Thursday, April 12, 2012
THE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR RLSH
Million dollar super crew: Peaceman, Dragonmina, Peace Puppy.
Two very popular superhero franchises in recent years have been DC's classic character Bruce Wayne aka Batman and Tony Stark, alias Iron Man.
These two characters have no super powers to speak of, save one: they are both filthy rich. This was a good idea for the writers. They could explain away any crazy vehicles, bat computers, robot suits, etc., by the simple fact that Wayne and Stark's vast fortunes had paid for the technology. Both characters started as millionaires, but with inflation were soon upgraded to billionaires.
But what if there was such a thing as a multi-millionaire Real Life Super Hero? Would he spend big money on flying exo-suits and training with grappling hook guns?
Well, not so much. Sir Ivan Wilzig is also known as his superhero alter ego Peaceman. He is the founder of the Peaceman Foundation, which benefits victims of hate crime and also those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He also has cut several videos from his album I Am Peaceman, a series of techno dance remixes of classic protest songs like The Grass Roots' "Let's Live For Today," and John Lennon's "Imagine." He also has an interpretation of the African-American spiritual song "Kumbaya." I don't quite have the words to describe it, so I posted it below.
Fans of the Stan Lee hosted reality show Who Wants to be a Superhero? will recognize him as Mr. Mitzvah on season 2, a character designed to celebrate his Jewish heritage. He chose a new character for the show to retain copyright on the Peaceman persona.
Peaceman's lair is a incredibly huge castle in the Hamptons, where he has a secret changing room, a stock of Peaceman outfits, including several capes with rhinestone studded peace symbols, and a sidekick-- a teacup chihuahua named Peace Puppy. He is currently working on a custom made tie dyed stretch limousine which he'll debut in a tour of him cruising around doing good deeds. You'll be able to see him in action in an upcoming reality show about the Wilzig family.
Peaceman's castle in the Hamptons. Not too shabby.
I recently had a phone interview with Peaceman, exploring his life as a millionaire superhero, which follows.
Tea Krulos: What is the origin story of Peaceman?
Peaceman: Well, you know I was on second season of Who Wants to be a Superhero, right?
Right, under a different name.
Peaceman: Mr. Mitzvah. So what happened is that made me, historically, the first Jewish superhero in history. I don't know if you're aware of that.
Peaceman: Yeah. You can Google it and...there was an Israeli female superhero, but only in animated form, not one that played the role of a superhero on television or in a movie.
When I auditioned for that show, it was as Peaceman, but then they wanted to own all of the intellectual property to that so I created the other character.
The reason I created the character was because my father is an Auschwitz survivor. I lost 59 relatives in the Holocaust. The character started as a nickname because I started wearing peace capes to perform in when I made the transition from banker to singer.
45 is pretty late to start a pop music career after working twenty years in a bank so artistically I wanted to go from a three piece suit and a briefcase to something different so people would know I'm no longer the banker but a singer about peace and I started wearing the peace symbol cape because the songs that I sang were all modern remakes of the iconic 1960s anti-war songs, from the Woodstock generation.
Then I decided to start the Peaceman Foundation, whose mission is to battle hate crime and post traumatic stress disorder. I chose hate crime, obviously, because of my family background. And while not every hate crime victim is suffering from PTSD and not every victim of PTSD is a survivor of hate crime, the two do overlap so I chose to champion both of those causes through my foundation and music.
I've worn my costume several times to do good deeds. One time it was feeding the homeless during Thanksgiving and another time I went to a school in Harlem that was going to lose it's mortgage so I showed up in costume and gave them a donation so they wouldn't lose their school.
After Who Wants to Be a Superhero I was contacted by Superheroes Anonymous, by Life, a RLSH in New York. They do real life good deeds, everything from crime watch to manning soup kitchens, etc. I saw what he was doing was a great thing. I not only in the beginning gave them a few small donations, to make sure their charitable and community minded activities were successful. I became so impressed with them that I became their patron saint as you might say, their benefactor, sponsor, underwriter, whatever you want to call it. They have an annual event at Times Square, workshops, handouts to the homeless, teaching other superheroes how to make costumes and get involved, and advice.
So you've met other RLSH and made a connection.
Peaceman: Yeah, I've met some from the New York area. I tell them my super power is the power of my checking account. My ability to save lives, literally, by writing checks to various causes.
Stan Lee himself called me the "Real Life Bruce Wayne." And instead of a Batmobile, I'm taking my car, it'll be the most famous car in the world when I'm done, I'm going to take my stretch limousine to the Peacemobile. I'm going to have it custom painted to look like the old Volkswagon hippy van. I'll then go city to city in it doing good deeds, visiting communities and doing donations and things.
Peaceman: Part of that will probably be reflected in a family reality show with my brother and mother that is currently be produced. We begin shooting the sizzle reel for that next month in Miami and New York and work on a pilot in the summer.
(Note: Sir Ivan's brother, Alan Wilzig, is a race car driver and his mother, Dr. Naomi Wilzig, owns the World Erotic Art Museum.)
By the way, when I dress as Peaceman in my capes with the large Swarovski rhinestone peace emblem on the back, for each cape I have in my closet, which is about a dozen different colors, my teacup chihuahua, I call her the Peace Puppy, she has identical silk capes. I take her out with the matching silk capes with the peace sign on the back. So there is Peaceman, Peace Puppy, and my best friend will be going with us dressed as Dragonmina. Dragonmina is immortalized in a sculpture that fits in the center of the pool, nude morphing into a dragon. So it'll be like a superhero family going on these missions together.
Are you planning a follow up album to I am Peaceman?
Peaceman: I'd like to do a I am Peaceman II and III. Probably each album would contain a certain amount of remix from the 60s, but not entirely.
Do you do live performance as Peaceman?
Peaceman: I do occasionally, but I prefer doing music videos, instead of touring around. I usually tie in live performance with events for the Peaceman Foundation at my castle each summer.
I think I might be the oldest RLSH doing this, I'm 56. Are you aware of any older than me doing this?
Well, there is Thanatos in Vancouver. He's in his early 60s.
Peaceman: Ok, and I can't say for certain because I don't look at everyone's financial statements, but I suspect I'm the wealthiest.
Yes. I think that is pretty certain.
Peaceman: And I don't want to toot my own horn, but I think I am the wisest as far as formal education. I not only went to an ivy league college, but also graduated law school.
So you're a multi-millionaire, you can do anything you want, really. So why Peaceman?
Peaceman: I get to raise money for some worthy causes, battling hate crime and PTSD. Hate crime is such a big deal to me because I had so much of my family murdered by the ultimate hate crime: the Holocaust. And my father, while never formerly diagnosed with PTSD, he certainly exhibited signs his whole life of having mental scars, he had nightmares and flashbacks of being in the camps and suffered from depression occasionally. He was very nervous and anxious all his life. It didn't keep him from being one of the most successful businessmen in America, but it did make it difficult to be around him.
It also--because I get publicity being Peaceman, it gives me an oppurtunity to remind people and talk to them about history and the Holocaust.
I sometimes get teased by people on the street somebody says 'hey, there's an Elvis impersonator' or 'there's a magician running around' or 'that nut thinks it's Halloween.' You have a thicker skin when you go out in a cape. Not everyone can do it. So I kind of stand for people who are proud to be different.