ABUSE STORIES SECRETLY SURFACING REGARDING SHOW PRODUCER
AMBER LOVE 25-JAN-2018Â My work is supported by the generous backers who appreciate my stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to whatâ€™s happening with my books and podcast.
CRISIS IN THE COMMUNITY
Thanks to a text message from a friend, I was alerted to allegations popping up about the owner of JME, Jeff Mach himself. He produces conventions such as the Steampunk World’s Fair, Wicked Faire, and others through New Jersey, NYC, and New York State. I now have a better understanding why one of my dear friends “K” quit her staff position months ago and wouldn’t say why.
As we turned our eyes to Hollywood’s casting couch problems with leader Harvey Weinstein, the discussions did what we hope they would: they explained to people what abuse and harassment mean. Those discussions hopefully explain further that sexual consent is not about someone “finally giving in after being pestered” nor “they said yes before so it must be yes now.” There’s a tremendous amount going on to upack here.
I’m not an expert. I’m not a psychologist who can best define what happens in various power dynamics. And I’m absolutely not the right person to explain intricacies in kink relationships like Dom/sub (or D/s for short). I did what I could to talk about my positions on that in my first book.
Embedded with permission, Daniel Holzman-Tweed who knows Mach well, said he’s not surprised by the allegations.
People who have been vendors, performers, and other guests are speaking out. There are complaints against Jeff Mach for breaking financial agreements to pay people for their services. Bad enough, but the sexual assault, harassment, rape and abuse charges are fully detailed by at least one of his former partners. As when Stoya and other performers came out calling porn icon James Deen a rapist, he used the power exchange relationship as his defense and said they knew that’s what they were signing up for (according to his ex-partners). This also happened when Canadian personality Jian Ghomeshi was accused of sexual assault and said his dates liked rough sex but he wouldn’t stop when told to stop.
“Creepy” Should Not Be the Code for “Rapist”
The staff of JME have a page for people to send in reports anonymously. They claim to have a third part (non-staff member) person to mediate and investigate wrongdoings. The blog Owl Eye View is keeping a running list of victims’ stories with links to their sources (with permission). The one that stood out to me was by a former Mach sexual partner who explained the numerous ways he would try to drug them with his own prescriptions and offer them up to other people for sex. But the list goes on and on and on.
Author Deborah Castellano said this on her blog, “I thought the only way to get to where I was trying to go with my book, with the scene was to play the game. Again. I thought that maybe I could get my power back that way. I know better.”
Castellano, Deborah. â€œThe Great Con Scandal of New Jersey.â€Â Charmed, I’m Sure, 24 Jan. 2018, http://www.charmedfinishingschool.com/the-great-con-scandal-of-new-jersey/.
There’s a lot of hearsay mulling through the Facebook threads, and apparently FetLife but I’m not on there. The similarity that consistently comes through is so-and-so was creepy or gave off creepy vibes. Being creepy is something one feels in their gut. However, that’s not a crime. What makes people alarmed to give those warnings? That’s precisely what should have been said. Liking young sexual partners? So do a lot of men. How young? That’s when you approach Roy Moore territory and he was endorsed by the entire Republican party. When we (attendees, press, vendors, performers) are warning others about a show, there needs to be more specifics than creepy. Otherwise, these horrible cycles will continue.
Mayfaire Moon was always a key vendor at the JME shows. They have quality corsets and helped launch extras like the fashion shows.
“Young women I know personally have come forward with stories of being introduced to Guests of Honour or VIPs as walking sexual favours: that if the guest ‘needed anything, anything at all, sheâ€™d be sure to oblige.’ I have heard I donâ€™t know how many stories of completely inexcusable consent violationsâ€” reported, and completely ignored. And I now know at least three women who have been raped at JME events. I know two of them personally. I am incandescent with rage that I didnâ€™t know at the time, and I couldnâ€™t help them.”
Moon, Mayfaire. â€œOwl Eye View.â€Â Mayfaire Moon, 2018, owleyeview.blogspot.com/p/mayfaire-moon.html?m=1.
Not having specifics where people could find a safe space to tell their stories is why I’m enraged by the espoused position: “if you attended these regularly don’t pretend you didn’t know.” I didn’t know!Â
I attended SPWF every year as press. I interviewed Mach personally! I had him on my show multiple times talking about how the JME policies against harassment and abuse are top of the line as far as subculture conventions go. Naive? Maybe. I took someone at their word and because all I ever heard was “creepy” or “likes young partners”. Not once did anyone tell me he likes underage partners or that he abused his partners or that he broke contracts. I’m not part of the kink community so quite honestly, a lot of that life comes off as creepy to me. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to talk to someone. Breaking the law and abuse of power, violating spoken or written contracts, those things I wish I had known before endorsing SPWF for so many years.
I’m now hearing about performers who raped and abused people. Performers whom I tipped or paid for their albums. This hearkens back to when author Christine Rose came on Vodka O’Clock to talk about her rapist, a well known steampunk performer. To my knowledge, that assault happened a different show, not a JME show. I met her at a JME’s Steampunk World’s Fair because she said they guaranteed that her rapist would not be on the guest list. The PTSD that Christine lives with caused her to relocate, leave steampunk all together after a while, lose revenue because she stopped writing her popular steampunk series, and reinvent herself. She couldn’t stand any sight of cogs and monocles without being triggered into debilitating panic attacks.
What I can do is find any possible positive here. People now feel safe enough to come forward. I’ve been introduced to a new world of music like Eli August and the Abandoned Buildings, This Way to the Egress, and Steampowered Giraffe. I’ve seen the most incredible fashion and costuming imaginable. I’ve met delightfully kind artisans who pour their souls and energies into their products. I’ve learned more about the transgender community because they were welcomed and given space to speak and share their stories.
Demand that safe space. Demand to be heard. You are believed.
I’m sorry to my friends and partners that came with me to JME shows as my assistants. I’m sorry to my listeners and readers who had faith in me to present them with safe convention possibilities, especially when there were specific kid-friendly tracks created.Â