Arts and CultureBoozeEatsMusicShopping, Style and Beauty

An Employee of the Fyre Festival Explains What Really Happened

Guest Post by Jonas Barnes

By now, you’ve read the headlines about the disastrous misfire from Ja Rule (yes, that Ja Rule) & company known as “Fyre Festival“. And you’ve all seen the pictures comparing it to “Mad Max: Thunderdome” if it were sponsored by Ciroc Vodka & Vera Wang. You’ve heard the stories about people being robbed, mugged, beaten & more. At times, reports have made this seem less like an island paradise and more like a Banana Republic concentration camp. All I can say is: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Except for this article! Please believe this article!

Recently, I was contacted by a staff member of the festival that gave me some sweet detailed intel on the fest under the condition of total anonymity. So that means you get all the dirt and you don’t get to know who my source is. You don’t like that? A number of fucks I give is zero because the information is good and should be shared. So let’s dig right in shall we?

How involved was Ja Rule? Ja promoted the event heavily and pushed it all over his social media accounts and was proud to present it. But that’s about where it ends. Ja partnered with Billy McFarland, who was responsible for most of the leg work. Ja Rule had very little involvement with everything. Let me make this clear: This was not a scam by Ja Rule, Billy McFarland and Fyre. The festival was well intentioned and everyone thought that it would all come together with who they partnered with. The issue came down to planning because they really had no viable plan of execution. A festival of this magnitude needed to have meticulous planning or…well, you all saw what happened.

This is not how the tents looked. (image from lavozdelmuro.net)

Let’s talk about the people they hired next. My source was hired specifically to cater to the VIP guests, through a third party company that had just refilled positions weeks prior after a mass-firing. Per my source, the previous group didn’t give much of a fuck so they were almost all fired for not doing their jobs. The others realized that there was no way this event was going to happen in time, so they quit. My source’s friend then took over VIP staffing duties two weeks prior to the event’s kickoff even though they were never supposed to be in charge of hiring. Does all of this sound like a giant, unorganized clusterfuck of epic proportions? It should, because it is. None of this was the new hiring managers’ fault as they were fully professional and loved their staff, and truly felt they could turn it around. In hindsight, they were giving CPR to a corpse after rigor mortis set in.

Now, here is where some of the other reports get hairy. Let me explain: The FEMA camp-like atmosphere that you’ve heard rumors of and seen is a bit of a stretch. There were definitely tents and some fucked up areas, but on the other side of that was a beautiful private beach and a huge performance stage with a great sound system. Much of that part was unreported, presumably because it wasn’t sensational enough for print. But all the bones were there, just waiting for a great body to be built. The accommodations were definitely not up to snuff compared to what was advertised, as there were tents rather than villas, but it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. The tents all had new furniture, flimsy beds, and were made up to look like a studio apartment. The issues were with ventilation (or lack thereof) and no place to lock literally anything up. Also, the locals were not harming people, as was erroneously reported. They were drinking, smoking weed, chilling out and not getting anything done as far as work. But they definitely were not mugging or stealing from people.

So what happened when all the people started arriving? Well, for lack of a better term, pure fucking mayhem. They arrived in buses and were put in a long ass single line, awaiting instruction. Also, it was a bunch of people that were promised villas and saw tents, so shit almost immediately hit the fan. Nobody could find their luggage and nobody was handing out information so chaos ensued in it’s purest form. People were pissed off. On the flip side, all the staff tried making it work as best they could with what they were given to work with. Free tequila shots for all! This made some people happy and enraged others. Who the fuck doesn’t like free tequila!? Trust fund kids that got overfilled Honeybuckets & tents instead of villas. That’s who doesn’t like free tequila. You have to remember that this was 3rd party staff that had NOTHING to do with the bloodbath they were working within. Yet they took the full brunt of all the wrath. And they still tried helping as much as possible because, deep down, they thought this could be salvaged. And you thought your call center job was shitty? All the staff was treated well, generally, except the dancers. They were stranded in housing for 3 days without sufficient food & water

So what now? What is the aftermath of this whole thing? The cruise ship that housed VIP staff, concierge staff, dancers and the like haven’t been paid. The concierge company also hasn’t been paid yet the owner is paying all the staff out of pocket. The VIP staff (my source worked for) is going to be paid something thanks to insurance. That company expects Ja & Billy to declare bankruptcy (yes, it was that bad) so they probably will not be paid. Lawsuits and various legal proceedings are being talked about at this point, so it’s not looking good for Ja & Billy. Now, if Billy makes good on his word of refunding all the guests and doing a 2018 festival for free, he should be held responsible for paying all the workers that are owed money as well. Hopefully, he is, but only time will tell on that one.

Let’s wrap this up by clearing up some social media lies. The food was shitty but it wasn’t as shitty as the pictures you’ve seen. It was absolutely a cheese sandwich. But it was a well-constructed cheese sandwich with an apple, chips, and a slice of chocolate cake. It was shit, but it wasn’t the shit you were shown. Also, they were eventually provided with chicken, rice, and free booze until the bitter end. There were no gunshots. That was all total bullshit. There were also no stray dogs running around the site. There was literally one sweetheart of an unleashed dog running around. Cujo stayed home, that was all fabrication. There was stealing and looting but it was all done from the concert goers. It was not done by any staff or locals. You’d have been made to believe that locals came in with machetes, ransacking and hacking up concert goers like a fucked up Eli Roth film. It was, instead, a group of rich people that were pissed off and acting like spoiled children. Oh, the last lie is great. All those pigs they showed you? Yeah, those are an actual tourist attraction. Those pigs are fucking awesome and they swim around & cuddle with tourists. They aren’t flesh-eating wild pigs.

Final Thought: This was a case of good intentions executed horribly by people with literally no industry experience when it comes to creating a festival. It was a disaster from the start and it honestly never should have been seen to the end. It should have been canceled weeks prior but everyone thought they could turn it around. And now, Ja Rule & Billy McFarland will pay the heftiest of prices for the misfire. RIP Fyre Festival, your memory will remain in social media infamy.

Like this article? Make sure to sign up for our mailing list so you never miss a goddamn thing!
Previous post

BAS Poetry: Here's Mine, Now Show Me Yours

Next post

The Rev at The Utah


Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".

  • Sluefoot Sue

    The writer of this criticizes how the festival has been portrayed because other information wasn’t “sensational enough to print,” but that’s all this article is – an attempt to capitalize on public interest. One unnamed source is quoted and paraphrased and the sum up is basically that it’s not as bad as it seemed and that intentions were good. How the author somehow knows what the promoters intentions are isn’t explained of course. Ultimately, It’s unfortunate that the writer and Broke Ass Stuart don’t seem to understand that intentions are not enough and that the chaos and lack of safety is criminal and could have resulted in serious injury to many. What’s most disturbing about this piece is just how smugly it disdains other media while shamelessly playing into the interest regarding this debacle with no real editorial or journalistic work.

  • alanjason .

    You have a good point. So according to Broke Ass Stuart, they have the only credible source, though they won’t name the source. And of course, only BAS is telling the truth and all other media is exaggerating. So, we’re supposed to believe one unnamed source of the truth. Nice.

  • vonburglestein

    Vice News (a FAR more credible news publication than brokeassstuart . com) has it from their sources that the planners spent millions on models, yachts and vacations in the months leading up to the fest. They constantly talked about fucking bitches and models at staff meetings, the trips were “boys only” except paid models. Were their intentions that great? mmkay?