For Zetaman, it’s all about community—both the one he serves on patrols and through charitable foundations and the one he works to build for the Real Life Superheroes of the Pacific Northwest. But multi-tasking on this level is not a problem for someone with true convictions.
Imposing in his blue and black gear, this “costumed activist” works with the homeless of Portland, OR, runs neighborhood patrols, and actively supports such local organizations as Oregon’s chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Portland’s Community Transitional School, and March of Dimes’ “March of Babies” walk-a-thon in his native City of Roses.
Determined to drive wider attention to the causes he supports, in May of 2009, he launched “The Real Adventures of Zetaman,” the first broadcast-length reality series for the internet. 100% independently produced, the project aims to chronicle his mission to promote heroic change, and hopefully, influence and inspire others to act on their own best impulses. “I thought about where my best skills lie, and how to apply them in a unique way. Becoming a superhero was my answer. Maybe it could be someone else’s too.”
To that end, he has taken the lead in growing the superhero movement in his part of the country, creating an organization he dubbed, “The Alternates.” This “Team of Civil-Minded Individuals” has set out to foster a culture that accepts people based on their character, rather than looks or politics, and assist in finding alternative ways to help their communities—and advertising those ideas to the public-at-large. “I’ve always been a leader, and often I found myself in the position of advising others who are interested in the movement, so this seemed like a natural.”
In that role as an advisor, Zetaman has had his share of run-ins with those who see their true calling in vigilante justice. ““I don’t wear a mask or a cape. I tried that the first time and got into some trouble, so never again. I’m not a danger-seeker, I just want to go out and try to help,” he says, “I’m an adventurer. The true heroes are the police, firefighters and other first responders.”
And while the Real Life Superhero population is growing in Zetaman’s corner of the nation, he’d still like to see more joining the ranks, while acknowledging the difficulties inherent in reaching out to increase those numbers. “There is a certain amount of ego that goes into it, you have to dress differently, you’re standing out, you’re doing something not socially accessible. And though being headstrong is good, and having an ego is good—it keeps you motivated, and strengthens your convictions—it doesn’t really lend itself to organizations.”
But the challenges only serve to spur him on. “I just want to live my life to the fullest. People have given me opportunities to do some really awesome things because other people wanted me to help them out. I’ve met and made some great friends and I work at trying to be a good person. This rollercoaster hasn’t stopped yet, and I can’t wait to see what is on the horizon.”