As more details are unveiled about the cancelled Fyre Festival meant to occur this past weekend in The Bahamas, a number of individuals have said their piece on the festival and the plans behind its creation. One voice we did not expect to see, however, was a former talent producer from the event that came forward in the midst of the chaos.
Chloe Gordon was hired back in early March to become a talent producer for the event and was attracted to the idea of a high pay and a trip to the Bahamas. However, when she arrived, nothing was as she expected it to be. As she writes in her tell-all piece:
“On March 14, I flew from Miami to the island of Great Exuma to get the planning started. I was excited, at least at first. Flying in, the water looked beautiful — but I was almost immediately warned not to go near it because of a rampant shark problem. That was an omen I regrettably missed.
After we landed, we drove to the festival site to assess our goods. When we arrived, my initial reaction was “huh.” This was not a model-filled private cay that was owned by Pablo Escobar. This was a development lot covered in gravel with a few tractors scattered around. There was not enough space to build all the tents and green rooms they would need. There was not a long, beautiful beach populated by swimming pigs. There were, however, a lot of sand flies that left me looking like I had smallpox. Still, I had hope.
My job as a talent producer was to coordinate travel and on-site logistics with the artists who would be performing: Blink 182, Major Lazer, Disclosure, among others, had already signed on. I would be working with an 11-person team and a few of the festival executives. The production team was all new hires and, before we arrived, we were led to believe things had been in motion for a while. But nothing had been done. Festival vendors weren’t in place, no stage had been rented, transportation had not been arranged. Frankly, we were standing on an empty gravel pit and no one had any idea how we were going to build a festival village from scratch.
Pending disaster aside, I started working from an island rental house. I contacted the booked artists’ tour managers to start to coordinate. Almost all of them had the same question for me, which was along the lines of, “Hey … Where’s our money??” I tried to email the business manager to get an answer, who said something like “stand by” for three days in a row. By the end of the week it became clear they would not pay the people they owed.
On Wednesday, Ja Rule arrived for a “site visit.” I don’t know if he actually visited the “site” but he did spend a lot of time on a yacht, according to his Instagram. Meanwhile the event planners were holed up indoors putting together a game plan and a budget. With so little having been prepared ahead of time, the official verdict was that it would take $50 million to pull off. Planners also warned that it would be not be up to the standard they had advertised. The best idea, they said, would be to roll everyone’s tickets over to 2018 and start planning for the next year immediately. They had a meeting with the Fyre execs to deliver the news. A guy from the marketing team said, “Let’s just do it and be legends, man.”
At this point it was pretty clear that this was a mess and I shared my concerns with the man I reported to. But he assured me that the Fyre execs were legit, and said some socialite was underwriting the whole thing. The budget was okayed and we were told to carry on with our planning. That night Ja Rule gave a toast. “To living like movie stars, partying like rock stars, and fucking like porn stars.” If Ja Rule is punished for anything perhaps it should be that.”
You can read the rest of her account on New York Magazine’s The Cut.