Superheroes Need Super Support Groups

Originally posted: http://www.aolnews.com/article/superheroes-need-super-support-groups/19544385
By David Moye
July 8) — Being a superhero used to be a specialized field. You either had to be the victim of a bizarre accident, like being bit by a radioactive spider, or suffer a tragic incident, i.e. being the sole survivor, blasted into outer space, from a distant planet as it was being destroyed.
But now things are different. Despite the contention of films like “The Incredibles” that some people are born super compared with the rest of us, being a superhero is a more egalitarian prospect than ever.
Yes, whereas folks used to dress up like Superman or Thor on Halloween, these days, people want to be superheroes all year long. Also, rather than piggybacking on some comic book hero, folks would rather become their own superheroes, with powers of their own choosing.

he members of Superheroes Anonymous dedicate themselves to truth, justice and the American way not by fighting supervillains but by giving toiletries to the homeless.

he members of Superheroes Anonymous dedicate themselves to truth, justice and the American way not by fighting supervillains but by giving toiletries to the homeless.


Superhero groups are popping up in cities like San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; and New York City, which is the headquarters of Superheroes Anonymous (SA), a support group of caped crusaders who run around the city doing small acts of good, like dispensing toiletries to the homeless while dressed in superhero costumes.
SA is modeled after 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, but rather than meet to help one another recover from being super, this offbeat organization tries to inspire people to become their own superheroes.
The organization has been around four years, and co-founder Ben Goldman — whose superhero identity is “Camera Man,” a documentarian to all the organization’s good works — says self-empowerment is the key to understanding the group’s mission.
“People become superheroes because they want to engage a certain degree of control in making the world a better place,” Goldman said.
Goldman’s group has been around four years and now has chapters in Portland and New Bedford, Mass.
In addition, two event organizers in San Francisco have created an annual festival designed to honor “heroes” who are doing things in their communities and to inspire people to become the heroes they’ve always been inside.
The second annual Superhero Street Fair takes place Saturday in the Bayview neighborhood and will have a few hundred folks dressed up as superheroes.
According to FlashNews, regular Joes and Janes are encouraged to wear their very own made-up superhero outfits and show off their unique superpowers, which organizer Joegh Bullock says could include singing, dancing, painting or even kissing, if that’s their forte.
Bullock says that by embracing their own special powers and looking deep inside themselves, people will realize how super they really are and “hopefully feel those powers in them throughout the year.”
He and his fellow organizer came up with the idea awhile back when they realized they wanted an event where everyone would wear the same type of costume.
“We wanted something where you wouldn’t have one person be a clown and another be a fairy,” Bullock said. “We also wanted to take the superpowers out of ‘Hollywood’ and make them things ordinary people can do.”
Bullock expects as many as 3,000 people will attend, and many of those will be coming out of the superhero closet for the first time. For those people, he offers this advice: Believe in your power. A costume isn’t just a costume, it’s an attitude.”
As Bullock sees it, everyone has an alter ego that should be embraced.
“Superman had his secret identity, but we all have a superpower we can call on at anytime. For instance, I call myself ‘Tape Man.’ It came up recently when I was putting up posters for the event at the same time other people were posting things around town. I had strips of tape all over my body and people were grabbing it off me.”
One woman who is embracing her super side Saturday is professional costume designer Sarah Boll.
Last year, she wore a magenta wig and purple bodysuit and revealed herself as Ultra Violet, whose “super sparkling powers can dazzle any enemy away.”
This year, Boll is transitioning into a “punk robot” hero but admits she is still working on the powers (“But I do like color,” she adds).
It’s fun for her, but Boll also is inspired to use her costume to help the community. She also believes that dressing up as a hero helps her connect with her inner hero.
“I do feel more like myself when I’m in costume,” she said. “Plus, it’s great whenever people embrace what they’re enthusiastic about and share it.”
Compared with Superheroes Anonymous, the Superhero Street Fair emphasizes fun and whimsy. However, Bullock sees the homemade hero trend as a very powerful one.
“People want something to believe in and empower themselves,” he said. “I know I want to live this way all the time.”

The group has maybe 30 to 40 members, and each one agrees to adopt a 12-point code that includes the following steps:

  • Choosing to be better people and becoming a force of good.
  • Discovering the source of one’s inner superhero.
  • Opening one’s eyes to the environment without shying away from injustice and despair.
  • Giving the inner superhero a name.

Because the laws of physics prevent a person from having heat-ray vision like Superman or the ability to run around Earth in a second like the Flash, SA members have to define superpowers more loosely than their comic-book counterparts.
“We believe that you should take something you love to do and transform that into an identity,” Goldman said. “For instance, I love to make documentaries, so I am the group’s historian. That comes in handy when you have a hero like Dark Guardian, who approaches drug dealers in parks and gets them to leave.”
Superheroes Anonymous – Dark Guardian confronts a drug dealer from Ben Goldman on Vimeo.
As far as the costumes are concerned, Goldman says there are two schools of thought.

As "Ultra Violet," San Francisco costume designer Sarah Boll possesses the power to dazzle any enemy away.

As “Ultra Violet,” San Francisco costume designer Sarah Boll possesses the power to dazzle any enemy away.


“Batman created his costume to invoke fear, whereas Superman assumed his in order to be a symbol,” Goldman said. “That’s what we aspire to. It’s one thing to hand out toiletries to the homeless, but when you’re doing it wearing a costume, people are more likely to stop and ask what you’re doing and maybe get involved themselves.”
Comic books like “The Dark Knight” and “Watchmen” suggest that the negative side of being a superhero is the vigilante aspect, and that is something Goldman stresses is not allowed in his group,
“We don’t endorse vigilantism,” he said. “We don’t live in Gotham City where there is a bank robbery every weekend or supervillains trying to destroy the city. We leave those matters in the hands of the police. There are enough things to do such as dropping off toys at Children’s Hospital.”
Goldman’s group has been around four years and now has chapters in Portland and New Bedford, Mass.
In addition, two event organizers in San Francisco have created an annual festival designed to honor “heroes” who are doing things in their communities and to inspire people to become the heroes they’ve always been inside.
The second annual Superhero Street Fair takes place Saturday in the Bayview neighborhood and will have a few hundred folks dressed up as superheroes.
According to FlashNews, regular Joes and Janes are encouraged to wear their very own made-up superhero outfits and show off their unique superpowers, which organizer Joegh Bullock says could include singing, dancing, painting or even kissing, if that’s their forte.
Bullock says that by embracing their own special powers and looking deep inside themselves, people will realize how super they really are and “hopefully feel those powers in them throughout the year.”
He and his fellow organizer came up with the idea awhile back when they realized they wanted an event where everyone would wear the same type of costume.
“We wanted something where you wouldn’t have one person be a clown and another be a fairy,” Bullock said. “We also wanted to take the superpowers out of ‘Hollywood’ and make them things ordinary people can do.”
Bullock expects as many as 3,000 people will attend, and many of those will be coming out of the superhero closet for the first time. For those people, he offers this advice: Believe in your power. A costume isn’t just a costume, it’s an attitude.”
As Bullock sees it, everyone has an alter ego that should be embraced.
“Superman had his secret identity, but we all have a superpower we can call on at anytime. For instance, I call myself ‘Tape Man.’ It came up recently when I was putting up posters for the event at the same time other people were posting things around town. I had strips of tape all over my body and people were grabbing it off me.”
One woman who is embracing her super side Saturday is professional costume designer Sarah Boll.
Last year, she wore a magenta wig and purple bodysuit and revealed herself as Ultra Violet, whose “super sparkling powers can dazzle any enemy away.”
This year, Boll is transitioning into a “punk robot” hero but admits she is still working on the powers (“But I do like color,” she adds).
It’s fun for her, but Boll also is inspired to use her costume to help the community. She also believes that dressing up as a hero helps her connect with her inner hero.
“I do feel more like myself when I’m in costume,” she said. “Plus, it’s great whenever people embrace what they’re enthusiastic about and share it.”
Compared with Superheroes Anonymous, the Superhero Street Fair emphasizes fun and whimsy. However, Bullock sees the homemade hero trend as a very powerful one.
“People want something to believe in and empower themselves,” he said. “I know I want to live this way all the time.”
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