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Terrifica – Real Life Superhero

In a city such as New York there are always dangers. Taxi drivers, muggers and icy pavements in the winter, to name a few. Then there’s the night – the clientele of bars, clubs and parties all over the city taking risks, gambling with their lives. And more often than not the innocent victims are women. Women who may have had a little too much tipple, or are being led up the garden path by the ‘alpha’ male in the crowd. And who is there to protect those women from these dangers? Superheroes like Spider-Man or Batman? The Amazon goddess herself, Wonder Woman? No, these are purely characters of comic books and imagination. However, there is a real hero out there, and yes she does wear a cape and sport a mask!
I protect the single girl living in the big city.
That mysterious woman in scarlet costume, red knee-high leather boots and swirling cape? That’s Terrifica! Together with a blonde wig, golden mask and matching Valkyrie1 bra, she is every part the superhero, providing help where it’s needed (and sometimes not).
Devoid of any real superpowers – no superspeed, superstrength, X-ray vision or amazing mutant abilities, all she has is her ‘utility belt’ – a bumbag2 containing pepper spray for emergencies, a mobile phone, lipstick, camera, notebook, Terrifica fortune cards, condoms and ‘energy pills’ (Smarties chocolates). And with no superhuman abilities to protect her from harm, Terrifica does take chances. She has often been abused by both women and men when offering her own style of ‘freedom-fighting’, but mostly she is berated by bartenders trying to ply their wares.
First coming to prominence in 1995, Terrifica took her self-proclaimed mission of protecting single women to the bars and nightclubs of the Brooklyn area of New York, in particular 7th Avenue, seeking out women she felt were being taken advantage of by male ‘predators’. She would speak to potential victims, offering advice over a ‘Shirley Temple’3, and either handing over condoms or her trademark fortune cards, which gave tips on how to deal with unwanted sexual advances or a ‘break up‘ peaceably. One ‘rescuee’, 24-year-old painter Lauren, reported:

She asked if we were going to hook up tonight… offered us a condom and said that if I was going to be tricked into having sex, at least it should be safe.

Terrifica soon became a common and often welcome sight, in some cases purely for the gimmick and ridicule, at many ‘frat’ parties4 and Wall Street clubs in Brooklyn during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

I had a couple of run-ins with men that really shocked me, left me feeling confused and really hurt.

Mild-mannered Sarah5 works for a computer consulting company in the city. Little is known of her childhood and past, as she ensures her true identity remains a secret, so as she can live a ‘normal’ life. Sarah’s superhero side came into being when, after moving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to New York City, her then boyfriend broke off their relationship. Upset and alone in the big city, she continued to make the best of things and eventually met another man while out clubbing.
However, the course of true love does not run smooth and in a short space of time her new boyfriend also ended their relationship. It was this event that spurred 30-something Sarah into action, deciding that no other single woman should suffer as she had. ‘Terrifica’ was born – a heroine that would protect other potential ‘Sarahs’ from the possibility of emotional or physical harm caused by ill-advised or drunken decisions.

We have crossed paths from time to time.
– Fantastico

Terrifica’s arch-nemesis, Fantastico, is a partygoer who likes to dress in velvet and considers himself a bit of a ladies’ man. Terrifica has thwarted his attempts of ‘getting to know women a little better’ many a time. An intriguing character – unemployed, but with a penchant for the finer things in life, Fantastico is convinced that Terrifica is not a superhero, but merely a ‘miserable, lonely woman who does not want anyone else to be happy’. It is not just her enemies that have labelled her a ‘crazy broad’ however, with club-owners, partygoers, new-age feminists and even the New York Police Department frowning upon her vigilante actions.

It’s dangerous work that I must do alone.

Despite her critics, many women have benefited from Terrifica’s intervention. The heroine once planned to set up a telephone hotline to help women when they needed relationship advice, but she also concocted an equivalent of the Bat-Signal – the ‘Terrific-Signal’, which would shine a huge ‘T’ over the skyline of New York in order that she could race to where she was needed – but unfortunately, these ideas never came to fruition.
Even though Terrifica wanted to carry on her mission – as long as there were still women getting drunk, going home with men they barely knew and then wondering why the phone would not ring the next day – it appears as if she has hung up her bumbag and folded away her cape – for now…
Terrifica’s lasting message to the young single women of New York?

Don’t get drunk in bars.

1 A Valkyrie is a Norse legend, a female warrior with golden armour.
2 Otherwise known as a ‘fannypack’ in the United States.
3 Non-alcoholic drink.
4 Parties held by American College Fraternities, in which college boys get drunk with college girls and all sorts of chaos ensues.
5 Her full name is kept secret to maintain her anonymity.

It’s a bird; it’s a plane; it’s a real-life superhero!

Article no longer availible on-line
By Hunter Clauss, Editor-In-Chief
Spandex-clad superheroes like Batman, Spider-Man and Superman have found homes in the colorful panels of comic books, movie theaters and the imaginations of readers around the world, but there is a growing community of real-life superheroes who are taking to the streets.
The popularity of the real-life superhero scene is growing almost as fast as an old-timey locomotive moves thanks to the Internet. The visibilty of this blooming community has led to a new Sci Fi Channel reality-television show that is currently in the works. “Who Wants To Be A Superhero?” will feature 11 real-life superheroes fighting through various obstacles in order to prove they have what it takes to be the best real-life superhero.
“It’s so ingrained in our public consciousness that somebody’s got to be doing it,” said Arizona-based hero Kevlex, whose heroic deed is taking part in his own neighborhood watch by patrolling around in a mask and light body armor. Kevlex refused to give his real name so that his secret identity could remain safe.
While these real-life superheroes do not possess superpowers like super strength or x-ray vision, heroes like Kevlex are motivated to take action by their outrage at criminal behavior.
“There are people out there actively promoting child molesting,” he said, refering to the North American Man Boy Love Association.
Kevlex believes that groups and organizations that promote racism or crime should not have a place in today’s diverse society. Kevlex said that he always wondered why there were not any superheroes making a stand against crime.
“It’s making a stand as well as being a symbol,” he said.
Kevlex searched for websites that covered the superhero scene but wasn’t impressed by what he found.
“There were a few sites that dealt with it in passing or dealt with it as a curiosity, but nothing that really pulled everything into focus,” he said.
So to help find other real-life superheroes, Kevlex created the World Superhero Registry,, as a forum for active players in this scene to communicate with each other.
The registry keeps track of real-life superheroes around the world. But in order to be recognized by the World Superhero Registry as a real-life superhero, certain criteria must be met. Superheroes must have a well-thought out costume, perform heroic deeds for their communities and be personally motivated.
Among those real-life superheroes listed on the World Superhero Registry is Angle Grinder Man. Living in England, this modern-day Robin Hood frees automobiles from police clamps or boots with his trusty power grinder.
Also listed on the World Superhero Registry is Terrifica, who has been featured in New York magazine and on NPR’s “Wait, Wait—Don’t Tell Me!” Donning a blond wig and a golden Valkyrie bra, Terrifica patrols New York City’s bars and protects intoxicated women from being taken advantage of by men.
There are also crime-fighting super teams listed on the registry. The Crimefighter Corps is one such group that patrols the streets of Jackson, Mich. The team includes the Queen of Hearts, Crimefighter Girl and Captain Jackson, whose alter-ego, Thomas Frankini, was arrested for driving under the influence in 2005.
While the World Superhero Registry has listings from all over the globe, Kevlex believes there are more real-life superheroes roaming the streets than those listed.
“The people who are the most serious tend to not talk much,” he said.
Kevlex believes these hardcore heroes are ones who are going after organized crime bosses, as well as performing other highly dangerous activities. Kevlex mentioned that these kinds of heroic deeds are extremely dangerous, but that he would also come to the aid of anyone in trouble no matter how risky the situation might be.
But not all superheroes have their own powers, and some superheroes, like the fictional Batman of Gotham City, rely on gadgets for their personal safety as well as to fight crime. Real-life superhero inventor Professor Thaddius Widget strives to invent these same gadgets and accessories for the needs of his superhero clients.
“Many of the items I create are potentially hazardous,” Widget said in an e-mail, so as not to reveal his secret identity. “Some are ridiculously dangerous.”
Widget invents and sells anything from steel-reinforced gloves to grappling hooks. Two projects he is currently working on are a compact grappel launcher and an electrified fighting staff.
Since he creates and sells such devices, Widget said that keeping his identity a secret is important so he can’t be held accountable for his inventions.
“I refuse to be sued because someone uses a grappling hook improperly and falls to their death, or puts out an eye with a pointy bit of equipment,” he said. “I expect my customers to take personal responsibility for their purchases and their actions.”
While real-life superheroes have the best of intentions when it comes to patrolling their neighborhoods, Sgt. Eugene Mullins of the Chicago Police Department thinks they should find other ways to help fight crime.
“We don’t want any citizen to go out and hurt themselves to try and be a vigilante,” Mullins said. “They can be in spandex and a cape if they want to—as long as they don’t interfere with a police investigation.”
Mullins said citizens should call the police department if a crime is taking place rather than take matters into their own hands. He also encourages people to problem solve with the police department on how crime can be reduced in their neighborhoods.
“That promotes a healthy neighborhood,” he said. “We don’t want anybody going out and getting themselves hurt.”

The Anti-Cupid

By Grant Stoddard

Every superhero has a tragic creation myth. Bruce Wayne witnessed the killing of his parents and became the crime-fighter Batman. A young Brooklynite named Sarah got mercilessly dumped by her boyfriend and became Terrifica, a heroine whose mission is to prevent men from taking advantage of women. Men, she says, will use a deadly cocktail of “lies and drinks” to get a woman into bed. So she patrols the city’s parties, bars, and clubs, intervening when she spots a sketchy seduction in progress.

On a recent Saturday night in Park Slope, Terrifica bursts through the door of a bar called Commonwealth. She is resplendent in red spandex, scarlet boots, and red plastic overcoat. She wears no cape or mask—tonight is an “undercover” operation. She makes a beeline to a dark corner where a couple looks poised to canoodle. After speaking to them quietly, she opens her utility belt—referring to it as a fanny pack will not endear you to Terrifica—and gives them a pair of gold lamé fortune cards. When Terrifica moves on to another couple, I ask what happened. “She asked if we were going to hook up tonight,” says Lauren, a 24-year-old painter. (“We’re just good friends,” interjects her buddy Justin.) “She offered us a condom and said that if I was going to be tricked into having sex, at least it should be safe.”

Terrifica is already running off to her next location. “How do you know where to go?” I pant, two strides behind her. “Do you sense impending danger, like Spiderman?”

Terrifica spins around: “Um, I don’t have any superpowers. I’m not crazy, you know.”

“Well, you claim to be a superhuman.”

“I am a human, who just happens to be super.” She looks me up and down. “You are a human who is un-super.” She shrugs. “I assume the addresses come to me because Sarah knows about parties and bars.”

Terrifica doesn’t think much of her alter ego. “Sarah is a very weak woman,” she sneers. “Very needy, very insecure.”

Later, Sarah explains Terrifica’s vitriol. “I have loved two men in my life,” she says. “The first man dumped me when I moved to NYC. That was Terrifica’s birth. The second just dumped me. I thought that turning 30 and falling in love were signals for the retirement of Terrifica. But ever since I was dumped—in the most brutally humiliating of ways—I have felt compelled to put the stupid tights and wig back on. As soon as I pull on that mask, I feel really strong.”

Back on patrol, Terrifica surveys a party in Park Slope. Acting as Robin to her Batman, I wander the floor trying to bring flirtatious couples to her attention. Finally, she swoops in to break up a passionate clinch. “Unsurprisingly, she is much more invested in the relationship than he is,” she scoffs. “She’ll learn the hard way.”

As we walk toward her “Carrific,” Terrifica announces that she’s ditching me. “I must go to a party on the Upper East Side,” she says. “Frat boys, Wall Street guys. It’s dangerous work that I must do alone.”

At Last—A Real Superhero! – Car News

at_last_a_real_superhero_-_car_news_cd_articlesmallBY ZOLTAN SCRIVENER
On a small residential side street in the English town of Sittingbourne, just east of London, a man is struggling to get into blue tights and a T-shirt in the confines of a car while I stand watch for cops, or traffic wardens, as they’re called here.
“It usually goes quicker than this when the adrenaline is really flowing,” he says apologetically, slipping on a pair of gold underpants over his tights. After a few more glimpses of elbow and knee through the car windows, his feet—now gleaming in golden boots—plop down onto the sidewalk. A young mother across the road peers at him as he places a small golden mask over his face, à la Scarlet Pimpernel. I deflect her with the first thing that comes to my head, “It’s for a children’s comic book.” Turning away she replies, “I just hope my kids don’t read it.”
He bends down and reappears brandishing a gas-powered metal-cutting circular saw painted gold—an “angle grinder,” as we Brits call them. With his golden cape flowing majestically in the breeze, he is now ready to strike.
He might have climbed into the car as just another ordinary overtaxed and overregulated British motorist, but when he emerged, bulging in all the right places in his tight outfit, he had turned into “Angle Grinder Man,” a new hero to motorists in southeast England, as seen on national breakfast TV and occasionally briefly glimpsed on the streets of London.
If your car has been “clamped” (most commonly for illegal parking) and you do not want to pay the £90 ($162) fee to have the clamps removed—and if you can find him—then he will fly to your aid. Or more likely, drive to it. With a few grinding sparks, he will liberate your car from the clutches of the evil empire, the local authority, or private clampers. He is also planning on “broadening” his “appeal” by tackling speed cameras, too.
He’s not too difficult to find, as it turns out. Brits just call 07984-121043, and over dramatic recorded music, they hear this message: “This is the voice-mail of Angle Grinder Man, the world’s first wheel-clamp and speed-camera superhero vigilante! I am out cleaning the streets of bureaucratic vermin! Good, honest, decent folk can leave me a message after the grinding noise—with God’s help, we shall prevail!”
Over the past year, the 40-year-old superhero (he will not reveal his identity) has foiled authorities by freeing about 50 cars. He has been seen in full flight running down London’s busy Oxford Street, his cape flapping, clutching his grinder and a freshly cut clamp, fleeing to his getaway car, where he, like all superheroes, will change back into an ordinary Englishman.
Very funny, but if he’s caught, he could face up to three months in jail for “criminal damage.” And he could be charged with theft—he now has a collection of orange and yellow clamps from the various boroughs of London.
We had to meet in the parking lot of a train station, since he worries about walking into a trap. When he receives a call for help, he suspiciously looks for telltale signs. “A genuine female caller should usually be close to tears,” he explains. He then does a reconnaissance of the area where the car is clamped, making sure there are no police security cameras overlooking the street. Then he’ll pull alongside the immobilized car, get out, and cut through the clamp’s padlock chain. It takes about 45 seconds. His cutter gets about 37 clamps to the gallon.
Owners can’t be prosecuted unless it can be proved that they summoned the superhero.
Angle Grinder Man’s bravery is undisputed. In addition to the problems the cops could give him, the makers of the clamps are after him. Authorities hire private companies to clamp cars. Angle Grinder Man says, “A lot of the private clampers employ ex-criminals. I’ve had some really threatening calls from them, including death threats.” He upset them big time when his first Web site provided advice on how to remove the clamps. “Have confidence when the sparks fly,” he says. “Just let the weight of the grinder cut through. Don’t bother lifting the grinder to see what is happening—you’ll just waste time trying to find the groove again.” His advice works. He says happily, “I once got a grateful call from a rejoicing 85-year-old granny who told me she had just cut off her first wheel clamp!” The clampers do not appreciate this. “One guy left a message telling me, ‘There’s a price on your head. People have been paid to take you out.'”
The virtuous Angle Grinder Man would never charge for his freeing service. For him, this is not a business opportunity but “a fight to change the perception that we can do nothing in the face of bureaucracy.” It’s a one-man crusade against the “inflexibility of the modern world,” where the citizen has lost the will to control the very politicians and bureaucrats his votes put into power. They work for us! We pay their wages!” he declares. When his own car was clamped, after being told by a traffic warden that it was okay to park in a spot legally, he rented a circular saw and cut off the clamp. It was the last straw, and soon he was stretching into blue tights and running around in gold underpants.
But he has paid a big price for his lonely fight. In the green canvas bag containing his superwear—”to make it more comic and difficult for the authorities to deal with me,” his suggestion that a judge wouldn’t want to appear in the tabloids sending a costumed superhero to jail—he also carries a roll of toilet paper. “I couldn’t afford my rented accommodation anymore, so now I live in a squat. The drug addicts I share it with take my toilet roll if I leave it there.” The cost of traveling and of maintaining his own Web site and server to deal with up to 800 e-mails a week (including one of support from a retired Florida cop) led him to bankruptcy. In the past couple months he has had to curtail his superhero activities and concentrate on earning a living, although he won’t say what he’s doing.
But he’s now back in action, even conducting interviews for Russian TV and talking to Colombian ministers via telephone on a radio chat show. He’s hoping one day to help the citizens of New York, too. But what is he going to do with all those clamps? “I think they should be made into a sculpture—perhaps Damien Hirst could do it.” It might not make the Tate Gallery, but it would certainly make an interesting exhibit in court.!-car_news

Net Crusaders

By Daniel Fallon
Sporting blue tights, black cape and gold rimmed goggles, Angle-grinder Man stands apart from the rest of the world’s superheroes. For a start, he is real.
Based in Kent, the English caped crusader has taken it upon himself to free motorist’s vehicles using an angle grinder when they have been wheel-clamped for parking illegally or on private property.
He spends weekdays serving the fair people of Kent and heads to London to do the same on weekends. “My obsession with wheel-clamping is actually a rebellion against a much deeper malaise,” says Angle on his website. “This is, namely, the arrogant contempt that politicians hold for the people who put them into power, and whom they claim to represent.
“Wheel-clamping, speed cameras, new toll-roads are all good examples of inept administrators attempting to make their lives easier and solve their own mismanagement problems by persecuting the people that they have failed.”
And so the wheel-clamp vigilante dons his tights and heads out to assist taxpayers for free. But every good super-hero needs a support base and Angle uses his website as a soap box to spread the anti-clamp message, to describe his valiant efforts in the field and even to raise money via secure PayPal donations. Yes, even super heroes need a few quid to keep operating. As his ad says, “You can lord it up over your mates and tell them how you helped a real life superhero!”


An email address and emergency hotline phone number are also provided on the site so people can call for help when their car has been clamped or simply to send messages of encouragement. (Demand appears to be very high; the line was continually engaged when Icon tried to reach him and none of our emails got a reply.)
Visitors to the site are invited to share their clamp and speed camera stories and discuss the work of Angle-grinder Man in the forums section. Most gush over their hero.
“I think you are completely great,” writes Revard. “I can think of only one better use of a grinder – cutting the rear wheels off a clamper’s van! Keep up the good work.” The testimonials are equally positive if somewhat less authentic. According to Kylie Minogue, “He was the inspiration behind the gold shorts in my Spinning Around video.” And Dame Judi Dench describes him as “a diamond geezer”.
There are no reports of Angle-grinder Man being arrested by police or sued by the clamping companies. However, just before the publication of this article his website was offline and returning a “fatal error”, leaving us wondering whether the authorities had finally caught up with him. The BBC has been following him and its site is worth a visit.
Angle-grinder Man is not the only real superhero to be found online, although he is one of the few who publish a website. In fact, the net has become a place where legends are made as crusaders from around the globe begin to surface in reports on web logs and media sites. Most prefer to remain anonymous but their good deeds still echo through cyberspace.
In New York City, a gallant heroine named Terrifica has set out to protect women from the unwanted attentions of slimy men in nightclubs.
Unless it is a fancy dress night, this gal is sure to stand out among her peers – she wears a blonde wig, golden mask and red leotards. The outfit may be comical but her mission is a serious one: looking after women when they are most vulnerable and trying to spread the message of sensible alcohol consumption.
“I protect the single girl living in the big city,” Terrifica told’s Bryan Robinson. “I do this because women are weak. They are easily manipulated, and they need to be protected from themselves and most certainly from men and their ill intentions toward them.”
It’s in the early morning, when people are intoxicated, that a nightclub becomes a spider’s web, and that is when Terrifica steps in to provide sobering advice and lead any potential victim away from the bar or off the dance floor.
Preferring to remain anonymous, she has done this task for more than seven years. “I created Terrifica, I guess, to deal with my feelings of vulnerability – being young and single in New York City,” she told Robinson. “I had a couple of run-ins with men that really shocked me, left me feeling confused and really hurt.”
The costume makes Terrifica feel empowered in this environment. As fate would have it, she has an arch-enemy, a man named Fantastico, a regular Romeo who says that Terrifica has often foiled his attempts to meet women in nightclubs.
Meanwhile, blogs are buzzing about a local hero in Nunavut, the capital of Iqaluit, Canada, who goes by the name of Polarman. This fearless chap wears a black balaclava, white jogging pants and dark snow boots.
When he is not stepping in to protect youngsters against street thugs, he shovels the snow off the steps for older citizens and at day-care centres. Then, in summer, he keeps the playgrounds in order for kids. He is a well-recognised figure in the local community, even an attraction, according to the Kids on the Net – Iqaluit site, which has a picture of him in its virtual tour.
“The last thing I needed was a name to call myself,” he told CBC Radio 3 last year. “I wrote down all cold-based names I could think of: Mr Freeze, Icelad, Snowlad, Shoveler, Polar Bully, Captain Cold, Captain Icicle, Frosty the Boy Wonder. Then I decided that since I came down from the polar region, I would use the name my cousin teased me with.
“I believe that I will go on as Polarman for the rest of my life to prove to kids that anything is possible.”
There’s an even more legendary character in Mexico, a masked hero called Superbarrio who fights to defend the rights of the poor.
The former street vendor initially donned a tight red suit and carried his impressive girth into battle for the poor to win government funding to rebuild homes destroyed by the earthquake that rocked Mexico City in 1985. Or so the story goes.
He continued to fight for the poor, often turning up with media in tow, to stop local authorities evicting residents from their apartments. He also led rallies to increase support for low-income earners.
According to a CNN report, “he is one of Mexico City’s great folk heroes, the champion of the working class, the poor and the homeless.” His name means “super neighbourhood”. A statue of Superbarrio was erected in his honour, while an online comic strip at The World Children’s Prize website tells his story.
At one stage, a man named Marco Rascon came forward to claim he was Superbarrio before entering politics. Rascon served as a federal representative in Mexico, according to another online report.
The word on the street
Not all real-life crusaders turn out to meet the expectations they create online. One example of this is Sydney’s own Brokenman, who drummed up hype and traffic to his website by chalking its address, as well as fake crime scenes, thousands of times on footpaths across the city.
He remained anonymous for a long time, despite the simple website promising a great deal. “Can you picture a terrorist-free world? A drug-free environment? People valuing freedom of speech? Peace in a war-free earth? Then ‘SOMETHING UNBELIEVABLE’ is exactly what you need. COMING SOON.” After a couple of years building the hype, Brokenman finally revealed himself as aspiring pop musician Jordan Ellery on April 1 this year when he launched an independent album at the Metro Theatre on George Street.
As far as changing the world goes, Ellery is contributing the performance royalties from one of his songs to the Make a Wish Foundation – an admirable and generous act, if a little short of expectations.
“In a time of crisis and uncertainty it was raising people’s hope, if anything – that’s what Brokenman is all about – rising up,” he says.
“But sure, people’s expectations ranged from ‘the next messiah’ to some X-generation soda-pop salesman. They just didn’t expect their messiah to turn out to be a kid from Dulwich Hill who writes songs. What they didn’t know was that Something Unbelievable was going to be their new favourite song.”
Ellery is satisfied his guise as a crusader worked as a springboard for his musical career and hopes his songs will change people’s lives. “Personally, I’m more than happy with what’s become of the project,” he says. “Based on the amount of record sales and especially people’s feelings shown in their emails, there’s definitely something special evolving here.
“To me it’s all about the songs themselves. It’s about me getting those messages across to my listeners. That’s why I’m out on the streets late at night pushing a message while all the other bands have gone to bed.”
The first comic book superhero was Superman, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Cleveland in 1933. DC Comics bought the rights to the character in 1938 and the era of comic books was born. The company soon produced Batman, with The Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern to follow

Meet the Anti-Sex in the City Superhero

NEW YORK, Nov. 5, 2002 —
New York’s comic book alter-ego Gotham has its Dark Knight in Batman, but it turns out the real city has its own caped crusader. Lotharios everywhere, beware, because Terrifica, scarlet-costumed avenger and protector of women, is on the prowl on the city’s party scene.
All was calm on a brisk 40-degree Saturday evening around Bar 4 in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. The only things stirring were the breeze-driven mocha-colored leaves skipping and scratching across the concrete and the light traffic along Seventh Avenue.
But skidding leaves soon gave way to the deliberate clacking of red heels. It was a little early for Terrifica to start patrolling; it was only 8:30, and the social scene was hours away from awakening. However, with her red cape, matching leotard and skirt with red boots, she managed to open the eyes of a few onlookers and elicit a whisper or two as she strode into Bar 4.
For the past seven years Terrifica has been patrolling New York’s party and bar scene, looking out for women who have had a little too much to drink and are in danger of being taken advantage of by men. She says she has saved several women from both themselves and predators who would prey upon their weaknesses  both from alcohol and a misguided notion that they have to go out drinking to find a companion.
“I protect the single girl living in the big city,” says Terrifica, sporting blond Brunhild wig with a golden mask and a matching Valkyrie bra. “I do this because women are weak. They are easily manipulated, and they need to be protected from themselves and most certainly from men and their ill intentions toward them.”
Terrifica does not claim to have superhuman powers or to be from a planet like Krypton. By day, she is Sarah, a 30-year-old single woman who works for a computer consulting company. (Sarah prefers not to reveal her last name so that she can protect her anonymity and still lead some degree of a normal life.)
To some, Terrifica may not seem all that imposing  she does not have the bulging muscles of your typical superhero. But she has a superhuman sense of purpose and belief in herself. Terrifica unfailingly refers to her non-costumed alter-ego, Sarah, as if she were another person. The heroine refuses to answer any questions about Sarah while she is working as Terrifica, saying “You are talking to Terrifica, not Sarah.”
Sipping a Shirley Temple, Terrifica’s voice is strong and forceful. Her brown eyes pierce through Bar 4’s red lights as she talks about her mission.
“My inspiration is the need people have in the city to be protected from themselves. That is my inspiration,” the heroine says. “I have to act in the most extreme situations. I’m on the front lines, in the danger zone, in the wee hours of the night. There’s nothing happening here right now; it’s way early. But if I come back here at 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning, there are people drunk, making out with other people, going home with other people. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re drunk.
“To feel like you have to go to a bar, to put yourself out there, feeling like you have worth only when you’re married, engaged, or have a boyfriend, that’s weakness,” Terrifica says. “People are happiest when they’re alone and living their solitary lives.”
To Serve and Protect the Single Girl Living in the City
However, Terrifica’s mission is really twofold: she seems driven by both a need to protect all women and her alter-ego, a single girl living in the city. According to Sarah, Terrifica was spawned by a combination of heartbreak and her need deal with her own feelings of vulnerability.
Before moving to New York from Pittsburgh seven years ago, Sarah was heartbroken when she and her boyfriend broke up. Terrifica, Sarah says, was created out of her need to deal with her own anxiety of being a single woman suddenly living in a new city.
“I was living in New York, 23, feeling sort of vulnerable. I created Terrifica I guess to deal with my feelings of vulnerability being young and single in New York City,” Sarah says. “I had a couple of run-ins with men that really shocked me, left me feeling confused and really hurt. & To come from a small city where I knew everyone to a bigger city where I did not was quite overwhelming and scary.”
However, at some point, Terrifica became more than Sarah’s personal therapeutic tool. Her purpose grew to include the protection of all women from the men who would manipulate them  emotionally and sexually.
“The reason why Batman was dark was because he kept seeing his demon [the murder of his parents and his need to avenge them] every time he did what he did,” Sarah says. “I guess that is essentially the same thing with me. I experience the same hurt and pain over and over again [as Terrifica].”
Patrolling a Potentially Dangerous World With No Superpowers
Terrifica did not want to reveal how often she patrols or how she decides where she is going to go out on duty. However, different nights have different party scenes.
“Thursday nights are good nights for college students,” she says. “Thursdays and Friday night are good nights for the after-work crowd down in Wall Street. Saturdays are good nights for the East-West Village where you have people coming in from the other boroughs.”
Despite her persistence and dedication, a costume can be a hindrance to a passionate crime fighter like Terrifica. After all, how many real-life Batmen and Spider-Men does the average person encounter every day? Terrifica’s costume could attract gawkers, a degree of ridicule and distract from the seriousness of her task, but she says that’s a tactical choice.
“I have undercover clothes that I wear so that I can blend in,” says Terrifica. “I wear this costume to bring attention to myself. Imagine yourself the perpetrator, one of the evil men in the world, and then you see a woman in a leotard and she’s beautiful. You’re going to stop focusing attention on the woman you’re trying to seduce and going to try to get Terrifica to pay attention to you. So, it’s a diversion tactic.”
Still, Terrifica acknowledges that her vigilantism puts herself at risk. She admits that she has found herself in situations that involved physical run-ins with people who did not appreciate her interference. Her sobriety and wits have remained her greatest assets in those situations.
“I really only have my utility belt. I’m not superstrong. I’m from this Earth,” she says. “I know I have to be very cautious. But the difference is I’m sober. And drunk people who are hostile are still drunk people. I have a degree of control, and my mission and purpose can usually get me out of dangerous situations.”
However, Terrifica does carry pepper spray in her utility belt, which also includes a cell phone, lipstick, a camera to take pictures of alleged male predators, a logging book, Terrifica fortune cards and  last but not least  Smarties candies.
Why Smarties?
“They taste good,” Terrifica says. “I need energy. What I do is very difficult. I need to stay awake long hours, driving around. Sugar helps.”
Struggling to Get a Message Across
For the most part, Terrifica says, the women she has saved have appreciated her help. But she hopes to never save the same woman twice.
“That would just be sad,” she says. “I get to know some of the women I save and talk to them. & It would just be sad if I would run into some of them again. There is a message I’m trying to get across where I would hope to never need to see them again.”
Not everyone is a fan of hers. Some bartenders may hate her heroics, she says, because she potentially drives away their business. However, she conceded that she has some power over bartenders.
“Bartenders tend to be men, and they tend to be attracted to me,” she says. “Most men are. That’s part of my power.”
A Fantastic Nemesis
Terrifica has also become somewhat of a nemesis to one alleged Casanova in particular: A man who likes to dress in velvet and prefers to be called “Fantastico.” He says that over the years, Terrifica has thwarted his attempts on numerous occasions to get to know women a little better.
“Well, I guess I first met her about seven years ago … most recently last week in Carroll Gardens [Brooklyn],” Fantastico says. “I was with this woman and she was very lonely, seemed very desperate for attention. We were having a very lovely time, sharing a drink and suddenly I turn around see her [Terrifica] in this ridiculous red cape. She practically drags the woman away.”
Fantastico, who says he does not have a day job, says he likes to indulge in the finer, pleasurable things in life and that he likes to bring out the pleasure in people. He is convinced that Terrifica is a miserable, lonely woman who does not want anyone else to be happy.
“She seems to have an obsession with me,” Fantastico says. “She seems to have it in for men. I’m convinced she is loveless and would love to have the rest of the city as loveless and miserable as she is.”
Fantastico says that Terrifica has never really addressed him directly during their encounters. She has only lectured the alleged would-be female victims about being manipulated and taken advantage of.
“She’s just been very cold, very distant,” Fantastico says. “But I’m sure if she did address me  her being a pretty attractive woman in her leotard  if she did hear me out, maybe she would change her attitude.”
But while Terrifica has never addressed Fantastico directly, her alter-ego Sarah has. Sarah says she was seduced by Fantastico years ago.
However, Fantastico does not even remember Sarah and has no idea that she is Terrifica. He does remember Terrifica, though.
“While I don’t know a Sarah, I do know Terrifica. She does exist, and we have crossed paths from time to time,” he says.
“What? You mean he doesn’t remember me?” Sarah asks, stunned. “You see, that’s why Terrifica exists, that’s why she’s needed.”
Fantastico insisted Terrifica has only been an occasional annoyance to him and that he doesn’t lose any sleep at night knowing she’s out there. “Trust me,” he says. “I have no problem doing what I do.”
A Heroines Advice for Self-Protection
Terrifica knows she can’t be everywhere. She prefers to work alone but would not mind if other people donned a costume to help protect others. However, she does have advice to help women help themselves.
“The most important thing is that you do not need another person to give you love,” Terrifica says. “And you should not feel that someone who promises love actually loves you, ever. People throw around the term ‘love’ to manipulate, to get sexual satisfaction. And you should only exist to satisfy yourself, not sexually but holistically. Do not be meek enough to believe the myths society has imposed on us to basically control you.
“And don’t get drunk in bars.”
Terrifica says she ultimately would like to be able to set up a hotline to help women when they feel like they need advice. It would enable her to more easily spread her message of self-protection and empowerment.
She would also like to have someday have the equivalent of Batman’s bat signal. Perhaps, it could be called the “Terrific signal.”
“It is my dream to have a ‘T’ signal going up to the clouds so that I know when I would be needed,” Terrifica says.
The End of the Road for Terrifica?
Terrifica says she will continue carrying on her mission as long as there are still women getting drunk in bars, going home with men they barely know and feeling badly in the morning, wondering whether the men will ever call.
However, there are signs that Sarah is wearying of donning the red leotard.
“I’m sure Terrifica would tell you that she is always successful,” she says. “But that is not always the case. Dressing in a red leotard, hanging out at bars drinking Shirley Temples is not exciting. It can get pretty dull. & There are nights when not much happens.
“I would love to be able to be at the point psychologically where I don’t feel like I have to dress like a superhero to feel safe and empowered in New York City,” Sarah says. “It’s hard to say under what circumstances [I would stop] with my not looking so hot in a leotard anymore. I had set [age] 30 as the magic number and I’m still doing it. And I’ll be 31 soon.”
Well, at least one person believes Terrifica/Sarah still looks good in a leotard. As Terrifica left Bar 4, a little girl in a knit white cap and matching jacket saw the heroine and immediately stopped, looked up and smiled.
“You look pretty,” the child said with a toothy grin.
“Thank you,” said Terrifica, as she allowed herself to smile. “Be safe now.”
Terrifica’s smile soon faded away as her thoughts turned to the night ahead. “I have to go home now & to my headquarters & to prepare. I have to make some calls and find out where some of the party scenes are tonight.”
And with that, Terrifica turned away, red cape lazily flowing behind her. No one else on Seventh Avenue stopped to stare at her.
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