5 IRL Supervillains That Seem Made Up
While comic book villains tend to be colorful characters with dastardly schemes, real-life villains tend to be boring sociopaths who employ reptilian mendacity to rob old ladies. Fortunately, sometimes a delightful oddball pops out of our seedy underbelly -- the kind of person so cartoonish that you could easily see a superhero sidekick kick their ass all the way to Arkham. For example ...
Dr. Infinity, The Flexible Master Thief Who Became Famous For Sucking His Own Dick
If we told you an extremely well-endowed man named Dr. Infinity once stole Gutenberg's first printed bible, you'd naturally think that the next National Treasure sequel has truly gone off the deep end. But this is a real story of a thief with big balls, and a penis to match.
Dr. Infinity's real name was Vito Aras. He was an acrobatic cat burglar who gained infamy for his daring theft of a Gutenberg Bible from the highly secure Harvard Library in 1969. Aras hid until closing, jimmied open a roof window, Cirque du Soleil-d down a rope, and snatched the book from its case. But Aras had underestimated how cumbersome religion used to be, and he was unable to climb back up with the 60-pound Bible strapped to his back. Left dangling, his arms eventually gave out, and a security guard found him lying in the courtyard with a fractured skull -- the massive Bible having cushioned his fall.
Amazingly, he claimed that he only wanted to borrow the invaluable Bible (it was a library, after all), and this worked somewhat. A sympathetic judge went soft on Aras, letting him go with the promise that he'd attend therapy and leave his days hanging from buildings behind him. Luckily for Aras, another big thing had been weighing him down, about 8 inches bigger than average: his massive penis. It was this dong, combined with his flexibility, that started Aras' second act as the amazing Dr. Infinity -- a stage name that makes a lot more sense when you realize his porn gimmick was to suck his own dick like an NSFW ouroboros.
Though his stint as the eighth wonder of the porn world was brief, he made a big splash in the New York underground scene. His auto-fellatio maneuver earned him the coveted Hunga Din Award for "Biggest Penis on Sex Screen," and it drew the attention of Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. But for Dr. Infinity, self-pleasure was never about the money or fame; it was a key step in his plan to "become one with the universe." As Aras explained: "The release of sperm from yourself into yourself becomes the energy which can lead to infinity ... and through infinity to a new world." And honestly, if we could suck our own dicks, we'd be pretty full of ourselves too.
Sadly, his dream of blowing himself so hard that it opened a Stargate remained unfulfilled, and rising competition in the auto-fellating game put Dr. Infinity out of business stateside. The big-dicked burglar moved to Barcelona, where he continued to do his one-man sex shows until the early '90s, when he finally settled down and lived a happy family life. And at the end of the day, isn't that what every burglar / sex fiend wants?
Count Dante: The (Self-Titled) Deadliest Man Alive
Count Dante was a man of many talents. He was a U.S. Marine and a Ranger, a used car salesman, and Hugh Hefner's hairdresser. But those were merely sidelines to his true calling: being the kind of intense martial arts guy regular people look at and wonder, "Who hurt him as a child?"
Born John Timothy Keehan to an affluent Chicago family, the Count was an infamous part of the Midwestern karate scene in the 1960s. But the bloodthirsty warrior grew disillusioned by the pomp and circumstance of strip mall martial arts. It was around that time that he also started calling himself Juan Raphael Dante, claiming he was a Spanish count in exile, and trimming his beard accordingly.
Count Dante developed his own martial art, Dan-Te, which he described as "the most advanced form of Kung Fu" and we'd describe as bad wordplay. The Count also claimed he mastered the Dim Mak technique, better known as "the touch of death," and promised that anyone who joined his Black Dragon Fighting Society ( not to be confused with the Japanese nationalist group of the same name) would become one of the deadliest killers to ever be roughly escorted out of an Olive Garden.
And if this all starts to sound like Count Dante was the kind of guy you'd find in comic books ... well, he was. Though few serious grandmasters were aware of his new martial arts, dorky kids were, as ads for his book Deadliest Fighting Secrets were as prevalent in the back of '60s comic books as the ones for those cheapo sea monkeys.
Other ways Count Dante fostered his reputation included walking around downtown Chicago with a lion cub on a leash, driving around with a bull in his truck telling people he was going to kill it with a single punch, and showing up at Muhammad Ali's house and challenging him to a fight (which Ali declined, like a coward). Most importantly, Count Dante also hosted his own Bloodsport-style tournaments with full contact and no padding.
This pissed off local legit martial artists, leading to the infamous " Dojo Wars," which sounds like something Steven Seagal might be pitching to Netflix at this very moment. Highlights of the Dojo Wars include Dante trying to blow up a rival dojo using blasting caps and an epic kung fu brawl in the streets of Chicago that left one guy impaled by a sword. Amazingly, a judge deemed all of this self-defense. Count Dante was allowed to walk away from the mayhem, only to die in 1975 of a bleeding ulcer -- likely from being hit with one of those touches of death with a five-year delay. That or his painkiller abuse.
Clarence Peddicord Was Blinded By An Explosion, Held Portland Ransom As The "Blind Bomber"
Back in the 1930s, when every kitchen appliance was one faulty wire away from being a deathtrap of whirling blades, 19-year-old Clarence William Peddicord lost his sight to a refrigerator explosion. But while a lesser man might have become depressed (or worse, Daredevil), the boy from Portland was determined more than ever to not turn into the bitter villain he was destined to be. Peddicord became a local celebrity for his daring exploits, like climbing mountains and hitchhiking cross-country to New York to receive experimental eye surgery. Sadly, the surgery failed, but Peddicord was still determined to make a success of himself.
By the 1950s, he was running his own chemical sales business (you might be able to see where this is going). But when that business started failing, the adversity finally caused Peddicord to snap. The involuntary explosives expert then gathered his chemicals, built some bombs, and decided that from then on, he would be the one making things blow up in people's faces, and not the other way around.
In 1955, Peddicord sent the president of Portland's famed Meier & Frank Department Store a letter threatening that his store would explode "by the time you receive this." Perfectly timed, a huge bombwent off as the man was reading it, the shock wave smashing windows across the building and injuring two. The note continued that a second bomb would obliterate the store and the hundreds of people attending its "Friday Surprise" sale unless the president paid $50,000 to learn its location.
Thus began an epic cat-and-mouse game between Portland PD and the Blind Bomber, as Peddicord delivered a series of instructions via payphones and hidden notes Simon Says-style to lead the cops on a merry chase. Meanwhile, he managed to lure the drop-off guy (wearing a white carnation in his lapel for full film noir effect) alone with the cash to a hidden location. But the Blind Bomber never came to collect, getting cold feet at the last second and disappearing into the night.
Nevertheless, the cops eventually zeroed in on Peddicord by tracing the typewriter used to type the note. They also arrested his sister-in-law, who was believed to have guided the blind man through the store, but had to let her go due to a lack of eye-witnesses. Peddicord wasn't so lucky, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The Nutty Professor Who Turned His Lab Into A Drug Factory, Then Took Revenge On His Enemies With Poisoned Chocolate
Professor John Buettner-Janusch was a brilliant anthropologist who specialized in the study of primates. He established the largest lemur colony in North America, and taught biology at Duke and Yale. He was a popular and flamboyant figure in academic circles, known for his bleached hair, flashy suits, and insistence that everyone call him B-J, even though Professor B-J sounds like the villain in a conversion therapy camp skit.
But Doctor B-J (nope, not better) wasn't just a kooky scientist; he was a mad scientist. Throughout his life, he displayed signs of extreme narcissistic personality disorder, which led him to repeatedly sabotage colleagues and steal their work. But it was only when his wife died in 1977 that the then-head of New York University's anthropology department started breaking bad, turning his lab into a massive drug operation that pumped out LSD and Quaaludes.
When some of his assistants became suspicious of the amount of narcotics in their human studies lab, Buettner-Janusch convinced them the drugs were necessary for his research on lemurs about, um, how much balls they could trip. The faculty didn't buy it, and in 1979, the Lemur King of NYU was arrested and given a five-year prison sentence. Having learned his lesson, Buettner-Janusch made a vow that he would never again use his drug-making skills ... for good, that is.
After Buettner-Janusch was released from prison, the poisonings started. On Valentines' Day, boxes of chocolate laced with arsenic were sent to former colleagues and the judge who had sentenced him, which led to the hospitalization of the judge's twice-disappointed wife. A better drug dealer than murderer, the police easily traced the boxes back to the doctor, and for his chocolaty spree, The New York Post branded him "The Nutty Professor." Come on, guys, "The Nougaty Professor" was just sitting there! Buettner-Janusch remained in prison for the rest of his life, presumably after the "Free B-J" campaign met with a series of hilarious misunderstandings.
Ruth Norman Turned Her Husband's Cult Into A Gay Conversion Fashion Show
By '50s UFO cult standards, the Unarians (of the New Age religion Unarius) were a particularly bland bunch, lacking the pizzazz of, say, a Scientology or a multilevel marketing scheme. Founded by C-grade psychic Ernest Norman, who claimed to be in contact with enlightened aliens, their numbers should have been growing at an out-of-this-world rate, but were stuck in a low orbit.
All that changed when Ernest suddenly died of a heart attack and his widow, Ruth, decided to take over. Ruth, a 74-year-old small-town lady and theatre buff, declared herself the celestial being Uriel, one of two "Space Brothers," and became the new leader of the Unarians. And Ruth-Uriel only had one goal: to make Unarius the shiniest sci-fi cult the world had ever seen, starting with getting herself a collection of outfits so fabulous that it would exceed even Liberace's mescaline dealer's wildest dreams.
With the wardrobe complete, Ruth refocused the movement around filming " psychodramas." These were historical reenactments of followers' past lives -- if you believe that neon spaceships and everyone wearing sequins in Ancient Egypt count as historically accurate. But thanks to her flair for both the dramatic and the fabulous, these psychodramas became the '70s equivalent of a viral hit, meaning they were big on public access TV.
However, Unarius wasn't all blinding neon -- there was a dark side too. Not only was the enlightened being Uriel / old lady Ruth pretty racist (she very much enjoyed blackface), but she also believed that one of the ways reincarnation punished you for past evil was to make you gay in this life. Fortunately, she claimed she could remove those sins and "cure" homosexuality, mainly by seducing any twink who caught her eye. Though according to some ex-believers, this was just a crafty way for her to assert dominance over her flock, figuring that theatrical glitter cults tend to have a pretty major gay following.
Like most cults and off-Broadway productions, the Unarians were also vicious infighters and schemers, none moreso than Ruth. While shooting a psychodrama on a steamboat, the group's second-in-command became so jealous that Ruth had given a younger cult member a better role that he pushed the septuagenarian overboard in her 19th-century petticoats. On another occasion, the angel and her lieutenant got into such a big fight that Ruth took off her crown and started beating him with it, shouting, "You wear it, then!"
But unlike disco, the Unarius Academy of Science endured into the 21st century. A little shy of infinity, Ruth managed to live to the ripe age of 91 before the archangel Uriel vacated her body. Meanwhile, some Unarians are still going strong, waiting until the Space Brothers return and make drinking poisonous Kool-Aid fashionable again.
For more, check out Why Supervillains Always Keep The Good Guy Alive:
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