'Nice cheeks': Charlottetown's friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man unfazed by hecklers

·2 min read
Bradford Gillis says busking as Spiderman has been his sole source of income since 2013. (Shane Ross/CBC - image credit)
Bradford Gillis says busking as Spiderman has been his sole source of income since 2013. (Shane Ross/CBC - image credit)

Bradford Gillis says after spending eight years busking as the "original" Spider-Man in Toronto, he never gets tired of the smiles he brings to kids and adults eager to joke and get their picture taken with him.

He also realizes that when he stands on a busy street corner in a skin tight superhero suit, he has to expect a few heckles.

"Hey Spidey, nice cheeks, hey Spidey nice legs, hey Spidey flex your butt — I've already heard that twice today. I don't know if it was the same car full of ladies but I get that a lot," Gillis said while standing at the corner of Queen and Grafton streets in Charlottetown.

Gillis, who is originally from Montague, returned to P.E.I. in the fall after entertaining pedestrians in Toronto, usually around the Rogers Centre. He slipped back into his friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man suit about two weeks ago.

"People are always excited. It'll always start off, 'Hey Spider-Man, oh hey good to see ya. Sometimes there'll be hecklers, sometimes people are admiring my physique too much but I'm used to it at this point."

He is often asked to spin a web, any size, or catch some thieves, just like flies. Spoiler alert: he can't.

Nevertheless, Gillis, 29 said busking as Spider-Man has been his sole source of income since 2013. He has also performed in places such as Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Niagara Falls.

The comments themselves don't bother me, it's the unoriginality that bothers me. — Bradford Gillis, aka Spider-Man

He plans to continue in Charlottetown now that it has opened to Atlantic Canadian travellers, and is scheduled to open to the rest of Canada on July 28.

"What's great about Spider-Man is everyone can relate and everyone can connect and everyone has nostalgia for Spider-Man. He's such an icon and I love that I can bring him to the community."

OK, so he did admit there are probably a few haters — the Green Goblin, Rhino and maybe even J. Jonah Jameson, for example — but most people are fans.

Shane Ross/CBC
Shane Ross/CBC

That was evident this weekend, when a steady stream of people hi-fived with him, chatted about superheroes and posed for pictures. One girl even brought him a balloon Spider-Man.

Of course, some people also shouted some good-natured heckles.

"The comments themselves don't bother me, it's the unoriginality that bothers me," Gillis said.

"I wish somebody would come up with a unique heckle. I've heard literally every single one of them and I'm just dying to hear a new one."

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