Since 1981, Austin Richards (pictured below in his home workshop) has been dreaming up and building Tesla coils for entertainment. But in 1997, he took his hobby to a new level by building a metal suit to protect himself from the coil’s electronic discharges, and the character Dr. MegaVolt was born. “It’s sort of like being a lion tamer,” he said. “It focuses your attention, and you have to be extra aware of where your body is at all times.”
Dr. MegaVolt and his wife, Victoria Charters, aka Mistress MegaVolt, who performs in a metal suit of her own, have taken this Santa Barbara–based electro-performance all over the world, including to Burning Man, Italy, Thailand, and Abu Dhabi. MegaVolt even guest starred on Germany’s Next Topmodel and most recently mesmerized the crowd at the opening party for SBCAST. By day, Richards is the father of twins and a research scientist at Flir Systems; Mistress MegaVolt also produced a documentary called Dr. MegaVolt: From Geek to Superhero.