The Fyre still burns. Vanity Fair chose to interview me and feature my photojournalism from the infamous Fyre Festival in an 8 and a half page spread in their August issue. Another day, another feature in an international publication. This comes on the heels of my third interview with BBC last week, my Bravo debut on Andy Cohen’s show in June, and dozens of other interviews I’ve done as the leading expert on surviving Fyre Festival. The Vanity Fair issue features a pregnant Serena Williams, one of the best tennis players ever, on the cover.
Before I go any further, I just want to clear up some rumors. I’m not the father of Serena’s baby. We’re just friends. I do plan on sending her an ITBlessed onesie as a baby gift, since we will forever be linked by this issue of Vanity Fair.
As a growing media empire, I try not to talk about the interviews and outlets I’ve been featured in, such as The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Time, Boston Globe, ABC News, NY Post, BBC, Buzzfeed News, In Touch Weekly, Us Weekly, NPR, Good Morning America, TMZ Live with my ITBFF Harvey, Channel 4, London Times, Bloomberg, Inside Edition, the Daily Mail, Washington Post, People, NY Times, LA Times, CNN, the Weather Channel, Billboard, Business Insider, W Magazine, USA Today, and more. I always thought it wasn’t in my best interest to promote my competition. But after working for weeks on this feature with the wonderful folks at Vanity Fair, I’ve realized it’s ok to collaborate with your peers.
In June, Vanity Fair reached out and asked if I would do an interview and also let them buy my soon-to-be award-winning photos from Fyre Festival. I did what I always do when I get these types of requests, I asked my lawyer Stacy Miller if it was ok. We’re still tied up in a Fyre Festival lawsuit (that I’m DYING to talk more about) and I have to be careful about what I say in public. Stacy said it was fine to talk to them as long as I sent all questions about our lawsuit against Ja Rule, Billy McFarland, and others to him.
So I started talking with Vanity Fair, figuring I would be on the cover of the issue. Once I found out that Serena Williams was pregnant I immediately told them not to put me on the cover. As the owner of micITBit, the most popular secret Facebook group comprised mainly of Raleigh moms, I know how important it is to respect women and babies and let them have the spotlight. Seeing what a gentleman I was, Vanity Fair released a few issues with this cover that I made for them.
Vanity Fair sent me some issues and, since I’m now a photojournalist, I decided to hold a tasteful photoshoot for the issue.
If you haven’t picked up the August issue of Vanity Fair yet, I strongly suggest you do before they sell out. I look forward to winning our lawsuit so that Stacy and I can be on the cover of Vanity Fair some time this fall. Stay tuned.
Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation, listed in the credits of Andy Cohen’s Then & Now on Bravo. I know some of you probably don’t watch Bravo, or know who Andy Cohen is, but a significant portion of my readers are obsessed with both. After clearing it with my lawyer, Stacy Miller, I can now give you all a ITBehind the scenes look of how I ended up on the show.
On June 13th, Bravo reached out to me about using my Pulitzer-worthy footage from Fyre Festival on a new show hosted by the one and only Andy Cohen.
Obviously I had to hear them out. I had never seen Andy Cohen’s Then & Now, but I assumed it consisted of Andy asking different Real Housewives about pop culture in hopes that a fight would break out. More than happy to contribute to such a worthy cause, I threw out an offer, which they then countered. Classic showbiz move.
I tried to play hardball by asking for a signed Andy Cohen headshot, mainly so I could brag about it in my secret Facebook group full of ITB moms who would eat that sort of thing up.
I also requested a shout out on the show, knowing that I would gain a ton of followers because Andy Cohen’s viewers do anything he tells them to. That’s just Influencer 101. And remember, I am an influencer. If you’re reading this and disagree, then ask yourself “Am I asking myself a question right now because William Finley IV told me to ask myself a question?” Yeah, you just got influenced.
Unfortunately, the show had already taped, so none of this was possible.
At this point in my career I consider myself the patron saint of Fyre Festival footage. It’s my duty to make sure I keep talking about it, and provide others with pictures and video footage so they can cover it, until justice is served. So I accepted the offer and started planning a big event for my Bravo debut. I thought I had weeks to pull everything together, but then I got an email saying the show would air the next day.
I quickly reached out to Vita Vite about hosting a watch party (because that’s what people who watch Bravo do) and planned to have some Humdinger Glowmosas for everyone to drink, using their new ITBlessed wine glasses, of course. It would be so synergistic.
After posting about this pop-up watch party on Facebook, I discovered that the show was actually airing in a few hours. I wasn’t even home to watch it but fortunately another Fyre Festival survivor’s wife sent me this clip. Note: I spent about 3 hours tracking down footage and creating a video highlighting my appearance, but YouTube took it down because of copyright violations. Don’t worry, YouTube will be hearing from Stacy Miller shortly.
The episode was titled “Being Rich” and here’s the description: “Andy Cohen dives into the opulent 1980s to explore how the wealthy spent their fortunes on everything from limos and jets to extravagant weddings, and how that’s influenced the ways the mega-rich spend their money today. With celebrity guests Susan Lucci, Jill Kargman, Amber Rose and more, Andy looks at how the gilded mega-mansions of the 80s created today’s high-tech minimalist homes, and how the pricey plastic surgery of yesterday influenced the anti-aging treatments of today. Plus, the Real Housewives spill their pre-nup secrets!”
You can watch the full episode here. While I may have totally botched the watch party for my debut appearance on Andy Cohen’s Then & Now, I’m still glad I helped bring attention to this humanitarian crisis. I hope you enjoyed this insider look at how media empires work together to cover important stories. Now I’m going to go pick up the latest issue of Vanity Fair so I can look at the Fyre Festival pictures that I let them use.
It’s been almost a month since Fyre Festival. While the experience was quite traumatizing, I believe the best way to get through this is to keep talking about it constantly. That’s exactly why I went on the Free Lunch podcast at Clean Design to tell my story. This was my second appearance on their show. On the first episode I taught the gang all about ITB, my growing media empire, and how I was about to go on the trip of a lifetime to Fyre Festival.
Little did I know that I would have to survive and escape the island while becoming a “minor celebrity” (according to Bloomberg). Clean Design asked me to come back on their podcast after seeing what a disaster the trip was.
I set the record straight on a few issues. We covered the “planning” notebook, which media outlets are super lame, how my attorney Stacy Miller plans to handle this, and more.
I survived the first, and most likely the last, Fyre Festival. The now infamous festival was supposed to be an event in the Bahamas unlike anything else. Entrepreneur Billy McFarland and Rapper/Actor Ja Rule (The Fast and The Furious) co-founded the festival late last year. They began promoting it in December with the help of famous influencers.
Along with this video, a website promoted a $1 million treasure hunt, luxury accommodations on a private island once owned by Pablo Escobar, exquisite cuisine, exclusive experiences like swimming with island pigs, and a music festival with soon to be announced big-name acts. This was clearly the trip of a lifetime. Three friends and I bought tickets during the first week they were on sale. We upgraded to VIP and one friend and I also bought an “Artist Pass” which included your food, drinks, backstage passes, 4 nights on the island, and “exclusive” experiences.
This was my chance to finally become BFFs with all the influencers and celebrities that would be there. I’d played the scenario out a million times in my head leading up to the trip. Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin, The Rock, and I would be hanging out backstage. One of my friends would draw attention to me by saying, “Aren’t you the guy who posts about Rise biscuits, Capital Creations anxiety pizza, and REDACTED frozen custard all the time?”
The celebs would notice the commotion and then follow me on Instagram after getting major FOMO (Mom, that means “fear of missing out”). The Rock would say, “Bro! I loved that story about how I’d be playing football for NC State next year. Will you be in Fast and Fur9ious? We need someone that drives a Tahoe.”
“Thanks, The Rock. I’d love to, if I can fit it in my schedule,” I’d reply, playing it cool.
Emily Ratajkowksi would interrupt, “How can I try this Humdinger Juice? It looks AH-mazing.”
“It totes is, Em. Just go to their website and use the code ITB for special deals,” I’d tell her.
“Are you the guy that created the hottest buy/sell Facebook group for moms in Raleigh?”
“It’s not just for moms, Hailey Baldwin. micITBit is for everyone. It’s a closed group but I could probably approve you,” I’d say, negging her slightly.
We’d spend the rest of the weekend swimming with the pigs and Instagramming until we got carpal tunnel. “My ITBFF Justin Miller has a pig named Theodore. Don’t worry, you’ll meet him when you move to Raleigh,” I’d say, while telling them about inside the beltline. I’d influence them into buying luxury condos at The Wade. We’d all live there together and launch a reality show on Facebook Live produced by Walk West, since TV networks will be dead in 5 years. It was going to be perfect. And then, we got to the island.
As you can see, all of my dreams were crushed when Fyre Festival turned out to be a mashup of Lord of the Flies meets Outbreak meets Locked Up Abroad. They didn’t even have LaCroix. My media empire instincts kicked in and I started documenting the event like I was the Samuel Pepys of Fyre Festival. My coverage was used in pretty much every story about the event and my Tweets were included in the $100M class action lawsuit.
You’re probably thinking, “This is great for you. You gained thousands of followers and a ton of exposure!” To be clear, I didn’t want 15 minutes of global fame. I didn’t want over 50 million impressions on Twitter. I didn’t want to spend weeks doing interviews with the LA Times, People, CNN, the Washington Post, TMZ Live, Time, BBC, NPR, Inside Edition, and dozens of other outlets. Sure, all of those things were great for my #brand, but all I wanted from Fyre Festival was a relaxing vacation and new famous friends.
To show you what we went through, I’ve provided an in-depth account of exactly what happened. If you enjoy watching train wrecks, you’re going to love this.
Thursday, April 27th
12:000 pm – My friends and I had lunch outside of Boynton Beach. It would be our last meal not served in a styrofoam container for the next 24 hours. We left for the Miami airport and arrived with plenty of time for our 4:35 pm flight to Great Exuma. We boarded the plane and sat on the runway for about half an hour. Someone tried to open their window and this happened, which we should have taken as a sign.
Still, we continued on. We arrived on the island, boarded shuttle buses and rode for about 15 minutes. That’s when we saw this.
The “white glove concierge luggage service” required you to use your phone flashlight and dig through hundreds of bags to find your own. Maybe this was the treasure hunt they had advertised. I started to help unload a pickup truck full of luggage and just happened to grab my bag. A true Fyre Festival miracle. I dropped my luggage off at our temporary tent and then went to cover what was going on.
I took some food back to our tent, which we were then kicked out of. We walked over to the main area where we had been dropped off and saw that people were getting on buses to leave. My friend went inside the main house and somehow convinced them to put us on a flight out that night.
7:15 am – A girl loudly asks everyone in the airport “who is William Needham?”. (See the video below.) They were on to me. I remained silent. She continued, “No really. He’s in this room right now. Who is William Finley? He’s fucking hilarious.” Realizing that they weren’t going to sacrifice me to the island, I raised my hand. One girl asked, “Are you always this funny?” I just replied, “I try.”
If you recall, I had tweeted at my lawyer Stacy Miller as we boarded the plane (the first time) to leave the island at 1:47 am. He called me at about 7:30 am.
Stacy: Hey man are you ok? What is going on?
Me: I dunno, I haven’t slept in over 24 hours. I don’t really know how to make sentences.
Stacy: Are you still in the Bahamas?!
Me: I mean, I’m locked in an airport and they say a plane is coming soon, but yeah.
If you’re exhausted after reading all of that just imagine living through it. I don’t ever want to go back to Fyre Festival. I don’t ever want to go outside the beltline again. Final verdict: Fyre Festival gets 0 out of 5 beltlines.
Note: Fyre Festival organizers have allowed us to “apply” for a refund. During the application process they asked if we wanted to forgo our refund in exchange for double the number of VIP tickets to next year’s event. We all politely declined.
We still have not heard anything back after filling the forms out last week.