The thrill of anonymity; the ego-boost of exhibitionism; the look and feel of hard muscle under silky, stretchy material; the fantasy of transformation and power that comes with roleplay: Superheroes have always been a source of immense excitement for me, but it’s very difficult to trace my superhero fetish back to its roots. In some ways, I feel it’s always been with me.
As far back as I can remember, I was devouring Spider-Man and Superman comics, swooning over reruns of the classic Batman TV series, and waking up early every Saturday to watch the adventures of any superhero cartoon within reach. Seeing costumed heroes on the pages of comics, or in animated form, was a thrill. Seeing those same heroes in the flesh, on a TV or movie screen was an obsession.
Once in a while, as I channel-surfed, I would catch Nicholas Hammond as The Amazing Spider-Man, or Michael Gray as Shazam. The stories were always enjoyable, but when Adam West in the Batman TV series or Christopher Reeve in Richard Donner’s film Superman were on-screen in costume, my focus was absolute — I’d watch the hero’s body, comic-made-flesh, as muscles and power radiated under spandex and cape. There was something different about those two that stood out above the rest: they were icons of confidence and power that I worshipped because I felt these were things I lacked in a childhood tainted by alcoholism and abuse. Seeing Batman and Superman come to life meant that they were real in some way, and that their abilities (realistically possible or not) were something I could adopt for myself as a means of escape.
I always wanted to be Spider-Man or Superman for Halloween, and once in a while my parents would indulge me. One day, around the age of eight, my siblings and I joined some other kids at our baby-sitter’s place. One of the other kids had come as Batman, in what I (inaccurately) remember as the most perfect reproduction of Adam West’s costume, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Of course, when you have Batman in your backyard, you are obligated to play Good Guys Vs. Bad Guys. That day, I let Batman defeat my pathetic bank-robber of a villain. And perhaps, I gave in a little too easily when Batman pinned me to the ground and held me there. At that age it was just fantasy, but I loved it nonetheless.
I maintained a sometimes-secret obsession with Superman and Spider-Man all through my childhood and teen years, complementing old fantasies with new ones about being treated with super soldier serum, finding Green Lantern’s power ring, or being given Shazam’s powers by a benevolent old man. There weren’t many outlets to explore the obsession, but I tried. How many other pre-teen boys snuck out of the house to see Superman IV in theatres just because the bad guy wore gold tights?
In high school, my childhood fantasies transitioned to sexual awakening at the same time as the late-80s fad of spandex in men’s locker rooms and sports fields spread throughout the continent. I had a crush on a boy in my class that was ramped up to epic proportions when he began to wear long spandex shorts in gym class — the plain black kind, with golden yellow panels on the outside of the legs. I secretly obsessed over him when he wore them and would take the locker next to him hoping that our bodies would accidentally touch. I asked my mom if I could have some of the same kind of shorts, but she said they were for girls. I was left wondering how they felt to wear, and my fantasy side wondered if they gave him extra athletic power… not unlike the alien suit worn by Ralph Hinkley on “Greatest American Hero”.
Once I had linked my school crush with spandex and superheroes, my fate was set. It was sealed when I masturbated for the first time around the age of 14. During that first time, I was overcome by the thrill of wearing a pair of cycling shorts I had secretly bought at a local thrift shop and kept hidden from my mom.
When I began to live on my own in university, I was free to explore my fetish at will. In addition to adopting a steady gym habit -- look good in spandex was always my mantra -- I began to collect pieces of lycra-based athletic apparel. I bought shorts, shirts, wrestling singlets, and a dive skin. By this time I had discovered a number of great communities on the Internet — gearfetish.com and spandex-party.com among them — where other men shared pics of themselves in gear, connected about their fetishes and fantasies, and found kinship with people like me, who until then had never imagined anyone else shared my kinks. My fetishes hadn’t been kept secret from my lovers up until that time, but none of them ever really embraced them; they’d allow online connections with other members of the community, but never fully-accepted coming home to someone lounging on the couch in full-body lycra. I remember a day when my ex suddenly stopped as he came down the hallway and spotted me in gear: “that’s going to take some getting used to,” he said. It was only through connecting with other people from Internet sites devoted to my fetishes that I began to assert my hero complex as a healthy and important aspect of my sex life.
As progress from my exercise regimen increased, so did my confidence. I began to use exercise as an excuse to wear spandex in public, taking up running and cycling and almost any other activity that provided an excuse to wear my favorite pieces of clothing. All of these items were cherished, but were never really close to what I really wanted — a Superman costume of my own. Many years later, once I graduated and started working a steady job, my regular habit of trolling eBay for cheap spandex revealed a decent Superman costume that someone was selling. I didn’t hesitate to bid, and I won the item. A few weeks later, I raced home from work and suited up for the first time, shaking with extreme excitement as I literally transformed into the same hero I’d idolized growing up. Looking in the mirror, I felt invincible, confident and irresistibly sexy. Within days I was addicted to the thrill of being Superman, and shared that thrill by adding superhero pics of myself to my online profiles.
People liked my spandex and superhero pics, which made me post more, which attracted more attention and views. In turn, I was encouraged to post more explicit pictures, merging my sexuality with every possible combination of gear that I owned, and occasionally adding props such as heavy chains. All of this activity in the online community led to longstanding friendships and online roleplays, live one-to-one webcam sessions, and more. I was loving it, and I began to make a bucket list of other costumes I wanted: Spider-Man, Shazam, Flash, Green Lantern, Captain Canuck, Cyclops, Wolverine… any hero that dressed in head-to-toe spandex became a hero whose skin I wanted to inhabit. I began to call Halloween my Annual Spandex Festival, and my friends got used to seeing me out in public as Superman, Spider-Man, or Wolverine. During these outings I discovered the pure joy of being a masked crusader in public. Anonymity freed me from feeling judged, and comments from strangers fueled my addiction even more. (“Not many guys could pull off Superman. You totally do.”). These days, comic conventions provide additional opportunities to suit up as a hero for a day, and as excuses to cross additional heroes off my costume list. I do it whenever I can. I most recently donned my really-good Spidey suit to a big comic expo in my hometown and had the time of my life. It justified working on two new Spidey-variant suits to wear to future cons.
One of the advantages of being a gearfetish.com member is the exposure to all kinds of other fetishes and kinks. Throughout my late 20s, my interest in spandex, superheroes, and muscle grew to encompass bondage, dominance, submission, leather, and more. My assertiveness about my own online persona, a growing expansion of leather-only events into “all-fetish” events, as well as my willingness to try new things, eventually connected my alter-ego and online handle Captain Spandex with a leather fetishist and kinkster that I met on recon.com. Our one night stand — involving latex and superhero gear, of course — soon blossomed into something more significant, and almost four years later the two of us are happily married and celebrating everything about each others’ kinks and fetishes.
That brings us to the current day, where Captain Spandex continues to post to Tumblr, connect with other heroes online, and thrives as a husband whose sexual adventures often include spandex, hero gear, dominating (most of the time), or being submissive (occasionally), and bondage. The good Captain’s super-strength is derived from his celebration of muscle, exhibitionism, and brightly-colored spandex in all its forms. My superhero alter-ego and his kinks do not define me, but they are deeply ingrained and kept close to the surface — skin-tight and oh-so-deliciously concealed under a business-like demeanour. My body thrums with the heartbeat of a hero. As far as Captain Spandex is concerned, real heroes still wear tights.
Editor's note: We are proud to introduce Captain Spandex, and active community member and ongoing contributor to How to Kill a Superhero. You can follow Captain Spandex on Tumblr. Want to share your own story of superhero fetish? Please email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org and write "Guest Blogger" in the subject.