I wrote “Be Your Own Supervillain” in the spring of 2008, which makes not editing it now really hard, but I resist. This essay was originally published in the first issue of Coilhouse Magazine. My illustrations to this piece from back then make me cringe now, so it’s accompanied here (mostly) with photos from my various fashion posts, most recently entitled, “Style Dispach" on Biorequiem.com, and known earlier as “What’s Zo Wearing?” on CH and SG. Uncredited photos by me.
Photo by Stephen McClure
It’s Friday night and you’re standing in front of a mirror, seething with frustration. Memories of your nights out as a teenager surface and you think back to the people you admired back then. They seemed so beautiful and untouchable, enshrouded in mystery and fantastic clothing — the epitome of everything you weren’t.
Maybe you grew up, got to know them and were disappointed, or maybe you hoped, fruitlessly, that growing up would eventually give you their secret power. Either way, things don’t always turn out. So here you are, in front of the mirror trying to wrap your head around what it was that they had that you lack at this very moment, the thing that set your brain on fire and underpants aflutter when the cool kids walked by. But before you go out and get wasted in an act of defiant defeat, or worse yet, change into your pajamas for a night of cheese-snack-encrusted Internet perusal, ask yourself, “Why?”
During our formative years we need someone to support our actions, someone to tell us that we can accomplish anything we want. As grown humans we look back on this person when we need strength, and without such a figure in our upbringing we’re incomplete — at least according to certain psychiatrists.
This need for heroes to inspire us is strong, so we fall in love with characters from comics, movies and books. We cling to idealized super humans as we’re shoved into the world and forced to function while living less-than-ideal lives. We adapt, we work, we go out and try to make the best of it, but even the most “alternative” job and routine remain just that: a job and a routine.
It’s easy to look around and feel hopelessly bored, but I say that’s too damn easy. I am here to announce a call to arms. It’s time to be your own hero! Unfortunately, actual heroes tend to be damn boring, so I offer another solution. Stop wasting time and take these five simple steps to life enhancement — to reaching your full potential as a supervillain.
After all, time is slipping ever so quickly. Away. Away. There’s usually a turning point in the lives of most villains, something that makes them transform from their former everyday selves into something better. Let this be yours.
Step zero point one: Fancy Robe [not optional*]
Photo by Andrew Yoon
This is not to be taken lightly. Acquire a robe of moderate to extreme fanciness. Proceed.
* Cloaking yourself in a luxurious robe is a must for the state of mind necessary to conduct Step One.
Construct a list of people, living, dead and fictional, who inspire you. Outline their most impressive qualities, no matter how absurd some of these might be. So, consume something caffeinated and start thinking of ways you could apply these qualities to yourself along with the particular superpower you could also apply to yourself. Don’t let this take too long, or you’ll never be able to move on to step two. You will continue to expand this list; all you need for now is a launch pad of ideas. Write a synopsis of who your enhanced persona is. This may take a while, so have a drink.
2: Understanding your mission
It’s likely that you already have one, or at least one buried deep within the sticky cobwebs of your brain. Dig it up, that thing you treasure most, which keeps you up at night. Set goals and decide what you really want and plow forth like the mighty Potemkin. This will be the demonic fire inside your villainous soul for which you’ll stop at nothing to sustain.
Photo by Lydia Hudgens
3: The Lair
All real supervillains have one thing in common: impressive dwellings. Begin by keeping it clean. Your home is no longer the place that houses the television or computer you slump at after work, no. It is where your REAL work begins. Scheming, plotting, secret projects and devious affairs happen here, my friend.
The better your homezone represents your inner supervillain, the closer you are to getting a feel for the supervillain lifestyle. Start small. Replace trivial items with upgraded ones, even things like toothbrushes come in colors that might better suit your tastes. Get pens with metallic ink instead of plain whenever possible; give old pedestrian pens to charity. Persevere, and soon you’ll be coming home to a proper fortress. Do not sell yourself and your life’s work short by living somewhere people can just waltz into without a glimmer of fear and respect.
Photo by Allan Amato
4: The Costume
This is a lot like The Lair. No need to spend a fortune right away but whenever you shop, kindly think of your inner villain. There are a few rules that apply here. Villains do not wear UGG boots or garments declaring things like “Sweet n’ Tangy” across the ass. And no, it isn’t ok if it’s black. You won’t find a villain in a trucker hat or blue jeans unless they’ve been killed and their corpse displayed in a public place with insults scribbled across their chest in blood or semen.
Find a way to not compromise this and you’re well on your way. Might I suggest your first major purchases be a well-fitting jacket and a decent pair of boots? These things will last and enhance anything else you may have in your (so far) un-villainous wardrobe.
5: The Livin’
This is the most important and final part of the metamorphoses. So often we’re faced with lackluster projects and tedium that we must battle complacency and stagnation full force. For some unthinkable reason we’re forced to trek to jobs, errands and other such nonsense. These monotonous tasks take up time we’d rather spend on vital missions or staking out potential adventures. It isn’t fair and it makes us bitter cynics unless we fight to recognize that even this time can be useful and, dare I say, fulfilling.
Photo by Andrew Yoon
Entertain the idea, that much of your life consists of chores and less-than-glamorous activities. Take heed, or you will someday find yourself at death’s door — perhaps hanging over a pit of molten lava — remembering nothing but wasted time and boredom whilst your life flashes before your eyes. This is not what you want to look back on. Instead you must learn to make your own adventures. To start, I offer you a two-part plan of action that guarantees improvement of the bleakest elements of your daily grind:
• Avoid wearing sweatpants outside your lair
• Pay attention to what’s happening around you.
Do this and the rest will come.
Photo by Lou O’Bedlam
Boredom and complacency are your chief saboteurs. There is so much to learn and much information to gather at all times. Would you know how to escape the grocery store if it were set ablaze by one of your nemeses, for instance? Are you in the physical shape to make a daring rooftop escape if the need were to arise? What’s in that person’s pocket?
Not to mention the big questions like, “What have I done this week for my mission?”
If your answer is “I don’t care,” then your life is wasted and you’re in urgent danger. Fortunately, I’m here to help. Pry yourself free from the clammy clutches of ennui, get that fancy robe and begin your transformation!