October 28-30- Superheroes Anonymous 5

Superheroes Anonymous LogoOriginally posted: http://plancast.com/p/7nxk/superheroes-anonymous-year-five-new-york-city
Five years ago, Superheroes Anonymous launched the first large scale meeting of Real Life Superheroes. Since then we’ve been able to help over 5,000 homeless people, do missions all over the world including hospital visitations, public safety patrols, workshops and we have been featured in over 200 publications (such as NYT, CNN, FOX, BBC, 60 Minutes) from over 45 countries with a message of inspiration and empowerment.Following the launch of our first event, we visited New Orleans and rebuilt with Habitat for Humanity where Mayor Nagin declared it “The Day of the Superheroes,” in New Bedford, MA we had a benefit concert for a homeless shelter and lifesaving and self-defense courses and last year in Portland we Raced for the Cure against breast cancer and gave blood with the Oregon Red Cross.
This year, we’re giving back to the city where it all started: New York. We are holding a giant event during the weekend of October 28-30th that will incorporate the best of of the charitable, fun and community-outreach programs that we have been involved with in the years past.
About Year Five
Superheroes Anonymous Year Five is an event taking place in New York City from Friday Oct 28th culminating on Sunday, October 30th, 2011. Real Life Superheroes will convene from around the world, promoting public acts of charity and community outreach through workshops, classes, patrols, a benefit concert and a press conference. Superheroes Anonymous Year Five will globally empower people all over and support our goal of saving the world.


HBO’s real-life ‘Superheroes’ are gallant yet unsettlingly goofy

Originally posted: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hbos-real-life-superheroes-are-gallant-yet-unsettlingly-goofy/2011/08/05/gIQAnjyz0I_story.html

By , Published: August 7

Here they come to save the .?.?. well, that’s the problem with adopting the secret lifestyle and ethical codes of a “real-life superhero”: Nobody requires your services nearly as much as you’re hoping to provide them.Ultimately, as we learn in Michael Barnett’s compelling yet conflicted HBO documentary “Superheroes,” today’s supermen (and the occasional wonder woman) wind up handing out rolls of toilet paper to homeless people.
In “Superheroes,” which airs Monday night, Barnett travels the country to profile a handful of the 300 or so self-styled characters who are attempting to live a comic-book ideal. These are not the people you’ve seen at amusement parks and Comic-Con and along Hollywood Boulevard, who are simply playing dress-up for photo-ops. Something in the comics lore has spoken to real-life superheroes on a personal level, and they are serious — if perhaps a touch delusional. They see society as troubled, and they are especially disenchanted with law enforcement. “The N.Y.P.D., even the government is completely unreliable,” says Lucid, a Brooklyn-based superhero.Mr. Xtreme, a lonely San Diego bach­elor and frustrated jujitsu student, works by day as a security guard and spends his evenings wearing padded green-and-yellow regalia (including a limp polyester cape and a bug-eyed helmet), prowling the streets, searching for a sexual predator the TV news stations have dubbed “the Chula Vista Groper.”Meanwhile, in Orlando, the eccentric Master Legend drives around in a beat-up van and offers his services to the downtrodden, stopping frequently to treat himself to a can of beer from the ice chest he keeps in the back.Back in Brooklyn, Lucid and his more edgy clutch of masked avengers — they go by Z, Zimmer and a heroine named T.S.A.F. (which she says stands for “The Silenced and Forgotten”) — like to skateboard the city’s streets in the wee hours, hoping to attract muggers.Barnett employs an appealing style of comic-book panel animation to enliven the narrative transitions and give viewers a heightened sense of the ad­ven­ture that the heroes imagine themselves having — even if none of their adventures necessarily pan out.
Zimmer, a gay man who chooses not to wear a mask or use a hero name because it reminds him of being in the closet, glams himself up in hopes of luring nighttime gay-bashers. Lucid and the others wait in the shadows to come to his aid. When that doesn’t work, T.S.A.F. dons a miniskirt and lipstick and tries her luck at baiting rapists.
This tendency toward entrapment is where things get creepy, despite the tender care “Superheroes” takes to understand its subjects without mocking them. Many superheroes exhibit depressingly sour feelings about the larger world. They like to keep photos of Kitty Genovese on their walls and refrigerators for inspiration. She was the New York woman stabbed to death 47 years ago as dozens of witnesses overheard (and ignored) her screams. Genovese’s murder set off a popular and lasting notion of an uncaring, indifferent society.
What the superheroes in “Super­heroes” seem to willfully ignore is the remarkable drop in violent crime statistics over the past two decades — to say nothing of the post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security era that lit up our nights with security cameras and deputized every smartphone owner with the ability to upload crimes in progress to YouTube, which has helped catch miscreants of all kinds.
Yet things get darker (and dorkier) during a montage scene in which super­heroes proudly show Barnett the assorted weapons they’ve incorporated into their spandex ensemble: knives, nunchucks, sharp spikes, Tasers, retractable batons, maces, pepper sprays, blinding spotlights and lasers.
They’re all dying for some action, which has a way of making them seem more marginal, and embittered. A San Diego police lieutenant worries that these self-anointed vigilantes are going to hurt themselves (or hurt someone else); a psychologist wonders about their depend­ence on an alter ego.
Although the movie ends on a somewhat brighter note — following the heroes as they look after the homeless in their communities — even Stan Lee, the father of the Marvel Comics universe, expresses bafflement at these wannabes. If Stan Lee thinks you’re extreme, you might want to chill.
(83 minutes) airs Monday at 9 p.m. on HBO.

SA Workshop April 14


When? Thursday, April 14th, 7-10 PM
Where? SpaceCraft: 355 Bedford Avenue @ S. 4th St in Brooklyn
Superheroes Anonymous will be holding a SUPERHERO WORKSHOP on Thursday, April 14nd, at the wonderful venue, Spacecraft Brooklyn! This event will help aspiring and active Real Life Superheroes develop anddesign superhero identities and realize their inner superhero. With the materials and skills of the SPACECRAFT team – we can create nearly anything to accompany your superhero uniform! It’s the perfect time to become acquainted with the work of SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS and to create a unique superhero costume that can never be bought in a store!
The price of admission is $20 and will include materials needed to turn a normal wardrobe into a fully functional SUPERHERO COSTUME! We will also be providing FREE WINE for those 21 and older.
Though we will be providing materials, participants must bring a BASE WARDROBE that they want to be modified. That means a basic shirt and pants (or spandex!) to be turned into a super-heroic uniform. For example: we can help you make a mask, design a cape or breastplate or sew cool designs and accessories onto your jeans or a shirt, but we won’t be able to provide the spandex shirts or motorcycle jackets.
PRICE: $20/person INCLUDES: Costume Materials & Wine and Snacks
DIRECTIONS: L train to Bedford Ave, walk South to S. 4th St.?
PLEASE RSVP TO [email protected]

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March 10- Superheroes Anonymous Costume Workshop

Superheroes Anonymous Costume Workshop

Thursday, March 10 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm

SpaceCraft Brooklyn

355 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY

Superheroes Anonymous will be holding a COSTUME WORKSHOP on Thursday, March 3rd, at the wonderful venue, Spacecraft Brooklyn! This event will help aspiring and active Real Life Superheroes develop and design superhero identities and realize their inner superhero. With the materials and skills of the SPACECRAFT team – we can create nearly anything to accompany your superhero uniform! It’s the perfect time to become acquainted with the work of SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS and to create a unique superhero costume that can never be bought in a store!
The price of admission is $20 and will include all materials needed to turn a normal wardrobe into a fully functional SUPERHERO COSTUME! We will also be providing FREE BEER for those 21 and older.
Though we will be providing materials, participants must bring a BASE WARDROBE that they want to be modified. That means a basic shirt and pants (or spandex!) to be turned into a super-heroic uniform. For example: we can help you make a mask, design a cape or breastplate or sew cool designs and accessories onto your jeans or a shirt, but we won’t be able to provide the spandex shirts or motorcycle jackets.
PRICE: $20/person INCLUDES: Costume Materials & Unlimited Beer
DIRECTIONS: L train to Bedford Ave, walk South to S. 4th St.
PLEASE RSVP TO [email protected]

Not-so-super superhero movies

Originally posted: http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/articles/2011/04/03/not_so_super_superhero_movies/
By Ethan Gilsdorf
What makes a superhero super?
Comic books came first, then Hollywood, bearing stories about humans, mutants, and others — Hulks, X-Men, Fantastic Four — who got irradiated or experimented upon, or landed on Earth from far-flung planets. As a result, the freaks can leap tall buildings, deflect bullets, shape-shift, and get mad.

But what about unconventional superheroes, the more powerless ones? Hollywood has also covered them. In the category of “superheroes with no real superpowers,’’ there’s the jet-pack powered “The Rocketeer’’ (1991), Shaquille O’Neal in the laughable “Steel’’ (1997), the recent “The Green Hornet’’ and “Iron Man’’ films, and any of the “Batman’’ incarnations. These less-than-super heroes use strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, charisma, and, naturally, super access to cash and gadgets to bring justice. In the case of “The Phantom,’’ he’s a ghost, which is close enough. In the animated “The Incredibles’’ (2004), we see retired superheroes forced to hide their powers.
Stretch the definition further to include any do-gooder who takes to the streets to deliver justice, and you’ll find action figures straddling that hero/antihero divide: Charles Bronson vigilante types, be they cops or just grim dudes in trench coats. Some are darker than others: “The Punisher’’ (1989, 2004) ticks off a roster of human rights violations — murder, extortion, torture — to punish his foes.
Forget about supervillains.
But what about the rest of us? Everyday Joes and Jills frustrated with crime and tired of lame Neighborhood Watch programs? Folks keen to try out the superhero lifestyle, without any true super powers at all? In the real world, a few nationwide organizations like Superheroes Anonymous (www.superheroesanonymous.com) and Real Life Superheroes (www.reallifesuperheroes.org) embolden this fantasy. In cities across America, brave souls take on personas like Terrifica, a New York City-based hero who prevents inebriated women in New York City from being hit on by men, and Mexico City’s Superbarrio, who uses his costumed character to organize labor rallies and lead petition drives. Locally, there’s New Bedford’s Civitron, “a symbol of creative altruism,’’ and Runebringer, an “empowerment activist’’ from Waterbury, Conn.
As in James Gunn’s “Super,’’ these protagonists “aim to do good in the world and inspire others,’’ according to the Superheroes Anonymous website. They wield mundane weapons. They take small bites out of crime. And we salute them.
But before you join them, before you wear the mask and don the cape — and certainly before you engage in some diabolical experiment to alter your DNA — you might want to check how Hollywood advertises the job description. What follows is a roundup of mere mortal beings who nonetheless act big.

In the meantime, dream of the hero you really want to be. Dog Whisperer? Wonder Nurse? Really Good Bookkeeper? Me, I’d settle for Super Unstressed Guy

HERO AT LARGE (1980): This film might have kicked off the ordinary-guy-as-superhero genre. John Ritter plays a struggling actor hired to dress as Captain Avenger at comic book stores and conventions. When he stops a real robbery, life gets complicated. He becomes embroiled in city politics, then redeems himself when he rescues a kid from a fire.
THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO (1981-83): This ABC television series featured William Katt as a special-education teacher given a red suit and cape by aliens, which give him superhuman abilities. Remember the theme song? “Believe it or not,/ I’m walking on air./ I never thought I could feel so free-ee-eee. . .’’ Believe it or not, that ditty became a Billboard hit.

CONDORMAN (1981): Maybe it was Ronald Reagan’s can-do, American spirit, but the early ’80s brought another DIY superhero story. A comic book artist (Michael Crawford) becomes his creation, Condorman, in what the movie’s tagline calls “an action adventure romantic comedy spy story.’’ Siskel and Ebert pronounced “Condorman’’ one of the worst movies of the year.
DARKMAN (1990): Reportedly stymied in his efforts to film “The Shadow’’ or “Batman,’’ Sam “Evil Dead’’ Raimi came up with his own superhero. The premise: after a disfiguring fire and experimental medical treatment, scientist Liam Neeson develops synthetic skin that lets him look like anyone. He also senses no pain, has super-strength, and flies into rages. Hence, he takes revenge on the mobsters who blew up his lab and turned him into the monster he became, the masked vigilante Darkman.
MYSTERY MEN (1999): In this hilarious spoof on the genre, lesser superheroes with unimpressive super powers must save the day. Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) throws forks, the Shoveler (William H. Macy) shovels, Bowler (Janeane Garofalo) wields bowling balls, Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller) has anger management issues, and Spleen (Paul Reubens) is superflatulent. Super-silly all around.
UNBREAKABLE (2000): Security guard Bruce Willis reluctantly realizes he’s got super powers. In a twist on the genre, Samuel L. Jackson plays his archnemesis — a superweak polar opposite nicknamed “Mr. Glass,’’ because of his brittle bones. Jackson’s character also happens to run a comic book art gallery. Clunky, but effective. From M. Night “Mr. Surprise Ending’’ Shyamalan.
DEFENDOR (2009): In a stretch for Woody Harrelson, he plays a mentally ill construction worker who at night gets into his alter ego, Defendor, thanks to a homemade costume decorated with duct tape. With unconventional weapons like marbles and paper clips, he hunts for his enemy, Captain Industry, whom he blames for the death of his mother. Like “Super,’’ a comedy. Except when it’s not.
KICK-ASS (2010): In this film adaptation of a comic, a wimpy comic book-reading teenager (Aaron Johnson) decides to remake himself as a masked superhero named Kick-Ass. Cops, drug lords, and an 11-year-old vigilante named Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) all enter the plot. Apparently a lot of filmmakers and screenwriters read comic books as kids. Like a snake eating its tail, “Kick-Ass’’ represents the self-reflexive endgame of the do-it-yourself crime fighter.

‘Superheroes Anonymous’ director gets personal with Valencia Voice

Originally posted in the Valencia Voice at  http://www.valenciavoice.com/
Copy of Valencia Voice
Ben Goldman sets out to unmask real life community crusaders
By: Victor Ocasio
[email protected]
As children, so many wished for the chance to soar above the clouds like Superman, or take to the streets vanquishing evil like the dark knight Batman.
But what if that world of wonder and bat-shark repellent bat-spray wasn’t so distant?
For many around the world, who are part of the Real Life Superhero Movement, it isn’t.
They come from all over, don myriad unique costumes and all, in their own way, seek to better the community around them.
Many provide aid to the less fortunate through charity, while others still insist on ol’ fashioned street patrols to stop crime in its tracks.
In 2007, a project was started, in an effort to understand the realities of real life superheroism and to organize the first official gathering of these individuals in history.
Documentary film- maker Ben Goldman and co-director Chiam Lazaros set out to unmask the world of these real life community crusaders, in their first film, “Superheroes Anonymous.”
A Valencia Voice phone interview, with Goldman, offered in- sight into the ongoing project.

Valencia Voice: Where did the idea for a film about real life superheroes come from?
Goldman: I came to him (Chiam Lazaros) in 2007 with the basic concept of ‘Hey wouldn’t it be cool if there were superheroes in the real world,’ and we did some investigation and quickly discovered the real life superhero movement.
Valencia Voice: How many real life superheroes have you met during filming?
Goldman: A few dozen.
Valencia Voice: Are there any heroes that stick out in your memory?
Goldman: There is a superhero named Civitron who’s located in New Bedford Massachusetts and through out the course of documenting him we’ve been there on Christmas day with him and his family, we’ve met his parents, we’ve spent weekends over there and he’s just an all-around good hearted guy.
Valencia Voice: Would you say that you have made friends through out filming?
Goldman: Its hard not to become friends. You also have to realize that the real life superhero movement is so ripe for exploitation from people who don’t quite get it, that is kind of necessary for us to really cultivate friendships with the superheroes. The subject itself is under such enormous scrutiny and there are so many people that want a piece of this real life phenomenon, that the heroes are very wary of outsiders.
Valencia Voice: In your documentary, there is a scene with real life superhero, Dark Guardian confronting a drug dealer at night. How did it feel being behind the camera watching that unfold?
Goldman: That was probably the craziest experience I’ve had filming the real life superheroes. I don’t condone that style of superheroism, but I’m filming, so its not my place to step in. Dark Guardian is a martial arts expert, but even so you never know what’s going to happen in a situation like that. As it was happening, I remember thinking that I had to have a game plan if something happened, like what was I going to do if a knife or gun was pulled. This is where it gets controversial from a documentary perspective– the unknown part of that story was that I actually wore a lavalier mic and walked around the park, to find out where the drug dealers were. Dark Guardian was listening to the audio from 100 ft away, I came back and pointed out who had tried to sell to me and film him walking up to the guy. And that’s—that’s kind of stupid, and unconventional for a documentary.
Valencia Voice: What can you tell us about million dollar playboy turned humanitarian, Peaceman?
Goldman: How do you describe someone like that? I’m not sure real life superhero is the right word. Peaceman is an interesting guy. He originally was a banker, the son of a banker and a guy who created a banking empire but that never really was for him, he was always kind of hippie at heart or a peace loving guy at heart. After his father died he retired with hundreds of millions of dollars, and wanted to pursue a career in music, and to create a charity. So he created the Peaceman Foundation. He has secret corridors in his house, which is actually a castle. He mostly does humanitarian work, and he’s a really fun, fast-living party kind of dude. He is definitely one of the most interesting characters we’ve met.
Valencia Voice: Has this changed your outlook on life?
Goldman: I’ll tell you that its changed my outlook on life, not so much because of the superheroes, but because of the public’s response to the real life superheroes. There are people out there everyday, volunteering their time at homeless shelters who don’t wear capes, and most of them do more good than the real life superheroes. But the reason the real life superheroes are so resonant is because the public is looking for symbols of good, even if they are symbols of everyday good. People really respond to the idea of everyday heroes, of everyday people that have a hidden superhero inside of them.
Valencia Voice: When do you expect the film to be completed?
Goldman: We are currently working with another documentary crew and combining forces. I started this project without having been to a single film class when I was 19. We didn’t have any plan or budget , and just grabbed a camera and started shooting. We were amateurs and some of that shows in the earlier footage. I can’t say much about them, but they are a big documentary team, and I would say within the next few months you guys will see a trailer I theaters.
Valencia Voice: Whats your next project?
Goldman: Well now that I’ve done a documentary on real life superheroes I might want to do a documentary on real life zombies. Who knows? Maybe it just requires a Google search and I’ll uncover a whole movement of zombies.

Edmonds Man Receives Superhero Award

dsc047161Originally posted: http://www.komonews.com/younews/103489809.html
Posted on: Sep 21, 2010 at 5:37 PM PDT
Channel: Off the Wall
Location: Portland, OR
Tags: superhero Race for the Cure real-life superheroes Zetaman Civitron charity award
A.J. Roberts of Edmonds, WA received the Civic Hero Award from the Committee for Real Life Superheroes. He was awarded it at Superheroes Anonymous 4, an annual meeting of real-life superheroes, for his “Exceptional contribution for the Susan G. Komen ‘Race for the Cure’ 2010.” The award is signed by Zetaman of Portland and Civitron of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Superheroes Anonymous

life-posterOriginally posted: http://www.sccougar.com/features/superheroes-anonymous-1.1595742

How Costumed, Creative Altruism is Sweeping the Nation

Published: Monday, September 13, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 13, 2010 19:09
By Matthew Weitkamp
It’s late in New York City. Darkness has fallen and roaming the streets are the downtrodden and forgotten: Homeless men and women, starving and alone, cry out for hope. Their cries are being answered in the form of a masked man who stalks the streets with food and water, swooping in to help save these poor souls from a horrible fate. It’s late in New York City, and a superhero is saving the day.
A new wave of charity is sweeping across the landscape of our Nation. Costumed, creative altruism has set its roots. There is no ‘Justice League’ or ‘Avengers’ group, however. There is no centralized organization where the heroes meet to plan their war on crime. Across the country there are as many as 300 costumed heroes, all unconnected with one another. But individually they are still pushing past a skeptical society; one that is wary of their intentions.
New York is home to one such hero, “Life”, who walks the streets with determination to make the world better, and leave it better than how he found it. Born into a Hasidic Jewish family, Chaim (which is Hebrew for Life) took the teachings of his father, a Rabbi, to heart. When a person has something to give, regardless of how little, you must give to those who need it more than you.
“My family taught me that charity and helping other people isn’t optional. There are horrible, horrible injustices in the world and if you can do something, even a little, to make things better then you should.” Chaim has taken a piece of his Jewish faith, that charity is compulsory, and turned that into one of the code of ethics for Real Life Superheroes.
Life, a co-founding member of the Not-For-Profit organization, Superheroes Anonymous, is not the same kind of hero you’ll find in the pages of Batman or Spider-man. He doesn’t beat up thugs or commit vigilante justice. Instead, Life uses his time to help the homeless and inspire others through his actions. “I’m a realist. I’m a grounded person, as much as a man who wears a mask is a realist.”
Every night Life takes a backpack filled with necessity items with him out onto the streets. He gives bottled water, candy bars, tooth brushes, and a listening ear to all the homeless he meets. Everything Life gives he buys himself; a personal investment financially in his own desire to change the world. An expensive proposition, when you think about it.  But for Life, that investment is worth it.
Life says he’s often asked why he wears a costume. Plenty of people can perform charity without dressing up or wearing a mask – so why does he? “Like a police officer, firemen […] even a business man: It’s a uniform … [you] feel like you stand for something. You wear the costume and you feel like a superhero”
“A costume draws attention to yourself,” explains Life, on why the costume is necessary, “and gets people to notice you.”
People can be inspired to do charity, Life says, when they see a mask or a cape. “You don’t have to be Batman and take down huge criminals or stop a war.” He says it’s all about what each of us can do, today, to make a difference.
“Start small, start realistically. What do you have the time and resources to do? … I get (emails for advice) all the time. They always have big goals. ‘I want to do this and that – I want to clean up my city of crime’. And I go ‘ok, but you don’t have the power to do that right now? What can you do, now, that’s small?’ You have to start small and be realistic.”
And how long will Life continue to be a Superhero? He admits that, while he won’t hang up his mask anytime soon, his role as a superhero might change over time. “I see Superheroes Anonymous becoming a Not-For-Profit organization that supports real life superheroes […] I won’t ever stop doing charity work. If it means being behind a desk instead of on the street, then charities will need that too.”
His outfit, like his attitude, shows just how adult Life is. Chaim doesn’t wear a cape or a cowl – he wears a tie and a Fedora. He’s a professional, working on the streets of New York City, presenting himself as a man who takes that one step further. Should Life ever need to take on a new role of heroism, like that of an executive for his organization, he feels all he would have to do is take the mask off. The rest of his outfit is professional.
The choice to become a superhero is not exclusive to Life in this country, but his is an example of creative altruism at its finest. Like-minded citizens all across the country are doing their part, too. Heroes like Citizen Prime, from Florida, who works to establish more homes for orphaned youths, stand as beacons for men and women looking to take on a new role in the protection of American’s from social injustice. These superheroes are real, walking the streets as an Iconic symbol for a better world. Life stresses that even though they might look odd or different, they’re a necessity.
“As long as you find people in need, you’ll have a need for superheroes.”

Modern day costume heroes fighting to make the world a better place

Originally posted: http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/features/Feature-Modern-day-costume-heroes.6513746.jp
Published Date: 07 September 2010
chaim_lazaroBy KATY ROSS
That’s what many 25-year-olds do when confronted with the monotony of the hamster wheel of life, when nothing matters but who you are going to the pub with at the weekend and whether you happen to get lucky. Instead, each night when he gets home from his job at an non-profit organisation in Brooklyn, he goes to his wardrobe and pulls on his superhero costume, then goes about the important business of saving the world, one step at a time.
He is not alone. Lazaros, or ‘Life’, to give him his superhero moniker, is one of a legion who make up the real-life superhero movement, a worldwide community of loosely affiliated individuals committed to a broadly defined ethos of making the world a better place.
These people may look as though they have jumped out of a comic book or Hollywood blockbuster, but they are all ordinary citizens who haven’t got a super power between them. What they share is an all too human ambition to help solve some of society’s most challenging problems by donning masks and costumes and venturing into their respective neighbourhoods to feed the hungry, comfort the sick and protect the innocent.
“We are just people who want to make a difference,” says Lazaros, who co-founded the New York-based website Superheroes Anonymous, to bring superhero groups together through outreach, education and creative community service. “We are not delusional – we know we’re humans with limited abilities. But inside every human is the capacity to do something kind, brave and strong for our fellow humans; some among us simply choose to do so in secret.”
But why the need for costumes? Would these good deeds not be equally welcomed if carried out in jeans and T-shirts? Working from the basic premise that the definition of a real-life superhero is someone who creates their unique persona to do good acts for others, Lazaros believes that “just because you are becoming something greater than yourself when you do these acts of good does not mean you have to be wearing a mask while doing them.
Nevertheless, the costumes do provide a universal symbol of good that people can recognise. When my father went out on the streets dressed as a Rabbi, people recognised him and trusted him. Dressing up in a superhero costume means something similar to me.”
The Real Life Superhero Project is photographer Peter Tangen’s attempt to document the work of the individuals who make up the movement. “They are some of the most amazing people I have ever met,” he says from his home in Los Angeles.
“As I researched the project I was struck by the irreverent and almost insulting tone of some of the reporting into these altruistic people who devote their time and effort into helping others. Their approach is very savvy though. In some ways they are marketing good deeds. They are drawing attention to personal power in an entirely unique way.”
Despite the hurdles the movement faces, its numbers are growing fast and are currently estimated to be in the region of 250 to 300 around the world. The work they do is varied; for example, The Cleanser will actively go out and clean the streets. Direction Man will go out and offer directions.
Other people have less specific personas and just aim to help. With great costumes, though, comes great responsibility, and while the superheroes are united in their aim to make the world a better place, their community has at times been divided on how that should be done.
Some members advocate a high-profile existence, helping the less fortunate through established non-profit organisations. Others want to fight the bad guys, vigilante-style, hiding in the shadows while supporting the work done by those in law enforcement.
Before moving to New Jersey to be with her boyfriend, 20-year-old Nyx, like Peter Parker in Spider-Man, prefered to keep her true identity secret. Living in Kansas, she would secretly take photographs of drug dens and send them to the authorities.
“It was dangerous work and I used to carry weapons. But I’m in New York now and things are different,” she says.
“We need to remain focused about our aims. I ask myself how I can be most productive. I want to help people feel safer and happier, but the best way I can do that is by volunteering. So now I work with my boyfriend at a homeless shelter. Everyone has it in them to make a difference, and I think this is the best way I can help.”
In Atlanta, Crimson Fist, a compact 5ft 6in, admits on his first night patrol it was the shock of seeing a man in a red and white cape and mask that scared off the two men he had confronted in an alley for attacking one another.
With a history of substance abuse, he says his superhero work is an attempt to make up for treating people poorly in the past.
“Generally when I go out on patrols I pack up a backpack with different supplies – in the summer I hand out bottled water, in the colder months, I give them clean shirts and socks and things like that.”
Citizen Prime, real name Jim, works for an unnamed financial institution by day and is one of the most respected members of the superhero community. Recently retired, he is consulted by many of the other super- heroes for advice. Prime distributed literature on drugs and crime and boasted a $4,000 custom-made outfit with breast armour.
On reflection, he likes to think his humour was his key weapon in diffusing awkward situations as he patrolled the streets of Arizona.
It would be easy to assume the actions of these members, and the many others committed to the movement, stem from a sense of disillusionment with society’s limitations, and that the new breed of superheroes are simply looking to find purpose in their lives. This isn’t always the case though.
Many of these people come from extremely successful backgrounds. Some are employed by non-profit organisations but others work on Wall Street or in politics.
As Peter Tangen puts it: “These people come from all walks of life. The organisation is very focused but it isn’t political. There are committed Democrats, Republicans, the whole spectrum of society is included. These are people with relationships, families, successful lives.
“They are not people who are lacking. They are people who are doing what they can to make a difference to the world they live in.”
For Lazaros, the motivation to get into the movement wasn’t through some sense of disillusionment, but more a desire to share his good fortune. Raised in the Jewish tradition of leaving the world a better place than the way he found it, he was imbued at an early age with strong values of charity, courtesy and kindness, modelled for him by his Hassidic parents, who always gave to others, even when it was hard to do so.
This moral code, underscored with a powerful sense of social justice, led him to his work with the homeless and disenfranchised.
Now minimally costumed in a mask, tie and jacket, he sets out every day with a backpack brimming with toothbrushes, lotions, soaps, even sweets, delivering the smaller necessities of life that fill in the gaps left by the NYC Department of Homeless Services.
The challenge, as Lazaros sees it, is to find people who are creative and altruistic and encourage them to express those charitable impulses in ways that may range from the subtle to the extreme. It is also what he sees as the ultimate mission of Superheroes Anonymous. “If I can inspire someone to do even the littlest of things to help others, and they in turn can do the same, think of how many thousands can be helped.”
This article was first published in Scotland On Sunday on Sunday, 5 September, 2010

Superheroes Anonymous Workshop

When? Thursday, September 2nd, 7-10 PM
Where? SpaceCraft: 355 Bedford Avenue @ S. 4th St in Brooklyn
Superheroes Anonymous Logo
Superheroes Anonymous will be holding a COSTUME WORKSHOP on Thursday, September 2nd, at the wonderful venue,Spacecraft Brooklyn! This event will help aspiring and active Real Life Superheroes develop anddesign superhero identities and realize their inner superhero. With the materials and skills of the SPACECRAFT team – we can create nearly anything to accompany your superhero uniform! It’s the perfect time to become acquainted with the work of SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS and to create a unique superhero costume that can never be bought in a store!
The price of admission is $20 and will include materials needed to turn a normal wardrobe into a fully functional SUPERHERO COSTUME! We will also be providing FREE BEER for those 21 and older.
Though we will be providing materials, participants must bring a BASE WARDROBE that they want to be modified. That means a basic shirt and pants (or spandex!) to be turned into a super-heroic uniform. For example: we can help you make a mask, design a cape or breastplate or sew cool designs and accessories onto your jeans or a shirt, but we won’t be able to provide the spandex shirts or motorcycle jackets.
PRICE: $20/person INCLUDES: Costume Materials & Unlimited Beer
DIRECTIONS: L train to Bedford Ave, walk South to S. 4th St.?
PLEASE RSVP TO [email protected]