Ski Johnson's folly: How to [almost] squeeze a scam out of cancer

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/02/19 07:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2011/02/19/10131689.aspx


For the record, I'm not claiming Ski Johnson is behind the scam in question; thus far he can mainly be seen to be guilty of lying to some promoters. He is the face of these things though

You know, I had a feeling that tonight was gonna be a good night, that tonight was gonna be a good good night.

I was going to be attending a Black Tie Gala Fundraiser for Cancer @ the W Hotel in Seattle.

Jazz For Life Foundation and the American Cancer Society were going to bring us an evening of entertainment and charity. Special appearances by many celebrities, like Michael Douglas. And James Earl Jones. And the Seattle Seahawks. And The Housewives of DC. And The Housewives of Beverly Hills. And a host of other celebrities, including Grammy nominated Ski Johnson -- one of the mainstays of Jazz for Life.

This guy:

There would also be a live auction there, with Items from the Vampire Diaries, a Signed book by the Kardashians, a scooter from Ducati Seattle, a Diamond Necklace by Diamonds by Maria, and much much more. With an open bar, LIVE auction, dancing, appetizers, celebrities from around the nation and Seattle’s top socialites, public figures, and more, this was the kind of event I hadn't ever really been to in Seattle before.

In LA? Sure. But not in Seattle.

My friend Doug and his wife were going to go be going, with VIP tickets. But it turned out they would be out of town so he offered the tickets to me. I snapped them up quickly. I with Ellen, Pam with Evan. We were gonna have a lot of fun. I figured I'd buy something at the auction, at least -- so I'd be helping out the ACS myself, too.

The story kept growing outward, in concentric circles....

Free tickets were going to be given to people with really inspirational cancer stories.

But then things started happening.

Like they changed the venue just weeks before the event (to the Grand Hyatt). Hardly unprecedented, but certainly out of the ordinary.

And the announcements of new celebrities and new items up for auction were getting more and more outrageous.

Then the wheels started to come off the wagon.

As KOMO reported on Wednesday, it turned out that the celebrities whose presence had been promised were not going to be coming.

Most of the sponsors have bailed, as well as the donors. The American Caancer Society was indeed to be a recipient, but for a wide variety of reasons (including percentage of the money going to charity?), they were not a sponsor, or a host.

And when asked to comment about all of it, Ski had apparently not been entirely truthful about the celebrities, even if he was telling the truth now. Something that no one really believed at this point anyway.

How is it that they describe cancer -- immature cells withsporadic behavior? Exactly.

And there were lots of other shenanigans, like about the need the promoters had to have expensive items to be auctioned sent to them on the East Coast, just before the event. Even from locale Seattle sponsors.

And I have been hearing worse things from others, including some of what the "W" folks have said off the record. They are mum now on paper, but also relieved to have gottn out from under this travesty.

Now most of the sites that previously talked about the event have now marked it as canceled. And the note has been removed from the Jazz For Life site, too (the hotel still says there will be an event, though reportedly Paypal has frozen the money in the JazzForLife account so that the refunds can happen and there is no longer a way to buy tickets  -- as if anyone would at this point!).

Though Jazz For Life did take down their info on this event, they do list similar events from the past on their site, and I can't help wondering if those were also fraudulent along similar lines.

Their own version of the even on Facebook (here) still lists the event as being at the W. Too bad there is no way to buy tickets, huh?:-)

Somehow I doubt Ski will even show up. It is almost tempting to pop by and see if anything at all happens now that the rest of ths sponsors and donors have pulled out.

Early on I almost wrote a blog about the whole phrase "Black Tie Gala Fundraiser for Cancer" being silly since of course no one would fight for cancer.

But I decided that would be kind of immature, and let it go at a few comments to colleagues at work about the language issue -- like isn't it great that someone is finally taking up cancer's cause?

Silly, I know.

Ironic that Ski Johnson, Jazz For Life, and others may have done a lot for cancer, as people put in their claims to PayPal to get their money back and don't end up donating anything to the American Cancer Society.

Doug put his claim in for his refund. He and his wife will donate the refunded money directly to ACS and I hope more people do that.

As for me and Ellen and Pam and Evan? We're still gonna do something tonight.

And I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night. That tonight’s gonna be a good good night.

Now that Ski isn't scamming us anymore, at least.


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