Attention, Christmas Shoppers: Don’t Forget to Buy G.I. Joe a New Sweater For The 2014 Holidays!

Oh, man. This 1:6 scale sweater's so bad—it's GREAT! Check out your local Michael's craft stores. They're being sold as ornaments on little hangers for just $ (Photo: Laura Ann Ostermeyer)

Ho-Ho-Hilarious! This 1:6 scale sweater looks so bad—it’s GREAT! Perfectly sized for all 12-inch action figures, it’ll make an ideal “bad sweater” for your GIjOE. Available at Michael’s art supply stores NOW. They’re sold as Christmas ornaments and come with little hangers, $6. (Photo: Laura Ann Ostermeyer)

Every year about this time, our festive “Field Reporters” begin sending in notices of a variety of intriguing 1:6 scale “finds” (i.e. miniature accessories, objects and even clothing items) that are ideal for use with GIjOEs. The first such report to come in over our teletype machine came to us today from “Lucky” Laura Ann Ostermeyer. Laura’s keen eye for finding 1:6 scale items helped her spy this “so bad it’s great” 1:6 Christmas sweater, complete with a 1:6 metal hanger for sale at a local Michael’s crafts and art supplies store. Laura filed the following report with us this evening:

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Field Reporter for The Joe Report, Laura Ann Ostermeyer (Photo: Laura Ann Ostermeyer)

Field Reporter for The Joe Report, Laura Ann Ostermeyer (Photo: Laura Ann Ostermeyer)

“Hi guys and gals! On one of the fashion doll Facebook places, someone mentioned that Michael’s had some small knit Xmas Sweaters. I stopped by on my way home from work—and they had some! They ring up at $5.99 but you can get a 50% off coupon for any one item on either your smart phone or online. So… for around $3 it’s a fun holiday sweater for Joe and any other 1/6th pals.”

Bottom Line: Thanks for your alert “heads up” on this 1:6 scale holiday item, Laura. We know where we’ll be motoring off to tomorrow. If anyone else out there finds anything that would make a great gift for our 12-inch buddies, please write in and let us know. Thanks. Ho-Ho-Ho! And Merry Christmas!

It looks even worse (in a good way) when you put it on your Joe. Now he's a sure standout at your next Christmas party! (Photo: Laura Ann Ostermeyer)

Yikes. This 1:6 scale sweater from Michael’s looks even worse (in a good way) when you put it on your Joe. Now he’s a sure standout at your next 1:6 Christmas party! (Photo: Laura Ann Ostermeyer)

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Too Racy For G.I. Joe Fans? Photographer Blurs Boundaries Between Fashion Photography and Pornography With New (Self-Published) Book

Art? Porn? A little of both? It's always been in the eyes of the beholder. (Photo: Tony Kelly)

Art, porn, or a little of both? As always, the answer rests in the eyes of the beholder. (Photo: Tony Kelly)

We debated long—and hard—about the appropriateness of this image on The Joe Report. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that it would barely squeak past the censors and went ahead with it. What do you think? Is the new book by fashion photographer, Tony Kelly, too much for

We debated long and hard about the appropriateness of this image appearing on The Joe Report (and our apologies to any readers who are offended). Eventually, we came to the conclusion that it would barely “arouse” the ire of today’s ‘net-censors and went ahead. (Photo: Tony Kelly)

Utilizing 1:6 Scale G.I. Joes As Props in Sexually Explicit Pics—Is It Going Too Far—Or Is It Simply An Adult “Artistic Interpretation” of Hasbro’s Iconic Action Figure?

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“Never complain. Never explain. Welcome to the world of Tony Kelly Photography.” —Tony Kelly

What do you get when a fashion photographer combines an obvious passion for the female form with—1:6 scale GIjOE action figures? Well, if you’re Dublin-born Tony Kelly, the results are compiled into his newly self-published book entitled, “Tony’s Toys,” and feature page upon page of glossy, full-color photos depicting nude and semi-nude female pulchritude, all carefully posed with numerous 12-inch GIjOEs (and other figures) in a variety of humorously compromising positions. Attention Parents: It’s important to note, that despite this book’s use of children’s toys as subject matter, it is an adult-oriented photo album that is definitely not intended or appropriate for viewing by children. On the other hand, some (over 18) adult collectors of GIjOE-related paraphernalia may actually enjoy Kelly’s new tome and (may) even consider plunking down the approximately $75 he’s requesting in order to add it to their personal “Joe-Libraries.” Of course, that depends entirely on a given fan’s personal collecting preferences and his or her tolerance threshold for this sort of adult-oriented “reading material” (i.e., This book’s not for everybody).

This is coming off! Even Joe's 8-inch cousin, "Big Jim"  gets in on the action in Kelly's new book. This is one of the few pics we can show here. Others are too explicit (sorry). (Photo: Tony Kelly)

Even Joe’s 8-inch cousin, “Big Jim” gets in on the action in Kelly’s new book. Unfortunately, this is one of the few pics from the book we can show. Most are simply too explicit. (Photo: Tony Kelly)

The ideal male body? Art historians largely regard Michaelangelo's "David" (1501) as the world's greatest statue of a male body. Yet, despite its obvious superb artistic achievement, conflicting morals and viewpoints regarding nudity prevent many from appreciating its undeniable perfection as a work of art. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Art historians and experts agree Michaelangelo’s “David” (1501) is one of the greatest sculptures ever created, if not THE greatest. If Kelly added a couple of GIjOEs to this shot, would it bother you? Or amuse you? (Photo: Wikipedia)

As it has always been throughout human history, the ever shifting sands of morality and tolerance of nude imagery has ultimately rested within “the eyes of the beholder.” Ever since the earliest creations of African and Asian erotic “fertility art,” ancient Greco-Roman sculpture and Renaissance era through modern-day paintings (and most recently, photographs), all works featuring nudes as their subject matter have routinely been regarded BOTH as art, and/or derided as “filth” (or even worse). Today, more than ever, with the inexorable infiltration of nude imagery into modern-day advertising, television and everyday pop culture items such as comic books and video games, works such as Kelly’s new photo book will continue to probe the level of current public acceptance for materials that “blur the lines” between what is considered adult-oriented art, or—to put it simply—prurient pornography.

Are GIjOEs Too “Grown Up” Now?

As collectors of 1:6 scale action figures know all too well, the once simple world of “America’s Movable Fighting Man” has increasingly become “infiltrated” by a growing number of adult-themed, “sexy” female action figures, many now with hidden joints, “life-like” rubber skin, interchangeable breasts (DD anyone?) and even anatomically-correct female features once considered off-limits, such as nipples and…well, you know the rest. Collectors of this adult-niche of the 1:6 hobby can also purchase a wide variety of sexy, adult lingerie (for the figures, HA), items previously seen only in Victoria’s Secret stores or in old Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogs. Of course, today’s Barbie fans can also purchase similar 1:6 scale “intimates,” and the preference for such risqué outfits again, rests entirely within an individual’s collecting prerogative and personal preferences. Despite the limitations of such 1:6 products (i.e. they’re not intended for use by children), this emerging adult-market segment appears to growing steadily and surely.

Are they coming—or going? In another photo that barely squeaked by our editorial staff, a group of nude Joes seem to trying to decide something. Either that, or they've just been "birthed" by the unknown woman. What do YOU think is going on? (Photo: Tony Kelly)

Are they coming—or going? In another photo that barely squeaked by our editorial staff, a group of nude Joes seems to be trying to decide…something. Either that, or they’ve just been “birthed” by an unknown woman looking at her fingernails. What do YOU think is going on here? (Photo: Tony Kelly)

Kelly travels the world to complete assignments for various fashion and adult magazines. (Photo: Tony Kelly)

Kelly travels the world to complete assignments for various fashion and adult magazines. (Photo: Tony Kelly)

Kelly’s experience photographing nude and semi-nude women for high-fashion magazines and adults-only fare such as Playboy, has prepared him well for this first book project, but as might be expected, any book full of naked women posing with GIjOEs and other children’s toys is bound to strike a sensitive nerve with some. Indeed, there are always going to be fans who feel such imagery is demeaning or insulting to women. Others will take a more blasé view and point out that such “shocking” images are merely an attempt by the artist or photographer to stir up public reaction and (hopefully) boost sales of their products. Finally, there will also be fans who find this whole subject much ado about nothing, laughing at all the fuss and folderol.

Not surprisingly then, once news of Kelly’s book was released on the internet, it didn’t take long for Facebook’s GIjOE fan boards to “light up” over this topic. After the usual back-n-forth sexual banter and “nudge-nudge” innuendoes had been made, some male GIjOE collectors wanted to know how their female counterparts felt about all this, and we too, were curious how GIjOE collectors of ALL stripes and types regarded this relatively unusual use of their favorite childhood toy. Predictably, opinions varied widely, but one female fan, Xio Vasquez, was quick to voice her concerns about the sensitive material and the fact that some (male fans) in the the male-dominated Sandbox Facebook group appeared to be discussing the topic too casually, stating:

Get the Point? It's amazing what a long pair of perfect legs and 2 scuba GIjOEs can do. Or is it? (Photo: Tony Kelly)

Get the Point? It’s amazing what a pair of perfect legs and 2 scuba Joes with spearguns can do to…Oh, never mind, we’re too busy lookin’ at those gams! (Photo: Tony Kelly)

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Honestly? As a female collector? I’d like to say I’m feeling pretty alienated and weirded out by all of it. It’s… Honestly, it’s pretty much the pickle on the crap sandwich that collecting has become for me. I’d like to think that I don’t personally ask for much, and hardly anything in a public space, but figures in general that look practical or cool. What I get instead, turns out to be a myriad of military figures, which I have no problem with at all, and then an over-sexualization of female figures, both mass produced and custom. And I can deal with this. Grit my teeth and bear it. Make my own custom ladies who are badasses and cool-looking myself. Yes, I have to sluck through a marshland of PVC and latex-clad ladies with no aesthetic or practical value in order to find some gems, but hey! At least there ARE gems. But now there’s this (Kelly’s book). It’s a strange, niche fetish being advertised in a group that I thought was supposed to be wholesome and, well, anything but… THIS. I’m really not sure how to describe it. But I honestly expected a lot better than this kind of display from a bunch of adults. And yes, we may all play with toys, but we really are all adults here. It isn’t the fact that it (an ad for Kelly’s book) was posted at all. It’s the fact that it’s being advertised and encouraged, really. Discussing prices of how much a real woman costs, like she’s an actual toy to be bought, used, and discarded or traded once boredom sets in. I’m not really sure this is a group that I’m gonna fit in with if this is the kind of talk that’s had. Sorry if this seems harsh or humorless, but it’s the truth, and someone’s gotta say it, I think.”

GIjOE fan and collector, Xio Vasquez (Photo: Xio Vasquez)

GIjOE fan and collector, Xio Vasquez (Photo: Xio Vasquez)

Xio’s views were typical of many women, but we also expected to hear from female fans who weren’t bothered by advertisements for Kelly’s book or its risqué content. And we were right. First, we heard from our own intrepid “Field Reporter,” Carin Reddig (a well-known collector and customizer of GIjOEs) regarding her thoughts on Kelly’s book. She replied:

GIjOE fan and collector, Carin Reddig. (Photo: Carin Reddig)

GIjOE fan and collector, Carin Reddig. (Photo: Carin Reddig)

womancomment“Wow. Ha-ha. Some of them (the photos in Kelly’s book) are kind of clever. I don’t see myself buying it (the book), but I can certainly see how it might appeal to some Joe collectors. Definitely not at all offended though. He should do a sequel using male models—and Barbie’s!”
Carin Chromie Reddig
Intrigued, we asked another long-time action figure fan and customizer, Laura Ann Ostermeyer (also a trusty TJR Field Reporter) for her opinions regarding Kelly’s book and the 1:6 scale hobby’s recent increase of the marketing and sexualization of action figures in general. She kindly responded:
GIjOE fan and "playscaler," Laura Ann Ostermeyer. (Photo: Laura Ann Ostermeyer)

GIjOE fan and “playscaler,” Laura Ann Ostermeyer (Photo: Laura Ann Ostermeyer)

womancomment“Although I haven’t had an opportunity to see the entire contents of Tony Kelly’s book, I have been amused and intrigued by the images seen on-line. Groups of GIjOEs and other action figures checking out nude pinup girls in a variety of poses—even getting ‘up close and personal’ in a few shots. I am actually more interested hearing what other people think of them—probably due to my background and having studied anthropology and having majored in it in college. Sitting back and watching others weigh in and seeing what makes them tick is fascinating.

Am I offended? Especially, since I am female? No. It takes a lot to offend me. I grew up in Hollywood, CA, in the 1970s and saw many interesting things. I worked in the entertainment industry and also was around a lot of different art. I also am an artist myself, so to me, this is just another form of art. The human body is a work of art. Action figures and doll bodies are works of art. Meshing them together to create new and interesting images and stories—this too is a work of art. My only wish was that Bettie Page could have been around for one of Tony Kelly’s GIjOE photo shoots. That would have been really cool to have had 2 very classic American icons together for something fun!” —Laura Ann Ostermeyer
Marketing on the Move! Clearly, Kelly knows how to increase public awareness of his new book: hire a billboard truck and drive all over Hollywood! (Photo: Tony Kelly)

Marketing on the Move! Clearly, Kelly knows how to increase public awareness of his new book: hire a billboard truck and drive all over Hollywood! (Photo: Tony Kelly)

No longer a Toy? Phicen's new life-like 1:6 scale female action figures feature "assets" never imagined before. (Photo: Phicen)

No longer a Toy? Phicen’s new life-like 1:6 scale female action figures feature “assets” never before imagined. (Photo: Phicen)

Bottom Line: For most GIjOE fans, deciding whether to purchase Kelly’s book or any of the new high-end, ultra-realistic, anatomically-correct, female action figures (such as the one from Phicen, shown at right) are easy take-it-or-leave-it decisions. These products are clearly not for everyone and their high costs helps make the decision easier for many. Regardless of your opinions and personal purchasing preferences, please feel free to leave a comment to this article. We’d love to hear from you! Finally, here are a few more opinions to get you thinking:

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“I gotta side with Xio on this one. Sexualized figures, as ‘absurd’ as they may be, are frankly just juvenile, in my opinion. I know some collectors enjoy such things, but I find them quite awkward. I don’t care if other people collect them, I don’t care if they showcase them here (on the Facebook Sandbox) or elsewhere–I just turn away from the stuff (and I’m renowned for having my own ribald sense of humor, too).” —Ken Davis

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“The sheer absurdity of the project (Kelly’s book) amused me, but I can see how it could offend women. My wife just rolled her eyes at it, but she knows me and understands that I’m not sexist, just absurdist.” —Rudy Panucci

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“I like military figures and have no interest in scantily-clad 1:6 scale females (only 1:1 females). I will say the book has pictures offensive to some, but at least they are doing more with 1:6 Joes than Hasbro is currently doing.” —Greg Page

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Raising Your Own U.S. Flag On the Same Pole as 1814′s “Star Spangled Banner” in Baltimore, MD

Oh Say, Can You See? The mammoth (32' x 40') size of the original "Star-Spangled Banner" (and this modern-day version) dwarfs my newly unboxed 3' x 5' version by comparison. Volunteer flagmaster, Brian Reynolds, holds the lanyard steady against a strong breeze while I hurried to take this snap. All I could do was worry, "what if a gust came up and he let go accidentally?" But Reynolds knew his business and held the line securely until I returned and hoisted my flag all the way to the top. What an unbelievable thrill and honor! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Oh Say, Can You See (how BIG that flag really is)? The mammoth (32′ x 40′) size of the “Star-Spangled Banner” (still) flying proudly over Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, MD, dwarfed my new 3′ x 5′ version by comparison. Volunteer flagmaster, Brian Reynolds, is shown holding the lanyards attached to my flag against a strong breeze as I hasten to take a quick pic. Fortunately, Reynolds knew his business and held the lines securely until I returned, whereupon he handed them over to me and urged me to finish hoisting the flag all the way to the top of the mast. What an incredible honor! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This is the exact spot from which the original "Star-Spangled Banner" was flown in 1814 as Francis Scott Key looked on eagerly, waiting for the bomb bursts and smoke to clear, wondering if "our flag was still there." (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This is the exact spot from which the original “Star-Spangled Banner” was flown in 1814 as Francis Scott Key looked on anxiously, waiting for British bomb bursts and smoke to clear, wondering if “our flag was still there.” Indeed it was! How do we know exactly where the flag flew during revolutionary times? By the Civil War, the flagpole had been relocated more towards the center of the fort, but original, buried supportive cross timbers were later discovered in THIS off-center spot, confirming it as the flag’s original 1814 position. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Unique, Unannounced Honor Enjoyed by a Fortunate Few While Visiting the Site of America’s Original “Star-Spangled Banner” 

I held my newly purchased (15-star) historic U.S. flag close to my heart as I eagerly (and somewhat nervously) walked up the hill towards one of the most famous battle sites in early American history, now a revered national shrine, the pentagonally-shaped Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, MD. I couldn’t help but imagine the hundreds of soldiers running up the same hill in 1814 to face the onslaught of British guns and return fire from their own, pitifully outmatched cannonade. Indeed, it was at this revered place that Americans defended their new nation once again against the British during the War of 1812. Only this time, soldiers faced the added threat of a mighty Royal Navy positioned ominously (just out of reach of fort guns) in Chesapeake Bay. As I approached the fort, I realized that it was exactly 200 years ago, on September 13–14, 1814, that Francis Scott Key had viewed the decisive battle while onboard ship and penned an immortal poem he titled, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

A superb bronze of Francis Scott Key stands in the middle of the theatre room, facing a giant video screen which surprises visitors by raising to reveal the actual fort and flag outside. Don't forget to stand! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A superb bronze of Francis Scott Key stands in the middle of the visitor’s center, facing a giant video screen which surprises visitors (after showing a short instructional movie) by suddenly raising up to reveal the actual Ft. McHenry (and its flag flying) just outside. What a view! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The view of the main gate of the fort as you walk up will put a lump in your throat as you watch the giant flag blowing high overhead. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This view of the fort’s main gate (as you walk up) will put a lump in your throat while you watch its giant flag blowing high overhead. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Before purchasing my souvenir flag, I had watched a short movie in the fort’s visitor’s center (see photo above). In its largest room, there are numerous exhibits and artifacts as well as an impressive bronze statue of Key standing facing a giant movie screen. The center’s history-recap video does an excellent job laying out the positions of the attacking British ships, the fort’s defenders, and the ensuing battle, but the real show-stopper comes when the film is over. Suddenly, without warning, as the national anthem begins playing, video of the fort segues into the raising of the wall-sized movie screen, revealing the actual fort and 15-star “Star-Spangled Banner” flying up on the hill outside (see at right). It was breathtaking!

By that time, the national anthem was playing full-blast and visitors were expected (but not required) to stand up and hopefully sing along (there were 2 big signs now visible which read, “PLEASE STAND”). Yes, it was a surprise, but when I realized that the video portion of the presentation was over and that we were now in a moment of actual citizen participation (like at a football game), I quickly stood up and placed my hand over my heart. Sadly, a quick glance around the room full of about 40+ visitors revealed that I was 1 of only 3 people doing so. My heart sank for a moment until a little boy of about 8 years-old realized what was going on and stood up as well (completely on his own) and looked over at me while holding his hand over his heart. “Thank goodness,” I thought, “Patriotism and love of country isn’t completely dead.” As the anthem ended, the remaining 35 or so (all still sitting down) now began to look visibly uncomfortable—even guilty—and avoided making eye-contact with one another as they stood and filed silently out of the room. It was sad. But no matter. Little did I realize that—joyous moments were soon to come!

In a view afforded to a lucky few, volunteer "flag master," Brian Reynolds prepares to hand me the lanyard to which I would clip my flag and then joyfully raise it up the giant flagpole. You cannot imagine the excitement! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

In a rare view afforded to a fortunate few, volunteer flag master, Brian Reynolds, prepares to hand over the lanyard to which I was to clip my flag prior to raising it to the top. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Undeterred by the lackadaisical crowd, I wandered through the gift shop, picking up a souvenir lapel pin and a 3′ x 5′ copy of the famous flag. In 1814, there were only 15 states in the Union, and its sparsity of stars struck me as quite “colonial” looking. I also happily noted that the flag was Made in the USA and took my items up to the register to pay. While waiting for my credit card to be processed, the lady cashier looked at me keenly and leaned over the counter in a somewhat secretive fashion, whispering in hushed tones the following surprising intel:

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“You know… Since you’re buying this flag here in the official Ft. McHenry gift shop, you’re allowed to fly it from the mast up at the fort; the very same one the Star-Spangled Banner flies from!”

My jaw dropped open and my eyes widened with disbelief as I considered her dubious claim. She acknowledged my surprised reaction and assured me her statement was true, adding:

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“If you take this flag over to one of the Park Rangers at the main desk and show him this receipt, one of them will radio up to the flagmaster at the fort and request that he meet you there. Then he’ll show you how to properly hoist it up the flagpole, all official-like and everything.”

This is the first-known photo ever taken of the Star-Spangled Banner, in 1873. As you can see, after almost 60 years, souvenir hunters had cut much of its length away, as well as a sizable chunk of its blue field as well. It would be many more years before such pilfering was finally halted and the remainder of the flag protected. (Photo: Smithsonian)

This is the first-known photo ever taken of the Star-Spangled Banner and it dates back to 1873. As you can see, after almost 60 years, souvenir hunters had already cut away much of its original length, as well as a sizable chunk of the blue star-field as well. Unfortunately, it would be many more years before such patch-pilfering would be halted and its remaining material finally protected. (Photo: Smithsonian)

Stop the Madness! Before any more pieces were snipped away and lost forever, restoration experts at the Smithsonian began their arduous restoration of the flag. Note how much of the length had been lost already. What a shame! (Photo: Smithsonian)

Stop the Madness! Before any more pieces were snipped away and lost forever, textile restoration experts at the Smithsonian began an arduous preservation job on the flag. Notice how much of its length had been lost already. Where are those pieces today? (Photo: Smithsonian)

A “Flag Fan’s” Fort-Flyin’ Fantasy

WOW! I was struck dumb by the idea I’d be able to fly MY own flag from the exact same pole as America’s Star-Spangled Banner. I didn’t know what to say. Other than, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! What an honor!” After all, there had been no signs posted describing this unique opportunity and the cashier didn’t exactly trumpet it to me (or the world) in a blatant attempt to sell more flags. Rather, it appears the fort’s staff genuinely reserves this unique offer for visitors who A: buy a flag there at the center, and B: appreciate what a rare opportunity it is to fly it over the fort. I had purchased my new flag solely as a souvenir to fly back home on holidays, etc., but flag fans (such as myself) get REALLY excited about owning flags once flown over iconic landmarks such as state capitals, etc., and Ft. McHenry is where our country’s “Star-Spangled Banner” was originally named and ultimately paid for with the blood of many valiant Americans. I could see what a privilege and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this was for ANY U.S. citizen and I couldn’t believe the good fortune that had befallen me that day.

O'er the Ramparts We Watched! As seen from above, the pentagonal shaped Ft. McHenry is surrounded by star-shaped ramparts where cannons and sharp-shooters were positioned. (Photo: wloy.org)

O’er the Ramparts We Watched As seen from above, the pentagonal Ft. McHenry is surrounded by star-shaped ramparts upon which cannons and sharp-shooters were once positioned. If you look carefully, you can see guns from the Civil War-era still pointing out towards the bay. (Photo: wloy.org)

Walking the ramparts of the fort is a pentagonal pleasure! Most are overgrown with neatly trimmed grass and paved with gravel footpaths. From every point on the fort, you can see the flag flying proudly. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Walking the ramparts of Ft. McHenry is a patriotic pleasure. They’re reinforced with neatly trimmed grasses, ringed with cannons and paved with bricked footpaths. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Upon reaching the fort, I found volunteer flagmaster, Brian Reynolds, waiting for me at the base of the flag-tending platform. Reynolds was a very kind man and told me that he loved volunteering a few days a week at the fort and being responsible for raising and lowering the flags. As you might’ve guessed, he worked quickly and knowledgeably, pulling hard on lanyard ropes and efficiently working the pole’s clips and clasps. Before I knew it, he had handed me a thick rope and instructed me to attach my flag at a certain point and then “hoist it quickly and steadily almost to the top.” I did so until the flag rested just beneath its giant namesake and he suddenly remarked:

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“Okay, that’s good, stop it right there. Most of our flag-raisers want to take a picture of their flag when it’s raised to this point, positioned just beneath the Star-Spangled Banner.”

Picture Perfect! My flag was barely visible next to the real McCoy, but it'll look great when I displayed it back home. After this photo was taken, I finished hoisting it all the way to top and held on tight! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Picture Perfect! My flag (the little guy) was barely visible next to the fort’s full-sized Star-Spangled Banner. After this photo was taken, I hoisted it the rest of the way up the towering flagpole and held on tightly as it snapped and flew in a brisk breeze. What a magnificent sight! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

I agreed with Brian’s idea wholeheartedly and as he held the ropes, I moved more into the fort’s interior to take a quick pic (see above). Afterwards, he handed the lines back and encouraged me to hoist my flag all the way to the top so that it was officially flying alongside the Star-Spangled Banner. I did as he suggested, and I have to admit, at that moment a chill went up my spine.

Shielding the sun from my eyes, I watched as the two flags flew together over the fort. After being lost in thought for a moment, Reynolds and I smiled at each other and I knew it was time to bring mine down. Working the lanyards as he had taught me, I lowered my flag at a brisk, yet steady pace until it was once again in my hands. Finally, carefully, we refolded the flag, placed it back in its box and Brian signed the flag’s official COA (Certificate of Authenticity).

Ready, Aim... Civil War-era guns line a parapet, aimed out at the bay. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Civil War-era guns line a parapet, aimed out at the bay. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

You'd Better Back Off, Dude. This closeup of one of the fort's guns reveals it packed a serious punch. Look at the size of those cannonballs! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

You’d Better Back Off, Dude. This closeup of one of the fort’s guns reveals they must’ve packed a serious punch. Look at the size of those cannonballs! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The original cross-brace that once supported the Star-Spangled Banner was found buried in its original position and is now on display in one of the rooms at the fort. Don't miss it! (Photo: George Price)

The original cross-brace that once supported the Star-Spangled Banner’s flagpole was found buried in its original position. Excavated and preserved, it now rests under glass and on display in one of the rooms at the fort. Don’t miss it! (Photo: George Price)

Along the drive leading up to the fort's visitor center, each state has a plaque with the date it was admitted to the Union. I had to take a pic of the one for Texas, 'natch! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Along the drive leading up to the fort’s visitor center, each state has a plaque with the date it was admitted to the Union. I had to take a pic of the one for Texas, ‘natch! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The visitor's center is a modern masterpiece of history presentation and preservation. Remember, don't forget to stand during the anthem! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The Ft. McHenry visitor’s center is a modern masterpiece of historic presentation and preservation. Remember, don’t forget to stand after the movie—during the anthem. OOHrah! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Coming or going, you'll want to snap a quick pic of the fort's national monument sign. It also reminds visitors they're entering a "national shrine" as well. Please remember to pay your repects. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Coming or going, you’ll want to snap a quick pic of the fort’s entrance sign. It also reminds visitors that they’re about to enter an “historic shrine.” Please remember to pay your respects. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

What a Flag! To demonstrate the actual size of the Star-Spangled Banner, Park Rangers host special presentations such as this flag-holding event enjoyed by a group of local students visiting the fort. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

What a Flag! To demonstrate the actual size of the Star-Spangled Banner, Park Rangers host special presentations such as this flag-holding event held on the day of my visit. WOW! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This vintage rendering of the Battle of Baltimore depicts the high lobbing of explosive shells bursting above the forts defenders, raining white-hot shrapnel down upon them. (Photo: wikipedia)

The Bombs Bursting in Air— This vintage rendering of the Battle of Baltimore depicts the high lobbing of explosive shells bursting above the forts defenders, raining white-hot shrapnel down upon them. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Bottom Line: On my way out, I passed a group of students and others who were listening to a Park Ranger describe Ft. McHenry, 1814′s Battle of Baltimore and our flag’s place in history. The highlight of THEIR day must surely have been that they were allowed to hold one edge of the flag and then make it “wave” and undulate while the ranger spoke. They were enthralled by his speech and my faith in the modern-day mission of this special place was restored and reaffirmed.

To learn more about the Star-Spangled Banner, we recommend that you visit the Smithsonian’s website HERE and then read up on the Battle of Baltimore HERE. Of course, if you’re fortunate enough to visit in person, Ft. McHenry is easily accessible by foot, car, bus and (land or water) taxi. It’s definitely a “must see” for all flag-loving, patriotic Americans. Finally, after visiting the fort, try to take a quick jaunt down to Washington DC and view the actual flag that Key wrote so lovingly about exactly 200 years ago. It’s been restored, preserved and safely secured inside the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. And if you want to see the REAL DEAL being hoisted at Ft. McHenry, watch this out-STANDING 5-minute video:

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New TV Commercial For Honda Features Vintage Adventure Team Commander G.I. Joe and “Jem”

Bottom Line: This new commercial for Honda absolutely ROCKS! It features a fully stop-motion animated Jem doll and an Adventure Team Commander GIjOE (complete with vintage boots, grappling hook and correct AT dog tag and chest emblems). Absolutely out-STANDING! The only unbelievable part is that the ditsy, airheaded Jem turns Joe down. Apparently Barbie’s got more brains. After you watch the spot, here are some “freeze frames” to study as well. Enjoy!

The Commander's at a loss to understand Jem's refusal of his offer to dance. Oh well, her loss! Also note that at this point, the animators have outfitted Joe with a traditional left hand. They switch his hand styles throughout the spot. (Photo: Honda)

The Commander’s at a loss to understand Jem’s refusal of his offer to dance. Oh well, her loss! Also note that at this point, the animators have outfitted Joe with a traditional left hand. They switch his hand styles throughout the spot to more accurately reflect his gestures. (Photo: Honda)

Step on it, Joe! In this extreme closeup, the Commander rappels up the climbing rope as his vintage boot stomps down hard on the radio dial, turning on seductive dance music. (Photo: Honda)

Step on it, Joe! In this extreme closeup, the Commander rappels up the climbing rope as his vintage boot stomps down hard on the radio dial, turning on seductive dance music. (Photo: Honda)

It's Kung-Fu Grip Time! In this closeup, you can see that Joe's hands are now both definitely KFGs, as he quickly hoists up the mirrored dance ball for Jem. (Photo: Honda)

It’s Kung-Fu Grip Time! In this closeup, you can see that Joe’s hands are now both definitely KFGs, as he quickly hoists up the mirrored dance ball for Jem. (Photo: Honda)

Whatever! After Jem's refusal, Joe turns and walks out of frame. Note that at this point, his left hand has returned to a classic hand while the right appears to have been animated FLAT. Minor details yes, but eagle-eyed Joeheads are always on the lookout for anything unusual. (Photo: Honda)

Whatever! After Jem’s refusal, Joe turns and walks out of frame. Note that at this point, his left hand has returned to a classic hand while the right appears to have been animated FLAT. Minor details yes, but eagle-eyed Joeheads are always on the lookout for anything unusual. (Photo: Honda)

Don Levine “Prototype” Auctions Continue with Controversial, CIA-Sanctioned 12-Inch (1:6 Scale) Osama Bin Laden “Devil-Eyed” Action Figure

Ugh. What an ugly mug! Will someone please buy this pathetic loser and then strap a M-80 to his back and do him a favor by blowing him up ala Sid and "Combat Carl?" (Photo: NDSA)

Ugh. What an ugly mug! Will someone please buy this pathetic loser and then strap an M-80 to his back and do us all a favor by blowing him up ala Toy Story’s Sid and (the late) “Combat Carl?” THANK YOU. (Photo: NDSA)

Don Levine, "The Father of GIjOE" (Photo: topnews) Don Levine, "The Father of GIjOE" and the creator of 3 Osama Bin Laden "Demon-Eyed" action figures for the CIA. (Photo: topnews)

Don Levine, “The Father of GIjOE” and the creator of 3 Osama Bin Laden “Devil-Eyed” action figures for the CIA. (Photo: topnews)

Horrific, Historic Prototype Toy Currently Up For Sale to the Highest Bidder

Here we go again! In an unexpected follow-up to the recent Don Levine family estate auctions of assorted “prototype” GIjOEs, the family has now decided to sell Levine’s highly controversial “Devil-Eyed” Osama Bin Laden action figure. As readers of The Joe Report will undoubtedly recall, we described these unusual “face changing” figures in an in-depth, shocking “tell-all” article, revealing Levine’s previously unimagined, unheard of connections—with the CIA. We highly recommend you reread that article (found HERE) before considering the placement of any bid(s) for this undeniably unique (some say abhorrent) Levine collectible. According to the auction company’s official description, this figure is further described as:

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Perfect for Target Practice, this front view of Levine's OBL prototype reveals it would make a perfect target for repeated "plinking" with your pellet rifle or .22. If there's anything left, we recommend you dip it in hamburger grease and toss it over the fence to the neighbor's pit bull. When he's done with it, we're sure some road construction crew would LOVE to let your borrow their steamroller and make a plastic pancake out of it. Enjoy! (Photo: NDSA) Click to enlarge.

Target Practice, anyone? This front view of Levine’s OBL prototype reveals it would make a perfect target for repeated “plinking” with your pellet rifle or .22. If there’s anything left, we recommend you dip it in hamburger grease and toss it over the fence to the neighbor’s pit bull. When he’s done with it, we’re sure some road construction crew would LOVE to let you borrow their steamroller and make a plastic pancake out of it. Enjoy! (Photo: NDSA) Click photo to enlarge.

“Scarce and nearly unbelievable prototype of Osama Bin Laden doll intended for use in Arab countries in order to persuade children from idolizing the terror leader. This prototype was covertly designed for the C.I.A. by Donald Levine (the creator of the iconic G.I. Joe doll) in 2005 for an ”influence operation”, intended to strategically distribute a scary depiction of Bin Laden to children, ideally to dissuade them from joining a terrorist group such as Al Qaeda. The project was discontinued after the prototypes were developed, with this prototype being one of just three in existence. The other two remain either at C.I.A. headquarters or the Pentagon.

This back view reveals more detail of OBL's outfit. Why you'd care is beyond us, but this is what this cowardly killer looked like from behind. (Photo: NSDA) Click photo to enlarge.

This back view reveals more detail of OBL’s “hideout” outfit. Why anyone would care is beyond us, but this is what the cowardly killer looked like from behind. (Photo: NDSA) Click photo to enlarge.

The doll’s permanent head is a look-alike representation of Bin Laden, and comes with a removable head featuring a depiction of Bin Laden as a ”demon”. The removable head is a frightening representation of Bin Laden, with his face painted bright red with black facial features and bright green eyes. The doll wears traditional Islamic garb, a white removable five button robe over a four button white tunic with a mock collar, with off-white cloth pants and a pair of black mock velcro boots. The doll is affixed to a silver and white metal stand, with a clasp to the doll’s midsection allowing the doll to be displayed standing up. Measures 12” tall. One small glue stain to the right bottom of the robe, and to the back of the removable head. Near fine. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine with a COA from his son.”

In this screenshot from Disney's Toy Story, neighbor psycho, Sid, has strapped an M-80 to the back of his hostage GIjOE, er... "Combat Carl" with the intention of blowing him to smithereens. (Photo: Disney)

In this screenshot from Disney’s Toy Story, neighbor psycho, Sid, has strapped an M-80 to the back of his hostage GIjOE, er… “Combat Carl” with the intention of blowing him to smithereens. Will Levine’s OBL prototype face a similar fate or enjoy a comfy life in some collector’s display case? We shall see! (Photo: Disney)

Bottom Line: Yes, we know there are fans out there with 1:6 scale Himmler and Hitler figures in their display cases, professing that it’s better to remember history than to risk repeating it. We get that, we really do. We agree with the statement 100% and don’t begrudge ANY collector the right to decide what to collect or what not to collect. And we’re only half-heartedly kidding when we talk about using such culpable, repugnant and reprehensible historical figures as “target practice.” We know that if any 1:6 scaler is willing to spend these high 3 and 4-figure dollar amounts for 1:6 scum and villainy, it’s not likely he or she would want to go out in their backyard and destroy it, watching their new figure (and investment) go up in smoke. But just imagine… Imagine if such a figure as this OBL were given to a NYC fire department. Or to an NYPD precinct. Wouldn’t THAT be so much more satisfying than placing it in the back row of a dimly lit display case? Can you imagine what those REAL men would do with one of these pathetic, albeit rare, prototype OBL figures? We’re sure they would have no end of deliciously destructive ideas. THAT would be a sight to behold. And to videotape. And to play over and over again! (Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in adding Osama to your own 1:6 scale “Murderers’ Row,” we recommend you visit the NDSA auction website HERE and place your bid. It’s already up to $2,500!)

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G.I. Joe’s Cousins, the “Little Green Army Men,” Inducted Into National Toy Hall of Fame in NY

Ah, Little Green Army Men. <sigh> Don’t get us started… Oh, well. You already have. Millions of us grew up playing with these versatile little toys. Typically, they were sold in big bagged sets, with simple cardboard product cards stapled at the top. But this wasn’t a toy we bought for its package design. Looking through the clear bag, you could see all that you needed to know. Some even came with a tank or two (those were the best), or maybe even a little Jeep. I remember spending entire mornings with friends, setting up all the figures (loved those mine-detector guys) in strategic battlelines and then using various homemade projectiles such as rubber bands or “catapults” made out of rulers and bean-bags to try to knock them back down again.

Too grown up to play with toys? Why not become one? Yes, the popularity of the Little Green Army Men has even reached fans of Cosplay, or "costumed play." Yes, that's a REAL person you're looking at, dressed up as a sharp-shooter. Unbelievable! (Photo: like cool)

Too grown up to play with toys? Why not become one? Yes, the popularity of the Little Green Army Men (LGAM) has even reached fans of Cosplay, or “costumed play.” Yes, that’s a REAL person you’re looking at, dressed up as a LGAM sharp-shooter. Unbelievable! (Photo: like cool)

Simple. Cheap. And FUN! As this vintage bag of LGAM reveals, the card at the top was just something to hang the bag of swag by. We could clearly see what we were buying, and didn't really require further inticement. That card went right in the trash. (Photo: ebay)

Simple. Cheap. And FUN! As this vintage bag of LGAM “U.S. Soldiers” reveals, the card at the top was just something used to help hang this “bag of swag” on a peg. Kids could clearly see what they (er…their Mom) were buying, and didn’t really require any further enticement. (Photo: ebay)

We’d take turns lobbing our “objets d’ordnance” at them until a winner was finally decided, or our Mothers called us in for a bologna sandwich, bag of Fritos and Twinkies lunch, which we proceeded to wash down with refreshing cherry Kool-Aid made with REAL sugar. And yet somehow—we survived to tell the tale!

Properly fortified, we’d return to our living room devastation and consider building “forts” out of pillow cushions, or adding the sic-fi effect of a “giant soldier” or two, using such figures as 12-inch GIjOEs or Major Matt Mason’s friend, Captain Lazer (yes, we grew up in the 1960s). Anyway…

Bottom Line: Our bags full of “little green army men” gave us HOURS and HOURS of enjoyable, creative play and memorable entertainment for less than the price of hamburger. It’s no wonder then (to us) that they were just inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY. Those tough little toys came through for us time and time again. They deserve this honor and have EARNED it many times over. Thanks, guys! Congratulations!

(Editor’s Note: If you’ve forgotten how fun these toys can be, we recommend you watch the short video clip above. It’s a scene from Toy Story featuring the voice of R. Lee Ermey and is sure to put a smile on your face.)

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Catching Up With Dan Williams aka “Parthenon” From SyFy TV’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?”

What's Dan Doing? That's what we were determined to find out, in this, the 3rd in our series of exclusive interviews with contestants of Stan Lee's "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" Above, Dan poses with his two biggest and best souvenirs from the show, his original (Stan Lee-designed) Parthenon costume and the prototype comic book cover created by Dark Horse Comics. Excelsior! (Photo: Dan Williams) What's Dan Doing? That's exactly what we wanted to find out in this, our third exclusive interview with contestants of Syfy TV's reality competition show, Stan Lee's "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" Today we conduct an in-depth Q&A with Dan Williams, aka the superhero, "Parthenon." Here, Williams poses with two of his souvenirs from the show, an original (Stan Lee-designed) Parthenon costume and a poster for his character's (prototype) comic book by Dark Horse Comics. Excelsior! (Photo: Dan Williams)

What’s Dan Doing? That’s what we were determined to find out, in this, the 3rd in our series of exclusive interviews with contestants of Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” Above, Dan poses with his two biggest and best souvenirs from the show, his original (Stan Lee-designed) Parthenon costume and the prototype comic book cover created by Dark Horse Comics. Excelsior! (Photo: Dan Williams)

With superhero good looks, outgoing personality and variety of artistic talents, Williams has had little trouble succeeding in his post-show life and career. (Photo: Dan Williams)

With superhero good looks, outgoing personality, positive attitude and variety of artistic talents, Williams has had little trouble succeeding in his post-show life and career in Florida. (Photo: Dan Williams)

Third in a Series of Exclusive Interviews with Contestants of Syfy’s
“Who Wants to be a Superhero?”

By Mark Otnes, 11-6-2014
Editor, The Joe Report

In this, our third interview with contestants of SyFy’s unforgettable (2006-07) hit reality series, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?,” we’ll get to know one of the show’s most colorful, outgoing and amiable of the show’s wannabe heroes, Indiana’s own, Dan Williams, aka “Parthenon.” Over the 7 years since the show left the air (it wasn’t cancelled, creator Stan Lee simply declined to return for a 3rd season), the popular Williams has been the regular subject of multiple print, internet and radio interviews. During his time on television, Dan came across as the type of guy it’d be difficult to dislike, with a genuinely warm and approachable demeanor, he made friends easily and bonded well with his fellow contestants. Now, despite having returned to his everyday “secret identity” in Florida, Williams continues to enjoy discussing his experiences on the show and  life-long passion for comic books, cosplay and superheroes. We caught up with Dan recently and requested an interview. He kindly agreed to answer our litany of admittedly geeky fan questions, and we want to sincerely thank him (and our readers) for indulging us today.

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Williams had one of the most expressive "superhero" faces on the show. Here, he flashes the appropriate look for keen interest and SUPER attention. (Photo: Syfy)

EYE see! Williams had one of the most expressive “superhero” faces on the show. Here, he flashes the appropriate look for keen interest and SUPER attention. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: It’s been 7 years since we last saw you on TV. Let’s begin by catching up a little. What do you do for a living? Can you walk us through a typical day for Dan Williams in 2014?

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“Currently, I work at Full Sail University where I am a Course Director of JavaScript Programming.  I also work at Walt Disney World where I do creative and design work for the Disney University. As far as a typical day—I don’t have one! My teaching job is sometimes on campus and sometimes online, while my Disney job is a different project every time. I could be creating a database one day and a wall mural the next.”

TJR: Your fans and fans of the show actually know very little about your personal background. Where are you from originally? Where did you go to college? How did you end up where you live and work today? Can you fill us in?

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This early childhood photo of Dan dressed as Batman, perched on his family's kitchen counter, reveals his growing interest in comic books and the superhero genre. (Photo: Dan Williams)

Holy, Caped Crusader! This early childhood photo of Dan dressed as Batman, perched on his family’s kitchen counter, reflected his growing interest in comic books and the superhero genre. (Photo: Dan Williams)

“I’m originally from Schererville, Indiana. I was born and raised there for all of my life. It’s really close to Chicago, IL, so I had the best of both worlds; living in a smaller town while having the big city just minutes away. I went to school at Purdue University and graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering and a focus in Telecommunications. It basically combines the technical side of an engineer while allowing me to study video production, graphic design and other creative outlets. So, I always tell people that ‘Technically; I’m Creative!’   

While I was attending Purdue, I got a job at Walt Disney World for the summer on the College Program. I worked at the ‘Tower Of Terror’ as a ride operator and found I loved living in Orlando. The next summer, I auditioned in Chicago and came back down to Disney as a character performer. Then, after I graduated, I decided to move to Orlando and make it my home. As for how I got into teaching, I give that credit to my friend Eric. He convinced me to start teaching a college-level fashion design course at night on the side, which I did for a couple of months. I loved it because I have always had a passion for fashion!”

It's SEW easy! Dan's interest in fashion enabled him to design and sew his own superhero and fantasy cosplay costumes, including the first one he wore on the show (shown above). (Photo: Syfy)

It’s SEW easy! Dan’s interest in fashion enables him to design and sew his own superhero and fantasy cosplay costumes, including the first one he wore on the show (shown above). (Photo: Syfy)

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“That teaching opportunity soon let me to taking over as the Department Chair of the whole Multimedia Education Department.  I took that full-time position and went part-time at Disney where I have been ever since. The college is actually where I was working while filming the TV show and it can be seen in a few of the opening scenes. I held the Department Chair position there for a little over 5 years before moving onward and upward.

Eventually, my great friend Rebecca convinced me to come and take a tour of a new college, Full Sail University, where she was working and I fell in love with the place. It has a wonderfully creative atmosphere and focuses mainly on the Entertainment Arts. I interviewed and quickly became a Course Director there. I love it!”

Producers of the show seized upon the background story of William's character, Parthenon, as an Indiana Jones-type archeologist, made all the more believable by his real-life position as an academic. (Photo: Syfy)

Teaching Others How to Fight Evil— Producers of Syfy’s Who Wants to be a Superhero? seized upon Williams’ own background story and that of his character, Parthenon (an Indiana Jones-type archeologist), to create exciting graphics for the show’s opening sequence. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: I believe you’re an artist too, is that correct? Are you a commercial illustrator or a fine artist? What media do you prefer working in and have you created any works you’d like to share with us?

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“I am an artist, but I prefer to think of myself as a ‘Creative Extraordinaire.’ That’s actually the title on my personal business cards! I love to create—anything! I do anything from logos for companies, to interactive displays, to animations for hotels, websites, sculpture, costumes, props, etc. One of my favorite things to do is interior design, but I do it a bit different and call it ‘Extreme Theme,’ I take after the Disney way of thinking and prefer an all-encompassing theme to a room.”

Dan's "Paint Squares Room" is a perfect example of his "Extreme Theme" style of decorating. Careful! You may need to squint to enter. HA (Photo: Dan Williams)

Dan’s “Paint Squares Room” is a perfect example of his “Extreme Theme” style of interior design decorating. Be careful! You may need to squint to enter. HA (Photo: Dan Williams)

Dan William's handcrafted this massive Peter Pan clock tower curio case with working clock and hand-painted starry background. WOW! (Photo: Dan Williams)

We can FLY! Dan’s handcrafted (and massive) Peter Pan clock tower collectibles case and hand-painted starry background in his living room. (Photo: Dan Williams)

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“One of my favorite rooms that I have ever done has got to be my Peter Pan living room. My mom and I build a two-story Big Ben Clock tower book-case and I hand painted all of the clouds and airbrushed all of the stars. The Peter and Wendy are cutout of wood and I hand painted them too. In my new house, I switched it up a bit and got away from the Disney theme and created a comic book room and a giant wall mural out of paint sample squares (sorry Wal-Mart!). As far as normal artwork, one is called ‘Solitude’ and features Superman trapped in a crystal and ‘Starry Speck At Night.’ I also make props and costumes.”

A Wall of Comics! One entire wall of Williams' home is dedicated to displaying some of his favorite issues from a 5,000 issue collection. Holy, pulp fiction! (Photo:  Dan Williams)

A Wall of Comics? That’s right, one entire wall of Williams’ home is dedicated to displaying some of his favorite issues from a 5,000+ issue collection. Holy, pulp fiction, Batman! (Photo: Dan Williams)

TJR: Can you tell us about your other interests, such as pirates, comic books and cosplay? And are there any other hobbies, activities or pastimes you currently enjoy that we may not know about?

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“I’ve been collecting comic books since I was 9 years old. When I was little, I didn’t really like to read, but once I started liking comics, my mom took advantage of that and kept buying them for me. I currently have over 5000 and YES, I’ve read every single one! I am much more into the stories and characters than the authors or artists, so that is where my comic knowledge starts to fall apart.”

Dan's love of superheroes and costumes blend together perfectly in his regular participation in cosplay, or "costumed play." Here, he portrays the Wolverine in a deadly "blade battle" with a fan portraying "Nightmare on Elm Street" killer, Freddy Krueger. Yikes! (Photo: Dan Williams)

Dan’s love of superheroes and costumes blend together perfectly in his regular participation in cosplay, or “costumed play.” Here, he portrays the Wolverine in a deadly “blade battle” with a fan portraying “Nightmare on Elm Street” killer, Freddy Krueger. Grrrrrrr! (Photo: Dan Williams)

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“This passion for superheroes and my love of costumes is what got me into cosplay originally. I currently have hundreds of costumes and my collection grows all the time. Half of my garage is nothing but costumes, including my newest fully revolving Sharknado (see video clip below). It took me 3 months to build and you can walk in it and maneuver surprisingly well, although stairs still are horrible!”

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“As for other hobbies, I love theater. I started in high school and have been somehow involved ever since. One of my favorite roles was the Pirate King in Pirates Of Penzance. A clip from the show you didn’t get to see is when Stan Lee was asking me about my pirate bedroom. I responded with the fact that I played the Pirate King and his lightning fast response was: ‘Well, anyone who likes Gilbert and Sullivan can’t be bad!’  

Dan Williams (right) aka "Parthenon," poses with comics legend, Stan Lee, during a recent "Comicaze" convention in California, to celebrate a (partial) cast reunion of the Syfy Channel's hit reality-TV series, "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" A 3rd Season was NOT announced—again. (Photo: Dan Williams)

Dan Williams (r) aka “Parthenon,” poses with comics legend, Stan Lee (l), during a WWTBASH red carpet premiere party in California. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

Sparkle on, Dan! You can tell Dan's the host by his silver-sequined tie. WOW! (Photo: Dan Williams)

Sparkle on, Dan! You can tell Dan enjoys hosting by his silver-sequined tie. WOW! (Photo: Dan Williams)

malecomment“Working with a Disney community-theater group, I had the chance to host quite a few events and found I really enjoy hosting (anything really). My favorite opportunity came when I hosted the Out Of This World Fashion Show for the Orlando History Museum. It was a giant event that had celebrity judges from NSYNC and 2 contestants from Project Runway. It was a perfect combination of everything I love!”

Dan Williams poses for a publicity photo with NBC's Al Roker during an appearance on the show. in 2007. (Photo: Dan Williams)

Dan Williams poses for a publicity photo with NBC TV personality and weatherman, Al Roker, during a 2007 promotional appearance on The Today Show. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

TJR: What’s it like being a celebrity? When we interviewed John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike” (HERE), we were surprised when he stated he didn’t feel he WAS a celebrity, despite all the evidence to the contrary. How about you? Do you feel your time as a TV celebrity is over now, or are you still asked for autographs, etc? Do you have any post-show celebrity stories you’d care to share?

Williams poses next to a poster of comic book cover outside of a comic store in LA. (Photo: Dan Williams)

Lookin’ Good! Williams poses next to a poster of his comic book cover outside a store in LA. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

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“Celebrity is a tricky word. I don’t know if I would consider myself a celebrity either. If I were, I would be on the ‘G-List,’ because usually the only people who know me are gays and geeks! I do still get asked for autographs every now and then, but it’s probably because I go to a lot of comic cons, but just as a normal guest. Every now and then something will pop back up and I always get a kick out of it. I think if anything made me feel like a celebrity, it’s when I was sent pictures of people cosplaying as Parthenon! There’s something in that, which is really touching to me.”

Williams and fellow WWTBASH contestants,

The Price of FameWilliams and fellow WWTBASH contestants, Trisha Paytas (“Ms. Limelight”) and Jarrett Crippen (“The Defuser,” seated, right) prepare to autograph photos and meet fans at Comic Con in San Diego. Notice the handmade Parthenon figure laying on the table? (Photo: Melody Mooney)

Williams listens intently as Stan Lee informs the contestants of their next "mission" on Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

“This looks like a job for…!” Williams listens intently as Stan Lee informs the contestants of their next “mission” on Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: You’re handsome, photogenic, and eloquent. And you’re clearly quite comfortable in front of TV cameras and on the radio. Have you ever considered a career in entertainment? Perhaps in theater, television, films, or even as “on-air talent” for radio? And have you appeared in any other television programs or motion pictures?

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“First of all, thank you! That was super-nice of you to say. As I mentioned earlier, I do love theater and hosting. I usually just do that on the side. I have been in a few TV shows, but all of them are super random and were more of a ‘right place at the right time’ type of thing. For example, I was on a TV show about thrill-rides when I was riding the Big Shot in Las Vegas, in a few specials for Disney, and made some commercials for the Hard Rock Casino and Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort.”

Parthenon is On the Air! Williams' natural ease and comfort working with the media made him an easy selection to represent the show in NYC. Here, he responds to question posed by Sirius host,Frank DeCaprio (formerly of Comedy Central's "Out at the Movies"). (Photo: Dan Williams)

Parthenon is On the Air! Williams’ ease and comfort working with the media made him a natural selection to promote the 2nd season of the show in NYC. Here, he responds to questions posed by Sirius radio host, Frank DeCaro (Comedy Central’s “Out at the Movies”). (Photo: Dan Williams)

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“I also recently filmed a short documentary about my time on the show called ‘Parthenon: Unearthing The Hero.’ As for future plans, I am currently working on a new video blog series of my own design called ‘Super Secrets – Crafting For Superheroes;’ which will be quick DIY videos about creating costumes and props. Would I ever do a TV series again? Maybe. If the right show came along!”

Williams and fellow WWTBASH contestant, Melody Mooney (aka "Hygena"), strike a pose on the famous set of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in New York City. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

Feelin’ the POWER! Williams and fellow WWTBASH contestant, Melody Mooney (aka “Hygena”), strike their best rocker poses on the set of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in NYC. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

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Conceptual art costume proposals for Williams’ second superhero character, “Brace.” (Art: Dan Williams)

TJR: Fans already know pretty much everything there is to know about your superhero character Parthenon, but whatever happened to “Brace,” the second superhero character you created? It sounded exciting! Could you describe Brace for us? And were there ever any conceptual photos or drawings made of him that you could share? Are there any plans for Brace projects in the future?

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“Brace was one of the two characters that I created specifically for the second season of ‘Who Wants To Be A Superhero.’ Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘Wait, wasn’t Dan on the second season?’ Yes, that’s correct, but I originally auditioned for season ONE of the show with a similar character name, Paragon (which later became Parthenon). My submission got to the show’s producers too late and they had already cast the show, so I stayed home and watched the first season on TV like everyone else.”

See you on Sunset Boulevard! The Sunset Gower Studios building in Hollywood (shown above) was where Williams and others were sent for final auditions for Stan Lee's "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" (Photo: Dan Williams)

See you on Sunset Boulevard! The Sunset Gower Studios building in Hollywood (shown above) was where contestants were sent to audition for “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” (Photo: Dan Williams)

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“I went back to the drawing board and really examined who I would like to be if I were a superhero. I came up with two other characters, ‘Brace’ and ‘The Cape’ (this was WAY before the TV show). The Cape was a magician who finds Houdini’s cape, which gives him his abilities and is a portal to anywhere, so he’s constantly conjuring things out of it. I created him because I am obsessed with magic. I even took magic lessons as a kid and I still keep up with it!” 

Brace was a hero that received his powers from a cybernetic back brace he was forced to wear after being involved in an accident. He now had super-strength, enhanced speed, a super-sonic punch and a costume which featured a split-cape in the back, showing off the brace (because he had accepted his weakness, flipping the handicap into a positive thing). His tagline was, “BRACE for impact!”

A Superhero Day Off? Friendly Competitors Tar Pit Pals— While waiting for auditions to proceed, Williams, Stork and CPA (aka "Certified Public Asskicker") tour the historic La Brea Tar Pits. According to Dan, "During auditions, we were broken up into smaller groups and we got to see the city a bit." (Photo: Dan Williams)

Tar Pit Pals— While waiting for auditions to proceed, Williams, John Stork and CPA (aka “Certified Public Asskicker”) tour the historic La Brea Tar Pits. According to Dan, “During auditions, we were broken up into smaller groups and we got to see the city a bit.” (Photo: Dan Williams)

TJR: Fascinating! And which of the 3 personas would you say is most like the real Dan Williams?

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“Brace’s character (weirdly) is the closest to being me. A long time ago, I was severely injured when someone who was drunk decided he was going to do a handstand on top of a 3-story balcony, lost his balance and fell directly on top of me. This compressed my spine and I have two injured spinal discs because of this. For about a year after the accident I had to wear a back brace everyday. Since then, I have had a few procedures done that have helped (a lot) and I no longer have to constantly wear it. The only good thing about the accident was that I saved that guy’s life; he only had a scrapped hand from that huge fall!”

The beginning of Chelsea's journey to becoming a superhero began here, in a non-descript building hosting the first-ever auditions for Stan Lee's "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" Can you spot her in this lineup? (Photo: Syfy)

Move to the Head of the Line. Contestants in Los Angeles wait during auditions for the 2nd season of “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” Fortunately for Williams, his 1st season audition had so impressed the show’s casting coordinators that he was “fast-tracked” ahead of this line. (Photo: Syfy)

This is the earliest version of Parthenon to appear on the show, during the auditions of episode 1, Season 2. FanTASTIC! (Photo: Syfy)

This is the earliest version of Parthenon to appear on the show, during the auditions of episode 1, Season 2. FanTASTIC! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: With so many interesting characters to choose from, how did you decide on Parthenon as the one you’d like to debut on the show? We have to say, Brace and The Cape seem equally cool!

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“While I was pulling together all of my new superhero characters’  info, costumes, etc., I got a phone call. At first I thought it was a joke. The woman on the other end said that they had reviewed my original audition video and loved my Paragon character! As a result, I was immediately fast-tracked to the show’s LA auditions. I was wearing this shirt that said ‘Mr. Wonderful’ (way before ABC TV’s ‘Shark Tank,’ by the way) and she was asking if I would change my name to that! Since I no longer needed Brace or The Cape, I put those two characters on the back burner. Will they ever be seen again? Maybe!”

TJR: In an online interview with Richard Vasseur, you stated:

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“I always tried to act with honor and integrity and really wanted to be someone who could be looked up to, both inside the lair and outside it.”

Up, up and AWAY! A young Dan Williams and his father suit up to try “indoor parachuting.” (Photo: Dan Williams)

Up, up and AWAY! A young Dan Williams (l) and his father (r) suit up to try “indoor parachuting.” (Photo: Dan Williams)

TJR: That is a fantastic quote! With such a great attitude, it’s easy to see why you lasted so long on WWTBASH. Could you tell us please, who were your role models growing up? And who are your role models or icons (real or imaginary) today? And why?

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“Ever since I was a kid, I have looked up to my parents, because of them I have had a really solid moral compass. I excelled in school, never drank until I was 21, and to this day, have never smoked a cigarette! I was very lucky to have wonderfully loving parents who supported me in everything I’ve ever done. From building arm-mounted bottle rocket launchers to giant Rube Goldberg machines and even coming out to my family. If I had an idea, they’d help me make it happen.”

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Williams' favorite comic character, Hank Pym, in his many superhero guises. (Photo: Wikipedia)

From Giantman to Antman and every size in-between, Williams’ favorite comic character, Hank Pym (another famous creation by Stan Lee, ‘natch), appeared in many memorable superhero guises. (Photo: Wikipedia)

“My imaginary role model was Hank Pym, aka Antman, Yellow Jacket, Giantman, etc. He was in the first comic I read and I immediately identified with him. He was an inventor first, who was thrust into being a superhero. I loved all of his gadgets and couldn’t wait to see what he came up with next. With this solid base, honestly, anything is possible!

10 years ago, I found this paper that my mom kept that said what you want to be when you grow up. I put ‘I want to be a superhero magician who is also an inventor!’ Well, I invent stuff all the time, know magic, and now I am a real-life superhero. I suppose with enough help and support, even the dreams of a 9 year-old kid can come true.”

Together Again! Cast members from both seasons of Stan Lee's "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" gather for photos after conducting a panel discussion of the show. (Photo:

Together Again! Cast members from both seasons of Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” pose for photos after conducting a panel discussion of the show at Comikaze 2013. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

TJR: When you first appeared on the SyFy Channel TV show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” (WWTBASH), you were 28. You’re now 35, correct? That’s actually a prime age for a superhero. Do you still feel comfortable donning Parthenon’s tights and do you still portray him at events?

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Even after 7 years, the costume created for Williams by the show's costume department still fits! Here, Williams poses with 1st Season contestant Tobias Troust at Comikaze 2013. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

Even after 7 years, the costume created for Williams by the show’s costume department still fits and looks GREAT! Here, Williams poses with Season 1′s Tobias Trost, at Comikaze 2013. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

“I’m 36 (at the time of this article) and I still love wearing my tights and cape. Every now and then, I’ll attend a con as Parthenon, most recently it was Stan Lee’s 2013 Comikaze where we had a show reunion. Luckily, everything still fits and pretty much looks the same, although I usually will almost always go scruffy instead of totally clean-shaven. I think it looks better with the costume.”

In this screenshot from Who Wants to be a Superhero?, Williams replies to questions from Stan Lee while wearing Parthenon's original mask. The mask did not last long on the show.

Who is that Masked Man? In this screenshot from Season 2, Episode 1, Williams responds to Lee’s questions while wearing Parthenon’s original, handcrafted mask. (The mask didn’t last long.) (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: During your first audition in front of Stan Lee, you were shown wearing a cool-looking mask. Whatever happened to that?

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“I loved that mask!  I also enjoy leather-crafting and I made that mask by hand. It was supposed to be 2 diamond shapes put together. But on the first day of filming for the show, ALL of the heroes’ masks, glasses, etc were taken from us. The producers thought they hid too much of our faces and thought we looked better without them. I think it was the right choice in the end. Now for the bad news: my mask actually got lost somewhere in the lair and I never saw it again! Luckily, I still have my original template, so if I really wanted to, I could make another.”

Cast members huddle up with Stan Lee for one of many photos during the show's recent reunion. (Photo:

WWTBASH cast members pose with Stan Lee during their Comikaze reunion. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

TJR: What were your most memorable moments with Stan Lee?

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Stan Lee is fantastic, period, exclamation point! He had been someone whom I wanted to meet since forever! To me, he really is the face of comic books in general. My favorite moments with him were off-camera. During the filming of the show, we weren’t allowed to interact much because they wanted Stan to keep a ‘judge’s distance.’ But anytime we got to talk to Stan ‘live’ through the large monitors in the lair, he was HILARIOUS, especially when he was unscripted. After the show, I’ve talked to him a few more times. My favorite was when we were just sharing cookies in the break room at a convention. It’s quite a surreal feeling, just chatting with one of your idols over some chocolate chips!”

Stan Lee prowls the stage at Comikaze 2014 while answering fan questions about the show. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

Lee prowls the stage at Comikaze while answering questions about the show. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

TJR: Do you possess any WWTBASH-related videos that fans have never seen? If so, do you plan on releasing them, possibly on your own website or on YouTube?

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“There is a ton of stuff out there and I am finding more all the time. I usually find them by accident. I think the most recent is from the reunion panel at Comikaze Con (see below).”

Williams has seen Jarrett Crippen (center) at some events, but the whereabouts of Philip Allen (right) continue to frustrate staffers here at The Joe Report. (Photo: Dan Williams)

Williams sees Jarrett Crippen (c) at many events, but the current whereabouts of Philip Allen (r) remain a mystery and continue to frustrate staffers here at The Joe Report. (Photo: Dan Williams)

TJR: During the course of our research and subsequent interviews with WWTBASH contestants, we’ve discovered that some of them are now extremely difficult to locate. Are you still in touch with all of them? For example, we’ve been unable to find Philip Allen (aka “Mindset”) or Paula Thomas (aka “Whip Snap”) anywhere online. Your thoughts on this?

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“Yes, some heroes are quite hard to find and I think they like it that way. I have most of everyone’s personal info, but haven’t checked on it in years. A few of the heroes that I really bonded with are totally on my speed-dial though!”

This extremely intricate 3D paper doll of Parthenon was created and placed online for FREE. (Photo: Dan Williams)

Fold’n Fun! This extremely intricate 3D paper doll of Parthenon was created and placed online for FREE. (Photo: Dan Williams)

TJR: In one of your radio interviews, you mentioned that you were really interested in creating an action figure of Parthenon. Did that idea ever gain any traction? Were any ever produced? If so, are they available anywhere for sale? Have you ever considered using Kickstarter for such creative projects? Did you get to keep the one-of-a-kind Parthenon action figure created for you by Herobuilders?

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“I haven’t pursued an action figure of Parthenon YET—but only because of the rights issue. Technically, NBC-Universal owns the rights to all the characters’ likenesses on the show and we signed giant contracts that we weren’t suppose to do anything with them, really. Since then, I have been pursuing getting those rights back. I have an offer on the table, but not for total control of the character, which is what I would ultimately want. In the meantime, a fan created a super-cool paper-doll action figure you can download and assemble for free! As for the Herobuilders action figure, I do still have that! The producers sent it to me after we wrapped the show. The final four of us all got dolls, but only the final three got to see them in the lair. It was a HUGE surprise when I opened the box and saw it for the first time. It’s one of my most prized possessions and has a definite spot of honor in my collection!”

The 1:6 scale custom Parthenon action figure created by Herobuilders.com remains one of Williams' prized keepsakes from the show. (Photo: Dan Williams)

Bling is His Thing! This 1:6 scale custom Parthenon action figure created by Herobuilders.com remains one of Williams’ most prized keepsakes from the show. (Photo: Dan Williams)

Many contestants struggled simply to remain standing while being blasted head-on by high-pressure fire hoses and wind-tunnel fans. In this screenshot, Williams can be seen aiding fellow team member, Trisha Paytas (Ms. Limelight) to run down the tunnel.

Hold on! Many contestants struggled simply to remain standing while being blasted head-on by high-pressure fire hoses and wind-tunnel fans. In this screenshot, Williams can be seen aiding fellow team member, Trisha Paytas (Ms. Limelight) to run down the tunnel. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Let’s talk about some of the “missions” and challenges you endured on the show. What are your strongest memories of that first wind-n-water viaduct competition?

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“That first challenge was an eye-opener for sure! Having watched the first season, this was leaps and bounds above anything they had ever done. It was then that I felt the show was going to be more of a superhero version of ‘Fear Factor’ and boy, was I right!

That first challenge was also when I wished I had put more thought into my shoes. I created my original sandals out of flip-flops and simple elastic bands that were sewn together. They had ZERO traction and were ridiculous to run in when wet. Ms. Limelight and I had to help each other, because her boots were obviously not even made for walking—let alone uphill—especially while soaking wet with a hurricane force gale blowing in our faces.

Thank GOODNESS we had The Defuser on our team! At one point, he literally grabbed the both of us and set us back on our feet. It was hilarious! I will say that this was also the challenge where I started to try to out-think the producers. Before we even started the challenge, I noticed the little key hanging on the shopping cart and I KNEW it would come into play later!”

She's BEE-utiful! Easily the most popular villain on the show, "Bee Sting" (played exquisitely by actress Anna Easteden), wreaked havoc on contestants by unleashing thousands of bees into their holding cells and dousing them with barrels of corn syrup, ruining their superhero costumes. (Photo: Syfy)

She’s BEE-utiful! The villainess “Bee Sting” (played exquisitely by actress Anna Easteden), wreaked havoc on contestants by unleashing thousands of bees into their holding cells and dousing them with barrels full of corn syrup “honey,” ruining their homemade superhero costumes. (Photo: Syfy)

In this screenshot from the show, taken during the infamous "Spelling Bee" challenge, thousands of bees were released into the contestant boxes and gathered menacingly on their microphone as well. Ouch!

Step closer to the Microphone, please. During the show’s infamous “Spelling Bee” challenge, thousands of bees were released into the contestants’ phone booth-sized cells and then gathered menacingly on the microphones. Imagine putting your lips up to THIS! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: In the Spelling Bee challenge, “Bee Sting” called on you derisively, saying, “Okay, Greek boy, go for it.” Then you misspelled “Benign,” and then she releases 10,000 bees into your cage! We know you’ve discussed this in interviews before, but what are your strongest memories of that day? Most people run for the hills when buzzed by only ONE bee or wasp. What was it like being locked in a box with 10,000?

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“If there’s two things that I hate in the world—it’s insects and spelling! When we were in the lair and first saw Bee Sting, I was talking to the others about how I hoped it wasn’t going to be a spelling bee (which of course it was). What you didn’t see is all of the questions we spelled correctly. They edited out most of those. I was hoping they would leave at least one in with me being a teacher. But no… As far as the bees go, 10,000 is an exaggeration, as most villains are known to do.  Nonetheless, we did get more bees put in our cage each time we lost and by the end we did have quite a lot in there with us! If you look at the microphone, you can see that there is a small box taped under the microphone. This box held the Queen bee and all of the drone bees flocked right to it. That meant any time it was your turn to answer, you were face to face and inches away from a ton of bees!”

This screenshot captures the moment the contestants are doused with barrels full of corn syrup "honey." What a sticky situation!

What a sticky situation! This screenshot captures the moment when contestants, with no place to hide, were doused with barrels of corn syrup. Quick thinking (and a cape) help Williams persevere. (Photo: Syfy)

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“As soon as they started letting bees in to the cage, I quickly wrapped my cape around me. Let’s be honest, my original costume had a lot of exposed area! my cape strategy kept most of the bees off my body, while the rest was just a mental game of staying calm. What you DIDN’T see was Aja DeCoudreaux (aka “Basura”) using her insect-control powers on the bees, trying to ask them to leave. At this early point in the game we weren’t sure what ‘powers’ we could actually use (or when). 

Finally, just when Bee Sting’s ‘honey’ was being dumped on us, I caught a reflection of it (beginning to pour) in the glass door. So, once again, I quickly wrapped my cape around me and ended up protecting my Armaguard gauntlet and original outfit. Everything on me was wash-n-wear, so when it came to redressing for the next day, my costume actually looked pretty darn good!”

The ever-frustrating, Mr. Leong, proved quite an unusual challenge for the contestants. We'd actually have liked to see more such "confusing" lay people interactions. These were hilarious (for the viewers, at least)!

How much for your bracelet? The pushy, evasive and VERY frustrating, “Mr. Long,” proved to be an unexpected and off-beat challenge, catching Season 2 contestants completely off-guard. We would have enjoyed seeing MORE of these confusing “lay-people” interactions. Such challenges proved to be solid indicators of a contestant’s composure under pressure, and help reveal who can (or can NOT) “hack it” as a superhero (i.e. Ms. Limelight completely crumbles under Long’s advances). (Photo: Syfy)

Give up my Armaguard? Would a Superhero sell the very object that makes them "super?" Not bloody likely! (Photo: Syfy)

You want to buy WHAT? Would any Superhero sell the very thing that makes them super? Fortunately, Williams said “no” to Mr. Long’s ridiculous request. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: When interviewing “Mr. Long” during the warehouse robbery challenge, he wanted to BUY your armaguard. At one point, he offered you $5,000! What were you thinking at that moment? Did you consider taking him up on it—even for a second? Or did you suspect he was insincere and simply testing you?

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Mr. Long was an extremely confusing test. We were given no explanation and no instructions. On the show, I was always on guard and decided to approach every challenge as Parthenon, not as Dan. Honestly, I think that is what helped me get so far on the show! As for his $5,000 offer, I knew he had no real interest in my Armaguard, so I kept cornering him with questions, 90% of which are never seen on the show.”

Williams was the only contestant to offer to help the delivery man carry the boxes, a keen move that helped Parthenon's standing in Lee's eyes. (Photo: Syfy)

Can I help you? In true superhero fashion, Williams was the only contestant to help the delivery man carry his boxes (a keen move elevating Parthenon’s standing). (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Despite the obvious advantages of “The Defuser” (aka real-life cop, Jarrett Crippen) and his domination of much of the show’s action, you seemed to do exceptionally well and ran a close second in many events. For example, during the tire-changing challenge, you were the first contestant to suspect it was merely a ruse, look around, and offer to help that deliveryman carry his boxes. What else do you remember about that challenge?

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The Defuser is fabulous; let me just say that before anything else! And I think he got edited really poorly on the show. To us, he was never dominating, we actually found him to be extremely helpful. Being a cop, he was very used to taking command. But if you go back and watch the show, I was actually always on the winning team or I won the solo missions, even on the episode where I get voted off!  As far as the tire-changing challenge, I thought it was too easy. That’s why I started looking around. It made no sense that 10 heroes would have to put tires on a car. Once I broke out of that mindset, I noticed everything else going on and that is when I helped the deliveryman.”

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The poor Beagle that no one spotted, sitting all alone, right next to a "Missing Dog" poster on the lamppost. We can still hear his cries now. Aaoooooo! (Photo: Syfy)

The poor little Beagle (that no one noticed) was sitting all alone next to a lamppost (with a “Missing Dog” poster on it). We can still hear his pitiful cries now. Aooo! (Photo: Syfy)

“The thing that struck me the most funny on that challenge was the lost dog. First off, I am a dog person and a puzzle solver. But there is NO way that anyone would have figured that out. It actually became a big joke between all the heroes and we laughed about it (a lot). However, it did open my eyes for later challenges, because then I could see the kind of ‘outside of the box’ things Stan and the show’s producers were going for.”

Even 7 years later, the contestants can keep their costumes and make public appearances, but that's all (at least without further legal permission). (Photo: Dan Williams) Super-restricted Superheroes? Even after 7 years, while contestants can keep their show-costumes and make public appearances wearing them—that is all (without legal permission, at least). (Photo: Dan Williams)

Super-Restricted Superheroes? Fellow superhero, Melody Mooney (right) and Williams pose with fans during a 2007 appearance on NBC’s “Today Show” in NYC. Unfortunately, even now, over 7 years later, contestants from WWTBASH remain limited by the terms in their contracts. Other than personal appearances, there is little else they are can do to profit from their characters. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

Not ready for Prime-Time? The great, untapped future potential for WWTBASH characters such as Hyper-Strike and Parthenon is

Great, untapped potential resided in all of the WWTBASH characters, including John Stork’s “Hyper-Strike” and Williams’ “Parthenon.” Even 7 years later, short-sighted show producers continue to turn a blind-eye to public demand for a 3rd season, missing out on hugely lucrative merchandising opportunities. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Fans are very curious about the pre-show, non-disclosure contracts all contestants were required to sign. When do they expire? Can you tell us what was in them or anything else about them without getting into trouble? Are there subjects you CAN’T you discuss? Was there anything in the contract that surprised or bothered you personally—or gave you pause to reconsider participating?

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“The contracts are obviously a giant part of TV. The non-disclosure contracts mainly applied until after the show aired. We could not reveal anything about the show, contestants, challenges, etc., or that would ruin the ending for the fans. As to why we still don’t talk about it, I personally feel that if you know too much behind-the-scenes info, it kind of ruins the magic of it. Like knowing how a trick is done.  Once you know, it loses its special spark.

I get a lot of questions about the ‘true’ show, and I try to maintain a good, common ground. The only thing that I truly don’t like is that we had to sign our characters over to them. A few heroes on the show actually got whole new identities because they did not want to give up their established characters! The company lets us keep our costumes and make appearances, but for anything else there’s a whole legal process to go through. As I stated before, I am currently trying to get the rights back to use Parthenon in future projects.”

Williams poses with fellow WWTBASH contestants (from right), Aja DeCoudreaux, Melody Mooney, Trisha Paytas and

Super-Friends! Williams poses with fellow contestants (from right), Aja DeCoudreaux, Melody Mooney, Trisha Paytas and Crystal Clark during a premiere party for the show. (Photo: Syfy)

Superhero Snug! Since meeting on the show, the friendship of many of the contestants remains undeniable. Here, Aja DeCoudreaux and Williams share a hug after appearing together at Comikaze 2013. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

Since meeting on the show, the friendship and closeness of many contestants has remained strong. Here, the beautiful Aja DeCoudreaux and Williams share a hug after appearing at Comikaze 2013. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

TJR: On the show, you seemed to be closest to Basura (Aja De Coudreaux) Hygena (Melody Mooney), Ms. Limelight (Trisha Paytas) and Braid (Crystal Clark), acting almost as their “brother-figure.” Would you say that’s an accurate assessment? How about the male contestants? Were you as close (or distant) to any of them?

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“I was really close with all 4 of them and we all really depended a lot on each other. When you are away from your friends, family and loved ones for so long you need a support system. Honestly, I got along well with all the contestants, even Mr. Mitzvah (occasionally). Going through that show was a real bonding experience and I made some life-long friends as a result. I was sad when Braid got voted off. I met her at the auditions and was REALLY excited that she was to be on the show as well. I still talk with some of the other heroes. I am really close with The Defuser and his fabulous wife Norma as well, and I have visited them in Austin, TX for their giant haunted attraction ‘Scare For A Cure!’ Check out their site. That event is unlike anything else I have ever done and is fantastic! A word of warning though; don’t go if you’re claustrophobic!”

Stan Lee Wants YOU to be a Superhero! Surrounded by colleagues and friends, Williams is told for the first time that he has been selected to appear on the show. It was moment of genuine surprise, and obvious excitement for all concerned. (Photo: Syfy)

Stan Lee wants YOU to be a Superhero! Surrounded by colleagues and friends, Williams is told for the first time that he has been selected to appear on the show. It was a moment of both genuine surprise and obvious excitement for all concerned. Hooray, Dan! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: In the early scene when you’re told “Stan Lee wants YOU to be a superhero!,” where were you exactly? And who were all those people around you cheering you on? Was that all staged for the cameras or was it a real “gotcha!” surprise moment? Did Feedback break the news to you in-person, as he did with some of the others, or did you learn in some other way?

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“That scene was filmed at the college where I was working at during that time. The producers told me to gather a group of my friends and family because they wanted to interview them and get their opinions about me. So everyone you see in that group are my near and dear friends. They sent out only one camera guy, like it was no big deal, gathered us all in a room and I thought they were going to start asking everyone questions, but instead they sprang the news that I was selected to be on the show. My reaction was a true, 100% honest surprise!”

Go, Parthenon! This closeup of the prototype cover for issue #1 of a Parthenon comic book featured a decidedly "buff" superhero utilizing his super-strength to topple a Greek temple. (Art: Dark Horse Comics)

Go, Parthenon! This closeup of the prototype cover for issue #1 of a Parthenon comic book featured a decidedly “buff” superhero utilizing his super-strength to topple a Greek temple. (Art: Dark Horse Comics)

TJR: The prototype cover of your Parthenon comic book (shown above) was FANTASTIC. Sort of like Samson bringing down the temple. Did you get to keep that exact poster from the show? Do you know where the original artwork for that cover is today? That would be the ULTIMATE Parthenon collectible—other than your own armaguard.

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“That cover holds a love-hate relationship for me. I do have a poster from the show, but not the one used in filming. I actually don’t care for the cover myself. I feel it looked nothing like me and didn’t represent my character in the slightest. I still take it with me to conventions and when I do classes, but if I ever do create a Parthenon comic book—that will not be on the cover.”

Fantastic Fan Art! Williams continues to receive, create and commission artwork based on his superhero creations. This fantastic brush-stroke ink rendering of a young, hip  "Parthenon," seems ready to fight crime as a Saturday morning cartoon. ROCK ON! (Art: Enrique)

Fantastic Fan Art! Williams continues to receive, create and commission artwork based on his superhero creations. For example, this fantastic ink-brush rendering of a young, hip “Parthenon,” seems ready to go out and fight crime as a Saturday morning cartoon character. ROCK ON! (Art: Enrique Rivera)

TJR: Okay, fair enough. Well, have any amateur or professional writers or artists ever created a more accurate comic book based on one of your characters (Parthenon, The Cape or Brace)? And if so, where can fans buy them? And if not, are there plans for such projects in the future? Again, maybe with Kickstarter funding as the source?

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“Currently there is a bit of fan fiction out there for Parthenon, but nothing official has been created—yet!”

Searching for a Catch-Phrase: A second prototype cover for a Parthenon comic, again featuring the character's best catch phrase, "ROCK ON!" (Photo: Dan Williams)

Searching for a Catch-Phrase A second prototype cover for a Parthenon comic, again featuring the character’s best catch phrase, “ROCK ON!” (Photo: Dan Williams)

TJR: Clearly, “ROCK ON!” was your strongest catch-phrase. But when you were describing Parthenon to the other contestants, you told them your superhero catch-phrase was “Bling’s my thing!” And then added, “I’m all about the gemstones!” In response, the Defuser’s mouth dropped open (in apparent disbelief), Basura rolled her eyes, Hygena stared blankly ahead, and Mindset arched his eyebrow incredulously. Did their obvious apathetic reactions disappoint you? And did it cause you to question your superhero’s validity or potential?

Tension in the Lair? Or simply creative editing by the show's producers? Williams reveals it was a little of both. (Photo: Syfy)

Tension in the Lair? Or creative editing? Williams reveals the show’s “magic” involved a little of both. (Photo: Syfy)

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“Not to spoil the magic, but editing has a factor in this. When we were all sitting around, no one had those reactions. If anything, I got compliments on how well thought-out my character was. Of course, that doesn’t make for interesting TV, so…”

Despite saving his original "wash-n-wear" costume from the honey of "Bee-Sting," Williams had to turn it in for a costume created by Stan Lee and provided by the show. Here, he looks at it in a mirror for the first time. (Photo: Syfy)

Lookin’ GOOD! Despite sparing his original costume from Bee Sting’s sticky “honey-dump,” Williams had to exchange it for a new one designed by Stan Lee and created by the show’s costumers. (Photo: Syfy)

Stan Lee's interpretation of Parthenon's costume didn't please Williams, but he put on a brave face and soldiered on, nonetheless. (Photo: Syfy)

Fans liked it, but for various reasons, Stan Lee’s revamp of Parthenon’s costume didn’t please Williams. Nonetheless, Dan put on a brave face and soldiered on. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: How did you feel when you received your new costume from Stan? Any memories of that part of the show? Do you still own that costume? Is it displayed at your home on a mannequin, in your closet boxed up, or..?

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“To be honest, I was a little disappointed in my new costume. I’d put a lot of hard work into my original and I don’t feel their version met my expectations. For example, they had originally replaced my armaguard with a pair of cheap dollar store bracelets, one of which I eventually incorporated into my new look. They also gave me a more traditional-looking cape. The one-shouldered cape was part of my signature look because it highlighted the armaguard and that was the main part of my costume. They also completely changed my color scheme from blue, black and silver to teal and gold.”

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After some fine-tuning and the return of his armaguard, Williams found that his new costume looked pretty good after all! (Photo: Syfy)

After some fine-tuning and the return of his armaguard, Williams felt that his new costume looked pretty good after all! (Photo: Syfy)

“Of course, we originally were blindfolded while we were getting dressed in our new costumes so that our reactions upon first seeing them would be genuine, but I could already feel that I did not like the cape. Once they had put us back into the ‘transformation closet,’ I had about 5 seconds before the door opened and saw my new look. I very quickly threw my cape over one shoulder and when the doors opened, I had my off-the-shoulder cape and they had to let me keep it. If you look carefully in the same episode, I eventually talked to the show’s producers and got my armaguard back as well as my official off-the-shoulder cape. Luckily, Basura had a needle with her and I used dental floss to fix and sew my own cape and add the loop to the one side, so that I could hook it on the bracelet on my right arm.   After I fixed my costume myself, I did like it a lot more.”

Williams teamed up with DeCoudreaux during the roller coaster challenge at Six Flags. Here they plan their strategy for searching for clues.(Photo: Syfy)

We can do this! Williams teamed up with DeCoudreaux during the arduous roller coaster challenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Here they plan strategy for searching for various hidden clues.(Photo: Syfy)

The realities and limitations of superhero costumes became apparent to all contestants during the Six Flags challenge which required running all over the park searching for clues. (Photo: Syfy)

Tuckered-out in Tights? The realities and limitations of superhero costumes became apparent to all contestants during the Six Flags challenge which required running all over the park searching for clues. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: During the Six Flags challenge, you were required to run all over the park gathering clues. At one point, you openly admitted:

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“I thought I was in pretty good shape, but I tell you, running in spandex is NOT easy.”

TJR: What do you remember about that challenge? Riding the roller coaster, searching the park, being distracted by those two pushy, photo-fans, or..?

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“I actually had a good time in that challenge. Running all over the park was fun—but exhausting! I also love roller coasters, so I had no trouble with that. And we actually dealt with those ‘fans’ a lot differently than was shown in the final edit. Basura and I originally got past them quickly while still being polite. However, after we got the padlock off and noticed that we were still missing some teammates, we decided to go and keep the fans distracted so that the other heroes would not get stopped by them. This seemed like a great plan (to us), but I’m sure the producers wanted to give other heroes a chance to ‘interact’ with the fans.”

Williams and DeCoudreaux tried to distract and occupy the "fans" in an attempt to help their fellow contestants finish the padlock challenge. However, Stan Lee felt the two "allowed themselves to be distracted" by the fans and further hurt their chances at winning. (Photo: Syfy)

Distracted—Or Buying Time? Williams and DeCoudreaux are approached by “faux fans” requesting photographs. Regardless of their intentions, Stan Lee felt the two contestants had “allowed themselves to become distracted” by the fans, further hurting their chances on the show. (Photo: Syfy)

To Tell the Truth— Filling out "mission reports" for Stan Lee required some serious soul-searching on the part of each contestant. How much praise (or complaining) was too much? Walking a fine line in this peer examination process proved to be an integral part of the competition. (Photo: Syfy)

To Tell the Truth— Filling out Stan Lee’s “mission reports”  required some serious soul-searching on the part of each contestant. How much praise (or complaining) was too much? Walking a fine line in this peer-examination process was an integral part of the competition. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Back at the lair, when you were filling out Stan’s questionnaires on the computers, were you being a: brutally honest, b: cautiously careful, or c: strategically smart? What are your memories of filling out those “mission reports?”

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“Those missions reports were brutal! All of the heroes got along so well that it was super-hard to throw anyone under the bus. I answered all of the questions honestly, because that is what heroes do, for better or worst. In my personal life, I actually follow this same philosophy.”

This group shot of Season 2 contestants shows the enigmatic "Mr. Mitzvah" front and center. His odd-man-out role would confuse and concern his fellow contestants. (Photo: Syfy)

Not a Team Player? This Season 2 group shot shows the enigmatic “Mr. Mitzvah” standing front and center. But his odd-man-out role confused Williams and his fellow contestants. (Photo: Syfy)

Bosom Buddies— Williams and Paytas were clearly good friends. Interestingly, Mr. Mitzvah felt they both should have eliminated from the show. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

Bosom Buddies— Williams and Paytas shared much in common, became friends, and supported each other’s efforts on the show. (Photo: Melody Mooney)

TJR: Before the first elimination, you chose Mr. Mitzvah (Ivan Wilzig) as the most likely to be cut, because you felt “his isolation might hurt him.” Mr. Mitzvah by contrast, selected you and Ms. Limelight (Trisha Paytas), saying that you both just like to “talk ‘n talk ‘n talk ‘n talk!” Was there any schism or tension between you and Wilzig? Do you have any memories you’d care to share about Mr. Mitzvah?

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“Ivan was…interesting. I first met him at the auditions. He was extremely guarded and not very friendly. However, during my audition trip, I took notes on EVERYTHING; on anyone I met or talked to. When I got home, I tried to find any information I could about those I’d met. Ivan only told me his original superhero name: “Peaceman.” From that, I was able to look him up, find out who he was and his backstory. When the ‘big reveal’ that he was a millionaire happened on the show, I’d already known from the beginning. I actually didn’t know it was a secret and told the whole house on day 3! The producers asked me how I knew and I told them about the audition. They just laughed it off and said, “Well played.”

Williams was documenting his entire "audition trip," and in this rare photo, one of Dan's earliest encounters with Mr. Mitzvah occurred unguarded moment with Mr. Mitzvah occurred during the show's auditions, Her name is Sartan, Spanish for frying pan. She auditioned for the show as well but didn't make it. She was super nice so I took her picture to remember her

Keeping to Himself (Already)— Williams documented his entire “audition trip” to Los Angeles, and in this exclusive photo, he captured his earliest encounter with the secretive Mr. Mitzvah. It reveals an intriguing, unguarded moment that occurred during the show’s auditions, as contestants filled out forms and waited in a reception area. We asked Dan about the woman and he said, “Her name is Sartan, Spanish for frying pan. She auditioned for the show as well, but didn’t make it. She was super nice, so I took this picture to remember her by.” (Photo: Dan Williams)

TJR: Your sense of fair play really rose to the fore when the group later began discussing Mr. Mitzvah in secret—after he left the room. You objected, stating:

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“Shouldn’t Mr. Mitzvah be here for this though? I wouldn’t want anything said behind his back. I believe in the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

For some reason (at that moment), the Defuser disagreed with you, and you ended up scoring even MORE kudos from Stan Lee as a result. Lee even praised you about it later, saying, “You showed INTEGRITY when others wanted to talk behind Mr. Mitzvah’s back.” Viewers at home surely concurred with both you and Stan, and it seemed as if you were pulling out ahead (again) in terms of character strength and integrity. Your comments?

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The Mysterious Mr. Mitzvah— Fellow WWTBASH contestant, Ivan Wilzig (aka "Mr. Mitzvah), chose to play his cards close to his chest and refused to approach anyone on the show because he "was in a competition." Unfortunately for Wilzig (the so-called "Hugh Hefner of the Hamptons"), that strategy failed him miserably and Stan Lee eventually eliminated him from the show. (Photo: Syfy)

The Mysterious Mr. Mitzvah— Fellow WWTBASH contestant, Ivan Wilzig (aka “Mr. Mitzvah), chose to play his cards close to his chest and refused to approach anyone on the show because he “was in a competition.” Unfortunately for Wilzig (the so-called “Hugh Hefner of the Hamptons”), that strategy failed him miserably and Stan Lee eventually eliminated him from the show. (Photo: Syfy)

“Let me start by saying that Mr. Mitzvah and I didn’t really get along in the house, we barely talked. However, anything I had to say (negative or positive) about anyone I would want to say it to his or her face. He should have the chance to defend his actions and explain himself. The Defuser initially disagreed with me because we wanted to gauge everyone else’s opinions FIRST before talking to Mitzvah, which I understood to a point, but I still would have rather talked as a whole group. The few conversations I did have with Mitzvah were mostly of which were never shown. I had a ton of questions about his character, his backstory and generally how he acted on the show. All of these were met with a lot of resistance, so eventually I just had to accept it and move on.”

Say it's not so! Williams and DeCoudreaux bonded and worked well together during the competitions, making it all the more difficult when she was eliminated by Stan Lee. (Photo: Syfy)

Say it isn’t so! Williams and DeCoudreaux bonded and worked well together during the competitions, making it all the more difficult when she was ultimately eliminated by Stan Lee. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: When Basura was called forward for elimination, you strongly and noticeably shook your head. What thoughts (about her) were going through your mind at that moment?

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“I was super shocked! I thought we were going to be judged as a duo and that we made a fantastic team together. We got all of our clues, solved all of our puzzles, and were the first ones to finish. I completely disagreed with her being up there on the elimination blocks.”

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This is TOUGH. Clearly trying to hide their feelings, the faces of Williams and Stork nonetheless revealed sadness and strong disappointment whenever their friends were eliminated from the show. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: When Mr. Mitzvah and Ms. Limelight were eliminated on the same night, it was clearly very emotional for everyone remaining. What do you remember about that night and the emotional impact of a surprise double-elimination?

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“At this point in the show, I was concerned that Ms. Limelight was going home, so when Stan announced that Mr. Mitzvah was the one to go, there was a collective sign of relief from pretty much everyone. Afterwards, we started to leave the rooftop when Stan suddenly called us back. We thought it had nothing to do with the show, but when it was revealed that there was to be a double elimination, I knew that Ms. Limelight was done for. She and I were really close in the house, so that elimination hit me really hard. A little side note: All of the heroes were told to not get off our boxes, but we felt like we had to go and hug Ms. Limelight one last time, even if we got in trouble.”

May I have your clothes? Williams found it a difficult task to ask strangers to loan him their clothes. Nonetheless, he would be the first and fastest contestant to complete the challenge. (Photo: Syfy)

May I have your clothes? Williams found it a difficult task to convince strangers to loan him their clothes. Nonetheless, he was the first and fastest contestant to complete the challenge. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: During the clothes-changing challenge at Universal City Walk, your “P” emblem was facing the wrong way in one scene. Had you changed too quickly and put your shirt on inside-out?

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“The P is facing the wrong way? I had never noticed. I’m pretty sure the editors just flipped the video horizontally when editing. Why, I have no idea. But I loved this challenge, actually. When we first started, I thought it was impossible to talk ANYONE into giving you their clothes in public. I was really lucky though. The third group I talked to was a fantastic group of 3 women. The rules were you could only get one item from each person and I managed to talk each of them into giving me one thing. Pants was the hardest, but I had the great idea that the girl could tie her friends sweatshirts around her waist as a skirt—and she did it! I was floored! I was done getting my items before anyone knew what actually happened.” 

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The Mystery of the Flipped “P” Solved: According to Williams, the flipped P was a simple editor’s gaffe, NOT the result of a too hasty “quick-change” on his part (Photo: Syfy)

Who was that Mystery Woman? The mother of non-existent lost-child, "Emily," was in fact, Bee Sting working in a wig, dark glasses and hat disguise. (Photo: Syfy)

The Mystery Mother of a non-existent lost-child turned out to be Bee Sting working in disguise. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What about “Emily,” the supposedly lost child? And did you believe that her mother was real, or did you suspect her true-identity and that she was secretly working for Dr. Dark, the show, etc.?

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“As for the fake mom, I mean, come on! You could totally tell she was an actress. But did I know she was secretly Bee Sting? NO! We had ZERO clue on that one!”

Parthenon wins AGAIN! As in many of the challenges, Williams came in first or near first place. In the clothes changing event, he finished first and found the secret courier to retrieve a stolen check. ROCK ON! (Photo: Syfy)

Parthenon wins AGAIN! In the clothes changing event, Williams finished first, found the secret courier (above) and retrieved the stolen property. ROCK ON! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: By finding the secret courier and stolen check first, you won the clothes-changing challenge and scored even more kudos from Stan. Were you feeling pretty unstoppable at that point?

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“I was searching for that spy for quite a LONG time. When I finally found him and won the challenge, it was a huge feeling of relief knowing I’d be safe for another week and get to fight another day!”

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Prepare for a Surprise, Heroes! Contestants entering the Golden Apple Comic Book Store in Los Angeles had no idea what—or WHO—was waiting for them inside. (Photo: Syfy)

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One will be immortalized. As Dark Horse Comics President, Mike Richardson revealed the contestant’s prototype comic book covers, Williams found himself feeling disappointed and disillusioned. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What are your memories of visiting the comic book store where you met Dark Horse Comics president, Mike Richardson, saw Parthenon on a comic, and heard Stan say: “THIS is what’s waiting for ONE of you—at the end!”?

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“I was SOOOO excited to see our covers and meet Mike; it was one of those moments that you really wanted to be special. Honestly though, when I saw my cover, I was excited for a minute and then felt really let down. I felt like it didn’t capture anything about my hero, his powers or his story. And I didn’t feel like it looked like ME, either.”

Take a look at THIS!

Reactions were decidedly mixed when the superheroes saw their respective comic book covers for the first time. At first, most were happy, but upon reflection, many were not. (Photo: Syfy)

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“On that cover, Parthenon looks like a Hulk-sized Superman, which he is not. He is an archaeologist, who stumbles across an ancient bracelet. Disappointed, I tried to focus on everyone else’s covers instead. Later, off-camera, a few other heroes and I were talking and they said they felt the same way. Some felt the covers were rushed and incomplete. It was like the artists that drew them had received none of our character’s information beforehand.”

Calling Home was a rare, one-time privilege granted only to Parthenon and Hygena. (Photo: Syfy)

Calling Home was a rare, one-time privilege granted only to Parthenon and later, Hygena. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Another emotional moment came when you were awarded a phone call home, and then shared the prize with Hygena, who wept openly. Your thoughts?

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“This reward made me so happy for so many reasons.  When you are so cut off from the real world, any chance to get something familiar is precious. When I asked what I could and could not discuss, the producers said I could talk about anything that happened so far, this doesn’t seem important but it TOTALLY was. All the heroes had to sign non-disclosure forms saying we could not talk to ANYONE about anything from the show, so I got to share all of my experience with my BF Derek at the time. I never talked so fast! I literally tried to tell him everything I could.

After that, I got to be more relaxed and just talk to him normally  It was this scene that actually got Sci-Fi nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Reality Program; their first ever I believe! They were nominated because of 3 little words that I said, ‘I Love You!’ to my boyfriend. That was all it took! Suddenly, Sci-Fi was ‘gay-approved’ and we were nominated along with Project Runway and Kathy Griffin (Griffin took home the award that year).”

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Sharing good fortune. After winning the right to call home, Williams shared the prize with fellow contestant Melody Mooney, who thanked him with a hug. (Photo: Syfy)

Sharing good fortune. After winning the right to call home, Williams shared the prize with contestant Melody Mooney, who thanked him with a big hug. (Photo: Syfy)

“When it came time to give away the other call, I chose Hygena immediately, with zero thinking. I knew she needed it the most. The producers asked me to give the other heroes a chance to explain their case, which I did, but it was totally Hygena’s. I was happy with the choice and felt it brought us closer together.”

Rooftop Eliminations became something every contestant dreaded, as Stan Lee judged them from a giant electronic screen mounted nearby. (Photo: Syfy)

Rooftop Eliminations became something every contestant dreaded, as Stan Lee judged them from a giant electronic screen mounted nearby. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Fans are very interested in the rooftop eliminations and the actual technologies involved. Could you describe what we couldn’t see off-camera? For example, was the image of Stan really shown on the billboard or were you watching a smaller TV screen somewhere else off camera? Were there lights and multiple cameras everywhere? What do you remember about going up there night after night?

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“Surprisingly fans see almost everything as it is up there! Stan really was projected on the billboard, but it was on the same rooftop as us. There were lights of course and a big crane camera for those fantastic looking high angle-sweeping shots of us. One of the coolest things fans never saw is that to get out to the roof the door was actually a bookcase that opened. Why they never showed that I don’t know! It was also FREEZING up there! I was usually wrapped up in my cape like a blanket in-between takes. One night it was so cold, that they got us all big coats and blankets to share. You can literally see some of us shaking, not out of fear of elimination, but of frostbite—and I am not talking about the villain!”

In a stroke of brilliance, the show's creators came up with Stan's (very) tele-visual "cubes of elimination." At night, the internally-lit cubes were dramatically effective in setting a mood and communicating two simple facts: Standing on a red cube meant you were facing final elimination. Standing on a white cube meant you were "safe"—for now. (Photo: Syfy)

The view from above was quite dramatic. This screenshot (actually taken from Season 1) provides a good sense of just how much space the rooftop eliminations required. WOW! (Photo: Syfy)

Here goes Nuthin'! As Williams enters the small access pipe to the "power station," he activated the light on his armaguard. Unfortunately, that aid soon failed and he found himself in total darkness once again. (Photo: Syfy)

Watch your head! Fellow contestant, John Stork, cheers Williams on as he enters the small access pipe to the “power station,” a dark place that was filled with creepy-crawlies of all sorts and sizes. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What are your memories of the power station challenge? Were all the snakes, spiders, rats, etc. real? Were they actually touching or falling on contestants or endangering them in any real way? Or were they simply inconvenient, kept behind clear plexi and frightening? What do fans not know about that event?

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“Honestly…
It was the worst challenge EVER! I HATE snakes, bugs, spiders, etc. and I tried to put on a brave face for the show, but inside I was screaming! The pipe we had to crawl through was so small and ridged that I banged up my knee during that. I still have no idea how the Defuser even fit in the pipe let alone crawled through it. Must be something that they train you for in the Police Academy!

What the fans couldn’t see is that I had a bit of light in there ONLY because of my armaguard! I built my armaguard myself out of leather, but the main stone in the center, the Allstone, was lit by LEDs and changed colors. This didn’t really come across in the video, but it is one of my favorite things about my costume. So, before starting the challenge, I switched on my light and went inside.”

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Snakes and Spiders and Rats, Oh My! Everyone's least favorite creepy-crawlies were everywhere in the darkness of the power station challenge. Aaaaaa! (Photo: Syfy)

Snakes and Spiders and Rats, Oh My! Everyone’s least favorite creepy-crawlies were everywhere in the darkness of the power station challenge. Aaaaaa! (Photo: Syfy)

“But then, while I was crawling through the tunnel, I slammed my arm into the side of it and broke the switch to my armaguard! The light went out and I could not believe my horrible timing. Inside of the Power Station, there really were all those creepy, crawly things. You could only see for a second or two in there when the light pulsed. I managed to duck under the pipe on the way to the fuse box, but on the way back, I knew the pipe was there, so I reached out for it. Instead of the pipe, I grabbed onto a giant snake that was sitting on it! This is when I let out my (infamous) ‘scream.’ Listen to it again and you can tell I was caught completely by surprise and started laughing (at myself) immediately as a result. I KNEW my screaming was going to be questioned by Stan. Luckily, I had a few hours before elimination, and it was in that time that I came up with one of my favorite lines from the show: ‘That wasn’t a scream, that was a battle cry!”

All is Forgiven! Williams poses with actor Yan Feldman (aka "Dr. Dark") at the show's premiere party in LA. (Photo: Syfy)

All is Forgiven? Williams poses with actor Yan Feldman (aka “Dr. Dark”) during the show’s premiere party in LA. (Photo: Dan Williams)

TJR: Dr. Dark’s video revelation about your “obsession with pirates” and having a “whole room dedicated to the dark side” didn’t seem to faze Stan much, and you had no comment. Why was that?

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“My whole scene for this landed on the cutting room floor. As I said earlier in this interview, this is my favorite memory of Stan. For weeks, I’d been telling the heroes about my crazy-themed house, but hadn’t been allowed to show them pictures of it. Ironically, Dr. Dark’s ‘dark side’ video was literally my bf giving everyone a TOUR—of my house. Of course, I couldn’t have been happier to show it off! As to an obsession with pirates, I responded to this question with the fact that I had played the Pirate King and Stan’s lightning fast response was,‘Well anyone who likes Gilbert and Sullivan can’t be bad!’

Later in the video, they showed my comic book room and some of my cosplay costumes, so Dr. Dark tried to imply that I was merely ‘playing the hero’ instead of actually being one. I responded with ‘I disagree. I think dressing up and cosplay in general could not be more heroic. You idolize the heroes so much—you want to BE them. It helped train me for the hero that I am today.’ Needless to say, that wasn’t aired on the show either. I think they were just trying to find something on me that I couldn’t spin into a positive. That’s why the final aired response was my saying nothing at all.”

Preoccupied with winning the science quiz/word scramble challenge, Williams neglected to seek the views of elementary school students and ended up ostracizing them as a result. Afterwards, his failure to bond with the children came as a real surprise for the real-life, experienced educator. (Photo: Syfy)

Preoccupied with Winning? During the classroom challenge, it seemed Williams neglected to seek the views of elementary school students at his table and ended up ostracizing them as a result. While his failure to bond with the children came as a surprise to the real-life, experienced educator, the reasons WHY may have more to do with the showmanship of a fellow contestant—Hyper-Stike. (Photo: Syfy)

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A Human Dynamo! Fellow contestant, John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike,” is a professional entertainer. The other heroes quickly realized his athleticism, experience, and ease working with crowds (and children) made him a formidable force to be reckoned with. Not surprisingly, in the close confines of the school’s classroom, his abilities proved too overwhelming for Williams and the others to overcome. (Hyper-Strike was chosen as the “most popular hero” by the schoolchildren.) (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Congratulations on making it to Stan’s “Final Four.” Your first stumble, however, came soon after, during the elementary school challenge when you learned that “ZERO students preferred Parthenon.” At the time, you stated you were very surprised by their reaction. And when you first met Stan in the auditions, you told him that the reason you wanted to be on the show was “to be a role model for kids.” Just before you were eliminated, Stan would tell you that you “had failed as a role model” (based on the student vote). How did you feel about that surprising turn of events, and what are your thoughts about it all now?

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“This whole challenge was an editing nightmare. I don’t want to say too much about it, but my ‘friendly get to know you time’ with the kids was never shown. My team came in first for the challenge and then my team got to sit around and chat more, which was also never shown. As for zero percent of the vote, I still do find that a little hard to believe, but not really. Hyper-Strike was literally doing hand-stands on top of a chair on top of their tables! Heck, even I would have voted for him!”

Evil Stan's Embarrassments—Public Embarrassment

Evil Stan’s Embarrassments—Publicly embarrassing commands from “Evil” Stan Lee were transmitted to the heroes via hidden earpieces. Despite questioning the orders, Williams obliged, resulting in numerous embarrassing and regrettable moments. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Without a doubt, the true nadir for Parthenon fans came when “Evil Stan” began playing the heroes for fools, treating you all as puppets and pawns during the city-square challenge. It all began when you borrowed someone’s sunglasses and a woman’s cane, then began dancing a silly jig on the sidewalk. When you were finally done, you placed her cane on a trash can and jogged away from the scene! This was all so PAINFUL for your fans to watch! Do you have any (hopefully redeeming) memories regarding that challenge? And now that we now know the contestants’ wrist-communicators were non-functional props (see HERE), how did you receive your orders from “Evil” Stan Lee?

Message Coming In! In an attempt to test contestant's willingness to blindly follow orders, "Evil" Stan Lee sent his bizarre commands not via wrist-communicators, but by decidedly lower-tech hidden earpiece radios. A little acting on the parts of the heroes went a long way to sell the illusion. (Photo: Syfy)

Message Coming In From Stan! In an attempt to test contestant’s willingness to blindly follow orders, “Evil” Stan Lee sent his bizarre commands, not via their wrist-communicators, but by decidedly lower-tech hidden earpiece radios. A little staring at their wrists on the parts of the heroes went a long way to sell the illusion. (Photo: Syfy)

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“This was also one of my least favorite challenges and 90% of my stuff was edited out. As to the communicators, we got our instructions through a hidden earpiece. And as soon as they asked us to do weird things, I literally stopped and asked the producers if we had to do these tasks because my character wouldn’t do this. You also never saw that I ‘undid’ everything (that I had done) and made sure everything was put back the way it was. I ran that woman’s cane back to her across the street as well, so no need to worry.”

TJR: Despite the debacle of the city-square challenge, you seemed to redeem yourself later in the locked crate challenge, devising and coordinating a strategy that was used to escape. To viewers, that event seemed to be all about the men working together while Hygena just stood back and watched. After escaping the box, you seemed like a shoe-in to remain on the show and Hygena seemed to be in the most trouble. What are your memories of this test?

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Trapped Like Rats! During the aromatically-challenged box challenge (watch Hygena react to the men's B.O.), testosterone clearly won the day as the men executed a plan devised by Williams. (Photo: Syfy)

Trapped Like (Smelly) Rats! During the pungent peril of the “locked crate challenge” (watch Hygena’s reaction to the men’s B.O.), testosterone levels were running high as the heroes executed Williams’ escape plan. (Photo: Syfy)

 

“The crate challenge was frustrating, but I did think that I was a key part of escaping it. So (in my mind) at this point, I felt I had won the school challenge, undid all my weird tasks at the city-square challenge and helped us escape from the box. I really did think I was ‘safe’ from elimination and honestly believed that Hyper-Strike was going home for revealing his secret-identity to the kids at the school. That’s basic ‘Hero 101′ stuff that you just don’t do, and someone was voted off the show for doing just that on Season 1—and he (Hyper-Strike) was also on the chopping-block before! This was to be my first time EVER standing on a red square, because I had either won or was a part of the winning team in EACH episode.”

Suddenly, it was Over. Despite feeling assured he was safe from elimination, Williams was nonetheless, told to "turn in his costume." The expression on his face says it all. (Photo: Syfy)

Suddenly, it was Over. Despite feeling assured he was safe from elimination, Williams was nonetheless, told to “turn in his costume.” The expression on his face says it all. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: As we all know now, later that same evening, despite your excellent performance in the locked crate challenge, you were the next contestant to be eliminated. Were you as shocked as the viewers when Stan cut you from the show ahead of Hygena? What are your strongest memories of that night?

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“Total shock is all I can say about it. I had ZERO clue it was coming until I was on the elimination block. I was 100% convinced it would be Hyper-strike! The whole rest of that night is a blur, until sitting in my hotel room a few hours later, waiting for a flight to take me home. I was confused at what could have happened and after watching how it was edited—I still don’t really get it!”

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Power of Historic Proportions! Imagine being able to say you stepped into the pages of a comic book and lived the life of a superhero. Dan Williams was fortunate enough to have done so, and his character, Parthenon, will now live on in television history—forever! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Clearly, it was your failure to bond with the children that had sent you home. Up to that point, Hygena, despite her pluck and tenacity, had regularly been disappointing to Mr. Lee. By contrast, there was little else to criticize about you. In fact, Stan’s parting words to you were, “Parthenon, you brought wit and wisdom to this grueling process. You performed nobly.” Now, some 7 years later, what final thoughts would you like to share with all the fans out there who still hold you (and the show) so near and dear?

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“First off, I really want to say a giant ‘Thank You! & Rock On!’ to all the fans of the show and of Parthenon. I am still in awe at how many people still LOVE this show and talk to me about it to this day. I think it touched that ‘inner nerd’ in all of us and I could not have been more proud to be a part of it. It gave me the chance to actually BE a Superhero and I’m one of those very lucky people who were able to truly LIVE—a dream.”

Dan Williams "channels" the powers and pain shown in his Parthenon character's powers and pain

Will Parthenon “ROCK ON?” Seven years after his appearance on “Who Wants to be a Superhero?,” Dan Williams has achieved great success in his real-world life as an educator and artist. Nonetheless, fans of the show continue to wonder if the self-professed “creative extraordinaire” will ever “channel” the powers of his unique superhero creation again—perhaps in some other format—or if there will there will EVER be a 3rd Season of Lee’s beloved show. Whatever the outcome—ROCK ON! (Photo: Dan Williams)

Find out more about Dan! His website, appropriately called, "What's Dan Doing?  is full of news, photos and information. Enjoy! (Logo: Dan Williams)

Find out more about Dan: His website is appropriately called What’s Dan Doing?
and is chocked full of news, photos and other “Dan-formation.” Enjoy! (Logo: Dan Williams)

Bottom Line: We expect to see bigger and better things from this talented young man far into the future. Our sincerest thanks also to Dan and all the other contestants for their continued and generous contributions to these articles. As to the potential for a return of Parthenon, we’ll leave you with this one final quote from Dan:

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“Currently I’m working on starting up my YouTube Cosplay Channel called Super Secrets, where we’ll be crafting—for superheroes! It combines a lot of my passions, so I am extremely excited about it. Will we see Parthenon doing anything in the future? It all depends on how those contracts turn out. Just know that I’m actively working on new projects that I hope fans (old and new) will love.”

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