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Proud, powerful, practical

OK, so they can't fly or leap tall buildings, but let's be reasonable: why bother Superman if all you need is a hubcap? Or some clean diapers?

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It's a bird, it's a plane... it's Hubcap Man!

Comic book forums are buzzing these days, as fans debate which heroes should assemble for the second instalment of The Avengers. The follow-up to last summer's blockbuster isn't due to hit movie screens until 2015. But Marvelites are already getting their capes in a knot, arguing characters like the Wasp and Dr. Strange should be part of the mix the next time the planet is in peril.

Five years ago, we wrote a story about Winnipeggers whose business names conjured up images of men -- and women -- of steel. In that piece, we revealed the "true identities" of Carpet Girl, Battery Man and Mighty Mop, among others.

All this superhero chatter convinced it was time for a sequel of our own. So we recently hit the streets in search of a new set of wunderkinds. And although the folks we got in touch with this time may not be faster than speeding bullets, it's a safe bet most people would rather see Shower Door Guy come to their rescue instead of Iron Man if their tub was covered with mould and mildew.

Glitter Girl

True identity: Kelly Golembiski, owner of an entertainment company called Clowns, Magicians & More. Five years ago, Golembiski came up with the idea of Glitter Girls (www.glittergirls.ca), a service specializing in enhanced body art, like temporary tattoos and body paint.

Special talents: "Our tattoos are water-proof and can last four to 14 days. They are applied with a special glue and cosmetic grade glitter. We have 17 different colours of flat body paint, and over 900 designs."

Superman's nemesis is kryptonite; what about Glitter Girl's? "Sunscreen, bug spray or suntan oil. If you are going to apply any, you'll want to make sure not to apply it directly to the tattoo as it will break down the specialized body glue."

Your website mentions a team of Glitter Girls. Are there any Glitter Guys? "We have one -- his name is Jordan."

Hubcap Man

True identity: Baldur Holm, owner of 25-year-old company located at 424 Kensington St., which houses Manitoba's largest selection of hubcaps -- 30,000 and counting.

Legend of Hubcap Man: "Twenty years ago, I bought a new car and right away, I lost a hubcap off of it. I ended up having to pay something like $100 to replace it. Then I lost another one practically the next day. I said to myself, 'Oh, boy, I'm too cheap for this.' I started seeing hubcaps lying all over the place, so I began picking them up and keeping them."

Special powers: "We can put a hubcap on a car, anywhere in the world."

Does Hubcap Man have a get-up? "Yeah; we use the same logo as Superman, but there's an H in the middle of the crest instead of an S."

How about arch enemies? "Potholes are a problem for customers but I have never met a pothole I didn't like."

Shower Door Guy

True identity: Robert Murdock, owner of a shower door installation company (theshowerdoorguy.ca)

How did you get your moniker? "It was my wife that came up with it; every time I went to a house and a kid answered the door, he'd turn around and yell, 'Mom, the shower door guy is here!' My wife said it was a perfect name."

Is there any thing that makes it tough for Shower Door Guy to fight crime, I mean, grime? "It would have to be bad tile jobs, or surfaces that aren't level. If the stall isn't level, the door isn't going to sit properly, and I have to try and make that work."

Do you have a favourite superhero? "The Incredible Hulk."

As played by Edward Norton or Bill Bixby? "Bixby."

Mr. Garbage

True identity: Russell Fitzjohn has been battling junk under the guise of Mr. Garbage for 12 years. He is located at 799 Main St.

Where did your name come from? Is the 'mister' a sign of respect? "People just started calling me that, as I was hauling a lot of garbage."

Special powers: "We take on any job -- anytime, anywhere; everything from bedbug-infested articles to construction debris to removal of entire buildings. Right now, we're helping out at cityplace, with the new Jets casino."

Did you have a favourite superhero when you were a kid? "My fave character was Obelix, from the Asterix books, as he was strong, with super-human strength after he drank the magic potion from his druid. A lot of times we need super-human strength to lift freezers out of basements and other large items onto the truck."

Lunch Lady

True identity: In 2009, Christine Fisher turned her back on a 23-year corporate career and reinvented herself as Lunch Lady (www.thelunchlady.ca). Every school day, Fisher and her staff prepare hundreds of health-conscious meals, which they deliver to schoolchildren throughout Winnipeg and the surrounding area.

Special talents: "Ask any parent who dreads making their child's lunch each day and you'll know this is no small feat. Lunch Lady's powers include getting kids to like veggies and try new things -- including good-for-you versions of burgers, chicken strips and even poutine."

Do you ever wish you had a super power, to help you get through your day? "My 10-year-old son often asks me that: I would love to be able to fly, to feel the wind in my hair, be able to go anywhere in the world I wanted and still be home in time for dinner."

If Lunch Lady ever joined the Avengers, who would you like to play you? "I would love to see Jennifer Garner play the role of Lunch Lady. She seems sweet and kind but also has an inner strength and a determination to get the job done."

Diaper Lady

True identity: Penny Gibson, owner of a cloth diaper service (www.canadasdiaperladies.com) she started four years ago with her mother, Norine.

Special talents: "We offer parents an affordable cloth-diapering system that will take them from birth to potty for about $380. Using our system results in a savings of about $2,500 per child, saves the landfills a couple tons of non-decomposing waste and helps parents potty train 12 to 18 months earlier."

The Green Goblin was a constant thorn in Spider-Man's side. Who's yours? "Proctor & Gamble. As much as using cloth diapers makes sense to me, 90 to 95 per cent of Canadian parents are still using disposables."

Was that a Diapermobile I spotted on your website? "We do have our own superhero vehicle to do local diaper deliveries. While not as awesome as the Batmobile, our girly, green Fiesta gets the job done."

Did you have a favourite superhero, growing up? "Were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles superheroes?"

If Hollywood ever made a movie about Diaper Lady, who would you like to see land the lead role? "I think I would want Charlize Theron to play me in the Diaper Lady movie, though this sounds like one of the worst movies ever made."

Finally, canine superhero Underdog was known to say, "There's no need to fear; Underdog is here." Does Diaper Lady have a credo of her own? "Because s--t happens."

david.sanderson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 9, 2013 E1

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