If you’re like me, you live for a story that keeps on giving, unfolding in real time before your very eyes. There are few things in life that bring me as much joy as a story that’s wild to begin with, and then proceeds to take the drama to heights I could never have imagined, as every twist and turn is revealed.
In the same way that a Wikipedia spiral can somehow steal hours away from your life as you click from page to page, before suddenly realising it’s 11pm and you’ve been reading conspiracy theories for hours, these people, events, podcasts and books will take you on a journey, and who doesn’t want that?
Keep reading to join me on an adventure in chaotic energy, won’t you?
Okay, this is a classic to kick things off. How Billy MacFarland, Ja Rule and co. even thought that they could actually pull this off is a mystery in and of itself, but the content that it’s provided over the past few years has no expiration date on its entertainment factor. I mean, they made a sandwich an instantly recognisable symbol of the disastrous event, and gave us Andy King, the most heroic meme.
With competing documentaries featuring the involvement of Instagram memers F**k Jerry and Billy MacFarland himself, you can compare notes and draw your own conclusions.
Fun fact: Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino was recently incarcerated at the same time as Billy, and called him “a bonehead”.
I am obsessed with the absolute mess that was Tanacon, and I am absolutely obsessed with Shane Dawson’s three part video series on his friend’s failed attempt to take on YouTube’s VidCon — think Comic Con, but for people who love YouTubers — by creating her own event, on the same weekend as VidCon, down the road from VidCon.
The level of petty that Tana was aiming for would have been admirable, had she been able to pull it off. Instead, what her fans got was, well, mostly sunburn.
Trapped outside a hotel filled to capacity, with lacking security and an event organiser riding a segway around the crowd rather than doing, ya know, any event organising, dehydrated fans were burned to a crisp in the Los Angeles sun as they waited for hours to get into an event that was far bigger than the venue ever would have had the ability to host.
Please, if you loved Fyre Festival, you’ll love Tanacon.
Former XOJane Beauty Director, New York Times bestselling author and all ‘round bad gal, the Cat Marnell journey is one of legends.
Her first memoir How To Murder Your Life details the rise and fall of the beauty writer, chronicling her struggles with drug addiction and eating disorders, a lot of which she wrote about while at XOJane before she was fired.
In fact, the above video shows her snorting bath salts — not the drug, actual bath salts — while casually telling the audience how much she would “usually do”.
Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View
I’ll be honest, the only reason I bothered to pick up Ladies Who Punch is because I consider the fight between Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselback on ‘The View’ an absolutely historical moment in pop culture, one that I have rewatched many times since 2007.
Going viral before that was even a term, it was the first time The View had used a split screen, capturing both sides of the former friendship as it crumbled on live television.
Reader, the book is worth it.
Not only does it reveal way more gory behind-the-scenes details about all the View ladies, it also led to the release of this audio clip, in which Elisabeth tries to quit the show during a commercial break after an on-air feud with Barbara Walters about abortion, shouting: “WRITE ABOUT THAT IN THE NEW YORK F**KING POST!!!” as she storms to her dressing room, a line so good it went viral the second it hit the internet.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about Caroline Calloway, I honestly don’t even know whether I should say “you’re welcome”, or “I’m sorry”, because once you’re on this spiral with me, you will never be able to escape.
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Honestly SHOCKED this Buzzfeed article about me isn’t meaner. I might even say… it… Does a good job… Capturing me? Wow that sentence feels so weird on my tongue in reference to a piece of press about me. I didn’t want to let @stephemcneal spend a day with me for @buzzfeednews , but @amkrasner told me to do it and I **almost** always listen to my manager. Maybe I’m going to hard-pivot from being press-AVERSE and be like IF YOU WON’T SPEND SEVEN HOURS WITH ME YOU CAN’T INTERVIEW ME AT ALL. Beautiful flora sculptural headpiece by @philjohnperry and photograph of me by @shotbygobes ?
Here’s the shortest version I can offer, in dot point form:
— Caroline is an American Instagram influencer who attended Cambridge University, where she grew her social following with her trademark long captions about her life, as though she were penning her memoirs in real time.
— Off the back of her Instagram following, she then sold a book, a fictionalised memoir/romance novel intended for a Young Adult audience.
— She then failed to write or submit the novel due to a struggle with prescription medication Adderall. The book was cancelled and she was forced to return the US $375k advance.
—In January, she went viral for hosting some ‘creativity workshops’ which were labelled a ‘scam’ as the promises she’d made for attendees who’d paid the USD $165 fee fell away, one by one. She cancelled the events, and then uncancelled them.
— She then went viral again as her former best friend Natalie Beach published a tell-all article in The Cut about their friendship, Caroline’s drug addiction, and their working relationship, with Natalie as her ‘ghostwriter’ — although Caroline insists that they were co-writers
— Natalie has since sold the rights to her story to Ryan Murphy, and Caroline has been taking meetings to sell the rights to her life, indicating that there will likely be two competing projects released about her in the future.
— In the midst of The Cut article, Caroline’s father passed away.
— She continues to post her memoirs and sell art on her Instagram. The below is her “approved syllabus”, and includes The Cut article.
— Please, let me warn you. Once you’re in, you’re in. She posts A LOT and every post is a lot to take in. Good luck.
The Approved Syllabus:
The Cut: I Was Caroline Calloway
The New York Times: An Interview With Caroline Calloway’s Ghostwriter, Natalie Beach
The New York Times: Who Is Caroline Calloway? An Explainer
From the moment I joined the Facebook group ‘Sounds like MLM but okay’, I was hooked on the drama. If you’ve ever been irritated by someone you haven’t spoken to in 15 years sliding into your inbox to say “Hey pretty lady!” and then immediately try to sell you something, then do I have the content for you.
Host Jane Marie takes us on a journey to the underworld of MLMs, from Tupperware to leggings and everything in between. A fascinating look at why people join, what keeps them going, and what ends up happening when it doesn’t work out.
On Becoming a God in Central Florida
Kirsten Dunst is perfection in this new Showtime drama, playing Krystal, a widow and single mother trapped in an MLM forced to play dirty and make it work, against all odds. It’s a weird and wild show that follows the investors of Fam as they desperately invest their money into ‘the Garbo system’, which is, you guessed it, a pyramid scheme.
On Becoming a God in Central Florida premieres on SBS and SBS On Demand from 8.30pm, November 21.
Often referred to as the ‘Cancer Conwoman’, Belle Gibson’s story is as horrifying as it is fascinating. Her 60 Minutes interview is required viewing for the sheer lack of responsibility that Gibson accepts for her part in steering actual cancer patients away from traditional treatments like chemotherapy in favour of healthy eating.
Beyond that, I’d highly recommend the book ‘The Woman Who Fooled The World’, which offers a lot of context about Gibson’s rise to Instagram fame, for those who only became aware of her after she’d been revealed as a scammer. The book also does an excellent job of contextualising Belle’s story within the often insidious world of the wellness industry, and how it thrives on social media.
Anna Delvey, aka Anna Sorokin first went viral when Vanity Fair published an article by Rachel Deloache Williams, titled The Fake Heiress: My Bright Lights Misadventure With A Magician Of Manhattan. It detailed Anna’s life of posing as a German heiress, and was all quite glamorous, until her friend ended up scammed out of a whopping USD $62,000.
The following month The Cut published its own piece on Delvey and the scams piled up, and well, eventually she was caught, jailed and sentenced to four-12 years in prison, following which she’ll be deported back to Germany. She’s serving her sentences — four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny, and one count of attempted grand larceny — concurrently, and has been ordered to repay USD $199,000 in restitution, as well as a fine of USD $24,000.
While Anna does her time, though, public interest in the glamorous grifter remains. In fact, there was an entire Instagram account dedicated to her courtroom looks during the trial, Williams has now released a memoir about her experience being scammed, titled My Friend Anna, and Shonda Rhimes is set to adapt the story for Netflix.
DeeDee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard
It all started with the publication of BuzzFeed long read, ‘Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom Murdered’. Detailing the horrors of growing up a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy and the lengths Gypsy would eventually go to to free herself from her mother, the article quickly gained traction, and soon found its way onto HBO.
Mommy Dead and Dearest is the HBO documentary about the case, and dives deeper into the story with home videos and interviews. Following that, they also adapted the story into a limited series called The Act, starring Patricia Arquette as Dee Dee Blanchard and Joey King as Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Both are equally as horrifying and jaw-dropping as one another, making them an unmissable portrait of Munchausen by proxy .
Buy Mommy Dead and Dearest on Google Play, and watch The Act on Foxtel Now.
See, the thing with Elizabeth Holmes is that IF her invention had worked, it would’ve changed the healthcare system for the better and been a complete game-changer for people like me, who have a myriad of chronic illnesses.
The only problem is, you know, the laws of physics and the fact that her idea was not actually something that could exist in this real world that we live in. Whoops!
Nevertheless, the story of how Holmes managed to keep up the facade of having invented a system to perform hundreds of blood tests from just a drop of blood is absolutely FASCINATING.
Also, the fact that she came up with the idea because she was scared of needles is kind of funny. The lengths she went to to avoid getting a blood test are truly unparalleled!
Anyway, here’s the round up of all the Elizabeth Holmes content you can dive into.
First, we have the HBO doco, The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley which you can watch on Amazon Prime.
When you’re done with that, you can make your chores and commutes fly by with The Dropout podcast.
Finally, if you’re looking for some quiet time, the book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in Silicon Valley will give you every last piece of the mystifying Lizzie Holmes puzzle.