Battling For Metropolis…In My Backyard!

Good things come to those who wait, right? Obviously, that’s not guaranteed, but judging from what I’ve witnessed, it’s often proven true. Things I’ve only dreamed of as a kid have materialized. I’ve flexed with Hulk Hogan and I live in a world where there’s a Wonder Woman feature film. Life is good. In many respects, it keeps getting better. How’s that, you ask? Read on! Continue reading Battling For Metropolis…In My Backyard!

My Bedroom Circa 1989

Even back in ’89 I was all about documenting my “stuff.” Talk about geeky before it was cool…this was as geeky as it got back then. At the time I don’t think any of my friends even owned a camera, or would be allowed to take their own photos even if they had one. It wasn’t like nowadays when 4 year olds know how to use their parents iPad better than they do. What amazes me about the above photo isn’t the fact that I shot it when I wasn’t even in the double digits, but the fact that I still have it! Let me take you through a little tour of what half of my bedroom looked like back then.

I was the younger of two children, so I naturally got the smaller bedroom. I never complained about it because I really loved my room. It wasn’t until my older sister went away to college that I was able to declare the bigger room as my own. Regardless, I made the most of a small space for close to 15 years.

This picture represents half of my bedroom in 1989. Before we get into the details, let me describe quickly what the other half looked like. On the opposite side of the room I had a desk spanning the whole wall – a desk that I never once used to do homework on. This desk served a much greater purpose. It held my Batman collectibles amongst other things. The Batman books and memorabilia were setup on top of the desk while underneath was the Batcave from ToyBiz. My father and I rigged the whole thing to look like the ’60s Batman show complete with Wayne Manor study room, home made computers, analyzers, “lighted” lucite maps, the breakaway cave door that the batmobile sped out of, and the piece de resistance…opening bookshelves that revealed actual gold batpoles!!!

At the time most kids were strictly into the ’89 Batman film, but I grew up watching the ’60s show several years before when I was merely in pre-school and kindergarten. Later in life I hit the jackpot with this batcave setup, but the one under my old desk was the best.

All around the upper portion of the walls my dad created custom shelving to display all my Starting Lineup figures. These were sports figures made by Kenner and I had a TON of them! Each shelf was separated by team and I placed their cards right behind them. It was pretty damn impressive to most of my friends who came over and saw it since many of them stuffed theirs in a box under their bed.

OK, so I know you’re waiting to see if you could pick out every piece of memorabilia in that room, right? Well, that’s what the numbers are for. Here’s a rundown:

1. Starting Lineup “Slam Dunk Series”: These weren’t any old Starting Lineup figures, these were special mail away offers that came with the other figures. They may have eventually been sold in stores, but these were the original dunking Jordan, Bird, etc.
2. Dinosaur curtains – every kid loved dinosaurs at one time or another, though dinosaur stuff was big with me in ’88, and carried over only to get pushed to the side for stuff like WWF and Batman. I still love dinosaurs though!
3. Batman T-Shirt – Sometimes I liked the graphic on a t-shirt so much that I just hung it from a push pin on my wall. This Batman tee was one of them.
4. Batman pajamas with detachable cape – This version was my favorite and they are still making variations of superhero costume pajamas ’til this day. I think Underoos may have made these. I LOVED wearing them. The bat-logo glowed in the dark.
5. Batman comforter – The Batman sheet and comforter set lasted me quite a long time. They were released in 1989 and I used them for about 13 years! That was almost as long as my Dukes of Hazzard sheet set which holds the record. I’ve had about 3 Batman sheet sets since then.
6. The Toy Biz Batmobile – I’m going on record as saying this is the worst toy incarnation of the batmobile in the history of time. But that’s what was available for us back then, and until Kenner’s Dark Knight Collection blew Toy Biz out of the water we had to take what we could get!
7. An 8×10 of Jack Nicholson’s Joker. This was actually a set of small and large postcards that I bought. Pretty sure I still have these in a folder somewhere.
8. Starting Lineup mail-away baseball. This thing was a con because they made you think a ton of star players actually autographed it. When it came I realized they were all pre-printed on the ball. Still a cool collectible though.
To the right of that ball was one my uncle had signed for me by Phil Rizzuto.
9. The antennas belong to Walkie Talkies that are being blocked by a Speak and Spell and a Speak and Math.
10. Right above the #10 is a Magic 8-Ball. That thing was useless, but I wanted it so bad.
11. Books and magazines. The visible ones are the official Willow movie magazine, and a few books on Dinosaurs. Good Night Moon looks like it was in there as well. 

Gotham City, NJ?

Gotham City New Jersey

In the 1966 Batman TV series, the Batmobile zooms passed a sign that that says “Gotham City 14 Miles.” As it turns out for us here in New Jersey, that old sign wasn’t lying after all! In this post I will prove that for some outrageous reason, Gotham City is in fact in…(gasp!)… New Jersey!

For the non-fanboys reading this, I can see why you are in disbelief. It’s always assumed that Batman fought crime in a city created in the image New York City, and there’s surely enough evidence of it. But for the writers of DC Comics, having New York City exist in their universe as a separate entity is important. So, at least geographically, Gotham City exists in New Jersey. Although, since we already have The Toxic Avenger, is there enough room for an even more legendary super hero in New Jersey?

Gotham City NJ Drivers License

There’s lots of people out there who will think the idea of Gotham City being in Jersey is utter garbage (pun intended), but aside from the fact that it doesn’t have as many skyscrapers as New York City, nowadays Jersey may be even seedier than Manhattan. Let’s go down the checklist: Corruption, CHECK, Crime, CHECK, Gambling, CHECK, Prostitution, CHECK, murderous villain dressed in clown makeup, well…not necessarily, but I’m sure that can be arranged.

While many of you are flying into a fit of rage, internalizing your anger, and pacing around your home or office upon reading this, we here in New Jersey are rejoicing. A small bit of unimportant DC comics trivia it may seem, but The Sexy Armpit refuses to discard it. To many bat-fans in the most densely populated state in the country, the whereabouts of Gotham City is of prime importance. No matter if you grew up in Bloomfield or Barnegat, any Batman adventure that you acted out as a kid has just skyrocketed in credibility. Batman is our hometown hero!

With sections known as The Bowery, Chelsea, Chinatown, and the East River, it’s painfully obvious that Gotham City wants desperately to be New York City, but New York City will remain its own island. New York already has our football team and gets made fun of a lot less than us so I’d say giving us Gotham City is a more than generous trade.

For more on Gotham City, New Jersey check out these links:

Gotham City on The DC Database

DC Animated Wiki “…in DC Comics current continuity, Gotham City is in New Jersey, north of Atlantic City.”

Cineplex Odeon Memories: The Night I Was Ghostface

In addition to donning the bat costume earlier that year for the premiere of Batman and Robin, I was also tapped to play Ghostface from the Scream series in honor of the premiere of Scream 2 in December ’97 when I worked at the local Cineplex Odeon Theater at the Menlo Park Mall. My coworkers were aware that I was a huge horror fan as well as completely obsessed with the first Scream film. Electing me to stalk the popcorn gorging, giant soda drinking filmgoers while threatening that that I’d “gut them like a fish,” was a given.

Compared to spending 6-8 hours shaking hands and sweating in the hot, awkward bat costume, I took much pleasure running around in the free flowing, comfortable Ghostface costume. Stalking theatergoers with a fake knife and sneaking up on unsuspecting girls coming out of the bathroom became my pastime for the evening. The most memorable part of being Ghostface happened during each presentation of the film. Right after the moment Jada Pinkett has her excessively dramatic death scene in the film within a film STAB, the Scream title slashes onto the screen. During the short fade to black, a theater usher slammed through the emergency exit door and up the aisle in the dark theater as if he was being chased. Seconds later, wielding a knife high above my head, I barreled through the door and sprinted up the aisle after him. When I reached the door to the lobby I blasted through it and had a laugh with my fellow employee, Victor. In the fleeting seconds that the stunt took place, I remember feeling quite a rush as I heard almost the entire crowd scream and gasp in shock and fear.

What made the occurence even that much more clever was the fact that that part of the movie featured a “film within a film,” which blurred the lines of fiction and reality. I like to believe that my performance magnified that idea and added a little more thrill to the atmosphere.

Would you expect something like that to happen when you’ve spent nearly 10 minutes immersed in a film that you payed $8 bucks (at the time) to see? Nowadays anything that can be classified as an “interruption” would start a line of 12 people complaining in attempts for free passes. As I noted in “The Day I Got To Be Batman” I give credit to the Cineplex Odeon theater staff for taking liberties and being creative as film exhibitors.

It’s not everyday you walk into a movie theater and see a cavernous homemade Batcave erected or a knife wielding killer from a horror film chasing innocent ushers through the theater at high speed. I would’ve liked to have been one of the people watching Scream on that Friday night. It was almost a throwback to gimicks like “smell-o-vision.” I would love movies to become more of an event, like when I go to see an film in IMAX. Do you think witnessing the killer chasing someone through the theater would intensify your viewing experience? Maybe if it doesn’t succeed at creeping you out, it would definitely make for a memorable bit of conversation!


Interview with Iron-Cow Productions’ Matt Cauley

I cannot believe you actually have something this cool in your house!

Mouth from The Goonies

I was fortunate enough to snag this amazing customized Batcave last year from the Iron-Cow Productions store on eBay. The Batcave playset utilizes a custom version of the ’89 Batcave playset from Toy Biz and also features a custom Joker card and giant penny from Batman’s Trophy Room. Naturally, this custom Batcave is one of the highlights of my Batman collection. And YES, it takes center stage in my bedroom! You could imagine how many “40-Year Old Virgin” jokes I get even though I’ve got a while to go before I reach 40!
The man behind Iron-Cow Productions is Matt Cauley, who has grabbed the attention of the industry by showcasing his amazing custom action figures, and illustrations. Matt is a featured contributer to ToyFare Magazine, and he also designed various DC Direct, Battlestar Galactica, and Marvel Comics Minimate action figures. In honor of the Dark Knight countdown Matt “Iron-Cow” Cauley granted me an interview to talk a little bit about what’s going on with his company and how he feels about the premiere of The Dark Knight.

The Batcave playset pictured here was created by Iron-Cow Productions, after all the different properties from Marvel, DC and other companies you’ve customized for do you have a favorite universe or character to work on?

Well, I’ve been a Batman fan all my life, so I’m naturally drawn to him. He’s what got me into comic books and since I drew him so many times as a kid, he’s the character on whom I really developed my art skills. In fact, the earliest surviving piece of Matt-art is a picture of Batman. Batman is easily the character that I’ve customized the most. Black, blue, animated, artist-specific, stylized… no version of the character seems too obscure for me to purchase for my collection, or for me to customize one of my own. You’d think I might get tired of customizing Batman over and over again, but I really have a blast with the character and love all the various interpretations.At least by staying primarily with one character, it gives me a lot of focus. This might explain why all my Doctor Who projects never get finished. With that line there are simply SO many characters I want to make, I’ll start on a new one before finishing up any already started project.

Whether it be illustrations or customizations, do you have any dream projects you’d like to work on?

It’s funny you say that. With the DC Minimates line, I was able to combine both my love of toys and illustrating. The S.T.R.I.P.E. Minimate was based off not only my control art, but if you remove the chest piece, you can see my illustration as well, in the form of his inner cockpit. That was definitely a fun project, creatively speaking. And, since I’m *such* a Batman fan, getting to help design a DC line really was a dream come true! Hopefully the Doctor Who Minimates will see the light of day. Ever since I was a kid, Batman and Doctor Who were my two biggest passions, and to have the opportunity to design toys for both lines? Seriously, that is my dream come true.

Are you looking forward to The Dark Knight?

That opens soon, right? I might catch it at some point. In reality, my wife and I are checking it out Friday night. Can’t wait! Obviously, I don’t know more than anyone else out there, but I have such ridiculous high hopes for this movie. I seem to remember the website having a countdown clock for when “Fellowship of the Ring” was to be released. I found myself obsessively checking that, and then unintentionally counting down the days in my head. 12 months, 6 months… 25 days, etc. The website has a similar countdown clock, and it feels like I’ve been counting down the days to Dark Knight for as long as I can remember. After this Saturday, though, it’ll be interesting to see what is next in line to obsess over. Sure, there’s Iron Man 2 and the Avengers, but for me I need to know when Batman 3 is in the works!

What are some projects Iron-Cow is working on right now?

Most of what I’m doing these days isn’t toy-related at all. I’ve been contributing art to the GREENDOG and EPIC THREADS fashion line that’s exclusive to Macy’s. That’s definitely been an interesting project, as they allow me so much creative freedom. Walking into a store and seeing my art hanging there on the rack gets me grinning from ear to ear. I’ve also been putting together a huge series of portrait paintings for an art show later this year. One of these should be appearing in the upcoming ‘Eye Candy for Strangers’ coffee table book, so look for a sneak peek this summer!

If someone was insulting New Jersey would you go along with them and come up with zingers of your own or would you defend the honor of Jersey and explain all the reasons why it’s great? Either way we won’t hold it against you!

Now WHY would anyone insult Jersey? Now, Texas, on the other hand… you do NOT mess with!

Thank you Matt! I appreciate it!

Wow, Matt is even designing art for clothing lines! And he’s comical too. He was obviously being funny when I asked about The Dark Knight and he replied “That’s opens soon right?” Haha! You can check out Matt’s work at! He’s got a great Michael Keaton/Batman customization posted there among a TON of other great stuff. Be sure to look out for his customized figures, illustrations, and free downloads to help with your own customizations!

The Day I Got To Be Batman

This whole Dark Knight countdown is becoming a huge obnoxious competition against myself to find out who is the bigger Batman fan, ME or ME? Either way, it’s on like KONG! (the article above appeared in the Cineplex Odeon newsletter called “The Biz” in ’97)

When I was 16 I applied to work at the local Cineplex Odeon Cinema at the Menlo Park Mall. (Cineplex Odeon is now AMC Theaters) I knew it would be the perfect job for me especially since I was in high school and didn’t want a job where I had to be too serious or have too much responsibility. Without even realizing how fast the time went I wound up working there for about 5 or 6 years! I met so many awesome people throughout that time and saw a ton of movies. Sometimes on a Thursday night we would have screenings of the big films that were coming out the next day. I remember getting sneaks of all the cool movies especially for all the Star Wars re-issues and The Phantom Menace. I have some great memories of that place.

For the first 2 or 3 years I worked there the management was very supportive and excellent to work for. One busy night at the theater in 1997, Bob, the house manager, pulled me aside. I got a bit nervous. Bob was easy to get along with but he was nothing but business. He wasn’t smiling so I thought something was wrong.

JAY: “Did I do something wrong, Bob?” I always ask that of all my bosses…I just like the sound of it.
BOB: “No of course not, as always you’re doing a great job! I just have something I want to ask you…”
JAY: “Oh Ok sure”
BOB: “How would you like to be Batman for us at our premiere of Batman and Robin?”


JAY: “Are you serious? Holy Crap, of course!!!”

F–k Jean-Paul Valley! What an opportunity for me since I used to pretend I was Batman for the first 16 years of my life and now I could actually be him in front of people. I definitely felt like I was a shoe-in for the job because everyone there knew I was the resident Batmaniac. When I put on the cowl and cape, such a familiar feeling came over me as if I had put on a cape and cowl every day of my life. I did my best impression of Michael Keaton when he became Batman. Screw Kilmer and Clooney, I was still a Keaton mark! Not only did they get one of the more professional looking bat costumes for me to wear but they also had a few members of the management team create an overhang above the ticket ripper that made you feel like you were entering the Batcave!

To make the premiere even more of an event they had one of the girls who worked at the concession stand, Jen, play Poison Ivy. Like me, she really ate it up. She waltzed in like she spent months taking lessons from Uma Thurman! The kids and adults loved it! I shook so many hands that day, was asked to be in a ton of pictures, and I was also asked for autographs which was bizarre but I had prepared for it just in case. I remembered that back when I was a kid I met a Batman impersonator at the Wildwood boardwalk back in ’89. I took a picture with him and he signed the Polaroid. I dug it up and took a look at how he signed it and I sort of lifted his technique. I know, I know…you all want to ask the burning question: Did I stuff my codpiece with socks? Don’t you know that Batman never reveals his secrets? Let’s just say, the ladies seemed to be quite aroused! Come to think of it, they were probably more distracted by my huge batarang. (pictured below: Batman/Me trying to resist Poison Ivy’s pheromones)