Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Laserskater, Helsinki's Superhero

The first time I saw him was on a warm summer's evening in Helsinki. He was standing near the parliament, patiently waiting for the traffic lights to change so he could cross the road. He was quite a sight to behold: middle-aged, lean, balding and dressed as if he was on his way to a roller disco in a New York gay club in the 1980s.

But he was no clubber, he was... LASERSKATER, Helsinki's very own superhero.

Wearing obscenely brief white micro-shorts, a white midriff-baring mini-tee-shirt, a utility-belt and shades, this rollerblader, who aligns himself to the Real-Life Superheroes movement, has been "patrolling" the Finnish capital since the late 1990s. His mission: to help people in need and perform good deeds.

Here is Laserkater introducing himself:

Dex Laserskater (to give him his full and rightful name) likes to record and share all his good deeds on his MySpace page. That's how we know that, in the first 5 months of 2013, he had performed the following good deeds:

Helping beggars ................................ 93 times
Tipping cafe waiters .......................... 31 times
Tipping cafe bouncers ....................... 14 times
Tipping street musicians ................... 3 times
Taking part in a collection ................ 4 times
Guiding tourists and other people .... 3 times
Depositing a lost property ................ 2 times
Other good deeds .............................. 31 times
TOTAL ............................................... 181 good deeds

Hardly Superman-saving-the-planet heroics, but still...

Obviously, unlike Superman who can fly wherever he pleases, Laserskater is somewhat hampered in performing his good deeds by his preferred mode of transport and the Finnish winter: rollerblades and snow are not very compatible.

However, the moment the snow melts (around March), Laserskater is out patrolling the not-so-mean streets of Helsinki. His only concession to the freezing conditions is to wear a long sleeved top – he keeps is trademark micro-shorts and bare legs whatever the outside temperature.

What about the man behind the character?

Like Clark Kent, he likes to keep his private life private. It seems he lives alone in an apartment in the Helsinki satellite town of Vantaa. He studied Humanities at university and now works in an office, with co-workers who apparently unaware of his alter-ego.

A very ordinary life indeed.

That's probably why, along with reading, he likes to escape to virtual and fantasy worlds populated with superheroes. As the Laserskater character, he contributes in a number of online forums, including the virtual world Second Life. Here is his avatar podium-dancing in Madame Lala's Night club in virtual London:

His real-life alter-ego combines his passion for the superhero subculture, his love of roller-blading, and his interest in charity. The inspiration for Dex Laserskater is a short lived comic character of the 1980s called Skateman, a roller-blading superhero... who wore white shorts.
"The Superhero uniform gives you Mental Power and Self Confidence. It makes you more approachable and easier to recognize", he explains on his MySpace page.
And he sure does get recognised, or at least noticed. His social media pages are full of pictures of him posing with fans – mostly young women, it has to be said.

He seem to like all the attention. A photo on his MySpace page shows him posing proudly in front of a graffiti of him painted on a skate-park in Vantaa. He has been the willing participant in a short clip produced by the Tampere University filmed in the style of the 1960s Batman TV series, which turns his real-life superhero persona back into a comic superhero. He has had a song composed in his honour: "Laserskater", by Roger Wilco featuring Sally Hazard. He has also been featured in a proper 8 minute documentary, which was shown at the Artova Film Festival in September 2012.

Sadly, not all the attention he gets is positive. His chosen attire seems to provoke some men to react in an unpleasant manner towards him.
"[The superhero uniform] also turns you a Fair Game for bullies and brawlers on streets", he writes on his MySpace page, "and in these kind of situations you have to remember that you are on your own. [Attacks] are always frightening. You never know what the attacker will do next. Sometimes my speed is the best rescue."
One cannot help wondering why he puts himself through this; why he has elected to express his charitable intention through a fantasy character; why he has chosen a "uniform" that is just camp rather than recognisably ironic as those worn by other superheroes... No doubt a psychologist would have a field day.

That said, the world would be a much duller place without eccentrics like Dex Laserskater. Long may he patrol the streets of Helsinki!


  1. I saw him like 2 times long time ago. I was choked. Now what I read about him from your article even surprised me more :) Interesting!

  2. haha, The world seems to be filled with super heroes! here: http://www.nocturnar.com/forum/attachments/comics-y-animacion/87825d1359044115-menganno-menganno.jpg_141358524.jpg Let me introduce you all to MENGANNO, Full time Argentine Super Hero. He also runs a Super Heroes School! Amazing!

    Oh... I can imagine... Laserskater having a cup of coffee with Menganno...

  3. Good blog... keep-up the good work.... May I share a blog about Eiffel Tower in Paris in http://stenote.blogspot.com/2018/06/paris-at-eiffel-tower.html
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