Will we ever see the similarity a Christopher Dennis on Hollywood Boulevard again?
For more than 20 years, on the Walk of Fame’s pink terrazzo stars, he played Superman with the commitment of a child convinced he’s a superhero.
He famously lived for several years just a few blocks from the boulevard in a studio apartment stuffed head to foot with Superman action toys and Superman cutouts and Superman dioramas he made by hand. And out on the street, he welcomed the function so completely that he sometimes ferreted out genuine bad men in his pillow-padded, muscle-bulging, stretchy Superman get-up.
He held his body straight and his shoulders back, which made his neckline appear manly where red cape met sunny-day-sky-blue match. In just the best light, at just the right angle, he might look a lot like Christopher Reeve —– though up close, I always believed, he was typically too hollow-cheeked and used.
However it wasn’t simply looks that made him stand apart in the constant crush gathering in front of the Hard Rock Coffee Shop. He offered tourists time. He saw it as his task not just to earn their pointers but to make them smile. So he shared with them his huge understanding of all things Krypton. He stroked women low to the ground as if lastly wooing Lois Lane. He informed kids who asked to see him fly that Superman never would, other than to combat criminal offense.
In a location not understood for politeness, he was invariably respectful while in character. Which many visitors and locals alike discovered captivating and always remembered and now mourn. And they don’t even yet understand the full degree of the tragedy.
Today, TMZ broke the news that Hollywood Boulevard’s marquee Guy of Steel had actually passed away at the age of 52. He’d been found in the Valley– obviously homeless and lying headfirst in one of those metal bins produced people to toss old clothing to be contributed.
Shock and sadness has actually been leaking across social media ever because. But those beliefs, I soon discovered, are harder to come by on the boulevard itself, where I recently spent hours searching for responses about what happened to Dennis.
I had come to discover more about among our lots of lost souls, who for a long period of time caught our eye prior to he left of our sight. I didn’t desire his death to be an easy one-liner: In L.A., even Superman winds up homeless and dead on the pathway. In his own eccentric way, he’d done service to our city for years. I believed we owed him a richer sendoff that exceeded the little official information.
Still, on the stretch in between the wax stars at Madame Tussauds Hollywood and the oversize white elephants at Hollywood and Highland, some of today’s members of his unusual people of costumed characters spoke harshly about all the attention he got and about his addiction to crystal meth, which was his Kryptonite. And numerous expressed valuable little pity. They felt he’d been handed chance after opportunity to be rescued and wasted every one, ending up spiraling out on the walkway, talking with himself, caught in damaging thought loops, informing high tales —– pushing himself increasingly more beyond assistance.
Stated a Freddy Krueger from Switzerland who did not want to be called: “Nobody cares about no one out here.”
Dennis when had actually been more famous than anybody else on the stretch. He’d had a lot of chances. He’d been on Jimmy Kimmel Live! sometimes.
He’d been the star of a 2007 documentary, Confessions of a Superhero.” I simply saw it once again this week for the very first time considering that it came out and felt the poignancy of the opening line, from Dennis: “Hollywood is a place where dreams are made and dreams are broken.”
Matt Ogens, by the way, who directed the documentary, informed me he believed Dennis deserved his own Hollywood star. In the more than two years he observed Dennis, he said, he “just found him to be childlike. There was something sweet about him and there was something kind about him. He had respect for the character Superman and regard for the job he was doing.”
Ogens stated he was unfortunate to hear how Dennis had actually died and to consider him in that dark, lonely place. He said he hadn’t seen him for a number of years.
The denizens of the boulevard said they had never stopped seeing him even after he quit working the Walk of Fame, however they didn’t always recognize him, costumeless, stooped over on the pathway at Hollywood and Highland, looking shabby and ill and emaciated and decades older than he was, doodling in notebooks, drawing, mumbling.
Storytelling on the boulevard, I’ve gained from long experience, always contains a dirty mix of misinformation and rumor and make-believe. It’s a location where subtle kinds of misconception run deep, where everyone’s about to be discovered or to be cast in a motion picture, no matter how ragged the truth.
Every time I spend too long out there my head begins to spin, I discover myself in discussions so fantastical, I’m not sure how I & rsquo;
ll ever discover my method out. When I showed up there this time, a Catwoman in very little costume —– really just tight-fitting black clothing, black cat ears and safety glasses —– was yelling at cops who informed her she couldn’t strong-arm tourists for tips. “If you think you can come and bully somebody, you will die in hell and you will burn into ashes!” she yelled in the polices’ basic instructions.
I met a shorter, rather rounder Superman in a fit he’d grafted together from different bits and bobs. He’d fixed tears around the neck of his blue top with uneven red stitches. He showed me picture after image of him as other characters —– a white Power Ranger, Captain America —– and informed me he was transitioning from Superman to Batman to eliminate corruption in Los Angeles because Batman on that rating is especially wise.
Speaking with him and others about Dennis got confusing. Timelines and memories merged with hearsay and a specific haziness. But everybody agreed: Dennis had actually been on the skids for years.
It probably started when he and his very first partner separated, some said —– however opinions differed over whether the factor was his drug use or due to the fact that she asked him to choose in between her and Superman, and he selected Superman.
Then there was the story Dennis informed a couple of years ago about how he’d been badly beaten with golf clubs, which knocked some teeth out, and robbed of all his personal belongings, including almost $1,000 and his laptop and his Superman outfit.
And his other story about having his RV taken by the city, leaving him without shelter. One individual told me he’d heard he had a Recreational Vehicle with six felines in it. Another who said he’d been pals with Dennis for years told me he never ever had a Recreational Vehicle at all.
Individuals told me he’d quickly been wed again, too —– to someone he met in Vegas or at an NA meeting, and who only appeared to make things even worse.
His stories of his plight, in any case, caused inform flurries of news coverage followed by crowd-funding projects that raised countless dollars to get him back on his feet and to help him introduce a web series about his life. (It’s unclear where it stood at the time of his death. Donors to the web series consistently connected to Dennis on social networks requiring the assured rewards for their pledges.)
On the boulevard, individuals told me he’d lost his teeth from meth and spent the cash raised to assist him recuperate from his problems on meth, too. His benefactors had actually purchased him brand-new costumes. They vanished simply like the old ones.
The L.A. County coroner hasn’t yet figured out a cause of death. An investigation is continuous. For days, the lack of information frustrated me.
However I now understand more or less what took place. And it really couldn’t be sadder.
I just recently found his latest partner, Jennifer Masciopinto, who was the one who found him dead in the bin. She has spastic paralysis and uses a wheelchair and informed me that he safeguarded and took care of her even when he didn’t care enough for himself. She said they’d been cohabiting on the streets for about a year now, with stints here and there at sober living homes.
Prior to he died, she said, he believed he’d been kicked out of a drug-treatment program, though she later discovered he’d misunderstood. In any case, she had actually followed him back onto the streets, and back into a camping tent in Van Nuys.
He was still smoking cigarettes crystal meth, she said, though he wished to stop. He was depressed and taking different medications. He’d been suicidal when she satisfied him and cutting himself, but she stated he told her that she’d assisted him turn a corner and wish to become less self-destructive.
When she’d first fulfilled him on the street, she said, he’d been sketching and he’d taught her how to draw a tree. Then when the sweetheart she’d come out West from New York with started beating her up, Dennis had actually suggested one day that they go together to get cigarettes and she’d stayed with him and never ever recalled.
She didn’t understand Dennis history at very first. When he told her, she stated, she was in wonder. He’d known celebs, she thought. He’d been one. Why was a world-famous Superman with her?
She was preparing yourself for bed the night prior to he was found dead when he decided to head to the donation bin nearby, where he’d developed a system to pull bags of contributed clothes out of the slot, which opened and closed with a lever, by basing on her wheelchair and utilizing a tool he’d made out of some rope and wire.
Usually she chose him and stood by the wheelchair, holding it stable while he hooked bags, she stated. This time, he informed her simply to remain put. When she awakened the next early morning and realized he wasn’t in the tent, she got some assistance to walk over to the bin and discovered him there, partway in and partway out. Perhaps he slipped, she said. Possibly he suffocated. But the paramedics who followed someone called 911 quickly pronounced him dead.
He’d just been searching for some clothing to keep them warm, she stated, and likewise some extra clothes to offer.
They were right on the brink of healing, she told me. She was expecting a housing coupon any day. They planned to utilize it on a place where they could live together in Hollywood.
“He wished to go back to being Superman,” she informed me, as she sobbed on the “phone We were this close.”
And she never even got to see him in a Superman fit, she said. By the time she satisfied him, there was no match in sight.
This content was originally published here.