[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/03/art.vert.mercado.jpg caption="A May 2007 photograph of celebrity psychic Walter Mercado." width=292 height=320]
She's a beautiful actress with a dirty little secret. When I saw her posing in a magazine with Claudia Schiffer at the Cannes Film Festival, I recognized her from our years at NYU. Now through Facebook we're back in touch. That's where she confessed to me what was once unspeakable, her secret habit.
She's not the type you might think would obsessively call psychic hotlines and spend literally up to a thousand dollars a month on them. But that's the addiction she says she's been fighting for years with virtually no other support.
Unlike shopaholics or nail-biters for example, it's not easy to find a group to help those hooked on fortune tellers. If a highly educated model could be addicted to psychic hotlines, I thought, how many others are, but don’t know where to turn or might be too embarrassed to ask for help.
By chance, I happened to pick up the Miami Herald the day she confessed to me that she’s still fighting the urge to call a psychic. On the front page I read about a celebrity psychic who is the center of a legal battle over his own name. A federal jury gave a Miami promoter ownership of the Walter Mercado trademark throughout the "universe" and into "perpetuity." The jury found that Mercado had improperly terminated a 1995 contract. He is one of the Latin world's most beloved stars. The kind of celebrity who has taken the heat on The Howard Stern Show and then visited Regis and Kelly for morning news show chatter.
Flamboyant, dramatic - described as the "Liberace of Astrology" - in many ways Walter Mercado is out of this world. Many of us grew up watching his predictions on one of Univision 's most popular shows ever. And for us, he's a one of a kind fixture, a galactic guru who has delivered astrological and spiritual advice for more than 40 years.
My college friend's revelations now made me wonder: could someone as inoffensive as Walter Mercado once seemed to me, be fueling secret addictions?
And since there are so many phone psychics, all this got me wondering how many psychic phone addicts are out there, and are there any support groups for them?
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