Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fire Island Invasion 2012 Photos

We've watched the drag queen invasion for YEARS, but finally got ourselves together to participate. Every year on July 4th, a rainbow boatload of queens invades the Fire Island Pines harbor to great fanfare. We raided the drag box and used our imagination. CoolDan and I went as "Miss Universe and her Pet Dragon".

Anita Groom
Anita took her mother's 1959 wedding dress (designed by "Buffalo's Best Bridal"). When I asked Anita if her mother knew she would be doing drag in her wedding dress, Anita answered, "My mom thinks I took it to a consignment shop in New York."

That's us at the back of the fairy ferry. Not only is it listing, I nearly lost my balance and made a real splash. Not that I would have minded...
As usual, it all begins in Cherry Grove. This is how it began, when a drag queen was once refused service in the Pines - so a group of drag queens "invaded" the next week and everyone loved it. The tradition never died, although most of the queens did.

At Cherry Grove's Ice Palace, everyone gets ready.  Miss Universe, her Pet Dragon and Anita Groom:
People didn't know what to think when I said "Miss Universe and her Pet Dragon" so I'd add, "We're a re-telling of the classic Icelandic fairy tale" and then they'd nod, knowingly.

We were  frumpy compared to the imagination of many others:



Ryan and Carmen Miranda

China (right) is the only drag queen alive from the original invasion!

Anita is threatening to photoshop an image of her mother's wedding day with the one below and title it: "Who Wore It Better?"
Loading onto the boat.

Jilted bride OVERBOARD!

the "Drag Repair" crew put Band-Aids on my feet. Their card said they'd been servicing the invasion for 15 years.
We recycled the shoes from Pride the week before. Those stilettos made the scabs rip and me bleed all over again which hurt real bad until we got to the three hour open bar in the Pines. Vodka tonic, indeed!
I'm the queen of the world?
not a very ladylike pose, Miss Universe.
An impromptu singing of the Star Spangled Banner as we departed.

Police escort!
Sailing into the Pines
As we arrive, the masses at the harbor welcome us... all set to a blaring "God Bless America". It's pretty amazing. We walked a red carpet at the pool where they tear you apart for all those assembled... and then hit the back patio of our pal Jean-Manuel's island store Gostoso: 
Drag queens get away with everything.
Anita shamelessly proposing to all the hot boys. Hi Denton!
Becky Beaver and Heather NumberOne - all the way from Australia!!

My pet dragon gets a foot massage, foolin around in Gostoso!
After multiple parties - we got kicked out of due to my pet dragon getting gold paint all over the house... we made the long slog back to Cherry Grove via the Meat Rack.

Monday, July 16, 2012

All Around Town

Hit the Met for the Prada and Shiaparelli exhibit. They're two top designers from different eras and I learned a few very important things. Firstly Schiaparelli is mostly known for that lobster dress that Wallis Simpson wore back in the 30s. Lobsters on a dress. It's clawfully daring! Oh, the whimsy.
I also learned important things about Prada. Namely, that she is still alive. She is also a woman and not just any woman, a very DRAB woman. Which is shocking for someone renowned for imaginative flair. A friend told me Prada looks this way because she considers herself a Marxist. "A champagne Marxist" he added, sardonically. Who doesn't known plenty of billionaire Marxists who sell a pair of shoes for $4,000? I'm also trying to wrap my head around her concept of "ugly chic". I mean, it's one of those words and it's not the latter:
Also caught the Scissor Sisters concert at an amazing venue and hung out on the 3rd floor balcony where there was space to dance away with Margret and Sharon. Brandon got us the tix and then braved the sweaty crowds below for this pic.
Despite Bam getting in a tiff with the lead singer at a New Years party upstate a few years back, I really do like the Scissor Sisters music and their new "Let's Have a Kiki" song is definitely that one song that will define the summer of 2012. It's everywhere and I love it.

At the end of the concert, Ana Matronic said, "You better love New York because New York hates you! And if you start to feel like New York is loving you... then you have WON." Ain't that the truth!

I was blessed to catch Angela Lansbury on Broadway in Gore Vidal's 3 act political drama The Best Man. Normally a "3 act politcal drama" translates to "run!" in my head but I just adore this woman. From Gaslight to Picture of Dorian Gray to the Manchurian Candidate she's just sensational and watching her race around spry and energetic at 86, you realize that purpose and passion (how one should really define "work") keeps you alive.
Also amazing was James Earl Jones (Darth Vader!) playing a dying President. I couldn't tell if he was actually dying or if it was just the character. When he said, "Get a stretcher, I can't move." I didn't doubt him for a moment. However, he was the best thing about this production. Word is that these two 80-somethings will be doing a production of "Driving Miss Daisy" touring... Australia!

John Stamos, John Laroquette, and Sex and the City's Kristin Davis were also fun in their roles but then there was a bloated Cybil Shepherd wandering aimlessly about the stage and delivered her lines like a child who was told which words to say but didn't understand what those words meant. I believe Cybil was simultaneously trying to wrap her head around the concept of "ugly chic" while attempting to act.

Enough of uptown, let's go downtown with Crazy Dan to... the COCK!
The cool factor skyrockets when you frequent establishments with signs like this.
couple this sign with a disco ball and you have "degenerate glamor", a concept Prada will surely rip off for her 2013 collection. 
Now head WAY downtown (the end!) where Coney Island retains its authentic decrepitude, vibrancy and color. Had to avoid shards of glass on the beach but that's not why Wayne is wearing a bag on his foot. He had an operation earlier in the week so Lee was kind enough to take him into the water so he could at least dip the other leg in!
We took a whole crew out there to hit the boardwalk, play the carnival, and ride the rickety 1927 Cyclone roller coaster! Oh, and eat a Nathan's hot dog... home of the annual hot dog eating contest.
As someone noted, we're eating between a Hore hotel and a Clam Bar!

Mr Cavnaugh Goes to Washington

Please contribute to send my friend Anita (Mike) to DC to cover the World AIDS conference. His site,, partners with charities and creates videos to bring information and resources to the newly diagnosed and people living with HIV/AIDS. He's hoping to raise enough cash to get to DC and produce videos from the event to share with the world.

Check out the campaign and video in the link below. It's the only chance you'll have to watch legends like Angela Lansbury and Chita Rivera saying "Condoms are hot"!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Channel Orange!

Have you bought Frank Ocean yet? Check out this soulful performance. It's hip hop... with violins! Even more surprising, Frank Ocean is singing to a taxi driver "be my shrink for the hour" about his unrequited love...for a man!

Is there anything more violently homophobic than hip hop? Maybe only Africa. Exactly. I cannot imagine what it must be like for a black man to come out. "Masculinity" is so much more rigid in that culture. And, like it or not, hip hop is one of America's biggest exports. So for Frank Ocean to sing about loving another man, and to have artists like Jay-Z and Russell Simmons publicly commend his action is nothing short of revolutionary.

My friend Sharon teaches college in Jamaica, Queens. She told me about the impact this could have on her students. Queens is a massive melting pot - and she's had a lot of kids into hip hop - and a fair amount of female students who have been completely out, to the extent that it will even come up in class discussion - a girl will say how such and such a story reminds her of her ex-girlfriend. This has never, however, happened with a male student. Just by the law of averages, she must have had gay males in class...

In one assignment, she has students select a short story from class and write an essay about how it resonates with them and why. One student, 18, super butch, rough and tough black guy all into hip hop and dressed in that hip hop drag... he chose to write his essay on how he related to The Yellow Wallpaper. This is an astonishing 1899 short story about a woman suffering depression after giving birth. Her patronizing husband insists she stay cooped up in this upstairs room that has elaborate yellow wallpaper and she obsesses over this wallpaper as she descends into full on madness. 

So this student, he wrote about how he felt like the woman in the story. How he felt trapped like her, in his case trapped by “people's attitudes” about “how you are supposed to be like a man”. They had talked in class about how the woman in the story went mad because of the way she was forced to conform, and this is the way he felt, wanting to never get out of bed because of the pressures of what it means to be a man. Such as (and he buried this at the end) "having romantic feelings for a woman".

The essay to her was heartbreaking and this student, who never otherwise shared anything but sass in class, became so much more emotionally complex than his exterior suggested. He opened her eyes to the intense pressures many young men face, and not even just sexuality - but in expressing emotions, fear, sadness...

To have Frank Ocean open this sealed door just a crack is game-changing. Buy his album. Maybe one day teachers won't have to read essays like that ever again. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Surviving My Birthday

Nothing will surpass last year's birthday where I was raped and killed (not in that order) on the set of Into the Lion's Den. But this year came close in the mortal wound department. I've been accused of whooshing into town only to exhaust my friends, but they knew I was coming. I told them to hide the booze and take their naps!

CoolDan threw my party at his East Village place, and it was just like old times. So happy to see everyone again and pics forthcoming. Despite the mass of candles on the cake we didn't burn the place down because as they sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY, the air conditioner blew all the candles out!

At 3am, Jamie the Fruitfli finally appeared and gave me a gift: a big bottle of poppers. Then Ari Gold texts from the Cock, where he's spinning, and says I should come by for a birthday drink. That's how we ended up going out all hours and waking up at noon on Becky's couch.

I had tons of angry texts because we'd made a plan to go to Fire Island in the morning and I was MIA. It was our friend Kent's annual IndepenDance charity bash that evening. But Becky started fixing us White Russians, CoolDan came over and I had a sloppy drunk birthday chat with my family before we even thought about heading to Penn Station for that epic slog.

My friend Travis was so angry we didn't leave that morning that he proceeded to get wasted and by the time we all arrived at Penn Station it looked like he might not even make the train he was such a mess. I sat him down, got him Dr Pepper and a Taco Bell bean burrito and forced it down his throat.

A bean burrito is indestructible and contains untold unnatural powers (see above). As Travis restored himself to life, his boyfriend Marcos says, "If Jesse Archer is hosting your intervention, you know it's serious." But he made it. We all made it! As the sun began to set on my birthday, we cruised across the bay atop the ferry and saw the party in full swing.
Great to see all the boys of Reflections house. Thanks to Jeff Eason at Edge for these pics. CoolDan and I resisted, for the first time, a jump into the bay.
 Hello, Roman! Jesse, you're old enough to know not to pose alongside models!
 These board shorts are officially missing in action, btw. Dammit I liked them.
Out on the harbor with the FIP boys and a TAB!!! On my birthday!
Fire Island Pines suffered a devastating fire in the Harbor this past December, and there is a giant hole where the Pavilion once stood (they plan to have it back by next season). Thankfully those locations are immortalized in Half-Share, now a period piece!

Before the new Sip 'n Twirl opened (July 4), there was no place to dance at night in the Pines (the horror!). So we heard about a party in the meat rack - the notorious forested dunes between the two communities. How strange to walk through those dark trails and come upon a massive party with LED lights, boom box music and dancing in the dunes. All I thought was - it's about time! Did it take the harbor burning down to get a party going in the meat rack? Apparently.

We hit Cherry Grove and then back in the Pines where my pal Zander (I want to say accidentally) invited all the patrons (40 or so) of Blue Whale bar back to his house. Mostly we crammed into one jacuzzi. One housemate had the brilliant idea to add Palmolive to the jacuzzi so there were suds everywhere, in fact the suds are still probably surging toward the sea. The only complaint was Palmolive really should invent colored suds.

Being "survivor weekend" we had to ultimately find somewhere to sleep. This entailed me climbing a huge tree to get over the fortress-like wall of an abandoned house. A rotten branch fell and my leg got all bloody but we got inside. No better birthday finish than crashing on an abandoned floor with my friends. So grateful to be given another spin around the sun with YOU.