Apathy is our greatest enemy as a society in the eyes of Super Hero. “Problem is, nobody gives a damn about it,” he jokes. But for this Real Life Superhero living and operating in Clearwater, FL, this persistent condition isn’t really funny at all.
Voluble, outspoken and with a sharp sense of humor, Super Hero attended and graduated from the police academy, before beginning his life in the public eye as a professional wrestler. During his wrestling career, he often worked under the name “Super Hero,” and when he made the decision to join the ranks of other costumed activists, he decided to keep it. His primary mission is neighborhood patrolling, and he’s not afraid to use his training to help clean up a park, or stare down a drug dealer. With his powerful 5’11” frame clad in skintight red-and-blue spandex, he makes a strong first impression. “People are always grateful to see me. I’m a large and colorful character, so I’ve never really had a hassle. One time though, after I had helped someone out, he asked me ‘What do we owe you?’ I said ‘You don’t owe me anything, I’m a superhero!’”
And his popularity is growing. “I get a ton of fan mail from people that do this now, that say they were inspired by me, I get people just starting. I try to be humble about it all, but I’ve had people come from other parts of the country specifically to patrol with me and then move on, going back to their towns to continue their work.”
In Super Hero’s worldview, the greatest daily challenge he faces is… boredom. “It’s 99% boredom,” he says, “for one moment of sheer terror. It takes a lot of waiting to get to the parts where you get to do the exciting stuff, which is why I do charity work as well as patrols. There’s a lot of time you can fill up with helping people.”
But helping takes money, and with most heroes “taking money out of our own tights” to pay for the good works they do, Super Hero realized that locating sources for continued funding had to become a priority. In December of 2009, he co-founded Team Justice, Inc., the first non-profit organization for Real Life Superheroes with government-sanctioned tax-exempt status. “We take donations, then turn them around to use at different events such as water runs, Christmas toy drops, and so on. 100% of everything we receive goes to the streets. We have no overhead, absolute zilch.”
In Super Hero’s ongoing fight against apathy, the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese looms large. Genovese, a resident of Kew Gardens, Queens, NY, was brutally stabbed to death around two corners and three sides of her apartment building, as neighbors watched and listened—and did nothing to help. The phenomenon social scientists have come to call “The Bystander Effect,” or “diffusion of responsibility,” where onlookers feel that someone else will do the right thing so that they don’t have to, is particularly troubling to Super Hero.
“That’s our biggest opponent,” he claims, “there are a lot of people that say they don’t want to get involved, they’re indifferent and apathetic. The Kitty Genovese case is a glaring example. But we are people who want to take a stand, so we lead by example. If I see someone fall down in a parking lot, I grab a kit and take care of them. I run toward the scream, not away from it. We show people that they can get involved. They can do it even without a suit.”