Good News Friday: Superheroes Anonymous

Friday October 9, 2009
Apparently “Superheroes” are not just for the movies or comic books anymore. Motivated by difficult economic times, high crime and homelessness, a new movement of real life “Superheroes” has sprung up across the country.
Real life “Superheroes”….for real? Yep, and some of them are even dressed in tights.
One of these masked men is Mr. Ravenblade, a former Microsoft employee who was laid off who now helps to fight crime in Seattle. According to “Superheroes Anonymous,” based in New York, there are hundreds of Superheroes out there today doing what they can to help out in theri communities. According to the World Superhero Registry, in order to be a “Real Superhero” one must be “committed to doing good for the benefit of mankind” above and beyond the call of duty.
Some of the other SuperHeroes on the streets today are:
– Mr. Xtreme, who patrols the streets of San Diego.
– The Dark Guradian, a martial arts teacher committed to giving back in New York.
– Crimson Fist, who fights homelessness with food and water on the streets of Atlanta.
– Chaim “Life” Lazaros, of Superheroes Anonymous, who helped raise money children at St Mary’s Hospital and provides supplies to theri local homeless.
Here’s the Real Life Superheroes Creed: (I love this!)
We are Real Life Superheroes.
We follow and uphold the law.
We fight for what is right.
We help those in need.
We are role models.
We will be positive and inspirational.
We hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Through our actions we will create a better brighter tomorrow.
Don’t you just love these people! It makes me want to run out and get a costume.
What about you….is there a Superhero inside of you? So here’s my question:
If you were a Superhero, who would you be and what would be your cause?
I’d love to hear your comments.
See photo gallery of real life Superheroes for a little creative inspiration.
Peace and Blessings and May the Force Be with You!
posted by Deborah Price @ 3:34pm

Real-life, Crime-fighting Superheroes

One of the lesser known but irresistibly fascinating trends that has arisen in the wake of the economic crisis is the growing number of superheroes. Not superheroes in a metaphorical sense, but actual, real-life superheroes, who hide their identities behind brightly colored costumes and have names like Mr. Ravenblade, Mr. Xtreme, and Dark Guardian. According to this CNN article, these superheroes are usually not vigilantes who have read too many comic books, they respect the law, and their activities include various good deeds like helping homeless people or patrolling rough, high-crime areas.
There is an organization, Superheroes Anonymous, with the stated aim of “bringing superheroes together in the real world to affect [sic] positive change”. They organize public-relations-friendly events and group activities for superheroes and help to promote the positive work done by real-life superheroes. Most interestingly, the web site is also involved with an ongoing documentary about chronicling the real-life superheroes phenomenon, check out clip after the jump of a superheroes confrontation with a drug dealer:
Superheroes Anonymous – Dark Guardian confronts a drug dealer from beginnorth on Vimeo.

Amid hard times, an influx in real superheroes

(CNN) — Mr. Ravenblade, Mr. Xtreme, Dark Guardian and hundreds of others. Some with elaborate costumes, others with haphazardly stitched outfits, they are appearing on city streets worldwide watching over the populace like Superman watched over Metropolis and Batman over Gotham City.
As people become disillusioned from financial woes and a downtrodden economy and look to put new purpose in their lives, everyday folks are taking on new personas to perform community service, help the homeless and even fight crime.
“The movement is growing,” said Ben Goldman, a real-life superhero historian. Goldman, along with Chaim “Life” Lazaros and David “Civitron” Civitarese, runs the New York-based Web site Superheroes Anonymous as part of an initiative dedicated to organizing and making alliances with superhero groups.
According to Goldman, who goes by the moniker Cameraman because of his prowess in documenting the movement, economic troubles are spawning real life superheroes.
“A lot of them have gone through a sort of existential crisis and have had to discover who they are,” Goldman said. People are starting to put value in what they can do rather than what they have, he said. “They realize that money is fleeting, it’s in fact imaginary.”
Estimates from the few groups that keep tabs put the worldwide total of real-life superheroes between 250 and 300. Goldman said the numbers were around 200 just last summer.
Mr. Ravenblade, laid off after a stint with a huge computer technology corporation, found inspiration for his new avocation a few years ago from an early morning incident in Walla Walla, Washington.
“I literally stepped into a woman’s attempted rape/mugging,” Mr. Ravenblade said. While details were lost in the fog of the fight, he remembers this much: “I did what I could,” he said, adding that he stopped the crime and broke no laws. “And I realized after doing what I did, that people don’t really look after people.”
Public response to real-life superheroes has been mixed, according to Mr. Xtreme, who founded the Xtreme Justice League in San Diego, California.
“Sometimes it’s been really positive with people saying, ‘Woohoo, the superheroes are here,’ and then the usual barrage, saying ‘Oh, these guys are losers.’ Other times people will look kind of freaked out, and then sometimes people just don’t know what to think about us.”
Like Peter Parker kept his Spider-Man identity from his editor boss, Mr. Extreme and Mr. Ravenblade have asked CNN editors to keep their identities secret.
The current superhero movement started a few years ago on MySpace, as people interested in comics and cool caped crusaders joined forces, Goldman said. It goes beyond the Guardian Angel citizen patrols of the early 1980s, as the real-life superheroes of today apply themselves to a broadly defined ethos of simply doing good works. Video Watch Crimson Fist help the homeless in Atlanta »
Chris Pollak, 24, of Brooklyn, New York, can attest to the appeal. “A lot more people are either following it or wanting to go out and do it,” Pollack, who goes by the name Dark Guardian, said. By “do it,” he means patrol the harrowing streets late at night.
“A lot of kids say they’re real-life superheroes [on MySpace],” Mr. Ravenblade said. “But what are you doing? Being in front of a computer is not helping anybody.”
Comic book legend Stan Lee, the brain behind heroes such as Spider-Man and the X-Men, said in his comic books doing good — and availing one’s self — was indeed the calling card for superheroes.
“If somebody is committing a crime, if somebody is hurting some innocent person, that’s when the superhero has to take over.” Photo See a photo gallery of some real-life superheroes »
“I think it’s a good thing that people are eager enough to want to help their community. They think to do it is to emulate the superheroes,” Lee said. “Now if they had said they had super powers [that would be another thing].”
Without super powers, real life superheroes confess to a mere-mortal workload, including helping the homeless, handing out fliers in high-crime areas and patrolling areas known for drug-dealing.
Mr. Ravenblade said he and some of his superfriends would soon be trying to organize a Walk for Babies fundraiser in Portland, Oregon.
“We work with charities that help children,” he said. “We think a lot of crimes happen because of people who didn’t get a lot of love when they were younger. We do what we can to help that there.”
“Homeless outreach is the main thing I like to do,” said Chaim “Life” Lazaros, of Superheroes Anonymous. “We give out food, water, vitamins, toothbrushes. A lot of homeless people in my area know me, and they tell us about what they need. One homeless guy said ‘I need a couple pair of clean underwear.'”
For Christmas, Lazaros said his group raised $700 in gifts and brought them to kids at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in New York. “They were so excited to see real-life superheroes,” Lazaros said. Searching for Cincinnati’s caped crusader
Many of the real-life superheroes even initiate citizen’s arrests, but what’s legal varies by state. And in North Carolina citizen’s arrests are illegal. Real-life superheroes who grab a suspected villain may find themselves under a specter of trouble.
“Not a good idea,” said Katy Parker, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “Seeing as how there’s no citizen’s arrest statute [in the state], people who do this are running a serious risk of getting arrested for kidnapping, and being liable for false imprisonment.”
“Vigilantism is never a good thing,” said Bernard Gonzales, public information officer for the Chula Vista, California, Police Department. He’s had some interactions with real-life superheroes. “The very best thing a private citizen can do is be a good witness.”
Mr. Ravenblade said he’s just that.
“If you’re a real-life superhero you follow the law. If you catch somebody you can’t just tie them up and leave them for the cops, that’s for the comics. You have to wait for the cops and give them a statement,” Mr. Ravenblade said. Cincinnati superhero speaks
While citizens helping out in the community is encouraged, Gonzales said the costumes can go.
“Where these people are out in public, and there’s children around and everything, and these people are not revealing their identities, it’s not a safe thing.”
But the costumes go with the gig, right down to the do-it-yourself approach to good deeds, including, apparently, recycling.
“The costume I have is simple,” said Mr. Xtreme. “I made it myself. I had a graphic designer design it for me and just took it down to the swap meet and had somebody imprint it on for me.”
“The mask,” an old bullfighter’s piece, “I got from Tijuana.”

Where to find real-life superheroes

There is a growing diaspora of superheroes worldwide. Here are a few resources.
World Superhero Registry: A virtual who’s who of the larger real-life superhero community, including who’s active and who’s not.
Superheroes Anonymous: A New York-based initiative to organize and document the scattered real-life superhero diaspora. A repository of all things supehero, to encourage and set up real-life superheroes in various communities So, you want to be a real-life superhero? Need a uniform, you say? 

Where to find real-life superheroes

There is a growing diaspora of superheroes worldwide. Here are a few resources.
World Superhero Registry: A virtual who’s who of the larger real-life superhero community, including who’s active and who’s not.
Superheroes Anonymous: A New York-based initiative to organize and document the scattered real-life superhero diaspora. A repository of all things supehero, to encourage and set up real-life superheroes in various communities So, you want to be a real-life superhero? Need a uniform, you say?

San Diego superhero fights crime his own way

It is a typical Sunday; launching a public awareness campaign to bring a home-invasion rapist to justice.
Well, maybe not a typical Sunday – at least, not for the average citizen. San Diego’s resident superhero Mr. Xtreme – as the missing vowel suggests – is far from average.
Think Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – just less … super. No high-flying, no web-slinging, no expensive gadgetry, no dino-morphing; essentially, none of the frills that make a superhero super.
That isn’t to say Mr. Xtreme isn’t super – or a hero. Quite the opposite, in fact. It takes an out-of-the-ordinary person to sacrifice his Sunday to hand out flyers warning women about a sexual assault suspect who has been on the loose since June 2008. And it takes an extraordinary person to offer an out-of-pocket $1,500 reward for information leading to the “evildoer’s” capture.
He must be brought to justice, Mr. Xtreme says, and he’s just doing his part to help.
The 30-something superhero has read news releases about a drop in crime in the county. He has no reason to believe crime is on the rise, but, he says, “Try to tell a victim’s family there’s been a drop in crime – they’ll tell you to get lost.”
“Victims of violent crimes shouldn’t be treated as a statistic,” says Mr. Xtreme, who asked we keep his identity a secret.
Sure, he talks a big game, but Mr. Xtreme has no illusions of grandeur; he isn’t secretly developing an Xtreme-mobile, or jumping from building to building in the East Village after dark.
It’s a pretty simple operation, to tell you the truth. He patrols neighborhoods in his costume – black cargo pants, a green “Xtreme Justice League” shirt, black boots and a camouflage lucha libre mask – and he wears a utility belt, equipped with a stun gun, 2.5 ounces of pepper spray, and a flashlight.
The Xtreme Justice League, the organization his shirt refers to, is a small, loose network of superheroes Mr. Xtreme works with to coordinate patrols and fight crime. Locally, he doesn’t have much help. He’s the most active, visible member of the local Real Life Superhero (RLS) community, which stays connected through sites like
Mr. Xtreme’s primary goal is to be a visual deterrent to crime; a would-be evildoer, for example, might see the masked man patrolling, and rethink his malevolent misdeeds.
But, Mr. Xtreme said, if push comes to shove, he isn’t afraid to intervene in gang violence, a carjacking or a sexual assault.
“If someone’s safety is at stake, if a victim’s life is at stake, I’ll step in no matter how dangerous the situation and risk getting injured, or even risk losing my life to save the day,” he deadpans.
OK. Hmmm. That may be a little beyond the call of duty. But, it’s all in a day’s work, the superhero says.
Every now and then, Mr. Xtreme delivers a line or uses a phrase that borders on melodramatics. And, in part, that’s the purpose. He enjoys the theatrics.
He’s a building security manager by day. So, I ask him: Why not work with a community patrol group that collaborates with the police department? Instead, he operates independently, a pariah at public forums (he’s often asked to leave) and a nuisance to the cops. Sure, with an organized community patrol, he’d have more status in neighborhoods. But, he’d be missing the theatrics – missing the fun.
“I grew up in a household of abuse, I was bullied in school, and I see all the apathy and indifference in society,” he says. “It really strikes a nerve with me. I looked up to superheroes when I was a child; they were role models. And they’re still role models today.”
“I have so much respect for what community patrols do, but I want to be out and interact with the community,” he says. “I couldn’t do that from a car. And being a real-life superhero is really a symbol to illustrate my commitment to an ideal, and it can inspire people … I want to send a message to youth. You can live an ‘extreme’ lifestyle and you don’t have to be a killer or a gang member or a thug or a waste of human life or a parasite.”
So, for the time being, Mr. Xtreme doesn’t mind being an outsider – just don’t call him a vigilante.
“I don’t condone vigilante behavior; I condemn it,” he says. “It’s an insult when someone calls me a vigilante. A vigilante wouldn’t try to go to community meetings to interact with the public. A vigilante wouldn’t try to work with police.”
The superhero hopes to build a working rapport with the police. It doesn’t seem likely, but he’s hopeful. He seems eternally optimistic; that he can build bridges in communities; that he can prevent crime; that he can make a difference in the world. He may not have a super-utility belt, or a super-power, but this superhero’s heart is in the right place.
The Sunday I tag along with Mr. Xtreme, we canvass shopping centers in Kearny Mesa, handing out “WANTED” flyers, with information about the sexual assault suspect. This case really irks him.

The home-made flyers are more eye-catching than your run of the mill posters. They say “WANTED” in bold, Sharpie’d letters. A sketch of the sexual assault suspect has the word evildoer written on it. The Xtreme Justice League logo is pasted at the top and a “no evil” logo is pasted near the bottom.
He approaches people in shopping centers to give them flyers. Surprisingly, very few dodge him. It may help he’s being followed by a reporter and a film crew, who is interested in making a documentary film about real-life superheroes.
By and large, the response to Mr. Xtreme’s effort is enthusiastic.
He greets one woman sweeping a sidewalk outside a big-box business.
“Hi ma’am, I’m with the Xtreme Justice League, and we’re looking for a rapist,” he says, handing her a flyer.
“For real? Him? Still?” the woman says. The suspect has been at large for a year.
“Yes ma’am,” he says.
“That son of a bitch. Well, I hope to God you find him. I warn my kids every day. If you have any other flyers, I’ll help put them up.”
Later, he meets another grateful citizen.
“You guys are doing good work,” the man says, taking a flyer from Mr. Xtreme. Mr. Xtreme thanks him and walks away. The man’s young daughter runs out of a nearby store to see what her dad is up to.
“Daddy, who are you talking … OH MY GOSH WHY IS THAT MAN …?” The little girl isn’t quite sure what to make of her father cavorting with Mr. Xtreme.
At a market down the road, our superhero greets a woman he’s met before in the restaurant she owns. She has his flyers posted there – but she has a question.
“Why do you have to have a mask on?” she asks.
“Well, it’s a part of my uniform,” he says. “I’m a superhero.”
“Oh …”
“Oh” seems to be the standard response, when Mr. Xtreme explains himself; it’s as if no one quite knows what to make of him, but aren’t comfortable prying, so they say, “Oh.”
For every passerby who seems a bit confused by the getup, there’s the driver who honks his horn, or waves. They might recognize him from television news spots, or the Union-Tribune story about him, or the cover of The San Diego Reader. He welcomes the media attention. After all, it makes his job crime fighting a little easier.
“Some superheroes think I do this for popularity,” he says. “That’s not the case. We’re trying to build community support to make our jobs easier.”
Despite the name recognition, it’s a lonely life, he says. “My social life is basically non-existent. That’s the sacrifice I choose to make so I can be able to do this. It can be difficult to get people to understand. I usually only speak in depth to folks who want to listen. If they’re going to come at me with a barrage of nonsense, I usually just walk away or ignore them. I just take things as they come and do my thing, and not care what people think if it’s negative. No time for negativity.”
Nope. No time for negativity for Mr. Xtreme. Saving the world, after all, is daunting task. Even for a superhero.
Joseph Peña is a contributing editor for San Diego News Network.
Read more:

Cincinnati Superhero Patrols Streets Fighting Crime

Eric Flack


CINCINNATI — Cincinnati police have a new ally in their fight against crime, whether they want it or not.

He calls himself Shadow Hare, and he wears a mask and a cape to conceal his true identity. He’s Cincinnati’s own version of a superhero fighting crime and injustice where he finds it.  

Vote: What do you think of Shadowhare?

“We help enforce the law by doing what we can in legal standards, so we carry handcuffs, pepper spray … all the legal weapons,” said Shadow Hare. “We will do citizen’s arrests. We will intervene on crimes if there is one happening in front of us.”

The man behind Shadow Hare’s mask is 21 years old and from Milford. Those are the only clues to his true identity that he will reveal. Shadow Hare said he was abused as a child and grew up in foster homes, perhaps leading him to a life helping others.

“My message to Cincinnati is that there is still hope and all we have to do is stand together,” he said.

Shadow Hare is not alone in his quest to fight crime. He heads up a group of men — and one woman — called the “Allegiance of Heroes.” The members communicate with each other in online forums. Among the members are Aclyptico in Pennsylvania, Wall Creeper in Colorado and Master Legend in Florida.

“I’ve even teamed up with Mr. Extreme in California — San Diego — and we were trying to track down a rapist,” said Shadow Hare.

The crime fighters will often pair up to patrol the streets. Even so, fighting crime comes with its share of hardship.

Shadow Hare said he suffered a dislocated shoulder two years ago while trying to help a woman who was being attacked.

And the authorities don’t always take him seriously. In one encounter with a Hamilton County corrections officer, Shadow Hare was greeted with a chuckle and a look of disbelief.

But Shadow Hare said he and his team are not deterred by the criticism. He remains focused on trying to make Cincinnati a better place, whether it’s fighting crime or feeding the homeless.

For now, the law is on Shadow Hare’s side.

It is legal in Ohio and Kentucky to make a citizens arrest, however, the arrester does face possible civil litigation if the person arrested turns out to be innocent.

Cops not fans of real-life superheroes

SAN DIEGO , Jan. 18 (UPI) — Cops in California’s San Diego County say the presence of two real-life costumed crime fighters is acceptable only under the correct conditions.
A police spokesman in Chula Vista, Calif., said when San Diego would-be superheroes Mr. Xtreme and MidKnight take to the streets to protect citizens, they should focus on non-violent forms of crime-fighting, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Saturday.
“Anyone who goes out and tries to assist law enforcement by handing out fliers and being proactive against the criminals is appreciated,” spokesman Bernard Gonzales said. “But when you start physically involving yourself in crime fighting, that’s vigilantism.”
San Diego police Capt. Chris Ball agreed, saying the two amateur crime-fighters should stick to simply reporting crimes and serving as witnesses.
But Mr. Xtreme, whose identity is a secret, said he and his fellow crime-fighting members of an online superhero community are well within their legal rights.
“We don’t harass people, don’t violate their civil rights. First and foremost, we prevent crime,” he said. “We do what we are allowed to do legally as citizens.”

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Homemade heroes offer low-level law enforcement

It was an unusually warm night for January, and the sidewalks of East Village bustled with activity – people walking to the corner store, the homeless squatting in front of their tents, rock ‘n’ roll types smoking outside a tattoo shop.

It was also the kind of night that might draw evildoers out of the shadows.

So, armed with a belt full of gadgets (stun gun, pepper spray, handcuffs), Mr. Xtreme did what any superhero would do. He patrolled the streets by the light of the full moon.

He doesn’t scale buildings like Spider-Man or emit beams from his eyes like the X-Men’s Cyclops. But like his comic book counterparts, Mr. Xtreme insists on keeping his identity secret, helped by a camouflage wrestling mask with bug-shaped mesh eyes.

Mr. Xtreme is a Real-Life Superhero, part of an international online community of about 300 comic book fans who spend their free time fighting crime and doing good deeds for mankind behind the anonymity of a mask and cape.

There’s Dark Guardian, who patrols the streets of New York City as part of the superfluously named Justice Society of Justice. He wears a black spandex body suit, black cape and hard-shell mask. And in Utah, Ghost puts the fright into bad guys with his skeleton mask, long white wig and black cape.

Other superheroes hail from Michigan, Florida, Mexico City, Italy and England. San Diego’s only other known superhero goes by the name MidKnight.

They are connected via several online networks, including the World Superhero Registry and MySpace, where they share tips on patrol tactics, costume design and dealing with the police.

“Police automatically label us vigilantes,” said Mr. Xtreme, a 30-something security guard who asked The San Diego Union-Tribune to keep his identity private. The newspaper agreed after conducting a background check on him.

“I say we’re more costumed activists. Vigilantes render punishment onto criminals. We don’t harass people, don’t violate their civil rights. First and foremost, we prevent crime. We do what we are allowed to do legally as citizens.”

Birth of a superhero

Mr. Xtreme, who was raised in San Diego, said a wave of violence in the early 1990s – and the public’s apparent apathy to it – left an impression on him.

“They just want to look the other way and pretend it doesn’t exist,” he said. “I felt I needed to do something.”

Then in 2006, he got to thinking: What if the world had real superheroes? What kind of place would it be?

He joined the online community soon after and created his first persona, The Nag. But the heavyset bachelor was looking for something catchier.

Deciding to combine his love of the comic book superhero team Justice League of America with his passion for the Xtreme Football League, he came up with the Xtreme Justice League.

His costume is still in development. Besides the mask, he wears black tactical pants, boots and a long-sleeved, camouflage shirt under a green Xtreme Justice League T-shirt. His belt bulges with pepper spray, handcuffs, two cell phones, a first aid kid, a Double Trouble stun gun and a long Mag flashlight.

He has designed a sweet new costume in his head for when he can get some money together. “I’m going to have a Kevlar tactical helmet, tactical goggles with custom lenses. Obviously I’m going to have a cape, body armor.”

In March, Mr. Xtreme and superhero associate Shadow Hare of Cincinnati spent an afternoon in Chula Vista handing out fliers about a sexual predator wanted by police. They advertised a reward of $1,000 of their own funds for information leading to an arrest.

Then the gang unit showed up and had a conversation with the masked men. Chula Vista police spokesman Bernard Gonzales said the officers were just doing their due diligence.

“Anyone who goes out and tries to assist law enforcement by handing out fliers and being proactive against the criminals is appreciated,” said Gonzales. “But when you start physically involving yourself in crime fighting, that’s vigilantism.”

‘Every little bit helps’

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared Oct. 13 the Day of the Superhero after about 250 superheroes converged on the city to meet and march, but that was a rare display of official recognition.

Most police officers are uncomfortable with anonymous, masked characters walking neighborhoods carrying weapons.

Mr. Xtreme has tried to attend community meetings at the police station in the Mid City Division, but police asked him to leave when he refused to take off his mask, said San Diego police spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz.

“It didn’t work out too well,” Mr. Xtreme admitted.

Police also are concerned that the superheroes are putting themselves at risk.

“What we’re looking for is for the community to be our eyes and ears. If you see a crime, report it. Be a good witness,” said San Diego police Capt. Chris Ball. But “you shouldn’t be carrying weapons and you shouldn’t be confronting people.”

Police have had similar doubts about other citizen patrol groups, such as the Guardian Angels, who seem to have developed an amicable partnership with authorities, and the Sentinels, a Los Angeles group that disbanded in the early 1990s after a member beat an accused drug dealer.

Mr. Xtreme countered the vigilante accusations by saying he has studied the law carefully when it comes to carrying legal self-protection and knows when it is and is not appropriate to make citizen arrests. He said he hasn’t made an arrest as a superhero but has exercised the right in the past.

He plans to reach out to San Diego police in hopes of finding his own Commissioner Gordon, Batman’s sympathetic confidant at the Gotham City Police Department.

Preventing crime, serving the less fortunate and empowering others to take action are at the core of his message.

“When drug dealers see us, they’ll go to the other corner. That carjacker, he’s going to take the night off,” he said.

During a patrol in the Gaslamp Quarter last Saturday night, he drew plenty of gasps, nudges and stares.

A few people stopped to ask what he was all about.

“At first thought, it’s kind of funny,” said Dushaun Fairley, a Chula Vista Realtor who questioned the costume from the patio of Nicky Rotten’s on Fifth Avenue. “But at the end of the day, every little bit helps.”

Staff researcher Michelle Gilchrist contributed to this report.

A long-ago superhero

Mr. Xtreme and MidKnight are not the only superheroes to make a go of protecting San Diegans.

In the 1970s and ’80s, a self-appointed crusader named Captain Sticky squeezed his 350 pounds into blue tights, a gold cape and glittery boots to fight for justice.

The former fiberglass contractor, also known as Richard Pesta, was credited with helping launch statewide investigations into nursing homes and campaigning against rental-car rip-offs and sugary cereal.

He eventually retired the persona but later grabbed headlines when he was investigated by San Diego police for letting his home be used to film an X-rated movie. He testified against the film’s producer in exchange for immunity. He also sold sex tours in Thailand, but the Thai government shut him down.

Sticky, whose name derived from his love of peanut butter and jelly, died in 2004 of complications from heart bypass surgery in Thailand.

Online: For more on Real-Life Superheroes, go to and

Amateur crimefighters are surging in the US

John Harlow in Los Angeles
For Mr Invisible, the first and last blow to his burgeoning career as a superhero was an unexpected punch that flattened his nose.
“After months of designing my costume, getting my street moves just right, it was my first week out as a Real Life Superhero – and probably my last. This tiny, tiny girl did not like me trying to calm down her screaming boyfriend. She blindsided me, I’m still bruised. It’s dangerous out there,” said the deflated would-be crime fighter last week.
Mr Invisible is cheered that at least his grey one-piece “invisibility suit” works, proven when a drunk urinated on him in an alley. But he is weary of lurking in dark, down-town Los Angeles after dark.
The 29-year-old graduate is “refocusing” on his day job as an insurance salesman. His farewell appearance will be at a New Year’s Eve party.
Mr Invisible may be living up to his name but his spray-painted “supershoes” will quickly be filled by another Real Life Superhero eager to save America from itself. There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who are willing to dress up as comic book heroes and patrol the urban streets in search of, if not super-villains, then pickpockets and bullies.
They may look wacky, but the superhero community was born in the embers of the 9/11 terrorist attacks when ordinary people wanted to do something short of enlisting. They were boosted by a glut of Hollywood superhero movies.
In recent weeks, prompted by heady buzz words such as “active citizenry” during the Barack Obama campaign, the pace of enrolment has speeded up. Up to 20 new “Reals”, as they call themselves, have materialised in the past month.
The Real rules are simple. They must stand for unambiguous and unsponsored good. They must create their own Spandex and rubber costumes without infringing Marvel or DC Comics copyrights, but match them with exotic names – Green Scorpion in Arizona, Terrifica in New York, Mr Xtreme in San Diego and Mr Silent in Indianapolis.
They must shun guns or knives to avoid being arrested as vigilantes, even if their nemeses may be armed. Their best weapon is not muscle but the internet – an essential tool in their war on crime is a homepage stating the message of doom for super-villains.
This is more than bravado, say veterans. It may help as evidence after a Real has been arrested or even committed to a mental health hospital for evaluation. That happened to Mr Invisible’s equally short-lived predecessor, Black Owl, who last summer had to be sprung from a psychiatric ward by his teenage daughter who told doctors: “Dad forgot for a moment, when faced with police, just for a moment, that he did not have real superpowers. He could not just fly away.”
“This is a more serious business than it looks,” said Citizen Prime, whose $4,000 (£2,700) costume disguises an Arizona businessman and father of a toddler who thinks his cape, mask and stun-gun are cool.
Prime patrols some of the most dangerous streets in Phoenix but, like most Reals, is reluctant to speak about the villains he has dispatched with a blow from his martial arts-honed forearm. He does admit helping a motorist change a flat tyre.
“Kids love the costume, so I seek to keep them out of the gangs today rather than take them on tomorrow,” said Prime who, at 41, regards himself as on the mature wing of the Real community.
He is worried about lunatics and hotheads. He says he would never act like the Black Monday Society in Salt Lake City who interrupt drug deals in public parks and face off against armed thugs.
Utah police officers say they appreciate Ghost, a 33-year-old concrete worker, and his colourfully costumed cohorts Insignis, Oni, Ha! and Silver Dragon. But other police departments recall that America’s most feared gangs, the Crips and the Bloods, were also born as idealistic “community defenders”.
It can be dangerous. Master Legend of Florida, who arms himself with a pepper-spraying cannon powered by cans of antiperspirant, was attacked by a man with a hammer.
There is a high burn-out rate. Terrifica, a 5ft 9in redcaped superheroine, who would manhandle drunken girls away from heavy-handed dates in nocturnal New York, spoke about how she despised her “weak, needy and dumped” alter-ego Sarah.
Artemis of San Diego reported on his blog that he had heard a woman screaming outside his home but by the time he had dressed up in his costume the police were already there. Kevlex, 47, who runs the Superhero Registry, says he patrols more in winter than summer in Arizona, when his Kevlar and Spandex kit itches. But the deadliest kryptonite against a superhero is boredom.
“I was out every night, 8pm until 2am, hanging about all the bad corners and nothing happened, nada, zip,” recalled Mr Invisible. “It was raining: even the drug dealers were at home. And often cops are just too good at their jobs.”

'Superheroes' Look To Help In Eastlake Attacker Search

xtreme-justice-league-3-400x254CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Two men are putting on their superhero costumes Thursday in response to a string of sexual assaults in the South Bay.
The men aren’t faster than any speeding bullet, but they are making their presence felt.
They said their sworn enemy is the man connected to at least three attacks on teenage girls in the Eastlake area of Chula Vista.
Members of the so-called Xtreme Justice League took to the streets of Eastlake Thursday evening.
The men are members of a volunteer crime-fighting group that dress up like superheroes to do good.
On Thursday and Friday, the men will be passing out fliers and offering a $1,000 reward for information on the sexual assault suspect, who took off on a skateboard in three of the attacks.
A fourth attack has not been tied to the same person, police said.
The men said they hope to be a visual deterrent for crime and an inspiration.
“I think superheroes represent all that is good, and we want to act as a symbol and also empower people,” said Mr. Extreme of the Xtreme Justice League. “With our patrols, we hope to make it a safer area.”
The group’s fliers include a telephone number for tips, which the group will forward to Chula Vista police.
Police said they are not familiar with the group and don’t advocate vigilante justice.
However, they did say the more eyes and ears out there, the better.
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