“Confessions of a Superhero” somehow managed to paint a sympathetic portrait of the costumed characters who linger in front of Graumans Chinese Theatre while making Hollywood Blvd. feel like a faraway place, instead of mere blocks away from where I live.
While I’m still looking forward to a documentary that will focus more on the economics and interworkings between the superheroes and other freaks who pose for photos for a living,* “Confessions of a Superhero” is a must view for LA residents or anyone else interested in the varied subcultures that surround Hollywood. (available at Netflix)
That said, here’s what I learned:
1. Costumed character can only accept donations, they can’t solicit them. This rule is repeated a few times by Christopher “Superman” Dennis, as are clips of Dennis telling tourists that they work for tips.
2. Costumed characters can make between $150 and $300 an hour on a good day, according to Jennifer “Wonder Woman” Gehrt.
3. Johnny Grant, the longtime honorary Mayor of Hollywood, considered the costumed characters to be nothing less than panhandlers.
4. After the infamous arrest of Elmo and Mr. Incredible for strong arming tourists into giving them tips, donations actually increased for costumed characters, according to Superman and Joe “The Hulk” McQueen.
5. There is a code between costumed characters. For example, Superman himself is very adamant that superheroes never be seen smoking. (apparently except when smoking a bowl or posing for a magazine spread.)
*The Reinactors, another doc on costumed characters now making the festival rounds, may fill this need.