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Excerpt "Naked in the Spotlight"


Patron with Honors
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Some of you have asked me for my stories.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Here is a chapter from my book.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Regards,[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Mark
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The Silent Treatment[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Bathed in moonlight, our hero covers the mouth of a wounded soldier. [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Don’t speak” flashed across the screen. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]He picks his comrade up, and begins carrying him in his arms. In close-up, we see the wounded soldier’s hand grasp the five stars decorating our hero’s shoulders, telling us that his saviour is also a general. A dense fog crosses the screen, as it grips the landscape with skeleton-like fingers. In a long shot, we see the trees peeking through a soup-like haze that covers the ground. With the exception of the trees, there is no cover. The General carries his charge across an enormous barren field that extends for miles in every direction. The soldier’s lasceration is bleeding profusely and he covers his wound with his right hand. The soldier is obviously in agony and opens his mouth, as if to moan. We cut to a close-up of the general speaking as the title card bursts onscreen, [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]One sound, and it’s all over for both of us.” [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Back in a long shot, we are nearly blinded when a blaze of light, explodes behind the soldiers, throwing them into silhouette, as an enemy bomb drops onto the misty landscape. The weight of his cargo becomes untenable. The general’s face grimaces in pain, and his steps get progressively slower. [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I must rest” read the title card. With his last strength, he gently places his burden down on the ground. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Inside the theater, the pianist played a melancholy melody, as the women in the audience began to wipe the tears from their eyes. Our hero falls asleep, and the wounded soldier falls into unconsciousness. The pianist is working at full-tilt at the top of the keyboard. The tension becomes nearly unbearable as we see the bayonets of the enemy rifles moving into the screen from every angle. They are closer and closer to our hero, when another bomb drops and the screen goes white. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I rub my eyes in the blinding sunlight pouring in through my bedroom window in Vienna. I snap out of my daydream long enough to hear, “Don’t speak. Do not answer any questions.” Heino Plapperer’s voice was pummeling my left ear through the telephone receiver. “Do not take calls from anyone. If anyone gets through to you, send them to me. Let me handle this.” He was the director of the Deutsches Theater in Munich, and he was dead serious. “Mark, are you there? Do you understand?” Heino asked. [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Yes, I won’t say a word.” I answered.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I don’t know what Herr Plapperer was worried about, the phone never rang. No one tried to get in touch with me and there was not a single request for a comment or an interview. Strange, since I was front page news. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]For five days at the beginning of May 2003, readers in Munich and the surrounding areas were treated to daily shrieking headlines: “Elvis sings for Scientology;” “The King that no one wants – Scientology “Elvis” has no fans at City Hall;” “Scandal around Producer and Star of new Musical – Elvis sings for Scientology;” to name just a few. A number of the articles made it to the front page of the papers. Almost all of the articles were graced with a beautiful, full-color photo of me. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The silent treatment, like a new car, could be delivered with many different accessories, and in a number of various editions. Over the last five years, I had trafficed with the silent treatment so extensively, that I knew the entire product line. There was the “Budget edition,” like the situation in Munich in the summer of 2003. Newspapers, magazines, radio and/or television would print or broadcast stories about me and Scientology without ever checking a single fact. In Hollywood or London, a person whose private life generated news, would be called (or even hounded) to refute or confirm an accusation or article – especially if there was some kind of scandal attached to it. The second contact allowed one to “spin” the story for another two or three days. Not in my case -- I got the silent treatment. The stories were printed wholesale without any basis in fact. If I called a reporter to refute a story, I was disconnected or ignored.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]However heinous the “budget” edition” was, it still was preferable to the “luxury edition.” The luxury edition, as its name indicated, was very expensive. I would spend weeks or months in negotiation for a deal with a record company, television producer, theater director, or concert promoter. I travelled hundreds, sometimes thousands of kilometers to meet and speak with my business partners. Excitement would be in the air. The negotiations would be proceeding splendidly. Projects, ideas, cooperations, or opportunities would be worked out in detail. When suddenly, from one day to the next, and completely without warning or excuse, I would get “the silent treatment.” Telephone calls would no longer be accepted. My business partner would suddenly be “on vacation,” “in a meeting,” or “unavailable” for any call.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]In the late 1990s, Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman had scored a massive, number-one hit with “Time To Say Goodbye”. It was a “classical crossover” song combining operatic voices with pop arrangements. The song sold many millions of copies all over Europe and as a result, every record label in Europe was looking for “the next Andrea Bocelli.” I had been in negotiatons for nearly two months with the head of A&R (artists and repertory) from a major label in Frankfurt, Germany. We had agreed in principal to a new album of Andrea Bocelli-like “crossover” songs and were shortly before going to contract. Suddenly, he and the deal, disappeared. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]There is a point where one forgets good manners. I had reached it. With complete disregard to decorum, I started calling this executive’s office 5 times an hour, every hour, every day, until after three days of telephone terror, exasperated, he finally took my call. “What the hell is going on?” I demanded. “Why are you behaving this way. Last week we were about to make a deal” [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The flustered executive then said something that nearly froze my blood in my veins “Mark, I will tell you this on the condition that you stop calling me.” I agreed, and he continued, “This is off the record and if you repeat it, I will deny it. I sent the proposal for our project to our legal department. I was called to their offices and shown a confidential internal list of ‘persons with whom one should not work.’ Your name was on that list, Mark. Even if we were to do a deal with you, we would not be able to promote your recordings or get any airplay. You’re on a blacklist, Mark. Listen, I am sorry. I think you’re a great guy and you have an amazing voice. But, (LABEL NAME) won’t touch you with a 10-foot pole. You’ve got a lot of enemies. I have been forbidden by the company to remain in contact with you in any way. Gotta go.” With that he hung up the phone. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The Deutsches Theater Munich, was the last link in a seemingly endless chain of events. The dialtone whirred in my ear as Herr Plapperer had long since finished speaking. In my mind, I did not know if I had been speaking with the head of A&R from “BLANK” Records or with Herr Plapperer or with one of the many, many others. After all the years of cancellations and disappointments, it was just another call, another mountain of negativity. I had reached bottom, and it had all become overwhelming. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I stood like a statue in the sunlight with the receiver next to my head, listening to the white noise at the other end of the line. After a few more moments, I hung up and slowly crawled back to my bed. I had not showered, shaved or left my apartment for three days. My head was splitting and I was like a petrified tree. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t make a decision. I was stuck. Four weeks before opening night, for nearly a week there had been a media “feeding frenzy” in Munich. It was a “Blitzkrieg” (lightning war), where every destructive force was implemented with the highest speed and concentration, to break the enemy -- me. Once broken, the enemy forces could proceed unhindered. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The media in Bayern accused me of planting “secret Scientology messages” in my script and in my recordings. I was accused of proselytizing my musical audiences to convert to Scientology. According to the press, I was selling “[/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Dianetics[/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif]” books in the intermission. Most laughable, the newspapers assured their readers that the entire production had been financed by the Church of Scientology, and that buying a ticket to “Elvis” would be tantamount to “putting money in Scientology’s pockets.” The Munich city government was accused of promoting Scientology by allowing me to perform in their theater.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The newspapers and magazines reporting this nonsense were (under normal conditions) reputable media outlets. These were not the British “rags.” Astoundingly, every paper in Bayern wrote a variation of the same story, without any of them ever checking a single fact. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I was faced with a conundrum. If I cancelled the production in Münich, the “enemies” would win. If I went through with the show, I would most certainly face another huge financial debacle.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The Deutsches Theater, with its 1,800 seats, is a Broadway-level production house and one of the most-popular, and best-run theaters in Germany. Starring in a big production in the Deutsches Theater in Munich is a career goal for any perfomer in the theater world in Germany. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Starting in 1997, the “Scientology problem” began creating major financial losses for me. For example, the Deutsches Theater Munich was to have presented “Elvis: A Musical Biography,” my breakthrough production, for a four-week run in Spring 1998. This was a major contract and meant a huge amount of money for me. As news of my affiliation with Scientology became public knowledge, Heino Plapperer was placed under enormous pressure by the city government and was forced to cancel the performances. At that time, he took me aside privately, apologized for the situation, and promised to “make it right” by me at a later point in the future. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]In the intervening five years, I had endured the Marianne Himmel fiasco with its cancelled record contracts and television appearances. I had survived the protests and death threats during “Be My Love”, as well as the cancellation in 2001 of the musical “Charlie” at yet another theater in Munich. I had outlived the transformation of my concerts to protest arenas. Very honestly, I did not believe that Herr Plapperer would make good on his word. I was wrong.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]In 2002, I was approaching my 40[/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif]th[/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif] birthday. My life had become a prison to me. More than a prison, it had turned into a living hell. This was no ordinary “mid-life crisis.” It was not just the fact that I, (like every other man on the planet), began to realize that with my 40 years, time was slipping through my fingers. My “crisis” was compounded by the fact that my destiny that had been ripped out my hands. I felt like a drug addict on a really bad trip -- all lows, and no highs. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Withdrawal
[/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif]
There was no burn.
There was no itch.
There was no headache.
Only a silent step toward death.

From the innermost depth of my being
I sense the emptiness,
Confronting the intolerability of
an existence that I can continue no longer

The click of the light switch[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]thunders through the empty apartment.

The taste of death pervades the rooms.
The scream of silence[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]engulfing the cacophony of thoughts racing through my head.

Every second thrusting me one step closer to the end

Thoughts in my head can no longer be ignored.
They cannot be buried
They will not be stilled.

Life seeping out -- drop by drop.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]An I.V. into nothingness

Oh, just to be filled with Sun,
With Life.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The idea of five more years similar to the ones I had just survived was ludicris to me. I had promised myself that no matter the cost, I would break the stranglehold that the enemies of Scientology had placed on my career. I promised myself that I would re-take control of my life. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I set a plan in motion. I went to my computer and started to write. I decided to create a project “so commercial” that a theater would have been crazy NOT to produce it. As I have often said, I was never an Elvis fan. However, the Elvis Musical in 1997 had been the biggest success of my career. In order to facilitate my reappearance into the German marketplace, I decided to re-visit “The King.” Despite all the negative publicity I had received in the intervening years, my reputation for singing Elvis’ music was still pristine. I wrote a new project, ingeniously titled “ELVIS: The Musical.” In contrast to the production of 1997, which like “Mamma Mia” was truly a “jukebox musical”, “Elvis 2002,” had only 60% Elvis Hits and 40% of the production was newly-composed songs written for the musical. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I finished my script, borrowed some money, and then went straight into the recording studio to record a “demo album.” Afterwards, I spent a few weeks creating an advertising campaign complete with posters, folders and flyers. I bought a webdomain, and created a website with music videos, photos from the 1997 production and MP3s of my new recordings. Then, I got on the phone. I called the Theater Akzent and booked the theater for the world-premiere and 30 other performances. I followed that by contacting every theater, in every city, in Germany, Switzerland and Austria where I had ever worked. Using the demo CD and the website as my sales tool, I was able to put together a “mini-tour” of Switzerland and Germany which would occur during the down time in between of the Viennese performances. The “pre-sold” tour financed the physical production that finally made it to the stage in Vienna. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]One of the many people I contacted at that time was Heino Plapperer from the Deutsches Theater in Münich. True to his word, he drove the four hours from Munich, and sat in the second row during the Viennese premiere in the Theater Akzent. Herr Plapperer was so impressed both with the production and with my script, that he made good on his promise of 1998 and booked the show for a three-week run during June 2003. I was ecstatic. Everything was falling into place, exactly as I had wished it would. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]We had smooth sailing for Munich until the posters for the production hit the streets six weeks before our premiere. Once the Münich press realized that “Mr. Scientology” would be playing in “their” theater, all hell broke loose. The headlines screamed. Radio spots were broadcast claiming that the production had been cancelled and asking the customers to return their tickets. Local television went on the hunt, and the press outrage reached the hallowed halls of the Mayor’s office. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Herr Plapperer spent days in meetings with City Officials. Fortunately, he remained steadfast in his conviction, and eventually the storm blew over. However, the fallout of the negative publicity, included the cancellation of all reservations at the hotel where the cast was to stay for nearly five weeks; as well as the production being evicted from its planned rehearsal studios.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]During the press attacks and following confusion in Münich, I remained in constant contact with the Office of Special Affairs International in Los Angeles. In addition to the media attacks, Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) had begun to threaten legal action against my production. Daily, they bombarded Herr Plapperer’s Office with faxes and emails. Their claims were baseless, and they knew it. In contrast to American law, within the European Union, the name and biographical details of a famous person are considered to be in “public domain” and cannot be copyrighted. More than that, neither Elvis’ face or voice were used either in the production itself, nor in our advertising materials. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Over the years, I had developed an intimate rapport with the Sea Org members of OSA in Los Angeles. The protests against my person were often international and fell outside the jurisdiction of a single country. I called Los Angeles and asked OSA to please get in touch with Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, (both of whom are Scientologists.) “Just explain the situation. EPE has no legal claim whatsoever regarding this production. You know that I am neither an Elvis fan, nor an imitator. I am not trying to steal money from Priscilla Presley or anyone else.” [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]My contact person there, (who shall remain nameless here), said to me “Sorry, Mark, but we can’t get involved in this. It is not COS business.” [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I thought I didn’t hear correctly. I asked her to repeat herself.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]She said again, “Sorry, Mark, but this is a commercial undertaking, and has nothing to do with the Church. We can’t get involved in this. You will have to work that out with EPE yourself.” [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The piano is still. As the whiteout from the fallen bomb has subsided, we begin to hear a quiet trill of two notes played in succession at the top of the keyboard. The trill gets louder and louder, as the enemies’ bayonets move to within inches from our Hero’s face. A kick wakes him from his exhaustion. The General leaves his injured colleague on the ground and very slowly begins to stand up, hands stretched out to his sides to show “no threat.” [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The title card reads “Wait, just a minute…” [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The enemy soldiers and their bayonets do not relax or retreat in any way. Inside the theater, the pianists fingers move with lightning speed across the ivories, attempting to re-create the tension of the moment. Suddenly, the music changes. We hear the villian’s theme, as the “fallen comrade” quickly stands up. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The title card reads, “It was all a trap!” [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The villian takes one of the “enemies” bayonets and with glee stabs our hero in the back. Within moments, the rest follow suit. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The title card reads “Well done, corporal,” as the screen fades to black. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Something inside of me broke. The hope that rescue would ever find its way to me, died in that moment. It finally became clear to me, that I would never find support from within the Church. In that second, I decided that after “Elvis” finished it’s run, I would be finished with the Church. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Despite my crushing disappointment, my anger got the best of me and I flipped completely out. “What the hell are you talking about? The protests here are against the Church, not me. It is YOUR business!! YOUR enemies are the reasons for the protests here. No one has a problem with Mark Janicello. They don’t give a damn about me. They have a problem with the Church.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I was no longer speaking but bellowing into my cellphone, “I made a stand for religious freedom. Everyone in the group was so very happy when I spoke up. Now I need your help. Since 1998, I have been attacked non-stop. I have not been able to work in Germany since then. This is my first real contract in Germany in nearly 6 years.” [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Mark, you need to calm down” she answered in a robotic voice.[/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]No. I am not going to calm down. I am killing myself here. More than that, I am getting killed here. All this time, the Church has done NOTHING to support me. It took me 6 years to get a show in this theater. Six years!! This theater was the very first that kicked me out because I was a Scientologist, and now they want to make it right. Don’t you see? Finally someone in Germany has the balls to stand up for religious freedom and you’re telling me [/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif]‘We can’t get involved in this. It’s not COS business.’ [/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Are you out of your fucking mind?” [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Mark, calm down. We have more people to think about than you. You are not the only one in Germany having problems,” she said. [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]No, certainly, I am not. But I AM the only Scientologist getting the shit beat out of him in the press. When they attack me, they reach millions of people, because every attack gets multiplied by the media. That’s why they keep hitting me. I am a big, fat target.” I was panting.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]It was unbelieveable to me that I had to explain myself, yet again, to OSA. They knew my situation. They knew the extent of the damage that had been inflicted on me. “Herr Plapperer has fought city hall, and the entire press here in Bayern to put this show on with me. He is getting a LOT of heat. Now you fucking support him and you goddamn do it right now. Get EPE off of my back. I don’t need any extra pressure from my “own” people.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Here’s the deal, Plapperer is now in negotiations with the mayor’s office. A very high ranking official is preparing a statement to defend me. The Mayor’s office will announce, that contrary to what has been publicized, there is no evidence, whatsoever, to prove that I have ever misused a theater audience to promote Scientology. They are going to say, that as long as I only do the musical, I should be allowed to work in their theater. Do you know how important that is??” I demanded.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I could hear the wheels turning on the other end of the phone. Still, no sound was uttered.[/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Now, God as my witness, if you don’t do something to take the pressure off of me and this situation now, I will cancel everything. I will stop the production AND I will stop the statement from the Mayor’s office. Have I made myself clear?” Having played my trump card, I rested.[/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Yes, perfectly. I will see what I can do.” The phone went dead[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Later that day, I got a call from Adam.* He had been assigned by the Church to assist me in solving the problem with Elvis Presley Enterprises. “Hi Mark, here is Adam Greenberg. I got a call from OSA in Los Angeles. They gave me your number.” [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Hi Adam, thanks for calling. Have you been briefed?” I asked.[/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]No, I don’t know anything,” he said. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]His voice was very young, so I asked him “How old are you?”[/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]26.” [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I spent the next 20 minutes explaining the situation to Adam. At the end of which, I asked “What exactly do you do for OSA?” [/FONT]

“[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I just got my law degree, and from time to time I help OSA in Munich with legal issues.” I will get on this straight away.” He then hung up. The next day, a short fax, recanting EPE’s claims on my Musical was sent from Adam, both to EPE in Memphis and to Herr Plapperer’s office in Munich. It had no effect whatsoever. EPE continued their harrangue of faxes and emails.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Neither Priscilla nor Lisa Marie Presley were ever contacted. [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]No further support from Adam, or OSA was ever forthcoming for me or the production. [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I never heard from OSA International again.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Eventually, the Deutsches Theater’s own lawyer determined that EPE’s claims were, (as I knew) baseless. After nearly a week fossilized in my bedroom in Vienna, l made the decision to see the production through to the bitter end. I summoned my last ounce of courage, and made my way to Münich. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]A few days after the media storm had begun, the Vice Mayor of the City of Munich made an official statement on television. Broadcast from City Hall, he exonerated me from all the bogus charges that had been levied in the press and essentially paved the way for the production to proceed. With no help from the Church of Scientology whatsoever, I was able to get a major politician to defend my right to work and therewith, to make a stand for religious freedom in Bayern. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]With the final legal hurdle cleared, Herr Plapperer called a press conference. The assembled press, had a few beers and sandwiches before the event began. Herr Plapperer started the “official” part of the press conference by strongly chastizing the press for their “irresponsible” behaviour, and reminding them of the enormous financial damages that they had inflicted on the production. There was a general uncomfortableness in the room. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]After a few more awkward moments, he introduced me to the media with the following words, “Mark Janicello is one of the most brilliant Elvis interpreters in the world. To have him here on our stage is artistic triumph.” I was livid inside, but kept my anger to myself. I went on to sing “Suspcious Minds” and to brilliantly entertain the same media who had just attempted to destroy my production and who had shamelessly slandered me just a few days earlier. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I finished my song, and a few general questions were asked, none of which concerned Scientology. We took a few photos, and with that, my one and only exposure to the media in Bayern was over. The next day, my press conference version of “Suspicious Minds” was broadcast on local television and our ticket sales began to rebound somewhat. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I set about cleaning up the “mess” that the press had made. With great effort, and a LOT of extra cost, I found a new hotel for the cast for our five weeks in Munich. Through a dear friend, we found a new rehearsal space. The ensemble arrived from Vienna, oblivious to everything that had occurred in the Munich press and we went to work. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Three days before the premiere, the first death threats arrived at the theater. In contrast to “Be My Love” in 1999, this time, we were prepared. “Elvis: The Musical” opened for the first of 18 performances in June 2003, with the highest level of security in the history of the Deutsches Theater Munich.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Our premiere was sold-out and we were celebrated with a standing ovation. However, the next day, many reviews claimed that the theater was half-empty, the audience bored and the production a “mega-flop.” I bit my lower lip and soldiered on. Through 24 songs, and 20 costume changes, 6 times a week, I took Elvis from Tupelo, to Memphis, to Hollywood and finally to Graceland. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Out of fear of further protests in the theater, no other theater owners or producers were ever invited to watch the production. As a result, the Elvis Musical “died” in Münich. I had worked 18 hours a day, 7 days a week for nearly 10 months to get to that premiere. We had a great show, which should have had a long, extended run. We didn’t. After all was said and done, the hate and disinformation campaign waged by the enemies of Scientology kept enough people away from the theater to leave me personally, with a loss of more than €80,000.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]In 1997, when the Scientology problems first became serious, I had promised myself that I would never be forced out of Germany. I promised myself that I would fight back, until I had broken the stranglehold on my career. Six years, countless millions of euros and tears later, I finally achieved my goal. I never do anything halfway. I believe that should you either do something, or not do it. After the Vice-Mayor of Munich spoke up on my behalf, I felt I had accomplished my goal. I had nothing left to prove in Germany, so I decided to leave. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I left Austria. I left Germany, and most importantly, I left Scientology. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Like the “good guy” in an old western movie, I jumped on my horse, and rode off into the sunset. Actually, I [/FONT][FONT=Arial, sans-serif]borrowed €100 to get back to Vienna. I then packed my bags, sold my furniture and moved to Amsterdam. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]At the time, I couldn’t hear the german language any more. It had become associated with so much negativity, that I wanted to go someplace where I could hear my mother tongue spoken. My choices were London or Amsterdam. Like Zürich, nearly everyone speaks english in Amsterdam. I had no friends in London, but I did know a few people in the Netherlands – so Amsterdam it was.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]On the day that I arrived at Schiphol airport, I had €250,000 Euros in debt and 13 lawsuits hanging around my neck. However, at that moment, I did not care about anything. I didn’t care about the lawsuits. I didn’t care if I ever stepped foot on a stage again. I didn’t care if I ever sang another tone. I was exhausted, physically, financially and emotionally.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I needed to escape. I wanted to go to a place where no one knew who I was. I was desperate to be Mark Janicello again, and no longer “Mr. Scientology.” I needed distance, espcially distance from the Church. Not because I was afraid of them, but because I was afraid of my own desire to “help.” I knew that if I stayed in Vienna, at some point, someone in the Church would ask me for assistance for something or the other. Knowing myself the way I did, I also knew, that despite everything that had occurred, I would probably help them. This time, I made the decision to help myself. I decided to “disappear,” and to put physical distance between the Church and myself. [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]In Holland, I was completely unknown -- but I was finally free.[/FONT]