My Experience with Anime Matsuri and John Leigh

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I haven't worked with John for very long, I don't have a super extensive experience with what he's been up to for years, but I hope I can give some insight. I'm extremely reluctant to share my experience because I'm afraid of the consequences this may have, but on the other hand I feel responsible for the community and that I need to inform people of this. I wish there was a different way, that this wasn't necessary at all. However after quitting the event that I was organizing with John I thought a lot about what happened, what he was doing and I came to the realization that I absolutely need to do something. I was quietly warning people, but I can't do that any longer.

I'm concerned for the people in this community, I'm concerned for the community. I can't stop thinking about the long lasting effects his actions might have and how it might influence the Japanese guests perception of the western community.

John and I communicated a lot through Facebook, however a lot of important things (and things that could potentially be used against him in hindsight) were discussed through Skype.

This is a more compiled version of what I was writing, the full thing will probably be posted at a later time, but it contains a lot of uninteresting things, so I thought to put this up first.

Edit: This morning I noticed someone put caps up of this post, so I decided to not add too much to it and slowly continue on finishing my big post!

The beginning –

When I was first approached by John Leigh, I already heard a few rumors about him. I considered them to be just rumors because he worked together with a lot of prominent members of the Lolita “industry”, models and designers, you name it. This made him seem trustworthy because why would they work with him otherwise?

In the beginning he seemed nice and relatively professional, after not too long the inappropriate “jokes” started. Now, I have a difficulty recognizing jokes and things like that, so I didn't think too much about it in the beginning, I thought it was maybe me who was being weird about things.

Our first meeting in person was to shoot promo pictures for AM15, he visited Europe and invited me to travel with him and his family to London and have a trip to Disneyland Paris (all expenses paid). I declined the Disneyland trip (even though I would love to go there again, word was more important) and paid for my own trip and stay to London. The first evening I had dinner together with John and his friend, there the sexual jokes and comments started to increase. Here he also talked a lot about someone from GLW (Jessica? Jennifer?) sucking his dick for favors and to get models in the AM show to wear their wigs and disgusting stories like that. But when we had a day together with his wife and kids, he suddenly kept quiet. On this trip the idea of hosting an event in Germany was started.

A couple months later he invited me on a trip to Japan, of course, also all expenses paid.
I didn't go with him, and he continued to use that against me for the next months to try and make me feel bad.

The next time we met again was at the Houston Tea Party before Anime Matsuri.
I was a special guest there together with Minori and we actually had a pretty good time.
He took us shopping, shooting, out for dinner, the event was OK and the community was very welcoming.

After the event, however, something had happened. John had been building up to this for days if not weeks I realize now. He had constructed an elaborate story involving GLW. Now that company isn't known for being run by the most rational people and there's a lot of money behind it, so what John told me didn't seem very impossible to me. I'm not quite sure how to explain this without turning it into it's own story, but I'll try to keep this short and not add a lot that was building up towards it.

The GLW experience –
John told me about how he got a phone call from John R from GLW after the event, apparently they had seen me there and stormed out because they felt really offended that they brought a different wig company into “their” territory. They were angry and requested to speak the next day.

The next day he asked me to accompany him as he would visit their headquarters, I could wait in the card while he spoke to John R. After about half an hour, maybe more, he came back and told me what supposedly happened inside:

John R had been screaming at him, besides himself from anger and after calming down told John that they were preparing a law suit against me, were forging evidence and were planning to “serve” me during AM 2015.

When John told me this I was obviously shocked, I'm sure the lack of sleep helped with believing him too, I had made a huge loss after moving to a different country and I was already worried about the future of my company. Now this! However, fear not, John was there to save the day!
He told me that he would help me, that he would not let GLW sue me and that he would totally have my back if I had his back.

When we arrived at his house to pick up his wife, he talked for quite a while in a way that actually made me really uncomfortable, about not knowing why he does all of this for me and that I should think about the reason he might be doing this. About that he's wondering why he likes me so much, etcetera. I was really relieved when his wife joined us.

Anime Matsuri –

I was supposed to be designing special wigs for the AM fashion show which arrived with it's own set of problems. Long story short: I requested information to be able to make something that would suit the show, I didn't get that in time and that resulted in barely getting everything finished in time for AM and having to pay thousands of euros in shipping fees. 

John, however, also pushed me to make colorful hair extensions, because apparently Angelic Pretty had really wanted them. So, I had those made too. I will get back on this point later!

With the guests-
We were greeted by a Hawaiian lady who was supposed to speak Japanese and was going to take care of us. She didn't really did both of that sadly. I guess John assumed that she could translate and that that would be enough to take care of J-fashion guests, because we didn't have another translator. Later I noticed that two people were taken on by the guests themselves to translate for them.

All the guests were supposed to have a handler, to keep us safe, help us around, feed us and things like that, but I don't think that anyone had actually gotten their handler. During the con I asked multiple times about it every day, they called it in but nobody showed up, so I ended up taking friends and random staff on to help me out. I'm so glad I had people there that I could count on, that would help me get food. Having a translator and handler available would have solved so much. The guests would know where to be, what to do, what's going on and most importantly, they would have been properly fed.

I know a lot of staff tried their best to feed everyone, I know a lot was paid for out of pocket and I'm thankful for the times that food was brought by Staff whose job it wasn't to do so, because I know everyone was super busy and stressed out. But there were still a lot of times that people went unfed and the responsible staff wasn't there.

The fashion show-
On the day of the show everyone had to be there at 3 to prepare and rehearse. The rehearsals were delayed, a big part of the show was not rehearsed until right before it started and in the mean time we were just waiting around, not really doing anything. The show was also delayed a couple hours of course, which could have easily been avoided if the rehearsals would have started on time.

During the rehearsing/waiting I had a bit of time to talk to Misako and I asked her if she was excited about going to Germany and had been there before, as she would be the special guest for the German event. Keep in mind that this was about 2 months in advance of the event and she had already been announced by then. Guess what? She didn't know anything about it!

I had brought the wigs and extensions that I made for the show, it didn't seem like John had informed the designers that they were supposed to use my wigs and I didn't want to force it on them. However remember the part that John had told me to make the hair extensions for AP because they had requested it? Turns out they didn't know anything about that. And this, added to the Misako thing, led me to get angry at John for a bit. I managed to contain myself, but I was SO angry at him for this.

After AM –
I had sent quite a bit of stock to John for AM, however he had never told me what would happen with it after the event. I knew he was going to open a store, but he had never discussed selling my items there, and so I assumed the general plan was for it all to be shipped to Germany. I had no interest in paying a lot in shipping and customs, so I arranged everything to be taken with the Lolita Collective as they were so nice to help me out with that! A while after AM ended I got a message from John, not very friendly, saying that I should have talked to him about what to do with my stock before sending it with the Lolita Collective, because he would have sold it in his store.

German event –
I will go more in depth about this in my other post. I've already talked about this previously and I don't think it's of much use at this point to post a short version of what went on. 

The End? –

John is really good at manipulating people to get exactly what he wants, he plans things well and boy does he have a lively imagination. He shares most important information that could possibly be used against him either in real life, or through Skype. It's been really hard for me to find written back up evidence on things he told me, or we talked about, he definitely was worse with his “jokes” when we were not writing and he continued with these jokes the entire time.

He has a lot of people around him that hope that if they help clean up his mess and try to talk to him, that he one day will change and clean up his act. They just want the best for the community.
It's difficult to accept that a person won't change like that, quite possibly not ever. 

A lot of money is spent on the fashion guests to keep them returning, they not only keep the guests coming, but it also helps him gain trust with people. John takes them shopping on his costs, on trips and dinners. However the guests are also not spared his disgusting jokes.

He absolutely uses Misako as a puppet:

A small selection of his "jokes" the first one is where it all started, at that point I still saw it as a harmless joke:




I'm sorry if this is a bit of a ramble or a tad strange, as I'm posting this I'm incredibly tired but I feel the need to post it now to get it off my chest and warn the community. I had a lot of people approach me that asked me to share my experience. However, I hope this post was somewhat insightful in how he works and what he does. Please stay away from him, avoid working with him despite all the wonderful things he might promise you. In the end he will be the one profiting off you. If he can't buy you with trips or gifts he will find a way to manipulate you into doing what he wants.

I know a lot of people had a similar experience regarding his sexual "jokes" and comments, and because he pretends it's a joke he makes you feel like you can't say anything about it. And as it goes on it becomes worse and more uncomfortable, but because you didn't say anything about it before you end up feeling like you can't speak out about it anymore, that you need to tolerate it. But they are not jokes. It's sexual harassment. If you're uncomfortable with it it's unwanted sexual advances, even if he pretend that they're jokes, and it's NOT ok. You do not need to tolerate them, even if you did so before.

I urge people that had negative experiences with John Leigh to speak out about it. Be it with your name attached or anonymous. We need to warn people, and let them know that they are not alone.
Maybe from my post it seems like he hasn't done anything wrong, that he's just a bit of a douchebag. However, he has manipulated me into not only trusting him, but also being in his debt. He has lied to me on multiple accounts. He used me to gain trust with the community. He has sexually harassed me.
And I'm not the only one.

Please sign this petition to help stop John Leigh: