The real Superman

Superheroes, Fans, Eat the Street

Meet Superman. His alias is Avelino Chávez, he lives in a poor neighborhood in the center of Lima, Peru, and his day job is…well, any job he can get.

Don’t be fooled by Hollywood. The real Superman is 53 years old. His copete, an arabesque hairstyle filled with gel, clings uncomfortably to his forehead. Wide-frame glasses don’t just make him look like an intellectual American journalist, but also correct the nearsightedness and astigmatism this Superman has sufferered since childhood. His body is not made of steely strength, but rather, light scraps. His wardrobe, far from high-tech spandex, consists of a T-shirt and a cape, underpants and boots made by a seamstress cousin.

Superman Chávez is single, a wanderer. He says that one day, when he has a girlfriend, he would like to make love to her on the moon. But for now, he paces the streets of Lima. He works as the face and spokesperson for several political rallies in Peru, for supermarket promotions and travel agencies. He is an aspiring bullfighter, day laborer, a laboratory assistant, a brothel security guard, an aspiring politician- any job that requires a cape and boots will do, really, if it helps pay the rent.

As a Superman-for-hire, Mr. Chávez averages US $160 per month- just enough for food and shelter in Peru’s capital. Listless, emaciated, his pants flapping emptily around his ankles, Chávez' only kryptonite is his own well-being. Underneath the Man of Steel, there is a man of flesh and bone who endures many hardships, and more than a little hunger.

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