape, a yellow shirt, green braces and green tights. Their cause is noble – “an unorthodox approach to doing good” – but is it surprising when “The Super” admits that in real life he has few friends? “A lot of real-life superheroes stumble along the way. And part of it can definitely make you feel isolated, like nobody understands you.”

Dressed for Halloween? No, to Clean Up Times Sq.

Red Justice, left, and Direction Man, so-called real-life superheroes, on patrol in Times Square.

Red Justice, left, and Direction Man, so-called real-life superheroes, on patrol in Times Square.


Correction Appended
She calls herself Street Hero, says she is a former prostitute, knows martial arts and takes to the city’s underbelly to protect women who work the streets. Her uniform includes a black eye mask, a black bustier and black knee-high boots.
A Brooklyn man who calls himself Direction Man prefers helping lost tourists and locals. He wears a bright orange vest, a pair of thick black goggles and has numerous maps spilling from his pockets.
Then there is Red Justice, a substitute teacher from Woodside, Queens, who wears red boxer briefs over jeans, a red cape made from an old T-shirt and a sock with eyeholes to mask his identity. He trolls the subways encouraging young people to give their seats to those who need them more.
The Super, from left, Street Hero and the Cleanser picked up litter and handed out crime prevention literature Sunday.

The Super, from left, Street Hero and the Cleanser picked up litter and handed out crime prevention literature Sunday.

They call themselves real-life superheroes, and they were just a few of the do-gooders who gathered near Times Square yesterday for what was billed as the first meeting of a group called Superheroes Anonymous. They all declined to give their real names because they said they wanted to protect their identities.
The meeting was part news conference, part documentary film shoot and part patrol duty. There were locals and out-of-towners, most were in uniform (don’t dare call them costumes) and all said they were serious about helping make their respective communities cleaner, safer and kinder places.
The 13 or so who gathered yesterday are part of a growing community of activists across the country and beyond who use the Internet to communicate.
Chaim Lazaros, 23, a student at Columbia University and an independent filmmaker, co-founded Superheroes Anonymous along with Ben Goldman to bring to New York as many superheroes as he could for interviews and to record them for a documentary he is making about the movement.
“I found these people on MySpace,” Mr. Lazaros said, referring to the social networking Web site, “and I knew I had to tell the story.”
Shortly after noon yesterday, Mr. Lazaros stood at a lectern in a park on West 48th Street where the attendees gathered before going on patrol in Times Square to pick up litter and hand out crime prevention literature.
“This is a serious job,” Mr. Lazaros said. “We are out in the streets fighting crime in a legal way. But most of all we are fighting the worst crime of all, apathy.”
“We’re not these crazy people,” said one man, Geist, who traveled to New York from Minnesota. “We just have an unorthodox approach to doing good.”
As the group walked down Broadway in Times Square, a Manhattan woman known as the Cleanser picked up soggy debris and errant paper bags. She wore a white cape and yellow rubber gloves.
The woman who calls herself Street Hero was with the group. She says she decided to stop being a prostitute after she was arrested. Now she offers to help prostitutes in whatever way she can. “I do it on my own,” she said. “Mostly after dark. Around the city.”
The Super is a superintendent of a building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, who fixes faucets and does electrical work for people in need. Yesterday, he wore a red cape, a yellow shirt, green suspenders and green tights under black soccer shorts.
The Super, who also declined to give his real name, said he took on the alter ego after a friend was hurt by debris that had fallen from scaffolding. “I said to myself, if we have to wait around for the city or the mayor to fix everything wrong or dangerous in this city, it’ll never get done,” the Super said.
He acknowledged that his self-proclaimed role — as well as what he wears — has drawn derision.
He said he had been laughed at, stared at, egged and stoned. Once, he said, someone in a high-rise apartment building threw a frozen piece of meat at him.
“I don’t have many friends,” he said. “A lot of real-life superheroes stumble along the way. And part of it can definitely make you feel isolated, like nobody understands you.”

Correction: November 2, 2007
An article on Monday about Superheroes Anonymous, a group of volunteers who gathered near Times Square to publicize their efforts to make their communities cleaner and safer, included an imprecise reference from one participant, Chaim Lazaros, who spoke at the event. He is a co-founder of the group, along with Ben Goldman; Mr. Lazaros is not the sole founder.

Real-Life Superheroes patrol our cities

Scanned copy of National Enquirer article
LOOK! Up in the sky! It′s a bird… it′s a plane… HOLD IT!
You no longer have to crane your neck to spot Superman or Spider-Man. Dozens of real-life superheroes now spend their nights patrolling the mean streets of some of America’s largest cities.
Are they crazy? Maybe. Eccentric? Definitely.
And because they lack the super-powers of their comic book counterparts, they mostly serve as a kind of colorful citizen′s watch patrol. But there′s no doubt they cut down on crime.
“What started as beloved comic book fantasies have become a reality in many places in America- and that′s a good thing for everyone,” declares Citizen Prime, a self-styled superhero, who for nearly two years have patrolled the streets of Phoenix in a Batman-like outfit.
“As a child, I always loved Captain American, and now I hope to bring what inspired me to the real world and do some good,” said Prime, a 40-year-old business executive, who in true super-hero tradition, keeps his real identity secret.
PRIME PATROLS ON FOOT or in a white Nissan Xterra. But in Clearwater, Fla., his 38-year-old friend, who simply calls himself Superhero, patrols in a flashy red 1975 Corvette with a police scanner.
“Mostly I provide help for people- roadside assistance. But if necessary I can do more,” Superhero, a former professional wrestler, told the ENQUIRER.
“My message to people is to do whatever you can help people. You don′t have to be a superhero to help an old lady across the street or deliver food to a homeless person.”
New York City has many active superheroes, including Chris Guardian and Squeegeman.
Chris Guardian, 23, a martial arts instructor, patrols dangerous New York neighborhoods helping anybody who is frightened or needs assistance.
“Over the past three years, I′ve stopped several fights, beatings and a robbery,” he said.
“But I′ve also been able to do a lot of community service ‾ spending time with sick children in hospitals, cleaning up graffiti, and helping the homeless.”
Squeegeman, 27, gets involved with food drives, street cleaning and charity projects.
About 100 superheroes are hard at work across America. For a comprehensive list, with links to individual Web sites, visit the Heroes Network at:

Geek Squads

Kristen Mueller Utne Reader
In Jackson, Michigan, police are turning to a surprising ally in the fight against crime: a trio of spandex-clad crusaders armed with Mace and known as the Crimefighter Corps. The group’s de facto leader goes by the name Captain Jackson and keeps his true identity a closely guarded secret. He prefers to call his getup a uniform–picture Batman in yellow gloves and a purple cape–and explains that he’s been prowling the streets with his 17-year-old daughter, Crimefighter Girl, since 1999, when he noticed that ‘there were no beat cops around.’ They were soon joined by Queen of Hearts, an anti-domestic violence activist, and the threesome became regulars at community events, feted by local law enforcement. ‘By definition, we’re superheroes,’ says the Captain.
Nationwide, Captain Jackson and his crew have plenty of company. ‘An entire community of real-life superheroes patrols the streets from Los Angeles to Boise, Chicago to Phoenix,’ reports Punk Planet (March/April 2007). They gather on MySpace and WorldSuperheroRegistry .com to discuss morals (‘Is it ever OK for a superhero to kill?’), gadgets (Jackalope asks for advice on building spring-loaded boots), and defense gear (like arm guards forged from PVC piping). Some attempt to take law enforcement into their own gloved hands, but most just try to make the world worth living in and inspire hope in the rest of us. ‘It’s all about standing up for what’s right,’ New York City’s Dark Guardian told Punk Planet. ‘It’s about not throwing garbage on the floor. It’s about not walking by homeless people and totally ignoring them.’
These real-life superheroes pursue missions as diverse as the logos flaunted on their chests: In Seattle, reports Rivet (#16), Transit Man rides buses and encourages commuters to ditch their cars. England’s Angle-grinder Man made international headlines back in 2003 for helping drivers dismantle wheel clamps on their illegally parked vehicles. And in St. Louis, the 26-year-old art student Glitterous battles the mundane, sticking sparkly magnets onto street signs in an attempt to beautify the city, according to an April Riverfront Times article.
Mediamakers have also latched onto the phenomenon: Last year’s The Superman Handbook (Quirk) and Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat? (Chronicle) offer advice on leaping between tall buildings and overcoming your personal kryptonite; the Sci Fi channel’s reality show Who Wants to Be a Superhero? enters its second season this summer; and four new superhero-themed blockbusters (one spoofing the genre) will be released next year.
During the Cold War, Americans sought solace in Westerns, in which the cowboys always whupped the ‘red’ Indians. Today, with diabolical masterminds plotting terrorist attacks from caves and underground bunkers (while weenie politicians wring their hands), the appeal of superpowerful and superethical saviors is strong. Take 22-year-old Tothian, who launched the online Heroes Network and scours the New York/New Jersey area in combat boots, a homemade supershirt, and sometimes a cape (he ditched his mask because it posed ‘tactical disadvantages’) searching for thieves, rapists, and muggers. Tothian graduated from military school at 16 and now serves in the Marine Corps. He says being a superhero is not much different: ‘I’m pretty much fighting the bad guys, saving the world, that kind of stuff.’
When it comes to actually fighting crime, however, most real-life superheroes are more pfftzzz than kraack. Captain Jackson has brandished the Mace tucked into his utility belt only twice, both times against dogs. He and his fearsome trio typically make sure business doors are locked after hours and alert cops to teen vandals. ‘In reality, what we are is pretty much neighborhood watch,’ says Jackson. Still, police in the town rely on the Corps for backup when they’re short-staffed, Jackson says, and he’s a
regular at local chamber of commerce meetings. Even after Jackson was nailed in 2005 by a real-life cop for drunken driving, he only hung up his cape for 12 days before ‘bigwig officials’ begged him not to quit, he says.
Thirty-nine-year-old Kevlex, named for the supermaterials Kevlar and spandex, runs the online World Superhero Registry from his home in Arizona, and he occasionally patrols Flagstaff. He has yet to foil a felon, though he once attempted to nab a shoplifter who was chucking groceries into a bush. ‘Any one cop is probably a hundred times more effective than anyone in our group,’ he says. ‘Real-life superheroes are law enforcement hobbyists, at best.’
Instead, the superhero community, which is dominated by white males in their teens and 20s–nerdy sci-fi fans and former military types–see themselves as symbols of hope in a world where terrorists hijack planes and genocide is overlooked. They’re trying to prove that anyone can provoke change, as Kevlex puts it, by ‘taking a stand for your version of the world, and doing it in a very public way.’
But that’s not to underestimate the sheer glee of prancing down the sidewalk in a mask and a leotard. ‘Walking around in a cape with the wind blowing through it is just really cool,’ Kevlex says. ‘It’s kind of an ego boost.’ Pilgrims travel thousands of miles to shake hands with the Crimefighter Corps in Michigan. ‘People all over the globe utterly go nuts over the opportunity to meet us,’ the trio’s Queen of Hearts says. ‘It’s a positive endorphin high. Not even sex can touch the high you get off this.’

Modern Day Superheroes

abc_superheroes2_070614_mnIt’s a bird! It’s a plane!! It’s … Squeegeeman and Captain Xavier Obvious?
That’s right. Squeegeeman and Captain Obvious are self-proclaimed superheroes — much like the Fantastic Four or the Amazing Spiderman, only they’re real people … and not that super.

Criminals and Pedestrians Beware!

They stalk the mean streets of New York City. Squeegeeman wields his squeegee of justice, squeegee gloves and squeegee grappling hook, while Captain Obvious uses his megaphone of truth through which he dispenses the obvious — his particular superpower.
“Usually, it’s just the sight of me that prevents people from doing crime. It’s like having a lot of cops around,” Squeegeeman explained.
Squeegeeman and Captain Obvious patrol New York in their superhero costumes, complete with capes, masks and, of course, their superpowers. And while they do claim to fight crime all the time, their primary objective is to do good deeds.
They hand out water when it’s hot, visit hospitals, plant trees and collect money for various causes like the AIDS walk.
According to Captain Obvious, we can all use a superhero or two in our life. “I can’t imagine a world without heroes. There is always good, and there is always bad, and they need heroes to pick people out of the bad and into the good.”
And apparently, being a superhero is a full-time job. It’s what they do. They wouldn’t reveal their identities to “Nightline,” nor would they disclose the location of their secret lair.

The Making of a Superhero

So how does one become a superhero? Spiderman, for example, got bitten by a spider. Superman came from Krypton, and the murder of his parents set Batman on his path. Was Squeegeeman attacked by an evil squeegee?
“No, really, I was kind of born with Supersqueegee abilities,” he explained. Captain Obvious said their motivation comes from instinct. “It’s right to do the good thing, and not enough people do good things, so we need to bring attention to doing the good things.”
Of course, all superheroes have their superweakness — their personal kryptonite that renders them powerless. Captain Obvious spoke of his nemesis — Indian food. “It’s oppressive,” he laughed. “You wouldn’t be laughing if we were eating Indian food!”
While there is an undeniable humor to these caped crusaders, the costumes, quips and props might be what it takes to be a hero in a modern-day metropolis like New York City. And as amusing as they may look, there is substance behind their spandex.

Every Superhero Has A Message

“My main concern is apathy,” said Squeegeeman. “I feel like in our modern society there is so much surrounding us every day, so many things going on … Xavier and we as Superheroes are trying to break the mundane. People go through life not caring, because there is so much going on. They don’t have a chance to see what’s really going on from day to day.”
So the villain — their arch-nemesis, you might say — is apathy. Captain Obvious said, “There is a lot of time we are walking down the street and people don’t even look. They are that indifferent … so what we are trying to do is bring attention to things that need that kind of attention. Good charities, good worthwhile causes.”
As with fictional superheroes, at their core is belief. They believe in their cause and are dedicated to their mission. So if late one night, you’re wandering through the dark streets of New York City and you see two caped men brandishing their squeegees and megaphones, never fear — they are there for your protection.

Valley Superhero- Who is Citizen Prime?

Article removed from Source Website.
Apr. 30, 2007 07:37 PM
By Joe Dana
12 News
His bat mobile is a Nissan X-Terra.
His weapon of choice is a cell phone.
He is Citizen Prime, an anti-crime activist on a mission reminiscent of The Guardian Angels, but with a comic book flair. A couple of nights a week, this valley business executive named Jim (I agreed to conceal his last name) dresses up as his invented superhero character, and patrols valley streets. When you meet him, you can’t help but notice his sincere enthusiasm and his incredibly well-crafted costume. Half embarrased, he admits the outfit cost about 4,000 dollars to create. It includes a silk cape, leather mask, and a steel-plated upper body shield designed by a professional armor maker.
On a Tuesday night in April, I followed Prime on a shift. As part of a recent effort to interact with the community more often, he spent a couple hours in the late evening strolling Mill Avenue in Tempe, mingling with the crowds.
While he introduces himself to passerby’s, he distributes a homemade pamphlet that describes his mission. His message can seem very simplistic.
“What would you do if you saw somebody fall in the street?” he asks a trio of college co-eds. “I’d help him out,” says one of them. “Exactly,” says Prime. “And that’s what heroes should do. They should be ready to help someone in need,” he says.
I wonder: Does he need to go through all of this work just to tell us that?
Prime points out that there is more. His pamphlet discusses ways to become involved in the community. He invites people to e-mail or call him if they “have a problem, or need help,” he says, (he’s quick to add that he doesn’t lend money.)
The other half of Citizen Prime’s mission involves driving in his car and looking for potential trouble. On this particular night, he trolls a neighborhood in the west valley near 51st Ave. and Indian School. The area is prone to property crime, prostitution and occasional robberies. “I’ve found that my mere presence in these areas, I’m hoping, makes a difference,” he says, as he drives slowly, surveying both sides of the street.
While on patrol, he has called police if he saw something or someone suspiscious. He’s also prepared take photos. He once guided police by phone to a drunk driver he spotted on the freeway. He also helped someone change a tire once. Prime admits his exact role in the community is still a work in progress. He’s trying to get into schools and hospitals to give inspirational messages to children.
In case Prime ever does see an actual crime or violence, his car is equipped with an electric stun gun, a police baton and a bean bag stun gun among other non-lethal gadgets. He’s never used them and says he hopes he never has to.
Our night on the streets ended quietly. No phone calls, photos or tazers needed.
The next morning, Prime sent me an E-mail. In it, he wrote that police pulled him over on the way home. The irony was not lost on him. A self-proclaimed superhero is caught speeding. You have to wonder if the body armor and cape helped him or hurt him in that moment.
Fortunately for Prime, he only received a warning. However, the officer advised the man in yellow to become certified by police for a citizen volunteer program. Something tells me, for Citizen Prime, that would be much too conventional.
Mayor Phil Gordon’s response to Citizen Prime
Apr. 30, 2007 07:47 PM
“Since becoming Mayor, I have given out over 3,000 front porch benches (not at taxpayer expense, by the way) to encourage people to be aware of what is going on in their neighborhoods. We can all help the police by being the “eyes and ears” of our community, but we should all be careful to do it smartly. Never purposefully put yourself in a dangerous situation. If you see something suspicious, don’t confront “the bad guys”. Call the police. That’s being hero enough.”

Masks, capes and spandex: Real-life superheroes save the world!

John Soltes
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s people who call themselves real-life superheroes. They dress up, fight for justice and keep their identities secret.
It started out as a normal night. That is, until the bad guy started dancing like the devil in the pale moonlight.
Chris was minding his own business on the streets of Staten Island, N.Y., when he saw a man dash into a convenience store. The man sprinted through the aisles, trashing the place, then broke a glass bottle on the floor and brandished the shards as a makeshift knife.
Chris, coming to the rescue, cornered him in the aisle. While Chris kept the villain at bay, customers called the police.
That night, one of the most dangerous nights in his career, Chris truly earned the right to be called Chris Guardian.
Guardian, 23, who patrols the sidewalks and alleyways of New York City, is one of a small group of people around the world who call themselves real-life superheroes. Some do it for fun, as if Halloween were a yearlong celebration. But others, like Guardian, are dead serious about protecting life.
“I’ve always had something inside of me that made me want to really make a difference and just make the world a better place,” Guardian said recently during a discreet nighttime interview in a park in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. “I always loved comic books and the idea of heroes out there. And I just said, ‘What the hell is stopping somebody from doing it?’”
When Guardian, a martial arts teacher who would not give his real name, first began patrolling New York at night, he was known as Dark Guardian. But recently he shed his old costume of a black mask with a painted-on smiley face and changed his name to Chris Guardian. He said the old costume was too weird for some people, while others didn’t pay attention.
“This is New York, so half the people didn’t even look,” said Guardian, who is having a new costume made up with the letters C.G. emblazoned on the front.
Guardian, like most superheroes, acts within the strictest sense of the law. “If I don’t have to put myself in danger, and the police can handle it, let the police handle it,” he said. “You know, I’m not going to do something stupid.”
Citizen Prime, a superhero based in Phoenix and a friend of Guardian, said there were many degrees of what a real-life superhero could do. A few stray into the vigilante role, taking the law into their own hands. But most, in the spirit of truth, justice and the American way, patrol the streets looking to help women and children.
“You don’t want to be standing on top of a building with your grappling hook ready to jump down on crack dealers,” Prime said. “That’s actually against the law.”
Prime, a 40-year-old married man whose first name is Jim, has been protecting the streets of Phoenix for a year. He became a superhero to spread the message that people don’t have to be fearful of crime. “Are you going to sit inside scared that a terrorist might attack your city, or are you going to go out and live your life?” he asked.
But Prime, who patrols once or twice a week in a black, blue and yellow costume, found one chink in his armor. He couldn’t find any crime. “The only crime I’ve ever stopped is when I was actually walking out of a sporting goods store with my wife,” he said. “A shoplifter came running past me, and I managed to throw him to the ground.”
With villains often hard to come by, superheroes fill up their time by dispensing charity as well as justice.
Many superheroes offer food to the homeless, deliver toys to sick children, rescue motorists with flat tires or spend time in their own fortresses of solitude visiting the many online superhero communities.
One such site is the World Superhero Registry, run by Phoenix-based superhero Kevlex, whose name is a combination of Kevlar and spandex.
His Web site supplies information on some of the world’s most famous superheroes: Angle Grinder Man in England, who helps free illegally parked cars from the bonds of immobilization; Terrifica, a female superhero who saves the drunk women of Brooklyn from unseemly masculine advances; and Polar Man, a Canadian superhero who, well, shovels driveways and sidewalks for the elderly.
Kevlex, 47, patrols only once or twice a week, and even less in the summer because the hot Arizona sun makes his costume uncomfortable. (Apparently, being a superhero is both a gift and a curse.)
Kevlex says that when he does go out, disguising his true identity is still necessary, even if he does nothing illegal. When he is in costume, bad guys “can’t tell which areas are protective gear and which areas their bullets would just slide right through,” he said.
Though, to be honest, Kevlex said he has never been in a situation with bullets. “The area that I’m in isn’t that dangerous,” he admitted.
Tothian, 22, a superhero who protects New Jersey and New York, is one of the more active heroes. He uses his skills as a Marine reservist and martial arts expert when patrolling the streets, and has escorted women home at night and broken up fights.
His uniform–he prefers that term to costume–is black combat boots, green cargo pants and a T-shirt. His logo, which is stitched into the middle of the T-shirt with cut-up bandanas, is made from the letters used to spell Tothian.
“That name chose me, I feel,” he said. “I am adding definition through the name, through my actions, my words and everything that I do.”
Tothian doesn’t wear a mask because it blocks his peripheral vision, and says he doesn’t wear a cape “because capes get in the way of actually doing real superhero stuff.”
Tothian says he doesn’t want to become a police officer because he doesn’t agree with every law on the book. “I’m not out to punish every single criminal,” he said. For example, he would counsel marijuana smokers, but wouldn’t apprehend them as bad guys.
Tothian said he gets some strange looks when people find out he’s a superhero. But after people realize he’s out to protect them, he says their trepidation eases somewhat.
“Heroes are real, so superheroes are just heroes who are really super at it,” he said. “The world is constantly crying out in need of superheroes, and I’m giving them one.”
E-mail: [email protected]
Real-life superheroes may be secretive about their identity, but they certainly welcome e-mail messages and visits to their MySpace pages. On the Web, many superheroes like Chris Guardian and Tothian show their real faces. Others, like Citizen Prime (, wear elaborate masks.
Even so, meeting up with a superhero is challenging.
When setting up a rendezvous, they tend to prefer nighttime visits. You will be given a place to meet, like Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, and told to call a cell phone number at precisely 10:30 p.m. No other details will be given. When you’re waiting for the clock to strike the half hour, you constantly check over your shoulder, knowing that the superhero has already been tracking your every move.
Once 10:30 rolls around, you call your hero, only to get a response like, “I’m walking up to you right now. I’m bald and wearing a leather jacket.”
Other superheroes avoid direct contact with the media. Squeegeeman and Captain Xavier Obvious work through their press person, Peter Magellan, who leaves messages on cell phones in an Australian accent that may or may not be authentic. When Squeegeeman himself leaves a message, the call is from a restricted number, and the superhero talks in a high-pitched voice that sounds, well, like a squeegee.
E-mails are no better. Squeegeeman’s messages are punctuated frequently by a squeegee adjective: “Have a squeegeerific day!!!”

Superheroes? Superfreaks?

Citizen Prime and Green Scorpion can’t stop bullets with their hands or see through walls. They don’t have archenemies, and they’re not crippled by Kryptonite. They do, however, don costumes and patrol the streets of Phoenix, looking for wrongs to right and helpless to help. Some call them freaks. Other call them heroes.
Phoenix Magazine PDF File
March 2007
By Dan Rafter
Citizen prime can’t stick to walls or shoot webs from his wrist. He can’t jump over a building or sprint faster than a locomotive. Don’t bet on him to life an elephant over his head, either.
On the plus side, Citizen Prime could juggle handfuls of green kryptonite- if such material really existed- without suffering even the hint of a stomachache. And so far, not a single super-powered villain has threatened to roast him with a fire breath or zap him with lighting bolts.
To sum it up, Citizen Prime has no superpowers, no super-villain archenemies, and no super-weaknesses- unless you count bullets, knives, baseball bats, bricks or anything else that might cause physical damage to an ordinary human.
Sounds pretty much like a regular guy, right? Not so fast, Citizen Prime is a superhero, a real-life superhero. He wears a costume- black body armor and a similarly- colored helmet with a dark visor- and patrols the night streets of Phoenix, looking for wrongs to right. He has a secret identity, too. Few people, he says, know the name of the man behind that dark visor.
Citizen Prim might seem like a strange fellow, but he’s not alone, in the Phoenix area or around the country. A growing number of people- men and women, young and old, living in big cities and small towns, are donning homemade costumes and taking to the streets of their own communities. Some are out to stop crimes. Others provide comfort- blankets, clothing and food- to the homeless. Some erase graffiti or pick up litter. Others try to stop bar fights from getting out of hand.
And that’s just the beginning of these heroes’ specialties. At least one- New York City’s Terrifica, with her blonde wig and golden mask- wears pink tights, sips Shirley Temples, in bars and tries to stop young women from tumbling into alcohol- fueled one-night stands. Another, calling himself Polar Man, grabs a shovel and clears snow from the sidewalks of the elderly. Polar Man lives up north in Canada, so you understand the heroism in his actions.
The real-life superhero community, then, is a varied lot. But Citizen Prim says its members have at least one thing in common: They’re somehow trying to make a difference.
“Anyone can be a hero,” he says. “That is what Citizen Prime is really all about. Even if you don’t ever put on a costume, you can be out there making the streets a safer place. There are so many more of us good people than there are gangsters or criminals. There are so many more of us than there are bad people. All we need is civic pride and brotherhood, and we can take back the streets. We won’t have to figure out anymore what shade of fear we are today.”
Are folks like Citizen Prime- or Green Scorpion, Dark Guardian or Mr. Silent, other members of the real-life superhero brigade- at the forefront of a new trend? Can they make a real difference in their communities? Citizen Prime thinks so. And if you disagree? He doesn’t really care.
Citizen Prime as been patrolling the Phoenix streets for about seven months. Becoming a superhero, though, wasn’t a decision he made lightly. For six months prior to his first patrols, Prime researched the real-life superhero community, logging on to sites such as the World Superhero Registry (, which list profiles of real-life masked adventurers and crime-fighting groups across the country.
Prime liked what he saw. There was something inspiring about the passion displayed by heroes like Mr. Silent and Doktor DiscorD, two real-life superheroes who have become semi-famous for their work in Indianapolis. There real-life superheroes he read about weren’t complaining about the way things were. They were trying to make a change, even if that meant simply picking up litter or helping a homeless person cross a busy street.
When Prime’s on patrol, he isn’t looking for trouble. Don’t expect to see his name in the morning papers along with photos of a foiled bank robbery. Bullets don’t bounce off his chest, so Citizen Prime isn’t likely to tackle a gang of armed criminals. He’s far more likely to hit the streets with a car stuffed full of blankets and clothing to pass out to homeless men and women. He might call the police after spotting a drunk driver weaving down the Phoenix streets, or he might stop to chat with some youngsters about the value of doing good deeds.
Fist fights and karate chops? They’re rarely on Prime’s agenda.
The way he sees it, it’s far more important to serve as a source for hope that it is to get the snot kicked out of him during a brawl in a dark alley.
“We’re not standing on the rooftops, grappling hooks at the ready. But we are trying to make a difference. We’re sort of like the Guardian Angels on steroids.” Citizen Prime says.
Not having superpowers, of course, means that superheroes such as Prime have to make do with what they have. So, while Superman soars above the skies of Metropolis and Spider-Man swings from skyscraper to skyscraper in New York City, Citizen Prime relies on his car to get around. It’s easier to cover a lot of ground that way.
A typical patrol for Prime goes something like this: Late last fall, he was driving into the Phoenix when he spotted a car weaving on the road. It looked like a drink driver, so Prime picked up his cell phone and called the highway patrol, reporting the care and its license plate number. Less than a minute later, a patrol car zipped past him and pulled the drunk driver over.
Not heroic? Maybe it is, and maybe it’s not, but how often do drivers simply ignore the signs of an impaired motorist? And if Prime hadn’t dialed those numbers, who’s to say that the erratic driver, drunk or not, wouldn’t have cause a serious accident?
Another night, Citizen Prime noticed some suspicious individuals scoping out cars in a dark parking lot. Prime pulled into the lot with his parking lights on. He remained there until the suspicious individuals fled the scene.
And, not as dramatic as defusing a bomb or tossing a mugger into a dumpster, but the way Prime sees it, his presence might have stopped a crime.
“That’s what we’re like- we are big, red sirens,” he says. “Sometimes, it’s just about being present, and not being afraid to remain present, to stop someone from even committing a crime in the first place.”
Prime is open about his life about a superhero. He’s not as forthcoming about his true identity, however. He won’t give out his real name, and says that few people know how he spends his evenings when he’s not patrolling the streets.
He is married, though, and his wife knows all about Citizen Prime. Surprisingly, she approves of her husband’s evening adventures.
Green Scorpion, another local real-life superheroes, is even more tight-lipped about his real identity. He makes sure as few people as possible know who he really is.
“I don’t share my superhero identity much,” he writes in an e-mail message, his preferred method of communication. “Most people thing we are nuts or joking.”
The Green Scorpion, though, isn’t joking. And that’s a point he and the other men and women who call themselves real-life superheroes stress: they’re not dressing up for kicks- well maybe just a little- but to help others.
The Green Scorpion is another masked adventurer working in Phoenix. He has his own tagline- “Evildoers, beware the sting of the Green Scorpion!”- that he includes on his MySpace page and in all of his e-mail messages. And his costume is pretty impressive- a trench coat, ultra- creepy mask and wide- brimmed hat.
Green Scorpion and Citizen Prime, however, do have something in common: Sometimes superheroes’ real lives collide with their masked lives.
Take for example, Ragensi, a 23-year- old real-life superhero who works in Huntington Beach, California. On patrol early last October, he realized that his cupboards at home were bare. Like any shopper, he ducked into a nearby supermarket to pick up some last-minute groceries. Ragensi, though, had to do his shopping in full costume, and although it was October, it wasn’t close enough to Halloween for costume-party time.
To understand this fully, it’s important to picture Ragensi’s costume. It’s no happy, day-glo superhero outfit. Think Batman, not Superman. Ragensi looks much like a ninja, clad in all black with his fingerless gloves and a dark scarf-like swath of fabric hiding all of his face except his eyes. And those eyes are creepy, highlighted by dark makeup. It gives Ragensi the permanent wide-open stare of someone who’s missing a few marbles. But when Ragensi stepped into his local market, no one, surprisingly, made a peep. No pointed fingers, no gasps and not a single, “Look at that!”
On his MySpace blog, Ragensi mentions that he felt almost invisible. This story is located next to a series of photos showing the masked adventurer pushing his shopping cart though the store’s aisles. In one shot, Ragensi proudly holds in his gloved hands a bag of Johnny Cat kitty litter. The effect is both unsettling and comical.
Balancing two lives isn’t the only challenge real-life superheroes face. They also have to deal with the difficulties of designing the perfect costume- it not only has to symbolize what a hero stands for, but it also must be functional. Accomplishing both tasks isn’t as easy as it sounds.
In the comics, this looks simple. Superman slips into a phone booth. Iron Man snaps on his metal suit. But in real life, things get complicated.
Ghost, a member of the Black Monday Society, a group of real-life superheroes based in Salt Lake City, knows all about costume hassles. On a MySpace blog dedicated to the exploits of the society, Ghost’s partner, Ferox, writes that the hero is still experimenting with his mask. The Reason? It’s difficult to take a much-needed coffee break when your superhero mask covers your entire face.
Ferox, too, has had his fair share of costume problems. In a phone interview, Ferox reveals that he originally called himself American Corpse and wore a costume that featured a gas mask. Turns out, the local police didn’t appreciate the look, especially after the events of September 11, 2001.
All of which raises an obvious question: Why do real-life superheroes need a costume at all? Can’t they simply do their good deeds, or run patrols, in street clothes? Dark Guardian, a real-life superhero based out of New York City who dresses in a black-and-white costume complete with a dark mask, has an answer:
“It’s about being an icon,” he says. “When you’re walking around doing stuff as a regular guy, people won’t notice you as much. They won’t take a second look. They see a guy dressed like me and they wonder what’s going on. It helps spread our message.”
All good superheroes need a headquarters. Batman had his Bat Cave, Superman his Fortress of Solitude. Real-life superheroes have the World Superhero Registry. The site features profiles of dozens of real-life superheroes, from New York City to Los Angeles. It includes information about superhero teams- thing Justice League or Super Friends- groups like the Moonlight Club, Black Monday Society or Boise Brigade.
And when a superhero just needs to talk, there’s an online forum. The forum has hosted discussions on the best form of martial arts for a superhero (one member suggested Krav Maga, the official self-defense system used by the Israeli Defense Forces); the feasibility and concerns of developing a jet pack capable of lifting a human into the air (it might lift a superhero, but how would the hero gain enough control over the pack to fly accurately?); the best diet for a superhero; and the possibility of developing special gloves that shoot pepper spray.
The World Superhero Registry is the brainchild of Kevlex, a part-time, real-life superhero based in Flagstaff.
Kevlex says that the site was a natural for him. He has obvious computer skills, and he’s long been fascinated by the possibility that ordinary people could perform super-heroic feats. As a high school student, Kevlex- a name that comes from the combination of Kevlar body armor and spandex- would wander the halls of his school with a mask hidden on him, in case any danger popped up. He never had the opportunity to don that mask, but, he says, he never lost his passion for real-life superheroes.
Running the World Superhero Registry and going out on patrols maybe two times a month hasn’t imposed on much on Kevlex’s real life. He won’t give out his real name, but he does offer that he’s 40 years old and does have a real job.
Like other real-life superheroes, Kevlex isn’t surprise that men and women across the country are putting on masks and capes and patrolling the streets. He’s more surprised, he says, that there aren’t more people like him.
“I was surprise initially that something like this hadn’t occurred previously,” he says. “We have everything from radical terrorists to people who live in complete silence in monasteries. We have every extreme possible out there. The superhero archetype is so in the public consciousness that you’d think there would be people out there doing this long ago.”
It’s hard to think about becoming a superhero without thinking about pain. Even the most skilled heroes in the comics get beat up nearly every day. That’s not much fun. Local adventurer Green Scorpion, who won’t go into details about his escapades, says that at times he has gone home with nasty injuries following his patrols.
“I have encountered property crimes, theft and assault,” Green Scorpion writes via e-mail. “I have ended up with some wicked bruises, and have come home limping a time or two. I don’t worry about getting hurt, though. I wear protective gear, and do not let myself get backed into corners.”
While Ragensi out in California spends most of his time as a superhero delivering blankets and hot coffee to the homeless or dropping off bags of toys to a nearby children’s hospital, he has occasionally stumbled upon more serious matters. Once, he says, he stopped and attempted mugging in a part, and had to tie the mugger’s hands to a lamppost.
Is Ragensi ever worried that he might get hurt?
“The thought does cross my mind from time to time,” he says. “The way I see it, though, is that you can get hurt in a lot of professions. Physical danger is just a reality of life, even for those who do their best to avoid it. Not that I’m saying I’m going to be stupid and rush into a dangerous situation without a care in the world. I’m just not going to let fears hold me back from living my life to the fullest.”
So, how long is the lifespan of a real-life superhero? Can we expect to see Ragensi as a 50-year-old man tying muggers to street lamps? And what about Green Scorpion? Will he be willing to sustain those bumps and bruise once he’s approaching mid-life crisis time? And if these heroes retire, will other real-life heroes take their places?
That’s hard to say. But the blogs written by these masked adventurers do offer hints that nighttime patrols and costume making aren’t necessarily all fun and games.
Several heroes have written about falling into funks, when patrols don’t offer the same thrill. Others have requested that Kevlex remove their names from the World Superhero Registry, explaining that they’re taking leaves of absences.
But Citizen Prime shows no sign of retiring from the hero life. Patrols still give him a rush, and he’s even working on creating a new superhero community, WHO, which stands for Worldwide Heroes, although, at press time, this project was place on the backburner.
“I don’t find it very hard at all to do this,” says Citizen Prime. “I don have a normal life and a normal job. But this really enhances the rest my life. I am always on patrol, even when I’m not in uniform. If I see something like a guy yelling at his wife in a dark parking lot, I’ll roll down my window to see whether I can help defuse the situation.
Really, Citizen Prime is just an extension of that.” -Dan Rafter lives in St. Charles, Illinois. He can be reached at
[email protected]