Letters to the Editor

From the issue of November 16, 2000

 Completely Unsolicited Praise for Suzy Stone, Part 1
Up with kidz, down with New Times: The fact that my son has happily been a student in the Hip Hop Kidz program for more than four years allows me the opportunity to voice my opinion more than the obviously bitter parents Robert Andrew Powell interviewed for his article ("Her Brilliant Career," November 9). It is so blatantly apparent that these moms and/or dads have nothing better to do with their time than berate Suzy Stone and her successful program.

As a parent of a physically challenged child, I have watched this amazing program not only make a positive difference in my son's life but in the lives of other challenged children to whom this awesome program reaches out. My son is not in this program for fame and stardom. He is there to enjoy expressing himself to his fullest capacity, whatever level that may be.

So, Mr. Powell, get with the program and see the true light, not that of some disgruntled parents. Every child is a shining star!

Davina Williams
South Miami-Dade

Completely Unsolicited Praise for Suzy Stone, Part 2
Kidz get it, New Times doesn't: Come on, New Times! There are hundreds of pedophiles, drug dealers, and con artists floating around our community, passing themselves off as professionals in order to get closer and have easier access to our children. Your writing time would have been better spent researching these scums and finding ways to protect our children from them rather than belittling Hip Hop Kidz, a program known and respected nationwide not only by other children but by entertainment-industry individuals, sports celebrities, and most parents of the program.

I have had two kids in Suzy Stone's program and in the Production Company. I have seen the excitement in the children as they worked hard and performed at Madonna's house. I have heard their giggles as they signed autographs for other children their age. Yes, I have seen disappointments, but the enthusiasm has far outweighed them.

In reference to Robert Andrew Powell's claim that this program uses kids for the company's success, listen: No one is twisting my arm to pay my daughter's tuition except my daughter herself.

Jackie Thayer
Miami

Completely Unsolicited Praise for Suzy Stone, Part 3
We kidz rule, New Times sucks: I want to write a little about Robert Andrew Powell's article on Hip Hop Kidz and Suzy Stone. Guess what: I am one of those kidz!

I started in the program seven years ago, after my mom read an article in the "Neighbors" section of the Miami Herald. From the first class I took, I would always push my way to the front of the class, hoping to be noticed by Suzy. I was noticed, but Suzy always kept pushing me to be better cuz she knew it was in me. I was the last of my group to be moved up to the Performance Troupe.

I still didn't get to perform in front of an audience for six months! I still kept pushing my way to the front. After a while it was announced that a group of us would be going to the 1997 Junior Olympics. I was chosen! Suzy drilled us daily for three weeks, pushing the group to limits I never knew I had. We cried, we laughed, and we worked very hard. It was her coaching and choreography talent but my hard drive and work that won me a gold medal that summer. I will never forget it!

You say it is Suzy who wants stardom. I think it is the kidz in the Production Company she works with who want it! I know that I enjoy being with the Backstreet Boys, Pat Riley and the Heat players, and the Dolphins (I have even become good buddies with a retired player who always wants an update about me and what I am doing in school and in the hip-hop program); and yes, I couldn't believe that I was performing at Madonna's house.

My bedroom walls are filled with things showing the Hip Hop Kidz. I think we are taking Suzy on the ride of her life, and we are all enjoying it.

I hope you print this. It comes from my heart. I was recently injured and could not practice or perform in any of my dance classes for six weeks. It killed me not to dance, but my family and Suzy have taught me that patience and determination will lead to success. I am glad and proud to be dancing again and hip-hoppin' the day away.

Joanna (JJ) Finazzo
Miami

Suzy Speaks
Robert Andrew Powell is a disgusting, slithering coward: After Robert Andrew Powell spent hours and hours interviewing my instructors, my dancers, and myself, it is disgusting to think that he walked away with nothing more than a slithering attempt to butcher a home-grown dance program that affects the lives of hundreds of children in such a positive fashion. As his article states, I have never claimed to win a popularity contest with any parents who take issue with my strict teaching methods. That is very true.

But I deserve respect that the article did not afford me to arguably show that all my students, each in his or her own way, are successful and productive and a true testimony to a program that teaches children self-confidence, commitment, and a great work ethic.

It was never once mentioned that the Hip Hop Kidz mission statement of "No Drugs, No Violence, Just Dance" is the ethic all kidz in the program live by. The fact that performers are made, not born, is not a crime. The majority of our program's parents teach their children that hard work breeds success.

It is not the hordes of money that Mr. Powell and his cowardly critics insist measures our company's success. Rather it is seen in the smiles on the kidz' faces, the hugs of the kidz, and the excitement of the performing moment that my staff and I see on a daily basis that is a measure of my company's true success!

The amazing television opportunities, charitable events, and travel experiences that the Production Company has achieved are a result of their hard work, not mine. I am just the conduit to making sure that people have the chance to enjoy their talents to the fullest extent. I find it interesting that Mr. Powell mentioned to me on countless occasions how amazing the children were during his interview process, but yet he could not seem to remember that same talent when it came time to writing his article.

Good reporting would have also shown that this program truly changes children's lives forever and that ten successful years have produced thousands of well-adjusted little citizens South Florida can be proud of. These kidz are part of the future of our city and country. All are succeeding in school and in outside activities. They are not the Nintendo or TV couch potatoes we hear about every day. The shame of this article was that the kidz were forgotten, and they truly are the business of Hip Hop Kidz!

Suzy Stone, president and creative director
Hip Hop Kidz, Inc.
Miami

Suzy Stone, Camera Hog
Let me tell you about unfulfilled egos: I have known of Suzy Stone and met her a few times in the Eighties. All I can say is she's the same arrogant bitch she was then. She was a camera hog then regarding her aerobics fame, and she is still trying to be in the spotlight through these young boys and girls.

She needs to take a class in how to talk to children. I pity her own kids and what they must go through. I applaud all the parents who have chosen to remove their children from her Hip Hop Kidz classes. Hopefully they will enroll them with a better person who understands kids and their real needs, not with someone who wants to fulfill her own needs and ego.

Suzy Stone, shame on you!

Alex Hernandez
Miami

Editor's note: Owing to a reporting error in "Her Brilliant Career," a photo caption incorrectly identified the child being held by Steve Allen. In the photograph Mr. Allen was holding Jamie Hinnant, not his daughter. New Times regrets the error.

McIntire: Private Agonies, Public Duties
My daughter was a victim: I am the father of the 36-year-old sexual-molestation victim who expressed her views in your October 26 "Letters" column. My daughter alerted me to the article about Alex McIntire by David Villano (Admired in Life, Reviled in Death, October 19) and to the resulting storm of letters.

My wife and I are always deeply appreciative of any attention paid to the subject of child abuse and sexual molestation, and I must tell you that Mr. Villano did what any reporter of integrity has a duty to do: Report the truth, do it with courage and skill, do it regardless of where it leads, and in the final analysis, serve society.

There are two sides to this issue. The first is the very personal, deeply emotional, and private agony of the victim and the victim's immediate family. The second is the more arcane and impersonal social issue: the criminal aspect. The personal cost to our family was enormous. Years of mistaking our daughter's destructive behavior for a rather serious case of teenage rebellion and trying the age-old disciplinary remedies have burdened us with unrelenting guilt.

Our most profound memories are not of happy smiles and youthful exuberance but of visits to secure psychiatric wards, of rushed visits to emergency rooms, and of terrified telephone calls from friends in distant cities alerting us to the latest car wreck, alcoholic episode, or abusive relationship. We also had to fight the denials from other family members, which left serious scars and deep resentments.

It is impossible to assess the true monetary cost of all this except to say it was considerable and will be causing us some concern as we enter our senior years. We're still paying for "our" pedophile's deviant obsession, although we now enjoy more and more a daughter who is substance-free and is a hard-working and productive person. But she will always suffer the effects of abuse.

Let us dwell for a moment on the social aspects of child abuse and sexual molestation. The vast majority of drug and alcohol addicts, prostitutes, rapists, and violent criminals have had a history of childhood abuse. We pay an obscene price in law enforcement, prisons, lost wages, and hospital bills that are due in no small part to the way some of our children are treated. The effects span generations.

Is it reasonable to provide a human sacrifice or two if the cannibal is the curer of cancer or has the answer to world peace? Do we execute the vagrant for murdering his drinking buddy but not the dedicated philanthropist who buries his family in the garden? Maybe these are questions Alex McIntire's former Mensa colleagues can ponder before they begin their moralizing and predictable and narrow-minded denials. Keep in mind that even great brains possess those little primal centers that are quite capable of the most animalistic of deeds and commit those deeds with regularity.

Thank you sincerely for the opportunity to vent. And may Alex McIntire's former stepdaughter Lisa Hamilton now find peace and dignity in her life. She did a brave and difficult thing.

Name Withheld by Request
via the Internet

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