Category Archives: Cosplay and Roleplaying

Collecting and Customizing 1:6 Scale Action Figures in Poland———Plus 1:1 Scale Reenacting!

Jacek NAME's amazing custom group of WWII Polish Resistance Fighters. Outstanding! (Photo:

This superb group of 1:6 WWII Polish Resistance Fighters was expertly customized by Jacek Sulowski, a fan and collector living in Krakow, Poland. Outstanding work, Jacek! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

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(Map: citelighter.com)

(Map: citelighter.com)

Playing at 1:6 Scale—Reenacting at 1:1 Scale

As we arrive at the end of GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary year, it seems appropriate to discuss a place where the emergence of 1:6 scale action figure collecting has only recently begun. While much of the free world has enjoyed 12-inch figure collecting for 50 years now, there are STILL places where our beloved hobby is relatively new. Indeed, when we think of countries that are “hotbeds of collecting” for GIjOE, Action Man, Dragon and other 1:6 scale action figures, what’s the first place that comes to mind? That’s right—NOT Poland. But it may surprise you to learn that Poland DOES boast a growing number of 1:6 collectors and fans within its ancient borders and that their new collections are growing with the gusto of a barbecued kiełbasa!

(Photo: Jacek

One of the greatest things about action figures in other countries is that their owners often create subjects we’ve never seen before or would have otherwise. Take a look at this SUPERB group of WWII Polish Commandos kit-bashed by Jacek Sulowski. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Polish action figure collector and customizer, Grz also participates in 1:1 scale WWII reenactments in Poland, often portraying enemy forces in authentic kit and gear. (Photo:

Grzegorz Borecki, a fan and collector of 1:6 scale action figures, is originally from Poland (now living in the UK) and also enjoys participating in 1:1 scale reenactments, often portraying WWII German forces in authentic kit and gear from head to toe. Here he’s dressed as a WWII Luftwaffe NCO. AMAZING! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Equally surprising, many of these new Polish “1:6ers” are also interested in collecting 1:1 scale militaria and in staging WWII military reenactments. That’s right. Despite (or perhaps, because of) their country’s tortured past, today’s (finally) freed Poles can now collect all the 1:6 scale “war toys” they desire, as well as participate openly in historic WWII commemorations and reenactments that portray both Allied—and Axis—military forces. Before the 1980s and the collapse of communist regimes across Europe, such actions would’ve been practically unthinkable by civilians living in Poland. But as the following two collector profiles clearly reveal—that is no longer the case.


Reenactor

re·en·act·or noun \ˌrē-ə-ˈnak-tər\

Definition: a person who participates in reenactments of historical events


Military reenactment groups have enjoyed a long and popular history around the globe. Thousands of organizations in the U.S. reenact forces and figures involved in events such as the American Revolution, Custer’s “Last Stand” and the Civil War. Likewise, history fans in the UK regularly reenact events from the medieval days of King Arthur all the way up through WWII’s “Battle of Britain.” It’s clear that the desire to commemorate and reenact wars of the past remains strong among many around the world; not to glorify the horrific events that occurred, surely not, but rather to demonstrate the historic uniforms and types of equipment and weaponry used at the time. And that in itself is a GOOD thing; because as we know:

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“Those who cannot remember the past—
are condemned to repeat it.” —George Santayana

Holy, Tiger Tanks! 1:6 collector and fan, Grzegorz (Greg) Borecki of Poland, poses in front of a stunning Tiger 1 tank currently on display at the NAME HERE museum in the (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki) Click to enlarge.

Holy, Tiger Tanks! 1:6 scale collector and 1:1 scale reenactor, Grzegorz (Greg) Borecki, poses in front of a stunning (and fully functional) WWII Pzkpfw VI Tiger 1 tank (Ausf. E) during his recent visit to the world-famous Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset, UK. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki) Click to enlarge.

Hungry for freedom, leaders of the the1989 Solidarity movement in Poland evoked imagery from the iconic American western, "High Noon," starring Gary Cooper. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Alone in the face of adversity, leaders of 1989’s Solidarity movement in Poland evoked imagery from the iconic American western, “High Noon,” for this poster supporting their cause of freedom. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Collecting 1:6 Scale in Poland
A Tale of Two Citizens

If you know anything about the history of Poland, you know that it’s a very OLD country (est. 966 AD) and its people have struggled through centuries of hardship to get to where they are now—FREE. Only after the rise of the Solidarity labor movement in the 1980s, the subsequent fall of socialist regimes across Europe and their painful transition to a free market economy, have the Poles been able to experience the simple and innocent pleasures of the 1:6 scale action figure hobby. So, with 2015 just around the corner, we thought we’d offer the following inspiring profiles of two Polish 1:6 collectors, starting with Jacek Sulowski:

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“Hello from Krakow (Cracow), Poland! This is where I was born in 1960, where I live and work, as well as customize and collect 1/6th scale soldier figures. Poland is one of the fastest-growing countries in Europe, not only in terms of economic development, but also constantly improving living standards and quality of life. I know what I am saying, as I have witnessed it for over 50 years now.

Jacek Sulowski of Poland, a collector and customizer of 1:6 scale action figures. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Jacek Sulowski (of Poland), collector and customizer of 1:6 scale action figures. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Krakow is the second largest city in Poland, with a population of more than 750,000. On the one hand, Krakow is a historic city, Poland’s former capital full of fantastic historic sites, the 11th-century Wawel Royal Castle among others, a cultural centre and a university town, with numerous colleges and universities, including the 650-year-old Jagiellonian University. On the other hand, Krakow is a modern city, where Shared Services Centres (SSCs) of global corporations are located, where important sports events are held, where you can enjoy yourself at countless pubs, clubs, restaurants and where you can also find…

My action figure collection which I show and store and in white IKEA bookcases and glass display cases in one of the rooms at the electrical equipment repair and service facility business I run together with my brother-in-law. My collection consists of 300 figures, which is quite a feat, I guess, given the year I started to build it (2009). Most of my figures were built with my own hands, customizing and kitbashing, not by buying ready-made figures. In fact, there are only 6 straight out of the box figures in my collection!”

Jacek's "1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade" was fully customized and outfitted for their upcoming participation in WWII's "Operation: Market Garden." Superb! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Ready for ACTION! This “1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade” was fully customized and outfitted by Jacek for an upcoming WWII battle, Arnhem, 1944. Superb! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Achtung! As this closeup of one of Jacek's Wehrmacht soldiers reveals, all of his figure's have distinctive features and superb attention to detail, making them practically lifelike. AMAZING! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Achtung! As this closeup of one of Jacek’s Wehrmacht soldiers reveals, all of his figure’s feature realistic features and superb attention to detail. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

“The idea of figure customizing evolved naturally from my previous hobby; I had built 1/35th, 1/16th and 1/9th scale models earlier. Yet, I found that one-sixth scale provides almost unlimited opportunities for detail modeling. This is what I do: The WWII soldier figures I create represent all units and formations of the Allied and Axis troops. They are replica soldiers with uniforms, weapons, accessories and vehicles, exact copies of what I find in WWII photos and films. My collection changes and develops on a constant basis, as I improve, correct and enhance the figures.

I had to part from my collection for 3 months this year as it was shown from July to September at an exhibition called the “Soldier Figure Gallery,” held at the renowned Museum of Polish Armed Forces in Kołobrzeg (HERE). As many as 200 of my figures sat proudly in custom-made showcases, extolled – as I have been told – by visitors and receiving favourable reviews in the local media. Some 50 figures and one model vehicle were then relocated to another exhibition staged at the Museum, ‘The History of Camouflage.’ I hope to have those back in April 2015.”

What an impressive group! Keen-eyed military fans and 1:6 collectors will be able to spot German forces  including the SS, Wehrmacht, Kreigsmarine and many more. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Gott im Himmel! Keen-eyed WWII buffs should be able to point out members of Germany’s SS, Wehrmacht, Kreigsmarine and many others in this superb group of Sulowski’s custom action figures. Jacek’s skills as a 1:6 modeler are apparent in every figure. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski) Click to enlarge.

Right off the bat, we noticed that Sulowski’s photos appeared to be VERY professional and seemed far superior to the typical “home-grown” photography we’re accustomed to seeing. We asked what specific equipment or techniques he might be employing, and Jacek replied:

Blimey! Every figure in Sulowski's collection is perfectly outfitted, posed and photographed. Superb! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Blimey! Every figure in Sulowski’s collection is perfectly outfitted, posed and photographed. Superb! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

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“All the photos are taken by me, as part of my love of 1/6th scale figure kitbashing. Photography is actually my second hobby. I take photos at the same place at which the collection is displayed with a Canon EOS 500D camera using standard lenses, in quite a ‘primitive’ way, I must say. 

What I need are two boards covered with black-painted bristol paper; one to put the figures on and the other to form a background for them. There are ordinary strip lights in the room and so I use PhotoScape software and an IrfanView image viewer and converter. If you like my photos, you may also visit my galleries HERE.”

Jacek Sulowski, Poland

Sulowski's skills as a modeler and customizer are clearly apparent in the vehicles he creates as well. ASTONISHING! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Sulowski’s skills as a customizer are apparent in his 1:6 vehicles as well. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

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Mind-boggling! A second view of Sulowski’s superb halftrack. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Every detail is accounted for. Absolutely SUPERB! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

It’s all there! Maps, fuel and water cans, grenades, radios, rifles, ammunition boxes, binoculars, gas mask cannisters—every detail is accounted for. Superb work, Jacek! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Soviet Snow Power! Sulowski's use of dark paper backgrounds is evident in this picture and helps his all-white Aerosan and snow troopers really stand out. WOW! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Soviet Snow Power! Sulowski’s use of dark paper backgrounds is evident in this picture and helps his all-white Aerosan and WWII snow troopers really stand out. WOW! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Typical of "Joe Rooms" around the world, Sulowski also utilizes wooden and glass display cabinets and shelves. Look how big that Aerosan is up on top of the cabinet. WOW! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Typical of “Joe Rooms” seen elsewhere around the world, Sulowski also utilizes wooden and glass display cabinets and shelves. Look at the size of that Russian Aerosan up on top of the cabinet. WOW! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Displaying 1:6 Scale Action Figures—in Poland

As the photos above clearly show, 1:1 scale reenacting and 1:6 scale customizing and collecting are all alive and well in 2014 Poland. It’s exciting to watch as formerly repressed countries begin to enjoy the fun and pleasures of some of the world’s greatest hobbies. But the following question always remains: After you’ve amassed a sizable collection (of anything), what do you do with it all? We were especially curious as to how new collectors in Poland were choosing to display their 1:6 scale collections and asked Jacek if he’d send in some photos of his own “Joe Room” in Krakow. He replied:
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“I am happy you like my collection. I would like to submit my own collection and be the first collector from Poland to do so and thus, to share it with the other fans around the world.” —Jacek Sulowski, Poland
When space is at a premium, go "up and over" as Sulowski has done here, mounting floor-to-ceiling shelves that even go above the arched accessway. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

When space is at a premium, simply go “up and over” as Sulowski has done here, mounting floor-to-ceiling shelves that even go above the arched doorway. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski) Click to enlarge.

Big vehicles take up a lot of space, as Jacek's marvelously detailed Sherman tank and others clearly show. Look at all the details! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski) Click to enlarge.

Big vehicles take up a lot of space, as Jacek’s marvelously detailed Sherman tank and German armored vehicles clearly show. Look at all the details! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski) Click to enlarge.

Glass shelving and display cases prove valuable ways to display figures while keeping them dust-free as well. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Showing off Jacek’s Masterpieces— Glass shelving and display cases are ideal ways to display collections of all types. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Polish 1:6 Collectors Living Abroad 

For our second Polish collector profile, we return to  Grzegorz (Greg) Borecki, who, as you’ll recall, also enjoys 1:1 scale WWII reenacting. Borecki wrote in recently and revealed the following:

Remembering the Past— Greg poses in a fully restored U.S. Army Jeep, somewhere in the UK. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Remembering the Past— Borecki in a fully restored U.S. Army Jeep in the UK. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

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“I’m 46 years old and of Polish nationality. In 2005, I started my adventure with WWII reenactment and I’m still a member of Stowarzyszenie Historyczne Prusy (Historical Association “Prussia”) in Poland. In 2006, I moved to the UK and since that time I’ve become a permanent resident, both living and working there.

I’ve always been interested in the history of WWII. As far back as 1990, I began making models in 1/72 and 1/35 scale, and am most interested in German vehicles and tanks. Here in the UK, I’m also devoted to a new passion: kitbashing and collecting 1:6 scale action figures (see photos). At the moment, I own 49 figures depicting German soldiers from WWII. My favorite formations are Luftwaffe (especially Air Force Ground Units) so 2/5 of my collection shows soldiers of those units. Because I still feel strong relations to Poland, I would like to ask you if I could also represent my country on your website, GIjOE CollectionsMany thanks!”

Standard (adjustable) wooden shelves work just fine to display a number of Borecki's 1:6 scale action figures. What a great display! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Adjustable wooden shelves work just fine to display a number of Borecki’s 1:6 scale WWII action figures. Excellent! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

A closeup of another of Greg's shelved displays reveals superbly detailed 1:6 figures representing a wide variety of WWII forces. (Photo: Grzgorz )

Look at this closeup of one of Greg’s shelved displays. It reveals superbly detailed 1:6 figures representing a wide variety of WWII German forces. Fan-TASTIC! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Get even closer and you can see that every figure is authentically and accurately detailed. WOW! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Move up even closer to can see every figure is authentically detailed. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Three superb Feldgendarmerie (WWII German Military Police) figures, complete with every detail. Out-STANDING work, Greg! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

HALT! Show me  your papers! Borecki’s three superb Feldgendarmerie (WWII German Military Police) figures, complete in every detail. Out-STANDING work, Greg! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Greg’s 1:6 collection is top-notch and growing fast, but we wondered about his other hobby, 1:1 scale reenacting. Had he ever inadvertently or unknowingly offended anyone while portraying a member of WWII’s Luftwaffe? Even 70 years later, the memories of that terrible time remain fresh in many people’s minds. It’s easy to imagine tears flowing during WWII reenactments. Borecki said:
Visitors to one of the WWII reenactments examine the camp conditions and equipment used by German soldiers during WWII. (Photo: Grzegorz Boreck)

Visitors to a UK reenactment examine camp conditions and equipment used by Germans during WWII. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki) Click to enlarge.

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“We’ve not experienced any bad behaviours or reactions. There are so many living history groups in Poland that portray the German Army, including Waffen SS (which personally, I don’t like). I’ve heard that (sometimes) there are some awkward situations but this is very rare. When Polish combatants are amongst the spectators, after the show they’re sometimes coming over to reenactors portraying ‘Germans’ and shake their hands. Our particular association presents the Polish Army during 1939 and Polish Resistance fighters as well. In fact, very small group of people show Soviets Red Army. If you’d like to see more photos of past reenactments, please check HERE.”
National flag of Poland (Photo: Wikipedia)

National flag of Poland (Photo: Wikipedia)

Bottom Line: It’s exciting to witness the emerging freedoms of the people of Poland and to learn that they are now able to collect, customize and PLAY with 1:6 scale action figures along with the rest of the free world. The amazing collections of Jacek Sulowski and Grzegorz Borecki are two timely reminders that a wonderful new era of 1:6 fandom has begun to sweep through their once oppressed nation. We wish both men all the best in all of their future endeavors. Go, POLAND!

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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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Former ’70s TV Personality, Topless Bar Owner and Eureka, CA Mayoral Candidate, Tom “The Great Razooly,” Now An Artist and Creater of Superb 1:6 Scale G.I. Joe Dioramas and Vehicles

Tom Razooly enjoys playing with his GIjOEs in his idyllically forested "Joe Land" at his home in (Photo: Tom Razooly)

The multi-talented Tom Razooly (above, r), has reinvented himself once again, this time as an artist and sculptor creating unique 1:6 scale structures and vehicles with VERY high “play value.” He also enjoys staging elaborate outdoor battle scenes and “playing GIjOEs” with family members and friends in the forested “Joe Land” surrounding his home in northern California. (Photo: Tom Razooly)

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Tom as “The Great Razooly” on a promotional 8×10 glossy from his show, originally broadcast from Channel 23, Eureka, CA. (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom as “The Great Razooly” on a promotional 8×10 glossy from his show, originally broadcast from Channel 23, Eureka, CA. (Photo: Tom Razooly)

“I made my first G. I. Joe space capsule from a discarded Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket.” —Tom Razooly

During the 1970s-’80s, a multi-talented, self-reliant and creative young actor named Tom Razooly was making an unusual (yet eminently enjoyable) living in northern California portraying a mysterious, top-hatted host of a schlocky late-night television program called, “Horror Theatre.” Tom’s character, dubbed “The Great Razooly,” was a sort of macabre master-of-ceremonies who would ominously introduce each B-movie, provide sarcastic segue patter leading into and out of commercial breaks, and act in a variety of short comedic sketches produced on the cheapest of budgets.

Filming a scene for Channel 23's "Horror Theatre." (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Filming a scene for Channel 23’s Horror Theatre. (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Actress Maila Nurmi as "Vampira." (Photo: Ed Wood)

Actress Maila Nurmi as 1950s “Vampira.” (Photo: Ed Wood)

Horror Theatre was a ratings success, and Razooly’s natural flair for dramatic and creative performing helped revive TV’s on-air hosting tradition. Ostensibly, the genre of hosted late-night horror programming originated on radio programs back in the 1940s, then naturally evolved along with television into the 1950s, ultimately producing such famous TV personalities as the impossibly thin-waisted “Vampira” (portrayed by actress Maila Nurmi) and the busty, suggestive sexpot, “Elvira” (aka actress Cassandra Peterson).

Joe Flaherty as "Count Floyd" on SCTV. (Photo: SCTV)

Joe Flaherty as “Count Floyd” on SCTV. (Photo: NBC)

Over the years, there have been many TV horror-hosts, and many performers influenced by them. For example, it’s not inconceivable to believe that Razooly’s Horror Theatre, broadcast in the Pacific Northwest, was seen at some time by comic-actor Joe Flaherty, providing him with the inspiration for his own hilarious “Count Floyd” character on Canada’s SCTV. Similarly, the “Great Svengoolie” (as currently portrayed by Chicago actor, Rich Koz on the MeTV channel) shares many similarities with Tom’s character AND Count Floyd, both in terms of appearance and “schtick.” (If it ain’t broke…)

Perhaps the world's most famous and successful late-night horror host, actress Cassandra Peterson portrayed the well-endowed and sarcastically hilarious, "Elvira the Mistress of the Dark" on station KHJ in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo: KHJ)

Perhaps the world’s most famous and longest-running late-night horror hostess, actress Cassandra Peterson has portrayed the cleavagely-advantaged (and sarcastically hilarious), “Elvira the Mistress of the Dark” on station KHJ in LA since 1981. (Photo: KHJ)

After his tenure on television, Razooly reinvented himself as the founder and operator of an adult-oriented business on the outskirts of Eureka, CA known as the Tip Top Club. As the years went by, Tom became a well-known (although somewhat controversial) figure among the local citizenry of Eureka, which encouraged him to run for Mayor (at least two times, both unsuccessfully).

In 2014, MeTV's "Great Svengoolie" borrows much of The Great Razooly's persona and costuming, including Tom's famous black top hat. Despite the similarities, each performer is unique in their own ways. (Photo: MeTV)

MeTV’s “Great Svengoolie” (actor Rich Koz) also favors a black top hat. (Photo: MeTV)

Eventually, Tom sold the Tip Top and retired from business altogether. Now, years later, he is reinventing himself once again, focusing on the more laid-back pursuits of art, travel, costumed “cosplay,” and the rekindling of a long-lost childhood love— GIjOEs. Predictably, the creative symbiosis between art and GijOEs quickly inspired Tom to scratch-build a growing collection of 1:6 scale structures and vehicles, which he thoroughly enjoys setting up in elaborate and imaginative outdoor “adventures.” (Imagine that. Playing with GIjOEs—OUTDOORS!) Here are some examples:

Reminiscent of the 1970s Adventure Team tower, Razooly's scratch-built, all-wood guard tower has a superb, rough-hewn texture so perfect for the forest in which it is displayed. What a FANTASTIC photo! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Razooly’s guard tower is hand-crafted out of “found” wood pieces and has a superb, rough-hewn appearance that’s perfect for use in a forest setting. This extreme perspective is misleading. The tower is MUCH taller than it appears. Take a look at the figure up in the top shack! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom is obviously having a lot of fun in his own private "Joe Land." What a GREAT photo! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom is obviously having a lot of fun in his own private “Joe Land.” What a GREAT set-up. Look at all the details. Go, Tom! Go, JOE! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom's wonderful photo of two climbing soldiers makes incredible use of sunlight. WOW! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

This wonderful photo of two of Tom’s climbing and rappelling soldiers makes incredible use of natural outdoor sunlight. WOW! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom's 1:6 barracks is a perfect piece for display or play. The wood is nicely weathered, there are two bunk beds, a bench, and numerous other details. FANTASTIC job! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom’s 1:6 barracks is a perfect piece for display or play. The wood is realistically weathered, there are two bunk beds, a bench, and numerous other details. What a FANTASTIC structure for GIjOE! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom clearly enjoys taking photographs of his hard work and sharing it with other customizers of 1:6 scale. According to Razooly:

“It feels good to have others see my photos. Feel free to share them with any G.I.Joe fans you may know!”

Impressed by his 1:6 creations, we asked Tom to elaborate on his latest reincarnation as a GIjOE fan and customizer. He replied:

“Well, when I retired from business several years ago, the thought came to me; ‘What could I do with all my old GIjOE friends and my artistic skills on a budget?’ EBay’s prices for 1:6 scale vehicles and props were outrageous, so I set out to make ’em all myself!”

This early production shot reveals the various "found" bits and pieces that Tom combined to create his outstanding 1:6 scale locomotive. Absolutely ingenious work! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

This early production shot reveals the various “found” bits and pieces that Tom combined to create his outstanding 1:6 scale locomotive. Absolutely ingenious work! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

“As my 1:6 scale modeling skills increased, I challenged myself to do more and more complex modeling. Beginning with simple things like fuel barrels and coffee pots, then on up to dump trucks, trains and bombed-out chalets.”

Tom's scratch-built 1:6 scale steam locomotive with cargo car is an absolute MASTERPIECE. Look closely and you'll notice it's coming through a 1:6 tunnel! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

This view of Tom’s completed, scratch-built, 1:6 scale steam locomotive (with attached cargo car) reveals it is an absolute MASTERPIECE in 1:6 scale. Look closely and you’ll notice it’s coming through a realistically detailed 1:6 scale tunnel as well. Tremendous work, Tom! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom with fiancce, Amber NAME. (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom with fiancée, Amber Hughes. (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Razooly’s life has been an ever-changing tapestry of creative experiences. Originally from San Francisco, he now resides in Blocksburg, CA, and has recently become engaged to be married. In addition to living his real life, like many GIjOE fans, Tom also enjoys pursuing the fantasy world of costumed role-play, or “cosplay.” After reviewing photos of his many outfits, we returned to his original horror get-up and asked him if his famous “Great Razooly” top hat was real or simply a cheap knock-off from the TV station’s prop room. He replied:

Tom's newest top hat is the perfect finishing touch for his amazing "Dr. Fate" costume from "The Great Race" (remember Jack Lemmon chewing up the scenery in this?). (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Razooly’s famous top hat is the perfect finishing touch for his superb “Professor Fate” costume from the movie, The Great Race. Remember Jack Lemmon chewing up the scenery in this? (Photo: Tom Razooly)

“My top hat? Ahh… very astute of you. It is indeed ‘real.’ I’m so old now, everything has a story these days. When I was 15 years old, my father gave me a 70-year old ‘beaver felt top hat.’ I loved that hat and wore it all through my teen years, and into my adult life as a local late-night TV horror host. Eventually, my old antique hat wore out. By that time, my daughter had grown and was working in the movie industry as a set designer. She let me know of a Hollywood costume company that made movie quality costuming. I gave my antique top hat to them and asked for a brand new replica. They made this one for me 15 years ago, and it is PERFECT!”

Half the fun of "playing GIjOEs" is making your own stuff. The other half is setting it up, playing with it, and taking pictures of the results. In this one amazing photo, you can see Tom's handmade 1:6 scale dumptruck, guard shack, and road barrier (complete with a little stop sign). WOW! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Half the fun of “playing GIjOEs” is making your own stuff. The other half is setting it up, playing with it, and taking pictures of the results. In this photo, you can see Tom’s handmade 1:6 scale dump-truck, guard shack, and road barrier (complete with a little HALT sign). WOW! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom sets up a command post diorama using found sticks, rocks and whatever else he needs from the woods around him. Just like when he was a kid! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom sets up a command post diorama using found sticks, rocks and whatever else he needs from the woods around him. Just like when he was a kid! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Most fan THINK about building their own 1:6 scale wooden bridges, but Tom's actually done it. Here, his GIjOE tank commander crosses over Razooly's scratch-built bridge which can be moved and reused—again and again! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Many GIjOE fans THINK about building their own 1:6 scale wooden bridges, but Tom has actually done it. Here, a tank commander has just crossed over Razooly’s scratch-built bridge which can easily be moved around and reused—over and over again. So… get out there and PLAY! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

A young Tom Razooly posed for this "Apollo Moon Rocket" model kit by Revell in 1969. (Photo: scalemates)

Did a young blonde(!) Razooly pose for Revell’s “Apollo Moon Rocket” box in 1969? (Photo: scalemates)

Some of Razooly’s gifts and talents were recognized and utilized at a very early age. In fact, according to Tom:

“Back in my youth, I worked as a child model for ‘Revell Models.’ I did a photo-shoot once for their ‘Apollo Saturn V Moon Rocket’ kit. I don’t think that’s me on the ‘Collector’s Set’—but it MIGHT be.”

Interesting! It’s been well established that many young boys of the 1950s and ’60s were deeply influenced by the building and collecting of model kits (and GIjOEs) when they were young. (Sadly, today’s less “hands-on” generation suffers greatly in this regard.) And now, as an adult, Razooly continues to enjoy building and creating, using whatever materials he can easily and affordably “scrounge” from nearby sources. According to Tom:

“My GIjOEs gave me days and days of wonderful, imaginative entertainment. And I honed my adolescent art skills by making my own 1:6 scale props from old oatmeal containers, pieces of cardboard and good ol’ masking tape. In fact, I made my first GIjOE space capsule from a discarded Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket!”

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Build it. Set it up. PLAY with it! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

“Recently (for some reason), I got it into my head to create a big, GIjOE camp. I couldn’t really find or afford many of the pieces I wanted, so I slowly began to make them as well as I could. Of course I went on the web, looking at those new super-cool, all-metal Willy’s Jeeps. But the price tag was just too rich for my blood. So instead, I cobbled together, and detailed-out 5 plastic jeeps I’d bought that were damaged and had missing parts for only about $19 each. I still dream of finding a damaged Jeep with enough parts that I can make a custom canvas-covered troop carrier out of it.”

Don't have a heavy-duty dumptruck? Build one! Tom pieced together this entire machine out of leftover Jeep parts and scrap wood. You can too! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Don’t have a heavy-duty dump-truck for your GIjOEs? Then BUILD one! Tom pieced together this entire machine out of leftover Jeep parts and scrap wood. You can too! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom had to back WAY up in his workshop to get the entire 1:6 scale guard tower in the frame of his camera. WOW! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Tom had to back WAY up in his workshop in order to get the entire 1:6 scale guard tower in the frame of his camera. Fan-TASTIC job, Tom! (Photo: Tom Razooly)

“I’m never too exact with my 1:6 Joe stuff. I just like to create things that the kids and I can PLAY with. Occasionally, no budget and a little experience can pull you through!”
Tom Razooly

Bottom Line: Tom’s work reflects a lifetime of talent, backed up by solid creativity and an obvious appreciation for “hands-on,” scratch-built craftsmanship. With an entire forest at his disposal and his own private “Joe Land, ” we can’t wait to see what he makes next. And we can’t help but wonder: Will we ever see “The Great Razooly” on TV again? Or maybe “LIVE and in person” at a GIjOE show—with some of his cool 1:6 scale custom creations? Stay tuned!

THIS JUST IN… We were able to track down a photo of Revell’s 1969 “Collector’s Set” that Tom mentioned, but the boy’s face on the box is turned to the side somewhat and in shadow, making it difficult to say if it’s him or not. The chances are pretty good that it IS, because the boy’s hair is more brunette and parted on the same side as Tom’s hair is today. Razooly said he wasn’t sure if it was him, but that it MIGHT be. What do you think?

Is it, or isn't this, Tom Razooly? Although he can't remember, and the identity of this young man is most likely lost to the ages, the reality is that Tom was a child model for Revell during the 1960s, and posed specifically for their line of NASA kits. As a result, the likelihood that this is in fact a young Razooly, is very high. (Photo: Tom Razooly)

Is this, or isn’t this, Tom Razooly? Since Tom can’t say for sure, the actual identity of this young man may be lost to time. The reality is that Tom was a child model for Revell during the 1960s, and posed specifically for their line of NASA space exploration kits. As a result, the likelihood that this is a young Razooly, remains high. (Photo: ebay)

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G.I. Joe Cosplayers Creating “Girls of the Finest” 2015 Calendars to Benefit “Wounded Warriors”

The world's most beautiful GIjOE/Cobra cosplayers will soon combine their considerable talents in an all-new 2015 calendar called, "Girls of the Finest." All proceeds will benefit the "Wounded Warriors Project." (Photo: The Finest)

The world’s most beautiful GIjOE/Cobra cosplayers are combining their considerable talents to create a 2015 calendar called “Girls of the Finest” to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project. (Photo: The Finest)

Actress/model, Veronica Orosco, strikes a pose as "The Baroness" in her cosplayer costume. Orosco and other beautiful "femme fatales" will soon grace the pages of a new 2015 GIjOE/Cobra cosplay calendar, proceeds of which will go to benefit the "Wounded Warriors Project." (Photo: Veronica Orosco)

Actress/model, Veronica Orosco, strikes a pose as “The Baroness” in her cosplayer costume. Orosco and other beautiful “femme fatales” will soon grace the pages of a new 2015 GIjOE/Cobra cosplay calendar, proceeds of which will go to benefit the “Wounded Warriors Project.” (Photo: Veronica Orosco)

Another Example of  How “The Power of Joe” Extends Far Beyond Personal Collecting

It’s a simple plan. Perhaps that’s why it’s proving so successful. GIjOE cosplayers from around the world are recruiting the most beautiful of their costumed forces to create a sexy, new “Girls of the Finest” calendar for 2015. They plan to sell the instant collectible to fans and collectors (who will immediately hang them in their Joe Rooms) and then donate all of the proceeds to the Wounded Warriors Project, a highly reputable charity organization dedicated to assisting injured U.S. military service members. We first heard of this superb example of “Joe karma” from actress and model, Veronica Orosco, herself a longtime fan and GIjOE cosplayer:

“Hello Mark, My name is Veronica Orosco, aka ‘The Baroness’ of the GI Joe Fighting 788th. If you’re unaware, the 788th is a regional garrison of ‘The FINEST‘ (the premier GIjOE/Cobra costuming club in the world). In honor of the 50th anniversary of GIjOE, all the different cosplayer garrisons across the US have decided to put together a limited-edition “Girls of the Finest” Calendar with all of the proceeds benefitting the Wounded Warriors Project. We’re very excited about this, and are trying to spread the word to as many different fan pages, groups, etc., to help us raise funds to get these calendars out to GIjOE fans! I am GIjOE proud and am very honored to be a part of this amazing calendar to benefit our nation’s Wounded Warriors!

What a GREAT idea! We had never heard of “The Finest” before (see their website HERE), but quickly discovered that its members are well-organized and making full and capable use of the power of the internet; utilizing social media, YouTube, and popular fundraising websites to create awareness and interest in their project. Take a look at the enjoyable, professional and humorous video created for their page on the indiegogo website HERE.

51oLm3PgDIL._SY300_Orosco went on to point out that fans could also visit a new page on Facebook set up exclusively for the 2015 calendar HERE and that The Finest further described the Wounded Warriors GIjOE/Cobra calendar fundraising project in a press release, stating:

“If you’re reading this, you’re probably a big fan of GIjOE. So are we! We’re the women behind the Girls of The Finest 2015 calendar. The 50th anniversary of GIjOE is here, and we wanted to do something special to celebrate this milestone. Trust us, this is no ordinary ‘pin-up’ calendar. We are passionate about the characters we portray and we want to reflect the passion of the GIjOE fandom. All of your favorite female characters (plus a few twists on classic characters) will be portrayed here—12 months of our amazing female coplayers photographed exclusively for this calendar.”

This recently released image proudly announced that the upcoming calendar project has already been fully funded. In addition to proceeds from the sale of the calendars, all additional funds collected on the indiegogo website will also go directly to the "Wounded Warriors Project" charity. (Photo: The Finest)

This recently released image proudly announced that the upcoming calendar project has already been fully funded. In addition to proceeds from the sale of the calendars, all additional funds collected on the indiegogo website will also go directly to the “Wounded Warriors Project” charity. (Photo: The Finest)

Bottom Line: This is another great example of how “The Power of Joe” is extending beyond mere personal collecting, helping others in need. Already funded and underway, the idea for the Girls of the Finest calendar is clearly a popular one (especially among fans and collectors of the 1980s RAH/Cobra line) and we see no reason why this method of fundraising can’t be repeated over and over again for other purposes (Hello, Cody Lane Foundation?). If you’re interested in picking up a copy while simultaneously contributing to the Wounded Warriors Project, go HERE and… Go, JOE!

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G.I. Joe + Masters of the Universe= Marriage? YES!

We Now Pronounce You—Skeletor and Wife.

What do you get when you combine one woman’s love of RAH GIjOEs with one man’s love for an even schlockier 1980s toy line (The Masters of the Universe)? In the case of one happy couple, their mutual love of toys, cartoons and cosplay has now led them all the way—to the altar. According to a short story recently posted over on the “Geeks Are Sexy” website:

“Laura and Kevin fell in love over a year ago over their love of cosplay, comics, and ’80s cartoons. They are both frequent con-goers, but Kevin wanted to make this past New York Comic-Con extra-special for Laura, so he planned an elaborate ‘scene’ that even involved Laura’s dad. After members of Cobra surround Scarlett, Kevin comes to her aid — and makes her an offer she can’t refuse!”

Bottom Line: Thanks to eagle-eyed TJR Field Reporter, Louis F. Lapointe, for his heads-up on this heart-warming demonstration of “The Power of Joe” and “The Scheming of Skeletor.” We wish the future couple all the best and a lifetime of geeky happiness. Go, Joe! And…Go, True LOVE!

Catching Up With John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike” from SyFy TV’s “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?”

Martial-artist and circus performer, John Stork as the superhero "Hyper-Strike," in a publicity still for the SyFy competition reality show, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" (Photo: SyFy)

John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike,” in a publicity still taken for the Syfy Channel’s 2007 competition-reality show, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?” Stork is now a street performer and aspiring writer. (Photo: SyFy)

A life as a circus performer had toned Stork's body to perfection, making a natural for the WWTBAS show. (Photo: John Stork)

By the age of 21, his life as a circus performer had toned Stork’s body to perfection, making him a natural choice for Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

First in a Series of Exclusive Interviews with the Contestants of “Who Wants to be a Superhero?”

By Mark Otnes, 11-25-2013
Editor, The Joe Report

“I love being in the spotlight. That’s why I’m a performer!”
—John Stork, aka SyFy TV’s superhero, “Hyper-Strike”

The first contestant of Who Wants to be a Superhero? we caught up with was, quite frankly, the one who had impressed us the most—2nd season standout, John Stork. Stork’s manic, over-the-top athleticism and circus-honed showmanship made him a clear front-runner among his fellow Season 2 contestants, and from the very beginning, he seemed an odds-on favorite to become Stan Lee’s “next—great—Superhero!” Of course, we’re not giving away any secrets to remind you that John didn’t win, but came in second place instead, tied with Melody Mooney’s “Hygena,” a plucky, homemaker-turned-superheroine, and then ultimately losing to Jarrett Crippen’s superhero cop character, “The Defuser” (see below).

In this screenshot from Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, the three finalists of Season 2 react upon seeing the 1:6 scale custom action figures that have been made in their likeness and given to them as a gift by Stan Lee.

In this screenshot from Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, the three finalists of Season 2 react upon seeing the 1:6 scale custom action figures made in their likenesses and given to them as a gift by Stan Lee.

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As daring as ever, Stork works fearlessly with knives, dizzing heights, and even fire. Here, he lights three juggling clubs in preparation for his next feat, during a recent street performance in Bridgehampaton, VT. (Photo: John Stork, exclusively for The Joe Report)

As fearless as ever, Stork now works confidently with swords, knives, dizzying heights, and even fire. Here, he lights three juggling clubs in preparation for his next feat, during a recent street performance in Burlington, VT. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

John Stork, photographed recently in his home office. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

John Stork, photographed recently in his home office. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

Real-Life “Action Figure” John Stork, Reflects on His SUPER Life So Far —and What Happens Next!

TJR: First of all, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us today. Let’s quickly catch up with John Stork, the man. You’re 27 now, correct? And you live in Vermont? Are you married? Do you have any children?

“The pleasure is all mine. That’s right, I’m 27, about to turn 28, and I live in Burlington, Vermont. 28 is my favorite number, so I won’t let it bother me that I’m getting close to 30! I’m not married and I don’t have any children, but I do have a girlfriend.”

Stork writing a new "Ultimate Manga" script in his office. (Photo: John Stork)

Writing his future— Stork working on a new screenplay. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: What’s a typical day in the life of John Stork like now, in November of 2013?

“Well, there are two major things going on in my life right now: Street Performing (what I currently do for a living), and Screenwriting (what I wish I was doing for a living). I have a pretty weird sleep schedule, but it lends itself to both writing and performing. I go to bed around 3 or 4 AM every—night? morning?—and wake up around noon. I like to stay up and write. I’ve always been kind of a ‘night owl,’ probably from being in live entertainment for so many years. Shows are usually in the evenings and it takes a while for my adrenaline to calm down. Once I’m awake, I’m either writing, performing, or doing boring, everyday life stuff. I don’t exercise or practice as much as I used to, which is kind of sad. I only go to the gym or dojo once a week (if I’m lucky!), but I guess my street show keeps me in passable shape.”

John demonstrates his power to "jump on small cars in a single bound." (Photo: John Stork)

Still Super— Even while dressed in his “secret identity” civilian clothes, Stork demonstrates he still possesses the power to “jump onto small cars in a single bound.” (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: Is it true that you lived in Chicago for a while? What took you there? And what brought you back to Vermont?

“I moved to Chicago when I was 17 to work for ‘The Midnight Circus,’ a small, theatrical circus in the windy city. I lived there on and off for about 3 years. I’ve also lived in San Antonio, Los Angeles, Boston, Brooklyn, Key West, and, the most glamorous of all, Branson, Missouri! I always come back to Vermont though, because, well—IT’S THE BEST!”

TJR: You’ve just created your first Facebook page last month (October, 2013). For most celebrities, that’s almost unthinkable. Why did you wait so long? What sort of “social media” outlets do you prefer to use? And if none, why?

“It’s very generous of you to call me a celebrity. There are a few reasons why it took me so long to join Facebook. I had a Myspace page for Hyper-Strike back when season 2 of Who Wants To Be Superhero? was originally airing and it was a little overwhelming. I felt guilty if I didn’t respond to every single fan message! Also, I wasn’t really interested in doing anything more as Hyper-Strike at the time. I was completely focused on learning how to street perform and developing/producing my own circus acts.”

"Manga" art and animation has a distinctively Japanese style and flair, as this sample image clearly shows. (Art: mangareader.net)

“Manga” comic art and animation has a distinctively Japanese style and flair to it, as this sample image clearly shows. Hmm… that hairstyle looks strangely familiar… (Art: mangareader.net)

Fast forward to 2013: I’m now looking for like-minded Manga artists who want to team up and create—THE GREATEST MANGA EVER! You can get all the info about my current search plus samples of my writing HERE.

I thought Facebook would be a good way of getting in touch with artists. But right now, my page is so new that I hardly have any ‘likes,’ so please, check it out HERE and click on that ‘like’ button!

Another site I’m on that I think is really cool, is deviantART (found  HERE). I have samples of my screenwriting posted there as well.”

A young John Stork with

Kee-YAH! A young John Stork strikes a perfect knife-hand block pose in this old family photo. (Photo: Phyllis Stork)

TJR: You began studying Karate when you were 7 and received your black belt at the age of 11. That’s VERY young for such a difficult martial-arts achievement. Don’t you have to be able to beat up your adult sensei (instructor) or at least have hit puberty first? HA

“Interestingly enough, by age 11, I had already achieved both. But seriously, my Mom started taking Karate shortly after I did and quickly pulled ahead of me. At my dojo, if you were diligent and went to class three or four times a week, it was conceivable to get your black belt in three years. My mom did just that and I was one year behind her.”

Phyllis Stork embraces her son after surprising him during taping of the final episode of WWTBASH, Season 2. (Photo: Syfy)

Phyllis Stork embraces her son after surprising him during the final episode of WWTBASH, Season 2. (Photo: Syfy)

“I always went to the dojo with her and she helped me to review all the techniques at home. I couldn’t have done it without her. I stopped going for rank after I got my black belt so I could focus on competing, but my Mom kept with it and is now a 6th degree black belt. (The grandmaster of the whole system is a 10th degree black belt!) So yeah, my mom could kick my butt!”

Karate instructor, Freddie LaPan, teaching a children's class at his dojo in VT. (Photo: )

In this screenshot, Stork’s first instructor, Freddie LaPan, is shown teaching a children’s karate class at his school in Vermont. (Photo: Hathaway’s Taekwondo)

TJR: As a teenager, you trained with world champions, actors, and even Hollywood stunt-doubles. How did that come about, and in what ways did being around such diverse talent influence your life and career?

“My first Karate instructor here in Vermont, Freddie LaPan (see VIDEO), competed nationally for many years. His specialty was point-fighting, but I wanted to specialize in forms, which are like choreographed dance routines with martial arts moves and acrobatics instead of dance.”

5-Time North American Forms & Weapons Champion, Mike Chat (shown above), martial arts instructor to John Stork. (Photo: Mike Chat)

5-Time North American Forms & Weapons Champion, Mike Chat (shown above), martial arts instructor to John Stork. (Photo: Mike Chat)

“Freddie put my parents in touch with Mike Chat (right), the world forms champion at the time. He later went on to play the Blue Power Ranger on ‘Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue.’ He’s also the founder of XMA. I started training with him privately at national sport karate tournaments on a monthly basis. Later, my parents would also fly me to LA (from Vermont!) once a month to train with him there. He had great connections, so his students, including Taylor Lautner (actor, ‘The Twilight Saga’) and I, were able to train with tons of awesome people. I guess that’s where all my college money went.”

Stork holds up his autographed copy of the autobiography of his idol, Jackie Chan. According to John, "He was my biggest hero growing up. Jackie Chan's at the root of it all for me." (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

Stork holds up his autographed copy of the autobiography of his idol, Jackie Chan. According to John, “He was my biggest hero growing up. Jackie Chan’s at the root of it all for me.” (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

“As far as being influenced goes, I think the main thing these experiences impressed upon me was the level of proficiency and consistency that separates amateurs from professionals. Mike immersed me and his other students in a professional world. Also, working with Ming Qui (former China national wushu champion and stunt-double for Lucy Liu in ‘Kill Bill’) was extra awesome.

I’ve always been in love with classical Chinese martial arts thanks to Jackie Chan. After all, my martial arts/circus endeavors as a teenager were really just me trying my best to simulate the training Jackie Chan received in the Peking Opera. Training with Mike, his industry connections, and Circus Smirkus was the closest I could have come here in America!”

TJR: You won a Gold Medal at the WKA World Championships in Germany and a Silver Cup at the First International “Artistic Martial Arts” Tournament in Paris, France (watch video HERE). Could you tell us about those two contests and how you felt winning them?

Stork during his Silver-medal award-winning performance in Paris, France, on March 24, 200. (Photo: Locketricks)

Early Excellence— Stork during his Silver-medal award-winning performance in Paris, France, on March 24, 2001. (Photo: Locketricks)

“In all honesty, not all the best competitors made it over to Hannover for the WKA World Championships. Nonetheless, getting a gold medal was nice, I won’t lie. I trained really hard for that tournament. The first International Tournament for Artistic Martial Arts in Paris, on the other hand, attracted a lot of the best competitors, so my silver cup win there actually carries a lot more significance for me.”

In this screenshot from a "Circus Smirkus" video, Stork prepares to run and dive through a ring of swords and fire. (Photo: David Duffin)

Amazing! In this screenshot from a “Circus Smirkus” video, Stork prepares to run and dive through an octagon of swords and fire. (Photo: David Duffin)

TJR: You began training in “circus and variety arts” at age 13. Could you tell us about your years performing with Circus Smirkus? What memories or moments stand out the most?

“Performing with Circus Smirkus was the best time of my life. The truth is, I try not to think about it too much anymore because I need to get over it. Look at it this way: You’re a kid, you get to train with incredible coaches from exotic, foreign lands, then travel around New England all summer doing awesome, well produced shows in a real circus tent with a bunch of other kids you get along with really well. It sounds like a fantasy book for children except it’s real. We were actually living something as cool as ‘Harry Potter.’ There were too many incredible, awesome, funny experiences to try and pick out just a few. Sorry!”

Stork in a screenshot from his commercial for Burger King and Dragonball Z.

TV Time— Stork in a screenshot from his commercial for Burger King and Dragonball Z.

TJR: No problem. Let’s change the topic. Tell us about your TV commercial for Burger King (see HERE). How old were you in that, how did you land the part, what was it like, etc.?

“I found out about the audition through Mike Chat. They were looking for kids around my age (14) with my type of martial arts/acrobatic experience. Mike had me and a couple of his other students try out, but I was the only one completely and totally obsessed with ‘Dragonball-Z.’

I remember realizing that the casting directors didn’t know any of the technical, nit-picky things that judges at karate tournaments know. They were just looking for performance, energy, and ‘look.’ So I knocked that audition out of the park! I smiled a lot, threw positive, heroic energy at them, and did plenty of cool mugging/posing for the camera. They ate it up, and I got the part!”

John Stork as "Kismet," prepares to blast away in this scene from the independent film, "Shadow Fury." (Photo: Pathfinder Pictures)

John Stork as “Kismet,” prepares to blast away in this scene from the independent film, Shadow Fury. (Photo: Pathfinder Pictures)

TJR: In 2001, you appeared in the independent film, Shadow Fury. We found a short clip of a fight scene with you in it over on YouTube (view HERE). Tell us about working on that project.

“That was another part I got through Mike Chat. Makoto Yokoyama, the director of ‘Shadow Fury,’ was also directing ‘Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue’ at the time, on which Mike was working as the Blue Power Ranger. Mr. Yokoyama asked Mike if he had any students who might be good for two different parts in the film that required kids who could do martial arts. Mike set me and Taylor Lautner up with the parts. We actually play the same character; Taylor is the kid version and I’m the teen version.”

Stork dispatches a hapless opponent with with his martial-art skills (and a hand grenade) in this scene from Shadow Fury. (Photo:

Stork dispatches his hapless opponent with a dazzling display of martial-arts skills in this scene from the film, Shadow Fury. (Photo: Pathfinder Films)

“I actually had to leave Circus Smirkus for three days to fly out to LA and film my scene. It was great working with the Alpha Stunt Team, some of whom I’d already trained with through Mike, and I enjoyed getting to perform a lot of my own fight choreography under their expert tutelage. However, coming right from Smirkus, it was really jarring for me how choppy and disconnected filming felt in comparison to performing for a live audience. It’s very stop and go.”

Stork's fight scene in Shadow Fury ends when he flips his opponent into a ditch with a hand grenade (only ONE walks away). (Photo: Pathfinder Pictures)

Stork’s fight scene in Shadow Fury ends when he flips his opponent into a ditch (with a hand grenade) and only ONE walks away. (Photo: Pathfinder Pictures)

“Up until that summer, I’d always thought I was going to try and be a martial arts movie star. Filming ‘Shadow Fury’ in the midst of my first summer at Smirkus brought about a major change of heart in my teen-aged self. I decided to shift my focus to LIVE entertainment. Even if I eventually wound up trying to be in movies, I figured I should learn how to entertain real people first, otherwise I’d have no idea what to do in front of a camera. I needed to develop a sense for what people liked. Filming ‘Shadow Fury’ felt like ‘flying blind’ compared to what I was doing back at Circus Smirkus.”

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Ironically, animated “freeze frames” from WWTBASH (transitions used when going to commercial breaks) seemed to turn Stork into the very type of Manga comic character he now yearns to create. (Art: Syfy)

TJR: You chose to pursue a career in show-business rather than attending college. Was that a hard decision for you to make? And do you now have any regrets?

“I think whatever money my parents may have had for putting me through college was used on the exceptional training I received as a teen. Therefore, in a way, I feel I kind of already went to college; a special, early college that was very specific to exactly what I wanted to be doing at the time. However, at this point, I would not mind attending a real college, to learn about animation. My ultimate dream is to write and direct for animation someday. As I mentioned before, my latest plan is to team up with an artist and try to turn some of my screenwriting into Japanese style comics (manga), with the hope that those comics can either help me sell the screenplays they’re based on, or help me get into an animation school. Maybe both! We’ll see.”

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UFC champion, George St. Pierre. (Photo: The Sun)

TJR: What are your thoughts about “Ultimate Fighting?” Is that considered to be a “martial-art?”

“I think it’s great and that it most certainly is a martial art. I don’t follow it very closely like some of my friends, or my Mom, but I do enjoy it when I see it. My favorite competitor is George St. Pierre. As a kid, I enjoyed ground fighting/grappling. Though we only touched on it lightly at my dojo, it felt more natural to me than standing up and duking it out.”

Working as a street performer, or "busker," John Stork was photographed recently performing his amazing stair-stacking routine in Burlington, VT. (Photo: John Stork, exclusively for The Joe Report)

Working as a street performer, or “busker,” John Stork was photographed recently performing his amazing stair-stacking routine in Burlington, VT. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: Since you’re famous now, have you thought about moving out to LA and pursuing a career in the entertainment industry there? Perhaps as a TV action star or movie stuntman?

“As far as moving to LA goes, the honest-to-God truth is, I can’t stand cities. I’m a country boy. Also, my passion is not to be in front of the camera anymore. I think the best thing for me is to focus on the craft of screenwriting and write some solid scripts. Vermont is a nice place to do that. Also, I make my living as a street performer, and there just aren’t that many places in America where you can make a successful living as a ‘busker.’ Burlington, VT is one of the few, and it’s easy to get to the country from here. Nature is only 10 minutes away. Plus, street performing in LA was terrible! I’ve also worked at Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market in Boston, which is arguably the best place to busk in the world, but I couldn’t hack the traffic! Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado is a pitch I’d be interested in trying.”

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Stork executes a perfect flying karate kick in this promotional photo for Who Wants to be a Superhero? At the time, he was at the height of his athletic strength and prowess. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: You seem to be extremely physically fit. Would you describe yourself as a “health nut” or simply a naturally gifted athlete? And what do you do to keep your superhero physique? Do you have a special diet and/or exercise regimen?

“Correction: I USED to be extremely physically fit. Now I just get by. And I’m definitely not a ‘health nut,’ nor am I a naturally-gifted athlete. I was one of the LEAST athletic kids going up through the ranks at my karate dojo. My physical prowess came from years of hard work, determination, and expensive private lessons.

I do have a fascination with nutrition though, nurtured by Mike Chat. He took a very ‘sports science’ approach to training his students, which included a lot of nutritional data and advice. When I first started training with him I was still a little chubby, so I really soaked up what he had to say and I still have a fascination with nutrition to this day. I’m more interested in living and eating healthy now, than I am in being some sort of super athlete. At this point, ‘Walden’ is probably my favorite book on diet and exercise. Yup. I’m definitely a Vermonter.”

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Stork’s muscular “superhero” physique as seen on WWTBASH. (Photo: Syfy)

“When I was in the best shape of my life, what got me there was passion. I was obsessed with martial arts, acrobatics, and performing, NOT with being in shape. Physical fitness was just a result of pursuing those things. Because of that, exercising just for the sake of exercising has always felt weird to me.”

In this animated "freeze-frame" from WWTBASH, Stork flashes his famous "V" sign, looking every bit like the martial-art Manga characters he so idolizes. (Photo: Syfy)

In this animated “freeze-frame” from WWTBASH, Stork flashes his famous “V” sign, looking every bit like the martial-art Manga characters he so enjoys. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: You often flash a “V” or a “Peace” sign at the end of a gymnastics run or karate routine. It’s almost become sort of a John Stork trademark. When did you start using that hand gesture and does it hold any special meaning for you?

“Characters in anime, manga, and I guess just Japanese culture in general, flash that sign a lot. When they do it, it’s a happy, victorious thing. I liked it and it felt very positive to me, so I adopted it for Super Impact Man and subsequently Hyper-Strike. I also wanted those two characters to be readily associated with anime, manga, and video games, and the peace/victory sign seemed as close to a universal symbol for those things at the time as I could find.”

Screenshot of sign used during contestant auditions for WWTBAS.

Screenshot of a sign used during contestant auditions for WWTBASH. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Let’s talk about your experiences on Stan Lee’s, Who Wants to be a Superhero? TV program on the Syfy Channel. First, let me just congratulate you for coming in second-place. Fantastic job, sir! What was it like trying out for the show? What did you have to do, where did you have to go, and what kind of reactions did you get from the producers, Stan Lee, etc..? Walk us through those experiences, please.

“Thank you. It was a blast. I actually sent in an audition tape for Season 1 and they called me, but didn’t end up choosing me. A circus friend of mine had heard about the show and told me I should try out since I pretty much already had all of the work done already (I was performing as Super Impact Man at the time).”

An obviously thrilled John Stork reacted VERY enthusiastically when told he had been selected for the show. (Photo: Syfy)

An obviously thrilled John Stork reacted VERY enthusiastically when told he had been selected for the show. (Photo: Syfy)

“I didn’t even apply for Season 2! They’d kept my video on file and just called me out of the blue. Of course I was still interested and they flew me out to LA for the live auditions. The audition went well and I was personally interviewed by the casting director and the executive producer afterward (not by Stan Lee directly). I remember the casting director really liked me but the executive producer wasn’t so sure. Guess he decided to give me a chance in the end.”

Stork executing a superb flying split-kick while performing as his first alter-ego, "Super Impact Man." (Photo: John Stork)

Stork executes a superb flying split-kick while performing as his first alter-ego, “Super Impact Man.” The name and costume would all change before his appearance on the show.(Photo: John Stork)

A Japanese Manga influence was clearly evident in the design of Stork's "Super Impact Man" costume, right down to its distinctive "rising sun" headband. (Photo: John Stork)

A Japanese Manga influence was clearly evident in the design of Stork’s “Super Impact Man” costume, right down to its distinctive “rising sun” headband. (Photo: John Stork)

TJR: Tell us about changing your superhero name from “Super Impact Man” to “Hyper-Strike.” When and how did that happen, and who came up with the name?

“There was quite a bit of paperwork to process once they wanted me on the show, and it turned out that they’d end up owning the rights to whatever character I ended up playing on the show. I had big plans for Super Impact Man in the circus, so I wanted to hold onto that name and character. I talked with the executive producer and he was fine with me changing my name and keeping the rights to Super Impact Man. We discussed what we both wanted from the new name, then I went off on my own and came up with Hyper-Strike, which we both really liked. As far as what my thoughts were in coming up with the name Hyper-Strike, I’m sad to say I haven’t the foggiest recollection. However, that’s probably because as soon as I came up with Hyper-Strike, all the others disappeared in my mind. I instantly knew it was the one. THAT I remember.”

Stork's disappointment upon seeing his new "Hyper-Strike" costume for the first time is clearly visible on his face. However, over time, his attitude toward the new look would change. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork’s disappointment upon seeing his new “Hyper-Strike” costume for the first time was clearly visible on his face. He was honest with Stan about “missing his old costume,” but over time, his attitude and approval changed. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Let’s talk about the Hyper-Strike costume. On the show, when you first look in the mirror at your new tights, what thoughts were going through your mind? Why did you prefer your original costume over Stan’s design? Clearly, the new Hyper-Strike costume left very little to the imagination. Was that a problem for you, “modesty-wise?” Were there ever any embarrassing moments around the ladies, if you know what we mean? <ahem>

“My first thought was ‘Oh, crap… I’m gonna be wearing this for weeks on national television… DON’T DO THIS TO ME!!!!!’ I just didn’t want every contour of my body becoming common household knowledge across the nation, and I guess that was the line the new design crossed that the old one didn’t. I wasn’t really embarrassed about my body, but I didn’t want the costume to be distracting or silly at all. I wanted people to focus on other things, like my personality and performance. I felt very…exposed.”

Clearly uncomfortable in his new "tights," the normally outgoing Stork became reticent and withdrawn for a time, until his fellow contestants convinced him his new look was SUPER indeed! We wonder what Stan thought of THIS behavior? (Photo: Syfy)

Clearly uncomfortable in his new costume’s tights, the normally outgoing Stork became uncharacteristically withdrawn for a time, until his fellow contestants convinced him that his new “look” was indeed, SUPER. (We wonder what Stan thought of THIS behavior?) (Photo: Syfy)

“Everyone around me, male and female, was very encouraging and told me it looked good. I didn’t know if they were just trying to make me feel better, but either way they were all very polite. So no, there were no ’embarrassing moments’ with the ladies. We spent so much time in our costumes while filming the show, I’d say at least 12 hours a day, that they became like a second skin. I didn’t even notice after a few days, so I’m sure no one else did either. My ‘dance belt’ (athletic supporter undergarment) on the other hand…”

Stork pointlessly searches through a stranger's shopping bag during a public challenge that was intended to embarrass and confuse the contestants. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork pointlessly searches through a stranger’s shopping bag during a public challenge that was intended to embarrass and confuse the contestants. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: During the “Evil Stan” episode in the park, it didn’t seem as if you were fooled too badly. You looked through a lady’s bag once, shouted your superhero name, and did a few flips. Not much harm done. Did you catch on that something was amiss and begin to refuse Evil Stan’s unheroic requests?

“As you say, he didn’t have me do anything too nefarious, so no, I didn’t catch on. I thought the requests were kind of weird, but I figured ‘Real Stan’ would have some brilliant explanation at the end of it all that would make everything clear. Instead, it was ‘Evil Stan’ who made everything clear. Good thing I didn’t do really bad stuff.”

In a rare mistep, Stork chose to reveal his secret identity to children in the classroom. (Photo: Syfy)

In a rare misstep, Stork chose to reveal his secret identity to some children in the classroom. D’oh! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Even though you say you studied the DVDs of Season 1 to avoid making the same mistakes they did, you STILL gave away your secret identity in the classroom, with a camera only a few feet away from your face! What happened there?

“I knew exactly what I was doing. I made an executive decision there. I told that kid my real name because they were embarrassed about theirs. I used to get picked on about my last name all the time when I was in school. I figured if the kid saw that I also had a weird name that I used to be embarrassed about, and that I’d somehow overcome that adversity and grown up to be a superhero, it might inspire him. The chance to give the kid some real-life confidence seemed more important to me than winning first place on a TV show. It seemed like the real-life superhero thing to do, even though I knew I’d catch flack for it. I had a hunch they’d keep me in the end.”

Despite his secret identity gaffe, Stork's experience and comfort working with children (easily) made him the class favorite, and enabled him to overcome the mistake in Stan's eyes. (Photo: Syfy)

Despite his secret identity gaffe, Stork’s experience and comfort working with children easily made him the class favorite, and enabled him to overcome the mistake in Stan’s eyes. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork sits on his bed and listens as "Mindset" and "Ms. Limelight" slowly begin to argue. Staying out of other contestant's personality conflicts proved to be a wise decision on his part. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork sits on his bed and listens as Mindset and Ms. Limelight slowly begin to argue. Staying out of other contestant’s conflicts proved to be a wise decision. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What was it like living in such a “Big Brother” type setting? Were the TV cameras on 24-7? Were they hidden? How did “living in a fishbowl” affect you and your fellow contestants psychologically? Did you ever decide to just “clam up,” like Mr. Mitzvah?

“The cameras were off when we slept, but that’s about it. There was a combination of hidden cameras and shoulder mounted television cameras. As a performer, I loved all the attention, so no, I never clammed up. That being said, even my bulging showboat muscle was worn out by the end of the three weeks it took to film all eight episodes. I think it’s a common reality TV tactic to try and get your contestants to go a little crazy. ‘Who Wants to Be a Superhero?’ was no exception. It was fun though. It never got too miserable. I treated it like a game that I called, “DON’T CRACK,” and tried to apply my own loopiness (not a real word) to my performance.”

Toward the end of the competition, Stork began to tire somewhat and stares down blankly through a glass table, not really seeing (or caring anymore) about the show's ubiquitous TV cameras. (Photo: Syfy)

Nearing the end, Stork stares down blankly through a glass table, not really seeing (or caring anymore) about the show’s ubiquitous TV cameras. (Photo: Syfy)

“As time wore on, and I got more and more exhausted, the experience became more and more surreal and trippy. Which was kind of fun. I don’t remember getting especially weirded out by the constant presence of cameras. The thing that got to me was they took away all our books and music. THAT made me a little crazy. We played a lot of ping-pong!”

Stork holds up the sign that was mounted on his bed in the "lair" during the show. He was allowed to keep it and his Stan Lee-designed costume as souveniers of the show. (Photo: John Stork)

Stork holds up the sign that was mounted on his bed in the “lair” during the show. He was allowed to keep it and his Stan Lee-designed costume as souvenirs of the show. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: Fans have been wondering what “life in the lair” was like for many years. Simple questions like: Did all 10 of you really sleep in the same room? If so, was that ever uncomfortable or no big deal? Was there a specific time for “lights out?” Did you get enough sleep?

“We did all sleep in the lair, yeah. The beds you see on the show were our real beds. I still have the sign that was hanging above mine. I didn’t really feel weird about the sleeping situation. It was like being a kid at a superhero themed sleep over, or a summer camp. It WAS a little eerie, as there were less and less people though. And yes, there was a set ‘lights out’ time each night where they would literally just turn out the lights. They wanted to make sure we got our sleep because we were on such a rigorous schedule. I’d say we got 6 or 7 hours each night. Life on the show was pretty exciting though, so I don’t think it bothered any of us too much. We all knew we’d be returning to normal life all too soon!”

Welcome to a reality of "Reality-TV." Ten contestants, all sleeping in the same room. According to Stork, the only time cameras in the lair were off, was when they were sleeping. (Photo: Syfy)

Welcome to a reality of “Reality-TV.” Ten contestants, all sleeping in the same room. According to Stork, the only time cameras in the lair were off, was when they were sleeping. (Photo: Syfy)

Whenever Stan gave out his orders, Stork was often the first superhero to strike a pose and yell out, "Let's GO!!!" (Photo: Syfy)

Whenever Stan gave his orders, Stork was often the first contestant to strike a superhero pose and then enthusiastically yell out, “Let’s GO!!!” (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What was a typical day’s shooting schedule like? Was there time for you to keep up your own personal fitness routine? Or were everyone’s activities strictly regimented and controlled?

“When exactly we started and finished each day varied, but we worked a full day, every day, and then some. And yes, our time was strictly regimented. Even when we had ‘free time’ there were still cameras on us. The schedule was so hectic and many of the challenges were so physical, I don’t think anyone was looking for any extra exercise. The whole show was definitely an endurance run. I think we all understood that and, furthermore, we were all in it to win it. We had all seen the first season and were consequently prepared for anything. That one guy (‘Levity,’ from Season 1) didn’t even make it into the lair!”

"Fueled" with pasta from the Olive Garden, Stork and his fellow heroes listen as Stan describes their next mission at Six Flags California—aboard aa rollercoaster! (Photo: Syfy)

“Fueled” with pasta from the Olive Garden, Stork and his fellow heroes listen as Dr. Dark reveals their next mission at Six Flags California—is on a rollercoaster! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: And what about food? Did everyone make their own meals, or was food prepared for you?

“They would bring in food for us from different places. Plus there were snacks like fruit put out for us that we could grab any time. That’s when I learned to like oranges. I remember we had catering from Olive Garden one time. That was while we were at Six Flags. Nothing fuels a superhero like fettucini alfredo and unlimited breadsticks!”

The superheroes could see, listen, and TALK to Stan via TV monitors hung throughout the lair. Very cool. (Photo: Syfy)

The superheroes could see, listen, and TALK to Stan via TV monitors hung throughout the lair. But where was he really during this time? (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Where was the show filmed? There’s also a little mystery and debate among fans as to where Stan Lee really was during shooting. Was he nearby, or was he in another studio clear across town? It’d be a little bit of a buzzkill to think he was just sitting downstairs the whole time.

“We filmed the show all over LA. To this day, I have no idea where Stan’s scenes were filmed. We got to meet him a few times in person outside of the show, at photo shoots and whatnot. He’s a real charming guy.”

Stork and other heroes stop to LOOK dramatically at their "wrist communicators." (Photo: Syfy)

Stork and other heroes stop to LOOK dramatically at their “wrist communicators.” (Photo: Syfy)

A super-closeup of Parthenon's "wrist communicator" with video of Stan Lee. (Photo: Syfy)

And…a close-up! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Here’s a chance to “burst some bubbles” for the less tech-savvy among us. When you looked at your wrist communicators, did anything actually appear there, or were you just told to act like it was?

“This is the kind of stuff we’re not technically meant to tell anyone, but, it’s been so long, I can probably get away with it. <DRUMROLL> No! It was just a green screen on our wrist communicators! (I feel so dirty…)”

TJR: Ha! Tell us about all the night shooting. Was it cold up there on the rooftop during eliminations? Many of the contestants (but not you) often seemed to be shivering.

“It wasn’t always cold, but sometimes it was FREEZING. As far as me not shaking goes, what can I say? I’m a professional entertainer and I’ve done a lot of performing outdoors with no roof over my head.”

Now THIS is good television! Three handsome heroes in brightly colored spandex, standing on the rooftop of the secret "lair," waiting for their fates to be decided by none other than Stan "The Man" Lee. Cool! (Photo: Syfy)

Now THIS is good television! 3 handsome heroes in brightly colored spandex, standing on the rooftop of a secret “lair,” waiting for their fates to be decided by none other than Stan “The Man” Lee. (Photo: Syfy)

Even after 6 years, Stork has no "dirt" to dish on his fellow contestants. Despite being in competition, they all got along and helped one another. (Photo: Syfy)

Even after 6 years, Stork has no “dirt” to dish on his fellow contestants. Despite being in competition with one another, they all got along quite well. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Here’s your chance to make some headlines and stir the fires a bit… It’s been over 6 years since the show. Were there any juicy tidbits, or embarrassing and/or memorable moments that ended up on the “cutting room floor” that you can now share with fans?

“You’re bad. Well, the lair was infested with—rats! Sorry. I don’t really have any dirt. The rats were the dirtiest thing. Honestly though, when you’re calling a place ‘the lair,’ I don’t think you can be too surprised when rats show up. It’s part and parcel with the name. I’ll also say that the ‘honey’ that was dropped on us was actually cheap syrup, like the kind you get on your short stack at the local greasy-spoon diner. I know that’s not very ‘sensational,’ but I remember thinking it was semi-weird or even ‘fraudulent’ at the time.”

Stork donned goggles, a helmet, and elbow pads before holding his breath as he attempts to reach the shut-off valve during the first major challenge. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork donned goggles, a helmet, and elbow pads before holding his breath as he attempts to reach the water shut-off valve during the first major challenge. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: During the “Waterworks” challenge you were nearly drowned by torrents of wind and water. During the “Bee Sting” challenge, you were trapped in a box with thousands of stinging honey bees. Normally, that would be enough to make most people want to quit immediately. But surprisingly, no one did. Did that surprise you? And what are your memories (good and bad) about those experiences?

“Yeah, you know, I was kind of shocked by how ‘gung-ho’ everyone was at the beginning. Even with the first challenge, in the wind tunnel with the water. It was INCREDIBLY loud and uncomfortable. I felt like I barely made it through and I was a spry young man. And after the spelling bee challenge, I knew everyone was FULLY committed. No one was going to give up of their own accord. As I said before, I think that having seen the first season helped get us all mentally prepared and fired up to take on virtually ANY challenge, or to at least to keep an open mind.”

Easily the most popular villain to appear on the show, the delightfully evil, "Bee Sting" (played masterfully by actress Anna Easteden), wreaked havoc on the contestants by unleashing thousands of real bees and then dumping barrels full of syrup on them, ruining their superhero costumes. (Photo: Syfy)

Easily the most popular villain to appear on the show, the delightfully evil, “Bee Sting” (played masterfully by actress Anna Easteden), wreaked havoc on the contestants by unleashing thousands of real bees and then dumping barrels full of syrup on them, ruining their superhero costumes. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork enduring 100,000 bees (and a few stings) during the show's Season 2 "Spelling Bee" competition. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork enduring thousands of bees (and a few stings) during the show’s Season 2 “Spelling Bee” competition. (Photo: Syfy)

“I, for whatever reason, was not very freaked out by the bee challenge. It made me uncomfortable, but I knew I could control my nerves. I was more worried about someone else in the box freaking out and making the bees go into a frenzy, so I did my best to try and keep everyone calm. I also remember thinking what a clever idea for a challenge it was, having us do a spelling bee covered in bees, but that comes with being an entertainer.”

Stork performing flips and stunts while hanging from suspension wires in front of a special effects "green screen." With all of his previous circus experience, it was (as he earlier predicted), "a piece of cake." (Photo: Syfy)

Stork performing flips and stunts while hanging from suspension wires in front of a special effects “green screen.” With all of his previous circus experience, it was (as he had predicted), “a piece of cake.” (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What was it like filming those fights, stunts and special effects sequences with Balls Mahoney and stuntman Jon Valera? It seems they would’ve seen your vast potential and recommended that you stay on in Hollywood and work in films. Did you discuss any such ideas?

“I actually already knew Jon Valera before the show. He and my teacher Mike Chat were fierce but friendly rivals on the same elite sport karate team. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not naturally athletic. It takes me forever to teach my body new things and it usually only goes along kicking and screaming. On the other hand, I’m pretty darn good at making things look easy for me once I’ve learned them, but that’s my talent as a performer, not an athlete. I would be a terrible stuntman! Shooting a film, you don’t have time to practice. You have to be able to adapt and improvise how you risk your life on the spot. I only risk my life after LOTS of practice to seriously hedge my bets. I love life too much!”

Stork sharing a final hug with fellow contestants Jarret "The Defuser" Crippen and Melody "Hygena" Mooney. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork shares a final hug with fellow finalists, Jarret Crippen and Melody Mooney. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Did you forge any lasting friendships with your fellow WWTBASH contestants? And have you seen any of them recently?

“Unfortunately, no. But it’s not because I wouldn’t have liked to, or because I didn’t like anyone on the show. I’m just terrible at staying in touch. Hygena (Melody Mooney) and her husband are incredibly friendly. Parthenon (Dan Williams) is funny. I got along well with Mindset (Phillip Allen) and Mr. Mitzvah (Ivan Wilzig). Believe it or not, I had a special connection with Whip Snap (Paula Thomas), despite what happened between us on the show. And I really admire The Diffuser (Jarrett Crippen). He deserved to win. He’d make a WAY better real-life superhero than I would. I can maybe LOOK like one, but he can actually BE one.”

Stork receives congratulations and also bids farewell to fellow contestants Aja De Coudreaux (l), Trisha Paytas (c) and Phillip Allen (r) at the end of their final episode on Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

Stork receiving congratulations and hugs from fellow contestants Aja De Coudreaux (l), Trisha Paytas (c) and Phillip Allen (r) at the end of the final episode of Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

“I guess I’m hesitant to stay in touch with people as a general rule because I’ve met so many over the years traveling and performing. It would be a full-time job to try and keep in contact with them all. Also, it pains me when you try to keep a friendship going long distance and it just sort of withers on the vine. For me, that’s even more sad than just going your separate ways. I’d rather leave things where they were than play with shadows, if that makes any sense.”

Stork plots his next move while standing on the show's intimidating "cubes of elimination." (Photo: Syfy)

Stork plotting his next move while standing on the show’s intimidating “cubes of elimination.” (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Your final self-defense speech, when you declared, “You SHOULDN’T put me through…” was a masterstroke of counter-psychology that probably helped keep you on the show. Had you thought about what you were going to say ahead of time or did you just blurt it out?

“Ha! I totally planned that. Entertainment is my business. I stood on that little cube the whole time knowing I had a zinger up my sleeve.”

Stork and fellow performer, Sam Johnson (of "America's Got Talent") perpare to execute Stork's famous chair-stacking feat during one of their many outdoor performances. (Photo:)

After WWTBASH, Stork returned to street performing. Here,with the assistance of his good friend and fellow busker, Sam Johnson (recently of “America’s Got Talent”), he prepares to perform his famous chair-stacking feat during one of many outdoor performances. (Photo: Randy)

TJR: Do you ever make appearances at comic cons as Hyper-Strike? It seems like you would be a natural with all of your experience entertaining crowds, especially crowds of superhero fans. Any memorable interactions with fans at such events?

“I never really got into the convention scene. Back when conventions and agents were approaching me to make appearances, I was in way over my head trying to street perform in LA. I was really stubborn. It was going terribly out there, but my answer to that was to just drop everything else and channel all my energy into forcing it to work. I bashed my head against a wall for months and barely scraped by. I got so low on cash, before I left LA, I ended up selling ‘star maps’ on Hollywood Boulevard for about a week. I could make more money doing that than I could street performing at the time!”

By the end of the feat, Stork executes a hand-stand on top of 5 stacked chairs. AMAZING! (Photo: Randy)

By the end of his stair-stacking feat, Stork tops it off by executing an uneven hand-stand. AMAZING! (Photo: Randy)

“I have a one-track mind and I become fanatical about things I want to do. My obsession at the time was learning how to street perform in LA, so I guess nothing else could happen. DUMB. I wouldn’t be against going to conventions now, especially to help promote my search for manga artists. However, I don’t think too many people remember Hyper-Strike.”

TJR: Well, obviously we disagree about that! Tell us about your “Karate Comedy Act.” I saw a short clip you had posted of it over on YouTube (HERE) and enjoyed it very much.

“Oh, thank you so much. If I were to continue on with theatrical circus performing, this is the act I’d do it with. I spent years trying to develop an act I’d be happy with, but all of my ideas were overly ambitious. I liked to come up with titanic productions in my mind that I was never able to pull off, at least not to my satisfaction.

The ‘Karate Comedy Act’ is the result of a lot of those ideas boiled down over many years to something DOABLE. Ironically, the act may now be TOO simple, since I’m not that interested in doing it anymore. That’s what I like about writing though now. I don’t feel limited. Whatever I imagine, I can just write. That being said, I really am proud of that little Karate Comedy Act, so thank you. Thank you for noticing! (This interview has become very emotional all of a sudden.)”

Another "freeze-frame" animation used in the show. (Photo: Syfy)

Another Hyper-Strike “freeze-frame” animation used in the show, Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: On the final episode of the show, Stan Lee said this of you:

“Hyper-Strike, you’re here because you fired our imaginations. You think and move, like a true superhero. You’re fearless, honest, and forthcoming.”

And after you had lost, you demonstrated true sportsmanship and real humility when you said:

John Stork today.  (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

John Stork today. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

“I had my chance. I made the best I could with it, and hey, 2nd place ain’t bad.”

Obviously, there’s a lot more to John Stork than just a flashy costume and some back flips. Tell us about your core moral values, ethics and beliefs, and where they came from. Besides being naturally gifted, what made you the man you are today?

“This is a big question and I don’t want to delve into my personal politics or religious ideas here, but I do have core convictions and concrete philosophical ideas that I try my best to live by and continually improve.

RESPECT is probably number one, not just for others, but for yourself as well. Self-respect could be the single most valuable commodity in existence, but I think it only works if you have a diligent conscience.

I think you get your conscience from your parents, and inadequate parenting is probably the most serious problem in society today. I had great parents, so I’m very lucky.

I also had a great dojo where values like discipline, respect, hard work, doing the right thing, and brains over brawn were constantly espoused. On top of the school creeds (which were emblazoned on the walls), we had a message of the week, every week. That, for me anyway, was a good environment to grow up in.”

Stork is in full "busking" mode as he performs a dangerous leap through a burning ring of fire. Note that his "Money Bucket" is always nearby, ready for donations! (Photo: leventmagic)

Stork is in full “busking” mode as he performs a dangerous leap through a burning ring of fire. Note that his “Money Bucket” is always nearby, ready for donations! (Photo: leventmagic)

TJR: What are your hopes, plans and career goals for the NEXT 6 years? Where do you hope to be and what would you like to be doing?

“In six years, I’d like to be supporting myself with my writing and well on my way to writing AND directing. My ultimate goal is to one day have a studio that produces anime, manga, and video games. If it was also in Vermont, that would be dreamy. I don’t think I made this clear earlier, but my screenwriting and the manga I’m looking to develop are meant to help me move closer to writing and directing for animation. A lot of the concepts I’m planning to develop as manga can later be adapted into anime.”

Despite stating he's no longer drawn to be in front of the cameras, Stork found himself doing just that in a recent regional TV appearance on "The Lake Show with Jack Carpenter." Yes, that's right. We said, the LAKE show. Here, Stork jokes about life as a busker with host, Jack Carpenter. (Photo: Jack Carpenter)

Despite stating he’s no longer drawn to be in front of the cameras, Stork found himself doing just that in a recent regional TV appearance on “The Lake Show with Jack Carpenter.” Yes, that’s right. We said, the LAKE show. Here, Stork jokes about life as a busker with host, Jack Carpenter. (Photo: Jack Carpenter)

Hyper-Strike animation from the opening credits sequence of WWTBASH. (Photo: Syfy)

Hyper-Strike’s eye-popping animation sequence from the opening credits of WWTBASH. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: On Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, you offered your fans the following advice, “Pursue your passions. Whatever you love to do—DO IT. And then completely devote yourself to it.” Now, over six years later, would you amend or add to that advice in any way?

“I would throw in that it helps when things love you back. I think it’s good to know what you love, but also to be aware of what your natural strengths are. Sometimes, you’re better off going with something you really like that likes you back and leaving unrequited love for the birds. I don’t know if I actually follow that advice though. In some ways, ever since I discovered it, anime has been my greatest love. (Don’t tell my girlfriend I said that.) It remains to be seen whether I have any natural talent in that arena, but I’m still putting everything I have into it.”

It’s nice to think things are super black and white when you’re young, and if they’re not, to think you can make them black and white. Now, I think it’s better to at least be aware of the spectrum. Use your knowledge of the spectrum to navigate to your favorite color. If you try to shut out the other colors, or pretend they’re not there, it doesn’t work so well. Ignoring reality is a slippery slope. No one lives in a test tube, yet it’s easy to philosophize in one. In short, I think it’s important to have a favorite color. My favorite color is GREEN.”

A prototype cover for a 'Hyper-Strike" comic book promising fans "Martial Arts Mayhem!" Trivia Note: The costume is the one Stan Lee designed, but the headband uses Stork's own Japanese "rising sun" design that he had created for use with his "Super Impact Man" costume. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

This prototype cover for a ‘Hyper-Strike” comic book promised fans “Martial Arts Mayhem!” Trivia Note: The costume is the one Stan Lee designed, but the headband uses Stork’s own Japanese “rising sun” design that he had created for use with his “Super Impact Man” costume. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

TJR: At your public performances, do you sign autographs and sell souvenirs afterward? How about online? Is there a website where fans can go to purchase John Stork, Hyper-Strike or Super-Impact Man videos, T-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.?

“Ha! There has never been a John Stork, Impact Man, or Hyper-Strike product line, but that probably has to do with there never having been a serious demand for those types of goods. I’m just responding to the market. I finally have a business card though. This is a major step for me.”

TJR: Do you have an agent, or are you self-represented? If someone wanted to hire you for a performance or personal appearance, how should they contact you?

“At the moment, I’m self-represented. I do have a website that focuses on my live performances HERE. That website would be the best way to get in touch with me if you wanted to hire me for a gig. My Hyper-Strike Facebook page (HERE) is another fine way to bend my ear.”

When not busking, Stork appears with the juggling and circus comedy act know as "The Piccoali Trio," along with bob smilh (l) and joy som (c). (Photo: The Pic trio)

When not busking, Stork (r) appears with the juggling/comedy act known as “The Piccolini Trio,” with fellow performers, Joshua Shack (l) and Joy Powers (c). (Photo: The Piccolini Trio)

TJR: Where is the next place fans can go to see John Stork performing, LIVE and in-person?

“More than likely I’ll be street performing on Church Street here in Burlington, VT next Spring, Summer, and Fall. Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, and Saturday evenings are the best times to catch me. I’m also in an intimate circus/theatrical clown show known as the Piccolini Trio (quite a bit different from Hyper-Strike). You can get details HERE and HERE. I should also mention that one of my best friends, Sam Johnson, who recently appeared on ‘America’s Got Talent’ HERE, is looking to create his own reality-TV series about street performers. He’s been filming the pilot episode here in Burlington, and it’s going to be centered around me, my street show, and Greg, a very kind homeless man who helps me out. He will most likely release the episode online soon. For more information, go HERE, or look for ‘Street Performers with Sam Johnson’ on Facebook.

This close-up of Stork's one-of-a-kind, 1:6 scale Hyper-Strike action figure reveals his handcrafted costume and custom headsculpt. WOWZA! (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

This close-up of Stork’s one-of-a-kind, 1:6 scale Hyper-Strike figure from customizer herobuilders.com, reveals a handcrafted costume and custom headsculpt.(Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: Finally, while we’re obviously very interested in superheroes, The Joe Report’s primary focus is on GIjOEs and 1:6 scale action figures. Therefore, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the personal gift you received from Stan Lee: a custom-made, 1:6 scale, Hyper-Strike action figure from Herobuilders.com! Did you play with or collect action figures when you were young? If so, which were your favorites and why?

“I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures when I was little (surprise!). I’ve never been into very straightforward, or ‘realistic’ things. The Turtles were cool to me because they were anthropomorphic, GREEN, and into martial arts. Another toy I thought was cool, although not an action figure, was ‘Monster In My Pocket.’ Kind of a precursor to Pokemon, I guess. And one more… Although these were only around when I was REALLY young: ‘Dino Riders!’ I had the T-Rex and the Triceratops, but I would always lose the armor and gun parts and just be left with the dinosaurs and the little dudes, and then it was basically just Jurassic Park. Wow. ‘Monster In My Pocket’ and ‘Dino Riders.’ You just sent me on one heck of a trip down Memory Lane!”

Stork's life today is an exciting mixture of thrilling street performances and theatrical circus comedy shows. In the rare moments he has at home, he's busy working on manga scripts and screenplays. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

Stork’s life today is an exciting mixture of thrilling street performances and theatrical circus comedy shows. In the rare moments he has at home, he’s busy working on his all-new, all-original manga scripts and screenplays. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

John Stork, 27, aka "Hyper-Strike" from the 2007 SyFy series, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, in a photo taken exclusively for The Joe Report on October 8, 2013, reveals Stork has hardly aged a day since the show ended. At our request, he donned the original costume tights created for him by the show's wardrobe department, and holds up the custom-made action figure of himself built by Herobuilders.com. Outstanding! (Photo: John Stork)

John Stork, 27, aka “Hyper-Strike” from the 2007 SyFy series, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, in a photo taken exclusively for The Joe Report on October 8, 2013, reveals Stork has hardly aged a day since the show ended. At our request, he donned the original costume tights created for him by the show’s wardrobe department, and holds up the custom-made action figure of himself built by Herobuilders.com. Outstanding! (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Mr. Stork for making this in-depth interview possible. If you’d like to leave a comment about anything in this article, please do so below. We wish Mr. Stork all the best in his future endeavors and will follow-up this report with another Who Wants to be a Superhero? contestant interview soon. Where are they all now and what are they doing? Stay tuned superhero, comic book and action figure fans, Coming up next—one of the women! Ex-CELSIOR!

Syfy’s Reality TV Series That Was Too FUN to Die: Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?” Lives on in the Hearts & Minds of Fans & Competitors

In this promo photo, Stan Lee (center) poses with the contestants from the second season of his "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" competition reality show. (Photo: Syfy)

In this promo photo, Stan Lee (center) poses with the contestants from the second season of his “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” competition-reality show. (Photo: Syfy)

Comics legend, Stan Lee, appears omnipotent and able to “rule the world” in this screenshot from the opening sequence of Syfy’s, Who Wants to be a Superhero? In the show, Lee did indeed make the final contestant elimination decisions, essentially controlling the “destinies” of all on the show.

A Great Idea For a Show
—That Ended Much Too Soon

For superhero aficionados, comic book geeks, and action figure fans, the Syfy Channel’s inspired and family-friendly, competition-reality show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” (WWTBASH) was like a little slice of Heaven. Each episode was “entertainment-light,” to be sure, but it could also be an intriguing, emotional, and suspenseful, mini morality play, played out each and every week. Challenging the wannabe “heroes” with a series of contests, the show ultimately attempted to uncover what was (or was NOT) inside of each contestant’s heart and soul (i.e. empathy, selflessness, determination, heroism, etc.). And while fans may not have always agreed with the show’s “elimination” decisions, the audience was all too happy to be along for the ride—on what was proclaimed as—”The Adventure of a Lifetime!”

While even mentioning "merchandising" could get you booted from the show (just ask "Levity," who was axed before even entering the lair). the potential for POST-show products is HUGE. Clearly, each of these ladies from Season 1 would've made GREAT action figures for fans and collectors of superheroes. Unfortunately, Stan Lee and Syfy chose not to pursue such lucrative ideas. (Photo: Syfy)

While even the mention of “merchandising” could get you booted off the show (just ask “Levity,” who was cut BEFORE he entered the lair). the potential for POST-show profits from products based on popular characters was HUGE. Clearly, each of these lady heroines from Season 1 would’ve made GREAT action figures for fans and collectors. (How about a face-off between Monkey Woman and Creature? Mmm) Unfortunately, Stan Lee and Syfy chose not to pursue such lucrative (and lovely) tie-ins. (Photo: Syfy)

Phillip Allen, aka "Mindset," describes his characters acute mental powers of telekinises, and that his armor is "from the future" in an episode of Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Variety)

Phillip Allen, aka “Mindset,” describes his character’s acute mental powers of telekinesis, and that his armor is “from the future” in an episode of Who Wants to be a Superhero? His unique appearance (bald head, arched eyebrows) and elaborate handmade costume (complete with a working chest-light) made him an early fan-favorite. Sadly, during filming of the show, his original costume was ruined when barrels of corn syrup were poured on it during a showdown with the evil, “Bee-Sting.” It was quickly replaced by the show’s costumers, but (unfortunately) he was eliminated immediately afterwards. His character would’ve made a FAN-tastic 1:6 scale action figure! (Photo: Variety)

An “American Idol” for Fans and Creators of Superheroes

Despite high ratings for the Syfy Channel and repeated pleas from its legions of fans, the show’s creator and Oz-like host, comics legend Stan Lee (now 90), replied that his schedule no longer permitted him to do the show, and that a third season would not be produced (even with a substitute host). In hindsight, his decision appears to have been very short-sighted and ill-advised.

It’s been 6 years since Lee’s brainchild last aired on television. At the time of its cancellation, the show was extremely popular and nowhere near running out of steam. Its format was simple: hold nationwide tryouts for comic book and superhero fans (and cosplayers) who believed they had created the “next great superhero,” bring the Top-10 finalists to Stan’s super-secret superhero “lair” (a warehouse in Los Angeles), put them through a series of creative competitions to test their mental acuity, athletic mettle, and strength of personality (or “grit”) before “eliminating” them one by one, until a final winner was found. Today, it’s still a tried and true formula for programming success (see American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Big Brother, Survivor, etc.). Nevertheless, Lee was adamant about calling it quits, and any plans for future episodes (or merchandising) have clearly been shelved as well.

These prototype comic book covers showed GREAT merchandising potential for both Season 1's "Lemuria" and Season 2's "Basura" characters. Imagine the action figures! (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

These prototype comic book covers showed GREAT merchandising potential for both Season 1’s “Lemuria” and Season 2’s “Basura” characters. Imagine the action figures! (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

Clearly the show had the potential to be a "cash cow" for all concerned, and the power to turn "ordinary citizens" into overnight celebrities. Here, 2nd Season finalist, John Stork, aka "Hyper-Strike" (l) and 1st Season winner, Matthew Atherton, aka "Feedback," sign autographs for fans at a comic con held soon after the show went off the air. As the winner, Atherton appeared in a comic book of his own, but unfortunately, other cast members had little to no merchandise they could offer fans. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

Clearly the show had the potential to be a real “cash cow” for all concerned, and the power to turn “ordinary citizens” into overnight celebrities. Here, 2nd Season finalist, John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike” (l) and 1st Season winner, Matthew Atherton, aka “Feedback” (r), sign autographs for rabid fans at a comic con held soon after the show went off the air. As a winner, Atherton appeared in a comic book of his own, but due to short-sightedness by Stan Lee and Syfy, the other cast members had little to no merchandise they could offer to fans. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

WWTBASH’s Vast Untapped Merchandising Potential

Such simple and embraceable shows are the stuff TV producer’s dreams are made of, and they are rarely executed as well as Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Over time, the show’s inexpensive, (i.e. profitable) format, could easily have been updated, refined and reworked, keeping it fresh and interesting for years to come (How about an all-girl version? An International version? A teenaged sidekick version? An all-Japanese version?). The possibilities are endless. Sadly, after only two seasons, it was all over. And now, all that remains of the show are a few comic books for sale on ebay and two seasons worth of DVDs available on a “made-to-order” basis over on Amazon. There are no other toys, action figures, or video games based on the show. NOTHING at all for fans, past, present or future to enjoy—or spend their money on. The amount of lost revenue to Stan Lee and Syfy is literally staggering. 6 YEARS worth!

Famed custom action figure company, Herobuilder.com, produced these custom figures based on characters from Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, and offers to create similar "one-of-a-kinds" for collectors, but currently there are no plans to mass-produce such a line. (Photo: Herobuilders.com)

Famed custom action figure company, Herobuilders.com, produced these figures based on characters from the second season of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? and offers similar “one-of-a-kinds” to collectors (even the relative heights are correct!). But currently, there are no plans to mass-produce a WWTBASH line of toys. (Photo: Herobuilders.com)

Will The Show Ever Return?

After Lee pulled the plug on Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, a collective groan of disappointment could be heard from fans all around the world. Perhaps if and when the Syfy Channel and Stan Lee realize what a mistake they’ve made, fans will finally see a Season 3. Regardless, the staff here at The Joe Report are all big fans of the show, and we felt this would be a good time to check back in with the 20 wannabe heroes—one at a time—to find out what they’re all up to now.

To begin, we purchased the DVD sets of the show HERE, and watched all of the episodes over again, jotting down questions for each of the contestants as we went. Next, we set our intrepid staff to the difficult task of tracking down all the contestants, and interviewing them one by one. Despite the daunting mission before us, we took inspiration from Season 1’s winner, “Feedback,” whose catch-phrase was: “GAME ON!”

E. Quincy Sloan, aka "Ty'Veculus," was a clear standout in Season 1. His costume, muscular physique and superb backstory (he's a real-life firefighter), made him a HUGE fan favorite and a shoe-in for merchandising. That helmet and leather armor ROCKS! (Photo: Syfy)

E. Quincy Sloan, aka “Ty’Veculus,” was a clear standout in Season 1. His costume, muscular physique and superb backstory (he’s a real-life firefighter), made him a HUGE fan favorite and a shoe-in for merchandising. That helmet and leather armor ROCKED. What a concept! (Photo: Syfy)

Bottom Line: The premature cancellation of Who Wants to be a Superhero? marked a huge missed opportunity for many people, all the way from Stan Lee himself, to everyone at Syfy, to comic book and toy collectors, and countless wannabe superheroes all around the globe. Here at The Joe Report, we’ve adopted a “wait and see” attitude, and our hopes for a return of the show (in any form) remain undiminished. Meanwhile, Interview #1 is now in the can, and as we wait for the boys in the composing room to set the type and prepare the press plates, we thought you’d like to know that our faithful sponsor, Patches of Pride, is currently hosting a Who Wants to Be a Superhero? contest on their Facebook page found HERE. The prize is everybody’s favorite wannabe superhero, Captain Action (seems like an appropriate choice) and the contest is open to the general public. So…Enjoy! (PS: Who will be our first WWTBASH Interviewee? Stay tuned, HE’s coming SOON!)

Brazil’s “Falcon” G.I. Joes Remain the Most Difficult to Collect———Even for Brazilians!

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The cover of the first Falcon catalog (1977) reveals the Brazilian-made version of GIjOE debuted with an excellent mix of military and adventure themes. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

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These two Falcon figures look right at home in this Adventure Team Headquarters. The Brazilian version of GIjOE shared many similarities with its American cousins, but also went off in its own creative and distinctive directions. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

Onde estão os Joes Falcon?

Where are they, indeed? That’s a question that nags at the minds of thousands of Brazilian “Falcon” GIjOE collectors. Even when first introduced, the popular toys were difficult to find. Today, Falcon figures and vehicles have become downright scarce. What happened to them all?

Produced by Brazil’s Estrela Toys between 1977 and 1983, Falcon Joes were targeted primarily to middle-class children located in major cities of South America’s largest nation. But for those living outside of Brazil’s major markets, buying opportunities were rare.

Despite the uneven distribution, word spread and the new toys became hugely popular and thoroughly played with by thousands of happy South American children. Today, those same ’70s and ’80s children have grown to adulthood and are once again clamoring for a “fix” of their favorite 12-inch Brazilian hero. But there’s a problem. There are hardly any Falcon Joes left to be found—anywhere! Some (occasionally) appear for sale on ebay, but collectors are clearly facing a supply and demand shortage. And it’s only getting worse.

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This Google street-view of Estrela Toy’s once-bustling production facility reveals only a long-shuttered and abandoned factory today. Fortunately, the company has reorganized and is now headquartered in Sao Paulo. But its future (and that of Falcon GIjOEs) remains unclear. (Photo: Google Maps)

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“Condor” was a 1:6 scale android, making it an extremely cool Falcon figure. Somehow, this example has survived the last 40+ years in its original window box. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi) Click to enlarge.

Buried in a Landfill—Or Burned Up and Gone With the Wind?

We’ve touched on this depressing aspect of GIjOE collecting in previous articles; but unfortunately, literally thousands of vintage figures are going to be forever MIA. Relegated to the ignominious fate of a landfill or waste incinerator, the “body count” of today’s surviving Falcons is undoubtedly much lower than it should be. For collectors of the line, it’s a sad and undeniable reality.

Simply put, Falcon Joes are scarce, and the last 40+ years have not been kind to their collectors. Today, even with the aid of the Internet, locating good examples of the unusual line is an uphill struggle, even for native Brazilians. The majority of MIA Falcons reside deep within Brazil’s depressing “trash mountains” with no hope of a future rescue.

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Great figures, superb outfits (check out that tan one on the left), and a slightly altered AT logo prove these Falcon figures are still 100% GIjOE! (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

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Renowned Falcon expert, Ricardo Beluchi (right), poses alongside a colorfully dressed cosplayer during last year’s second Falcon convention in Brazil. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

O Herói de Verdade!

Falcon’s motto is translated as “The Hero of Truth!” And if you’re a Falcon fan, there’s one expert you can always count on to get to the truth: Ricardo Beluchi. Beluchi’s superb Portuguese-language Falcon website (found HERE) is chocked full to overflowing with all things Falcon. Here are some passages translated into English via Google Translate:

“Falcon was first launched in 1978. Originally, there were two models available: one with a dark beard (Action Camouflaged) and one who was beardless (Counter-Attack). But with instant success, additional models were quickly introduced. The themes were of many adventures, and since Falcon had to fight with an opponent, he struggled primarily against nature, including sharks, giant spiders, octopi and ferocious gorillas.

Falcon was also a secret agent, defying death with sets such as ‘Fantastic Leap Forward’ or ‘High Voltage.’ Initially, parents were concerned that their little boys were playing with dolls, but then they saw that Falcon had nothing ‘girly’ about him. With knives, guns and a scar on his bearded face, Falcon is today, the most MACHO of toys.”

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Fans in Brazil hope to generate enthusiasm for a revival of Falcon and gathered recently for the SECOND annual Falcon/GIjOE convention. Exhibits included 12″ and 3.75″ GIjOEs, 1:1 cosplayers in elaborate homemade costumes, dioramas, and of course, the ever elusive Falcon! (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

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This table at the second convention in Brazil reveals an Adventure Team headquarters (see GIjOE box), three Falcon figures and one of those cool, “Condor” android dudes.Sweet! (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi) Click to enlarge.

Is There a Future for Falcon?

At this point, it’s impossible to determine what, if any, plans Estrela may have for Falcon, but the company HAS indicated that it is at least curious about fan interest in the line. In a recent poll conducted by Estrela (you can still cast a vote for Falcon HERE), there appears to be overwhelming consumer support for the line’s return. Reminded of Geyperman’s successful reintroduction (see HERE), we wondered if anything else was being done to generate excitement for a possible Falcon “resurrection.” Beluchi replied:

“A few years ago there was a group of Brazilian collectors who joined together to form a Falcon fan club called the ‘BraJoes.’ But after a few years, the club disbanded. In 2012, members of that group teamed up once again and held a convention. This year, a second convention was held. Several items were displayed at that event, including Falcons, GIJOEs, customs figures and dioramas, etc.. There was also a competition for cosplayers and we had many visitors!”

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Figures on the back row (frogman, deep-sea diver, etc.) look familiar to fans in the U.S., U.K., Spain and other countries, but the front row of “exotic” figures are unique to Brazil’s Falcon line. We see inspiration from Bulletman, Logan’s Run, Flash Gordon, and other schlocky ’70 sci-fi. (Photo: Washington Espínola)

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It’s good to see fans in Brazil are beginning to work on dioramas as well. Here’s a nice closeup of a garage dio, complete with tools, mini pin-ups, and other related equipment. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi) Click to enlarge.

So the news is encouraging. But what about Falcon’s increasing rarity, rising cost, and decreasing availability? We asked Ricardo if he could comment some on the line’s history and how it created this dilemma. He replied:

“Here in Brazil, Falcon figures were originally found only in major toy stores. Because of the poor overall financial situation of our country, it was an expensive toy to purchase, and so few children ever received more than one or two. Usually, we earned them only on specific dates such as our birthdays or Christmas.

You also need to understand that Brazilians only began collecting Falcon figures a few years ago. During the 70s-’80s, nobody thought of collecting these toys. People actually played with them, and many were THROWN AWAY when they broke. So, nowadays, it’s very difficult to find them in good condition, complete, or for a good price.

I have a few Falcons in my own collection, but since they are so rare, I try to refocus my collection onto GIjOEs and the Adventure Team line-up that I love so much! I hope this helps. If your readers have any more questions about Falcon, please let them know I am available!”

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Cosplayers are like costumed “cheerleaders” for GIjOE and Falcon, and this group appeared at the second Falcon convention recently to root for their favorites. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

Bottom Line: Already rare in Brazil, it’s a safe bet that Falcon figures, uniforms and equipment will continue to hold a place of high value and fond esteem among Brazilian collectors. Whether or not fans in other countries will see many of them in person is doubtful. Collectors hold on to them tightly, and turnover is infrequent. As long as Estrela remains on the fence about 12-inch figures, fans will just have to keep their eyes and ears open. Our sincerest thanks go out to Ricardo Beluchi for his help with this article. If you’d like to ask Ricardo any more questions about Falcon, you can contact him directly through his Facebook page found HERE. Go, JOE! Vai, Falcon!

“UltraCon” 2013 Set for March 23-24, Hialeah, FL

Official poster for the 2013 UltraCon to be held March 23-24 in Hialeah, FL. (Graphic: Mike Rio)

Official poster for the 2013 UltraCon in Hialeah, FL. (Graphic: Mike Rio)

Ramada Inn, Hialeah, FL, site of 2013's "UltraCon" toy show. (Photo: Ramada Inn)

Ramada Inn, Hialeah, FL, site of 2013’s “UltraCon” toy show. (Photo: Ramada Inn)

Sandwiched right in between Joelanta and the national JoeCon 2013 in Indianapolis, is Florida’s largest toy, comic and anime show known unabashedly as “UltraCon.” According to UltraCon’s head organizer and longtime GIjOE fan, Irving Santiago, this year’s event will have something for everyone. Just look at what Santiago reveals in this press release:

“Ultra Con will feature collectors and dealers from all over the State of Florida, selling their collectible vintage tin toys & modern toys, Hot Wheels, vintage sports cards, comic books, vintage GIjOEs, and hundreds of 3 3/4” GIjOE vehicles & figures. There will also be UK Action Man figures from The 1960’s& 1970’s, Star Wars (old & new), Monsters (old & new), Godzilla, Transformers, Dragonball Z, Power Rangers, Marvel Legends, Marvel Universe, Toy Biz, and DC. Several dealers will be selling off entire Star Trek & Star Wars collections from The 1980s!

Irving Santiago during the Lobby Swap at Joelanta 2012. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Irving Santiago during the Lobby Swap at Joelanta 2012. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Wow! Sounds like an amazing opportunity for toy fans and collectors of all ages and interests. But that’s not all. Santiago went on to describe even MORE attractions at this year’s show:

“There will also be two “Ultimate Fighter” special guests at the Con; UFC’s Mike ‘The Wolverine’ Rio and MMA’s Luis Baboon Palomino. Both will be there to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. Creature Entertainment Comics will have a team there and we’ll also have a “Comic Book Alley” set up for local comic book artists to display and sell their artwork. Members of a My Little Pony club will attend. There’s also a cosplay costume contest with a $100 prize!”

Bottom Line: If you’ve got the time (and the money), it’s obvious where you should be on March 23 and 24th. The Ramada Inn is across from Westland Mall in Hialeah, FL at 1950 West 49th Street. Adults are $5, kids under 12 are free. Dealers can set up Friday afternoon from 6pm until 11pm. Showtime is 9AM to 5PM on both Saturday and Sunday. Parking is free. For vendor info, call Irving at 786-285-3738. Sorry, but sinkholes, alligators and anacondas will not be allowed to attend. HA!

Dressing in Elaborate, Hand-Crafted Costumes for Fun and (Very Little) Profit: The Growing Popularity of G.I. Joe Fan “Cosplay” Competition

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GIjOE cosplayers, Andreas Owald, aka “Snake Eyes” and Samantha Patrone, aka “Scarlett” share a moment before going in to the 2011 Joe Con. Superb costumes, accessories and make-up! (Photo: Samantha Patrone)

This talented fan was spotted a few years ago roaming the hotel hallways at the GIjOE Con in Kansas City. His homemade "Fantastic Freefall" skydiver costume made heads turn and flashbulbs pop. Could an Adventure Team "fan film" be far behind? (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

This talented fan was spotted a few years ago roaming the hotel hallways at the GIjOE Con in Kansas City. His homemade “Fantastic Freefall” skydiver costume made heads turn and flashbulbs pop. Could an Adventure Team “fan film” be far behind? (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

In today’s troubled world, it can be a real pleasure, if only for a few hours, to portray and “play” the role of your favorite fantasy hero or heroine; to wear their clothes, forget the hum-drum reality of your workaday existence; and to enjoy experiencing a little, albeit temporary, “fantasy escape time.” Fortunately, for an increasing segment of GIjOE fans, the growing popularity of costumed roleplay, or “cosplay,” is helping them to do just that—and they’re having a BLAST!

A truly unique offshoot of GIjOE fandom, the relatively new cosplay phenomenon is not all about glamor and glitz. There’s a lot of hard work involved as well. Cosplay is highly interactive fan activity that first involves sewing or otherwise creating custom-fitting costumes, applying realistic make-up and/or wigs, and purchasing (or making) all of your character’s required accessories, boots, weapons or other related props. Only THEN, can you “don the mantle” of your favorite Joe character to an upcoming Joe or Comic Con.

A closeup of our 1:1 scale Air Adventurer reveals his parachute pack and harness are superb recreations of the original, right down to the rope cords. What a creative GIjOE fan! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

A closeup of our 1:1 scale Air Adventurer reveals his parachute pack and harness are superb recreations of the original, right down to the rope cords. Perhaps “Air Adventurer” will reappear at a future Joe show judging a parachute jump! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

For less outgoing fans, the hardest part of cosplay isn’t creating a costume, it’s actually stepping out of a taxicab or elevator for the first time and walking out onto a convention room floor. If you spend your life isolated in a cubicle, stepping out into the glare of the “public eye” can be somewhat of a shock. It may take some guts, but the rewards are DEFINITELY worth it.

Suddenly, little children will want to shake your hand. Or, if you’re a “bad guy,” they may want to hide behind their mother’s skirt. Grown men will want to have their picture taken with you. Strangers, whom you never would have spoken to or met otherwise, suddenly want to know all about you, your costume, and your character.

It can all come as quite a “rush” for the uninitiated, “first-time” cosplayer. In no time, you’re the focus of EVERYONE’S attention in that convention hall. Heads turn, jaws drop, and flashbulbs pop. THAT’S what cosplay is all about. A little “guts” and a LOT of glory!

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Cosplayers, Ros Kodelico, aka “The Baroness,” and Samantha Patrone, aka “Scarlett” achieved the height of GIjOE fandom simultaneously after attending the 2011 Joe Con. Dressed in their stunning, homemade costumes, the two beautiful women were heavily photographed and soon featured as covergirls on the official GIjOE Collector’s Club newsletter. Their fame spread quickly and the issue proved extremely popular with fans worldwide. (Photo: GIJCC)

You don't have to be a beautiful woman or a 20-year old dude with six-pack abs to enjoy "Joe cosplay." Just ask longtime fan and collector, Doug Kidd. His portrayal of an original Army GIjOE is fantastic! (Photo: Doug Kidd) Click to enlarge.

You don’t have to be a beautiful woman or a 20-year old dude with six-pack abs to enjoy “Joe cosplay.” Just ask longtime fan and collector, Doug Kidd. His portrayal of an original Army GIjOE is fantastic! (Photo: Doug Kidd) Click to enlarge.

You might think that parading around in colorful costumes is an activity appealing only to children on Halloween. But you’d be wrong. There’s now a growing number of children, teens, and older generation GIjOE fans who are becoming involved in this newest, most demonstrative of fan events. We asked 50-something Arkansas GIjOE fan and collector, Doug Kidd, about his superb cosplay depiction of the original 1964 Army Joe (see photo at right) and he replied:

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“Thanks for your kind words. I do have several more sets of the green fatigues if you’d like to play dress up yourself. Let me know your size and I will see if I can fix you up!”

The greatest compliment other Joe fans can offer a costumed cosplayer is simply to ask them a question. ANY question. Or to request to take their photograph. That’s WHY they’re there at a public event all dressed up in costume! Ask them (politely) to strike a pose, or to explain or demonstrate some of their props, etc. They WANT to share this information with you.

This closeup reveals Samantha's homemade costume includes yellow work gloves you can find at any hardware store. (Photo: Samantha Patrone) Click to enlarge.

This closeup reveals Samantha’s homemade costume includes yellow work gloves you can find at any hardware store. (Photo: Samantha Patrone) Click to enlarge.

To learn more about GIjOE cosplay, we sought out perhaps the two most famous (and beautiful) “Joe Girls,” Ros Kodelico, aka “The Baroness,” and Samantha Patrone, aka “Scarlett.” Fans will remember them both well for their joint appearance on the cover of a VERY popular 2011 issue of the GIJCC newsletter. Miss Patrone was happy to tell us all about her interest in GIjOE and cosplay, saying:

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“I am in fact a fan of G.I. Joe. The cartoon aired on TV a bit before my time, but I did watch re-runs as a child, and became a fan of many of the various reboots over the years.

I went to JoeCon 2011 after hearing about it from a friend. I was NOT paid to appear, and I was actually completely unaware I was on the cover of the Collector Club magazine until one of my friends who has a subscription told me about it (and they graciously sent me several copies)! I was completely surprised and also thrilled to be welcomed into the fandom this way.

The Baroness cosplayer (Ros) and I didn’t know each other before the Con, we just happened to stand together and take pictures! I don’t know about her costume, but I did make my own from scratch. I’ve been cosplaying for about 8 years now, and Scarlett’s been on my list to do for a long time.”

One of the coolest vintage GIjOE costumes we've ever seen was this superb "High Voltage Escape"  worn by a creative young fan at the 2012 JoeCon. Dig that mask and the the mesh suit. WOW. (Photo: GIJCC)

One of the coolest vintage GIjOE costumes we’ve ever seen is this superb “High Voltage Escape” outfit worn by a creative youngster at the 2012 JoeCon. Dig that mask and mesh suit! Zzzap! (Photo: GIJCC)

Of course, knowing she has her own worldwide fan base, we couldn’t let Miss Patrone off the hook without finding out more about her real life and her plans (if any) for future appearances at GIjOE-related events. She kindly replied:

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“I’m just your normal everyday girl. I’m an insurance underwriting rep during the week, but I also have my own business and perform as a character for events and charities. I started costuming before I started acting, but they’d kind of become one with each other over the years. I definitely consider it a hobby, not my job. I have portrayed a lot of characters, most of them can be seen HERE, but this isn’t all of them. Sadly, I can’t make it to JoeCon 2013 this year because I’m limited to Florida cons right now.”

Don't forget to coordinate your "look." For example, the blue eyes of this female Cobra trooper perfectly matched her helmet and uniform. And we all know how important THAT is. HA (Photo: GIJCC)

Don’t forget to coordinate your “look.” For example, the blue eyes of this female Cobra trooper perfectly matched her helmet and uniform. And we all know how important THAT is. HA (Photo: GIJCC)

Besides “rent a character” type businesses, or an occasional cash prize won during a costume contest, there is little financial gain to be made from cosplay. Yes, there are a few cosplay websites that charge members fees to view photos, but professional cosplayers are few and far between.

Our sincerest thanks to Miss Patrone, Mr. Kidd and all the other contributors appearing in this article for their insights into the growing world of GIjOE fan cosplay. In closing, here are a few more of the better costumes we’ve seen…

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Yes, Ma’am! This fan’s depiction of the Baroness’ red leather costume displays all the outrageous proportions and curves of the original. Take a good, CLOSE look at all of its ‘prodigious detail.” Go ahead. Take your time…we’ll wait. (Photo: Comicaze)

Not every costume is worn to a convention. GIjOE fan and collector, Kyle Knox, decribes his superb cosplay outfit thusly, "This is my load out for airsoft. Everyone at the field knows me by the AT patch on my plate carrier and cap!" (Photo: Kyle Knox)

Not all costumes are worn to conventions. Fan and collector, Kyle Knox, describes his superb GIjOE cosplay outfit thusly: “This is my load out for airsoft. Everyone at the field knows me by the AT patch on my plate carrier and cap!” (Photo: Kyle Knox)

Yes, it takes "guts" to go out in public in tight red spandex. In this closeup, everyone's favorite AT member, "Bulletman," makes a rare appearance in public at the 2011 JoeCon. Believe us, you'll be glad we cropped the photo at his waist. Yikes! (Photo: GIJCC)

Yes, it takes guts (or something like it)  to go out into public wearing tight red spandex and a tinfoil bullet helmet. Nevertheless, “gutsy” John Cavanaugh brought everyone’s favorite AT member, “Bulletman” to life in this recent appearance at the 2011 JoeCon. Believe me, you’ll be glad we cropped this photo at John’s waist. Yikes! (Photo: GIJCC)

A beautiful "Red Trooper" came ready, willing and able to capture the hearts of GIjOE fans at the 2012 JoeCon. (Photo: GIJCC)

A beautiful “Red Trooper” came ready, willing and able to capture the hearts of GIjOE fans at the 2012 JoeCon. (Photo: GIJCC)

Talk about your accessories! This participant in the 2011 JoCon costume contest brought an entire armory with him to the show! (Photo: GIJCC)

Talk about accessories! This participant in the 2011 JoeCon costume contest brought an entire armory to the show! (Photo: GIJCC)

GIjOE conventions, toy shows and comic cons are all great opportunities to portray your favorite character, then gather together for one-of-a-kind group photo. (Photo: GIJCC)

GIjOE conventions, toy shows and comic cons are all great opportunities to portray your favorite character, then gather together for one-of-a-kind group photos. (Photo: GIJCC)

This group of Cobra Troopers gathered on the deck of an aircraft carrier to pose for a series of amazing photos. (Photo: cosplayers.acparadise)

This group of Cobra Troopers gathered on the deck of an aircraft carrier to pose for a series of amazing photos. (Photo: cosplayers.acparadise)

Couples can help each other create costumes and then attend shows together! (Photo: GIJCC)

Couples can help each other create costumes and attend shows together! (Photo: GIJCC)

Another great shot of Joeheads showing their stuff at JoeCon 2012. (Photo: GIJCC)

More Joe cosplayers “play” at JoeCon 2012. (Photo: GIJCC)

What's better than a GIjOE? How about a "Mint-in-Box" GIjOE? How cool is this? (Photo: Sean)

What’s better than a GIjOE? How about a “Mint-in-Box” GIjOE? This cosplayer can walk around and still remain in his box. Clever! (Photo: Sean)

This fan put together the BEST "Sgt. Slaughter" costumed portrayel we've ever seen. In fact, ol' "Snake Eyes" there looks a little jealou!

This fan put together the BEST “Sgt. Slaughter” costumed portrayal we’ve ever seen. Ol’ “Snake Eyes” looks a little jealous! (Photo: DK Squall)

An amazing "Cobra Commander" poses with yet another stunning "Baroness" at a recent show. (Photo: cosplay)

The “Cobra Commander” poses with yet another stunning “Baroness” at a recent GIjOE show. Just look at the astounding level of detail in these homemade costumes! (Photo: cosplay)

A dapper dressed "Destro" and his robot underling prepare to walk the convention floor at JoeCon 2012. Outstanding work! (Photo: GIJCC)

A dapperly dressed “Destro” and his robot underling prepare to walk the convention floor at JoeCon 2012. Outstanding work! (Photo: GIJCC)

We wanted to end this article with a “BANG.” So here’s cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao, who has practically elevated homemade GIjOE costumes to a professional art form. (Photo: Alodia Gosiengfiao)

Bottom Line: If you want your own “15 minutes of fame,” or at least to FEEL like you’ve been famous for 15 minutes, there’s no safer and enjoyable way than cosplay. At your next Joe show or Joe Con, try dressing up as a GijOE character—just once. Your hard work will NOT go unnoticed!

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