The following was originally published in the October 14th issue of The Washington Comet. It is reproduced below, with the permission of all the parties involved.
The Crisis Command, the world’s most mighty, the champions of tomorrow, the super-team of America. Everyday we watch them save our world- a team of diverse individuals who fight off the absurdly abnormal with impossible ideas. They’re a busy bunch, and they do difficult work.
But the Crisis Command has graciously agreed to take some time to sit down with us here at The Washington Comet, so that we may all better get to know the people who walk among us with such tremendous talents.
Over the next few months, we’ll be covering each and every single member of the team closely. From what they’re enjoying on TV to their stance on what they believe their super-team represents, we’ll be digging into all the details. And who better to start with than the most popular of them all? The darling of the Crisis Command, The Golden Gladiator himself, Prizefighter!
It’s a warm afternoon, as we sit down for lunch in a cozy restaurant in downtown DC. A whole legion of people swarm the space, forming a never-ending line that seemingly extends out the door and onto the bustling street. The staff do not look pleased, to say the least.
I look to the superhero sitting before me, and nod, as though this were a completely normal situation. He simply grins, before waving back to a child that yells out his name. He’s a man that loves his crowds. Indeed, perhaps few love one as much as he does. Adorned with a gleaming golden belt, emblazoned with majestic stars, akin to a wrestling champion, he’s a man that isn’t a stranger to public scrutiny. He watches them, smiling, waving, responding to their energy with his own, as we await our order.
His posture is relaxed, despite the many eyes, while I remain stuff, still acclimate to the scenario. “Are you alright?” he asks, leaning forward, the concern clear through his eyes and voice. It’s then I’m reminded why there is such a crowd at all. I smile.
The food comes in not long after, and the room grows silent. Prizefighter extends his arms, and asks “Well then, shall we begin?” And we do.
TWC: It’s Noah, isn’t it? May I call you Noah?
It is, I can’t tell a lie. And it’s your interview, for sure, and I’m pretty out of practice answering questions. These days, I try to go by Prizefighter inside the costume and out. Easier branding, you know? And with how busy we’ve been on the job, it’s not like those identities are far from one in the same. So Prizefighter to many. Makes it simpler! For you? Noah. if you want it.
TWC: Sweet. Noah, first off, thank you for doing this. I know you’re a busy man.
We have been busy, for sure. Half the reason I dropped the secret identity, or didn’t even really get one started. I’ve got friends that have been asking for interviews just like this for what seems like forever. Hell, they’re going to kill me when they see I talked to you and not them. But what can I say? Right place, right time, and the more people know my name, the stronger I get, right? Easier to save the day with a readership like the Comet’s cheering me on. For some people that’s a figure of speech. But for these muscles? It’s literal.
TWC: Now, Noah, Given it is my first time interviewing a superhero, I have to ask, what’s the story behind the costume? Is there a story behind the costume? And where do superheroes get their costumes? Do you folks all have the same tailor, a super-tailor of sorts, or do your families and friends help put them together?
Ha! I’d have to have a family in the first place for them to put a costume together for me. No mid-western mother sewed this thing up, that’s a nice urban legend, right there with apple pie and cheddar as something I’ve never confirmed with my own eyes. For me? This costume is just like the name, it’s all about hype. The Prizefighter persona is one in the same with my abilities. Lord knows if I trended globally I could probably crack the moon in half. So the belt, the wrist wraps, the cape, it’s all to be instantly recognizable, make it easy for people to meme me, and to be perfectly clear: I’m a fighter, I fight for you, and the more you’re in my corner, the harder I can fight. As for our tailor, well, I think that’s a different interview with a different hero, I’ve never been the innovator. And as for my fashion, my late husband would’ve just choked on his drink at just hearing the question.
TWC: As a proud queer man, and a superhero, you mean a lot to a lot of people. You’re a pillar of the community, and many people, especially young people today, find you an empowering figure, an inspiration. That’s a heavy responsibility. To not only be a hero, but a hero as so many are watching, with so many expectations. How do you manage and deal with all that?
It’s been a journey, most would say, a journey away from being an a-----e. Can I say that? I’m saying it. I’m the one with the big gold belt, after all. Journey away from being an a-----e. Because yeah, I know there’s power in being who I am in public, and giving less than a f--k about it. But only since going public in the cape, as Prizefighter, did I realize I had been up my own ass about a lot of things. So I’ve had to learn to be more careful, and not make it seem like the way I’m queer is the way everyone has to be. My way isn’t the right way just because it’s maybe the most visible. There is no “right” way besides what works for each of us individually. I had a lot of internal work to do to get there. But when you’re fighting for people, you’re fighting for more than just the people like you. It’s important people see me, but it’s important too that they know they don’t have to be just like me. They have to be their own selves, and know that if they’re up against a wall because of it, I’ll have their back.
TWC: As a young man, who were the people you looked up to, and found empowering, both real and fictional? Who were, and maybe still are, Prizefighter’s heroes growing up?
Sports people, mostly? I was pretty mainstream as a kid, big into sports, hanging out with the guys, stereotypically masculine things. I didn’t have many queer friends before I came out, and if I’m being honest until recently I still didn’t. I did say I had to do a lot of work getting out of my own stubborn way. And I did, and I’m thankful for it. Damn so. But I did have queer icons, people like Emile Griffith, the bisexual boxer. Hell, even Jack Saul, the prostitute who blew up turn of the century English society. I read that book in the back of a bookstore, half embarrassed, half entranced, in baggy sweatpants. Then I’d go off to track and field and forget that I was that person for a few hours. If I’d really keyed in on what I liked about those people, the anger, the fact they didn’t care about taking a match to expectations, I might’ve come out sooner. But I finally did, I made up for lost time, and now I’m trying to be the one to show people they can hold the match themselves.
TWC: What are your thoughts on the proposal in Washington right now? The American Individuality Act, as they’re calling it. Where do you stand on that?
I wouldn’t be Prizefighter if I didn’t throw some haymakers, right? I think it’s complete garbage. The American Individuality Act is the worst type of cynical take. They’re taking the fact they want to give up on working together and helping our fellow citizens as some form of bullshit rugged individualism. If I acted like those suits out there making laws just because people are angry the world’s changing, I’d have never lifted a finger to help anyone else. To me, the thing’s a goddamn anchor pulling us into the deep, dark end of history, when what we could use is a life preserver.
TWC: Are you a man of faith, Noah? Are you religious at all? What’s your relationship to God like, especially given all the powers you and your peers have?
When you’ve seen what I have, what everyone in the Crisis Command has, it’s hard not to question things like that. I honestly don’t know what the rest of the Command might say. You said it yourself, some of them are all but gods themselves. It’s hard not to see how humans, in all our pettiness, use religion to keep people angry and scared. And I’m not about that. But faith, absent the human element turning it into a tool for manipulation? Who am I to tell someone what should and shouldn’t get them through the day? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know any time I think I’ve seen it all there’s something new to prove me wrong. So I can’t rule out a higher power, or higher powers. I know this reality is bigger than just us, but I’m no more up to date on just what those higher powers have in mind for people, if anything, than anyone else. You want answers? Talk to Thunder Woman. Aren’t her people supposed to be the gods the gods worship?
TWC: Some conspiracy theorists, particularly right-wingers, believe you and The Crisis Command are an elaborate leftist ploy and act put together to destroy our nation and its values. Others believe you folks don’t even have powers and that everything is staged, while some proclaim you guys are aliens disguised as comic-book superheroes to trick us, a recon party for an on-coming invasion. Meanwhile there’s folks speculating about your team not even being from this universe. What do you have to say to all such claims and theories?
Honestly, I can’t even hear half of that. Let’s see if you still think that after you’ve met us in person, yeah? Theories are theories, people can think what they want, it’s a free country while it’s still a country, but I don’t have an obligation to validate it. We’ll be there for those people just the same.
TWC: Do you feel you guys are doing enough? How do you decide what problem to tackle and when, and what not to? There’s so many problems in our world right now, and here you guys are, blessed with all these incredible powers. What is it that you’d like to have accomplished, at the end of everything? What is your goal and intended legacy, and what do you think The Crisis Command’s ought to be?
We’re doing everything we can. I don’t think about the grand plan too much, I leave that to the smarter people on the team. Frontier’s got the plans, Seer can see quarks having arguments. They can explain the Crisis Alert to you, I’m sure, if you can convince them that is. I step in when there’s a fight to be had. We’ve got macro thinkers on the Command, but I’m about the micro. Is someone in danger, solve the danger, rinse and repeat. But along with that it means from my end, we’re never doing enough. There’s billions of people on this planet, fifty-two states of America alone, and we don’t just protect one country. We’re just trying to keep going, so the world can keep going with us. If you only knew what’s at stake when people go bad…you know what? No. We’ll be there, we’ll keep being there for you.
TWC: If you had to describe each of your team-mates in a single word, what would it be? And what’s your relationship like to each of them? There’s a number of fans for Sawbones, your peer, in particular.
One word? Okay, sure. I can probably answer it all in one word if I give it a shot. Frontier – coach. Seer – vision. Sawbones – soul. Originator – conscience. Yeah, I think those work, and if you think about it, they answer for my relationship too. So go think about it, I’d say.
TWC: Folks argue all the time about who your true arch-nemesis is, so, to set the record straight once and for all- Who is your arch-nemesis?
Emotional attachment? That’s what the reviews on my dating profile seem to say. My greatest series was probably against Brick Bat, back when I was starting out. But who knows? Word is he might’ve reformed.
TWC: The world is a strange, bizarre, absurd place right now, and we’re in an especially trying moment. So what does Noah Rowe do to relax, beyond all the superheroics? What are your favorite films and books? And have you been reading or watching anything lately that you’d wanna mention or talk about?
I think you might’ve heard me mention a dating profile? I was maybe being generous with the term. These days I’m mostly fighting or blowing off steam, there’s not a lot of time for stuff in between. But I’ve been watching a lot of those personal interest, self-renovation type shows lately, you know? The life coach type things. It’s shocking to me how easy it is for people to write themselves off, and it’s nice to see them be able to find their own strength. And it’s a good reminder strong doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. I said it earlier, but I have been and I’m going to keep making an effort to learn that my way’s not the only way, or even the best way, just another way. So I’m forcing myself, in my queer life, to look at parts of the culture that would’ve made me uncomfortable in the past and really ask myself why? More often than not I realize it’s been my own bullshit that was the problem. So I’m throwing as much media in my face as I can to not be about that anymore, and be a better fighter. It’s training, learning through experience, like anything else.
TWC: Your passion for wrestling is evident, clearly. Who are your favorite wrestlers, and do you have any obscure favorites or matches?
You think so? Maybe the costume’s working, then, if you’re making that assumption. But I do love competition, and I love being a champion for people. I like the personalities of wrestling maybe more than actually watching it? But I will always respect one of the originals, George Hackenschmidt. The Russian Lion! Hell yeah! The stuff he wrote about wellness and fitness is useful today just like it was over a century ago. And if I’m well, I can do my job better. Everyone’s better off if they’ve got me fighting on their side, which means I need to keep myself at fighting weight.
TWC: Now, for one final question. Favorite alcoholic drink, go.
I’ve been getting hell for it for years, but I never moved past the college classic: Red Bull and vodka. Sometimes I do class it up and put it in a champagne glass, if I’m trying to impress a guy.
And that was Noah Rowe, Prizefighter! Join us next month, as we speak to the most enigmatic of the Command, Sawbones!