Derek Lever ... Discriminating Against Deaf Magicians

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/30/13 08:23 PM

I knew Derek Lever was a power-mad jerk, but the information I received today is just too much to ignore.

A little background: at the Genii Bash in Orlando, I knew that two deaf magician, including Simon Carmel (a well-respected scholar) would be attending. I arranged for an interpreter to sign for them at all events at their discretion, and seated them in a way that would be advantageous so that it would not disturb others in the audience, yet allow both the deaf magicians and the interpreter, Margaret, the opportunity to see what was happening.

Derek Lever has informed John Gapp, who is the President of the Society of World Deaf Magicians, that he would not provide an interpreter, that he refuses to allow Mr. Gapp to ask any of the lecturers if they have any objections to an interpreter being allowed to attend, and the email to Mr. Gapp is filled with the usual various nasty language, threats and so on that Derek Lever has become infamous for including "Breaching this code of practice will
result in action being taken against you."

Nice way to treat those who don't have the advantage of being able to hear.

I will print John Gapp's letter to Derek Lever below. You should make YOUR feelings known about Lever's despicable behavior by emailing him at d.lever1@sky.com. I have already been banned from the convention, so unlike so many others, I have nothing to fear from Mr. Lever and his insensitive, repulsive, and juvenile behavior.

Here is John Gapp's letter in response to Lever's email tirade:

Dear Derek Lever

Thank you for your email.

I do not understand your comments and actions, yes I understand your house rules, thats why I asked in a nice way if this could be possible.

I was acting on behalf of all Deaf Magicians worldwide, as I am their President this would also help those hearing magicians who are having slow hearing loss, this could apprear to you and your committee some day as we all grow older.

To hand a personal letter, which you would have a copy, and to explain in person would be more effective.

I do not understand your comment that I am going to approach artistes and lecturers at Blackpool Convention, if they approve of an Interpreter and sign language during their perfomances, prove to me that I said that.

Yes I did say on a forum that I HAD IN THE PAST spoke to artistes and lecturers in U.S.A. and other Covention Organisers and no one objected, they always made us welcome. never did I say it was at Blackpool.

Mr Lever prove to me that any artiste or attendee have any objections to our Sign Language being translated by an Interpreter for us Deaf Magicians.

It is very sad and I dont know why, you are the only one objective person to our sign language over the past years, yet some of your own committee agrees with us.

As I have said to you many times in the past, we only need interpeters at Lectures of our choice, not at Gala shows, or anywhere in the Convention, just the lectures, I do know in the past you had an Interpreter translating German into English as he could not speak English, so what's the difference?.

It is also very sad that you have resorted to threats against me, this of course would backfire against you, as I too could take serious action against you.

However, it is not my wish to resort to that action, I would be very happy to meet and sit down with you to sort a peaceful solution on behalf of all Deaf and Hard of Hearing Magicians, with an Interpreter of course, as I am sure there is a missunderstanding on your part. just give me a date and time.

Regards
John Gapp
President : Society of World Deaf Magicians
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Postby Tom Gilbert » 01/30/13 08:40 PM

How or why do people support this ass?
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Postby Q. Kumber » 01/30/13 09:42 PM

I am a member of the Manchester Circle of Magicians and Derek is the secretary and runs the club. There are two deaf magician members and they regularly have a sign language interpreter at lectures, the most recent being at the Bill Abbott lecture earlier this month.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/30/13 09:50 PM

Then, Quentin Reynolds, how do you explain the issue in Blackpool?
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/30/13 10:37 PM

Does the UK have something similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Richard -- did Margaret have any prior experience with magic? Does the specialized jargon of conjuring present any difficulties?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/30/13 10:40 PM

This could all be solved very simply by one of Mr. Lever's friends calling him up and asking what all this is about, then reporting back here. But the fact is that everyone is terrified of questioning Lever about anything he's written or said because they will get banned from Blackpool, or thrown out of the Blackpool or Manchester Magicians' Clubs.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 01/31/13 04:05 AM

Margaret was excellent at the Bash. She positioned herself to the left of the stage and was no distraction to what was happening. During the second lecture we played a wee game; I would occasionally drop in Scots words that she would never know the sign for. She would look up quizzically at me, and I would spell the word in plain English. I'm not sure how many in the audience realised that it was for fun, but it got a laugh (which at 8am, was welcome...)
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Postby Q. Kumber » 01/31/13 05:08 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Then, Quentin Reynolds, how do you explain the issue in Blackpool?


I can only assume there is some misunderstanding or other issue involved, as I can see no reason why a group of deaf magicians cannot bring their own interpreter.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/31/13 06:17 AM

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Postby Kelly Rusk » 01/31/13 09:54 AM

As an attendee of The Genii Bash (and Mr. Kendall's fine lectures) I was not "distracted" in the least by Margaret's work. She did an excellent job and Mr. Carmel was very nice when I met him. I thought it was great that they could attend the convention and participate. I can't fathom that any lecturer or performer would not allow them to bring their own interpreter. And Margaret told me that she was a magician as well. The only way to get the message to Mr. Lever is to just not attend any event in which he is involved. A jerk like that does not deserve any attention or consideration.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 01/31/13 11:24 AM

For those attending Blackpool in Feb - we look forward to finding out who gets special mention in his programme this year ;-)
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Postby TomCrosbie » 01/31/13 12:27 PM

I know the deaf interpreter who has offered to do the signing at Blackpool.

She is dating a magician, and as such knows all the magical terminology and matching sign language (did you know there is a specific sign for "double lift"?)

I don't see Derek's problem. She'll be at the convention anyway!

She signs every year at the LADs convention - and it's never a distraction - she even managed to sign her way through Francis Menotti's "Exdyslically Shunuffled" routine - very well done too.

I'll be at the convention, and I look forward to seeing Emma there, and possibly asking Derek about it in person.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/31/13 12:44 PM

Tom, if you ask him about it you run the risk of being banned--just so you know.
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/31/13 12:46 PM

I just don't get the whole "distraction" thing during lectures.

A silent sign language interpreter is more distracting than people dropping coins, doing faros, snoring, leaving early, or kibitzing in the back?

Please...
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Postby AJM » 01/31/13 01:01 PM

It's high time this Lever was pulled once and for all.

Geddit?
Lever?
Pulled?

Oh, please yourselves...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/31/13 01:41 PM

If you listen carefully to the Dai Vernon lecture DVD that was included in the Genii gift bag, you will--at some point--hear someone start snoring rather loudly. Poor bastard missed a lot!
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Postby mrgoat » 01/31/13 01:49 PM

Someone really should send him a legal letter threatening to sue him for discrimination.

I'll pledge 100 towards the legal costs.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/31/13 01:51 PM

I would imagine he would be able to find someone to send a letter pro bono due to the type of issue.
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Postby Mark Weidhaas » 01/31/13 03:13 PM

There has been an interpreter at every S.A.M. National Convention I've attended with no complaints from attendants.

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Postby Margarette » 01/31/13 06:03 PM

Okay, after the third person sent me link to this thread, I figured I would throw in my two cents! I am the interpreter from the Genii Convention. I met John Gapp at Magic Live in 2011. I have interpreted for Simon Carmel and several other deaf magicians on quite a few occasions. Interpreting is not something I do as a hobby....it IS my "day" job. Magic is my hobby and has been for quite a few years. Except for one convention, the request for my services has always been an enjoyable experience. If I do my job properly, I am "invisible"...at Genii, I did my job so well that I got pelted with Sharpies!!! Granted, hearing people will look my way to see if they can understand some words or try to figure out how a word is signed. I usually try to meet with the lecturer beforehand to get information that will make my interpreting best for both hearing and deaf...not too distracting to the hearing while allowing the deaf full range of access.

I'm sure John's request was not out of the ordinary for the Deaf magicians. If the convention accepted the money of the deaf magicians, knowing they are deaf, then they bear responsibility for accommodations. "Yes, we know you are deaf, we will take your money, but you can't enjoy the convention because we won't allow you proper communication methods." OR "Yes, we know you are deaf, we will take your money, BUT you need to make your own arrangements for communication facillitation." OR "Yes, we know you are deaf, we will take your money, AND since we know you are deaf, we want you to fully enjoy the convention, so we will hire interpreters for you."

Which attitude shows RESPECT for the culture?


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Postby Shazzbatt » 01/31/13 06:55 PM

I am also puzzled at this situation. I am a member of the Manchester Circle of Magicians and having the young lady signing for the deaf members is a very regular occurrence at our meetings. I can't see any reason why Derek would have any issue with doing this at Blackpool, but then I'm a logical chap with no axe to grind with anyone and not Derek Lever. And before you ask, no I won't be asking him why. I've had a couple of previous requests turned down flat before by the club secretary after he "consulted senior club members" and know what a fruitless task it is.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 01/31/13 08:08 PM

The best way to deal with this is to get one of those wild English tabloids to cover it as a story. It's so outrageous, I'm sure it would result in a coalition of people with disabilities giving Mr. Lever a piece of their collective mind.
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/31/13 09:49 PM

Now that is a great idea--someone should inform Mr. Gapp straight away.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/31/13 11:14 PM

Don't forget to mention that the "Olympics of Magic" was recently held in the same place and run by the same guy and his conduct was almost as offensive. The Olympics of Magic angle makes the story more attractive to the media.
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Postby Tom Pilling » 02/01/13 05:50 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:I would imagine he would be able to find someone to send a letter pro bono due to the type of issue.


The Disabilities Discrimination Act [DDA] is a fairly powerful antidote to w***ers, when used properly, and of course, 'mud sticks'.
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Postby Fantastica » 02/01/13 02:36 PM

Hi
My name is Johnny Gapp, stage name Johnny Fantastica, I am President of Society of World Deaf Magicians.
Thank you very much to Richard also you members for your support.

Yes we have DDA act which is now changed to Equality act, I got a lawyer to type a letter in legal jargon for me to copy to send to Lever informing him he was breaking the law, but it was ignored.

I have to consider what to do, as a member suggested go to the papers, if they take it would be good publicity, or slow and expensive process through the courts. hard decesion.
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Postby Tom Gilbert » 02/01/13 04:48 PM

Unfortunately, everyone complaining about Lever and still attending those conventions..well, it's not rocket science.
Most likely until they lose a bunch of money by people boycotting the conventions, Lever will continue on.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 02/01/13 04:56 PM

Johnny - can you summarise exactly what your request was of Derek Lever that he turned down ? Will he not allow an interpreter at the event ? Or will he not pay for the services of one ?

You do realise that you are very likely - if not already - going to be officially banned from attending Blackpool.
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Postby Fantastica » 02/01/13 06:40 PM

CraigMitchell wrote:Johnny - can you summarise exactly what your request was of Derek Lever that he turned down ? Will he not allow an interpreter at the event ? Or will he not pay for the services of one ?

You do realise that you are very likely - if not already - going to be officially banned from attending Blackpool.


he will not allow an Interpreter at the convention, also not pay for one.
he refuses the service of one interpreter but this same one interprets at manchester Magic club.

if he does agree to have one it must be at the back or in a quite corner so not to distract or embarass the other members.

I have never understood why as he paid two full time interpreters all day during the convention to translate languages at lectures and between members, but none could sign.
we also pay full membership but do not get equal service and refused a discount.

also refused for us to hand letters to dealers to explain and make aware the problem of instructions in dvd which is good, but not for deaf magicians as we cant hear the audio, we would also need brief printed instructions, as capitons would be expensive.

those two are the arguement, we are still open for peaceful talks. I am actiung and speaking for all Deaf also hard of hearing magicians not for myself.
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Postby Tom Pilling » 02/01/13 09:02 PM

Sorry Johnny, meant to say the Equality Act. (I'm a bit dated.) Glad you have got legal help. Of course, the organisers are breaking UK law by refusing "reasonable adjustment". It is disgusting.

May I say that your whole approach seems exemplary to me. My wife would say (and did in fact say) you are a mensch.

I am not usually prone to advocating the media route, but if all reasonable approaches fail? I think the truth should be told: not one jot more or less.

Perhaps forum members who are attending would be willing to distribute information, in a friendly way, to dealers regarding making some provision for deaf or hard of hearing magicians? To forbid such natural and sensible interaction is indicative, to me, of a deeply problematic individual.

I would gladly do this service, but am unable to attend Blackpool 2013.

I hope this issue is resolved so that everyone can enjoy the lectures. Why anybody would be embarrassed by a signing interpreter is utterly beyond my experience. I would suggest that such individuals should either put up with it or stay at home.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 02/02/13 05:39 AM

Mr Gapp, setting aside the other issues, I don't think handing out letters to dealers at a convention, especially at Blackpool, is the most productive way of making your point.

It hadn't occurred to me the difficulties that deaf magicians would have with DVDs, so I hope dealers and manufacturers will take onboard the idea of having written instructions as a pdf on the DVD or the option of subtitles, as is the case with commercially available DVDs.

Here's an example of a new trick from Card Shark http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46znRh36OZI

Consider the viewpoint of dealers at Blackpool. Why are they there? Simply to do business. The dealers' halls are always busy and sensible dealers are always demming and selling. When not selling to the delegates they are doing deals with other dealers for stock and new items. After the dealers close, most do not go to the evening shows but for a meal and to bed. It is very tiring working all day on a stand.

So my point is that if you give a letter to a dealer, it will most likely get tossed in a box and forgotten about (unless you tell them there is money in it). Even if they find it again when they get home, it will be when they are re-stocking and catching up with orders that came in while they were away. It may get looked at and quickly forgotten. The ten days around Blackpool are very stressful for every dealer I know.

The Blackpool convention brochure lists the name and address of every dealer, so you are better off writing to them a week after the convention when their lives have settled back to normal. I would also suggest you try contacting L&L, the main producers of DVD sets and ask them to introduce the option of subtitles on any new DVD sets.

Better still, contact Murphy's Magic Supplies. If you can talk them around, they can insist that all new products they handle are deaf friendly.
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Postby Fantastica » 02/02/13 06:08 AM

Tom Pilling wrote:Sorry Johnny, meant to say the Equality Act. (I'm a bit dated.) Glad you have got legal help. Of course, the organisers are breaking UK law by refusing "reasonable adjustment". It is disgusting.

May I say that your whole approach seems exemplary to me. My wife would say (and did in fact say) you are a mensch.

I am not usually prone to advocating the media route, but if all reasonable approaches fail? I think the truth should be told: not one jot more or less.

Perhaps forum members who are attending would be willing to distribute information, in a friendly way, to dealers regarding making some provision for deaf or hard of hearing magicians? To forbid such natural and sensible interaction is indicative, to me, of a deeply problematic individual.

I would gladly do this service, but am unable to attend Blackpool 2013.

I hope this issue is resolved so that everyone can enjoy the lectures. Why anybody would be embarrassed by a signing interpreter is utterly beyond my experience. I would suggest that such individuals should either put up with it or stay at home.




Morning,

thanks for Info, your contents are true.

I would not advise any members to distribute information at the Blackpool convention, as this is against their house rules, that is why i asked Mr Lever in the nicest way for permission but was turned down with threats,
He could have replied in a nice way as well. and matter accepted.

I am now considering all prospects, but in a peaceful way if possible, and hope everyone can work to resolve the problem.
Thanks
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Postby Fantastica » 02/02/13 06:23 AM

Q. Kumber wrote:Mr Gapp, setting aside the other issues, I don't think handing out letters to dealers at a convention, especially at Blackpool, is the most productive way of making your point.

It hadn't occurred to me the difficulties that deaf magicians would have with DVDs, so I hope dealers and manufacturers will take onboard the idea of having written instructions as a pdf on the DVD or the option of subtitles, as is the case with commercially available DVDs.

Here's an example of a new trick from Card Shark http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46znRh36OZI

Consider the viewpoint of dealers at Blackpool. Why are they there? Simply to do business. The dealers' halls are always busy and sensible dealers are always demming and selling. When not selling to the delegates they are doing deals with other dealers for stock and new items. After the dealers close, most do not go to the evening shows but for a meal and to bed. It is very tiring working all day on a stand.

So my point is that if you give a letter to a dealer, it will most likely get tossed in a box and forgotten about (unless you tell them there is money in it). Even if they find it again when they get home, it will be when they are re-stocking and catching up with orders that came in while they were away. It may get looked at and quickly forgotten. The ten days around Blackpool are very stressful for every dealer I know.

The Blackpool convention brochure lists the name and address of every dealer, so you are better off writing to them a week after the convention when their lives have settled back to normal. I would also suggest you try contacting L&L, the main producers of DVD sets and ask them to introduce the option of subtitles on any new DVD sets.

Better still, contact Murphy's Magic Supplies. If you can talk them around, they can insist that all new products they handle are deaf friendly.


Hi Q Kumber

Thanks for your information about dealers, However, I already know that and all the work yhat is involved,
I always found appraoching the dealer in person with a written letter is more respected, that is my experience as President, I have always been recieved with courtesy by the dealers never fobbed off also I alway approach with discreet never when they are busy, or I make an appointment.

and many are now becoming aware of the problem for deaf magicians and making some effort, like you say card-sharpe ( Christian is a friend ), also others like Mark Mason who is always very helpful to the deaf magicians, and I can name several more who are going out of their way to help.

However, this is only a small issue recently come up, the main issue is equality for all not only Deaf, but other disab lities as well, and we need Interpreters at the Lectures as we pay the full entrance fee like everyone else but dont get equality, that is the main issue of the arguement.

Thanks you for your kin d comments appreciated.
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Postby Matthew Field » 02/02/13 07:41 AM

By the way, when The Magic Circle had a deaf member (Victor Shine, who passed away a couple of years ago) the club paid for a signer conversant with magic to stand near the stage at the front of the theatre and interpret. There was never any complaint or feeling of intrusiveness.

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Postby Fantastica » 02/02/13 08:04 AM

Matthew Field wrote:By the way, when The Magic Circle had a deaf member (Victor Shine, who passed away a couple of years ago) the club paid for a signer conversant with magic to stand near the stage at the front of the theatre and interpret. There was never any complaint or feeling of intrusiveness.

Matt Field


Yes Matt
Magic Circle always have interpreters ,
also Watford Magic Club, also at LADS convention these guys go right out of their way to help us.

Plus in U.S.A. there is Genii,S.A.M, Magcilive I.B.M. conventions and there are no problems.
It is only Blackpool and I have never understood why.
If only they would meet and sit down with me, maybe they would understand more.

TEST why dont you guys attend a lecture or listen to TV with ear plugs, then tell me how you got on.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/02/13 12:15 PM

Johhny, we all understand the issue with not being able to hear during a lecture, and we sympathize with you and wish you the best of luck in your engagement with the grossly-inconsiderate Mr. Lever.

Forget about the dealers--that's a side issue here.

What is the issue is your right to have a signing interpreter for you and all other deaf magiians at all gala shows, events, and lectures. It seems that the law in the UK requires this.
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Postby Larry Horowitz » 02/02/13 02:39 PM

I am fully deaf in my left ear. Fortunately I still have hearing in the right. I still have to make adjustments in my life to hear all that is going on. I do not yet need sign language, but I was very pleased to see it at the Genii Bash.

Derek Levers position is unfathomable and cannot be allowed to stand. I would recommend several different courses of action. The civil rights movement of the sixties was not just random acts, but a planned campaign.

Mr. Gapp:

Use your position as a bully pulpit. Contact legal authorities. Contact all forms of media in England. You should have no difficulty receiving coverage. The issue is important and worthy of coverage.

Actions of civil disobedience and protest should be taken:

Register several interpreters for the convention. Register reporters. When the lectures begin, have your first interpreter stand and begin, off to the side in an appropriate manner. Should that person be stopped or forcibly removed have it videoed and reported. Next lecture, next interpreter, same actions.

Contact the list of lecturers asking for their cooperation. Should the interpreter be stopped then the lecturer should stop and refuse to continue. Hopefully the outcry of complaints will get Levers attention.

Contact the list of dealers, inform them of the issue. Let them know that until they exert enough pressure on Lever to change policy you will be recommending all attendees do not spend money in the dealers room. State that this issue and your recommendation for action will be posted on all magic forums.

Should it be possible in England, have a legal injunction put in place preventing the convention itself from taking place until it complies with any applicable disability laws.

Richard and Damian,

I think that all correspondence between Mr. Gapp and Mr.Lever should be published and kept current on this site.

With your permission and cooperation, put together whatever needs to be done, (link, webpage, etc) within the Genii forum or separate to bring an organized action. My suggestions would be a petition, a volunteer sign up, a page of financial pledge (paypal?).

I hereby state in writing that I will pledge $500 to the cause. The convention is Feb 22, so actions must begin immediately.

I am sure there are other actions that can and should be taken. Our electronic age allows a quick distribution and discussion so please speak up.

If you have the use of your ears, it is time to HEAR the problems of others. Please stand up and be HEARD.

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Postby mrgoat » 02/02/13 03:20 PM

Great idea Larry. I'm heading out to a gig now, but tomorrow I will put up a quick website and twitter account. I'll set all that up and give Mr Happ the passwords etc so he can have access.

I can also send the site and twitter account to all the magic media contacts I built up marketing EMC and the Genii Bash.

I'll be happy to maintain and update the stuff too.
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Postby Joe McIntyre » 02/02/13 03:22 PM

I will kick in $100.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/02/13 03:35 PM

I also suffer from "Sudden Hearing Loss" and have lost 70 to 80% of the high tones in my left hear. Any ambient noise makes hearing a muddle. Many people have heard me ask for them to repeat something, or seen me cup my hand behind my right ear to hear better.

So I have some first-hand knowledge of hearing loss. I thought Derek Lever was an greedy little anus before this, however due to his prejudice against the hearing-disabled my opinion, if possible, has descended even further.

Mr. Lever puts this notice at the top of his emails to intimidate people from revealing the repulsive things he writes to them: "THIS E.MAIL IS CONFIDENTIAL AND COPYRIGHTED AND MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED IN ANY FORM."

Part of Mr. Lever's pathetic response to Johnny Gapp was to invoke the same kind of [censored] excuse he used when I requested to be allowed to hand out flyers for the Genii convention at FISM: "we do not allow flyers to be handed out during the convention." In my case, he then proceeded to claim that the Winter Gardens venue would charge something an extra 4000 pounds for a cleaning charge if flyers were littered all over the venue. Of course, there were flyers for at least three or four other conventions on the registration table in the Winter Garden, and many other flyers on dealer's tables throughout the dealer's room. This is just Lever's standard excuse to prevent people from doing anything he doesn't like.

It's hard for anyone in the United States to really understand the power a tyrant like Lever has over performers and dealers: they are terrified of being banned because they make such huge amounts of money.

This bit of discrimination against the hearing disabled, however, may be in violation of British Law. The members of The Blackpool Magicians Club perhaps don't realize the perilous situation in which Mr. Lever has put them. He's not the only one who will be held responsible since the convention is put on, ostensibly, by the Club. They are all responsible for his pathetic tyrannical and prejudicial behavior.

At this moment it also seems appropriate to print this press release from the SAM regarding their upcoming convention July 4th weekend here in the nation's capitol:

SILENT MAGIC SHOW TO MAKE HISTORY

Try this. Stand up with both arms high in the air, palms open. Rotate the wrists of both hands as if screwing in some light bulbs Thats all you ll need to do to applaud for the deaf performers at the SILENT MAGIC show July 4 at the Society of American Magicians convention in Washington, DC. This will be first ever show of its kind at a National Convention. Simon Carmel emcees a lineup of all Deaf Magicians such as Liliana Morgan, Matt Magic Morgan, and Nobu Kamizuru As part of the Society of World Deaf Magicians, they have appeared around the world at their biennial international festivals.
This is an historic unique magical experience you wont want to miss. Register now at www.magicsam.com
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Richard Kaufman
 
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Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

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