The last-minute switch in affiliation by the creator of Storm Area 51 has led to bad blood between those involved in competing events, and allegations of dirty dealing by both sides.
Late Thursday, Matty Roberts and his partner Brock Daily issued a cease and desist letter to Connie West, owner of the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel, stating that she was no longer to use the term “Alienstock” and they deemed the event canceled due to lack of preparation. Earlier in the week, Roberts abandoned his planned affiliation with the Alienstock event in favor of an event in downtown Las Vegas.
West fired back on Friday issuing two releases calling the town of Rachel “the official host of Alienstock 2019” and declaring the party, set for Sept. 19-22, was on and safe.
“There have been several reports in the press and on social media that Alienstock has been canceled, but this is not the case,” West said in a statement. “The event along with its extensive lineup of live music, and some otherworldly encounters will take place as scheduled and will provide its attendees with a chance to be part of something historic and look to rival legendary events of the past like ‘Woodstock’.”
In the letter, she said she had obtained all of her permits; has 250 state security officials and private event staff; 16 medical staffers with five ambulances and several medical tents; on-site well with faucets; 500 gallons of emergency-reserve gasoline; over 130 port-a-potties; 90 recycle containers and six full-size dumpsters.
Though the dispute dragged on into late Friday, a possible solution for the “Alienstock” name could be in the works, according to West’s lawyer, Joanna Myers.
“The parties’ respective attorneys are discussing potential resolutions,” Myers said.
Before the exchange of letters, the teams behind a pair of Storm Area 51 events taking place next week in Lincoln County — Alienstock and Area 51 Basecamp at the Alien Research Center in Hiko — both said Roberts burned them to different extents.
Before Roberts abruptly told her he was pulling out of the event early Monday morning, West said she paid him $5,000 from camping site and parking revenue.
“The disbursement that they were owed was given to them last week, in good faith (that) they were going to sign the contract they had in their hand,” West said. “They never signed the contract but I did pay them out.”
She claims Roberts and Daily also walked away with sponsorship money that Roberts raised that was to be used toward the event. As a result, West said she’s been left to carry the financial burden and has had to pull money from her business and put her house up as collateral.
West blames the situation on Frank DiMaggio, who came in late in the process to work with Roberts.
She claims a consultation she had last week with a group including Roberts and DiMaggio turned ugly.
“I don’t need to answer certain questions when I’m not under a contractual agreement,” West said. “DiMaggio got really angry, so I left. I’m not going to deal with someone like that. It’s not happening.”
West alleged DiMaggio was among a group that got aggressive at last week’s meeting and she felt threatened.
“They started beating their fists down on the table, standing up and getting loud and calling me a liar,” she said. However, West acknowledged that a friend she identified only as Tim “did get a little aggressive on my behalf.”
DiMaggio painted a different picture of what occurred.
“We planned it and they came in two hours late and showed up with a guy (Tim) we’ve never seen before and he starts ordering people around and was rude to us,” DiMaggio said. “I told him to get the f—k out of the house and they left. That was it.”
West said that when they got in the car to leave the group with Roberts and DiMaggio surrounded her car and wouldn’t let them leave.
“I drive a (Volkswagen) Bug, it doesn’t take much to stop it,” West said. “They screamed every name in the book at me.”
DiMaggio laughed at West’s account and denied that it took place.
“I’ve never even seen her in a car,” he said. “In fact she doesn’t have a car. She’s been driven back and forth to Rachel. I’ve never even seen her in a car, much less surrounding her.”
West further alleged she had dinner at her house with Roberts, DiMaggio and others on Sunday, then drove into Las Vegas together. They stayed at an Airbnb, ahead of a planned Monday appearance on a morning talk show.
“I was woken up at 3:30 a.m. and I was asked to leave the house,” she recalled with tears streaming down her face. “I had no car. I Ubered to the station, then to Budget (rentals) and they didn’t have a car and then to Circus Circus. That’s another bill I have to come up with.”
DiMaggio said they never had dinner at West’s home.
Roberts’ decision to pull out of the planned Alienstock festival apparently wasn’t the first time he’d changed his mind about this participation.
Keith Wright, executive producer for the Area 51 Basecamp event, said he was burned by the 20-year-old before he announced he’d be at Alienstock.
Roberts allegedly struck a deal with the Alien Research Center to be the face of the Area 51 Basecamp event, planned for Sept. 21-22 in Hiko.
“Honestly, Matty Roberts has been a nightmare,” Wright said. “Three days before we were set to make our announcement Matty put out Alienstock down in Rachel. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, what?’ We were in negotiations, working out all the details and Alienstock got announced.”
Before the cease and desist letter was sent out, Wright said he believed this wouldn’t be the last time people hear of Roberts’ name associated with the events, as he foresees legal action being taken against him.
“I bet you there will be a fair amount of lawsuits going on and that kid is not going to be popular around this area at all,” he said.
It’s unclear if either Matty Roberts or Connie West actually owns the rights to Alienstock, as Robert Bodnar of Pittsburgh put in an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Alienstock” on Aug. 21, for hats, shirts and sweatshirts, according to Karen Sewell, spokeswoman.
The application was accepted by the trademark office, but has yet to be assigned to an examiner, Sewell said.