Features

I want to look like... Superman

Herbert Chavez has undergone 23 surgeries in 17 years so that he can look like the comic-book superhero Clark Kent.
Herbert Chavez has undergone 23 surgeries in 17 years so that he can look like the comic-book superhero Clark Kent. PHOTO: HERBERT CHAVEZ/TWITTER
Mr Herbert Chavez before surgery (above) and now (right), as a Superman lookalike.
Mr Herbert Chavez before surgery.PHOTO: COURTESY OF HERBERT CHAVEZ

It's a bird, it's a plane... no, it's a Superman-lookalike. Filipino Herbert Chavez has had 23 surgeries to look like his comic-book hero

Nose jobs, skin-whitening, liposuction, jaw realignment, bum implants and fillers - dressmaker Herbert Chavez has done it all in a bid to look more like his idol, Superman.

Even in the world of extreme plastic surgery aficionados, the 38-year-old from the Philippines stands out for his commitment to his cause. He has undergone 23 surgeries in 17 years so that he can look like the comic-book superhero Clark Kent, famously played by the late actor Christopher Reeve in the 1970s and 1980s.

But Mr Chavez has hit a recent roadblock in his transformation. Surgeons have refused to give him the implants to achieve the "abs of steel" of the American icon.


 Mr Herbert Chavez before surgery and now (above), as a Superman lookalike. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

They said that he had injected himself with reportedly illegal fillers and should hit the gym instead.

 

This information, revealed in a teaser of an American reality TV series Botched, has gone viral around the world. Botched, which focuses on fixing plastic procedures gone awry, is not aired in Singapore.

When contacted by Life over the telephone, Mr Chavez says he will not give up his quest for the body of Superman.

He adds: "If those doctors don't want to do the surgery, maybe other doctors will do it for me."

But why does he not exercise?

"I'm busy with my regular work and I don't have time to go to the gym. I also eat a lot and I like chocolate," he says.

The 1.7m-tall bachelor, who weighs 61kg, says he has had so many procedures that he cannot recall the details of several of them.

  • WHAT HAS BEEN DONE

    1 Thinning his nose to make it look longer and narrower.

    2 Injecting silicone into his lips to make them look fuller.

    3 Getting a cleft chin, likely through a chin implant, and re-aligning his jaw.

    4 Whitening his skin, likely through chemical peels.

    5 Having lipo-suction to flatten his abdomen.

    6 Bulking up his buttocks and hips with implants, likely solid silicone.

To me, going to the plastic surgeon is like going to the salon.''

MR HERBERT CHAVEZ, 38, on his multiple operations to look like Clark Kent

His obsession with the superhero started at age four when he watched his first movie - Superman II - in the cinema.

Born with brown eyes, the son of a tricycle driver and street food seller used to be pimply and had darker skin.

On his 16th birthday, a friend gave him a pair of bright blue contact lenses. Around that time, he also started wearing foundation to make his skin look fairer.

At age 21, he started approaching cosmetic surgeons in the Philippines to make him look like his idol.

"What I do to my own body is my own business," he says.

"Some may laugh at my obsession, but everything that has happened in my life has been positive and it's all because of Superman.

"To me, going to the plastic surgeon is like going to the salon."

The operations, he claims, were free, performed in exchange for promoting the doctors' practice.

He says he has suffered no side effects so far.

The only procedure that he is reluctant to do is one to increase his height to 1.9m, the same height as Reeve.

"I don't think the technology for this procedure has been perfected yet," he says.

Anything else, however, is fair game. "I will stop only when my doctor says my body cannot endure it anymore."

He also reportedly holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of Superman memorabilia.

He has more than 1,200 items - dolls, mannequins, posters, comic books, mugs, curtains, rugs and bed-sheets.

Once a week, he dons a self-made Superman costume - complete with cape, cuffs and shorts over tights - and gathers with some cosplayer friends to take photos with children and sign autographs.

He also occasionally performs as a Superman-lookalike at malls and events. "I want to give inspiration and hope to the children in the Philippines," he says.

"I want to let them see and talk to Superman in the flesh."


I want to look like... Barbie doll

She’s a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world.

Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova has been dubbed the human Barbie doll.

Although the 29-year-old has reportedly admitted to having had breast implants, she insists that the rest of her body is natural.

Her secret?

Daily gym workouts and a special diet. In case you are wondering, her diet is said to consist of only water, fresh fruit juice and tiny amounts of raw fish.

To enhance her doll-like features, the 1.7m-tall blonde uses make-up, eyelash extensions and coloured contact lenses.

She shocked the Internet last year when she said she was converting to a cult that believes food – and possibly water – are not necessary forhumansurvival.

Given that she is still alive, she clearly did not go through with it.


Ken doll

Would you have more than 190 cosmetic procedures to look like Barbie’s boyfriend?

American Justin Jedlica did. And for that, he has been dubbed the human Ken doll.

The 34-year-old underwent his first cosmetic procedure four days after his 18th birthday to reconstruct his nose.

Since then, he has had implants in his chest, shoulder, bicep, triceps, thighsand calves.

He also had surgery to augment his cheek and lips.

The cost? More than £150,000 ($320,000).

Given his familiarity with plastic surgery, it is no surprise that he works as a plastic surgery “design specialist”, providing personal consultations to people thinking about cosmetic surgery.


Kim Kardashian

The American socialite and reality TV star – whose sex tape was leaked in 2007 – might seem like a strange choice for a role model, but a woman from England, Claire Leeson, has reportedly spent almost £20,000 ($43,000) to look like her.

This included £5,000 on new breasts, £4,500 on hair extensions and £1,000on spray tans.

Don’t forget teeth-whitening, nails, shoes and clothes too.

Leeson started her transformation in 2009 after watching the TV programme Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

She reportedly said she opted for bum padding instead of bum implants because the pads “feel very real” and she knows “my bum is never going to be as big as Kim’s”.

Too bad her transformation has apparently left her £6,000 in debt.

But who needs money when you can look like Kimmy?


Justin Bieber

Toby Sheldon’s idol might have recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons, but that did not stop him from spending more than US$100,000 (S$137,000) to look like Justin Bieber. 

Sheldon, a 34-year-old American songwriter, had skin removed on his upper eyelid to get the babyfaced Bieber’s bright, open eyes and various hair transplants to get the singer’s bangs and hairline.

To achieve – in his words – Bieber’s “perfect smile”, Sheldon also had liposuction on his chin and surgeryon his lips.

His obsession reportedly started in 2008 when a pre-pubescent Bieber became the object of affection of hordes of pre-teen girls.

Although Sheldon has said in aTV documentary that his procedures were “really, really successful”, some people would probably beg to differ.


Ryan Gosling

Brace yourself. It’s a sad story.

Nicholas Ryan, a 34-year-old aspiring actor from the United States, has reportedly spent US$5,000 (S$6,800) on Botox and filler injections in a two-hour procedure in 2013 to look like the Gangster Squad star.

Unfortunately, few are convinced. The Huffington Post’s Andy McDonald writes: “Kidding aside, this guy really looks nothing like Ryan Gosling.”

Ryan – no surprise, it’s his stage name – told the online version of The Daily Mail that he hoped the procedures would help him hit the big time in Hollywood and improve his chances with women.

Here’s to hoping.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 19, 2015, with the headline 'I want to look like... Superman'. Print Edition | Subscribe