Bad and Good Stars in the Sky PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

wmPuerto Rico's 76-year-old Walter Mercado is a fixture on Univision's popular Spanish-language show "Primer Impacto." If you've never seen his show, I'd spoil the experience for you by describing it. It may be enough for you to know that he has a doctorate in Divinity from the International Philo-Byzantine Academy & University, in 1969 he was inducted as a Universal Teacher in Poona, Bombay, in Tibet and Nepal he holds the title of Chela and Buddhist Bikku, he has been a minister of the California Christian Brotherhood since 1970, and he also has a doctorate in Divine Healing from Tokyo, Japan. On top of all that, Walter is an astrologer. Wow!

It seems that the flamboyant Liberace-costumed astrologer had the right stars aligned this week when a federal jury found that though he improperly broke his contract with his former management companies, he did not have to pay the millions of dollars they sought from him for lost profits and damages. Mercado's astonished attorney said he never had a jury find that a client broke contractual obligations but owed nothing.

Said he:

This is very unique. The jury determined Walter didn't perform in 2006, but they really couldn't prove [the plaintiffs] had sustained any damages.

In the 1990s, Mercado - already a well-known woo-woo celebrity in the Hispanic community - was introduced to agent Guiliermo Bakula by the rock star Prince's promoter. Bakula signed Mercado to a contract to expand his brands of nonsense. Together they formed more than a dozen companies for Mercado "products" such as DVDs, books, radio spots, a 1-900 psychic hotline, and text messages. Then in 2006 Mercado had a dispute with Bakula over compensation, assigned all of his products to his own company, Astromundo, and hired a new agent. In 2007, six entities with names like Waltervision Productions, sued Mercado.

Mercado's lawyer said that the plaintiff companies had asked for about $10 million from his client. The contract only paid Mercado a paltry $32,000 a month and a pro rata share of anything more than $2 million made in the United States and any other country using his name, image and/or voice. The lawyer also pointed out that the 1995 contract was never-ending, so that the astrologer would have to work for these companies forever. Hey, if he can find sense in astrology, Mercado certainly can manage to live forever...!

The complaint against Mercado listed a number of obligations he'd failed to fulfill, such as: taping a commercial for the 1-900 business in Mexico, recording audio horoscopes, writing 2007 predictions for a magazine and Web sites, and taping television horoscopes to be aired on Univision. In return, Mercado countersued for $450,000 he claimed he was owed. After 45 minutes of deep thought on this woo-woo - a minute for every $10,000 - the jury decided that Mercado couldn't ask for damages because he didn't properly terminate his agreement.

The moral of all this? Silly people get involved with other silly people, and the only ones who come out on top are the fake in the glitzy costume and all the lawyers on both sides, who are equally happy...