Is it a BIRD? Is it a plane? Right first time – and she's in SPANDEX
Huawei's superheroine Purple Reign upstages new mobe
Pics In a pop-up shop in Shoreditch, two rubber-clad hotties are snogging in front of a small audience of pretty PR people. It might sound like an average Saturday night for the racier denizens of this uber-hip part of London but it is, in fact, a tenuous marketing ploy for the Huawei Ascend P2, a flash new smartphone from the world's biggest telecoms maker.
The kinkily-dressed couple are in London town to give a few speeches to discuss their lives as genuine superheroes and explain why they've decided to roam the streets of their home city of Seattle, in Washington, US, dealing out rough justice to any bad guys they come across. They're engaging in a spot of tonsil tennis before going on stage to explain their bizarre lives as well, which is nice.
It's entirely unclear what all this has to do with the Chinese state-linked mobile phone manufacturer's new gizmo, but El Reg is there because we were promised lycra-clad ladies of the night (in the crime-fighting sense) and muscle-bound nutjobs in spandex. Phoenix Jones and his lover, sidekick and muse Purple Reign didn't disappoint.
"We're all about fixing things, finding creative solutions to problems," Phoenix explains. "We use the symbolism of the superhero to fight crime, but also to inspire other people to do good. We're certainly not vigilantes."
Real life superheroes Phoenix Jones and Purple Reign are in the UK to launch the world's fastest smartphone, the Huawei Ascend P2
With their all-American shiny white teeth, whip-tight bodies and slightly kinky costumes, the pair look more like niche pornstars than crime fighters. The suits they both wear accentuate this image, with Phoenix sporting a rather impressive-looking armoured codpiece and a scary-looking cowl, and his purple-haired partner was clad in a rubber suit which gives her the sort of pumped-up, boobylicious body last seen on Jodie Marsh after months of bodybuilding.
"To be honest, this doesn't even begin to do my abs justice. Seriously," Purple Reign says modestly when I ask what their real physiques are like beneath the flattering suits.
Phoenix is an undefeated Mixed Martial Arts champion and the lead crime-fighter of the pair. The superhero with the amazing flat-top hairdo has stopped muggings, averted a riot and scared the bejeezus out of Seattle's casual drug users during his nightly patrols. His lover and sidekick performs a gentler role, visiting schools to gee up the kids and leading a domestic violence campaign, prompted by her own experiences at the hands of an abusive partner.
The pair are lovers whose romance was sparked when Phoenix bought a date with Purple (not their real names) at a charity woman auction in the city. He was forced to wear his costume to their first night on the town because he'd been stabbed in the stomach and then superglued the wound shut, bonding his skin and clothes in the process. Love soon blossomed.
"My parents were a little nervous at first," she says. "But now they are very supportive. In fact, they are our biggest fans."
Fighting the urge to ask about their sex lives, El Reg got a glimpse at the tech that powers their madcap criminal-bashing lifestyle.
Both sport cameras in the chestplates of their uniforms, so they can livestream the action, and have GPS built into their suits. Phoenix is the muscle of the pair, with a $10,000 dollar shield which he claims stops bullets and grenades, as well as a fire-proof, bullet-proof and stab-proof costume. Purple uses her brain, studying crime maps and statistics to work out how best to catch the crooks.
They clearly need all this gear in Seattle, which isn't exactly the most genteel of cities. "Our laws are dumb," Phoenix says. "You can carry a sword that’s less than two and a half feet long, so you could walk about with a short broadsword, and you can also have anything that doesn’t remote detonate, so a grenade launcher’s fine too."
So have you ever been nicked while trying to fight crime?
As a superhero, his proudest moment was saving a city building from hordes of protesters during riots last year. "The coolest thing I've done is stopping a terrorist attack," he says, although its not clear the rioters were actual terrorists.
Purple and Phoenix posing for El Reg
"This bunch of black bloc protesters came in from out of state and decided to break into a federal building," Phoenix says. "So I went in and stopped them. It was just me and a few friends versus all these rioters. It was turning into a pepper spray, fist fight storm when the police turned up. I though they were going to arrest me and the lead officer was like: hey Phoenix, you take that side and I'll take the other. Best moment ever! I've never been arrested since that."
El Reg spent a whole day at Huawei's superhero conference, hearing about the technology that might one day makes us superheroes. Dr Morgaine Gaye gave us a taste of her supershake, which tastes like an Innocent smoothie blended up with sawdust.
"It's so supercharged that there's no vital mineral, micro nutrient or vitamin that's missing from it," Dr Gaye claims. She divvies up the world's nutrients into portions weighing no more than a human hair, which are then put together into a noxious tasting powder. Drink it, she says, and you'll have more energy, kick your sugar addiction and feel pretty super-heroic. "It's my passion," she insists when we ask her how many sales she makes. "I don't want to be like Gillian McKeith, working on an industrial scale and getting my stuff in Sainsbury's."
Which is lucky, because at 27 quid for a packet, it's not likely to fly off the shelves.
We also met the world's leading expert in real life superheroes, a photographer called Peter Tangen who's travelled the globe meeting costumed headcases. He's met people with names like Crimson Fist, Mr Extreme, Razorhawk and Zimmer, who doesn't sound that tough really.
Superheroes don't just bash people up, he says, but do small things to help people. One striking lady he's met called Nyx manages to wear a low cut top and fishnets while patrolling the streets, helping the homeless, and this is more typical than the Phoenix Jones style basher-upper, he says.
"One superhero I went out with gave a homeless person a razor, so he could prepare for a job interview which could change his life," he says. "You could call this costumed activism. These guys are symbols of personal capabilities to make changes in the world."
Right, what about the phone?
So you've heard about the superheroes, now what's the phone like? Well, it's OK. It's got a nice shiny screen complete with graphic design that looks a bit like the early levels of Sonic the Hedgehog. The icons rotate around it, forming a tombola of useless apps, and because it's Android, there are all sorts of fiddly customisations you can perform which would send fanbois and fangurlz running as if a spandex-clad loony was chasing them.
The happy couple, complete with the smartmobe we were (supposedly) there to see.
According to the marketing spiel (which fails to really explain the superhero connection) it's also speedier than any other phone on the market, with a super-fast, 150Mbps 4G connection. However, the closest it will get you to fighting crime is when you go down the local police station to say that someone's nicked it off you.
Superhero Phoenix is clearly taken with it. "I wanted to be rude and sceptical about this phone, but this is faster than my iPhone," he says. "I love it. By the way, they’re not paying me to say that."
We're not going to disagree with you mate - sorry, sir. ®