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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:


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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:
https://www.change.org/p/japanese-lolita-association-global-lolita-community-revoke-the-kawaii-ambassador-titles-from-john-and-deneice-leigh#petition-letter







44 comments:

  1. FYI: Skype does keep logs. It's a pain but you should be able to find it in the conversation history as long as you haven't blocked him.

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    Replies
    1. Not logs of the calls though :(

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    2. She probably means Skype calls :/ I definitely don't think Skype records them

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    3. Ah yeah. Sorry ):

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    4. I found your this post while searching for information about blog-related research ... It's a good post .. keep posting and updating information.Anime Community

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  2. I'm so sorry you had to go through with all that :( I wasn't sure what to make iof this whole movement at first but it definitely helps having a professional opinion on everything. Hopefully everyone boycotts his events and steers clear of him in future

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  3. I'm glad you and the other girls have come forward about this. Never be intimidated! You're all very brave

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  4. For some month He tried to persuade me to drive to his hotel at 12 o clock in the night because He felt so alone o.O

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  5. What a sad story, and a disgusting man. I've also read the other story from Buttcape, it's really disgusting and I can't believe that there are people like this on the world.

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  6. Disgusting man. I hope he'll never find work for as long as he lives.

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  7. This story has disgusted me to the point where i had to try very hard not to vomit. I am so, so, so sorry you had to work with such a horrible, crude person, and if you get backlash from him, don't worry! You've got the lolita community on your side, because lord knows we all hate creeps. I hope things improve for you doll, and if there's any way we can help you out, just let us know! <3

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  8. Gross, I'm so sorry you had to deal with that.
    I'm glad you've spoken out, but I can totally understand why you felt uneasy about speaking out.

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  9. I'm sorry you have to go through this. That man its so discusting.

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  10. I'm glad you posted this. I'm so sorry he put you through all of it, but now i will NEVER go to any of his events.

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  11. John stole some kids inheritance to fund one of the Matsuri debts early in the cons growth. Once the guy loaned him money, he stopped talking to them.

    Where do you think all that money for his trips comes from? Money that should go back into the com going into his pocket. Denise only does the show to host stuff that she likes. The con is for them, not the fans.

    I'm done with them.

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  12. If you and the other Loli's that have had issues with him have enough evidence of sexual harassment I recommend a lawsuit. I know it seems extreme, however the reason he so far has gotten away with all this is because no one has spoken up loud enough. He will continue to do so, even if he's removed as a KA. Something to think about.

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  13. He has harassed me for years. When I see him at the con, he will be extremely drunk and said extremely inappropriate things to me. I always try to ignore him and get away but he is power hungry. He thinks he has power over everyone and he can do whatever as long as he has money. I've received emails and personal fb messages and ignored them. He treats people like slaves and I cannot believe his wife is okay with this. I've never met someone so close to the devil.

    Also it IS true he stole a kids inheritance fund. He steals and cheats and will do whatever he can to fund the con, because that is the power he wants. He wants models and cosplayers because he feels he owns them and they're honored to be at HIS event. I'm so sick of him. I can't believe I never spoke up. I'm so proud of you for speaking up. Thank you and I will spread the word now that I feel safer.

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  14. I hope more young women speak out. you are so brave to do this ..it helps validate you and takes the power away from him, otherwise he will continue to manipulate so many young people in general. You know you are not the only one.

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  15. Wow, that is really scary and disgusting! I feel so bad for you and all of the people who have had to deal with him and also those terrible event planning situations. Talk about a nightmare. I hope everything will be fixed soon.

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  16. This is a great post and I do agree with telling your experience, but what about the other 80% of the community? Anime matsuri might be the only con they can travel to, what will happen to those people?

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    Replies
    1. Why are you talking as if there aren't any other Houston cons?

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    2. Wow. So she should shut up and be quiet and girls should keep getting abused so you can have a good time? What is wrong with you!?

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    3. They can drive to San Antonio or Dallas or someplace else like the rest of the world? How are you so shallow and uncaring? Do you work for him?

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    4. I did say I agreed with her post I knew John before AM back when he had planet-zero. It's very well known he's a slimeball, but there are 2 sides of this coin. I've met alot of close friends through AM also great memories. Seems a bit selfish imo to ruin everyone else's fun because of your own distain.

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    5. 2 sides of this coin? Really? Well you haven't provided anything convincing about what this "other side" is. Oh because you made friends, everything is ok?

      "Seems a bit selfish imo to ruin everyone else's fun because of your own distain."
      Shallow much?

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  17. Just saying... Your experience isn't relative to the 500+ others who had a great time.

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    Replies
    1. So you're saying that because you all had a good time, it's OK for him to abuse his power, manipulate and sexually harass people? Really? What if this happened to someone who you love or care about? Would it still be OK?

      And something else will come in it's place, I'm sure.

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    2. Wow, did this man disregard sexual harassment towards women? Grow a pair, Josh K. Really think about how you would feel if this man made sexual comments to your mother, sister, or god forbid your daughter.

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    3. Oh my god. I hope all your female friends know you care more about a convention then the lives and safety of women. So gross.

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  18. Man...what is it with Con Chairs. So many of them just seem to be this kind of misogynistic filth.

    On another note...AM was probably the worst convention I ever attended anyways. The first year we went...most of the events weren't even going on. We called it Transformers Line Con. Because that's all it was. A 3 hour long line, with the transformers trailer playing, at the end they took your money and then you did nothing for 3 days unless you paid for the better badge that gave you game room access. I never went back.

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  19. This is absolutely disgusting! I am so sorry for your experience and those of others. I did AA at this con for the first time but after reading this I doubt I will ever do it again.

    Sick.

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  20. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm sure a lot of people who aren't as well-known as you have experienced similarly awful things with him, but feel like, "Well, if Chokelate and Misako Aoki and all these designers work with him and trust him, maybe I am overreacting." I'm very sorry to hear about something like this going on at such a large scale in the lolita community, where many of us feel safe among each other. I really hope that there is nothing worse than this happening with him, since this is already so horrible.

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  21. why would anyone still want to work with him even after all these shit drama ?
    the local lolita community should just bycotte him in the event and not to let him to continue to make use of all the rest of the lolita and start a community that does not include this kind of junk that doesn't respect woman. The way he talks just makes me feels like kicking him in the balls and let him never to have children ever again ! what an arse hole !

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  22. Chokelate

    I did some, well, research aka Facebook stalking, and this is an official statement he posted on his Facebook. I thought you should see it. Though my bullshit detector is going haywire, it is nearly convincing:


    "Earlier today, I posted a blog entry that detailed my side of the story. I did not know I was hurting these people and I did not mean to do so. I have been getting attacked for the past few days. The attacks spread to my family, friends, and supporters of Anime Matsuri. I was upset and I wanted to defend everyone who I cared about.
    It has been a few long hours since I posted that blog. I thought I would feel better, but I feel nothing but sadness. I had an abundance of messages of support over this time. I took a step back and realized: while I was trying to defend those I love, I was hurting others, and this is not ok, regardless if some of them are trying to hurt me. I was angry, and nothing good comes out of anger. Some people are very hurt, on both sides, and I have to assume responsibility for that. I also realize many people look up to me and I have let them down.
    I want to apologize specifically to the people in question and to everyone who has been affected by this. I understand I have hurt you and I’m sorry. Regardless of what is happening now, I considered you my friends at some point. I also understand an apology means little without positive action, so I have decided to take a course on Sexual Harassment to be more aware of this serious problem and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I have deleted the blog post and will work on myself to become better. I'm very sorry."


    Tell me what you think.


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  23. I have been been con staff at Nan Desu Kan in Denver (2 years when I lived there) and Anime Central aka Acen in Chicago (multiple times) since I moved back. I like being con staff, that's part of who I am.

    I'm mad about what has happened to you so far although I've read only half of your article. That man, whom I prefer not to name, is a predator and has no management skills. People like that have no names, as far as I'm concerned. They can only be described by pejoratives.

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  24. I don't think it is only John who is the problem. They have a GR person who people should look at for the problems of the events. Also, I've heard just as many horror stories about his wife as I'm hearing about John at this point. So the question now is WHO is the mastermind behind Anime Matsuri. John or Denise?

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  26. So sorry to hear you've gone through all of this <3

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  27. I'm sorry that you had to go through all of that. That's was crude and very con artist of them. I give you the best of wishes, Chokelate, with love and respect!

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  28. Nice Articel :)
    http://samsungandroidgames.com

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  29. I had written a long post and it was deleted D:

    First off
    You are brave and I commend you

    Also you are very good at organizing your thoughts via blog post.


    You shuld never have to feel that way.
    men are scum and I am sorry you had to deal with this.


    Now that you have stepped forward there needs to be an end plan.
    Honestly with as much as John Deneice and AM have given to Lolita (there have been articles highlighting Lolita in local publications due to their influence) it is hard to do anything about him.

    By no means am I justifying his actions or behavior.

    He put a statement apologizing as well. Regardless if it is sincere or not it is a good move for AM.

    But again he Lolita community is tight knit and also not as mainstream. Sexual harassment is a very major issue but this is basically known only to AM fans/lurkers, Lolita exposed to AM, and all the otaku in Houston.

    Not many mainstreamers care enough.

    Also there have been politics surround John Deneice and AM before they super focused on AM. Back when they were an arcade called Planet Zero. Despite them not paying people out when they should and the sexual harassment, people still attended tournaments and went to the con.

    People go bc its the bigger con in houston, lots of the otaku dont have cars or cant attend akon or the attend AM bc of the Lolita aspect. People still go in spite of him being scummy.
    and there have been so many people from out of state in recent years. They built up the hype.

    You should never have to feel this way
    i hope you are compensated for your anguish
    I hope there is an endgame that helps him reflect.

    And to make yourself feel better
    think about how Deneice must feel as his wife
    she has to live with the drama
    For her is all the money or attention or whatever the goal is
    really worth it?

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    Replies
    1. Also volunteering is horrible
      you are overworked
      unpaid
      still have to buy your pass
      prob wont eat properly or get dehydrated.

      I have volunteered for AM before
      I have also volunteered at other cons or worked as handlers for friends who were invited guests

      I have had conversations, albeit short, with John.
      Maybe its bc he assumed I wouldn't sleep with him *rightfully so* or maybe I had nothing he wanted/needed (money/merch)
      He didnt try to me.
      he DID try to pawn me off to someone I assumed to be on his payroll though. Gross.

      I tried modeling for the show but requirements seem to change with the season. ��

      Ps I am rather tall and slim

      I was always refused. That or they would keep saying I would still have to pay admission (but the models arent paid!)

      Maid cafe is also unpaid btw.

      Josh is a good example.
      he knows he is scum but still attends the con.
      i am guilty too but have mostly been on volunteer basis for others.

      If you want to
      you have to find everyone and do a class action lawsuit in regards to the sexual harassment
      and figure out what compensation you seek.
      but you live outside the us so it will be hard for you.
      Also people may be scared to stand with you bc of politics or lack of a record/evidence on their part.

      Delete
  30. I'm absolutely disgusted and shocked, what a sexist and capitalistic dumbfart!!!

    Petition signed and shared!

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