Who Is This Guy, Anyway?

Posted with permission, public FB post, Jan 27 2018

The below are several anecdotes. They are my personal experiences; I will not comment here about experiences I have been told about by others, out of respect for their autonomy on when, how, and to whom they choose to speak about their experiences. Hubris as a troupe may discuss our various interactions with JME during our involvement as performers and sometimes-presenters at Wicked Faire, Steampunk World's Fair, Alternative Living Expo, Midsummer Magick Renaissance Faire, and Geeky Kink Event in various combinations between 2010 and 2017. I will not do so on this post, as I am not a sole spokesperson. I will say that I know that I am not alone in the character of my experiences with Jeff Mach personally and his company & events.
I first met JM at an RUPSA meeting in 2000 or 2001. He attended as an alum, and I found him somewhat off-putting. He later ran one of the meetings as a guest speaker, presenting on Discordianism. As I recall, he talked about his past during his initial "Who Is This Guy, Anyway?" prelude; during it he said he'd worked in marketing, gotten very, very capable and successful, been approached by a company about a position, and during the interview he found out it was a job figuring out how to sneakily market cigarettes to children. He said that he'd seen exactly how he'd do it and that it would _work_, then decided not to take the job because he was not okay with what it meant he'd become. This seems a positive anecdote about finding his moral boundaries, except for the bit that lays out that he has the skill to be VERY manipulative which throws into question the honesty of the entire statement. This was a very red flag that I passed off as just being put off by him as a person. I tended to avoid him.

In 2005, I got a strong push to attend the first Wicked Faire. I did so; it was held with a winter storm oncoming, I had planned only to commute for a day, and I was not particularly impressed with the event. I did not see, as an attendee, much about the event's management; I had been involved in event management since 2001, and at most, the check-in process seemed a little sloppy, not atypical of other first-time and one-off events.

After meeting Jeff and until I left Rutgers University, I saw him primarily at RUPSA meetings and events. He continued to leave me unsettled, but I gradually adjusted to his presence; that was 2000/2001 through early 2005. He appeared to revel in and encourage disruption and chaos for their own sake and without further purpose, which I found abhorrent, and his behaviors reminded me of manipulations I'd experienced with others; I played that down in my own mind as a case of hypervigilance due to my prior trauma.

In 2009, I was part of the founding of the fire performance troupe, Hubris; I remain a member. At a RUPSA event near Yule that year, Jeff saw me playing with my glow poi to the event music and invited us to perform at Wicked Faire that upcoming February. As part of this and his opening for making the invitation he stated that he wanted us there because his romantic partner found me attractive, particularly in the way that I performed. I agreed, partly out of excitement at being seen in a more-feminine way as an object of someone's sexual desire, and Wicked Faire become one of our first events. This was the start of increased professional contact with Jeff. No compensation of any kind was offered then, and to the best of my recall we only received comped tickets as performers.

I was partner and/or employee of Turtle Hill Events from its inception by my late husband in 2002 through my involvement with THE Rope Camp in summer 2013. After our husband's death, my now ex-wife took over the company, which offered registration services for various event producers in the Mid-Atlantic region and has run various events including the 15 year old THE Beltane. Beginning with the first Geeky Kink Event, THE began contracting event registration services for JME. As I separated from THE in 2013, I will share some personal experiences from my time then.

Beginning quite early, around SPWF 1 in 2010, Jeff would regularly begin or end interactions with me by hitting on me and offering me sexual favors, almost apologetically and with the stated expectation I would say no. I always said no; he continued in this habit until I stopped interacting closely with him, at GKE in 2015. At times, these offers of sexual favors were made by him as proxy for others, that is, claiming he could pay me for non-sexual favors or help by hooking me up with various people he knew. These people were "coincidentally" always staffers of his events or his own romantic partners. These offers happened frequently, including in nearly all business interactions where he would ask me to help him with something or attempt to soften a denial of something I'd requested.

One of his top staffers, TS, would also frequently tell me during events that I was attractive and must have lots of women going to bed with me, especially because I am polyamorous and was therefore "always available". He, like Jeff, offered other staffers to me as sex partners, outside their presence and who were strangers to me, during events and during interactions that were otherwise about event business. At the second GKE, TS had many transphobic behaviors on display, and spoke to me and three other THE staffers who were on-duty manning the check-in station about the "gender kittens" and how insufferable 'they' were, and how the event was bending over backwards to accommodate 'their' nonsense requests and how 'they' were just in denial about being "the gender they were born". At the time, I identified as a transfeminine genderqueer person, and GKE was one of the few spaces where I felt safe doing so out loud including asking for proper pronoun use. I stopped TS somewhere in his rant to ask him, "You _do_ know _I'm_ one of the 'gender kittens', right?" TS's reaction was to not even play me off as 'yeah, but you're not like the rest of them' but instead to briefly finish complaining about trans people before leaving. I brought this up with Jeff in person at the event later, and was told not to worry about it and that it was "just how [TS] talks to people". When additional complaints were brought against TS, mine were forgotten so far as I know in reviewing whether he still qualified to attend the event, and THE strongly recommended that TS be completely removed from association with JME, in part because of my own experience. Jeff claimed he would do so, then claimed he could not separate TS from JME due to "monetary reasons" afterwards.
Based on my experiences and the number of years where they continued, how they were played down or ignored, I can ONLY recommend that people who have a choice about attending, vending at, presenting at, performing at, or staffing ANY Jeff Mach Events or Jeff Mach & Friends events NOT do so. I hold no ill will towards any persons who currently have any kind of contractual obligation, intention to protect friends, or financial need to be present at any currently-planned JME or JM&F events. I hope and recommend that, at the first reasonable opportunity, all people separate themselves from events. If, in the future, any of the current events are taken over by third parties and JME and/or JM&F involvement in management ceases, I would be happy to look into the new-management events and consider recommendations to my friends about those.

Brenna Kali Skirata, this post is public and you have permission to link to it and/or copy the _unedited_ content to your testimonials post at 

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