If doing good starts with the willingness to try, Mr. Xtreme, a Real Life Superhero on the ground in San Diego, California, was born willing. Extremely so.
From his formidable body armor (“It’s kind of a hodgepodge”), to his daunting pinhole goggles (“It definitely takes some adjusting to,” he admits), everything about him is extreme. Like his belief in the power of the individual. His engaging at every level in the affairs and well-being of his community. Or his passion for preventing violent crime—and easing the suffering of its victims. Because while he may have derived his basic inspiration from the comic books, TV shows and movies every Superhero cites, the deeper reasons for his taking to the streets are intensely personal.
“I’ve been a volunteer crime-fighter for more than 10 years now,” he says, “but the thing that really made me get involved in this is that I myself have been a victim of violent crime and have also come from a struggling background. I’ve been jumped by gang members, bullied at school…,” he pauses for just a moment, “and I was molested as a child,” he reveals. But from the gauntlet of those experiences, Mr. Xtreme was born. “I wanted to do something positive, heroic and also as a way of protest against indifference in society. People are being victimized, and I feel that someone has to take a stand. Someone has to stand up and put a stop to it.”
To that end, he formed The Xtreme Justice League, and together with other like-minded Real Life Superheroes in the southernmost part of his state, goes on patrols, participates in outreach efforts to boost volunteerism in his neighborhood, and looks to make his city a safer place all around. “We’re a tight-knit group of guys who get together several times a week, sometimes two of us, sometimes by myself, and sometimes there’s more of us for special events like when we did a big homeless outreach at ComiCon here in San Diego, or went up to L.A. for the AIDS Walk with Team Being Alive.” And while the efforts of his Xtreme Justice League may not always meet with stunning success (“some are outright failures,” he says candidly), there are some initiatives that Mr. Xtreme can point to with a justifiable sense of pride.
“I’ve actually saved a life volunteering, so I know from true experience that what we do is very valuable and meaningful. If I was not there, this person might not have lived. So even if some people might think it’s ridiculous, I know it’s not.”
Still, Mr. Xtreme sometimes does have to face his doubters. “There are gonna be people who are receptive, and others who are gonna be against it, and others who just don’t care. I just want to get out there and do it. I’m not going to change who I am, so they can accept that this is who we are and what we do, or they can take it or leave it. Hey, I could wear a three piece suit there’s still gonna be people who are skeptical,” he states.
“I think the most misunderstood part of what I do with The Xtreme Justice League is saying that we’re vigilantes. We’re not that, we don’t violate people’s rights and we’re not here to look for fights. We’re here to prevent crime and empower people to prevent it themselves by being seen. We’re showing the community that they can take a stand, not be prisoners in their own communities,” he continues. “This is what you can legally do to prevent crime. Yeah, we draw on the influence from those fictional comic book vigilantes, but we know what’s real. What we can and can’t do.”
And the one thing Mr. Xtreme knows for sure is that at the end of every day, there is a new one. And a chance to get out and try again.