Billy McFarland is ready for his second act – determined to disrupt the notoriously failed Fyre Festival and prove he’s more than a convicted cheater.
But his new dream rings even wilder than the one that landed him in prison for nearly four years.
McFarland, who turned 31 on Sunday, users on their home sofas could pay to “actually change” what happened at the party.
For example, McFarland told The Post, “You could, for example, buy the talent a drink and then have drink service brought in [the same kind of drink] Talent comes to them at the same time.
“Well, if you’re 18 and sitting at your computer in the middle of America, you can actually come now [to this party] and don’t just watch what’s happening, be a part of changing it,” McFarland said. “It kind of gives you access to this really cool country and group of people.”
He also offered a more gruesome example of how “guests” at home could control the action.
“If they decide to buddy the water where I swim, the water will actually buddy and the sharks will be happy.”
There might be some takers for this suggestion considering McFarland was one of the most hated men in America.
As of April 2017, thousands of people had paid up to $12,000 each for the promise of hanging out with influencers like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid — both of whom were paid to support the festival — and performances by acts like Pusha T and Blink-182 at McFarland’s Fyre Festival on the Bahamas island of Great Exuma.
But the young, jet-set crowd found disaster relief tents instead of decorated villas, and sad-looking sandwiches instead of the fancy meals they were promised. There were no performances, and the influencers knew enough to fly and sail home as soon as possible.
McFarland organized the mock festival with rapper Ja Rule, who was not charged. McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in March 2018. The disgraced promoter was later sentenced to six years in prison and served time in three federal prisons.
In a 2021 prison interview, the convicted con artist blamed an “unrealistic timeframe” for the spectacular failure that spawned several documentaries, including Netflix’s “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.”
So after swindling investors and potential revelers out of more than $26 million, anyone else want to party with Billy McFarland?
The New Jersey native, who now lives in Brooklyn after being released from prison in late March and given a transitional home on Aug. 30, said he’s well aware of his many skeptics – but wants to prove the naysayers wrong.
“I’m so sorry that I just betrayed her trust,” McFarland told the Post. “There is no other way to put it than I was totally wrong before and deserved everything that came my way. And I don’t think it’s going to stop coming for a while. It’s only going to get harder over the next six, 12, 18 months but I want to take it and try to make a difference and help those who have been hurt along the way.”
McFarland, who still owes a whopping $26.3 million in compensation, said he has paid $19,000 in eight payments since late August.
He’s hoping, of course, to make money from his new party business, which he amazingly calls PYRT – pronounced “pirate.” In late October, he first teased the “crazier” and “bigger” idea of virtual immersive decentralized reality, or VID/R
“The easiest way to describe it is to manipulate these adventures with live 360-degree cameras and build a virtual replica of the islands where anyone can go online, but when they actually do something virtually, it happens in.” the real world. ‘ McFarland said.
It’s hard to imagine. But not so difficult to understand why he wanted to return to the scene of his crime.
McFarland — who also hawks on cameo, offering personalized videos for as little as $69 — said he envisions hosting the actual parties somewhere in the Bahamas.
According to that country’s Department of Tourism, Investment and Aviation, McFarland is persona non grata.
“The public is cautioned that no application has been made to the government of the Bahamas to consider any event sponsored by Billy McFarland or any organization or party known to be associated with him,” he said Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper in a statement last month.
As the organizer of the Fyre Festival, which Cooper described as an “infamous charade,” the Bahamas will not support any McFarland-related event.
“He is considered a fugitive and several complaints have been filed against him with the Royal Bahamas Police Force,” Cooper said. “Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts should report this to the RBPF.”
Messages seeking comment from the Royal Bahamas Police Force have gone unanswered.
McFarland’s attorney, Harlan Protass, said he was unaware that police were looking for his client in the Bahamas.
“Billy McFarland has paid off his debt to society and is rebuilding his life and work from which to pay retribution to victims of his crimes,” the Manhattan-based Protass said in a statement to The Post.
While paying off his debt to society, McFarland said he was put in solitary confinement for having a USB stick.
“I sure got in trouble a few times,” McFarland said, adding that he had the unauthorized device to take notes for his later telly book.
Other inmates quickly recognized McFarland, which sometimes led to incoherent discussions, he explained.
“The annoying thing was that everyone would come to me with little scams, whether it was for ideas or advice,” he said. “And I just didn’t know how to do what they were talking about. A lot of people couldn’t believe that I didn’t understand how to steal credit cards.
“My crime was unrefined,” he added. “I lied to investors about how much money we had and there’s not a lot of sophistication behind it. So it was kind of funny to say, ‘Sorry guys, I’m not good at that.'”
McFarland said he was amazed at the number of inmates committing fraud while incarcerated in connection with the Paycheck Protection Program — federal loans to help small businesses recover from the pandemic. Since his own release, he’s had to “essentially sever ties” with a majority of the inmates, he said.
“Since my sentence, it’s been a lot easier to build really strong people around me, but people in prison saw an opportunity as there was no better description,” McFarland continued. “It was definitely difficult to get out of this environment.”
Finding out his “travel restrictions” for the Bahamas, McFarland said he plans to test his pay-to-play virtual “experiences” in the US over the next few months — including a jet ski race around New York City in the middle of winter.
“All talents [will be] We’re wearing super thick wetsuits and we’re going to have drones that will be livestreaming it and allowing fans to actually change the course of the race,” explained McFarland. “It will be a fun way to test the technology.”
McFarland is also looking forward to participating.
“I love the water, so I want to make the race for New York,” he said. “I can’t go to the Bahamas, so I’m doing it here in the freezing cold.”
Some tech experts contacted by The Post said they were intrigued by McFarland’s PYRT project but needed to see more details.
“The question I have is what is ‘real change’?” Joseph LaViola, a professor of computer science at the University of Central Florida, told McFarland that when PYRT users “do something virtually, they do it in the real world happens,” said Joseph LaViola of McFarland.
“Depending on how you define ‘real change’ will decide whether this idea is even possible,” added LaViola.
The notion of a “digital twin,” or a virtual replica of a physical entity, is not new, the professor said, given that many companies are investing heavily in them.
“Changing the virtual replica and changing the real physical space could be done, but there would be constraints on how that could be done and what could be done,” LaViola said.
An undeterred McFarland, meanwhile, said he intends to continue to build his PYRT team of “close to a dozen” employees and generate funds as quickly as possible.
“And really just going day to day and trying to support ourselves, you know?” he said. “Do some marketing jobs, get a TV deal, sign baseball cards, Get income in the door to survive and pay compensation as best you can.”
https://nypost.com/2022/12/09/billy-mcfarlands-new-event-idea-sounds-wilder-than-fyre-fest/ Billy McFarland’s new event idea sounds wilder than Fyre Fest