An Interview With The Skunk
April 26, 2011
A few weeks ago, I briefly discussed the story of Dwight Dowalski, better known as The Skunk. Back in the late 1970s, The Skunk was one of The Standard’s most famous supervillains. Now long retired, and back on the right side of the law, Dwight agreed to take part in an interview for this blog.
John Lees: Welcome to the blog, Mr. Dowalski. I’m glad to have you here for this interview.
Dwight Dowalski: I’m happy to be here, John. I’m a big fan of what you’ve been doing with this blog.
Thanks! So, let’s start at the beginning. When you created your patented Stink Juice, what made you decide to become a supervillain?
I thought it would be fun! Sorry, I wish I had a more exciting answer. But there was no great tragedy in my life that set me on the path to villainy. I was just bored. And when I played Cops & Robbers as a kid, I always liked being the robber, you know?
So you were mainly in it for the thrills?
Yeah. The money from the bank jobs was nice too, don’t get me wrong, but the best part was the attention. I loved seeing my name in the paper, even if it wasn’t my real name. And fighting The Standard, wow! I was such a big fan, but I knew I wasn’t exactly partner material. Being his enemy was the next best thing. Now, Gilbert might not admit it, but I think he secretly had as much fun chasing me as I had being chased. We had a good rapport. He always had some more stinky puns to throw at me whenever we met, and I’m convinced he spent his nights thinking them up!
Of course, the way your career ended wasn’t so fun…
I’d rather not talk about that, sorry. I hope that’s not a problem.
Not at all, I’m sorry for bringing it up. Let’s move forward a few years, then. You get out of prison, and you become the founder of the Reformed Villains Initiative. Tell us a little bit about that.
The RVI is an organisation I put together in hopes of helping people the way The Standard helped me. I visit prisons, and offer counselling to supervillains serving time. I work with parole officers to make sure former costumed criminals released from jail stick to the straight and narrow, as well as guiding them towards more legitimate means of making money with their alter ego if they so choose. The good thing about today’s climate is that, more than ever, capes are more interested in role-playing than actually doing anything. So there is plenty of demand for “villains” on all kinds of TV shows, where they can get steady, paid work without ever needing to break the law. I also tour schools and colleges and give motivational talks about turning your life around and not going down the villainous path.
You seem to look back on your time as a supervillain fondly. So why are you working so tirelessly to stop people following in your footsteps?
Because the world has changed since I was The Skunk. If people want to go on HeroFace and call themselves a supervillain, that’s fine. And like I said, with the way the media has turned capes into celebrities there are plenty of avenues for people to be a villain in name alone. What I’m warning against isn’t so much that showmanship aspect of things, which I loved. It’s the criminal part I regret. It led me down a dark road in the end, and that was over 30 years ago. Now, even the heroes are maniacs. Have you seen The Corpse!? If they’re not killed on the spot by him, then to simply keep up, the villains have to be really horrible, far worse than any of the folks running around in my time. Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but there was a kind of innocence to what we were doing way back then, and I think that’s been lost now.
I know what you mean. You committed a lot of crimes, but you never really hurt anybody.
No. This may sound dumb, but though I was a bad guy, I never really thought of myself as a bad guy.
Thanks for the thoughtful answers, Mr. Dowalski, and for taking the time to participate in this interview.
You’re very welcome! Thank you!