By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
FYRE Festival organizers were so desperate to salvage the doomed luxury event that one producer said he was willing perform sexual favours on a Customs official.
"Billy called and said Andy we need you to take one big thing for the team," said event producer Andy King in a new Netflix documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.
"And I said oh my gosh I've been taking something for the team everyday and he said well you're our wonderful gay leader and we need you to go down, will you suck d—- to fix this water problem."
Organizers needed to clear four 18-wheeler trucks filled with Evian water, Mr King said, and were allegedly told by Customs officials they needed to pay $175k in cash before the shipment was released.
The festival was weeks away and cash flow issues were becoming increasingly challenging to work around.
Mr King continued: “I literally drove home, took a shower, I drank some mouth wash, and I got into my car to drive across the island to take one for the team. I got to his office fully prepared to suck his d—-.”
“But he couldn’t have been nicer and he was like, ‘Andy, listen, I will release all the water, I will let you serve it, but I want to be one of the first people to be paid this import fee for what you’re doing.’ And I said, ‘OK, great,’ and I got back and I had all the water that we needed."
Mr King added: "Can you imagine, in my 30 years of career that this was what I was going to do? I was going to do that, honestly, to save the festival.”
But organizers would not save the festival, and most local vendors and workers were left unpaid.
It was estimated festival organizers owed at least a $250,000 in day wages to workers who worked around the clock in a losing battle to complete site construction. At its peak, as many as 200 workers were reportedly contracted but hadn't been paid for at least six weeks.
The documentary gives subscribers a front row seat to extensive behind the scenes footage of the event's meteoric rise and descent into utter chaos in April 2017.
While Mr King's revelation is the most shocking of the film, his account and those of other employees renew still unanswered questions about the level of government involvement, at the district level and the Ministry of Tourism.
Speaking on the immense pressures that mounted after cashflow began to trickle to a halt, Mr King said: "I had the head of the Bahamian Tourism Board, the minister of finance, and the head of the University of Bahamas waiting for a $1m that they wanted to be paid."
In the months following the debacle, it was revealed that Fyre Festival’s catering was provided by a newly-formed company, Cater Fyre, with the culinary team put together by the Ministry of Tourism’s culinary tourism manager, DeAnne Gibson, and two University of the Bahamas professors – one of whom was her sister.
In the Netflix documentary, Mr King explains that decision was a last ditch effort to secure catering after McFarland fired the original company some ten days before the festival.
Fyre is one of two new documentaries released last week - the other produced by HULU and titled "Fyre Fraud" - that ventilate perspectives from Fyre organizers and staff, local workers and attendees in an attempt to piece together how it all went wrong.
Festival creator Billy McFarland, 26, has been dubbed a "serial fraudster" and sentenced to six years in prison in October. He admitted to defrauding investors of $26 million in the 2017 Fyre Festival, and over $100,000 in a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme while he was out on bail pending trial for the Fyre scam.
In the documentary, Mr King and other management staff confirmed they snuck out of the country to escape backlash from unpaid workers, whom they feared would hurt them.
"I literally traded clothes with one of the employees that had been working with me and I hid behind a urinal," Mr King said. "Someone pulled up in an old car and I laid down in the back so I could at least get out of the village.
He continued: "Because I couldn't play Mother Theresa I couldn't fix this problem but I need to go somewhere and find safety."
Martin Howell, Fyre Media employee, claimed some workers started "putting hits out on people" to take them hostage for ransom or simply to hurt and injure them.
"The management team started to look left and right and suddenly it was sort of the save yourself mode kicked in," Mr Howell said.
The Netflix documentary features a tearful interview with restaurateur Maryann Rolle, who was forced to exhaust some $50,000 in savings to pay Bahamian workers after the event and Mr McFarland went up in smoke.
"I had ten persons working with me," Mrs Rolle said, "just preparing food all day and all night, 24 hours. I had to literally pay all those people. I am here as a Bahamian and they stands in my face everyday.
She continued: "Personally I don't even like to talk about the Fyre festival, just take it away and just let me start a new beginning, 'cause they really really hurt me. I am really hurt from that.
Mrs Rolle said: "To see nobody return to say let me take care of what she has done, we know she had done right. I just leave it alone because it really pains me when I have to talk about it, so I just wipe it away."