It wasn’t hyperbole to say he was a hero to millions of adoring fans. Hans Schreiber already had a successful music career when the acting bug infected him. The two performing paths had some common ground. Soon he was also sought out for major parts in television and movies.
During his rare down time, he decided to write about his many unusual life experiences. With a burning ambition to maintain his fame, Hans documented all his funny stories with the aim of adding ‘author’ to an already impressive resumé. It was the coveted trifecta of performing arts; and he was already well on his way to achieve that.
After his book came out and rocketed up the bestseller charts, it seemed like he had it all. He had fame, money and critical acclaim from his peers. He was immersed in the Hollywood lifestyle and had no shortage of female admirers. He had a highly public series of high-profile romances with co-stars that kept his name in the public eye. More importantly to his agent, it kept his name on the lips of producers and directors. Upward he continued to climb the elite ladder of showbiz to dizzying heights.
Some in that situation turn to booze or drugs to deal with the dark side of fame. Not Hans. Those things didn’t really appeal to him; but he still had the same pangs of excess to deal with. He bought exotic cars and mansions. He dropped ridiculous amounts of money on women he barely knew and other whimsical things. Too much still wasn’t enough when the name of the game was ‘more’. He floundered at the top of the provincial fish bowl. He sought out some challenge that he hadn’t yet achieved.
As if by process of elimination, Hans was drawn into the ethereal world of spirituality. Christianity has many different sects but in all cases, the top leaders of each denomination have already long been decided. The idea of worship and study in a limited realm of equal peers didn’t appeal to him. He wanted to get involved with a branch of religion where there was room for advancement and achievement. None of the mainstream faiths really allowed him to shine or excel. As a matter of fact, they seemed to be all about deflating one’s ego and recognizing that he was no better than anyone else.
He was eternally surrounded by hangers-on and ego boosters like everyone else with that level of fame. Even if he had craved a greater level of grounding in reality, there were far too many in his entourage that did not. They purposefully sought to keep him cocky. It was in their best interests to do so. The ‘gravy train’ would soon come to a halt if he stopped believing in himself. The studios and record labels paid the parasites to help maintain his facade of perfection and invincibility.
One day he was presented with a spiritual option that still appealed to his desire for fame and didn’t make his handlers nervous. The dark arts were actually considered a ‘hip’ fad among the Hollywood elite. It was reimagined as ‘counterculture spirituality’ instead of satanism but the tabloids quickly got wind of his new hobby and leaked the juicy story to their readers.
“Idol Hans involved with the Devil’s workshop”; the sensational headline read. His agent and manager got together to discuss how to spin the damaging story. Both agreed that if used correctly, the embarrassing news could be used to actually help his career. People in middle America might frown upon such things for themselves but they held their heroes to a different standard. It would probably just be seen as ‘another kooky Hollywood fad’. They might even be able to spin it that it was all for research for a new film role.
Since he hadn’t had any booze or drug scandals, the lurid story could actually make him seem ‘normal’ by the skewed standards of the rich and famous. Both of them breathed a sigh of relief. The crisis might just be averted after all. They were quick to pat themselves on the back for such effective damage control. They only had to explain the dire importance of future discretion to Hans, himself. First and foremost, he had to understand. There were only so many celebrity crisis situations they could neutralize.
Hans was too close to the situation to see what the big fuss was about. After all, it was his life. Why should it matter to anyone else what he did with his spare time? He didn’t think there was anything wrong with his choices in the first place. It annoyed him to no end that he might have to hide a part of himself from the public.
They were his adoring fans. Why would they judge his choice of spirituality? Having to avoid disclosing his personal interests seemed a lot like self censorship and he wasn’t having it. Against the direct council of his management team, he made a public statement about his involvement in the occult. They were appalled at his lack of discretion and scrambled to ‘fix’ it.
Religious organizations put pressure on commercial sponsors to drop him from television shows. Family groups boycotted his films and large retailers refused to sell his music CDs or book anymore. Suddenly producers were refusing to take his calls and his publisher even revoked his second book contract. In a matter of a few days he went from an ‘A list’ celebrity to a blacklisted nobody.
Hans could hardly believe the rapid change in fortune but there was no denying it. His agent and management team were absolutely right to warn him before but there was no easy undo now. It was done. Through it all, he still very much resented that he couldn’t be open about who he was. Why was the system so rigid? Why did the fans hold their idols up to such unrealistic, unfair standards? He had learned a valuable lesson about how fickle the audience could be, but he still demanded to know why. That was to be his undoing.
Instead of backing away publicly from his occult studies, he stubbornly went out of his way to promote his direct association with it. He forced his publicist to promote stories of his continued involvement and he even fired his remaining management team who begged him to stop. It was as if Hans thought he could personally reverse the whitewashing trend of Hollywood celebrities but forcing them to accept the ‘real’ him. By and large, the unusual strategy failed. You can’t reverse the course of the river because you want it to flow the other way.
With the only area of success left in Han’s life being his occult studies, he sought answers to life from the black lodge priests. How could he reverse his recent misfortune and regain the fame that still called to him? Their answer was both stark and painful.
“In order to regain your celebrity stature among the public, you must perform the ultimate act of personal humility. Your fans need to see an undeniable gesture of equality from you. By committing a sacrificial suicide, it will ensure your eternal place in infamy. In death we are the same.”
Hans struggled with the steep price of earning his coveted place in history. Inflicting a mortal wound to achieve some pale shade of immortality, seemed self-defeating but the deep symbolism wasn’t lost on him. It really was the ultimate grand gesture. His deliberate exit from the living would make headlines globally. There would be articles written about him and flattering fan tributes. He would be elevated once again to mega stardom. He would never grow old or burn out. It was the ultimate solution and Hans began constructing his suicide note.
As his final communication with the world, it had to be perfect. He wrote out several drafts and tried to balance sincere humility with just a dash of melodrama. Finally, he was satisfied and the hour of action was upon him. As he drifted off forever to a state of absolute nothingness, he fantasized about the shocked reaction of a stunned world. He wished he could be around to see the results of his final performance but that wasn’t possible. There was a price to be paid to insure he was never forgotten. The last thing he ever did was to curl his lips into a grim, slanted smile before the poison took effect.
A few days later, his hometown paper printed his unnoticed obituary on page 6 between the comics and the Chinese horoscopes. The satanic cult was right about one thing though. Death was the great equalizer.