The Spider-Man suit was brilliantly crafted—comfortable, functional and visually stunning. It worked on anyone from 5'9" to 6'3". It’s ease of transport made it possible to fit in any over-the-shoulder bag as small as a Ziploc. I never had to waste time at the baggage carousel, or worry that the suit might get lost in transit.
It was resilient, too. Most holes occurred along the seams and it was not rare to see me repairing the costume on flights to appearances. I still have more than a few mending kits from hotel rooms across the country. I only encountered one irreparable rip during my Spider-Man tenure, but it was a doozy.
I was flown to Houston for a week of appearances. The day I landed I was quickly hustled to a street fair downtown, changing in the car of my host along the way. It was a Sunday, and that, coupled with the street fair—which was a huge annual event for the city—ensured that businesses were closed and the blocks surrounding the area of the fair were deserted. It was eerie and more than a little I Am Legend. But after parking, I only had to bound a few blocks before I was met with what seemed like the entire population of Houston gathered in the city’s central park for the event.
I immediately looked for prospective perching spots. My host did not have a booth of any sort, so she just picked a street corner that wouldn’t interfere with any other booths. The only thing in the vicinity was a newspaper-vending machine...a wobbly newspaper-vending machine. I checked it before my ascent and though it shook, it wasn’t in danger of collapsing or falling over, so up I went. The host offered free photos and the box proved a perfect height for fans to stand before for pictures.
Normally, I could stay in a crouched position for upwards of an hour, signing autographs and posing for photos the whole while. When my knees couldn’t take it any longer, I’d leap off. I must have overstayed my usual time limit on the box, as I felt my ankles and feet go numb or rather didn’t feel them at all. Okay, time to leap off. But given the unstable condition of the vending machine and the fact that I couldn’t feel my feet, I was concerned I might break or twist an ankle upon landing. Thus, I tried to “cheat” off the box, without broadcasting my predicament.
According to Shakespeare “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” You can add spiders to that list. A bit of the costume under my right butt cheek caught the corner of the vending machine and “R-I-I-I-P!!! The ass of the suit was torn wide open, exposing my cute candy-cane–striped bikini briefs. I guess it could have been worse. They could have had “wittle duckies” on them.
I stood stock-still for a moment, keeping my overexposed gluteus maximus against the front of the vending machine, like an inebriated worker on the copy machine at the annual holiday party. I can only imagine the Rorschach design my backside created on the vending machine’s display window, but I’d bet even money it didn’t look like a butterfly. My only hope was that none of my fans had noticed. Thankfully the form-fitting design of the costume kept the effects of the damage contained around my right “cheek,” so unless I left the protection of the vending machine, my little problem went unnoticed. This ignorance extended to my host, who continued to escort people forward to get their picture taken with Spidey without hesitation. I posed best I could, all the while trying to get my host’s attention. I finally had to interrupt her and ask her to come over to me. I whispered the situation into her ear. True to human nature, her immediate reaction was to look toward my butt. I stopped her.
“Trust me,” I said, “the cooler than usual wind against my ass cheek tells me it’s hanging out.”
My answer came in the form of a windbreaker one of my fans was wearing, which they graciously agreed to let me borrow. For the remainder of the day, I posed with the windbreaker tied around my waist. Most people didn’t notice or question its presence. My explanation to those who did was that I’d had a run-in with Electro on my way down from New York and he zapped a hole in the backside of my suit before I subdued him.
I couldn’t rightly take my savior’s jacket with me when I was done, so I hightailed it (pun intended) back to the car with my host playing interference behind me. Still, I was barraged by a bevy of colorful offers and marriage proposals along the way. Boy, was my face red, both inside and out!