10 Real Life Superheroes Committing Crimes Against Fashion

Originally posted: http://fashionindie.com/10-real-life-superheroes-committing-crimes-against-fashion/5/
Styled by on Wednesday 07.20.11 7:31 PM
And speaking of Voguetron, there are actual superheroes among us. They’ve leapt off the pages of comic books, into the minds of fearless nerds that have re-envisioned their own crime fighting alter-egos. And they’re actually fighting crime. I know it’s true because I read about it yesterday in the August issue of GQ. In fact, there more than 200 costumed (and tweeting) vigilantes protecting average citizens from this cruel, cruel world. Meet some of the bravest, and most eccentric, here while they’re all gathered at Comic-Con in a most serious manner.
Phoenix Jones is a badass motherfucker. As the main focus of GQ’s story, it starts off with him in the hospital after being hit with a baseball bat in the same spot beneath his armor that he got punched with a key earlier that week. He was peeing blood. He went out that night again to right more wrongs. The story concludes with him and two sidekicks staring down a pack of armed crack dealers, guns pointed at them ready to shoot. The crack dealers walked away in defeat. Yes. This man is for real. And he protects Seattle. @ThePhoenixJones
Superhero is a trained policeman turned pro-wrestler turned, well, superhero. He once saved a girl from drowning in her car. When the people of Clearwater, FL ask him what they can do in return, he simply responds, “You don’t owe me anything. I’m a superhero!”
Mr. Xtreme has been a volunteer crime-fighter for more than a decade. Coming from a history rife with bullying and gang attacks against him, he decided he must take a stand and protect the innocent. Now, with spiked cuffs, x-game equipment, a bulletproof vest and crazy eyes, he protects the streets of San Diego.
Urban Avenger is Mr. Xtreme’s sidekick. He patrols San Diego covered head to toe, bespectacled green behind a gas mask. He’s bummed that his city doesn’t see as much action as Phoenix Jones, but that leaves him more time to tweet @urban_avenger.
Knight Owl admittedly went a little overboard with the costume, at one point donning a cape. He is a paramedic student by day and a real life superhero by night. @iamknightowl
Samaritan is our very own superhero here in NYC. He is a skilled martial artists and wears military fatigues to accomodate. He is a self-proclaimed peacekeeper and humanitarian that paroles the streets preventing and putting a stop to violent crimes.
Super Gay does exactly what is sounds like he does. He seduces gay-straight men and calls them out on it. Sounds like entrapment Us Weekly. But he does fight tirelessly against homophobia. We should introduce him to Unicorn Man, his new (un)faithful sidekick.
Phantom Zerois more of the bureaucratic type of superhero from North Jersey (typical). He helps people who have been screwed by circumstance by directing them to the proper lawful paper-filing way to solve their problems.
Lunar Veil and her partner Dark Wolf fight crime in Portland, but mostly work to protect animals. They’re trying to shut down a puppy mill now. But then where would we get miniature chiuauamaltipoodinese from? But I will say, steppin’ it up ladies.
Terrifica, though allegedly retired, patrolled the streets of New York City to prevent little drunk ladies from actin’ a ho. She’s been called the anti-cupid for putting a halt to the One Night Stand. Just trying to get these girls a hot meal the next week after a proper phone call is all.
See more real life superheroes in the August issue of GQ.

Real life superheroes fighting crime in New York

Originally posted: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/13359936
A group of crime fighters in New York who dress as superheroes say they patrol the streets of the city “to make life better for everyone”.

L-R Nitro, Shortcut, Zero, Samaritan Prime and Battlestar

L-R Nitro, Shortcut, Zero, Samaritan Prime and Battlestar

“If you turn yourself into a nameless symbol, you can stand for so much more than just one person out there.”
It sounds like something Batman might say.
The man speaking looks a bit like Batman too, in combat gear and a black leather face mask.
“I’m just a guy in a suit,” he says. “But I’m trying to do what we should all do, which is make life better for everyone.”
He calls himself Samaritan Prime – they keep their real names and identities secret.

Samaritan Prime rides a bike and Battlestar walks the projects on foot

He is part of a group called The New York Initiative and one of hundreds of people around the world who call themselves “real life superheroes”.
Crime fighting Hollywood film Kick-Ass is based on them.
‘Real life’
The growing movement started in the United States but it now includes people in places like Birmingham and Norwich in the UK.
Tonight, NYI members are patrolling the notorious South Bronx projects, looking for troublemakers and their victims.
Zero and Short Cut are on skateboards, Samaritan rides a bike.
Battlestar, Nitro and Deaths Head Moth are all on foot.
“We find drunks fighting out, domestic abuse, a robbery, anything like that,” says Deaths Head Moth.
“I stopped a rape once. A couple of guys were taking a drunk girl home with them.
“They were talking about all the stuff they were going to do to her. I came up and I told them to get away from her.”
As we walk, Samaritan plays a mouth organ.
‘Unconventional weapons’
“It’s more of a weapon than an instrument,” he explains and shows how the sharp metal corners can be jabbed into someone’s face.
Deaths Head Moth thinks the group's presence stops criminal activity

Deaths Head Moth thinks the group’s presence stops criminal activity

Pointing at Nitro, he says: “My friend here was at the class where I taught unconventional weapons. He can tell you from experience what it’s like to be on the wrong side of a harmonica.”
Nitro shakes his head: “I do not want to deal with that harmonica ever again.”
It’s one of a number of items carried by the team that are legal, but can still do damage in a fight.
Some wear studded gloves. One has a long metal torch that can be used as a club.
Deaths Head Moth admits he sometimes uses violence.
Serial killer
“I don’t do this to punish the wicked but to protect their victims,” he says.
“But some people just don’t take kindly to being politely asked to stop what they’re doing.”
The authorities say crime fighting should be left to the police, although the New York Police Department refused to comment on the group’s activities.
Zero is scornful. “Check the stats,” he says. “They don’t show up.”
A serial killer has been targeting prostitutes in New York. The team’s offering protection to women who think they’re at risk.
“We’re doing what we can,” says Zero. “If we had something else to offer, we would offer that.”
‘Crazy cool’
Around us in the South Bronx is evidence of drug dealing.
“Little crack baggies,” explains Deaths Head Moth. “They’re about the size of a postage stamp.”
It’s a quiet patrol though, and the team think their presence has stopped deals from going ahead.
“They’ll see us and take off running,” says Samaritan. “They go to the dark corners that all insects retreat to.”
“We’re doing something,” adds Zero. “It’s better than sitting on our asses and complaining about it.”
Does he think their costumes might look a bit silly though?
“I really don’t. What we wear is gear. If it’s a little extra designed, it’s crazy cool, you know? I get a lot of compliments on it.”

Meet 'Nyx': The 21-year-old 'Superhero' accountant who dons a black catsuit at night to patrol the streets and help the homeless9

Originally posted: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1364664/The-superheroes-patrol-streets-help-needy.html
By Mark Duell
Irene Thomas is part of the Real Life Superhero Project organisation
They aim to bring help, compassion and crime prevention to the streets
By day Irene Thomas says she is a ‘boring’ accountant who lives in a cramped New Jersey flat.
By night she puts on a black catsuit and mask with a red belt, gloves and boots, gets into her Honda Accord car and comes out the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan as ‘Nyx’.
The 21-year-old is just one member of the Real Life Superhero Project, a group of humans who aim to bring a helping hand to people everywhere and thwart crime on city streets.

‘Nyx’: Irene Thomas, 21, of New Jersey, is far from a ‘boring’ accountant when she puts on a black catsuit and mask with a red belt, gloves and boots to become a New York superhero

Photo by Peter Tangen

Photo by Peter Tangen

Mission: The Real Life Superhero Project aims to bring a helping hand to people everywhere and thwart crime

Most superheroes in the project want to cut down citizen apathy by modelling ‘superhero’ virtues and encourage others to do the same, reported People magazine.
Nyx, who shares her name with the Greek goddess of night, gives food and clothes to the homeless of New York. She hopes ‘other people notice and are maybe motivated to help too’.
She said on the Real Life Superheroes website: ‘Like the night, I cannot be proven or disproven to certain degrees – and also much like the night, when morning comes, there will be no trace of me.’
Production manager Chaim Lazaros, 26, dons a black hat, mask and waistcoat to become ‘Life’ when he patrols the New York streets by night.
‘I just feel like I’m walking on air after I’ve helped 30 people,’ he told People magazine.

‘Motor Mouth’: The ninja-like San Francisco superhero, who is known only as a 30-year-old teacher and will not reveal his identity, told People magazine: ‘If you live this kind of life, you can’t take yourself entirely seriously’

Many homeless and vulnerable people are pleased to receive the superheroes’ help, but the reaction is not always positive.
One teenage homeless girl in San Francisco smirked when ninja-like ‘Motor Mouth’ handed her a bag of food, but this did not worry him.
‘(I don’t mind) a million people snickering behind my back as long as there is the possibility to help,’ he said.

Other stars: Samaritan joins New York superheroes Dark Guardian and Phantom Zero on the streets

‘If you live this kind of life, you can’t take yourself entirely seriously,’ he added.
Motor Mouth won’t reveal his true identity but said he is a 30-year-old teacher.
Many of those involved in the project are believed to be comic-book geeks.
Other New York superheroes include martial arts instructor Dark Guardian, 22, 34-year-old computer technician Phantom Zero, and Samaritan, who lives and works in the city.

Phoenix Jones: The 22-year-old from Seattle is one of America’s most famous ‘superheroes’ and claims to have broken up knife fights, caught drug dealers and been stabbed in the line of duty

One of America’s most famous ‘superheroes’ is Seattle-based Phoenix Jones, 22, who claims to have broken up knife fights, caught drug dealers and been stabbed.
He is part of a group called the Rain City Superhero Movement, which tries to keep the streets safe and has received the backing of the Seattle police department.

NYC RLSH Patrol 12/10/10

Blindside, Samaritan, Zero(Z), Three, Dark Guardian

Blindside, Samaritan, Zero(Z), Three, Dark Guardian

Went out this weekend with Zero aka Z, Three, Blindside, Samaritan, Peter Tangen, and a reporter and photographer from a magazine. We went out to Washington Square Park on Friday night; the park has a history of being a haven for drug dealers. I have been out in the park, taking on the drug dealers for a few years now.
Samaritan had walked through the park before meeting up with the rest of us and was offered drugs by two dealers. I like to get confirmation of who is selling drugs and what they are selling before I take action in the park. I got ready to go undercover, wearing my bullet and stab proof vest and a wired microphone under my jacket.  I walked through the park with Peter a good distance behind me with a camera. The drug dealer approached me and began mumbling something to me. I looked over and said, “what’s up”? He asked if I wanted to smoke. I asked him what he had. He said, “nickel or dime bag”? I then asked what else he had. He said I would need to pay a buck or $150. I asked him again what he had. He responded, “I got eight balls, but it will cost you, you got to spend to get”. I said I would have to check with a friend and see if I can get the money and walked away outside of the park.
After I walked away he spotted the cameras. He walked back over to me outside the park. I was standing with the people from the magazine. He asked if we were filming him. I said, no my friend is a photographer and he always has his camera. The drug dealer then threatened to break the cameras if we were filming him. The dealer has shown to be dealing some serious drugs and now to be confrontational and violent.
The drug dealer went back into the park where; Peter, Zero, and Three were, and began to confront them. Both Blindside and Samaritan were across the park keeping an eye out, in case the situation would have escalated.While the dealer was nearby Peter, Zero, and Three, I then approached a police officer. I told him that there was drug dealer in the park and that I had audio and video of him dealing. The officer said that I had to send it over to the narcotics division. I told him that the dealers were over by my friends. He asked if I was worried about an altercation, and I said yes. After the police officer finished writing a ticket, he came over. The officer asked us what was going on. The dealer started rambling about being filmed, and that we needed permission to do so if it was for commercial filming. He continued to ramble on about it. I got pissed and said, “you are dealing drugs out here and can not do that”! The cop informed him that we could film whatever we want, and that he can not keep dealing out there. The dealer did not respond and kept rambling on about commercial filming. The cop left and we stayed in the park. The dealer kept going on about filming and I yelled at him, “you know what we are going to do , send this over to narcotics”! He responded, “do I look fu**ing scared”? We had an exchange of words, and I told Peter to keep the camera on this scumbag. I yelled at him,” sell your drugs now”. At this point, we were not ready to let this situation go, so myself and Z got our gear on and, the rest of the group joined to patrol the park, with flashlights and cameras. When everyone came together the dealers got scared. We managed to take the park, and the dealers slowly left. I shined my light on a few of them, mouthed off a bit, and they all eventually left.
After being there for a while about 5 cops came into the park. They did not bother us, they were actually very cool and told us to stay safe. We left the park in their hands and went off to do homeless outreach. We did not come across many homeless, hopefully this was because they had places to say. We did give out some blankets and supplies to a few people, which was good.


NYC Patrol 07/31/2010 – by Dark Guardian
Dark Guardian and Team
Met up with Thre3, Life, Blindside, Tothian, Shade, Smaratin and Cameraman. We met at Washington Square Park. Good Morning Japan came out for part of the patrol. They were very friendly and I am looking forward to seeing the finished news piece which will be released exclusively on www.RealLifeSuperheroes.org .
Dark Guardian and Team
We patrolled around the park veering through the side streets. Drug dealing in Washington Square Park has been tamed down. If there is dealing goign on it is a very small amount of people and there seems to be no hard drugs. We worked our way up to Union Square Park. We helped a lot of people on the way. Life and Cameraman brought a great deal of supplies to give out. We handed out food, water, socks, shirts, tooth brushes, vitamins, razors, and more neccesities. We stopped and talk to different people as we patrolled the streets telling them about what we do. A couple people were interested in possibly doing it themselves. Nothing too exciting happened just an average patrol. Made sure some guy on heroine was doing ok on the streets. Stopping some guy from climbing over a park fence. We found a lot of homeless people staying in Union Square Park. We wound up running out of supplies. Now we know where a lot of the homeless are staying so we can go back and give aid to them. Tothian and Samaritan did a bike patrol after the group split up.DSC004753

Brooklyn’s Own Superheroes

Originally Posted: http://www.nypress.com/article-21418-brooklyns-own-superheroes.html
A fantastic foursome of Real Life Superheroes tackles crime fighting on borough at a time
By Tea Krulos
zimmer_nycheroesZ bounces from foot to foot, ducking and weaving, and then works the bag: Left-Left! Right! Left! Right-Right! Left! Right! He keeps swinging while some heavy tracks from Penthouse (aka 50 Tons of black Terror) blast in the background. His fists connect with the punching bag so hard that it leaves gouges in his knuckles that he later bandages.
The twentysomething is known only by that single letter, and is a member of a team of crime fighters known as The new York Initiative, a small group of brooklynbased vigilantes who spend their spare time fighting crime.
The new York Initiative is a splinter group from a worldwide movement of people calling themselves Real Life Superheroes (RLSHs), who adopt costumed personas of their own invention and take a number of approaches to the concept. It may seem like mere role-playing or a cheap copy of the popular The Watchmen comic and recent movie, but this growing cohort take their responsibility to do good seriously.
Some conduct charity fundraisers or visit children’s hospitals. others do civic duties like picking up litter or handing out food, water and supplies to the homeless. many do “safety patrols,” much like a concerned citizens’ walking group might. A few of the superheroes, like the NYI, actively fight crime. This anonymous, leaderless Justice League has been estimated to be anywhere from 100 to 400 members strong in cities from coast to coast, as well as around the world. They convene online in chatrooms and message boards or form groups on Facebook.
Unlike many other RLSHs who dedicate a small area for their alter ego—a spare room, basement, the trunk of their car or a sock drawer—the NYI have devoted their entire apartment to the lifestyle. A lot of the “crime fighting gear” is illegal in new York, so it remains unused, stored in the apartment. Z flaunts the collapsible batons, stun knuckles (that make a loud zapping sound), throwing knives and spiky hand guards that look like something Genghis Khan would brawl in.
He also hands me weapons out of an umbrella stand of pain: a couple of giant ax handles bound with duct tape, a metal pipe and an ordinary walking cane, which he wields as a fighting stick. Another rack holds more practical items such as protective arm gauntlets, gloves, flashlights, walkie-talkies and binoculars. I notice a decorative battle-ax and a pair of katanas. A workbench and shelves hold a mess of tools, building materials and armor.
The group’s “gadgeteer”—he calls himself Victim—shipped a box from his home in seattle with a sampling of different panels of polycarbonate squares, hoping to test the durability against a variety of weapons. Z shows a panel with a few minor dents in it; the polycarbonate has withstood a variety of knives and blunt instruments.
Then there’s Lucy, a kitten they found on the street that they nursed back to health. she’s purring and rubbing up against body armor. A strange juxtaposition of cute and cruel.
Near the workbench, a dry erase board lists some nYI goals for the next year. A mirror on the wall has a piece of paper stuck to it with a quote: “What can be broken, must be broken.”
Z shares his Brooklyn apartment with Tsaf and Zimmer, two other self-proclaimed superheroes. (since they are trying to maintain their anonymity, they asked that their exact location not be disclosed.)
lucid_nycheroesTsaf (pronounced saph) is the team’s only active female member. she is small but toned and emits a Zen-like calm. While Z punches, she meditates in her room.
Zimmer, 22, has no secret identity or code name and since he already has a snazzy surname, he uses it. He first learned about RLSHs when he was a teenager in Texas. He later started patrolling at 18 in Austin. He moved to new York and has graduated from an EMT certification course and serves as the “field medic” for the team.
Zimmer gathers gear and adjusts the straps on his “Northstar non-lethal backpack,” a powerful but compact LED light, clasped to the chest with backpack straps. The light is blinding and can be used to daze attackers. When he demonstrates it outside, the spotlight hits the night sky like a bat signal searching the tops of buildings. The power source is a row of batteries in the bottom of the small backpack, wired to the light. His backpack also holds a first-aid kit, cPr mask and handcuffs in case of a citizen’s arrest.
The only person missing is Lucid. The fourth NYI member, Lucid isn’t available for the night’s patrol because he’s working his job as bouncer at a Williamsburg bar.
After a couple more rounds with the punching bag, Z sits down and begins strapping on his full body armor, a homemade medley of leather, pads and stainless steel bits and pieces, which he describes as a “poor man’s Iron Man suit.” The suit includes boots, leg, knee and ankle pads. A pair of arm bracers he made out of leather and steel are attached to his arms with truck ties and work as both defense and offense. To complete the look, he wears a black Predator-type mask sure to creep out anyone who sees it on the street. He then puts on his “butcher mail,” a stab-proof apron of metal scales over a lightweight bulletproof vest, which he then covers with a sleeveless, brownleather zip-up.
As Z buckles and snaps his gear into place, he begins to describe what it feels like to don his costume. “It depends who is around,” Z says as he pulls the straps on the arm bracers. “But I’d say it’s almost like a holy, sacred feeling for me.”
Z and Zimmer say they have similar goals, but they often have different ideas on the proper approach. Zimmer compares himself and his philosophies to the movie The Matrix and Z relates his persona to Fight Club. It’s a pretty accurate description of their personalities: Zimmer as the cyber rebel and Z as an enigmatic underground street fighter.
Zimmer has strong connections with the RLSH movement and is an administrator for the Heroes Network, one of the two major online forums for RLSH. His gear includes jeans with built-in kneepads and calf-high canvas shoes, along with his signature T-shirt printed with the binary code for the letter “Z” (01011010) in white numbers down the side. He also works as a freelance writer, churning out articles about science and technology, and his room is overflowing with piles of books on computer programming.
Z has chosen the last letter of the alphabet for other, mysterious reasons. He also explains that he’s had issues with the RLSH movement, including a couple of RLSH who claim they have “metaphysical powers.” He feels some RLSHs have inflated egos or are simply bloviating. And then there are the spandex outfits: Don’t even get him started.
“Everything I wear is either protective gear or to blend in during plainclothes patrols, with gear underneath. No spandex. Ever,” Z explains. “If I ever wear spandex, I deserve to get shot down in the street like the dumbass that I am.”
Z moved from Detroit to Philly and finally to New York, and his room is spare: the punching bag, some weights, a mattress.
Z and Zimmer say their goal in moving to the city was to assemble the NYI. Several others had planned to make the pilgrimage to New York as well, including Death’s Head Moth from Virginia and Lionheart from London. For a variety of reasons, it didn’t work out. The NYI remains a gang of four.
On its website, the NYC Resistor describes itself as “[a] hacker collective with a shared space located in Downtown Brooklyn. We meet regularly to share knowledge, hack on projects together and build community.”
Zimmer claims to have a lot of involvement with hackers, and has spoken about RLSHs at two different hacker conventions, including one in Austria. “I think hackers and Real Life Superheroes have a lot in common in what they do, but a lot of people in this community probably don’t see that,” he says.
The three of us walk to the collective’s warehouse near the Fulton Mall for its first “Show and Tell” night, an open invitation to share any useful gadget. Inside, 15 or so people show off things: a portable UV light and a self-balancing unicycle. Zimmer takes the stage and demonstrates his Northstar and explains the premise of the NYI, and then calls Z up, who shows off his stainless steel arm bracers, clanking them together loudly. When he dons his new mask and turns on an LED light attached to its side, some in the audience gasp. Because the mask resembles the Predator alien, someone asks if he also has a missile launcher built into the shoulder. Afterward, one young man in his twenties approaches the duo, saying he’d like to be involved with tech support for the NYI.
As we head back to the NYI headquarters, we’re stopped half a block from the subway platform by the police. They ask to see what is in the metal suitcase we’re carrying and find Z’s arm bracers. “Skateboard pads,” Z explains. They seem to accept his explanation but decide to pat us down anyway. The cops tell us they stopped us because we’re white and therefore, the only reason for us to be in the neighborhood would be to buy drugs.
When Z and Zimmer say that they live a block away, the cops are surprised. “In fact, we’re trying to do something kind of like a community block watch or safety patrol,” Zimmer explains.
“Block watch?” one officer snorts. “Naw, fuhgetabout that. You’ll get shot. The guys in this neighborhood, they’ll shoot you and no one will tell us who did it. There’s a strong ‘no snitching’ rule out here.”
Warnings from police and others don’t deter the NYI, and shortly after encountering the cops that night, the trio of superheroes begin their pre-patrol rituals. They plan to stage a “bait patrol.”
The strategy is that Z will skate ahead on a longboard, a sturdy, fast skateboard made for cruising. The longboard is also a good excuse to be wearing a lot of protective gear. Next in the lineup is the bait (described as the “nucleus” of the patrol)—usually TSAF or Zimmer. In tonight’s case, TSAF wears a white dress, purple eye makeup and is carrying a bulky purse. She tries to lure predators looking for someone vulnerable. Zimmer follows on foot about a block behind her.
Lucid, if he were here, would act as a runner, skating back and forth on his longboard between the group members as they move forward. TSAF watches for Z; Zimmer watches for TSAF; and Lucid would be watching everyone. Communication is vital: All parties are connected by cell phone, ready to leap into action if anything happens.
“I don’t see this movement fading away, superheroes are real now and there is no turning back.”
It looks good on paper, but we encounter some problems. First, I am trying to keep up with Z, but my board is having some technical issues. We backtrack for a pair of pliers to fix the skateboard. Back on the street, we make it just a few blocks before determining that there are tech problems with the phones. The NYI can’t hear each other. There is much frustration all around, and Z decides to call off the patrol.
The next day, I skate around Brooklyn with Z, running errands. Z and the NYI are more or less everyday New Yorkers, trying to live their lives with normal friends and day jobs. Their secret night patrols are the only thing that makes them feel different. We end the day at a Williamsburg bar, where Lucid works security and the NYI spend spare time hanging out.
After a few games of pool, Z and I decide to skate around for a bit. That’s when we spot an intoxicated young woman stumbling along and tripping over her high heels down the empty street. “Let’s do an impromptu bait patrol,” Z says. “You fall behind, and I’ll skate ahead.” So we follow the woman for several blocks, trying to remain inconspicuous. I hang way back and gave Z a “thumbs up” sign periodically. The woman stumbles to a bus and boards. All clear.
Dark Guardian organized the meet-up under the Washington Square Park arch, while a horde of people enjoyed a science fair on a sunny day. Dark Guardian is from Staten Island and says he’s had several nighttime confrontations in the park. His goal is to try to kick drug dealers out of the park by himself or with other small groups of RLSH.
Armed with a crew of cameramen and a bullhorn, Dark Guardian has walked up to drug dealers in the dark corners of the park dressed in black motocross gear, telling them to leave.
Some left and some didn’t. He was often outsized and outnumbered, and he says one alleged dealer flashed a gun tucked into his waistband. Dark Guardian didn’t let it deter him. He returned to the park several times, relying on the confidence he’s acquired as a martial arts instructor.
Today’s meeting is meant to assemble other like-minded individuals. A few showed up: The Conundrum (New Jersey); Hunter and Blue, a dynamic duo from Manhattan; and Mike, who hasn’t picked a persona yet but is interested in the idea. Dark Guardian has been leading an effort to unite RLSHs of New York—including Nyx and Phantom Zero, Life, Champion, Thre3, Blindside and Samaritan—to work together.
Zimmer also decides to attend, a significant step in Dark Guardian’s quest to unite a larger group of people in New York. Zimmer and Z have had disputes with Dark Guardian, who administrates The Real Superheroes Forum (therlsh.net), which is similar to Zimmer’s Heroes Network. It turns out in real life, superheroes are not free of Internet drama, and the two forums often have disagreements about methodology and public relations, which has led to long, drawn-out arguments. Today, however, Zimmer and Dark Guardian have put aside their differences to pool information.
“I hope to get more people involved in New York City in making their communities a better place,” says Dark Guardian. “I hope to get Real Life Superheroes working together to make a bigger difference. I would like to get patrol groups together, work on community service projects and organize events. Real Life Superheroes can make a real difference here. I see the real life superhero movement growing and more people getting involved. I would like to see things become more organized and for there to be some form of training. I would love to be a part of that. I don’t see this movement fading away, superheroes are real now and there is no turning back.”
As for the New York Initiative in Brooklyn, Z says that its main goal is to try to do the right thing and protect people on the street who need help.
“There’s a lack of decency in the world. That’s something we’re about,” Z explains. “We’re not trying to just be badass dudes. We’re trying to be decent people.”

Super friends

Originally posted at http://thephoenix.com/Boston/Life/94281-Super-friends/

STREET JUSTICE: Real-life superheroes are now so numerous throughout the country that they have a national organization, Superheroes Anonymous. New England regional heroes include, second from left, Basilisk, Civitron, Beau Shay Monde, and Recluse. Rapper Tem Blessed (far left) has collaborated with Civitron.

STREET JUSTICE: Real-life superheroes are now so numerous throughout the country that they have a national organization, Superheroes Anonymous. New England regional heroes include, second from left, Basilisk, Civitron, Beau Shay Monde, and Recluse. Rapper Tem Blessed (far left) has collaborated with Civitron.

Move over, Clark Kent. All over New England, mild-mannered citizens are suiting up and doing their part to play the hero.
THWAK! I swing with my right fist, trying to connect with my opponent’s face. In a smooth motion, he deflects my punch with his forearm, which is protected with a black and metallic-plastic arm gauntlet. I swing with my left fist, and am again knocked away effortlessly. I can see my reflection in his sunglasses, framed in white. He smiles and smoothes out his red and white spandex shirt — adorned with a letter “C,” a flame shooting out of the top — and then crouches into a fighting stance.
“Oh, no,” I think. “I’m about to get my ass kicked by a Lycra-wearing superhero.”
This non-caped crusader goes by the name of Civitron, and lucky for me, our combat is not a battle royale to the death. Rather, we are sparring at Rebelo’s Kenpo Karate, in New Bedford, where Civitron has trained under sensei Joseph “Kenpo Joe” Rebelo on and off for more than 10 years. We aren’t alone.
Twelve other “real-life superheroes,” striking and grappling, are crowded into the dojo for a martial-arts workshop led by Rebelo (who, despite his superhero-sounding last name, is not a member of this tribe). The heroes have flown in — by plane from all over the country to take part in a three-day conference called “Superheroes Anonymous,” which is akin to a modern-day Justice League confab. They are wearing a multi-hued rainbow of spandex costumes, but there is also an emphasis on “real.” These aren’t the chiseled matinee-idol muscle men and women of the comics pages — more like the people with whom you ride the bus. Yes, some are athletic and tall, but some are short with pot bellies. It’s doubtful these heroes will put the fear of God into real-life hoodlums, let alone the Penguin or Dr. Octopus.
“We come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and beliefs,” says Civitron. (In the tradition of protecting a superhero’s alter ego, these heroes agreed to speak with the Phoenix as long as we could assure them their secret identities would be safe.) There is Nyx, a curvy New Jersey woman, dressed in gray leotards with a red dust mask covering her lower face. She is sparring against Zimmer, who has just arrived from Austin. Zimmer, short and wiry, wears a spandex shirt, the binary code for the letter “Z” streaming down one side. Zetaman traveled from Portland, Oregon, with a suitcase full of bulky blue plastic armor (superheroes of other eras never had to get their costumes through airport security). Scavenger has on a black mask and corset; black plastic streamers hang from her arms. Her main focus, superhero-wise, is picking up litter in Waterbury, Connecticut, where she has traveled from with her friend, the mountainous Runebringer. He is wrapped in a large gray coat with runic characters decorating his chest.
A lifelong superhero fan, Rebelo, 48, is clearly relishing his surreal position as instructor to a class whose students look as if they had stepped out of a stack of his comic books. As he yells out instructions, his colorful combatants block and counter strike, a Roy Lichtenstein–like comic panel of goggles, masks, combat boots, homemade utility belts, and capes come to life.
After training for a few days in the superhero arts, these mortals will return home and watch over their cities — maybe in a neighborhood near you.
Superheroes in real life
The real-life superhero (RLSH) scene is, believe it or not, a growing movement of people who adopt a superhero persona of their own creation, then perform small-scale heroic deeds, such as donating to charities or watching their streets for criminal behavior. Some can acquit themselves admirably in the fighting arena, whereas others make do by carrying pepper spray and Tasers, but most stress that their best weapon is a cell phone to call the police.
If the image of mere mortals walking the streets in homemade costumes is strange, consider that our vicarious culture has increasingly catered to our fantasy lives. We’re assuming the lives of rock stars, soldiers, and athletes in video games, and immersing ourselves completely in characters created in World of Warcraft, Second Life, and other online role-playing games. We watch artificial realities on TV, and read celebrity blogs on MySpace and Twitter.
Combine this with the grand American tradition of the superhero comic book, which took its first BAM! and POW! steps into the pop-culture pantheon more than 70 years ago. In the last several years, the Spider-Man, X-Men, and Batman franchises, among others, have smashed box-office records like the Hulk on a rampage. Add to that hit TV shows like Heroes and the popularity of graphic novels, and it’s easy to see the yearning of your everyday Clark Kent to be something, well, more super.
The spreading of the RLSH philosophy has been as simple as a click of the mouse. Internet chat rooms and YouTube videos connected new superheroes from city to city. Inevitably, regionalized teams formed and events like Superheroes Anonymous were set up so that like-minded heroes could meet, mask to mask.
First-time filmmakers Ben Goldman and Chaim Lazaros founded the annual conference three years ago, to capture heroes uniting to work together in New York City, with additional footage shot the next year in New Orleans. (Their documentary is currently in post-production.) Civitron volunteered to host this year’s conference in the “Secret City” of New Bedford. (Not exactly the Fortress of Solitude, but it will do in a pinch.)
Originally a premise to get quirky, compelling footage, Superheroes Anonymous has evolved. Besides the annual conference, it has recently been rethought of as a nonprofit organization, with chapters in New Bedford; New York; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Portland, Oregon.
“We’ve already met with lawyers to go over nonprofit paperwork,” says Civitron. “The funny thing is, they were really disappointed that they wouldn’t be representing crazy people who thought they had super powers.”
OWL’S WELL New Bedford’s Civitron (right) has some potent super genes — his six-year-old son is also a superhero: Mad Owl.

OWL’S WELL New Bedford’s Civitron (right) has some potent super genes — his six-year-old son is also a superhero: Mad Owl.

New England heroes
“New England has a long history of people looking for justice, and I think it’s been passed down generation to generation,” says Civitron, who was born in Boston and moved to New Bedford in sixth grade. He says the history, and even the East Coast’s Gotham City–like architecture, makes New England a great place to hang a superhero shingle.
Perhaps that’s why the region is damn near overrun with superheroes.
Recluse also calls New Bedford home. Clad in a studded rubber mask and a shirt with the white outline of a spider, he is a mysterious and elusive figure, true to his name. He does, however, agree to speak briefly with the Phoenix.
“When I first started,” recalls Recluse, “I was doing patrols in one of [New Bedford’s] worst neighborhoods, the South End. A lot of drug dealers, a lot of gangs, and I got injured doing that. . . . I thought it was like the comic books, apparently. I don’t know what I was thinking. I tried to stop three people from breaking into a house and I got thrown off the porch and landed on my shoulder, so I learned a lesson there.”
Since then, he says, he has taken a more careful approach, hitting the streets as a dynamic duo with a trained martial artist who calls himself Bushido (Japanese for “way of the warrior,” and the name of the moral code the samurai lived by). While combing the streets for crime, he wears street clothes — and a ballistics vest.
Recluse, too, has been donning plainclothes of late, “trying to observe and report more,” he says. “I knew Bushido way before I ever donned my Recluse mask; he saw what I was doing and he wanted to do it as well. We patrol from a vehicle with a video camera and only get involved if it’s an immediate danger to someone or someone’s property.”
Basilisk, inspired by Batman, cruises around the Taunton area. You’ll recognize him as the guy wearing a trench coat, goggles, a hood, and gloves. He met Civitron online, and the two now meet regularly to get coffee and discuss life, or to go look for wrongs to right.
Basilisk says he views himself as “a servant of the people. I take this goal very seriously,” he says. “Basically I want to be myself and I want to make a difference.”
If any bad dudes venture farther north, specifically in the Lewiston and Auburn area of Maine, they’ll be entering Slapjack’s turf. Slapjack says he first adopted his persona for the online role-playing game City of Heroes. But after hearing about other real-life superheroes, he decided it was time for his character to move from the virtual world to the real streets to watch for crime and help with charity work.
His look is inspired by the classic comic-noir hero The Shadow. They both wear a fedora and trench coat, and Slapjack has a mask with a spade and a diamond over the eyes. He sometimes carries metal-framed playing cards that can be tossed like throwing knives.
“Slapjack is the complete opposite of who I am,” he says, reflecting on his costumed persona. “I’m a really happy-go-lucky type of guy. I am very social and open, and Slapjack is like the darker personality. He is more secretive, more opinionated, he’s let his mind go and it really is like a Clark Kent/Superman or Bruce Wayne/Batman type of thing.”
There are numerous other heroes in the region. Among them: The Beetle of Portland, Maine, who couldn’t be reached for comment; someone calling themselves “Samaritan” from Providence, who recently contacted Civitron, and said he had been walking his beat for the last couple years, unaware of the larger RLSH movement; and the retired Ms. Kismet of New Bedford, whose MySpace page notes that “I carry a backpack, which hold[s] a great number of useful superhero things, like . . . alcohol-based hand sanitizer (it does the trick without promoting bacteria resistance).”
Instrument of the people
Civitron’s heroic name comes from the Roman civi (of the people) and the Greek suffix tron (instrument), and describes how he sees himself. He is of Puerto Rican and Italian decent, with the build of a runner and someone who takes his martial-arts training seriously.
“Something I say all the time is that I’m not really Civitron alone,” he tells me later by phone, as he watches over his neighborhood. “Civitron is a creation of everybody in my life who helped me get to this point.”
This eclectic hero-forming collective includes Civitron’s mom, whom he credits with teaching him to be a strong person, but not a “tough guy.” “He’s always wanted to save the world,” she says.
Civitron’s partner, Jennifer, is also supportive of him. Their six-year-old son has even adopted his own superhero persona, Mad Owl, complete with a brown-and-gold owl costume.
But other than the father and son having secret identities, the three actually seem like a pretty normal family. Jennifer goes to school for biology. Civitron — who has a very warm, Zen-like personality, almost constantly smiling — has worked as a counselor, and currently is involved with a day program for autistic patients.
Whereas many comic-book superheroes are reviled in their communities, Civitron has legions of fans. They include the former RLSH Green Sage, a friend from New Bedford who has retired his own hero costume but still supports Civitron’s efforts, and Tem Blessed, a positive-message rapper from Providence who has collaborated with Civitron on a food drive. The two plan to work on projects together in the future.
Civitron says his first meeting with his sensei, Rebelo, was in a comic-book store. Rebelo is proud of Civitron and his colleagues.
“His actions make others aware that they can act heroically, too,” says Rebelo. “Helping a food pantry, picking up litter, distributing food and clothes to the poor — these are actions that so many people have given up on. You hear so much about not being a snitch, about not getting involved. There’s a famous quote from Charles Barkley, ‘I’m not a role model.’ Civitron is saying the opposite of all that — that he is a role model. He wants to be involved and do something positive.”
Don’t expect the New Bedford Police Department to build a bat-signal anytime soon, though.
“We prefer to be the only costumed crime fighters out there,” says Lieutenant Jeffrey Silva, a police spokesman. He says the department is aware of real-life superheroes, but they have yet to cross paths with them.
“Although they might be well-intentioned, we don’t endorse citizen patrols, because we don’t know the level of training,” says Silva. Even so, he concedes that any help to police is welcome.
“Anytime someone wants to get involved and help police, we see it as a good thing, so long as they don’t work without police participation. We prefer people to be the eyes and ears of the police.”
But what about the strange costumes?
“Well, fortunately, we’re not the fashion police,” states Silva.
So what is the payoff for dressing as a superhero and running through dark and dangerous alleyways in the moonlight? Slapjack says that the realization that he is trying to do something positive is his reward.
“Knowing that you are going out there and being proactive and helping makes you feel good about accomplishing something,” says Slapjack. “My father always said, ‘No matter how bad your life, no matter how hard, there is always someone a lot worse off than you are.’ I always took that to heart, and use that as motivation to be better and do good.”
“I just see myself as someone trying to make things better,” agrees Recluse, “and I hope that people see me as that.” As for Civitron, he says being a father is a reason he wants to make the world a better place.
“I’ll be satisfied in the end if I’m just perceived as doing my part,” he says, “contributing to society and making my community better. I like being real and living my truth.”
For more information, visit the Web sites superheroesanonymous.com and reallifesuperheroes.org. Tea Krulos is a freelance writer from Milwaukee. He can be reached at [email protected].