Now that Fire Island is the subject of a TV series that’s been described, albeit lovingly, as “guilty-pleasure reality filth,” you have to wonder whether Fire Island will do for the quiet little islands what Jersey Shore did for Seaside Heights. Which is to say, bring a wave of unwanted attention. Will one still find enchantment in the Sunken Forest? Will we still experience boardwalk bliss amidst the chic Horace Gifford homes of The Pines? What about Cherry Grove’s famous tea dances? Will all the cute little deer gnawing on bamboo be scared off by double-decker tour buses? Probably not, since cars aren’t allowed on the Island– but who knows, we might be seeing double-decker Radio Flyers.
Before any of this happens, let’s take this moment in time to appreciate Fire Island as it was before Logo’s cameras invaded– and, for that matter, before Tina Fey got a place there. First, check out a New Yorker slideshow of photos taken by Bushwick photographer Meryl Meisler in 1977. Meisler remembers these days as “a magical time” in what she calls “a little Eden off of Long Island.”
When you’re done clicking through those sunny, steamy shots, you can further celebrate the boys of summer via a film series, “On Fire Island,” playing at Metrograph from Aug. 11 to 13. The Lower East Side art house notes that on screen, Fire Island has served as “the setting of a filthy two-act play, the backdrop of a cruel coming of age story, an environment for sexual discovery, and a place of contemplation for a man dying of AIDS.” Among the theater’s picks are Sticks and Stones (1970), a “chatty, cruel, melancholy film” about two lovers and their friends at a 4th of July party in the Pines; My Hustler, Warhol’s 1965 effort in which Paul America is a much sought-after employee of Dial-a-Hustler; Frank and Eleanor Perry’s Last Summer (1969), a gritty coming-of-age flick starring Barbara Hershey; Bill Sherwood’s Parting Glances (1986), a “story of sexuality and saying goodbye” (per the trailer) featuring Steve Buscemi as a gay rocker; and Wakefield Poole’s breakthrough porno Boys in the Sand.
You can get tickets right here, but take note: The series was cruelly scheduled on a weekend, meaning you’ll have to skip the ferry to Fire Island.