Milverine is a Milwaukee Legend
Man has cult following on social media
By Michelle Meier
The man behind the cult phenomenon, the Milverine, John Hamman, said he gets recognized on average about 20 times per week.
The Milverine was part of a meet-and-greet on Gallery Night at Too Much Rock for One Hand on Friday evening. Hamann, 35, revealed plenty of personal information to lessen the mystery about who he is and to show the man behind the name.
Hamann is part of a growing trend of people becoming famous because of social media sites. Justin Bieber is a prime example of fame from YouTube. He started out by posting homemade videos on YouTube. Now he’s on Usher’s label and teenage girls can’t get enough of him. Charlie Sheen, although previously famous, became even more famous by creating the hash tag, “winning.” Social media also promoted Chris Crocker in his infamous “Leave Britney Alone” rant on YouTube, and countless others.
For about a year, when people have seen Hamann in public, they have been labeling him, “the Milverine.” A Facebook page dedicated to Hamann displays photos that people have snapped of him during his walks. He mentioned that he started walking about 10 years ago, but he didn’t notice people taking an interest in him until after the Facebook page was created. Now, the Milverine is a social media cult hero.
Tim Panicucci created the Milverine site about a year ago to track Milverine sightings. Hamann said that he has never actually met Panicucci.
About 30 people took photos with Hamann on Gallery Night at 207 East Buffalo St. They are all pictured in a Facebook album belonging to the event host, Fred Gillich.
Gillich, the owner of Too Much Rock for One Hand, decided to host the meet-and-greet when he saw the Milverine. Gillich said, “I just saw this guy walking down the street and I thought, hey man, he’s dedicated so let’s have some fun and give him an opportunity to meet his people who take photos of him.” Six-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon hung from the ceiling for guests to grab and customized t-shirts were stacked on shelves hanging on the wall. The Milverine was actually wearing a shirt, covering his buff and hairy physique.
Hamann is compared to Hugh Jackman’s character, Wolverine, because he’s toned, has a hairy chest, and is not afraid to show it off. “Milwaukee” and “Wolverine” combined together make “Milverine.”
Other than Facebook, several other Milverine pages are scattered around the Internet. He also has a fan page on Yelp, Twitter, Tumblr, and even has a “Milverine Sightings” map on Google Maps. Hamann has gained plenty of fans in the Milwaukee area.
On Yelp, Kaitlin B wrote, “OMG can I please just first say how much JOY it brings into my day every time I see the Milverine strolling ANYWHERE in Milwaukee?... I’d give him 10 stars if I could...a whole UNIVERSE of stars.”
Ali Cat on Facebook described a time when she saw the Milverine at the intersection of KK and Lincoln. “He was walking at a brisk pace, wearing khaki pants, black sleeveless shirt carrying a bottle of water. He looked determined to protect Milwaukee.”
Brian M. on Yelp wrote this about Milverine: “Part Wolverine, part king of Milwaukee, he is all business… Known to push disabled cars out of intersections without breaking a sweat, this guy is the king of agro-power walking.”
Hamann revealed his walking route: “Well, I live on Third Street, so I just get on Chase and I get over on, like, First and Lincoln. I just walk down Lincoln and I just walk down First Street to Water Street. I go to Veteran’s Park and then I come back.” During the summer, Hamann goes further to Bradford Beach, but does not like to hang out on the beach because he said it gets boring.
“All the people that took pictures and everything, I hope they got a kick out of it because I thought it was really amusing,” commented Hamann. Realizing he gets recognized often, Hamann said he “gets a kick out of it.”
Hamann explained the weirdest time he got recognized as the Milverine. “Two girls in a car [were] circling me around, trying to get me from the side, from the front, and from the back…I just kept walking.”
Hamann dug into his memory to describe his favorite picture taken of him. It was on First and Nashville. “One guy jumps out of a car. His two daughters wanted to take a picture with me. One was six and one was eight-years-old…I thought it was really funny.”
On occasion when he sees trouble while on his walks, the Milverine said that he breaks up. He said, ”sometimes I don’t have to use violence, I just [verbally] break it up…A lot of times, it’s just 15 [or] 16-year-old kids yelling at each other and you gotta break it up before something starts.”
There’s no doubt that people think Hamann is a tough guy. Some people on Facebook, like Greg Zimmerman even compare Hamann to Chuck Norris. He wrote, “Chuck Norris?? MILVERINE!!!!” on the wall of Milverine’s fan page.
Mark Adam Miller on Facebook wrote, “Rumor has it, Chuck Norris is dressing up as Milverine for Halloween.” Despite all the jokes, Hamann said that Bruce Lee is better than Chuck Norris.
Although many see a tough-guy façade, Kyle Diesner, a guest at Hamann’s meet-and-greet, said “I was surprised how friendly he was.”
Some are disappointed that so much is being revealed about this mystery man. Kevin Topel, a man who met Milverine during Gallery Night, said “the fact that you could just walk up and meet him kind of ruined the legacy. The mystique is gone.”
As for Hamann’s past, he said he was born in Milwaukee, grew up on the south side, and went to Pulaski High School.
Currently, he is a construction worker, but doesn’t just work for one company. “I do roofing jobs during the summer…I do a lot of different jobs,” said Hamann. When talking about desk jobs, he said “I’m not one of those white-collar pansies.”
Construction work is not his main focus though. Hamann is a passionate opera fan and aspiring cage fighter.
His goal of being a cage fighter is why Hamann walks so much. He said that he’s just trying to stay in shape. Hamann said his favorite cage fighters are Anderson “The Spider” Silva, Georges “Rush” St-Pierre, and Frankie Edgar because they can all “give and take a lot of pain.”
Hamann said he cannot stand pop or country music, but he couldn’t say enough about opera music. Among his favorites are Sumi Jo, Dmirti Hvorostovsky (a Russian baritone), and Mario Lanza. When describing opera music, he said “it is a dying thing, but if anyone promoted it in a proper way, it would come right back.” Hamann said that he hands out opera recordings to some of his friends to attempt to promote opera music.
According to Hamann, for fun, he goes to festivals during the summer and watches various sporting events on TV, especially boxing and cage fighting on pay-per-view. He said he doesn’t like actually attending sporting events.
Even though he is a native Milwaukeean, Hamann doesn’t enjoy baseball. He is more of a basketball and football fan. He roots for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Green Bay Packers. He favors Clay Matthews, but said “I wish he could get a haircut though, you know?”
The event at Too Much Rock for One Hand featured customized t-shirts with a Milverine logo on them. According to Gillich, the host of the event, the proceeds from the t-shirts went to John. At the end of the night, $420 went to Hamann from t-shirt sales.