Man of Steel

He can’t leap tall buildings, but South Brunswick’s superman has strength to spare.

Strongman Stanless Steel leans into the task of bending a threaded rod. At right, the rod, a little worse for wear.
Photo by Michael S. Barr Photography.

Imagine being able to bend a penny with your fingers. Go on, try it. Impossible, right? Not for South Brunswick strongman Stanless Steel. It may sound like the stuff of a Saturday-morning cartoon superhero, but Stanless Steel actually has superhuman strength. Not only can he can bend a penny, Steel can fold steel bars in half and lift a 12,000-pound truck with his legs.

Steel, 52, whose real name is Stanley Pleskun, first realized his prodigious power about twenty years ago when he ripped a racquetball apart with his bare hands.

“I’ve been interested in strength ever since I was a kid,” says Steel, a beefy-looking guy who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 285 pounds. “I used to ask my dad, ‘Can you bend a quarter?’ And he would tell me, ‘No one can do that.’ Now I can do it.”

In the early 1990s, Steel put together a show with a series of stunts—like having a pickup truck drive onto his chest. He has given hundreds of performances; on October 17, he will appear at the South Brunswick Community Unity Day.

Steel runs a scrap-metal company (Stan’s Hauling and Moving), but says the hard work doesn’t help with his strength training; it just makes him too tired to lift weights later, he says.

Aside from the gray in his wavy hair, Steel does not look his age. He attributes his strength, in part, to his vegetarian diet. Steel can devour ten ears of corn in about five minutes. He says he does not take steroids.
“Stanley is super strong,” says Dennis Rogers, a strongman from Wimberley, Texas. “The things he does are beyond belief. I only know of one other person who can bend a penny. It’s a pretty phenomenal feat.”
Steel’s story has been made into a film, Strongman, which won the Grand Jury prize for best documentary at the independent film festival Slamdance in Utah.

Strongman filmmaker Zachary Levy met Steel while shooting stunts for a TV show. For one stunt, Steel stood between two Cessna 172 propeller planes, an arm strapped to each plane, and stopped the planes from taking off.

The film will be shown in October at the New Jersey Film Festival in New Brunswick. In the meantime, Steel continues to hone his feats of strength.

“There’s something beautiful about a regular guy living his life as best he can while doing extraordinary things,” says Levy.

Jacqueline Mroz is a Montclair-based freelance writer.

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