Fire Island A to Z

Final month, Hulu’s movie Fire Island introduced the summer time resort into everybody’s dwelling rooms, upping mass consciousness of a getaway spot whose magic I’ve lengthy been privy to. Merely all of the gays have! It’s a well known undeniable fact that when you haven’t been to Fire Island, they take away your homosexual card even quicker than when you can’t title Girl Gaga’s Golden Globe nominations and not using a Google search. However going there’s not sufficient; you could have to know simply how to work the place, particularly on weekends, when it sizzles. And so, as a gold-card member of the rainbow, I’ve compiled my insider’s alphabetical information to what’s so fiery concerning the island—particularly, the wildly widespread Pines and Cherry Grove communities, as they proceed to explode out of lockdown. Study it!

Allies are a part of the expertise, particularly in Cherry Grove, to the chagrin of purists who crave an old school homosexual ghetto. However the actuality is that admirers have at all times tried to flock across the queers as a result of we’re flamboyant and on the market and so they really feel cool by affiliation. In return, we do enable some heteros into our resorts, nobly realizing that they’re individuals too, and possibly deserve some rights! Sadly, no matter your sexuality, “A” additionally stands for Ambulatory hell, since there’s an Absolute Absence of streets or vehicles Wherever on the island. There are merely miles and miles of wood planks, and as you traipse throughout them, feeling just like the world’s most underappreciated supermodel, it turns into one lengthy “sashay to the cocktail tray” routine, with occasional stops to pull discarded tit clamps out of your sandaled ft. Not less than you don’t have to fear about spending cash on fuel or Ubers for a number of days.

The Belvedere Resort (33 Bayview Walk, Cherry Grove) describes itself as “a sprawling, Venetian-palace-style property,” and it’s actually one thing to see, from the ornate white exterior to the Liberace-esque foyer filled with architectural kitsch to the pastoral patios that adjoin among the higher rooms. However irrespective of how wonderful the all-male, go-for-baroque palace appears, it’s mainly the type of lodge the place you usually look down the corridor to discover a husband for the following two hours.

Celebrities similar to John Waters, Alan Cumming, Ada Vox, and Wanda Sykes may be noticed on the island, and Liza Minnelli has hung out there, whereas Tommy Tune, Sam Champion, and others have owned homes there. They usually’re all fairly accessible, because it’s not that simple to run away on these damned planks!

The Daytripper plan is a should for anybody who doesn’t have a home, a share, or a lodge room, and doesn’t really feel like making an attempt to get picked up simply in order that they’ll have a mattress for the night time. For under $43.25 on the LIRR ticket counter in Penn Station, you get round-trip tickets for the practice, the ferry bus, and the ferry itself. The factor is, you could use these tickets all in sooner or later (on a weekend) and so they can’t be used after 5:30 p.m. on Friday nights, however that’s no biggie—I’ve managed many a cheapo day journey thanks to this package deal, and it’s allowed me to haul my package deal to Fire Island for some dizzying enjoyable on a deadline. 

Etiquette is all-important on Fire Island, as a result of full strangers usually say “Hello” after they stroll previous one another, even within the supposedly snooty Pines. It’s a stunning custom, and within the Grove, they’re much more ebullient (“HEY, GURL!!!”). After all, returning to the town, it’s proper again to staring on the floor or the telephone, so take pleasure in it whereas it lasts.

Fauna are additionally pleasant, however as lovely because the Bambi-like deer that pop up across the wooded areas might look, please don’t give them a “Hey, gurl!” Kindly preserve strolling and keep away from the terrible danger of getting Lyme illness. Okurrr?

The Grove is my favourite of the 2 communities as a result of it’s numerous and virtually honky-tonk. The place radiates energetic vitality and boasts optimum people-watching, particularly proper throughout from the Grove Market, at 161 Bayview Stroll. The al fresco Cherry Grove Pizza (179 Ocean Stroll) additionally permits for gawking and schmoozing, and Candy Licks (181 Bayview Stroll) has the yummiest ice cream choices of the summer time. However extra vital, the historic Cherry Grove Group Home and Theatre (180 Bayview Stroll) is the nexus for reveals and grassroots organizing, giving the seasonal hedonism some gravitas.

Helga, I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the dirt,” Joan Crawford (performed with bulging eyes by Faye Dunaway) simpers to her put-upon maid within the camp basic Mommie Dearest. Additionally: Helen Lawson is the present biz battleax, performed by Susan Hayward (who changed a faltering Judy Garland) in Valley of the Dolls, one other over-the-top mess-terpiece. And Hedwig and the Offended Inch is the de rigueur homosexual musical about an “internationally ignored” rock star who’s been victimized by a botched gender reassignment operation. And that’s all you want to know to go Hilarity 101 and stroll the island along with your campy Head Held Excessive.

The Ice Palace Resort (1 Main Walk, Cherry Grove) is the crown jewel of the Grove, a long-running occasion hub full with dancing, cocktails, and drag reveals—together with by the pool. Stretch out on a seaside chair, order a daiquiri, and put together to get splashed by another drag queen. Lengthy and concerned particular occasions, just like the Mr. Fire Island Leather-based contest and the Miss Fire Island drag competitors, additionally entice crowds with a whole lot of stamina. And inches away—the Ice Palace is a part of a fancy—the Grove Resort has closet-like rooms shaking all night time from the thumping dance music. The place appears to exist strictly for gays who need to occasion and have intercourse nonstop. Appalling! See you there.

July 4th is at all times a selection day to go to the Pines, as a result of that’s when the Invasion—a boatful of gussied-up drag queens—arrives from the Grove in a riveting eruption of ceremonial pleasure. After speeches and songs on the pier, the hairspray-heavy vessel floats in, then every queen disembarks to applause from the assembled celebrants. This annual ritual began means again in 1976, as a response to a drag queen being refused service at a Pines boîte. Right this moment, they’d be immediately named supervisor.

Okamilla Kockman—certainly one of NYC’s feistiest and most political drag performers—is an everyday entertainer at hotspots like Cherry’s on the Bay (158 Bayview Stroll), mixing polished numbers with Black Lives Matter mantras. Give her your eyes, ears, and ideas.

Lesbians are integral to the scene, particularly in Cherry Grove, the place they’re queen. It’s nice to go searching and truly spot a cross part of the LGBTQ neighborhood (and the aforementioned allies, who adore the drink specials), not simply the 32-year-old white twinks you have a tendency to see in sure NYC bars. Howdy, lesbians.            

The Meat Rack is the previously notorious dunesy space between the Pines and the Grove. It used to be an nameless intercourse playground rife with acts straight out of Genesis—form of just like the Central Park Ramble as soon as was—however intercourse apps modified all the things, and now the Meat Rack is just a spot to dutifully trudge by means of en route to one thing else. Put on resilient however comfy strolling sneakers.

Night Lights are among the many treasured few objects you need to critically think about bringing in your journey (together with masses of cash). When the solar units, issues get relatively creepy and among the planks find yourself being in dimly lit, underpopulated areas that may abruptly make one’s pores and skin crawl. To keep away from feeling such as you’re starring in a queer horror movie you by no means bargained for, deliver one thing—something—that lights up. A klieg mild is likely to be good.

The Ocean awaits you, since a visit to Fire Island wouldn’t be full with out solar, sand, waves, and exhibitionism. The whole Atlantic coast of the Island is a seaside, and it’s “clothing optional,” although some guys simply can’t bear not exhibiting off their new Speedos.

The Pines have been referred to as uptight, uppity, and overpriced, however for all of its weaknesses, this resort vacation spot nonetheless exudes the strongest attract for NYC homosexual males. It merely has probably the most dancing (Pavilion, 36 Fire Island Boulevard, has lengthy been the place), probably the most persistent music, the very best grocery retailer (the Pines Pantry, 57 Picketty Ruff Stroll), and a superbly positioned eatery/espresso joint for refueling and repurposing (Canteen, on Harbor Stroll). Particular occasions just like the Fire Island Dance Competition—within the Pines Harbor, July 15 to 17, to profit Dancers Responding to AIDS—elevate the general sense of objective. However largely, there are handsome guys who realize it and flaunt it, and that’s the draw. These wood runways within the woods are effectively stocked with wooden nymphs who would.

Queens are in every single place, like crabgrass. As in drag queens—like Victoria Falls, Porsche, Bootsie Lefaris, Busted, Ariel Sinclair, and on and on. Younger queens, outdated queens, spirited queens, jaded queens … and so they’ve all obtained one thing to say, whether or not onstage or working the gang at drag brunches. As witnessed by the Invasion, the queens have lengthy been revered right here, means earlier than RuPaul’s Drag Race. They’ve historically been our courtroom jesters, who assist us by means of exhausting occasions by way of barbed humor that feedback on the absurdity of the surface world. They put a lot into their personas and have change into able to such quite a lot of stage stunts that you just simply have to submit, particularly since they’re pulling this off in blistering warmth, and in heels but.

Talking of drag queens: Rose Levine is the persona of longtime Cherry Grove inhabitant Bob Levine, and she or he’s change into as legendary part of Fire Island lore as specialty Curaçao cocktails and sand crabs. Whether or not singing the nationwide anthem on the Invasion or working for queer causes, Rose is a testomony to perseverance, humanitarianism, and private sparkle. 

Speedboats—aka water taxis—that depart from the pier can shortly take you backwards and forwards between the Pines and the Grove, often for simply seven bucks. It certain beats schlepping by means of the Meat Rack another time, however keep in mind that the rides are so rocky that you just may really feel such as you’re going to be sleeping with the homosexual fishes.

Tea dance is a ritualistic likelihood to examine muscular tissues, writhe to the beat, and trade some “tea” (i.e., gossip). Low Tea is mostly 5 to 8 p.m., adopted by Mid Tea and Excessive Tea, and by that time, the queens nonetheless aren’t prepared to be Tea-totalers. Your greatest guess is the Blue Whale, a sprawling bar with a patio, on Harbor Stroll within the Pines. Their Low Tea is an indoor/outside must-attend, and it’s perversely amusing to watch the fellows who’ve simply rolled off the bed within the afternoon line up to begin their partying cycle another time.


Helga, I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the dirt,” Joan Crawford (performed with bulging eyes by Faye Dunaway) simpers to her put-upon maid within the camp basic Mommie Dearest.


Underwear events are additionally important, significantly for anybody determined to be a part of a flesh-related vogue present. Daniel Nardicio’s Dworld Productions throws these bashes on Fridays on the Ice Palace, leading to a mass of chicly bumping crotches and briefs being actively de-briefed. Thanks to all of the raging hormones in attendance, you’ll undoubtedly hear the occasional whore moan. 

Venereal illnesses are absolutely lurking in each crevice of those occasions—and in every single place else, too—so make certain to take your PrEP, strap in your condoms, and put together to air kiss. A lot.

Whyte Corridor (577 Fire Island Boulevard), just like the Cherry Grove Group Home and Theatre, is an imposing edifice that gives a theater, assembly rooms, and occasion house. It’s a slick complicated that’s Pines-specific and just about the cultural heart of city—although which may not be saying a lot, lol. 

Xeroderma is a horrible situation that makes victims extraordinarily delicate to daylight. If you happen to occur to have this illness, please see a physician earlier than even serious about coming to Fire Island—and likewise please notice that I simply mainly wanted an “X” phrase right here.

Youth obsession has plagued Fire Island for many years, as snippy gays proper out of Boys in the Band usually bemoan the horrors of turning historical at age 30. Apparently, you’re virtually useless at that time! However happily, issues have developed by means of the years, and there’s significantly much less derision hurled at mature queens today, particularly in the event that they’ve achieved loads and have a elaborate home to present for it. It’s exhausting sufficient to be homosexual, not to mention to have to take care of bigotries inside the neighborhood. However usually, Fire Island mixes us up into an enormous, wholesome salad—sauce on the aspect.

ZZZZ. Come on, you’ve adopted my listing and also you’ve had your enjoyable. Now get your sleep. G’night time, bitch.   ❖

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