Over three weeks before the start of the doomed Fyre Festival, senior staff had been made aware that something was seriously wrong in leaked emails that included the likes of co-founder Billy McFarland and Fyre Media president Conall Arora.
One email of the thousands provided to Mic had the subject line “RED FLAG- BATHROOMS/ SHOWER SHIPPING,” and concerned the fact that the costs of shipping high-quality toilets and showers to the island was higher than expected.
Since the catering group Starr Catering Group had just dropped out of the festival, one person on the email thread joked, “No one is eating so therefore no ones pooping.”
In the emails, Fyre president Arora asked Lyly Villanueva, executive producer of the festival, how many bathroom stalls she anticipated that they would need. She said that she was planning on 125, and Arora asked if they could cut that number in half and simply ask guests to wait longer for the bathrooms.
“I’m seeing some sites that say we could get away with 75 toilets,” Arora said, along with links to back up his claims. However, those links were to sites for portable toilets, and Villanueva seemed to be against the idea.
“Please keep in mind those are calculations are for events lasting 8-10 hours with portapotties in grassy fields,” she wrote. “This is a ‘luxury’ campsite where people will be using this as [their] only source of relief for 5 consecutive days.”
“Ultimately its your call, but please consider the backlash of nasty bathrooms and showers,” she added.
Another email, with the subject line “***DO NOT IGNORE*** HOUSING UPDATE & ACTION ITEMS FOR YOU,” was sent from Marc Weinstein, a senior consultant working on accommodations to Arora and McFarland stating that there was a housing shortage.
Weinstein proposed “cutting” 130 members of Fyre’s staff such as security team members and others, though that was not enough to cover the fact that a total of 593 people would apparently be without housing when they arrived at the event.
To fix the shortage, Weinstein proposed renting a cruise ship for $530,000 to house up to 225 people and then bumping the lowest-paying customers off of the first week of the festival, saying, “I’d start by cutting your 50 lowest paying customers today.”
The problem with Weinstein’s plan to cut the lower-paying customers and offer than an upgrade the the villas for the next week? There were no villas.
Two days later, Weinstein came up with a second email, this time warning that VIPs would be disappointed with the amenities, as they had been expecting much nicer accommodations.
“It is my opinion based on conversations with influencers, that the majority of them are not going to receive what they were promised,” Weinstein said. Begging organizers to be more transparent, he added, “In speaking to even low level influencers, it was clear they expected their own rooms at private villas on the beach. Of course, these villas don’t exist.”
Even the limited housing that was available lacked necessities like toilet paper, and in the email chain, organizers debated whether or not to require guests to bring their own.
Now, after the disaster of the opening weekend that the Fyre Festival had, both McFarland and Ja Rule, who organized the event, are facing class action lawsuits for fraud and breach of contract, and the more we learn about the festival, the more it’s clear that there were plenty of warning signs.