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Tampa Bay is home to superheroes in Spandex

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's … oh. It's just a dude in tights. We have a handful of rogue avengers here in Tampa Bay. It's an inglorious Justice League, folks who brazenly take superhero culture from the pages of a comic book to the sewing machines in their own homes. Whether they're causing trouble or just trying to entertain, they're hard to ignore (what with the Spandex, mostly). Let's geek out for our most notorious costumed characters. To the Bat Cave! — Stephanie Hayes shayes@tampabay.com

Batman

Apparently the Caped Crusader likes to nosh on California rolls. In 2008, Walsh Ian Nichols was arrested for wearing a Batman costume in public — more specifically, a mask. Nichols frequented Ybor City in several Batman suits, working as a nightclub promoter or visiting the Castle. He even had a costumed buddy pose as Robin and set his voicemail to sound like Alfred the butler. Police said the mask violated a state law devised in the 1950s to target the Ku Klux Klan. A judge threw out the case and ordered police return the mask to Nichols. He wasn't committing a crime in the mask, his attorney had argued. He was just eating sushi.

Peter Pan

The most iconic leotard fanatic in Tampa Bay is Randy Constan, a.k.a, Peter Pan. If you've ever been to Ybor City on a Saturday night, you've likely seen him clad in full green Spandex and black ballet slippers with a Prince Valiant haircut and pixie hat, dancing and posing for pictures. Peter Pan found fame online and has been featured in such places as the New York Times and National Public Radio. Peter Pan is not just a wannabe pixie child. He's a musician who most recently played with Ken Spivey at Skipper's Smokehouse, shredding an electric guitar and singing, "I won't grow up!" We know, Pan. We know.

R2D2

Need a little buddy for your next party at Mos Eisley Cantina? Consider casting R2D2, an exact replica of the famous Star Wars droid built by Doug Poston of Temple Terrace. He spent two years and $3,000 building the robot using parts from a motorized wheelchair. R2D2 makes cute beeping sounds from an MP3 player inside. Once the thorn in C3PO's side, R2D2 has made a splash on the party scene, appearing at birthday parties, science fiction conventions, Guavaween, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Channelside. Check him out at robots2000.com and donate to pay for batteries, maintenance, paint and repairs. It's a hard life being so cute.

Superhero

If you get a flat tire, maybe Superhero will swoop in to save you in his Corvette. Based in Clearwater, the mysterious former wrestler belongs to a league of folks who participate in the real life superhero movement, wearing costumes and helping citizens. They're a part of Central Florida's Team Justice, which includes such crime fighters as Danger Woman, Night Hawk and the Baffling Weirdo. On his website (myspace.com/dalzilla), Superhero offers tips to keep your kids safe on Halloween and recounts how he helped fend off a mugger. He and his buddies, including the armor-clad Master Legend from Winter Park, were featured in Rolling Stone in 2008.

Tampa Bay is home to superheroes in Spandex 05/19/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 19, 2011 3:03pm]

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