LUKE BLADE: A Biography
Ever since Criss Angel guest-starred on CSI: NY, his character, Luke Blade, the psychopathic magician, has taken on a life of his own on the Loyal Community Website. He has been portrayed as everything from heartless killer to frightened man-child to sadisic lover. He had even been "married" a few times, with children.
But the details of his "life" are sketchy at best. An hour's episode merely scratched the surface of the complex life of Luke Blade. How do you reconstruct a man's entire life? What forces shaped his destiny? How did an abandoned child become the phenomenal illusionist known the world over? And what led to his psychopathy? What drove him to kill? Did he feel any hint of remorse for his actions?
It is my hope to try to help the public understand Luke Blade, the man as well as the legend. From the few resources at my disposal, I attempted to reconstruct his life, with its triumphs as well as its tragedies. There were a few bright moments in his troubled life, but in the maelstrom that was his soul, with all the anger and bitterness, there was a deep sadness which could not be eradicated, not even by all the applause from every audience for whom he performed. In spite of all his crimes, he overcame a great deal of personal and professional adversity to make it to the top of the entertainment world. In many respects, he truly was a hero. It was for this reason his downfall was so dramatic.
This is not an apology for Blade. This is not to justify his crimes, but to seek the motive behind them. Luke Blade will always be held accountable for his actions no matter what. This book is to show Luke Blade as he had never been seen before by the public and the media--as a human being.
Chapter One: The Child.
The man who would become Luke Blade was born "No-name Clark" on December 19, 1975, in Long Island, New York. His father, George Clark, was an itenerant laborer who had been in and out of prison since the age of sixteen for various misdemeanors ranging from breaking and entering to assault with a deadly weapon. When Clark was twenty-five, he met Lola Tatumski, an alcoholic waitress at a local diner. She was twenty-three, but looked older, having worked throughout her teen years supporting her family when her father died. In George Clark, she hoped to find escape.
Both wanted a stable relationship, and they eloped on June 12, 1974. The marriage was rocky from the start. In the cold-water flat they shared, there were reports of fights and loud arguements between them. Lola began drinking even more heavily. George began staying out late at night, sometimes not coming home until mid-morning the next day.
Yet they stayed together long enough to conceive a child. When Lola found out she was pregnant, she did her level best to stop drinking. Unfortunatly for the baby, she failed, lapsing every once in a while, thinking "one drink can't hurt".
When it came time for her delivery, complications arose. The birth was difficult, and Lola died on the delivery table of preeclampsia. The baby, however, survived, seemingly healthy at first sight. George Clark realized he could not take care of a baby by himself, and so decided to give him up for adoption.
Baby Clark, as he became known in the hospital records, was quickly adopted by Gary and Sylvia Walker a week later, bestowing upon him the name Luke Daniel Walker. The Walkers had tried for years to conceive a child of their own, but had been unsuccessful. Baby Luke was the most welcome Christmas present they had ever received, or so they thought.
As Luke grew older, he was impulsive and tempermental. By the age of six, he was all but uncontrollable. A trip to a child psychologist revealed that Luke suffered Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS. Symptoms of FAS were violent mood swings, temper tantrums, impulsive behavior, the inablility to reason between cause and effect, and the inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. His intellegence level was normal, if not above average. He could lead a normal life with the right therapy and special education, the experts told the Walkers. It would just take a lot of patience and understanding.
Gary Walker, however, had neither. He openly admitted that adopting Luke was a mistake. Luke's behavior had strained the Walker marriage to the breaking point, and they were on the verge of divorce. But somthing happened that would change their lives, and Luke's, forever. Sylvia became pregnant, and, fearing for the life of her unborn child, made the most fateful decision a mother could make. She gave up Luke for adoption again in 1981. This act would scar Luke for the rest of his life; he would harbor feelings of abandonment and bitterness in his soul, affecting all future relationships.
Luke was made a ward of the state and sent to a home for emotionally distrubed children, where he would stay for the next two years. Behavioral modification techniques were tried to control his temper and impulsiveness. But the impersonal atmosphere of the home did nothing to heal the pain of rejection he felt. He wanted love more than anything, but lashed out at anyone who tried to come close to him. He created imaginary friends for himself, and believed magic could fix everything, even bring his mother back.
In 1983, Luke was sent to a foster home run by Mr. and Mrs. Griffin. His first Christmas there, he would recall later, was the best he had during his childhood, for it was then he received his first magic kit. It was just a few rubber balls, some plastic cups and a pair of plastic handcuffs, but it was a turning point for the boy. The Griffins saw it as mode of therapy for the troubled youngster. For Luke, it was the beginning of his career in magic. He would carry that little magic kit around with him for the rest of his life; it became his most prized possession.
In mid-1984, Mr. Griffin was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Unable to care for both her husband and her foster child, she sent Luke to St. Mary's Children's Asylum. For Luke, it was a living nightmare. The nuns were strict to the point of sadism. Beatings were frequent, despite public policy to the contrary. One former resident recalled "getting my ass burned with a ping-pong paddle." Luke relapsed into tantrum mode, which made him a frequent target for the nuns' "discipline".
There was also a darker secret at St. Mary's. Sexual abuse by the priests were later reported duing the Church sex scandals of the late 1990's to the turn of the millenium. As Luke was constantly being sent to the priests for "discipline" and to make confession for his sins, it is likely that he suffered sexual abuse by those same pedophiliac priests. Nothing can be confirmed, as there were no records of Luke even metioning his stay at St. Mary's. He could have been so traumatized about it, like so many children before him who had been sodomized, that he created a mental block. His later lovers would claim that Luke Blade hated oral sex of any kind.
In 1986, an investgation alleging abuse led to the closing of St. Mary's Children's Asylum, but the damage had been done. Luke no longer trusted anyone. He became sullen and withdrawn. Only when his magic kit, confiscated by the nuns, was returned to him did he show any type of socialbility. He was returned to the home for emotionally disturbed children. Knowing his love of magic, the specialists used magic tricks as therapy. The eleven year old Luke was soon entertaining the other children at the home, using whatever he could salvage for his act--cardboard toilet paper rolls, bedsheets, donated toys, pinecones and other debris were worked into his act.
Luke still had difficulty relating to the other children outside of his magic act, however. He still could not distinguish reality from fantasy, often casting "spells" on them to either do his bidding or for revenge. He created his own fantasy world where he was king. He loved fairy tales, especially those with witches and wizards. When the Dungeons and Dragons craze hit America in the mid eighties, he received a kit of his own from a donor. He became so emmeshed into his roles that it was difficult to bring him back into the real world. His education suffered because of it; by age twelve, he could not read beyond the third grade level.
In 1987, Luke was sent to another foster home run by the Russell family. It was a large, Tudor style mansion filled with other foster children of different races and ages. Luke later claimed he felt "lost in the crowd" while living there. The only way he stood out was by doing magic. His trusty little magic kit kept the other foster children entertained. Luke had become so proficient in doing magic that he entered a school talent show and won first prize of twenty-five dollars. He spent it all on more magic paraphemalia at a shop called Merlin's on 38th street. He began spending his afternoons doing street magic, reveling in the applause, and actually earning money as well.
When Mrs. Russell took the children to the public library for story hour, Luke would disappear and find books about magic, magicians and even the occult. It was there Luke found a biography about Harry Houdini, which he devoured over and over again. He would go on to read about other magicians as well, such as Harry Blackstone and Richiardi, but Houdini was his idol, almost a father figure in the lonely boy's life. Mrs. Russell gave Luke his own library card so he could check out the books he so loved, if only to improve his reading skills.
On July 18th, 1988, Luke was performing street magic on a public corner when he was picked up by police for performing without a permit. As he was still a minor, he was released into the custody of his guardians. Luke was furious. He had believed everyone loved his magic, and now they said he could not perform anymore! When the Russells got him home, Luke went into major tantrum mode, throwing seat cushions and swearing at the top of his lungs. Unable to control him, it was decided Luke should spend a term at military school.
On August 19th, 1988, the thirteen year old Luke was enrolled at Fort Pembroke Military Acadamy in upstate New York. The schedule was rigorous--up at six AM, morning calisthenics, daily inspections, drills, classes, only one hour of "recreation" and lights out at nine PM, with bed checks. No magic tricks allowed. Yet, Luke was the master of improvisation. He managed to do a bit of sleight of hand for his fellow classmates every now and then. But the harsh reality of acadamy life did instill a bit of discipline in him, if only to keep his temper tantrums in check. He stayed at Fort Pembroke for a term. His spotty education was remedied by a tutor, an upper classman assigned to him for help. Luke later confessed that he put up a brave front during this period in his life, but at night, he silently cried himself to sleep, the feelings of abandonment still within his soul.
The Russells took Luke back after his term at Fort Pembroke was finished, on the condition that he behave himself. If he threw another tantrum, he'd be back at the home for disturbed children. Luke promised to do his best.
Luke began his high school years in Forest Hills, a suburb of Long Island. There is an entry in the 1989 yearbook of Luke Walker performing in a school variety show, dancing around with a levitating cane. No mention of any trouble had been recorded, though his grades were less than stellar. He claimed to be bored in school, yet he stuck with it for fear of being sent away again. The Russells were the closest he had to a real family. Luke had hoped the Russells would adopt him, for he knew once he turned eighteen, he would be out of the foster care system and on his own, no support from anyone.
It was not to be. The Russells divorced in early 1990, and Luke's erratic behavior emerged once again. This time, he was sent to a psychiactric hospital specializing in troubled teens. Again, more rejection.
Here, the fifteen year old Luke discovered the real purpose of sex, in the form of a promiscuous female inmate. It was she who initiated him into the mysteries of adulthood. Their affair would have gone on indefinatly but for the intervention of the staff. Luke was kept in isolation for two weeks. Nothing is known about the female inmate who had been his lover.
At seventeen, Luke was released, with no home to go to or family to take him in. All he had was his childhood magic kit. He started to do street magic again, for loose change. It was on a Park Street corner that he was discovered by the man who would give him his first big break.
hi great chapters , i really enjoying reading this story as i find luke really interesting :) can't wait to read more :)
Chapter Two: The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
At the tender age of seventeen, Luke Walker was living on the streets of Long Island, New York, doing street magic and sleeping in abandoned housing projects, subways, or wherever he could find shelter. Having no high school diploma, he could not find a regular job. He would later describe this period as the lowest point in his life. There were days when he had no money for a cup of coffee, let alone for a meal. His weight dropped from one-twenty to a bare ninety-nine; he was almost a skeleton.
One afternoon, as he was doing a card trick on Park Street, he collapsed onto the pavement. The man for whom he was performing, Bill Whitmore, was a professional magician and theater manager who had noticed the young magician and saw potential in him. Whitmore literally picked up the unconscious Luke and drove him to his home in Manhattan, where he nursed him back to health.
Luke woke up in a warm, clean bed in a furnished bedroom in a New York high-rise. The homeless young man had never seen such luxury in his life, except in magazines. "When I woke up in Bill's apartment," he would later claim, "I thought I had died and gone to Heaven." It was Luke's first taste of the good life, one he never forgot. When served the first decent meal he had in months, a double cheeseburger and fries, Luke ate ravenously.
A week passed, and Luke got his strength back. His benefactor, Bill Whitmore, outlined his plan for him. He would train Luke in the art of magic and escapeology. He would make Luke a star, the new Houdini, he said. Luke would become the greatest magician alive, and Whitmore would be his manager. Luke did not question Whitmore's motives; after all, Bill had taken him in and cared for him. Magic had brought them together, just like Cinderella and her fairy godmother, and Whitmore would transfrom the poor beggar boy into a prince.
Luke, in turn, would have to discipline himself if he was going to survive any of the escapes he would learn from his new mentor, if he was going to survive. He would have to work hard, train his body to physical perfection, focus his mind on his act, or he would be injured or killed. He had talent, Bill said, but in order for that talent to be fully realized, it would take months, if not years of training and practice. Stick to the program, and he would become a superstar.
For once in his life, Luke agreed to do whatever was required of him. His rebelliousness and short-fused temper were suppressed to the best of his ability, submitting his will to his teacher, his mentor, his new father figure. At last, he thought, he had finally found his home.
Luke began each day with daily exercise, though not as rigorous as the drills he endured at Fort Pembroke. He was taken to the local gym and given a routine of weightlifting and physical endurance. He fleshed out to a muscular one hundred and twenty-five pounds. His shoulders grew broader, his abdomen took on a "six-pack" hardness, his legs firmed up to a marathon runner's standards. His jet-black hair had grown to waist length during his days on the street, so it had to be trimmed back. This was the first disagreement Luke and Bill had. Luke liked his hair long, but Bill claimed it looked "unprofessional". They compromised at cutting it to shoulder length. As this was the "hair metal" music period, it was quite fashionable.
There were long hours of practice: card tricks, handling animals safely, picking locks, breathing exercises for underwater escapes, patter (the monologue a magician gives while doing a trick), pace and timing. At the age when many teenagers are just thinking about a career, Luke was training for his. He loved every minute he made something appear or disappear, or got out of something in a minute or less. Still unable to distinguish reality from fantasy, he came to believe in his own illusions as real magic. He had the power to do anything he wanted!
His bravado was kept in check by the ever vigilant Bill Whitmore, who knew from long experience that overconfidence and complacency were signatures on a magician's death warrant. He constantly reminded Luke to not be so cocky, to focus on the stunt, and not his ego. But Luke was too sure of his talent to listen: he thought he knew everything. And it was this arrogance that nearly cost him his life.
Luke had been practicing getting out of handcuffs and shackles, and he wanted to try the underwater escape Houdini had made famous--he would be immersed in a long, rectangular tank, shackled and chained, upside down, with only seconds to free himself before he drowned. Bill wasn't sure Luke was ready for this, but the impetuous young magician was raring to go.
He was cuffed and hoisted by his ankles and lowered into the tank. Luke took a deep breath, as he had been instructed, and was submerged into the tank. He struggled to free himself, but no sooner did he get the first cuff off than he began to panic, hammering on the tank's glass walls. He felt himself drowning. Bill sized up the situation and pulled Luke out of the tank. Luke was nearly unconscious as he was lowered to the floor. Bill revived him with mouth-to-mouth resusitation. Coughing and gasping for air, Luke looked up at the man who saved his life for the second time.
"Well, I hate to say I told you so," Bill said, "but I warned you about this. Your cocky attitude almost did you in. You have to train your mind for this as well as your body. Mind, body and spirit must work together in order for it to work. Remember that."
Luke never forgot those words. Mind, Body, and Spirit: the trinity which became the foundation of his life's philosophy had been laid. Chastened by his near-disaster, he refocused himself on his training. Never again would he let himself lose sight of his goals by being overconfident. The stunt itself, and all the steps to perform it, had to be the only thing in his mind.
While Luke matured under Bill's tutelage, he still suffered the effects of FAS. There were still the angry outbursts, the impulsiveness, and the feelings of abandonment which still haunted him. He still could not reason between cause and effect. Bill was puzzled by this behavior; he knew nothing about Luke's past. However, he did hit on a way to control Luke whenever he lashed out or broke the rules of their agreement: he merely threatened to throw him out on the street, reminding Luke of who had rescued him. These little guilt trips would send Luke into near hysteria, reducing him to sniveling tears, begging Bill not to abandon him. Bill was his father, his mentor, the only person on this earth who actually cared about him. To be cast out was more than Luke could bear.
On top of Luke's magic training, there was the matter of his formal education as well. Luke had quit school before being sent to the psychiatric hospital, and his constant transfers from foster home to institution kept him behind. He was enrolled in evening adult education classes to earn his GED. Luke struggled with his daily lessons, if only to please Bill, in spite of the desire to practice magic, his first love. At the age of nineteen, Luke finally graduated from high school with a GED. At the same time, he was ready for a live audience.
Thanks for finding this Veritas :)
Great Chapters , can't wait to read more :)
Chapter Three: The Prodigy
Under Bill Whitmore's supervision, Luke Walker became proficient in illusions and escape. Hours and hours of rehearsing in fromt of a large mirror sharpened his skills to the point where Luke amazed even himself. In addition to Whitmore's experience, he began to delve into Eastern philosophy and mysticism, studying the fakirs and magicians of the Middle and Far East. It was from them Luke learned to control his body, increase his tolerance for pain, and psyche out distractions, skills which would prove invaluable later in his career.
Luke had the skills and the training. Now, all that was needed was the image. Whitmore wanted to create Luke into another Doug Henning: hip, contemporary, topical. But Luke wasn't going for the Seventies look. The early Nineties called for something a bit grittier, with more "street cred". Rap music was emerging as the dominant musical force; the "gangsta" look was just coming into vogue. Luke Walker sounded too geeky, too boy-next-door like. As the Walkers had abandoned him, so he abandoned his adopted name and chose one which he came up with, inspired by a comic book character: Blade, a half-vampire superhero, dark and mysterious. The perfect name for a budding magician.
Whitmore, not having any ideas of his own, agreed. But he insisted that Luke keep his first name to avoid copyright infringement. Thus, Luke Blade came into being. His jet-black hair and smoldering good looks gave him a menacing air, an aura of danger, someone who had bargained with the Devil for power over the laws of nature to achieve the impossible. Whitmore tried to dress Luke in more formal, tailored clothes, as magicians had in the past, but Luke preferred jeans and t-shirts; he was more comfortable in them, he said.
Bill said that was all right for rehearsals, but to make a good impression on stage, he had to dress more formally. Not in evening dress, as magicians had in the past, but at least appear well-groomed. They compromised on dark, long sleeved shirts, black slacks, and a simple medallion, the first of what would become Luke's collection of "bling".
Luke's debut would be in the Whitmore theater itself. Bill educated Luke in basic theater: stage right, stage left, center, wings, backstage, orchestra pit, green room (Luke claimed later he never found out why it was called that, since he never saw one that was actually green), the catwalks above where the lighting was rigged, and so on. Luke rehearsed on the stage to the point where he could do it in his sleep. He was determined to prove himself to Bill and the world he was the greatest magician who ever lived.
The big night came. Luke saw his name writ large on the marquee for the first time. Though later in life he would deny it, he was so nervous before his performance that he rushed into the small restroom and vomited. By sheer force of will, he pulled himself together and went on with the show.
From the reviews given in the local papers, the show was a resounding success. The twenty-year-old magician was called a "prodigy", a "young Houdini". Bookings from various magic clubs around New York followed. And Luke wowed them all.
While Luke was amazing audiences with his skills at magic, his business sense was clearly lacking. All finances were handled by Bill Whitmore. Luke's mentor, now his manager, was raking in the dough to the point of outright exploitaiton of his protege. It was he who decided what Luke would wear, what and when he should eat, and what hotel would he be staying in. Luke turned a naive eye to his manager's business dealings. After all, Bill had more experience with these things than he did, so he felt it best to leave it all up to him. Luke wasn't starving anymore; the audiences gave him a sense of self-worth, a feeling of acceptance he had never known before in his lonely childhood, and he was guaranteed a warm bed to sleep in after the show. That was gratifying in itself.
Luke began appearing in magic magazines and other entertainment periodicals, leading to national exposure. He was the new phenom to watch out for, the reviews said. In mid 1996, Luke Blade entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest person to succeed in performing Houdini's underwater escape. The near-disaster in the past had been a learning experience for him, and he vowed to never slip up like that again. He still prided himself on doing escapes, though.
There were photo shoots and interviews. Luke posed semi-nude, covered with shackles and cuffs, for Cosmopolitan. He was photographed wearing a loincloth and leather cuffs, as if he was about to be sold into slavery. The female public ate it up; they swooned over this darkly handsome illusionist with the flowing black hair and muscular body.
As hard as Luke tried to keep himself in top physical condition, the grueling schedule began to take its toll. In June, 1997, while performing in Chicago, Luke collapsed onstage at the Magic Castle. He was rushed to the nearest hospital, where he was diagnosed as having a "low-grade virus" complicated by exhaustion, forcing him to postpone any future performances. Bill remained at Luke's side, encouraging him to recover quickly. The doctors, however, ordered a week's bedrest for Luke.
Luke's recovery was hastened by three days when he received word from Gateway Productions in Los Angeles that he was being offered a role in a movie titled Pentacle. It was a low-budget occult horror film about young witches and warlocks terrorizing middle-class America. Eager for more publicity, Luke jumped at it.
The problem was, Luke had no acting skills beyond what he had learned from Bill. He literally had to learn on the set, coached by the director himself. Still, Luke was a master of improvisation, and he made the best of it. The film, however, was a flop. The only good which came from it was that it gave Luke more public exposure. It also gave him a taste of LA life. To his credit, Luke never succumbed to the temptation of drug abuse, though he did consume a great deal of alcohol early in his career. Whether it was to become more socially accepted or to drown out the past is a matter of conjecture. Still, he dreamed of the high life, of having it all. He wanted wealth and fame, with all the trappings, but had no access to his own finances. It was at this point in time where Luke and Bill would go head to head, leading to a showdown.
Great Chapter :) i can't wait to see what going to happen between Luke and Bill :)
More please :)
Chapter Four: The Overnight Sensation.
Luke's star was rising. He was in demand at theaters and magic clubs all over the East Coast. Everyone wanted to see this young illusionist who was barely out of his teens yet performed like a seasoned professional. Women went gaga over his sultry good looks and muscular physique.
Around early 1998, Luke Blade made his first Las Vegas appearance at the Magic Castle. It was a three-night engagement with every performance sold out. Luke did not disappoint his audiences. He worked hard at his craft, developing new illusions and even more life-threatening escapes. Bill Whitmore had told him that he was only as good as his last show, so every new performance had to be better than the previous ones.
Luke did not work alone, though. A small crew of eight people set up the stage, rigged the lights, handled the props, and assisted with the act, then had to tear it all down and pack it up for the next show. This tiny group would become the founding members of the Family, as Luke would refer to them, growing to nearly thirty crew members and assistants. They worked long hours, paid only mimimum wage with little overtime compensation.
Luke himself, though achieving fame, did not make a fortune. Whitmore handled all the finances, and proved himself a miser when it came to expenses. He gave Luke a fifty-dollar a week allowance for personal expenses. Luke Blade was making less than his crew, even with federal, state and local taxes withheld. When Luke complained, Bill said that he was keeping an eye on the bottom line. It cost a fortune to keep this "circus" going, as he put it, and besides, he didn't want Luke to squander all that money on himself. He had his crew to think of; they had to make a living, too. Fifty dollars a week was all he was getting.
Luke was furious. He was a star. and his manager was treating him like a kid! Fifty dollars a week barely covered a week's meals! He was being cheated! The crew felt the same way; they threatened to go on strike, even quit en masse, if they did not get better pay. Luke used this animosity to his advantage. He claimed to be on their side, sympathizing with their cause. Together they would win, he said. They were his family, and families stuck together no matter what. His crew cheered him on.
It all came to a head in late April, 1998. An outdoor show had been scheduled in Miami. Unfortuatly, an F1 hurricane had been spotted off the Gulf of Mexico and was headed for Florida. While an F1 is minor compared to more devastating storms such as Katrina in 2006, the heavy winds can still cause major damage.
The scaffolding for the lights had been barely set up when the tail end of the hurricane struck. Luke and the crew watched helplessly as all their hard work came crashing to the ground. There was no way to set it up again until the storm was over, and they were already behind schedule. Local authorities insisted the show be cancelled.
Whitmore was adamantly opposed. He had too much money invested in this, he argued. People wanted Luke Blade, and they were going to get Luke Blade. The wind would die down soon, and the show would go on, even if the crew had to put in extra hours.
When Luke and the crew heard Whitmore's decision, their outrage triggered an even bigger storm than the one from the Gulf. The crew pleaded with Luke to intercede on their behalf, reminding him that they were "family", and of his promise to stick together with them. Luke, still bitter over his meager allowance, was all too happy to oblige.
What followed is still a matter of debate. Luke demanded more money for himself and his "family", accusing Whitmore of holding out on them. They slaved for him, nearly risking their lives for him. And now he expected them to perform in the face of a howling hurricane? They had almost been killed by that scaffolding! Didn't Bill care at all for him and the "family"?
Whitmore insisted that Luke's demands were "unreasonable", that expenses were high enough. He reminded Luke yet again that he was the one who dragged him off the street, taught him everything he knew about magic, and made him the celebrity he was today. After all his hard work and sacrifices, this was how he repaid him? He should be grateful simply to be alive because of him.
Luke, for once, was not yielding to guilt. While it was true Whitmore had given him a break, he was also exploiting his talents for his own profit. Luke stood firm, demanding to know just where the money was going. He would not be cheated, he said.
Whitmore said later that he showed the profit and loss reports to Luke, while Luke denied any such claim. Luke was no financial genius, but he knew instinctivly he was getting screwed in this deal. But the outcome was certain: the Miami show was postponed and Luke and the crew walked out, until better terms could be reached. A week later, Luke filed legal action against Bill Whitmore. An accounting firm was hired to go over the financial records, and the findings shocked everyone, including Luke.
It turned out that Whitmore had been pocketing the profits from the tour, to fund his gambling habit. Evidence of tax evasion was also revealed. Nearly a million dollars had disappeared, never to be recovered. Luke was crushed. He had been betrayed by the one person whom he had trusted more than anyone in his life, his mentor and father figure, the man who had saved his life twice and taught him the great secrets of magic and illusion. For a boy who had been rejected, abandoned and abused, this was another stab in the back for Luke Blade.
A lawsuit had been filed, and a federal trial was set, but Whitmore never made it to court. On May 18th, 1998, Bill Whitmore was found in his kitchen in his Long Island apartment with his head in the oven, dead. The person who discovered his body was none other than Luke Blade himself, who had come home from the gym that morning. Neighbors later reported hearing screams of anguish from the apartment and had called the police, thinking it was a domestic disturbance. The two officers who responded to the call reported seeing Luke cradling the body of the older man in the kitchen, weeping uncontrollably. The love Luke once had for his mentor resurfaced at the sight of his dead body. Death to him was abandonment, a sort of betrayal, just as his adoptive mother had betrayed his love and trust by returning him to the children's home.
It was the accounting firm of Blum and Schwartz who gave Luke the impetus to go on. After sorting out the tax mess and the estate, Luke was left with a quarter of a million dollars, the most money he had up to that point. They gave Luke a crash course in business math, and recommended a more reputable agency to represent him in the entertainment world. They also made sure the original "family" members were well compensated. Luke would retain Blum and Schwartz as his personal accountants for the rest of his career. They treated the young magician fairly and honestly, and Luke treasured that.
He was introduced to his new manager, David Barron, and his agent, Mick Thompson. Together, they had Luke touring the entire continental US, getting more public exposure, even appearing on national television. Luke Blade was the new phenomenon. His "family" grew to three times the size it had been before, to almost thirty people: stunt engineers, make-up artists, stage hands, wardrobe keepers, electricians, and personal assistants. Due to the extreme danger of his escapes, and to cut insurance costs, a professional nurse was hired to keep Luke in good health and to treat any injuries to himself and the crew as well. Luke's "family" was growing, and they filled the lonely man-child's need for both control and belonging.
can't wait to read more
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