My friends. I am angry. No, I’m beyond angry. I’m fucking livid. I have literally put you in danger, and I didn’t even know.
Many, many years ago, I started doing Jeff Mach events. I started, to be specific, with the event that preceded the Wicked Winter Renaissance Faire, which was called Jeff Mach’s Final Overnight. I enjoyed it enough to step up immediately for the first year of Wicked, which was my first-ever solo show as MayFaire Moon. I enjoyed that, too. It was wacky fun.
Over the years, Jeff and I became friends. He asked me to support him in many other events he did, and I stepped up again: the first iterations of The Anachronism, Steampunk World’s Fair, The Geeky Kink Event, Geeky Kink New England. I did all of them. I did them because I wanted to support my friend and I wanted to support the geeky scenes I loved. I did them even though business declined, and some shows I didn’t even break even.
I encouraged my friends to come to these shows and volunteer. I encouraged my clients to come to these shows and shop. I encouraged my fellow vendors to come to these shows and sell.
I am so sorry.
My personal problems started with Jeff when I, who supported every damned show he did, got a brusque form letter informing me that I’d been waitlisted for one of those shows I’d helped start: The Steampunk World’s Fair. One of my anchor spring shows. After all those years, I was out. I had been having trouble with the company’s new vendor coordinator for almost two years at that point: he was disorganised, rude, had no idea who the core vendors were, and never gave straight answers. He lied to me. He mansplained to me. He even gaslighted me. I finally stopped answering the phone when he called, because I wanted a record of everything he said, since he would often make one statement at the beginning of a conversation, and completely contradict himself at the end. I found myself moved around events, given absolutely wretched placements in back corners, and lied to as to the reasons why. I was angry.
When I called Jeff after receiving the waitlist form letter, the conversation that ensued was breathtaking in its manipulation and lies. For several years, Jeff and his vendor coordinator had been assuring me that I was such a valued part of the JME family, I was the only vendor on auto-accept to all of his shows. But in this conversation, he first denied ever having said it. He denied his vendor coordinator had ever said it. He said there was no way anyone COULD have said it. Then he told me if he HAD said it, it must have been when he was addicted to Ambien, and I should have known that.
I brought up, then, that in 2011, I’d introduced him to my father, who at the time ran an advertising and PR firm. Jeff was running the Alternative Living Expo, and needed promotion. Dad did that promotion, and was never paid for it. I told Jeff that my father was fighting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and very much needed that money. Jeff acknowledged the debt of nearly $2,000. He first told me he wouldn’t pay it, then offered me $700. When I refused it, he told me to sue him for it. Then he told me that he assumed I would know that “all the help he’d given me over the years” was his attempt to “pay me back” for the debt to my father. I shot back that that’s not how business works, and he’d never so much as mentioned that to me. Helping me doesn’t pay back my father. I also pointed out that he had JUST told me that he was NOT helping me, and I had gotten no preferential treatment. I asked him point-blank if he’d been lying to me all those years, or if he was lying to me at that moment, he had no answer.
And there was also this astonishing exchange:
“Listen,” he said, “Will this money keep your father alive any longer?”
My jaw hit the floor. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that.”
“Because it’s unspeakably insensitive, Jeff!”
“It is? I mean, I just meant if it’s going to keep him alive longer, I’ll find a way to pay you.”
“No, Jeff,” I said, “You’ll pay my father anyway.”
He then told me that he would pay my father back, but I had to have my father send him an invoice. I reminded him that my dad had had a brain tumour on his optic nerves, and could neither read nor write. Since he’d retired some time before, there was no office from which I could request a copy of an invoice. Jeff smugly told me that in that case, there was nothing he could do.
The coup de grace? This guy who I had thought all these years was my friend immediately said, “I’m aware our friendship won’t survive what you think of me.”
Well, hey. He got that part right.
But you know what? That’s not the worst part. That’s not even what has me angriest right now. What has me angriest right now is that this wretched excuse for a show runner posted yesterday that he “needs volunteers” for his upcoming show. And with that, absolute floodgates opened: on Facebook, on Tumblr, on FetLife.
Since that moment, I have learned things that have made my hair stand on end. I have learned them from people I know, people who are my friends. People who were sure, like I once was, that while Jeff may have screwed us over personally, the shows themselves were good, and patrons had fun.
Two words: fuck that.
I know now that nearly everyone who walked away from any JME event did so from burnout. From endless broken promises, from being put in morally questionable if not absolutely horrific situations, from being cheated, from being lied to. From being grindingly overworked. Most of the artists who performed there weren’t paid. Most of the volunteers who were promised comped rooms and admission never got that. 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, she’d be sure to oblige.” I have heard I don’t know how many stories of completely inexcusable consent violations— 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 didn’t know at the time, and I couldn’t help them.
And yes, Jeff knew. He knew all of this. He absolutely knew. He was told over and over by the victims of those rapes, and of the multiple assaults that happened at these events, and he consistently lied: he told these women someone else was going to deal with the problem. Someone else WAS dealing with the problem. The offender had been banned. The offender had been reported. None of that was ever true. In one case, he went so far as to give one attendee with *multiple* reports of sexual assault an actual JOB at the show carrying a sign board, telling people “Well, we can’t keep him out, so it’s better that we know where he is.” That individual went on to rape one of my former minions.
There’s more. There’s so much more. I’m linking below a blog of some of the worst incidents, compiled by someone I know personally and can vouch for. None of this is a hoax. None of us— vendors, attendees, volunteers, staff— have any desire to torch the shows we loved doing for so long. None of us have a single thing to gain by destroying our own work and play places. (Indeed, we all know Jeff is incredibly vindictive, and has a history of trying to smear those who have badmouthed him: once a good friend of mine quit JME, his friends started getting phone calls asking, “So…did you ever hear that he has a history of hitting women?”) But we all have an obligation to burn those events to the ground once we know they’re not safe spaces for anyone.
So I’m sorry. I’m sorry I asked you all to come to these shows, and I hope to G-d none of you were hurt. When it was just a business relationship gone south, and something that only affected me, I was content enough not to badmouth the shows, or explain why I suddenly wasn’t doing Wicked, SWF, or GKE. Now? Oh, hell, no. I will tell everyone: these are bad places— please don’t go. Support the vendors you love online. Support the acts you love online. Support all the people you love.
But for the love of G-d, do not support Jeff Mach.