Real-life super heroes on the streets of the United States

Twenty-eight-year-old David “Civitron” Civatarese is a Boston-based real-life super hero. In his day job he works with adults with autism but in his free time, Civitron dons his home-made super hero disguise – a burgundy and orange jumpsuit – and takes to the sidewalk, assisting his community however he can by cleaning up the streets, helping out the homeless or families in need.
He’s part of a growing collective of ordinary citizens across America who have transformed themselves into something – and someone – else, made themselves larger than life. Going under the banner ‘Superheroes Anonymous’, the collective is dedicated to inspiring the super hero spirit in everyone.
Original persona
According to Civitron, it’s about finding out what your individual powers are and finding out how you can use those powers to help your community.
“Many of us dress up as an original super hero persona – and that’s part of the personal journey of going out and changing your life, of becoming the change that you want to see in the world [to quote Gandhi]. We take a look at ourselves, take a moral inventory – and see what we can change. With the persona we provide a template for ourselves to live by.”
The costumes – and the reasons for wearing them – are different for everyone, says Civitron.
“It’s about becoming a living example, not only for others but also yourself. You put on the costume to remind yourself you are out there specifically for the purpose of helping and for living your cause. For others, it’s more about fun.”
Whether it’s Life Lazaros, a New York hipster who wears a black mask and works on the street with runaways and homeless people, or Zeta Man, who coordinates fundraisers in his local hip hop community, the growth of the real life super hero has been exponential in recent years, with close to 200 members across the United States.
Health and safety
But it’s not a question of vigilantism, Civitron is keen to point out. Superheroes Anonymous members act within the boundaries of safety and the law and liase with the police to build upon existing mechanism within society, rather than working alone. They aim to take responsibility within their own community.
Whether you wear a costume or not, Civitron says the guidelines to becoming a real-life super hero are simple:
“Know the law and know what the legal boundaries are. Always be safe… and for anybody looking to become a real life super hero – they should explore themselves, know what they believe to be true, set out to be that ambassador to the world and always stay true to their message.”

Real-life 'superheroes' take to the streets in US

By Michelle Stockman (AFP)
NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts — Inside a hotel room in this New England port city, a superhero assumed his disguise before hitting the street.
Dressed in a black fedora, white shirt with skinny black necktie, and a studded belt, 24-year-old Chaim “Life” Lazaros looks like any other hipster from New York City. Except for his black mask.
In real-life he’s a radio personality at a college radio station, but in superhero mode, Lazaros spends his time comforting homeless people.
And his eye-catching uniform helps his cause.
“You will get stares, questions on the street from people who are interested and curious,” Lazaros said.
“They are always inspired. I got emails from soldiers in Iraq saying ‘It’s so inspiring to me to see people back at home helping each other.'”
Three years ago, Lazaros and Ben Goldman, a documentary filmmaker, created “Superheroes Anonymous,” an organized group of real-life superheroes.
Lazaros said there are now roughly 200 fellow superheroes across the country — costumed civilians who patrol the streets behind self-made superhero personas.
Their missions are varied, from conducting homeless and sex worker outreach and picking up litter to looking out for crime and teaching first aid skills.
In early September, about 20 members gathered in New Bedford from across the country for a three-day event that included a hip hop concert, beach clean-up and workshops on how to disarm an enemy.
“Scavenger,” a 28-year-old social worker, stood outside a local coffee shop during a break.
Dressed in a velvet bustier and black tassled bodysock, the tight spandex revealed only her eyes. She said crows and vultures inspired her costume, as they are the recyclers of nature.
“They clean up and they use things to live. So I take garbage off the street,” Scavenger said, explaining that money she earns from picking up litter goes to buying things for homeless people.
At home, Mike “KnightOwl” Johnson is a firefighter and emergency medical technician from Ohio.
This towering 26-year-old in a bright yellow jersey with an owl logo and a black head scarf said he became a superhero as another way to make a visible difference in the world.
“I think anyone who looks around will fastly realize there’s something seriously wrong with the direction that people are going in,” said Johnson.
“We try to reverse a little of that, and ease pain and suffering anyway possible.”
Toutou and Dave Marsden from nearby Walpole, Massachusetts were in town for a Sunday sightseeing tour. They dropped into a mask-making workshop with their two children.
“I think it’s great,” said Toutou, 34. “I think we should have everyday superheroes. I think it’s great that people are out there helping out.”
In their effort to do good, the superhero community may skirt the lines of safety.
Lazaros said he and other superheroes confront drug dealers, armed only with a camera.
On the “Superheroes Anonymous” blog, writers describe how to construct a practical crime-fighting costume — including a bullet proof vest.
It also suggests strategies to win over the local authorities, suggesting, for example, that on Halloween you pay an initial visit in costume to the local Wal-Mart. Repeat often thereafter so people get used to a superhero presence.
Dressed in a burgundy and orange jumpsuit and white-framed sunglasses, New Bedford local David “Civitron” Civatarese, 28, said despite their odd appearance, superheroes have simple, altruistic motives.
“I’m sure not many people are going to take Civitron himself very seriously,” said Civatarese.
“But once I start talking about the things that we’re doing, whether that’s helping out the homeless, helping out families in need, or just cleaning up the streets, they start to think about how can they help out whether they want to put on a costume or not.”
Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved. More »

Real-Life 'Super Heroes' Aim to Make a Difference

BY VANESSA TYLER | Staff reporter
“I’m the “Dark Guardian,” Chris Pollak tells PIX News as he stands in his black and red leather costume. Pollak is a real life super hero, part of a growing movement of adults who dress up, fight crime and attempt to make society a better place.
PIX went along one night as Pollak, and his co-horts, “Life” and “Phantom Zero,” went out on their rounds. It was a dark and very stormy night and the trio chose to bring comfort to the homeless.
“Life,” whose costume is reminiscent of the Green Hornet, says, “The homeless, when you are going up to them and you’re giving food, vitamins, socks, and tooth brushes and razors, if you’re stark naked or wearing a clown suit. They are happy to get the stuff. They’re happy someone cares.” The gang also use their own money to buy those supplies.
The real life super hero movement has been growing since 9-11 and there is even a worldwide registry.
The “Dark Guardian” has made it his mission to rid Washington Square Park of drug dealers and some have even confronted him. He says, “We’ve had people flash a gun at us. But I’m not backing down.”
The group says police are aware of their presence and worry for their safety since these real life super heroes say they are not armed, though “Life” does wear a bullet proof vest.
“Dark Phantom” who stands more than six feet tall and wears all black with a cape, a hood, and a white skull mask tells PIX News, “A lot of times I haven’t had trouble from the authorities with the sole exception of going into the subway wearing a mask.”,0,7128849.story

World's greatest real-life superheroes

In times of peril we at Asylum respond in the only way that real men can — we run and hide under our beds, put a Spider-Man DVD on really loud and hope everything turns out okay.
Luckily the world is not only made up of cowards who wish superheroes were real. There are also those prepared to do something about it. They are the champions who, by dressing up in fancy dress and making a MySpace page, transform their lives from the mundane to the marvellous — the Real Life Superheroes.

True, the extent to which these characters actually help people varies. Some, such as the UK’s Angle Grinder Man, take to the streets to save stricken cars from clamps. Others, like the USA’s Civitron, do charity work. Still more, like Hong Kong’s Red Arrow Man, just try to “become the salt and light of the world”… Er, cool?
Anyway, regardless of whether these heroes actually have superpowers or not, we salute them. We want to live in a world with heroes in Spandex tights, and if they’re the best we’ve got then so be it.

O'CONNELL: Twin Cities super heroes

When I first heard about these so called “Real Life Super Heroes” I have to admit I was a little skeptical. I was never interested in comic books but I had this idea of adult men in funny costumes who thought they had super powers. I found out they actually do have super powers. Powers of giving. Powers of community.

Through Myspace I connected with a man called “Geist-The Emerald Cowboy”. He responded to me but when he wouldn’t give me his real name or phone number because of “security reasons”-I knew he was serious. That made our meeting even more intriguing. I spent last Saturday night with 4 members of the Great Lakes Super Heroes Guild. A loose network of anonymous do gooders. Real Life Super Heroes or “Reals” go around doing random acts of kindness and good deeds for strangers. They also show up at charity events, fundraisers and homeless shelters to lend a hand. The twist is: they do it dressed in custom made disguises. Each has their own persona, costume and favorite causes. There are about 200 “Real Life Super Heroes” around the country.

Although they do pack non-lethal weapons, they don’t come across much street crime. I can tell you by spending 3 hours with them is they sure get people talking and more importantly, thinking about helping your community… Certainly heroes in my book.
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Atlanta's Superhero Helps Homeless

ATLANTA — You’ve seen them in the movies and on TV, but have you ever seen a real-life superhero, costume and all?
Over the years, a growing network of crusaders on a mission to make their communities a better place has emerged across the country, including one right here in Atlanta.
A lot of movie superheroes get their extraordinary human powers from an experiment gone awry or a bite of a spider.
Our Atlanta superhero doesn’t have that kind of back story, but he does have a desire to help those in need.
He created his alter-ego from a comic book character he dreamed up years ago and he does all his work in costume.
This superhero is known as The Crimson Fist.
“I don’t really like to use that term [superhero] because it makes people think I’m crazier than I am, but I’m a guy who dresses like a superhero, yes,” said The Crimson Fist.
The Crimson Fist said he started his mission several years ago, after a few years of drugs and alcohol.
He realized instead of hurting himself, he could help others.
Crimson is an IT programmer by day, superhero by hobby.
And while his outfit may look a little strange, he says the mission is what counts.
He spends a few days a month doing charity events and helping the homeless.
Sure, he gets the stares and tough questions.
“A lot of people thought I was crazy. I sometimes question it myself,” said Crimson.
“I have something now, but this will help me later on and I’m just so grateful,” said Jesse about a gift from Crimson.
The Crimson Fist said superheroes really do live among us.
“Just hearing someone say thank you is really the best part of this,” said Crimson.
He said his girlfriend thinks what he does is a little strange.
There are over 200 registered real-life superheroes on something called the world superhero registry, so The Crimson Fist is certainly not alone.
Copyright 2009 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Registry' crime-fighter

Since moving to New Orleans a year and a half ago, I’ve often wondered why so many people dress in costume for apparently no reason at all.
This could be part of the easy-going nature of people here, those who find every excuse to party and revel in any reason to dress in outlandish outfits. But maybe there’s something else going on. Could New Orleans be a haven for costumed do-gooders?
I stumbled upon an article from KNXV-TV in Phoenix, Ariz., and several other blogs about a World Superhero Registry.
The organization’s site is a one-stop-shop for all things superhero, including a list of registered superheroes, contacts for help with your costume creation, tutorials and tips for being effective and interviews with fellow citizen crime-fighters.
KNXV-TV found more than one certified superhero in that area, including “Green Scorpion” and “Citizen Prime.”
Unfortunately, New Orleans has only one registered superhero patrolling the streets at night.
Louisiana’s sole registered World Superhero is a New Orleans resident who goes by “Nostrum,” according to the registry’s Web site and his MySpace page. Featured on his MySpace profile is this simple quote: “There is right and there is wrong, nothing more.”
Nostrum did not immediately respond to an interview request from to find out what exactly he does to fight crime in the Crescent City.
There are several other groups like this, including Heroes Network, Justice Guild and The Alternates.
Some say the movement really picked up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and gained popularity again thanks to President-elect Barack Obama’s call for “active citizenry” during his campaign.
While it seems plenty of people are doing their part to keep their neighborhoods safe, that doesn’t mean they are official superheroes.
People must meet at least three criteria to be considered for the registry. The superhero must wear a good-quality costume, do heroic deeds that exceed “normal everyday behavior” and the person should do those deeds out of self-motivation rather than for financial gain, according to the World Superhero Registry site.
I know one thing – Nostrum has his hands full with this city and its world-famous high crime rate. Someone’s slacking off, I’d say. Or he’s in over his head.

The costume crusader

Michael “Jack T. Ripper” Brinatte of New Brighton, a local pro wrestler, sews and embroiders superhero costumes for “real-life superheroes.”

Michael “Jack T. Ripper” Brinatte of New Brighton, a local pro wrestler, sews and embroiders superhero costumes for “real-life superheroes.”


Last year, when professional wrestler Michael Brinatte became unemployed, he started looking for a new niche. He may have found it, in an unlikely place.

As part of his Hero Gear operation, Brinatte creates “battle suits,” masks, capes, singlets and other accessories for “real-life superheroes.” His clients are people immersed in the culture of comic books and science fiction, who take on superhero personas (and costumes) to do good, whether patrolling the streets, donating blood, or coordinating toy and food drives.

A mention in a recent City Pages article on the national phenomena of “real-life superheroes” has drummed up interest in Brinatte’s business and brought media exposure. Over the past few weeks, he’s participated in radio interviews broadcast locally, as well as in San Diego and Lexington, Ky. He also has a part in an upcoming documentary, made by an Ohio filmmaker, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Hero.”

Brinatte, 39, has wrestled locally for 15 years, most recently under the villain persona “Jack T. Ripper.” Although Brinatte’s friends call him by his wrestling name, it seems an unlikely match. At 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, he’s got the bulk to be scary, but in conversation, he’s affable and enthusiastic about his avocation.

A corner of Brinatte’s New Brighton apartment is draped with swatches of Spandex: blue, gold, a white-blue harlequin pattern. A pile of masks and a completed costume — singlet and vest-cape — lay on the couch, along with an assortment of tagboard patterns. A work station includes stacking cases of notions, his computer, which he uses for design work, and a docking station for his sewing/embroidery machine, which happened to be in the shop.

He started making his own science-fiction and Star Trek-themed costumes when he was in high school; his most formal training was seventh-grade home economics. (He made a pillow.)

Brinatte made wrestling costumes for his buddies on the circuit, and more recently for some friends who auditioned for the SciFi Channel reality show “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?” which gives people an opportunity to test their mettle as self-made heroes.

In less than a year, he’s made at least 32 costumes and about 50 masks.

Most often, he makes contact with people who have a superhero interest, or they hear about him through word of mouth. They work together, via phone, e-mail or MySpace messages to create a design that the client likes and that Brinatte knows he can make and will work for what the client wants to do.

‘A whole lot of talent’

Desiree Portner, of Dallas, also known as Ninjarella, said Brinatte contacted her last May, after seeing her MySpace page. She had auditioned for “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?” and was plotting another audition. But she needed a new costume.

Brinatte took her idea for a logo and created an embroidered chest shield. He made suggestions for color and shape.

“When we started, I wanted a full-mask costume, but he said I have a lot of personality in my face, so we’d try to put a lot of detail in the suit,” she said. She had auditioned with a fire theme and a blue suit. “He said blue is a cold color, and we should try a warmer color.”

Together, they added stripes and color and, over about a month of talks, agreed on a design.

She waited apprehensively for the suit to arrive.

“When I pulled it out, and when I saw it my jaw dropped,” she said. “I was completely in awe of how it looked. It looked like something out of a comic book. He’s got a whole lot of talent.”

Brinatte charges $80-$120 for his suits, which take him less than six hours to complete. Kid-size suits are usually less than $40.

It’s been important to him to keep prices low. “I try to make a profit without making too much because a lot of people don’t have a lot to spend,” he said, adding that some people in the “real-life superhero” community choose to keep the investment a secret from their families.