Real Life Super Heroes Everywhere

Originally posted:
Kick Ass – Not Just a Movie
By Carol Rucker
Sometimes life imitates art and sometimes it’s the other way around, just like in Kick Ass, an upcoming movie that’s based on a Marvel comic book but also reflects a national Super Hero trend. If you know the story or

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 have seen the movie trailers, you already know it’s a tale about a youthful team of unlikely crime fighting citizens.
These heroes can’t fly like Superman nor can they scale tall buildings like Spiderman. The heroes in Kick Ass have no super powers at all, nor any of the traditional caped crusader traits going for them…… but they can “kick….” Well you know. That’s where the movie title comes from.
More Than Just A Screenplay
The movie is based on a comic book drama that plays to the hearts of regular guys, those every day men and women who decide they’ve had enough with crime in the streets. When the regular guys and gals in Kick Ass decide to take it beyond mere talk, they take to the city streets fully adorned in super hero garb. They challenge bad guys and fight crime, a great idea for a comic book or a movie, right?
Except it’s more than just a screenplay. Kick Ass is art imitating life. In case you haven’t noticed, real life super heroes are everywhere, not just the stranger who fixes your flat tire or the volunteer who delivers food to seniors. Those people are everyday heroes indeed; but there are also genuine costumed and caped heroes in many cities; and you don’t have to go to the movies to see them.
Cincinnati’s Super Heroes
“Some scoff at me, others take me seriously,” Shadow Hare said in a 2009 interview. Despite what people have to say, Cincinnati, Ohio’s super hero has been fighting crime on the streets for nearly 5 years. If your timing is right, you might find Shadow Hare at his headquarters, The Ionosphere. (the Cincinnati Segway Dealership at Central Parkway and Vine) But you are more likely to see him gliding along the Downtown city streets on a Segway with his lady companion, Silver Moon, nearby. Together they seek out crime and do what they can to stop it.
Super Heroes Everywhere
You can find details about Shadow Hare on his MySpace page and on The World Super Hero Registry. There you will also find profiles on many more of the nation’s true life knights in shining armor. Here are just a few.
Utah – Like most super heroes, Insignis wishes to keep his identity a secret. Masked and costumed in black and white, Insignis patrols the streets of Salt Lake City. There he fights

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 crime and does good deeds with help from the The Black Monday Society.
Arizona – Wearing black from head to toe, topped off with a gold cape, Citizen Prime patrols Arizona streets. He not only fights crime, but also strives to promote good citizenship in his home state.
Florida – Dressed in black from head to toe, Amazonia does double duty, working the streets in both Ocala, Florida and Lowell Massachusetts. As a founding member of the organization, Vixens of Valor, she is sworn to protect the innocent.
Michigan – You will recognize The Queen Of Hearts by her black tights and the big heart adorning her chest. She does volunteer work, assists local charities and patrols the streets of Jackson, Michigan with her cohorts, Captain Jackson and Crimefighter Girl. She also teaches Jackson, Michigan youth how to recognize and prevent domestic violence.
The movie, Kickass is coming out soon; and if you decide to see it, remember, it’s more than just a movie. It’s real life.
Source: Shadow Hare/Silver Moon Interview June 5, 2009
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Kicking Ass: Real Life Superheroes


Originally posted:
By Andrew Moore
There was a question poised in Matthew Vaughn’s fantastic, action packed, superhero film, Kick Ass, when the protagonist – played by Aaron Johnson – asked his friends, why hasn’t anyone ever decided to become a ‘real-life superhero’ similar to those featured in the comic books?
After hopping on Google for a quick glance, it turns out many have and the results were surprising to say the least.
Similar to the title character in Kick Ass many of these ‘real life superheroes’ can be contacted through the wonders of MySpace. The website Real Life has conveniently complied an extensive list – comprising over 60 of Earth’s current and retired champions, just in case you are one of those people out there holding out for a hero.
Though whether I’d rely on these guys to save the planet from an impending alien invasion is another matter entirely.
Initial impressions suggest there is an eclectic mixture of individuals out there ranging from environmental, political and social activists to the traditional crime fighting variety reminiscent of mainstream comic book lore.
Though some people may question their sanity or if its’ merely bored geeks taking the piss and wanting to create a few YouTube videos, you can’t help but find their reasons for donning the costumes quite endearing.
First under the spotlight in the mysterious, female avenger, known as Foxfire – her real identity is of course unknown – who has been patrolling the streets of Michigan as far back as 1997.
On her MySpace page she describes herself as:“A troublemaking revolutionary dedicated to shifting the dominant paradigm, I also have a knack for the wizardly arts. I aspire to be a “Guardian of Light”, which is, in modern terms, the same thing as a superhero.”
While the sceptics may throw their nose up and dismiss these antics out-right, there is bound to be others out there who must feel inspired by Foxfire’s intentions.
“My goal is to integrate magic, mystery, wonder and awe back into the modern American’s psyche–which is, at most, a slim chance. Still, it must be done!”

Captain Ozone

Italy’s Entomo and Ireland’s own Captain O-Zone however are superheroes with a much more relevant message to the world. In the face of constant climate change they take it upon themselves to channel their inner Captain Planet and promote the green word amongst their supporters.
Entomo, speaking of his beloved enthusiasm for his role he said: “To be a Real Life Superhero is truly the greatest deed a man can accomplish in a backwards world like this, where fiction is truer to reality than reality itself. On the other hand, the chance to fight for such a stunning planet is too significant to be turned down. Hear my buzz, fear my bite: I inject justice.”
Captain O-Zone
Captain O-Zone added: “I am an environmental, real-life superhero. I did not travel far-flung just to ask you to become a vegan, plant a tree, and to ride your bicycle. And I’m not here just to encourage you to vote for “green” politicians. I’m here looking for dynamic agents of change (not armchair activists) to join me in my righteous campaign for renewable energy!”
Admittedly to this journalist’s disappointment, the sole purpose for the majority of these RSH becomes clearer when looking into such characters as Peter Pixie and – the aptly named – Superhero who use their larger than life personas to benefit their own community in charitable capacities.
Superhero donates his spare time to helping children’s hospitals and feeding the homeless, while Peter Pixie along with four other people – The Ornament, El Secreto, The Phantom, She-Rock – founded of the Justice League of Denton with the purpose of raising money for the historic Orpheum Theatre.
So they might not have the resources of Batman, the powers of Superman and ingenuity of Spiderman but they certainly have the inspiration, the ambition and the good intentions at heart.
However one can’t help but think, with the success likely to come from the release of Kick Ass, the world might witness a new influx of real life superheroes. Or perhaps just massive boosts in Hit-Girl costumes come Halloween. Earth waits with baited breath.
Kick Ass is in cinemas nationwide now.

Kick Ass: Leading the way for real-life DIY super heroes?

Holy masked avengers: Meet the real-life superheroes

Life: Seeks out injustice to right wrongs - though it's more about helping the homeless than fighting bad guys

Originally published:
Thwack! Pow! Take that, evil agents of the clamping industry! Here’s a toothbrush, my homeless friend! As the wannabe-superhero film ‘Kick-Ass’ hits cinemas this weekend, Johnny Davis catches up with the real-life caped crusaders who are striving to do good on the mean streets of Britain and America, supported by their long-suffering families (and unforgiving spandex…)
Sunday, 4 April 2010
On a Thursday evening in New York City, Chaim “Life” Lazaros is explaining how a 25-year-old film student becomes a Real Life Superhero. “When I’m dressed the way I am, I’m standing for a higher ideal,” he says. Lazaros is wearing a domino mask, fedora and skinny black tie. From the corners of his waistcoat hang the fringes of a tsitsit – a traditional Jewish undergarment. “By becoming a Real Life Superhero, I can no longer fall to the weakness or the laziness Chaim might have. I live for a higher, stronger, ideal. I have to live up to what Life is.”
As is his wont several times a week, Lazaros has returned to his Upper West Side apartment and exchanged the clothes he wears to class for those of his alter ego. He has become Life (the English translation of the Hebrew word chaim). Now there are good deeds to be done, injustices to be fought, wrongs that must be righted. “Being a Real Life Superhero is an extremely individual calling.”
Yet Lazaros is not alone. There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who dress up as comic-book heroes to patrol their city streets in search of… if not supervillains, then petty criminals and those in need of their help. “I help my community to become better,” Life tells me. “I didn’t see people running out of banks with sacks with dollar signs on them; but there is a large homeless population who need things.”
Soon he will walk half a block to the cathedral of St John the Divine, a vast gothic structure where vagrants gather on the steps. “Private property, so the police can’t chuck them off,” he explains. There, Life will hand out bottled water, toothbrushes, vitamins, chocolate and other items he carries around in his backpack. He does this without ulterior motive. “I’m not trying to convert them to Christianity,” he says, referring to other charity workers. “‘Accept Jesus Christ and I’ll give you a sandwich’ – that’s not really a help.”
For the most part, Life avoids tackling criminals. “If there is a situation and I need to intervene, I’ll certainly do it. But guys in Washington Square Park selling weed to New York University kids? It’s not so terrible. If I can show someone who’s down on their luck that somebody cares about them, that’s a lot more effective use of my talent.”
Captain Clean: Teaches the children of Kent with both T-shirts and raps ('Don't drop litter on the street/It looks a mess and sticks to your feet')

Captain Clean: Teaches the children of Kent with both T-shirts and raps ('Don't drop litter on the street/It looks a mess and sticks to your feet')

Elsewhere in the metropolis, a woman named Terrifica has been patrolling bars and parties in a gold mask, Valkyrie bra, red boots and cape, in an effort to protect inebriated women from men looking to take advantage of them. (In her utility belt, she carries pepper spray, a camera to photograph would-be predators, a journal, and Smarties for energy.) In Mexico City, meanwhile, Superbarrio dons red tights and a red-and-yellow wrestling mask, using his eye-catching image to organise labour rallies and protests, and file petitions. In Iqaluit in northern Canada, Polarman shovels snow off pavements by day, and scours the streets for criminals by night. And in Britain, Angle-Grinder Man, a self-proclaimed “wheel-clamp superhero”, uses his power (his angle-grinder) to cut clamps from vehicles in Kent and London.
You might think these people sound silly and look sillier. You’d be right. But that doesn’t mean they’re not sincere. “It takes a certain mindset not just to say, ‘OK, I want to do something good,’ but also, ‘I want to take on an alternate personality and devote myself entirely to doing good with no boundaries,'” says Life. “To put yourself in an uncomfortable situation takes a huge commitment. And a certain amount of crazy.”
Life is not a Man of Steel from the planet Krypton. He isn’t a science whizz lent superhuman powers by the bite of a radioactive spider. He doesn’t live in a Batcave. Like the growing network of caped crusaders emerging across the world, he is just an ordinary person trying to make a difference. “After 9/11, a lot of people felt very confused, that they had lost control over their world,” says Ben Goldman, founder of Superheroes Anonymous, which alongside the World Superheroes Registry and Real Life Superheroes, acts as an online network where members can swap crime- fighting tips, offer encouragement and debate the pros and cons of spandex. “That event caused them to take control of their destinies and adopt a superhero persona.”
“Right now, people need heroes,” adds Life. “Economic collapse, two wars, and a president who was elected on a platform of change – with a message we were to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps from these problems. Real Life Superheroes personify those ideas and those ideals.”
Couldn’t they help another way? Join a charity, perhaps? Do they need to dress up like Zorro at Mardi Gras? “I’m well aware of how silly the situation is,” says Civitron, aka 28-year-old David Civitarese from New Bedford, Massachusetts, who picks up litter and hands out food parcels to the poor, while wearing a red-and-blue one-piece and white shades. “But by dressing up I’m forcing myself to play a role. I have the opportunity to show off the best of me. I can’t go around partying and drinking and being a jerk.” (In his civilian hours, Civitarese works in a care home for adults with autism. His six-year-old son goes by the super-moniker The Mad Owl.)
The movement’s origins might be American, but Britain is catching up. “When I heard about Real Life Superheroes, I thought it was a bunch of crazy comic geeks. The Beano was the only comic I’d ever read,” admits Optimistica from London, whose MySpace profile reverberates to the theme of Wonder Woman. “But I was won over by the amazing positivity and creativity of the superheroes.” Optimistica adds that her mission is to “spread light and fun”. “And wearing my costume on patrol alone does that.”
“People think it’s a stupid idea and want to leave it at comic-book fantasies,” says Bristol-based Red Falcon, so named after “my fave colour and bird”. “But in a world where even the police aren’t doing their jobs, someone has to step in and help.” Norwich’s Chuck Clown was similarly galvanised into action. “I became a Real Life Superhero because petty criminals had attacked people I knew. They escaped unscathed, but people should never have to escape from an attack in the first place.” Clown’s inspirations are “the original comic-book Joker, not the new Heath Ledger one – but without being mad and evil. And Jonathan Creek.”
Naturally, every superhero needs a costume (though they prefer to say “uniform”). And suppliers such as Xtreme Design FX will knock up a custom all-in-one “battle suit”, silk-lined spandex cape and latex mask for around £160 (prosthetic adhesive not included). Other superheroes prefer to handle the design themselves – like Utah’s Citizen Prime, who spent £2,500 employing an armourer to weld a sci-fi suit out of plate metal. Meantime, “master of gadgetry” Professor Widget is a one-stop shop for wrist-mounted paintball launchers or non-lethal telescoping “bo staffs”. Not that such weaponry is everyone’s cup of tea. “A lot of the time, I just keep an eye on stuff, and if anything happens I’ll step in and give someone a bollocking – verbally – or call the police,” says Clown. “A Real Life Superhero’s most important gadget is their mobile.”
Some say the emergence of Real Life Superheroes represents the final evolution of the hero genre. “Oral traditions, legends, comic books, movies – and now Real Life Superheroes bringing it into reality,” says Civitron. Superhero movies spent decades struggling to get up, up and away; now they’re among the biggest box-office draws. And the most successful – The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Watchmen – focus not on characters with otherworldly superpowers, but ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things.
The same can be said of Kick-Ass, the new film by Matthew Vaughn – the producer of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and director of Layer Cake – which opened in cinemas this weekend. Based on the comic book of the same name, it tells the story of Dave Lizewski, an ordinary New York high-school student who fights crime in a costume he has cobbled together out of a diving suit. “How come everybody wants to be Paris Hilton, and no one wants to be Spider-Man?” ponders comics fan Lizewski, played by Aaron “Nowhere Boy” Johnson – a reasonable question, when you put it like that.
It was a comic shop that inspired the inception of Superheroes Anonymous. One afternoon, Ben Goldman spotted what he thought was a notice announcing “a meeting for superheroes”. It turned out to be an advert for drawing lessons. “But the idea stuck with me,” he says. “I decided to investigate whether there were people in the world who called themselves superheroes.” He went online, and found that there were. Thinking he had chanced upon a good subject for a documentary, he called his film-student friend Chaim. Their movie is still an ongoing project, though it’s been hit by issues both logistical (not every Real Lifer wants to be filmed) and financial (they are scattered all over the world). Yet it has already served to galvanise the cause.
Goldman and Lazaros started organising Superheroes Anonymous conferences. First, their reasons were wholly practical – getting these heroes together made them easier to film. But it wasn’t long before gathering so many altruistic people in one place turned the conferences into charity-fests. In New York, they raised $700 in gifts and distributed them to the kids at St Mary’s Children’s Hospital. In New Orleans, they rebuilt homes with Habitat For Humanity, cleaned up a school and marched against youth violence alongside Silence Is Violence. And in New Bedford, a full weekend’s programming saw them host a community food drive, working with the American Red Cross, and putting together care packages for overseas troops. (In between there was time for martial arts workouts, early-morning runs and evening meetings at the local tapas bar – in full costume, naturally.)
Superheroes Anonymous even provided Lazaros with his new identity. “Entomo the Insect-Man, an Italian Real Life Superhero, defined all the different types of hero,” he explains. “One category was ‘community crusader’; someone who furthers the goal of Real Life Superheroes.” The Insect-Man reasoned that, by “putting his all” into promoting Superheroes Anonymous, Lazaros had “become a superhero” himself. “The day I read that, I put on the mask for the first time.” Life was born.
Today, we are sat on the stoop outside Life’s apartment block. He has been joined by an acquaintance, Dayo Omotoso. Omotoso is a Real Life Superhero in training, and Life is showing him the ropes. He has got as far as his name: The Black Light. “If you want to be a hero, your name can’t be Dracula,” Life reasons. “Your name can’t be Captain Chaos.” Omotoso is still thinking about a costume.
“We gotta go,” Life announces, suddenly.
Camera Man aka Ben Goldman, who is making a documentary with Chaim Lazaros: 'We don't encourage people to look for violent criminals'Together, we walk down to the cathedral of St John the Divine. Life tells us to hang back, and goes off to distribute his waters and vitamins among the homeless. As we watch him work, I find out more about The Black Light. He was born in Nigeria, and came to New York a few years ago. In doing so, he seems to have taken Superman’s edict about “truth, justice and the American way” on board. “In 20 years in Lagos I never called [the local equivalent of the American emergency services] 911 once,” he says. “You’re not inclined to, psychologically. I’ve been under a regime where my president passes away – it was Viagra overdoses and prostitutes [the alleged transgressions of Sani Abacha, de facto Nigerian president between 1993 and 1998]. When I came here, the Monica Lewinsky thing was still going on. My angle was, ‘Did he rape her? Did he put money into a bank account for her?’ No, he just got a blowjob. If any guy in the world deserves a blowjob, it’s Clinton.”
America sounded like somewhere he could make a difference, he said. “I’ve seen Tom Cruise, I’ve seen the Governator, I’ve seen Chuck Norris. I grew up reading The Punisher. When it comes to saving the human race, I would love a black guy to play that role.”
As anyone with a passing knowledge of Spider-Man knows, being a superhero requires great personal sacrifice. The path will be rocky, the way forward strewn with obstacles. Not everyone will make it. Take Mister Invisible from Los Angeles. He hung up his grey one-piece after the costume proved too effective – a tramp urinated on him in an alley. Another LA operative, Black Owl, suffered the ignominy of being collected from a psychiatric ward by his teenage daughter. “Dad forgot for a moment, when faced with police, that he did not have real superpowers,” she told doctors. “He could not just fly away.”
Then there are relationships. Apparently, women find it hard to relate to the higher calling. Interviewed by Rolling Stone, Master Legend – a Florida-based superhero who drives “The Battle Truck”, a 1986 Nissan pick-up with his initials spray-painted on the bonnet, the better to announce the arrival of himself plus his young crime-fighting sidekick Ace Gauge – conceded that his love life had taken a battering. His marriage had ended in divorce, while his latest girlfriend had walked out on him. “She left because she wanted to sit around on the couch and hold hands,” he explained. “Well, that’s not on the cards for Master Legend.”
Finally, there is the issue of the authorities. “I’ve been told by the police that any sort of uniformed presence is a deterrent to crime. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing the uniform of a police officer or a superhero,” explains Life. In America, even attempting a citizen’s arrest itself carries the risk of being liable for false imprisonment, or being charged with kidnapping. And that’s if you don’t get punched in the face first. (As seen in Kick-Ass, when the eponymous ‘ hero’s first criminal intervention does not go too well.) “We don’t live in a city called Gotham,” notes Goldman. “We don’t encourage people to go out and look for violent criminals.” (A spokesperson for the UK police service declined to comment on the Real Life movement here, save to say that “vigilantism is not something we encourage”.)
But perhaps the most cautionary tale of all is that of Dark Guardian. He had to resort to first a change of name, then emblazoning his initials on the front of his costume, as he had failed to make much of an impact on anyone. “This is New York,” explained the newly monikered Chris Guardian. “So half the people didn’t even look.”
Failing to make an impression is not a problem faced by Maidstone’s Captain Clean. But then, his target audience is seven years old. He is employed by Maidstone Borough Council to spread the word about littering. It is the morning-time in Ms Tanner’s class at Harrietsham primary school in Kent, but Ms Tanner is taking a back seat while Alison Sollis, education officer for the council, mans the projector. Behind her hangs a poster
of Captain Clean, who wears a purple mask and a high-visibility jacket. “Keep it Clean!” it advises, “Or I Get Mean!” Sollis kicks off the lesson by asking the children to guess how long various bits of litter (banana skins, soft-drink cans) take to decompose, and explains how the British Hedgehog Preservation Society got McDonald’s to shrink the size of its McFlurry lids; the original containers could trap the critters. Then she holds up a plastic ring holder from a four-pack.
“What do you put in here?” she asks.
“Beer!” says one boy.
“Well, cans,” confirms Sollis.
Soon it is time to meet Captain Clean. “Let’s see who’s outside,” Sollis says. In bounds Captain Clean, aka bodybuilder Tai Tokes Ayoola who speaks with an American twang and seems on a completely different scale to the classroom. The children are stunned. “I think I shocked you all!” he beams. Captain Clean asks everyone to join in with his anti-littering campaign, leads them through a rap (“Don’t drop litter on the street/It looks a mess and sticks to your feet…”) and hands out his “Keep it Clean” T-shirts. Everyone applauds.
Over coffee in the staffroom afterwards, Annika Fraser, marketing officer for Maidstone council, explains Captain Clean’s secret origin. One of her colleagues had been the original Captain Clean. “But he wasn’t muscly or anything, so I had to go out and buy a costume with muscles.” It didn’t really work. “After a year, it got quite smelly.”
“The kids were rugby-tackling him,” Ayoola chimes in. “Wearing that puffed-up old thing.”
So Ayoola was recruited. Originally from Maryland, he had a history of volunteer work – notably dressing up as a superhero to take young burns survivors on summer camp. For his troubles, he had even been invited to the White House. Anyway, he had proven a much more suitable Captain Clean. “I get a lot of questions,” Ayoola says. “Particularly ‘What’s under the mask?’ But I have never had anyone be mean to me. Kids are, like, ‘OK, I don’t want to be on Captain Clean’s bad side.’ I wouldn’t say it’s an element of fear. But you do have that element of ‘OK, he’s doing this – he’s cool.'”
Ayoola is proud to be doing good work, and is up to speed with the Real Life movement. “When people see a Real Life Superhero, they get excited and follow through with the message,” he says. He has two more classes to visit this morning, so I leave him to it. “You keep it clean!” he booms after me.
Back to New York, where Life has finished his rounds of the homeless. The Dark Light is suitably impressed; give it another month, he figures, and he’ll be active himself. Meanwhile, Life says he has big hopes for the global movement. Recruitment is on the up, and MTV has been developing a series based on their work. “I think it will become very big,” Life says. “I hope there’ll be a Real Life Superhero in every city, someone everyone knows. ‘Hey, there’s someone here who can help me.’ I’m not talking about police, fire, ambulance. But people who are standing for this higher level of altruism.”
Their next step is to get Superheroes Anonymous recognised as a non-profit organisation and a registered charity. To make it more formal. Life explains that it is part of the reason his costume is on the sober side. “I’m trying to sit down with government officials, business people, lawyers; trying to make these meetings happen. I need to look at them with a straight face and say, ‘Listen, I want to bring a whole bunch of Real Life Superheroes together in your property,’ and not get laughed out of the room.”
“You do get the occasional snigger,” he concedes. “But that’s through misunderstanding. Once you explain what you stand for, there is never a negative reaction. People are always, like, ‘Wow. That’s cool. How can I get involved?'”
Or as Kick-Ass himself puts it, “Is everyday life really so exciting? Are schools and offices so thrilling that I’m the only one who ever fantasised about this? Come on – be honest with yourself. At some point in our lives, we all wanted to be a superhero.” And what’s so funny about that?
‘Kick-Ass’ (15) is on general release

Real-life superheroes

Originally pubished :
With DIY superhero Kick-Ass bursting into cinemas, we meet the real men and women who have dedicated their lives to helping others…
Who? A “mass do-gooder” who vows to rid New York of both crime and grime. His superhero weapon of choice? A squeegee.
Why? Claiming to have been born with “Super-squeegee abilities”, Squeegeeman not only fights crime, but also goes on hospital visits, plants trees and collects money for charity. He claims that when someone walks down a clean street in New York or makes it home without getting mugged, they have him to thank, which kind of steals credit away from the city street-cleaners and the NYPD.
Movie hero equivalent: WALL•E, the only movie character to equal Squeegeeman’s superhuman dedication to cleaning and tidying.
Entomo, the Insect Man of Napels
Who? This Italian hero claims a near-death experience connected him to “a spiritual plane of existence involving insects”.
Why? Entomo lists his superpowers as sharpened senses, agility and an insect-like psychic ability he calls ‘parallelogram’ – apparently this helps him to establish “a specific psychological/physical profile only based on tiny, almost insignificant details”. Entomo battles criminals as well as corrupt politicians, and he even has his own superhero catchphrase: “Hear my buzz, fear my bite: I inject justice”. Catchy.
Movie hero equivalent: Spider-Man, who also developed creepy-crawly superpowers of agility and a special ‘spidey sense’.
Who? A guardian fighting for sobriety, chastity and the way home for drunk, vulnerable females in need of protection from lusty men.
Why? Like a disapproving parent in a costume, Terrifica patrols bars and parties in New York late at night defending inebriated women from lecherous guys looking to take advantage while armed with pepper spray, a camera and Smarties (to keep her energy levels up). Curiously, she even has her own arch-nemesis, Fantastico, a ‘supervillain’ lothario who dresses in velvet and skulks around bars trying to pick up defenceless women.
Movie hero equivalent: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who also rescued damsels in distress from preying monsters and predators.
Who? A self-confessed nerd who adopted a costume and name to be more like the superheroes in his favourite comics.
Why? While Zetaman tries to steer clear of actual crime-fighting (“I guess it sounds kind of less heroic, but I don’t want to die”), he arms himself with a collapsible baton, a stun gun, an air horn and a mobile phone just in case. The most important items in his arsenal, however, are blankets, gloves, socks and sandwiches which he hands out to the men and women who are forced to live on the streets of his home town Portland, Oregon.
Movie hero equivalent: Superman, who shares Zetaman’s humanitarian attitude and his chest-based insignia.
Angle-Grinder Man
Who? A costumed vigilante who fights the system by offering a free wheel-clamp removal service for frustrated motorists in the UK.
Why? Rebelling against what he considers to be oppressive measures such as congestion charges, CCTV and speed cameras, Angle-Grinder Man takes a stand against “arrogant” politicians by providing wheel-clamp aid to persecuted vehicle owners in Kent and London (at weekends). His website lists his mobile number for such emergencies, presumably because no one has access to a giant Angle-Grinder signal light to shine in the sky.
Movie hero equivalent: V from V For Vendetta, another British vigilante who fights against a corrupt government.
Master Legend
Who? A costumed crime-fighter who claims to have psychic abilities, as well as powers bestowed to him by a voodoo queen.
Why? The daddy of superheroes, Master Legend has been thwarting criminals for over a decade and the local sheriff in his hometown of Winter Park, Florida has even confirmed that the masked hero has helped with many arrests. With his own means of transport (the Legend Cycle) and armed with his Master Blaster personal cannon (a spud gun), this old defender shows no sign of hanging up his tights any time soon.
Movie hero equivalent: Professor Charles Xavier from X-Men who also has psychic powers (minus the silver body armour).
Who? A Mexican hero who takes a realistic approach to fighting crime and corruption: by organising labour rallies and filing petitions.
Why? Donning a red-and-yellow costume, complete with wrestler’s mask, Superbarrio is a champion for the working class and homeless of Mexico City. His work protecting low-income neighbourhoods by leading protests and challenging court decisions has resulted in the hefty campaigner becoming a folk legend – he even had a giant-size statue erected in his honour and once met with Fidel Castro.
Movie hero equivalent: Nacho Libre, the tubby Mexican wrestler who also has a secret identity.
Dark Guardian
Who? Criminals of New York beware! This highly-trained martial artist is “dedicated to making the world a better place”.
Why? Despite going through some costume changes in the past, Dark Guardian is a committed superhero who claims to have helped the police in apprehending various drug dealers and tracking down an illegal gambling den. Unlike most of his other superhero colleagues, he does not keep his true identity secret – his real name is Chris Pollack. Dark Guardian sounds better though.
Movie hero equivalent: Batman, the Dark Knight, as another hero of the night fighting against injustice.
Citizen Prime
Who? A recently retired superhero who fought crime in $4000 body armour and helped to found the Worldwide Heroes Organization.
Why? A financial executive by day, Citizen Prime would patrol the streets clad in a helmet, breastplate, pads and codpiece and was also particularly involved in his local community, often visiting youth centres and schools. News of his retirement was met with much mourning among the real-life superhero community, although criminals in his area presumably rejoiced.
Movie hero equivalent: Robocop, who wore similar armour and shared his attitude towards promoting good citizenship.
Death’s Head Moth
Who? Strikes fear into criminals with sinister imagery and a scary name. Probably doesn’t do many school visits.
Why? Armed with ‘moth-a-rangs’ (specially made metal throwing ninja stars shaped like moths) and a dark, brooding attitude, Deaths Head Moth fights crime in Norfolk, Virginia and is a well-known name in the superhero community, often teaming up with other heroes and being an active member of the Great Lakes Heroes Guild.
Movie hero equivalent: Rorschach, the cynical anti-hero in Watchmen who has an attitude as fearsome as his fighting skills.
Who? Dispensing with the costume and novelties, Tothian focuses on the most important part of being a superhero: fighting crime.
Why? Having served five years in the Marine Reserves, Tothian has the discipline, as well as the physical capabilities, to treat crime-fighting as a serious calling. Claiming that martial arts is only one aspect of the training required to be a superhero (he also lists law, criminology, forensics and first aid, among others), this patrolling defender uses his special expertise to prevent crime and ensure the safety of the residents in his hometown, New Jersey.
Movie hero equivalent: Steven Seagal in every one of his movies. He has the combat skills and mental attitude to take criminals down
Captain Prospect
Who? Founder of the Capital City Super Squad, a team of superheroes who help to protect and serve Washington DC.
Why? Along with his superhero colleagues Nice Ninja, Spark, Siren, Justice, DC Guardian and The Puzzler, Captain Prospect helps the people of Washington DC by undertaking safety patrols, contributing to community events and organising fundraisers, as well as feeding the homeless. This patriotic do-gooder even chose the colours and design of his costume to reflect the DC flag.
Movie hero equivalent: Captain America, the leader of The Avengers, who will be starring in his own movie due out in 2011.
Mr. Xtreme
Who? Part of the Xtreme Justice League, a team of costumed superheroes who tackle violent crime on the streets of San Diego.
Why? Using a camouflage mask with bug-shaped mesh eye-holes to keep his identity secret, Mr Xtreme patrols the streets late at night armed with a stun-gun, pepper spray and handcuffs in order to apprehend criminals as well as promote a positive message to youngsters and raise public awareness about local crime. By day, however, Mr Xtreme is merely a mild-mannered security guard. Presumably, he takes the mask off then.
Movie hero equivalent: David Dunn (Bruce Willis) from Unbreakable, a security guard who discovers he has superhero-like abilities.
Shadow Hare
Who? A caped crusader who fights crime on the streets of Cincinatti with the ominous symbol of a demonic rabbit on his chest.
Why? Declaring to “see the shadows of shadows”, this costumed hero claims to have stopped “many evil doers, such as drug dealers, muggers, rapists and crazy hobos with pipes”. Despite being a trained martial artist who carries mace, a taser and handcuffs, Shadow Hare actually dislocated his shoulder while assisting a woman who was being robbed, just to prove that you shouldn’t be trying this at home. Luckily he can speed away on his Segway scooter if the fight gets too much for him.
Movie hero equivalent: Frank, the demonic rabbit from Donnie Darko who also liked to stick to the shadows.
Polar Man
Who? Hardly a crime-fighter, this local hero helps his community by shovelling snow off the steps for day-care centres and the elderly.
Why? Hailing from Nunavut, a particularly icy region of North Canada, Polarman is the friendly neighbourhood superhero who, as well as clearing snow for those in need, helps to keep playgrounds in order for the local kids and deters vandals. He is said to model himself on a man in Inuit legend who provided food and clothing to the poor while riding a polar bear.
Movie hero equivalent: Iceman, the sub-zero superhero from the X-Men who doesn’t, unfortunately, ride on a polar bear.

Sutton superhero gatecrashes Kick-Ass film premiere

Originally posted:
By Jamie Henderson
It will go down among the superhero community as the greatest gatecrash ever.
Sutton’s very own superhero SOS produced a performance any crimefighter would envy when he blagged a ticket to the Leicester Square premiere of blockbuster superhero movie Kick-Ass.
“Out of nowhere a lady gave me a free ticket. I couldn’t believe it. I met Jonathan Ross, whose wife wrote the screenplay, and mingled with lots of other stars.
SOS / Steve Sale
Having arrived at the cinema as his civilian alter-ego and failed to talk his way in to the screening, the vigilante nipped into a nearby telephone box and donned his familiar yellow costume.
Within minutes a ticket for the exclusive premiere was thrust into his hand and he was suddenly rubbing shoulders on the red carpet with stars like Brad Pitt and Nicolas Cage.
SOS, who this week was unmasked as 31-year-old Steve Sale, said: “I went down to the cinema in my normal clothes and didn’t really get anywhere so I quickly changed into my SOS outfit and suddenly everyone was chatting away to me and taking photos.
“Out of nowhere a lady gave me a free ticket. I couldn’t believe it.
“I met Jonathan Ross, whose wife wrote the screenplay, and mingled with lots of other stars.
“It was quite surreal in the cinema itself and some of the audience were a little alarmed when I sat down in my seat.”
The film Kick-Ass, in which a geeky student with no super powers attempts to become a superhero, bears a striking resemblance to SOS’s own film, screened in Sutton last month, Superhero Me.
The film showed SOS’s attempts to change his diet, “learning to fly” in a wind tunnel and meeting up with other superheroes around the world, including Entomo – Insect Man – in Naples, Italy.
Mr Sale said: “I travelled far and wide, to places such a Naples, to research my film but its origins really go back to Batman.
“The caped crusader didn’t have any superpowers but had courage, money and willpower.
“The point is, like the film Kick-Ass, anyone can become a superhero.”
Despite his secret identity being discovered Mr Sale said he’s not quite ready to retire.
Mr Sale said: “It’s a shame that it’s out there but what can you do.
“I’ve not hung up my cape just yet but am on what you could describe as a sabbatical.”
To watch SOS gatecrash the Kick-Ass film premiere visit

Superheroes Anonymous

Photos by Paul Quitoriano

Photos by Paul Quitoriano

Originally posted in Death + Taxes Magainze MarchApril 2010 issue
Scanned pages:
superheroes_page_1 superheroes_page_2
Missing page 3- Admin
By Breena Ehrlich
Hollywood abounds with stories these days. But somewhere out there just beyond the shadows, from New York City to Mexico City to New Bedford, Massachusetts, lurks a bona fide, HONEST TO GOD NETWORK OF REAL REAL –LIFE SUPERHEROES. They are not Watchmen. They are not even Kick-Ass or Red Mist. No bullet-proof vest, no Chinese stars. These are normal people- students, bankers, what have you. They just happen to patrol over society in costume, fighting crime and doing good deeds under aliases like Life and The Dark Guardian. They are Superheroes Anonymous. For real.
What’s going on here?” Life asks, ambling up to a pair of cops as they peer though the dusty glass doors of a seemingly abandoned building. The copes turn around, take in the young man’s young face; he looks like one of the Culkin brothers- like that kind from Igby Goes Down. The kid’s fedora is set at a jaunty angle, his black cargo pants are tucked into black jungle boots, his backpack weighs down his shoulders, even though they’re thrown back confidently. He looks like a Brooklyn-dweller. A college student. A kid. Perhaps a nosy kid, the kind that watched too many cops shows as a kid. They probably don’t notice the black mask hanging from his belt loop, or the tzitzis poking out the bottom of his black winter coat.
One of the cops, a jowly man with buzzed hair and a gently swelling belly, gives Life a slight smile. “WE got a call. Some woman can’t get a hold of her husband who’s a security guard. She says she works here, but this place seems abandoned,” he answers with surprising candor and a perfectly stereotypical New York Accent.
“Yeah,” says the other cop, running his hand over his slicked-back gray hair, which still has comb tracks in it from earlier grooming. “I mean, there’s tap on the windows. That means it’s abandoned, right?”
The copes continue to peer though the darkened windows as Life jumps down to inspect a basement-level door. The radios on their belts buzz and crackle: “The missing child is approximately four feet tall, wearing a striped sweater. The suspect-“ Life joins the copes on the steps in mutual consideration of the darkened building, a gray stone apartment building near the Columbia University campus- close enough to Riverside Park that the assemblage can feel the cold air off the water buffeting their backs and faces. The jowly cop’s cheeks are red.
The men in blue bang on the door a few times and then turn to Life with equally stern brows. “Stand back,” says the gray haired cop and positions his shoulders as if to break the door down. Life hops back a little and the cops laugh. “Just Kidding,” Comb Tracks says.
“So are you a student?” Jowls inquires, apparently in no hurry to solve the mystery of the missing security guard.
“No, actually I’m a Real-Life Superhero, Life says with a slight smile, fingering the mask that hangs from his side. The cops look at each other with raised eyebrows and more than a hint of amusement.
“Oh yeah? Well, can you tell us where Columbia security is?” Jowls says with a brief smile. “Maybe they can help us figure out where this guard is
Life gives them directions and follows them to their car,” I can get in and go with you guys if you’d like…” he says, lingering near the cruiser.
“Ha, ha, nah,” says Jowls. “Thanks.” The cops drive off into the night, leaving Life and his backpack in front of the darkened building.
With the squad car disappears the glimmer of danger, the opportunity to race off in the night, the blue and red flashing. In a movie or a comic book this would be the point where our hero’s story really heats up: He discovers that the mission guard has been captured by an evil avenger with a rampant disdain for any and all authority figures- and now the poor old man is being held hostage in some fortress in the dark recesses of Governor’s Island. And because the bumbling cops neglected to adequately hunt for clues our hero is tasked with his safe return. But this is not a move. This is no adaptation- just plain old New York.  IN the realm of the real, Life watched the cruiser disappears into the night, sighs a puff of cold-etched air, and jaywalks across the street. As he hops from the sidewalk, his boots clearing the curb, he indulges a brief exclamation: “Zing!”
LIFE A.K.A. CHAIM LAZAROS is a real-life superhero- designation that would likely cause many a reader to snort in derision or laugh in abject mockery. Visions of plump, sad comic book fans in spandex leap to mind- images of computer geeks wandering around darkened streets, desperately seeking some nefarious B-level crime to debunk. That’s not Life. Life is a do-gooder. He doesn’t fight crime per se– he takes to the streets and provides aid to the poor souls who many of us outright ignore: the homeless.
In a sense, this is his superpower. Where comic superheroes might manifest their powers through a supernatural affinity for controlling the weather or assuming arachnid capabilities, Life’s chosen specialty is the homeless- although he’s the first to admit that he doesn’t actually have any special abilities. “I hate when people ask where my cape is,” Life says. “Capes are stupid and ineffective. No one flies… I don’t have any super powers,” he adds. “I’m just a person. A poor, young person in New York City- and I help a lot of people. I’m not special.” Nevertheless, as his name suggests, Life provides sustenance and, well, life, to the downtrodden, specializing in a particular realm of aid- and to do so he tapes into his two natural abilities: kindness and an aptitude for spin. Life is a natural PR man, an organizer who uses the aesthetic of the super hero, the sheer flashiness of the concept, to attract others to his cause.
Photos by Paul Quitoriano

Photos by Paul Quitoriano

Life is one of the heads of Superheroes Anonymous, a collective of citizen who have made it their mission to do good by the world. Some do it in much the same way as Coalition for the Homeless or Habitat for Humanity, and some do it with the more dangerous, risky flair of vigalantes- but they all do it in costume. Each year it holds a sizable conference during which heroes from all over the world assemble. So far there have been three conferences: one in Times Square, New York City, one in New Orleans, and the most recent in New Bedford, Massachusetts, also known as The Secret City due to its large volume of unsolved homicides.
Superheroes Anonymous, which coalesced into its current state in 2007, hardly marks the first incarnation of real-life superhero-dom, although it is probably the most organized superhero affiliation. According to a history written by Hardwire, a hero from Greensboro, North Carolina, the first real-life superhero date back to the seventeenth century- his name was William Lamport, or Zorro. The modern ideal of real-life heroes started to solidify in the seventies with Captain Sticky, a man by the name of Richard Pesta who would patrol San Diego in a bubble-topped Lincoln clad in blue tights and a cape, working to launch investigations into elder care. And then there was Rick Rojatt, a daredevil known as The Human Fly, whose entire family was killed in a car crash that left him temporarily crippled. The nineties heralded the arrival of Marco Rascon Cordova, a Mexico City resident who became Superbarrio and championed the poor and working class, and Terrifica, a New Yorker who took it upon herself to protect drunken women from unwanted advances. And then there’s Civitron, a father and former counselor for children in transition who patrols New Bedford, Massachusetts with his son, The Mad Owl, a superhero-in-the-making with a love for woodland creatures.
In short, this underground community was flourishing, the network reaching across the world. But it was a fractured connection; these do-gooders mostly communicated via Internet forums and MySpace pages, connected only through the currents of the digital age- until Life came along.
Like all superheroes, life has his own creation myth, which more closely mirrors that of the famed comic book authors that of yore than the apocryphal tales of Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne. Like the majority of old-school creators- immigrants and children of immigrants who invented heroes to battle the myriad woes of their woes- Lazaros is a Jew, the son of an Orthodox rabbi who has seven children in all. The second –oldest child, Lazaros is kind of the black sheet. “He’s a very idealistic kid and he has a lot of pity on people that are downtrodden and homeless. He’s a do-gooder and he wants to do go,” his father says, recalling how, as a child, Life took on his entire bunk at sleepaway camp when they were picking on smaller boy.  Still, he hasn’t quite taken the path that his father would like him to.” I thought it was more like a hobby,” his father says of Life’s superheroing. “But it became a very major part of his life. And obviously as a parent I think there are more important priorities. He’s just turned twenty-five. I’d like to see him get married. I’d like to see him have some kind of a vocation that earns a living. This is a nice thing to do on the side, you know, if you have another career. You have a family and you want to do something like this in your free time, that’s okay. But I don’t think it should be taking up the main part of your time.”
Before he became Life, Chaim was on a path that any proud Orthodox papa would approve of. He attended Yeshiva University- a college that focuses on Jewish scholarship- in New York for one year before deciding that he was too smart for the religious school. He also wanted to study film. He applied to NYU and got in (twice), but his family didn’t have the money to send him. So he left college and worked at one of the country’s top ad agencies, J Walter Thompson, where he executed the mindless task of paying invoices before realizing that he wasn’t going anywhere. He had been attending Brooklyn College at night and living in Crown Heights when his girlfriend suggested he apply to Columbia. He got in, they provided him with ample scholarships, and he was able to follow his chosen path: film studies. Little did he know that becoming a superhero would also be apart of his course of study.
Three years ago, Chaim’s friend Bend Goldman, a senior at New York’s New School, saw a sign reading “Real Life Superheroes” outside a comic book store. He was intrigued, so he Googled the term. The sign turned out to be an advertisement for a drawing class, but Goldman’s internet search revealed the rich history of the movement. Both film students, Lazaros and Goldman decided that the subject was ripe for documentation. “This whole project started off as a documentary,” Ben says. “It’s like a case of Gonzo Journalism where the documentarian becomes the subject, especially with Chaim, since he became a superhero through the project.”
“They’re very isolated in all these different communities and only communicate through MySpace and stuff like that,” Chaim says, “There had been a few very small meet-ups, but it was really this Internet culture. Basically we realized that if we made the first all-encompassing gathering of all the superheroes, then we would be able to shoot a documentary in a day.”
And so it began- the first meeting of Superheroes Anonymous. For Chaim, the convention became an all-consuming task. He barely slept. He lost fifteen pounds. He dedicated every moment to orchestrating a massive gathering to take place in New York’s Time Square. And then the duo hit a snag.
“There was a lot of this bullshit started by this one particular superhero that founded the biggest forum on the Internet for superheroes. He’s named Tothian,” Chaim says, “At the time he was respected just because he was a moderator of this forum he started.”
Tothian is a mysterious figure who resided in New Jersey and likes to keep his persona under wraps. On Facebook, his name is simply Tothian ApmhibiousKnight- He refuses to reveal his real name- and his burred picture shows a man with close-cropped hair, wearing what appears to be armor or a bulletproof vest. “I’ve been patrolling since I was about five years old,” Tothian says. “I knew form as early on in life as I can remember that I would be doing this, not as a game,” he adds. “When I was sixteen I graduated from a military high school. At seventeen I joined the Marine Reserves as an Infantryman. I’ve trained in various styles of martial arts for many years. I study criminology, private investigating and foreign languages.” Now Tothian, an ardent fan of Sherlock Holmes, patrols his local streets, striving to mitigate crime in hotspots like Newark, New Jersey. “I make it a point to never set patterns in times nor patrol routs,” Tothian says. “I have to keep it randomized for two reasons: One I don’t want people to work around my pattern. Two, I don’t want people to track me down.”
Photos by Paul Quitoriano

Photos by Paul Quitoriano

Tothian, naturally, takes the concept of being a superhero extremely seriously and was wary of the conference. His wariness, in turn lead a number of attendees to cancel their trips, including the emcee of the event, one of the oldest heroes around, dubbed, simply, Superhero. “We didn’t know them too well yet, nor what to expect,” Tothian explains. “But after we all got to know [Ben and Chaim] we saw that they’re great guys with sincere intentions and actually want to do something good for the world.”
Regardless, back in 2007 Chaim was in a bind- he didn’t want to have a meeting without an official superhero emcee. But Chaim had dons his research- he knew about the different types of superheroes, the “community crusader” in particular. “A community crusader is somebody who is not necessarily in a costume but works from within the community to move forward the cause of real-life superheroeism” Chaim explains.
After the debacle with Tothian, Chaim went to Columbia Chabad to think. “I hadn’t slept at all the night before,” he says. “It was a totally crazy week and I was like, praying and wondering, ‘Who is gonna run this thing?’ Then I realized that all the sacrifices I had been making, the thousands of dollars of my own money, all of my time and life spent toward making this happened made ma a community crusader, and therefore a superhero. And therefore I could be the one to lead this meeting. Son on Sunday when we had the meet up in Times Square, that was when I put on the mask for the first time and claimed myself ‘Life.’”
Ben, in turn, became “The Camera Man.”
“My role in Superheroes Anonymous has always been documenting what the superheroes do,” he says. He doesn’t wear a costume, and he sees this whole project as wholly short-term. He doesn’t go on patrols like Life does, but he does accompany heroes like  The Dark Guardian, a swarthy New Yorker who dresses in head-to-toe leather, when they set out on missions to Washington Square Part to take on drug dealers. Although he denies being a hero, guys like The Dark Guardian would be seriously screwed without Ben around- the fact that he wields a camera helps keep criminals in check, proving that you don’t need freezrays or super strength to fight evil.
Life’s own arsenal is rather limited as well, He carries a cell phone, a pocket knight and a backpack filled with water bottles, military-issue meals and ready to eat, granola bars, socks and whatever else he can scrape together for the homeless he tends to . After parting ways with Jowls and Comb Tracks at the abandoned building, Life takes off down the sidewalk, passing houses wreathed in blinking colored lights to stock up at the local RiteAid. He picks up a coupon book and surveys the deals under the deals under the glare of the florescent lights. “This is where my cheap Jewness comes in,” he says with a laugh, trying to decide between Rice Krispie Treats (cheaper, but less nutritionous) and granola bars. But Chaim isn’t being cheap, per se. He’s a recent college grad who makes a small wage working for the Ripple Project, a documentary film company that focuses on social issues. But being the child of a rabbit, Life was taught to give ten percent of his earnings to charity. At the register, he checks over the receipt with the same precision as a fussy mother, but then grabs a handful of chocolate to add it the finally tally. “I love giving people chocolate because they appreciate it. No one else gives them chocolates,” he says.
Outside in the cold again, Life passes a gaggle of college kids on winter break, decked out in hats and puffy jackets, “I was so fucking wasted last weekend,” a girl squeals as she disappears down the concrete while Life heads to St. John the Divine to pass out supplies to the homeless who huddle on the steps. This is one of his usual haunts, and he tried to get there before the Coalition for the Homeless arrives with boxed meals- usually the homeless scatter after the trucks roll away. But when he arrives he sees he’s too late. The Coalition for the Homeless have come and gone and the poor have likely been shooed away. All that greets him when he arrives are granite steps blanketed in snow and ropes stretching across the stairs. “Those assholes,” he mutters, nothing that the ropes were likely put in place to discourage the homeless from hanging out on the steps.
Back in the summer time, the church was like a regular homeless clubhouse, but right now it’s too cold for anyone to linger outside for long. The homeless are all in shelters or are hiding out somewhere in the darkness. Back in August Chaim had tramped down to St. John’s every week- since graduating, he’s been sorting his life out, moving to Harlem and setting up Superheroes Anonymous headquarters (a.k.a. his apartment). Last summer he had leapt up the stairs distributing vitamins and shampoo to a man named John, who wore a giraffe T-shirt and leaned heavily on a cane. Tonight John isn’t here. “I thought at least the Mexicans would be here,” Life says with a sigh.
The Mexicans usually assemble in the front doorway, huddled together under the granite saints that stare out into the darkness like blank-eyed sentinels. The men are likely here illegally and, as they told Chaim, they have “No worky. No casa. Lots of Mexicans. It’s bad.” This summer they have taught Chaim how to say razor (navaja) and toothbrush (cepillo dental) in Spanish. Chaim had asked where their friend Edguardo was and a man wearing a shirt emblazoned with mountain ranges- the kind of souvenir sweatshirt that you buy on vacation- had pointed up at the saints and uttered, “Jesus.”
“Jesus loves me?” Chaim asked, seeming to misunderstand the sentiment. It’s impossible to tell how many streets have unwittingly become graves.
Photos by Paul Quitoriano

Photos by Paul Quitoriano

Tonight, however, the streets seem free of the homeless. Life wanders past another church covered in blue twinkle lights. He sing-songs in the night jokingly, like the Pied Piper, “Heeere, homeless people. Oh, Hooooomelss people…”
“I have homeless vision,” he says. Just then he sees John, leaning on his cane across from the church. Chaim approaches the old man, shivering on the sidewalk, while college students stream by taking care to make a wide arc around him. Life presents John with handwarmers, a bottle of water and cigarettes. “Is there anything else you need?” Chaim asked. John whispers in a voice barely audible above the cutting wind, “Long underwear.”
“People always ask me how I know what to bring,” Chaim says, taking off once more across the nighttime streets. “I didn’t offer John a grain bar because he has bad teeth. But people tell you what they need. How would I know he needed long underwear if he didn’t tell me?”
And that’s one of Chaim’s greatest powers: He listens. He talked to people whom everyone avoids. The true Mr. and Mrs. Cellophanes. Chaim stops to talk to them all. IN the grand scheme of things, his actions are small- he won’t be clearing New York’s streets of the poor anytime soon, nor will he eradicate poverty and hunger. But he has no illusions in that regard. Life wants to start a movement- to inspire others to do as he does. And that’s the true purpose of Superheroes Anonymous. Chaim has taken a disparate group of misfits and rebels and given them a singular vision- shaping them into a symbol for doing good.
The night is wearing on toward midnight when Life hears a thin whine rising from a huddled mass in front of a corner bank. “I’m so cold!” squeals a man supported by a walker and little else. His pant leg is rolled up far above the knee and he’s shaking violently. “My leg is broken! I haven’t eating in three days!” the main cries as people walk briskly by him, staring steadfastly ahead. Life strides right up to him, “Here, take theses,” Life says, pressing a pack of handwarmers into the man’s shaking palms. Quickly, he hands the man water, cigarettes and the coveted chocolate. The man’s shaking continues, his voice rising in agony,” My hands are so cold.”
A woman pauses on the sidewalk, wrapped in a warm-looking black peacoat with a tailored collar. She notices Life and the man on the sidewalk- the water bottles and the chocolate. She steps forward and stuffs a handful of dollar bills into the man’s shaking cup.

Was there life before 'Kick-Ass'?

Originally published:
By Tom Huddleston
The USP of Matthew Vaughn’s ‘Kick-Ass’ is that it’s about real life superheroes. But what about Mystery Men?
For the next month or so, you won’t be able to leave the house without hearing the words ‘Kick-Ass’. Matthew Vaughn’s teen superhero epic is fast, funny and extremely violent, but it also seems to be labouring under a misapprehension: that the concept of normal, everyday superheroes is somehow original. The film even opens with our hero Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) complaining that, in the real world, no one but the police dresses up and fights crime.
In fact, they do. A few years ago, a film played at the Sci-Fi-London Film Festival called ‘Your Friendly Neighbourhood Hero’. This wise and very amusing doc followed the exploits of four real-life costumed avengers – known only as Superhero, Master Legend, Mr Silent and Hardware – as they plied their trade on the suburban streets where they lived. Their exploits were relatively tame – none of them took down a major crime ring or foiled a villain in his underground lair – but, like Kick-Ass, they were dedicated ordinary Joes intent on remaking society in their own image.
Even in the realm of fiction the concept of normal folks with no special talents teaming up to fight forces of evil is nothing new. Alan Moore’s graphic novel ‘Watchmen’ was perhaps the first to imagine what would happen if society was suddenly overrun with masked heroes – his conclusion being that they’d become fascistic, sexually perverse social outcasts. Last year’s film version of Moore’s book turned the idea on its head by becoming exactly the kind of ultraviolent bonanza of special effects which Moore was satirising in the first place.
A decade ago, ‘Mystery Men‘ brought the very same concept which fuels ‘Kick-Ass’ – give or take a few vaguely supernatural elements – into cinemas, and was largely ignored by the ticket-buying public. It’s a shame, because Kinka Usher’s film was a smart, original and hilarious subversion of the superhero genre which deserves a second look.
Just check out the cast list for ‘Mystery Men‘: Ben Stiller plays Mr Furious, an ordinary guy convinced that his boundless inner rage makes him in some way special. Hank Azaria plays The Blue Raja, master of cutlery, while William H Macy brings his customary hapless warmth to the role of family man The Shoveller. There’s also room for Greg Kinnear as preening playboy Captain Amazing, Geoffrey Rush as master villain Casanova Frankenstein, Eddie Izzard as his sidekick Tony P, Janeane Garofalo as hipster hero The Bowler and the great Tom Waits as madcap inventor Doc Heller.
Sure, ‘Mystery Men’ plays things a lot broader and wackier than ‘Kick-Ass’. But it’s also sharper, more inventive and a lot funnier, taking the time to round out its lovingly drawn characters rather than just chucking them into another limb-slicing action sequence.
We’ve no doubt that ‘Kick-Ass’ is going to be a big box-office success. It’s got all the wisecracking, foul language and manic, intense violence that fanboys go nuts for. But once you’ve paid your money and got your kicks, give ‘Mystery Men’ a go: it would be a shame if this big-hearted, anarchic anti-blockbuster got lost in the shadow of its slicker but somehow less loveable offspring.

There are Real Life Superheroes among us

March 19, 2:38 AMScience Fiction ExaminerMichael Parker

Maybe it is due to the popularity of “Watchmen,” which featured crime-fighters with little or no super powers. Or maybe in the “Dark Knight” was a harbinger of things to come, when masked vigilantes tried to emulate Batman on their meager budgets. The Great Recession may be the single largest factor in this growing movement. Men and women are donning costumes and hitting the streets, to protect the public, across the nation, and yes, even around the world.
What is a Real Life Superhero? According to Superheroes Anonymous, the mark of a Real Life Superhero (RLSH) is someone who sees injustice in the world, and in costume, does something about it. Over the past three years Superheroes Anonymous has help validate the purpose of RLSH, ordinary people who go out of their way to help others.
Many of these latter-day Guardian Angels help feed the homeless, perform various community services, and inspire others to take positive social action. Their members are doctors, students; people from all walks of life. Some attribute their altruism to being disillusioned with chasing the almighty dollar, after being laid off from their jobs. Others are repenting for past transgressions during their youth. The one thing they have in common is an overarching desire to make the world a better place.
Some even fight crime in the literal sense, those who do usually keep their real identities a secret. Mr. Ravenblade found his calling when he prevented a mugging/rape. Mr. Xtreme, who founded the Xtreme Justice League, patrols neighborhoods to stop violent crime in San Diego. The Black Monday Society members Insignis, Ghost, and Oni help keep Salt Lake City, Utah safe. Crimson Fist may sound like a hardened crime-fighter, but he mainly helps feed the homeless.
In New York, Terrifica, a female crime-fighter, has been protecting inebriated women at bars and parties from being taken advantage of by men since the mid-1990’s. Dark Guardian, a martial arts instructor, helps keep bad elements at bay, gives inspirational speeches, and will even clean up trash or graffiti. Life not only helps the homeless, he also teams up with other superheroes to attack drug dealers. Most of these superheroes are law-abiding citizens who help police catch real criminals. On the occasions when they do cross the line, they tend to keep it very close to the chest.
RLSH say that the main reason they don masks is more to raise public awareness than to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. They are hard to ignore which helps drive their message of community activism. They also seem to prefer myspace to Facebook. Just don’t expect an up-to-date report on their sites. They are too busy keeping us safe.
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Superheroes Anonymous trailer from beginnorth on Vimeo.

Superheroes Anonymous

'Kick-Ass': Your new favorite superhero movie?
Originally published in USA Today
As you know, I’ve been psyched about Kick-Ass since I saw the film’s thrilling Comic-Con presentation. (It prompted a standing ovation, and that rarely happens at the Con.) The film, based on the comic-book series by writer Mark Millar and artist John Romita Jr., is something of a cross between Spider-Man, Freaks and Geeks and Kill Bill: It follows an introverted high-school kid (Aaron Johnson) who decides to don a spandex costume and become a straight-up superhero. The results are hilarious, twisted and shockingly violent.
What’s to like about Kick-Ass? Aside from the hardcore fight scenes, there’s the cast: Young Chloe Moretz is riveting as the young and spry Hit Girl, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse is funny (and refreshingly not-so-McLovin-esque) as Red Mist. Best of all, this may be the flick that reconnects audiences with Nicolas Cage; the actor is engaging and disturbing as Big Daddy, a weapons-obsessed father who tops his heroic deeds with a killer Adam West impersonation.
Millar and Romita attended last night’s New York premiere, presented by our friends at UGO. Afterward, they discussed the challenges of adapting the comic for the screen and shared a few tidbits about making the movie. (Fun fact: Romita initally wanted Mark Wahlberg for Big Daddy. Millar wanted Zac Efron as Red Mist.)
“The movie is horribly autobiographical,” Millar told the crowd, referring to some of Kick-Ass’ geekier moments. “I almost cringe watching it.”
When director Matthew Vaughn and the gang screened scenes at Comic-Con, the film still didn’t have a distributor. However, Millar and Romita said he never gave up.
“Matt got turned down by every studio, and he said, ‘OK, screw you. I’m gonna finance it myself,” Romita said.
Added Millar: “We thought we had the Pulp Fiction of screenplays here, and everyone hated it.” (Eventually, Lionsgate picked it up.)
Near the end of the evening, an audience member raised his hand. He stood up. Underneath his jacket, he was wearing a costume.
“I’m a real-life superhero,” he announced.
Sure enough, the guy was living just like Kick-Ass. He said he called himself the “Dark Guardian.” For seven years he had been fighting crime, “doing charity work” and committing other acts of good.
Perhaps at other venues, the Dark Guardian might’ve received some strange looks. Here, however, Millar and Romita beckoned him onstage. He was applauded.
And that’s the message of Kick-Ass: You don’t need to be bitten by a spider or born on another planet to save the world. If you’re willing to get your a– kicked every once in awhile, you, too, can be a superhero. And hey, shouldn’t that be celebrated?
Kick-Ass opens April 16.