The Most Valuable Characters From The Dueling Fyre Fest Documentaries


There aren’t many subjects about which the world needs two simultaneous documentaries (Fyre Fraud, on Hulu, and Fyre, on Netflix), but the Fyre Fest is one of those things. I watched both and would recommend it to anyone. Hell, I’d probably watch a third. Through it all, we laughed, we got angry, and we met some wonderful characters. Here are some of the characters, both hero and villain, who made it such a compelling watch (and yes, I left out Fyre Fest founder Billy McFarland, who is basically the main character in both).

Ja Rule

Via wp-image-401706249

Role In The Saga: Billy McFarland’s right-hand man.

As Seen In: Both documentaries

Contribution To The Story: For some reason, every tech evangelist needs a hip-hop guy to give him street cred, which is why is always speaking at tech conferences and Common does commercials about the incredible techno future. It’s so perfectly fitting that when an off-brand Zuckerberg was looking for his he found Ja Rule.

Best Moment: Probably a tie between Ja’s favorite toast (“here’s to living like movie stars, partying like rock stars, and… Billy? {…f*cking like porn stars}”), which would’ve gotten you jeered at a frat party in 2002, and the conference call moment in Fyre when someone asks “Isn’t that fraud?” and Ja answers “Nah, it’s just, like, false advertising.”

Keith The Crazy Pilot/Voice Of Reason

As Seen In: Fyre on Netflix

Contribution: Keith becomes one of Billy McFarland’s fixers in the Bahamas, and we’re first introduced to him as the nutty guy who says he learned to fly with Microsoft flight simulator. He eventually becomes the unlikely voice of reason, who actually camps on the island in a tent to see whether it’s feasible (it isn’t) and comes up with a plan (sleeping on cruise ships) to solve the inherent infrastructure problem. Naturally, he gets fired for not thinking positively enough. (Lots more on the tech world’s cult of “positive thinking” here.)

Notable Moment: “You ruined my sewage calculations,” Keith says when Billy (or was it Ja Rule? Unclear) spills beer on the blueprints he’s using to explain why the festival needs more bathrooms.

Delroy The Bartender

Role: Delroy is the bartender at MacDuff’s on Norman’s Cay, the island once owned by Pablo Escobar that Billy McFarland tries to buy but is kept from doing so when he immediately mentions Escobar in the Fyre ads, in violation of his agreement not to. Delroy becomes another of Billy’s local fixers.

As Seen In: Fyre Fraud on Hulu

Contribution: Delroy is easily my favorite character in either documentary. He takes an amused, detached-but-pleasant, “I don’t think you’re gonna pull this off, dog, but I’m happy to see you try” approach to the whole thing. You get the feeling Delroy has seen more than his fair share of assholes like Billy before, and is happy to keep pouring them drinks and nod at their grandiose bullshit if it will make for an interesting story. Delroy is the ultimate everyman hero.

Notable Moment: “Who the f*ck orders two million dollars worth of booze, dawg?”

The “Social Media Strategist” (Vicky Segar)

Via wp-image-401708306

Role: Social Media Strategist

As Seen In: Fyre Fraud

Contribution: Vicky is there to explain social media strategies and companies and how the influencer marketing game works. I don’t know if I’d quite call her a “villain,” but she’s definitely there to explain things that everyone hates.

Notable Moment: “I think influencers are actually really brave.”

The “Magnum Penis” Girl (Emily Boehm)

Via wp-image-401708423

Role: Former employee of “Magnises,” the exclusive-debit-card-for-millennials Billy McFarland started before Fyre Fest.

As Seen In: Fyre Fraud

Contribution: Part of the reason I find Fyre Fraud a slightly more enjoyable watch is that it captures the absurdity of it all, and Emily is often the conduit for that, especially in Billy’s origin story. She explains the name Magnises (“mag-KNEE-sis”) as a portmanteau of “magnum” and “penis.”

Notable Moment: Emily describing Grant’s (the Dwight to Billy’s Michael Scott, in her Office analogy) disastrous presentation of the Magnises pitch deck.

Jia Tolentino from The New Yorker

Role: Media talking head

As Seen In: Fyre Fraud

Contribution: I normally wouldn’t include a media person in a roundup of notable characters, because they are, almost by definition, not characters. But Tolentino does such an amazing job succinctly describing and contextualizing virtually every character and development in the story that she ends up kind of making the movie.

Notable Moment: Just about every description she offers, but especially that Fyre Fest was “a snowball rolling down scam mountain” picking up every flavor of grating huckster along the way.

The “NBA Host” Influencer” (Austin Mills)

Role: Influencer

As Seen In: Fyre Fraud

Contribution: Social media stars mostly exist to infuriate us and make us ask the tough questions, like “what the hell do you even do,” and “why would anyone follow this person?”

A lot of influencers featured in Fyre and Fyre Fraud were that, but “NBA host” (what does that even mean!?) Austin Mills was just so… extra. Why is he there? No one knows, but like a self-fulfilling prophecy he is, constantly present, with his dopey hat perched atop his grown-up milk baby face and Disney Channel hair delivering affectless observations of zero value. “Here I am on a plane. Wow.”

Notable Moments: Austin trying to describe “his brand.” “Uh… positivity, I guess?”

The Guy Who Would Do Sexual Favors For Water (Andy King)

Role: Event Producer — essentially the guy responsible for putting Billy’s half-cocked ideas into action

As Seen In: Fyre on Netflix

Contribution: Yes, I saved everyone’s favorite for last. Andy King is already a meme (see below) and for good reason. He starts out mildly hateable, as he describes Billy McFarland as a great entrepreneur, but eventually becomes a full character and gains all of our sympathy when he describes going to Bahamian customs fully prepared to offer sexual favors in exchange for Evian water. We should all be lucky enough to have a friend like Andy.

Notable Moment: Obviously, the part where he describes planning to suck dick for water. Oddly he describes taking a long shower and rinsing his mouth out with mouth wash in order to prepare. Isn’t that something you generally do after? In any case, Andy… well, I hesitate to call him a “hero,” but his dedication is truly inspiring.

Vince Mancini is on Twitter. You can find his archive of reviews here