Forgive me readers for resorting to a joke about the recession, but the times are difficult indeed when Superman and the rest of the Justice League find themselves without a job. Hollywood police officially barred Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman as well as Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and other characters that typically congregate at Hollywood and Highland from appearing in costume.
In a show of support, New Media Festival founder/director Susan Johnston added a screening of the 2007 documentary Confessions of a Superhero to the festival's Saturday lineup at the behest of Superman's pal Noel Lawrence. A portion of the proceeds from the screening/superhero pajama party went to a fund to assist the struggling characters.
Christopher “Superman” Dennis and Joe “The Incredible Hulk” McQueen attended the screening along with their representative Howard Ferguson and explained their dire situation to a room of supporters.
“They came and got rid of us,” said McQueen who starred in the kung-fu spoof Finishing The Game. “It was right before Memorial Day weekend. Ten characters wound up getting arrested. It's one of those things where you have to say it's not fair because we're taxpayers and we work hard and it's un-American.”
“They detained him and told him to leave, but gave him a warning,” added Dennis. “The warning was for all of the street performers: do not show up in costume or we will arrest you.”
Ferguson, also an actor, highlighted Dennis' ties to the area. “Chris was the first one out there in 1991. In fact, Chris and me opened up Hollywood and Highland. The superheroes were holding it down when drugs, gangs and prostitution surrounded the area. The characters played a part in keeping the spirit of Hollywood alive during that dark time so it's crazy that now they're being arrested and kicked out because they laid the foundation for the tourists.”
Many of the characters have fled to Las Vegas to find work while those who remained have banded together as the Hollywood Blvd. Performers in an effort to become a legitimate, legal entity.
“I have a management system set up for the characters,” explained Ferguson. “I'm partnering with an existing theatrical management company and non-profit that runs a senior citizen acting program at Las Palmas Senior Citizen Center. We're going to manage the characters as far as their conduct and demeanor and their finances. I've been in talks with the commander of Hollywood division and we hope to have the characters back in a couple of weeks.”
“It's about being organized and being responsible citizens,” said McQueen as Dennis nodded in agreement adding, “A lot of those characters out there need to humble themselves.”
“We're hoping to come back,” he continued. “We want to come back strong.”