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Want to get into the Electric Zoo music fest? Watch anti-drug video

By Ray Sanchez, CNN
updated 2:11 PM EDT, Sat August 9, 2014
  • Electric Zoo concert-goers will be required to watch anti-drug video at this month's event
  • Last year, deaths of two Electric Zoo attendees believed to be linked to MDMA
  • Electric Zoo promoters agreed to city's recommendation that the festival be canceled last summer

New York (CNN) -- A young concert-goer is seen in a video rubbing white power on his gums. He starts sweating profusely before plunging into crazed drug trip that ends with him alone under the glare flashing lights.

The words "Don't miss the moment" appear across a black background: "Be present. Avoid the risks."

That's the message of an anti-drug public service announcement that concert-goers at New York City's annual Electric Zoo music festival will be required to watch in order to gain entry to the event later this month.

Last summer's Electric Zoo festival gained national attention when several people were sickened and two people died after overdosing on the drug MDMA, either in ecstasy pills or its "pure" powder or crystal form, also known as "molly." The popular festival was cut short as a result of the deaths.

"Our message to concertgoers is simple: The Electric Zoo experience is exceptional and worth being present for," Made Event founders Laura De Palma and Mike Bindra said in a joint statement. "Molly can cause you to not only miss the moment, alienate your friends and have an overall adverse and unpleasant experience ... but can also make you sick and can even be fatal. Fans will experience how great it is to 'Come To Life' at one of our concerts from lights, sounds and crowds."

Federal authorities last month arrested an upstate New York man on drug charges in connection with the sale of molly to concert-goers -- including one who died -- at the festival on Randall's Island last August.

MDMA is believed to have caused both of the deaths at the music festival, which was attended by more than 130,000 people, in late August 2013. Police identified the two victims as Jeffrey Russ, 23, and Olivia Rotondo, 20.

There's something (potentially dangerous) about molly

On August 30, 2013, near the end of a concert at Electric Zoo, Russ told his friends he wasn't feeling well, according to court documents. He collapsed and suffered a seizure.

When Russ arrived at Harlem Hospital Center, his heart was beating rapidly and his temperature was about 108 degrees Fahrenheit, court papers said. Russ was pronounced dead at 3:21 a.m. on August 31.

The pills found on Russ contained MDMA and methylone, according to court documents. The medical examiner ruled that Russ died from "acute intoxication by the combined effects of [MDMA] and methylone with hyperthermia."

Ticket buyers at this year's festival on Randalls Island Aug. 29-31 will be required to to watch a two-minute video about MDMA this year.

"Fans will experience how great it is to 'Come To Life' at one of our concerts from lights, sounds and crowds," De Palma and Bindra said in the statement.

The two-minute film "The Molly" was created, written and produced by "Dexter" creator/writer James Manos, Jr., and his daughter Ellie Manos, 19.

On social media, the reaction to the video has been mixed.

Culture and music website tweeted: "Electric Zoo's 'The Molly' PSA Won't Stop Drug Use at EDM Festivals -- But It's Still Better Than 'Just Say No.'"

One commenter on Electric Zoo's Facebook page said: "You guys had the chance to provide some real information that could have actually saved lives but instead shoved some DARE drivel down everyone's throat. Congrats."

Another commenter, referring to the young man in the video, said, "That guy is tweakin so hard lmaoooo."

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