Thursday, June 26, 2008

Arrests On Fire Island


There have been reports that arrests were made for sexual misconduct in the infamous “Meat Rack” on Fire Island last weekend – sparking some outrage in the gay community. The Meat Rack is the wooded area between the gay villages of ‘The Pines’ and ‘Cherry Grove’, and has been a sexual meeting place for decades. The area is governed by the National Park Service, which has traditionally turned a blind eye to the shenanigans.

Here’s a crash course on Fire Island: it is basically one long sand bar that is dotted with settlements and villages. There are no cars on the island – you have to get there by ferry or water taxi. The Pines and Cherry Grove are the two gay areas, but there are also “straight” villages (Kismet, Ocean Beach, Saltaire and others). The Pines is the wealthy and upscale area – the homes there are the most extravagant on the entire island. The crème de la crème of gay society ends up in The Pines at one point or another, and people there party like animals (lots of drugs, lots of sex). Calvin Klein kept a house in The Pines for years – ‘nuf said.

Cherry Grove, on the other hand, is the campy cousin of The Pines. If The Pines is Marc Jacobs and Porn Stars, then Cherry Grove would be Rip Taylor and Drag Queens. Whereas the guys of the Pines do a lot of drugs, the queens from Cherry Grove LOVE their liquor (a lot). The residents of the Pines take great delight in pointing out the many faults of Cherry Grove’s population, and vice versa. However, inhabitants of BOTH Cherry Grove and The Pines have always happily had sex with each other in the Meat Rack. It’s like a mini-United Nations with oral instead of translators.

I spent exactly ONE night in The Pines as a guest of a friend years ago – and I vowed never to go back. It was like being in the middle of a bad gay joke – men in sarongs telling you where the best orgies were, and the best drug dealer to go to before the orgy (seriously!). But heaven forbid you arrive at the orgy (or the bar, or the beach, or the ferry dock, or the bathroom) too EARLY, or ate more than a skimpy salad for dinner, or said that you happen to think Puerto Rican guys are hot. Such individualism is NOT tolerated under Pines Gay Fascism! I couldn’t wait to get the hell outta there.

Read the story about the arrests here. And if you ever get a chance, watch When Ocean Meets Sky, a documentary about the history of The Pines (they show it on LOGO). Hat tip to Joe.My.God for the Google Maps image.

9 comments:

Dan said...

So how many orgies did you go to?

Beth said...

ya...? Just how many orgies DID you go to? Believe it or not...and I know you won't believe it...but I've NEVER been to an orgy. I KNOW!!!! Hard to believe! hhmmmm.......I have a feeling my life will be a-changin here pretty soon! ;)

Berry Blog said...

The country boys look for rest stops which year by year get closed down and phased out. Some of them have been pretty wild and as risky as your Brambles. But rest stops are very accessible to police vehicles. I was in my car eating real food from a nearby take out when they raided one night. Thank God I wasn't out there- spot lights, search lights, pa systems, queens scrambling everywhere, and arrests being made by the score. I decided that wasn't probably a wise recreation choice for me, a teacher. Straights had a legitimate complaint though when gays just took over these spots even during the daytime and families couldn't have their kids there in public places. Most gays agreed but there are a lot of skanks out there.

Howard said...

When I lived in NYC, I never made it out to Fire Island, although I knew plenty who did. Their stories assured me it was not someplace I needed to be. I will say, they mostly went to Cherry Grove, for I knew po' queens. But I figured I could just as easily be ignored wherever I was without paying big rent to be ignored by the same men I would see in the Village!

I will say, like Beth, I have never been to an orgy, although there are other events that have me know red-faced just thinking about them.

Mark in DE said...

Love your analogies with The Pines and Cherry Grove! Although I've never been to Fire Guyland, I have seen the doc on Logo, which I found to be a bit sad, since they all pretty much say 'Its no where near as fun as it was in the 70s'. That is, the ones who aren't dead from AIDS were saying that. I found the doc rather depressing.

Mark :-)

Joy said...

Things have changed so much from the 70's that if you missed out on it then (like I did) then that's it. Too late now.

I've heard about Fire Island but didn't know about the big difference in neighborhoods. The Pines reminds me of The Great Gatsby in some ways. Good description!

Timmy said...

I've never been to Fire Island but I have friends who have been and have told me about house rules, etc. It sounds interesting but I'm not sure I would fit in.

I've watched the documentary three times mainly because I'm a history freak and I love listening to people telling their stories. The whole story about the first big party on the beach is fascinating. And to think it was a fundraiser for a fire truck.

kenito799 said...

Policing the meat rack, why now? Who could be the instigator? Very perplexing. Love your analysis of CG vs Pines...we went to the Pines a few times and yes, hate it, unless you are invited into one of those fabulous homes and stay there the whole time. But as a community CG is wonderful, completely diverse and relaxed, I remember dancing in a bar with people of literally every age group, race, gender, sexual orientation and body type you can imagine. No attitude! Then you walk to the Pines and it's like some totalitarian hell where everyone must spend 35 hours a week in the gym sculpting their bodies into ripped, hairless carbon copies of each other or they will be shot...

dwight said...

Thanks for the primer! This was great, esp. for those of us who've never been—like me!

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