Hero Behind the Mask: Skyman

This month’s interview is a little different than my usual interview. This month I interviewed a Real Life Super Hero in my local community instead of a CAUSEplayer. This man has a heart of gold and truly makes a difference in his community. He recently had his birthday and instead of throwing himself a party he arranged a homeless outreach event. As you can see by this example he is truly an inspiration regarding his community and we can all copy a page from the Book of Skyman! Here is to you Skyman! I can’t wait to continue following your adventures!-Mala

interview pic 1

Can you please describe for the readers what a real life super hero is? 
What is a Real-life Superhero (RLSH)? Well, there are a lot of definitions swirling about the internet and definitely Wikipedia! I’m going to give you the definition that I find relevant for myself and the others that I interact with through social media. An RLSH is one that has developed a superhero persona of their own creation that isn’t part of any canon of comic-books. We are our own creations, yet with a nod to the inspiration we get from comic-books.

The costume is intended to either be intimidating or inspiring depending upon what your purpose is. Some wear the mask to keep their personal lives private and some wear it to continue with the iconic imagery that the comic-book superhero has. Now does the ‘secret identity’ really work in the real world? Not so much, however I do know some that have kept up the separation and we don’t know their real names. To them I have much respect… some do have lives that need to be kept.. secret.

Having created a persona with a name and individual costume we travel outside in the real world attempting to make real change in our neighborhoods. An RLSH’s given ‘work’ is only limited by the groundings in reality… we don’t have superpowers! The stereotypical work is primarily through neighborhood watch patrolling and seeking out the ‘criminal element’ At least that’s the hope! Never really happens though, being in the right place at the right time to intervene in a physical altercation or anything related that needs de-escalation is few and far between.

13308202_10156914301950398_5632350031989364120_o

What inspired you to become a super hero?
Well, its been an evolution of my personality really. You see, back in Junior High in football I was given the nick-name of ‘SkyMan’ as my first name is Skyler. It stuck. When I was diagnosed with a mental illness in my teenage years I needed something to help quell the personal demons I was battling. So I turned to back to my childhood of superhero comics and cartoons. From there I created the inner personality of SkyMan to help Skyler survive the bouts of depressive suicidal idiation and manic cycles.

It was only in 2010 that I stumbled upon the movement/concept/community of the Real-life Superhero. I was still battling the demon of alcoholism that Ive been struggling with for 20 yrs now and one afternoon of drinking was watching the Watchmen movie DVD Boxed set. There was a documentary attached to it entitled “Real Superheroes, Real Vigilantes”

Of course I immediately Googled the term and then found the online movement and saw that there are people that actually do this in real world situations.

What does being a local super hero mean to you?
I truly believe being an RLSH should be a beacon of hope and inspiration. I guess you could say I want to hearken back to the Golden Age of superheroes that were colorfully clad and had high ideals. I also believe that being a member of your locality is where one should start. I live in a major metropolitan area and can spread myself out a bit. The Greater Seattle area is where I operate and am from and live in a suburb. Hailing from Federal Way I have, over the years, become a bit of a local notable. I attend and volunteer at events around town, show up to community led charity walks, been featured in the local newspaper, and have even shown up at City Council meetings to lobby for issues that I find important. I do some neighborhood watch in my community but have found it difficult over the years to fully develop a strategy to defend my local turf.

13244009_10156890005240398_3244628729656441128_o

What do you hope to accomplish by doing this?
Simple and grandiose answer? To save the world, of course!

I know that’s not entirely doable for just one man in some handcrafted armor and some colors though… Really, I want to get to a place where I am happy to live my own life. To have a life worth living. I’m not there yet and some 6 yrs in I don’t expect to be anytime soon. I call myself a ‘crusader’ Well, my crusade is that SkyMan continuously improve Skylers life. Its a selfish answer but its the one I live by.

What differences have you made?
Over my career as a ‘costumed activist’ I’ve foiled a few crimes in progress, saved a life or two by being in the right place at the right time and many, MANY, acts of charitable kindness. I’ve helped hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homeless stay alive one more night through the homeless kits and supplies I’ve given out; paid for out of my own pocket mostly. I’ve shared my own personal struggles of battling mental illness and substance abuse with many people by sharing my own ‘experience, strength, and hope.’ Most importantly, being SkyMan and doing the work of an RLSH, being committed to a cause greater than myself, has saved my life on more than a few occasions by not succumbing to my depression.

12967372_10156724831320398_4348722396464413759_o

How do you keep yourself safe while patrolling?
I made one rule for myself that I’ve pretty much adhered to over the years;
‘Never patrol alone’. Does it mean I get out there on the ‘mean streets’ less than Id like?

Of course. But I’ve always believed that there is strength in numbers and you cant have eyes in the back of your head or keep your situation awareness up constantly. Our heads weren’t born on a swivel.
I do carry a fully stocked and functional utility belt that carries personal self-defense devices; pepper spray, baton, and stun knuckles It also has a fully stocked trauma rated First Aid kit. So I don’ t go out on patrol without the ‘tools of the trade’ However, I’ve been in patrolling groups where the others I’m working with carry enough protection for the lot of us so I’ve been known to only go out in my armor.

I also wear a Level IIIa bullet-resistant vest. For many years I operated without one to prove the point that you don’t have to have it to do the work… also, its always been outside my budget and very hard to find plus sizes. I lucked out around Christmas last year as one of my teammates picked up the tab on a functional vest he found for me. So after many years I do have one that I wear for patrol and crowd control purposes.

11705289_10155823972480398_6772452940793288954_n

Do you feel that others can be super heroes without a costume? If so, why?
I feel that we all have the ability to emulate the compassion, tenacity, and true heroism that the comic-book inspired superheroes show us. The costume, or super-suit as we call it in the RLSH community, is just the tool we use to draw attention to ourselves. To be a true superhero get outside yourself and do something for others. Whether its as brave as helping to feed the homeless or something as simple as smiling to your neighbor…. that’s enough.

How long have you done this in your community?
SkyMan the Tri-Colored Crusader was given form on Arbor Day 2010 in a local park where he helped with trail maintenance and planting.

13147387_10156816488190398_1958597021231434577_o

What advice do you have for becoming a real super hero?
Advice for somebody wanting to join the RLSH Community and to become one?
First, do some cursory research on what you are passionate about and search for your inner heroes identity. Do plenty of internet research into the people involved in the movement and read about us and what we do. Why? There are always people coming and going in the community that I find it troublesome that the lack of research and examination isn’t done.

Also, please try and be creative with your persona. There are a lot of black-clad ninja looking folks out there that think they have to be Batman and skulk in the shadows. I’m here to tell you as one of the more experienced, seasoned, and active RLSH out there that that mindset and attire don’t work. Its not in the imagery of the iconic golden-age era of superheroes that wanted to present a friendly image to the general populace. I understand that names and creativity are difficult… but nobody said that being a superhero was simple, much less easy!

12657792_1274727542543165_5779706331321269923_o

Favorite Comic Character: Captain America! Sure, Steve was given the super-soldier serum that turned him into a super-strength powered person but before that the tenacity and patriotism of the scrawny youth was what made him a real hero.

Least favorite comic character and why? Superman! He is an alien from another planet trying to fit in when we all know he cant. His a God among mere mortals and is an anomaly.

Favorite Book: How to be a Superhero by NightRider. Its one of the very first published manuals out there and documents the very early days of the RLSH Community.

Favorite Video Game: I grew up on Super Mario Bros. And my SNES.

Favorite Convention: Emerald City Comic Con… even though its become a larger than life event. I’m going to stay loyal as I won my 4 day pass this past year.

Affiliations (clubs or groups): I’m a member of a local team of RLSH in the greater Seattle area, the Emerald City Heroes Organization (ECHO)

Facebook: is the one major form of social media I participate in on a daily basis.
https://www.facebook.com/skyler.nichols

Twitter: SkyMan253

Advertisements

Hero Behind the Mask: Shaun O.

This week’s feature is about an amazing guy that I have the privilege to know! He is kind and giving! Plus I have seen him in action interacting with children. He is more than happy to get to their level to talk and take a picture. Not only does he use his costumes for charity but he has donated items that were raffled of to raise money at Salt Lake City Fan X 2014 for the MDA! Their is way more to say about his personal life and the example he has been but that is for him to share, not me. Thank you for being a shinning example in and out of costume. – Mala

 photo DSC_04971_zpsmbvamj8j.jpg
Name: Shaun O.

Location: Seattle-ish, WA

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
I think the “CAUSEplaying” just happened. Prior to building my first costume, I met someone who shared a video called “Heart of an Empire” and told me to watch it before committing to the group. The video focused on the charity aspect of the 501st and the children which it impacted. That video pretty much set the standard and purpose who the costuming world I was about to enter.

In fact I actually befriended one of the main people in that movie this past year and hoping to meet him sometime this year.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
Funny you should ask that. It is twofold. I like meeting new people, in fact I would have never meet half the people I talk to, had it not been for costuming. The major reason however, is that I want to bring a smile to a child or a child at heart. Being able to bring a little happiness in a world that isn’t so much, is what makes it worth it to me.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
My first event was a birthday party for a 6yr old girl with brain cancer. The event was a pretty large community event in Florida and the first time I would be wearing armor in public. I was pretty lost and had no clue what I was supposed to do. Shortly after that event I was on my way to Seattle to start my new job.

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Meh…that’s a tough one. I like my Commander Wolffe a lot and I get into character when I am in costume, which really gets people going, especially with the Kiwi accent. However, I think I would have to go with Spidey on this one. My comic version of Spider-man seems to always be a hit, who doesn’t like your friendly neighborhood web slinger?

 photo 540639_3643086317243_1242587667_n_zps8oxlbhqu.jpg

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment:Though I have had many memorable moments the one that always sticks out to me is during an event for foster children which come together (as they have been adopted) and have a picnic and field day. That day I met a girl name Kayden, which seemed to not know who I was in costume, which kind of puzzled me, it wasn’t until one of her sisters came up to me and whispered that, Kayden, was blind and unable to see who I was. That day I had to walk away for a little and take back what I had heard and experienced. It just broke my heart that this sweet little girl had already been through so much in her life and didn’t seem to have one complaint. I ended up spending the rest of the day playing with the other children but Kayden took a liking to me and ended up coming back, wanting to spend some time, and even having lunch with her and her family.

What is your favorite cause to support?
Anything that is community based, especially for kids. I have been pretty active, as of late, with Make-A-Wish.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
This one is easy, I’ve actually had to get dressed in a Porta-Potty, it was pretty tight in there and the fact that it smelt like flowers was amazing…

 photo 998751_10100145682059178_468293655_n_zpskflbdpst.jpg

Who inspires you?
Walt Disney is someone that I have a lot of respect for. It always amazes me that he grew up from humble beginnings, had a lot of setbacks and failures along the way, but stuck with his dream. Every time I walk into Disney World it amazes me that this guy had all this in his head at one time and was determined to make it work. He had a vision; he saw something where others saw nothing. That helps me realize that dreams really can come true, as corny as that sounds.

My dad is also someone else on a more personal scale which has done similar things, coming from a very poor family and making something for himself, with a lot resistance and yet persevering. Growing up my dad could fix just about anything and in that I knew that nothing was beyond my grasp, just needed to work hard and in some cases people have the right people to help along the way. If I don’t know how to do something, I usually find someone who does and soak it in…another tool in the tool belt.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: 1) Do it because you want to 2) It’s a hobby 3) Have fun and learn as much as you can 4) It can be a very expensive hobby, so try to not go and follow every fandom. You will be poor.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
I have no idea. It always seems very last minute.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
Costumer, seems like there is just a lot of hype with the word “cosplayer” these days…sadly I actually use “cosplay” for my fan page name.

 photo 405716_753113048648_367219391_n1_zpsx5e8weyh.jpg

What was your first costume/cosplay?
My first was a Clone trooper from the Clone Wars, the animated series. I really liked the concept and idea that Clone troopers were breed for combat and also wanted to have a character that I could relate to, which happened to be Commander Wolffe.

My love for Clones started when watching Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Yoda’s “Begun the Clone Wars, has” and seeing an army of Clone troopers marching. I thought having armor like that would be cool. While I was deployed in Iraq I brought The Clone Wars to watch and feel in love with the characters, their struggles, who they began to take on personalities, and become their own. Once I got back Stateside, I found out that you could actually build animated armor kits, and so it began…Kamino.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I currently work as an engineer for one of the largest commercial airplane manufacturers in the world; That’s what pays the bills.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
Well…that’s been on my mind for some years now…I joke around that I’d be happy selling coconuts on the beach somewhere…though the engineer in me says that isn’t gonna pan out. I’m hoping the space program picks up, that was what I went to school for and hoped to eventually build the next Space Station or help work on a Lunar Base. I need something where I can work with my hands…an Imangineer at Disney was always a cool job I’d like to have.

 photo 10157350_387961354677357_750697517_n_zps4zmysy52.jpg

Tell us something random about yourself: I listen to Taylor Swift when I workout…sometimes.

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Wars…I will refer to quotes from Fan Boys if we continue this question.

Marvel or DC: Tough one…probably gonna go with DC on this one because it seems like Marvel is all over the place and messing up a lot of characters lately.

Favorite Comic Series: A no brainer that I read Amazing Spiderman but I have also really gotten into the new Harley Quinn series ( I like Harley).

Favorite Comic Character: Peter Parker…he’s probably your most complex character you’ll meet. Depending on the series you get different looks and stories, however, but I go for the lost of his Uncle Ben and losing his first love, Gwen Stacey, and how that happens to both drive him to be bigger than himself and also cripple him at times emotionally.

Favorite Book: Depends on what mood Im in. The Hobbit was always a good read. I started reading the Republic Commando series and really like those books. Last leadership/management book I read was Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and that was a good read, as well. The last one that sticks out that I read was Fearless which talks and follows the life of Adam Brown (a Navy SEAL) and his struggles in life: personal, through BUDs, and Deployments.

Favorite Video Game: Any of the Grand Theft Autos. I just like stealing cars, running red lights, being chased by the police, and picking up…friends.

Favorite Convention: I have just recently started going to conventions. I actually started when I moved to Seattle. However, my favorite Con so far was Celebration 6. I was able to meet up with a ton of friends I had personally met and people I met online. It was fun just hanging out, costuming in groups, and the random adventures at night. Good times were had.

Affiliations (clubs or groups): 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, 501st Clone Trooper Detachment, and the North West Mutant Academy.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/That-Guy-Cosplay/160248877502575

Other forms of social media: I really don’t like social media

Hero Behind the Mask: Angry Mushroom Pixi Cosplay of The Free Cosplay Project

I am proud to announce my affiliation with this weeks feature!  The Free Cosplay Project is a fundraising effort that shows us we don’t have to be in costume to do something great!  If you like to make props or costumes and have been interested in getting involved in charity work than the Free Cosplay Project is something you should consider! Check out the interview below for details and how you can get involved!

If you are interested in more about the creator of this project make sure to check out her Facebook page, Deviant Art, and YouTube channel!  She loves to share how to make cosplay and props so check out the variety of videos she offers.  It also goes to show she knows how to make things, which means if you enter to win a prop you will be getting something amazing and worth the donation to see if you win the raffle!

Angry Mushroom Cosplay, thank you for letting me be involved in the launch of this great idea!   The only catch is this project will need YOUR involvement to reach its full potential!! So either donate to win a prize or join the group to have a fundraiser for an organization of your choosing  Either way we can show the world the amazing talent and heart of the cosplay community! –Mala 
 photo 10884930_793508714030458_371050201_n_zpsdl1itat7.jpg
Name: Marie Turner AKA Angry Mushroom Pixi Cosplay of The Free Cosplay Project

Location: Seattle, WA

What is the Free Cosplay Project?
The Free Cosplay Project, or FCP, is a non-profit group that organizes and hosts charity raffles for cosplayers by cosplayers. It was created as a vehicle for cosplayers, prop makers, seamstresses, and crafting artists within the cosplay community to help promote their art and pool money for charitable causes at the same time. Each FCP Featured Artist will pick a charity they care about and have a raffle prize as an incentive for the community to donate to that charity.

If someone is interested in adding their own work to this project how can they do this?
There is a submission form for artists (of all kinds!) to enter on the Volunteer page of the website. Having new Featured Artists essential for us to keep the ball rolling. We are always thinking of new ways to involve artists as well, so definitely contact us with suggestions!

How did you determine the organization (cause) you are raising funds for?
We are picking all of our causes through Crowdrise.com. Crowdrise is amazing because the money donated goes directly to the charity and not through us. All the charities on their website have been IRS approved so you can feel confident donating. With their system it takes less than a minute to donate!

What are the benefits of using the fundraising platform you choose?
The Free Cosplay Project is great because its a flexible program that fills a niche in the CAUSEplay community. Each Featured Artist gets to find a charity that they feel passionate about, so there is always a new charity benefiting from the program with every raffle. Allowing artists to gain exposure and promote themselves to the public is a huge incentive for the artists as well. And the art is what creates the incentive for the public. Raffle giveaways have been really successful for aspiring independent prop makers and hey, who doesn’t like winning free stuff? Currently we are working on introducing the idea of gifts for every donor and not just a grand prize, but we are taking it one step at a time.

If someone wanted to donated to win a prop from you how much do they need to donate?
Crowdrise requires a minimum donation of $10. That is a 1 in 100 chance to win! That may seem high but really, what is $10 to you? 1 (and a half) expensive brand name latte? Or the costume of your dreams? Make it a priority to live a generous life and HELP ME SHOW THE WORLD WHO THE REAL HEROS OF COSPLAY ARE!!!

 photo 602833_461591787223355_373854190_n_zpszjwzryuw.jpg

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
Honestly it was a desperation. I was feeling disconnected from the community. It had been over 6 months since I was able to cosplay because I was going through career changes and things were really hectic. I was either not attending cons or working them, and cosplay meetups were either not being organized or being canceled. Almost like a personal cosplay dark-age! When I finally was able to come back to cosplay I had gained weight and was having a hard time feeling like I could be confident in my skin. I kept that depression to myself for a long time because I felt ashamed of even feeling that way. I know that the cosplay community is really body positive so I felt silly for even being so insecure. Ultimately my favorite thing about cosplay is the technical aspect so even if I didn’t dress up, I wanted to keep making things. But if it was going to be a costume I made, then I had to let SOMEONE wear it! That’s when I thought of The Free Cosplay Project. The idea was rather serendipitous because it was good for me to take the focus off myself and spend time in supportive role.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
Giving feels great. It allows a person to do something transcendent with their lives.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
The first event for The Free Cosplay Project is live now. We are looking to have a different Featured Artist each month.

 photo 10448706_551915591598372_3035580823673156028_o_zpsr6fvmyvl.jpg

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Because the FCP is an online charity I haven’t gotten the chance to actually cosplay for charity! Pretty ironic.

What is your favorite cause to support?
Anything to do with solar energy, building self sustaining infrastructure in developing countries, or disease research. Hope for Vision is my first charity because they are a research focused charity aimed at curing degenerative retinal diseases. And I think we need greater funding in the sciences. BUT! I really think the way our society views blind people is wrong and limits their potential so I’m really eager to do a fundraiser in the future for World Access for the Blind, because they are an organization focuses on enabling blind people by teaching echolocation. http://www.worldaccessfortheblind.org/

Who inspires you?
I was incredibly inspired by Amanda Palmers “The Art of Asking” because it has a really beautiful view of life.

 photo 1378111_644569382232002_935684206_n_zps8qc5kejo.jpg

Advice for CAUSEplaying:
I think I’d love everybody’s advice instead! I’m not sure if I’m qualified to give it quite yet. I’m still learning and I really wouldn’t be anywhere without the help of family and friends.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
Its interchangeable for me. I’m definitely a cosplayer, but I graduated with a degree in costume design.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
This GOD AWFUL Lina Inverse cosplay for 8th grade Halloween party. Its was a thrown together red t-shirt of red tights with scrap fabric, just awful! My first “actual cosplay” was a minor villain from One Piece called Miss Goldenweek.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I work part time for my dad as a licensed Real Estate Agent. You could say I’m his assistant. When it’s slow in the winter I work odd jobs. Currently I work at a plastics manufacturing factory, so I go to work and cast plastic parts, and then come home and do it all over again. One is for an airplane, the other is for cosplay!

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I honestly wouldn’t want to be an independent commissioner for prop fabrication. That seems so stressful! It’s hard to make run business that way, that’s why the FCP is great, because it supports those independent artists. I’d rather work for a studio making props, but that’s Hollywood, which is its own monster.

 photo Untitled_zpss8ue8ckd.jpg

Tell us something random about yourself: I love the show Good Eats!

Star Wars or Star Trek: Trek for sure!

Marvel or DC: *stuffs name brand candy bar in mouth to avoid question*

Favorite Comic Series: Tomb Raider

Favorite Comic Character:The Prince from Saga

Favorite Book: I read mostly non-fiction these days. I can’t really call myself a book nerd. Pass!

Favorite Video Game: Anything Naughty Dog or 2K or Valve.

Favorite Convention: PAX or ECCC!

Affiliations (clubs or groups): The Free Cosplay Project! 😉

Website: freecosplayproject.org

Affiliated websites: https://www.crowdrise.com

—————————–

Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! And adventures!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories!