The 17 most insane moments from the Fyre Festival documentaries
You knew it was going to be bad. But "water retrieval story" bad?
Some things never get old. That is certainly true of juicy details about the infamous Fyre Festival, which has been an object of fascination and schadenfreude since the luxury music event collapsed in spectacular fashion in April 2017. Thanks to two new documentaries from Hulu and Netflix out this week, you can now get the entire horrifying scoop from the safety of your own home.
Here are 17 of the craziest things we learned from Hulu's Fyre Fraud and Netflix's Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.
17. Billy McFarland lied about owning an entire island.
Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland lied repeatedly about owning Norman's Cay in the Bahamas. Reader — he did not own the island. And not only did he not own the island, but when the island's real owner found out McFarland was promoting the cay's ties to legendary drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, he promptly took it back, leaving Fyre Media without a venue for their festival just months before guests were due to arrive. [Netflix]
16. Chuck Schumer's press secretary is somehow involved.
In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment in Fyre, Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) press secretary, Angelo Roefaro, turns up in Billy McFarland's penthouse after the Fyre Festival disaster has gone down. It isn't clear what Roefaro's role is in McFarland's life — it is suggested he might be helping with PR — but the whole thing is a strange and unexpected twist in the whole fiasco. [Netflix]
15. The organizers used the fact that nobody got murdered as proof the festival wasn't a total disaster.
During a triage meeting with Fyre staff after the festival, Fyre's chief management officer, Grant Margolin, tried to calm people down by pointing out that "nobody got murdered" at the festival. Hey, always look on the bright side! [Netflix]
14. "For three days, you can become Pablo Escobar."
Part of the appeal of attending Fyre Festival was that guests were promised a chance to party on Pablo Escobar's private island. Not everyone was so sure about that marketing angle — as one person observed in Fyre Fraud, "Pablo Escobar is actually, like, a criminal who's murdered people brutally." Fair point. [Netflix & Hulu]
13. McFarland spelled "Magnisis" wrong.
Before there was Fyre, there was Magnisis, an exclusive credit card company for Millennials. Magnisis was part of what put McFarland on the map as an entrepreneur, but as he admits in Fyre Fraud, the word's first two syllables should have been spelled "M-a-g-n-e-s," not "M-a-g-n-i-s." Whoops. [Hulu]
12. Grant Margolin sent out a 1,000-word email about how the Fyre ad should be scored.
In an illustration of just how out-of-touch Fyre's leadership was, Fyre Fraud describes a nearly 1,000-word email that Margolin wrote in order to lay out his vision for the musical score for the Fyre Festival commercial. The email contains phrases like "odd meters" and "compound time signatures" and "Tiko drums (especially during more exploratory elements)." Suuure. [Hulu]
11. Fyre Festival organizers accuse locals of putting hits out on them.
One of the actual tragedies of the Fyre Festival were the workers who didn't get paid for trying to complete McFarland's delusional vision. But in Fyre, some of the festival organizers accuse Bahamans of trying to take matters into their own hands: "After the locals realized they weren't going to get paid, some of them started putting hits out on people," consultant Marc Weinstein said, "either to take them hostage and then get ransom, or just to hurt and injure." Event producer Andy King said he had to hide behind a urinal and then duck into a car in order to get away from the festival property. [Netflix]
10. Blink-182 pulled out and no one cared.
One of the funniest — if unremarked-upon — moments in both documentaries is how no guests especially seemed to care about the bands booked to play Fyre Festival. Most tellingly, everyone interviewed shrugged off the fact that headliner Blink-182 pulled out of the festival right on the eve of their performance. "[The band's] reasoning wasn't anything like, 'don't go, it's a disaster,'" one attendee told Fyre. "It was just like, 'We don't think we can put on the show that our fans would deserve.' And I've never been to a Blink-182 concert, so I don't even know what that means. So we were like, you know, it'll be fine." [Netflix & Hulu]
9. "No one is eating so therefore no one's pooping ..."
Both documentaries emphasize that plumbing was a major issue for Fyre Festival; there were just going to be too many people for the island's infrastructure to handle. One internal email meant to calm concerns suggested that the plumbing issue wouldn't be a big deal because "no one is eating, so therefore no one's pooping." Okay! [Hulu]
8. McFarland's first scam was in second grade.
In Fyre Fraud, McFarland brags that his first experience with marketing and technology was in second grade, when he ran a crayon-fixing operation. McFarland allegedly told his classmates that he would "fix" their broken crayons for a dollar a pop. [Hulu]
7. One festival attendee admitted to destroying all the tents around his own so that he wouldn't have any neighbors.
One of the Fyre Festival attendees interviewed by Fyre explained the utter chaos that broke out when guests were sent to pick out their tents. "Our strategy [to avoid having neighbors] was to sort of ransack all the tents around us," the guest said. "I just started poking holes and flipping mattresses, and my buddy pissed on a few of the beds." They sound like swell guys. [Netflix]
6. Fyre Festival's social media team began censoring the word "festival" in the comments on its accounts.
As guests started to express concerns about the Fyre Festival's organization, the event's social media team began deleting "negative" words and phrases. At a certain point, it got so bad the social media staff were apparently even blocking the word "festival." [Hulu]
5. McFarland lost a box of keys to $2 million worth of houses.
In the midst of the Fyre Festival going up in flames, McFarland admitted to losing a box of keys to more than $2 million worth of houses that elite guests were supposed to stay in. You know, as one does. [Hulu]
4. A Bahaman woman used $50,000 of her own savings to pay her workers when Fyre wouldn't.
One of the most heartbreaking scenes in Fyre is when MaryAnn Rolle, the owner of a bar-restaurant used by the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, says she was forced to drain her own savings account to pay her workers after the Fyre team abandoned them. Rolle tearfully describes how "hurt" she is by Fyre, which owed her team some $50,000 when the organizers fled the island. [Netflix]
3. McFarland launched a new scam ... while on bail.
Truly one of the most baffling parts of the Fyre Festival story is that Billy McFarland launched a new scam while on bail for fraud related to Fyre. Running the operation through a proxy, McFarland started NYC VIP Access, which promised impossibly exclusive tickets to people on the former Fyre Festival mailing list. The worst part? Court filings indicate that 15 people gave him over $100,000 for such nonexistent tickets. [Netflix]
2. The random pilot who taught himself how to fly using Microsoft flight simulator.
Keith van der Linde was brought on by the festival to help with organization and was eventually fired for making too much sense. But one of the stranger parts of Fyre is when he admits to teaching himself how to fly his airplane using a video game. "As we're about to take off he's like, 'yeah, I bought this plane six months ago, I just got my license,'" recalled Brett Kincaid, who directed the Fyre Festival ad. "Once we were in the air I was like, 'What is he going to do?' He was like, pulling off the runway and just going straight up into the thing and killing the engine." No one ever said the Fyre Festival was boring! [Netflix]
1. The water retrieval story.
If you have seen Fyre, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The most cringe-inducing story to come out of either Fyre Festival documentary happened just before the festival was set to begin. Four 18-wheeler trucks full of water for Fyre guests had been seized by Bahaman customs over an unpaid $175,000 import fee. But Billy McFarland and his team were already drowning in debt. "Billy called," event producer Andy King recalled, "and said 'Andy, we need you to take one big thing for the team ... you're our wonderful gay leader ... will you suck d--k to fix this water problem?" King said he was shocked by the request, but got in his car to drive down to perform oral sex on the Bahaman head of customs in order to get the water back. "I got to [the custom chief's] office, fully prepared to suck his d--k, but he couldn't have been nicer," King said. The customs chief told King he would release the water on the condition that he be one of the first people Fyre eventually paid back. [Netflix]