Saturday, February 27, 2010

DAY 5- SEATTLE- City of Heroes, City of Villains

Aluminum Chef, me, Agent Beryllium at Po' Dogs.

Well, here I am sitting at the SeaTac airport, looking out the huge windows at the airports rolling into the terminal and baggage carts rushing around. I can say I spent the last 5 days doing what I love to do most in life- traveling, meeting interesting people, and writing.

I slept in a bit, which was welcomed after a few long days of hitting the street hard. I booked a hotel which kind of looked like a murder scene from a CSI show, but it was ok on the inside. After sharing a bunkhouse filled with backpackers from New Zealand, I was glad to lay in bed and watch CNN.

I walked around the Space Needle area a bit, and then walked up to a neighborhood known as Capitol Hill, where I had a brave mission: meeting the nefarious villains of ROACH.


Yes, I've heard a lot of strange things about ROACH. I figure if there are "supervillains" I should meet them, and try to see what they're all about.
I've been in contact with villains before. I've had some e-mail interviewing with Tiny Terror, who I consider an intelligent guy and his opinions will be missed if he has indeed "retired."
At one point Executrix was planning a villain themed bonfire, which I was going to attend. Executrix even included a clause in the proposed rules for the event:
"6) IF Tea Krulos does grace us with his presence, we shall be as accommodating as possible. Lets not scare him too bad!:)"

Unfortunately, it was canceled, much to the disappointment of marshmallow roasting villains everywhere.

ROACH has invited me to their "Seattle Headquarters" which is a gourmet hot dog restaurant called Po' Dogs. The place has a villainous handgun print wallpaper motif, and the dog selection is pretty insane. I mean a wasabi egg-roll dog? True villainy.

Hanging out in the back corner of Po' Dogs is time traveling, goggle sporting Agent Beryllium, evil chef couple Aluminum Chef and Fatal Phyllo and the volcano headed ROACH leader himself, The Potentate. I've been talking online with Agent B for awhile,enjoy hearing her opinion, and consider her a villainous counsel of some sort.

The Potentate told me he decided to start his organization of evil after seeing the famous, much circulated report on Cincinnati superhero Shadow Hare, which inspired many other villains as well (Sword Kane, Tiny Terror and crew among them.)

The villains have a couple of criticisms of the RLSH, and here is my understanding of them.

---RLSHs are in it for attention and an ego boost. This can be large scale- seeking media attention, or small scale- seeking attention of people standing around on the street. They are seeking credit for things many people do without a costume.

---RLSHs who are trying to patrol and crime fight are not adequately trained to take on criminal elements, putting themselves and others at risk.

I mention these things, because I would like to see as many possible people comment on this as possible. RLSHs- how do you respond to criticisms like this? What do you think of "RLSVs"? RLSVs- would you say my interpretation here is accurate? Do you have other criticisms or reasons for being a villain? And to anyone not involved in this scene- I'd like to hear your opinion too.

After hanging around Po' Dogs for awhile, I got the sense that ROACH (at least the four members present) were actually....nice, funny, normal people. I know a lot of RLSH see the funny side, but some don't. I'll give my opinion here- ROACH are online villains. The Potentate isn't actually walking around with a volcano for a head. Agent B isn't really out to destroy you. Aluminum Chef and Fatal Phyllo...ok, well, they actually are evil chefs.

The Potentate and Fatal Phyllo both had evil business to attend to, so Agent B, Aluminum Chef and I got on a bus and headed down to the Pike Place Market, a marketplace from another dimension for sure. Inside and out front were fishmongers, a brew pub, magic supply store, rare herb supply, barbershop, even a comic book store. An amazingly interesting place, and as a freelancer I immediately thought "incredibly interesting story here," although I'm sure it's been written about a thousand times.

I split from the villains to meet up with The Irishman in front of the market.


First we did a drive around by the shore of the Puget Sound, cruising past the vast shipping yards and docks. We park under a highway overpass, leaking rain water. We walk up, back to the direction of the Pike Place market. Along the way, Irishman shows me an encampment of homeless people in a plaza below the highways. Irishman has been inspired by the visit to Vancouver and seeing Thanatos at work. He hopes he can start doing similar activities in Seattle.

We walk along Western avenue, and he points out a small park where there are a couple of drug dealers hanging around. He and his fellow Seattle RLSH, White Baron, spent some time watching the drug dealers at work,seeing what they were up to. Irishman frequently teams up and patrols with White Baron. White Baron and Mr. RavenBlade, another Seattle RLSH are hard to get a hold of sometimes, so we weren't able to contact them in time to get them to come out.

"This'll get the blood going." Irishman says as we scale the hill to 1st Avenue.
We're both a bit worn from the previous day, so after walking around awhile we decide to sit down and talk for a bit. We go to an Irish bar, of course, Kell's Irish Pub on a back street and order pints of Guinness straight from the tap. Irishman has chosen his name because he's proud of his Irish heritage.
He also breaks an RLSH stereotype- he's not really a comic book fan. He says the only comic he's bought was a used copy of The Incredible Hulk he picked up downtown. His inspiration to this scene was seeing Watchmen and then learning there were real life versions out there on the street.

After a couple pints, we're on our way.
Sláinte, Seattle.

Friday, February 26, 2010


That's me inside the Gunga diner set. Photo by Thanatos.

What can I say except -what an incredible day. I would say it was almost a spiritual journey, an RLSH day of enlightenment. Instead of peyote or meditating with sitar music, though, it was fueled by sleep deprivation and Burger King coffee. We were all to be amazed by the things we would see.


While I was catching some sleep, the crew picked up The Irishman of Seattle and got together at the pub. There they were approached by a man who asked if they wanted to buy some “cheddar.” He had it man, he had the “cheese,” he had the “cheddar.” Sure a drug deal was going down, Knight Owl, Motor-Mouth, Victim, and Irishman watched as the bartender ejected the man for dealing.
Later a woman was offering the same product. It was, actually, cheese. The good stuff, the gouda. Not street slang for anything other than an orange brick of dairy product. Motor-Mouth asked where she got the cheese from, and she admitted they had stolen it and were now trying to sell it on the black market.
She was selling the cheese to make some bread.
I was told this story around 4AM this morning in the parking lot of the Owl Hutch. Thanatos, Knight Owl, Motor-Mouth, and I are riding in the Thana-Van and Victim and Irishman are staying in contact with a walkie talkie, following behind in photographer Peter Tangen’s car.
We are all up at this hour because we are joining Thanatos on one of his (approximately) monthly handouts to the homeless. Once a month, Thanatos wakes up at this hour, assembles packages of supplies (in this morning’s case cereal bars, water, and plastic tarps- lots of rain lately) and delivers them to homeless. Some of these are new people, and sadly, there are new faces all the time. Others are people he sees on a regular basis. He has about 12 people or so that he knows where to find, and his green skull face is a familiar sight to them, as evidenced by our first stop.
A man has set up camp in the doorway of a Quizno’s. Thanatos says hello. Lying on the ground, the man fist bumps Thanatos, then seeing who it is, stands up to give him a hug.
“Oh yeah, bro!” He shouts. Thanatos stands and talks with him a few minutes, asking him how he is, and if he’s been able to get enough food. He gets back in the van.
He spots a woman in the doorway of a bicycle shop, sickly thin, shivering. He gets out and gives her the cereal bar, water, and tarp, and introduces himself. She says her name is Carina. She “could be better, could be worse” she tells Thanatos when he asks how she is. He notices that she’s had to punch several new holes in her belt. She’s rapidly disappearing.
As we head to a highway overpass, Knight Owl kicks up his feet and shuts his eyes. He’s had a lot of experience travelling and has learned to get a few seconds of sleep where he can get it.
Under the overpass, Thanatos finds William. At first, William didn’t have much to say to Thanatos, but the dark avenger kept stopping by and eventually William opened up to him. Thanatos, Irishman, and Motor-Mouth go to check out another overpass while the rest of us stand around. A police cruiser stops, and the guys explain what’s going on.
Back near Hastings and Main, we stop at a church. There are two homeless camped out in the doorways on both sides of the corner. Motor-Mouth and Knight Owl talk to one and Thanatos, Vicitm, and Irishman talk to the other. There’s more. And more.
Thanatos shakes hands and makes a connection with a man camped out in the storefront of Payle$$ Meats. In an alleyway he finds a man has a shopping cart propping up a cardboard wall in a doorway near a sign that reads “Keep clear- fire exit.” The cardboard wall is his only protection from the outside world. Thanatos peeks over the top, and talks to the man, delivering the supplies. After ten drop offs, we get coffee and sit around and talk at a Burger King.

We stop at the Owl Hutch, where we have an hour or so before we’re to meet back up with Peter Tangen at a studio nearby. We all try to catch a cat nap on the Owl Hutch floor.
In a warehouse studio he has borrowed, Peter takes some photos of the crew. Peter is working on a major artistic project involving the RLSH and this shoot will supplement work he’s done in Los Angeles and a previous shoot in Vancouver.
Peter even generously offers to take some profile pictures of me, so ooh la la next stop for me is the runways of Paris. It’s great to see him work. He gets down on the ground shooting pictures of Thanatos, trying to map out how it will look later on.
Peter has a pretty awesome surprise for all of us- he will be showing us all of the work he has done up to date. What followed was pretty much many long minutes of a room full of people (myself included) shouting OH MY GOD! AND HOLY (expletives deleted) THAT (more expletives deleted) RULES SO (etc.)HARD! Yes, that is how incredible the pieces were, everyone was filled with rapture and the craftsmanship that went into the pieces. Like I said, a moment of enlightenment. Peter filled us in with other plans for the show and you will be surprised to hear that [DESCRIPTIONS DELETED].
Knight Owl is not sure if he can get leave to make the show’s opening in June.
“I’m going to have to arrange a death or something.” He says. Thanatos points at him.
“I can make that happen.” He says, to much laughter.
As we headed back through the studio, we got to see a photo shoot with a firebreather. And she was a total "HOTTIE". Hanging out with RLSHs, watching an attractive and talented firebreather. Not bad, considering it wasn’t even noon.


After this, Thanatos welcomed us into his home to talk about the meet up.
Thanatos has a full size coffin in the corner of his living room, where he keeps all of his RLSH related gear, masks, weapons, organizing materials. A cow skull rests on top of the coffin. As Lady Catacomb brews us coffee, Thanatos shows off his extensive tattoos and his nunchuck skills. The room also has a smaller coffin for a coffee table and a sarcophagus for a computer table, a toy set of the characters from Watchmen, Godzilla waving a “Go Canada!” flag, and a plastic skeleton on the wall.
That is not to say this is a creepy place. It is a small and cozy apartment, and in addition to the macabre decorations, there’s a lot of everyday stuff- a recipe for chocolate chip cookies and smiley face magnets on the fridge, knick knacks, and a Yoga Cat poster on a cabinet (I can haz inner peace).
We all talk about the last 4 days, and at one point circle around and talk about our favorite point. I say very honestly that I appreciate Thanatos taking us into the run down parts of the city so we can see where and what he is all about.
The thing about Thanatos is, he knows he is not going to clean up Main and Hastings. It’ll continue to be that way, and I hate to say this, maybe forever. He knows that dropping off tarps and blankets will keep people warm and dry for awhile, but that they’ll still be waking up in a tent in an abandoned urban lot the next morning. He knows his hand outs provide a temporary need.
But he knows something more important than that. He knows that by making a real connection, by treating the people he deals with respectfully, by just showing some compassion, some unselfishness, he is offering these people something they really need- a spark of hope.

Rewind a few days earlier. We were walking on the street and Thanatos pointed out a couple of buildings used in the movie version of Watchmen. Then he added that he was pretty sure part of the set built for Watchmen existed on the outskirts of Vancouver.
Yep, it does. This place, which won't be around long, is a mecca of sorts, for sure. A three dimensional tribute to a storyline important to a lot of people in this scene.
We circled around the barb wire, peeking in. Some of the sets had been rearranged, but it was definitely it! We found a worker who nodded us to an entrance. When we entered, Knight Owl and Motor-Mouth took off like two kids at recess. Inside I shot a photo of Knight Owl on the set of his namesake’s brownstone entrance, Dan Dreiberg’s front door. We found the alleyway where Dreiberg and Silk Spectre found themselves having to kick some ass. We later identified the subway entrance as the one next to the newstand in the movie. There was Rorschach’s apartment, and the Gunga Din diner. The seats were gone, but the lunch counter and a giant picture of Mount Rushmore was still inside. It was a surreal experience.

After this, Irishman and I boarded a Greyhound for Seattle. Customs was much easier going out than coming in. I got a chance to talk to him for a bit, and we parted ways at the Seattle station. I headed toward my hotel, using the Space Needle as a compass.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


The missing Meth house. Photo by Thanatos.

As I type this, crowds are going nuts in the streets below. Canada’s men’s hockey has just had a sound victory over Russia, and there is much revelry in Vancouver.

More plains clothes work this morning. I’m wearing a black leather jacket and a black button up shirt. Thanatos also sports a black leather jacket and jeans. Knight Owl wears a Canadian themed pullover and a newsie hat. Victim’s T-shirt reads, “Thinking: It’s Not Illegal Yet.”

Thanatos drives Knight Owl, Motor-Mouth, Victim and I West, where we walk around Commercial Drive. The area has several homeless spread out on the street. Thanatos says another problem in this area is gay-bashing. We stopped at Commercial Drive and Third Avenue at a Waves coffee shop.
Thanatos told a story about going to a different Waves coffee in Gas Town. As he sipped a coffee there, he was surprised to see a couple openly cut up their cocaine at a table nearby. He called the cops, who showed up shortly and busted duo. Thanatos laughed in the background. The cops told him “this has nothing to do with you.”
Outside of this Waves, Thanatos spots a homeless man with a pigeon perched on his head. He goes out to talk to the man. The man tells him he was suicidal, but the pigeon saved his life.

Leaving Commercial Drive, we picked up Lady Catacomb to take a little road trip to the US/Canada border. As the guys exit the Thana-van at some point, I get a chance to ask Lady Catacomb about her husband’s transformation into a RLSH. She admits to some hesitation at first, commenting “It’s a hard decision when you have a family,” but she adds that she “is very supportive and proud of him for doing good in the world.” She often drives and films during his handout missions.

Thanatos wants back up to check out of suspected meth house. When we get there, it appears the problem is solved. The house is gone. Totally gone. Only a few scraps of wood are left.
We cruise around the border area, which Thanatos points out is wide, wide open as we cruise down Zero Avenue. He says once he took a wrong turn up here and ended up in the states by mistake.

After lunch at Rose’s café, where the table talk is about Meth production, effects, and prevention (Motor-Mouth’s loud takes on this and other subjects produce some shocked looks from nearby tables) we head to nearby Surrey.
We drive around Surrey, a sprawling urban area with many of the similar problems as Vancouver. After cruising the seedy back streets, we stop by the post office so Motor-Mouth can pick up his gear that has at last arrived from San Francisco.

I’m off for a pint now, them some rest before our 4AM handout for tomorrow morning.


Photo by Thanatos
Ok- again need to do the short version. I meant to post this last night, but the internet connection here at the hostel isn’t so great. Other than that it’s not a bad place. Oh, well that and the fact that one of my room mates plots and laughs maniacally in his sleep, despite his friends throwing water bottles and balled up socks at him like baseballs.

After breakfast I waited outside, waiting for the crew to show up. There’s a nice view of the mountains as I kept an eye open for the Thana-van, with the Thanatos logo in the window.

Thanatos, Motor-Mouth, Knight Owl and I started by doing an undercover walk around of the Main and Hastings area I talked about yesterday. Guess what? Things didn’t get better overnight. We walked the streets and desperation was everywhere. In one of the most humbling moments, we entered the Carnegie Community Center, located in a former library. In the basement, we got Styrofoam cups of coffee for 60 cents, then went to the courtyard for a front row view of Main and Hastings. Mobs of desperate people, running and selling drugs out in the open. Block long lines waiting to get lunch at the Salvation Army.

From there we headed to Chinatown to meet up with Victim at the beautiful Chinese gardens at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park. While we’re waiting, me Knight Owl and Motor-Mouth check out Dragons martial art supply store, where Motor-Mouth is seriously tempted to buy a pair of butterfly knives.
At the gardens, Thanatos masks up and meets Victim. Victim describes himself as a "gadgeteer" and a RLSH tech support, although he’d like to gear up by Superheroes Anonymous 4 in Portland.
A light rain picks up.

We head back to Knight Owl’s efficiency, which Motor dubs the “Owl Hutch.” There they suit up for a patrol which will have the documentary crew with them.
It’s a semi-industrial area, quiet for the most part. Thanatos hands out power bars to people he sees. At one point he goes into Victim’s backpack to get a fresh supply in front of a laundry mat. An Asian woman sitting inside waiting for laundry takes in the scene, a mystified look on her face.
We stop at an overpass to look at a squalid empty lot below, abandoned shopping carts tipped over. A prostitute with a pink umbrella and white thigh high boots walks the street below. She looks up and sees us, and gives a curtsy bow.

After this we get dinner at White Dot, kind of a Canadian version of Denny’s.
We head downtown. And almost immediately meet police officers on bicycles. They’re concerned because there was a recent appearance by the anarchist black bloc who smashed window fronts in Vancouver in protest of the Olympics.
“I think it’s the wrong time to do this with masks. The crowd might get the wrong idea and if there’s drunk people, they might be a target themselves.” An officer tells me.
Thanatos and Motor-Mouth heed the officer’s advice and decide to do the patrol maskless. Drunken revelers are everywhere. A curious crowd, drawn by the documentary crew, asks questions and the RLSH try to answer.
We run into a celebratory pyrotechnics and lazer show, take it in and then walk back. Thanatos drops me off at my hostel.
More to follow.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I got off the bus at Main and Broadway, and strolled into Reno’s, an all American diner. Sorry, I mean all Canadian. I’m in Canada now. The Olympics are underway, as evidenced by the Maple leaf flag everywhere.

Inside I join a table of three men. The scene is like something from a Tarantino flick, diner coffee and pop culture talk about comic books, right before the big mission. The three at first don’t seem to have all that much in common. There’s Thanatos, about 60 years old, gray hair pulled back, wearing a skull and cross-bone print tie.

Sitting to his right, eating a club sandwich is Motor-Mouth, up from San Francisco. He’s in his 20’s, has bleach blonde hair and multiple facial piercings. His namesake becomes obvious- he vocalizes his entire stream of consciousness.
"He talks non-stop, but he has a big heart." Thanatos says.

And next to me is Knight Owl, who I met in New Bedford for the Superheroes Anonymous 3 meeting. Knight Owl works as an EMT in Iraq, and on leave he’s done a fair amount of world travelling.

The three of them joke like old friends, and in a sense the three real life superheroes are. We clear out of restaurant and head to Knight Owl’s place- an efficiency apartment he is subletting for two weeks. The guys gear up. Knight Owl displays his first tattoo, done here in Vancouver. It’s of his Knight Owl logo, and the Latin around it translates as “Faithful to the end- for the good of mankind.”

We wait for a documentary crew that will follow us for the mission- dropping a van load of supplies to homeless camp near Canada’s poorest postal code- Main and Hastings Streets. The “Olympic Tent City” was set up to provide shelter and to bring attention to Vancouver’s homeless situation. It is set up in a vacant lot that takes up an entire block, fenced in and in the shadow of a half complete condo building.

After checking into my hostel, in nearby Gas Town, I took a walk around the Main and Hastings area. It was pretty shocking and bleak. I stood outside the Treasure Island pawnshop, where homeless congregated in large groups on park benches in a small court next door. A man with long greasy hair pushes himself in a wheel chair down the street, and nearby a man yells and gestures wildly.
On the next block, near Columbia, and entire block is filled with homeless, junkies, prostitutes, outside of abandoned storefronts. Some have odds and ends junk laid out in front of them on the sidewalk they are trying to sell, a junkie bazaar.
“Three packs of batteries-five bucks!” A man tries to pitch to the crowd. A man selling packs of cigarettes rolls up some bills and shoves them in his sock.
There’s a long line of shopping carts and giant bags filled with cans. The smell of weed and stale beer permeates the air. The ground is littered with burning cigarette butts, abandoned flannels and sweatshirts and dive bombing pigeons.

Outside the Carnegie Community Center large groups of homeless and junkies hang out in large groups, ignoring the occasional tourists passing through. There are so many, so many of them. There's a lot of desperation, hordes of people who look like they might be dead in a short amount of time.
We arrive at the Olympic Tent Village, and Thanatos, Motor-Mouth, and Knight Owl load up cases of water, granola bars, bags of rice(volunteers cook meals at a make shift kitchen) and several boxes of blankets. Inside the camp it is dark, and dozens and dozens of people are milling around, wrapped in blankets and eating stew out of recycled yogurt containers.
“No one should have to live like this.” Thanatos says, as we head back to the van.
I head back to the hostel. Big days ahead.

Author’s note- sorry this is such a short take, and also I don’t have my camera cord, so I can’t upload pictures. I’ve been awake since like 4AM my time. Good night.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

HERO PROFILE #10: Vigilante Spider

Operates out of: San Diego North County area

Activities: Street patrols.

Occupation: "Kickin butt and taking names!"

Quote: "I used to feel that they were…I thought they were necessary but I started to do what I do in North Las Vegas. When you’re from that area, the first thing you notice about cops, they fend for themselves, not you. To serve and protect- in the day and age and area I was there, it didn’t seem that way. It seemed more like a big bull bullying the smaller cattle or sheep."

"That’s what it felt like in Vegas and that is why I coined the name the way I did.
I thought they were an ineffective, unnecessary part of society from my standpoint. I don’t feel that way about the police here in North County. I did have those views and opinions a long time ago when I was younger."

"I don’t condone what I did 5 years ago. But now I find there are different ways to accomplish what I accomplish in different respects and people need to broaden their horizons and realize the reason we are out there is to help.
We need to realize we aren’t the law and I’ve made that mistake and a couple of other people have. We are not above the law, we are everyday citizens trying to make the world a better place."

Author's notes: The above quotes were transcribed from a phone interview with Vigilante Spider. I was surprised that despite his namesake, he says his opinion of law enforcement has developed over the last several years, with his view shifting from resentment to cooperation.

FEMINISM-ism-isms and Side Bars

A week ago I posted a blog entry on "real life superhero" Terrifica, a woman who patrolled the bars of NYC in the early 2000's trying to keep an eye on women being taken advantage of in bad situations.
I was sure some of her comments on men would raise some eyebrows, and in fact it raised a lot of voices, with several comments here and over 60 at site HERE.

I appreciate debate and differences of opinion. One of the reasons I created this blog was for publicity, but the more important reason is that it serves as a writing tool. It allows me to post things I'm working on, see it in "print" and determine if I like it or not, see what needs to be edited or expanded on, get feedback from others, etc.

I'll give you an example with Terrifica. When I write about her, I will write some basics about who she is, using some quotes from the interview you read. Since there is a parallel topic that has developed, there will be a side bar.

I originally was not going to feature side bars in the book. They are often distracting and useless, but I've changed my mind. I think a few well placed side bars, like well placed footnotes, can offer insight while letting the main body of writing flow without getting sidetracked.

In this case, the short side bar will offer a couple of the people's criticisms of Terrifica that have been offered here, as well as the opinion of at least one supporter. (When I get around to creating this, I will be contacting the comments authors to get permission to quote.)

: I will be in Vancouver on Monday and will hopefully be blogging about it, journal style on a daily basis right here!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Author’s notes: Instead of the usual Thursday profile, I thought I’d share an interview I did with someone over the summer, who might not be handing out Valentines this weekend. Yes it’s Terrifica, a New York City woman, who by all accounts is a “Godmother” of the modern Real Life Superhero. Her secret origin is one many of us can relate to- a broken heart.

Terrifica began appearing in bars in the early 2000’s, dressed in a blonde wig, gold mask and Valkyrie bra, crimson and pink tights and cape.
“I protect the single girl living in the big city.” Terrifica told an ABC reporter in 2002. She elaborated that she was looking to help inebriated, decision making impaired women get into taxis and home safely, much to the dismay of horndogs city wide.

To help her in this fight, her utility belt held pepper spray, a cell phone, lipstick, a camera to take pictures of alleged male predators, a logging book, Terrifica fortune cards, and Smarties.*
It’s believed she “hung up the cape,” in 2005 or 2006, but as you’ll see, she contests this. Here is my e-mail interview, in its entirety with TERRIFICA.

TERRIFICA INTERVIEWS (06/14-08/15, 2009)

When did you first decide to adopt the persona of Terrifica and what is the origin of that identity?

I have not adopted a “persona.” I am Terrifica. I have always been Terrifica. I will always be Terrifica. I was created by the universe to fulfill a great mission.

You have been influential on what is sometimes called the "Real Life Superhero" movement. In fact some "RLSHs" have cited reading articles about Terrifica as a direct inspiration to participating in the scene. Does this surprise you?

I am happy to learn that others are inspired by me to not only identify their personal missions, but to pursue them through heroic acts. I only hope that any other super humans out there have missions that are worthy and serve the better circumstances across the globe of womankind for there is still a great deal to be done.

How does it feel to be a "pioneer" of such a movement?

I was not aware of any movement before you asked me your question.

Do you have advice for the RLSHs out there?

Yes, I do. It is important for other super heroes to not only articulate their missions clearly and remain steadfast to fulfilling their purpose, but also to be brave. My mission is very dangerous, and I am frequently confronted by situations that would shock and horrify even the toughest of super humans. To fulfully [sic] fulfill one’s mission, a super human must not only be relentless in its pursuit but be willing to sacrifice all towards its end. Super humans cannot have friends for their friends will be in danger. Super humans cannot expect glory. Super humans must be prepared for a life of isolation and a public that misunderstands and condemns them. Super humans cannot be afraid to be completely alone in the world. Super humans with truly worthy missions will often be reviled. My advice is be prepared.

Unlike a lot of RLSHs who are doing general patrols…

If they are not doing patrols, how do they accomplish their missions?

…you had a more specific mission. You were looking for women who had their decision making impaired by alcohol. Why did you feel so strongly about this cause?

Because when a woman falls prey to a man who is willing to seduce her either for one night or a lifetime, she is destroyed. She is a victim of the mythologies of love and social order that men perpetrate in order to keep women in the role of servant, whore, wife, or mother.

Was your mission met with resistance?

By men? Of course. I prevent them from hurting women.

My understanding is that at some point you decided to hang up your crime fighting outfit. What was the reasoning for this decision?

That is completely false.

I will never abandon my mission until every woman in the world is empowered to make choices that will ensure that she is never a victim of a man’s manipulation and her own lack of self-esteem.

Do you still have the costume and if so, are you ever tempted to put it back on and hit the street?

I am always on the street. Every night. I am always out there. So... men... BEWARE. I will stop you. I will find you and I will stop you. If you run into me, your life will never be the same. (I have modified my uniform for undercover work. Publicity made me too well-known and undermined my success.)

I read some past articles on Terrifica. One refers to you as an "anti-cupid" in the title and another is titled "Meet the anti-sex in the city superhero." Is this accurate? Would you say you are anti-love, anti-romance, or anti-sex?

I do not know Cupid. I suspect he's just a myth. He's supposedly Aphrodite's son, right? The flying baby with the arrows? I'm surprised Greek mythology is still relevant these days. But I don't want to insult anyone's religion. So, I'll entertain the question. If Cupid is real, I would certainly not be anti-Cupid. It's wrong to be anti-baby. But I would take away his arrows.

Can you explain who Fantastico** is? In one article he seems to be portrayed as an actual single individual, and in another he seems to be more of a concept, something along the lines of "Fantastico can be any male." How can someone identify Fantastico?

Every woman who has ever had her heart broken by a cad has her own personal Fantastico. [SECRET IDENTITY DELETED] had hers. It is my job to make sure that no woman ever again suffers the consequences of getting involved with Fantastico.


* The Smarties are for energy!
** Fantastico is mentioned in several sources as Terrifica's villainous arch enemy.


“Meet the Anti-Sex in the City Superhero” by Bryan Robinson, Nov. 5, 2002, ABC News website

“The Anti-Cupid: Able to stop an ill-advised hook up in a single bound.” By Grant Stoddard, New York Magazine Nov.8, 2004

Interview by Kevlex, 1/25/2006 for the World Superhero Registry site.

Series of e-mail interviews, conducted June 14- August 15, 2009

Sunday, February 7, 2010


(Blackbird (Left) and The Watchman)

The sky is like cloudy cotton candy dropped in a rain puddle. It’s an artificial color- lit up by the strong lights of the industrial park in the background. Giant streams of smoke billow lazily from the tannery behind Becher Street. Milwaukee is cold and silent this time of year.
The Watchman has picked me up in the Watchmanmobile, driving us down to a neighborhood on the South side of Milwaukee known as Bay View. During the short drive, he shows me maps he has printed off from the site Spot Crime, which maps out recently reported crime with a series of icons.

We park and head to Becher Street on foot, heading to a meet up spot where we are destined to meet Milwaukee’s newest masked adventurer, Blackbird. Besides Watchman and Blackbird, there is a third Milwaukee “real life superhero” (RLSH) named Raptor, who is unable to make it out this evening.
I get a call from Blackbird, and we meet up with him in front of an old, abandoned corner bar, the Nautical Inn. The lettering on the sign is so faded you can hardly read it, and there is no sign of life. It’s Saturday night, but you would never guess that here, it’s like a ghost town. The air is silent except for the hum of industry in the nearby factories.

Blackbird shakes our hands, under a street light, which reflects off of his black mask. He speaks in a low, even keel, muffled voice.
The sculpted mask covers his face entirely, hiding all emotions. The eyes are reflective and molded in a pinched look staring down his beak. He is tall, wiry, and lean. He wears a black hoodie, pulled over up on his head, a light black trench coat and some tall black leather boots, a red scarf wrapped around his neck.
It’s a spooky look and also reminds me of the great Edward Gorey’s birdlike, scarf wearing creature in his book The Doubtful Guest, scratched out in illustration by Gorey’s Gothic hand.

The plan is to patrol Bay View and nearby Walker’s Point. I’m familiar with both of these neighborhoods. I have friends in both areas, and my work as a freelancer has brought me through frequently.
We head toward the Milwaukee Solvay Coke and Gas site, 46 acres of industrial wasteland. Most of it is fenced off, demolished buildings from when the Environmental Protection Agency did a hazardous waste removal in 2003. The former administrative building faces the street, at a dead end near the train tracks, on the other side of a dark highway overpass, dripping water from melting ice. It’s boarded up and covered in graffiti. Trash blows everywhere and sits in piles in an abandoned lot across the street from the building. Someone has dumped a truckload of newspaper inserts in plastic bags right on the sidewalk.

As I talk to Blackbird about my writing, Watchman puts in a call to his Great Lakes Heroes Guild team mates, Razorhawk and Geist, who are patrolling the streets of Minneapolis with a new real life superhero, Golden Valkyrie. There’s been a series of violent muggings in recent weeks, and they’re patrolling the area.
Watchman calls in a couple times. It’s not just to say hi, it’s also a dual safety check- in to make sure everything is going alright for both crews. All is well in Minneapolis.
We leave the industrial mess behind and cross a bridge over the Kinnickinnic River, heading to the nearby neighborhood of Walker’s Point. Our destination is one of the major streets of this side of town, National Avenue. I’ve been on patrol in this area with Watchman and MoonDragon before.

Walker’s Point, like Bay View, is a random mix of commercial, residential, and industrial areas and has an interesting mix of cultures. Most of Milwaukee’s gay bars are located in the area, and the city’s largest Hispanic population is centered here, as well as working class families that have lived in the neighborhood for generations. The result is an odd mix of establishments. The Green Bay Packer loving, working class bar Steny’s Tavern is just a block from La Cage, famous for their drag queen shows. The Gold Coast strip club is just a couple blocks away from the home of the Milwaukee Ballet.

Blackbird shows us a couple of spots he’s been staking out.
“This would be a good place to nest- excuse the pun.” He says as we stand in the shadows near a bar on a back street. It’s poorly lit and surrounded by giant warehouses. There are a lot of parked cars and drunken revelers, unaware of the masked men nearby.
Blackbird also takes us to a small park. He’s done a stake out here before, even preventing a car break in, he says. He was tipped off about it when he began hearing about multiple car break -ins and a mugging all on this same block. It’s not far off National, and has a steady stream of fresh targets as people constantly park on this block throughout the night in proximity to the nightlife nearby. We hang around the park awhile while Watchman gives Blackbird the low down on stuff going on in the RLSH scene.

As we head back toward Bay View, we’ve picked up attention from the police. A couple have driven by slowly, but none have stopped.
We walk by the Allen Bradley clock tower, a giant, illuminated four sided clock, resting high above the giant factory. It is now close to striking 1:30 AM. The clock is one of the most recognizable landmarks of this neighborhood. The neighborhood used to be mostly working class Polish, which led to the clock tower being nicknamed “the Polish moon.” As we walk through Allen Bradley’s large complex, a Milwaukee Police squad drives by really slowly, crawling by. We keep walking. We take a left and walk a couple blocks.

Watchman is explaining how he has never been stopped by the police, when another squad crawls by slowly, then turns around and pulls up, parking on an angle near us.
“What’s with the masks?” A female officer asks out of her car window. She has a wary smile. Her partner, a gruff looking male, stares at us, frowning.
It seems like she thinks we are on a destination- maybe a late night costume party. When Watchman says they are just walking around, keeping an eye on things, both officers get out of the squad.
“I need you to take the masks off.” The male cop says.
“What- really?” Blackbird says.
“Yeah really. Masks off and I need to see IDs.” Something Watchman has told me many times, is that he will always cooperate with police. The two remove their masks, their hair messy. Blackbird is somewhat surprised that under the mask; Watchman is…[DESCRIPTIONS DELETED].

It is both officers’ first experience with an RLSH.
I tell the officers I am a writer and hand in my ID. The male officer goes to the squad to puzzle them out. Meanwhile, Watchman tells the female officer a little bit more about what he is doing out on the street. She seems a bit relieved that they’re looking to report trouble instead of instigating it and she warms up after her initial bafflement, although she still seems to be not sure what to make of it.

When Watchman explains they are just two concerned citizens who want to help, the officer smiles. She tells them it is okay for them to wear the masks, the officers just had no idea what was going on.
“Well. God bless ya, guys.” She says, asking them to be careful. Her partner hands back the IDs and shrugs.

The masks back in place, we continue on back toward Bay View. The rest of the walk is pretty uneventful. We part ways with Blackbird at the Nautical Inn, and Watchman drives me home. He is glad to make another RLSH connection here in the Brew City, and visualizes a day when there will be enough Milwaukee mystery men to form a group that can work as a team on the street as well as becoming a non-profit charity organization.
More photos from the patrol at the Heroes in the Night MySpace

Thursday, February 4, 2010

HERO PROFILE #9: Executrix

Aka: ‘Trixie

Operates out of: Ohio, the Hotbed of Evil

: Animal rights and charities, hosts the “Creature Feature” show

Current activity: Organizing a charity Zombie Crawl

Quote: “I have been doing various forms of Animal Welfare for a while now. I am friends with other RLSH and decided to step it up a notch and add the mask for the cause. They are a great inspiration to go out there and do something good. Plus it shows you don’t have to look like everyone else.”

Author’s notes: She’s identified herself as “morally ambiguous,” an anti-hero, and has even been dubbed the “queen of the villains” by others. Insiders know, though, that Executrix is really a sweetheart. Evidence: She is organizing a Zombie Crawl for March 6 that will raise funds and materials for the Huntington (West Virginia) Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter. Good times for a good cause!