As a native Long Islander (who has made their way to East Harlem as of September), a big coo about living out there was the convenience of location that Fire Island truly was. There have been documentaries about this wonderful place in the past, but never has there been a series focused solely on it and the people who inhabit its surroundings. That reality is no more as LOGO TV is premiering the series of the same name later this spring, which follows a group of young professionals living together in a beachfront share house for the summer as they search for the romance, temptation and thrills that have brought the LGBTQ community to the island for decades. I got a chance to interview them this past Tuesday night at the season 9 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race to get the scoop on it all.
The show is executive produced by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, and based on the trailer of the show is definitely one to watch out for as the weather gets warmer. I was extremely elated to find that a good friend of mine, Justin Russo, is one of the cast members as i have profiled him before on Manhattan Digest and think he’s super talented and will bring something special to the show.
I asked Justin what his favorite part about filming the show, to which he said “I think personally, I don’t have many inhibitions but I was really anxious about going to Fire Island, because I didn’t think that I belonged. Low and behold I went out there and I lowered my guard, and I realized that I had pre-conceived notions and my judgments were wrong. Everyone belongs out in Fire island.”
Outside of Justin, there are five fantastic other guys who head to Fire Island in pursuit of something of their own. Patrick McDonald, otherwise known as Patty, struck me with his confidence and super awesome mustache and I can tell he will be fantastic to watch as the series goes on. When chatting with him, he wants the viewers to go beyond what they saw in the brief trailer. “I think the trailer is fun. I think it also gives a 90 second glimpse of what the summer can be. People are very quick to jump on a snap judgment, they showed a short snippet. The show however does dive into more than what you see in a quick segment.”
Cheyenne Parker, who is a model and entrepreneur, is another cast member, was excited to do this show and showcase not only who he is outside of what he does for a living but in his personal life as well. “Each one of us came into the experience really open, and gave ourselves over to sharing what was going on in our lives at the time, whether it be a breakup, a new relationship, body image, any kind of topic that you think would be brought up in a house full of gay men. We all really related and created some good bonds.”
The series not only focuses on the men and what happens throughout the summer for them, but also Fire Island as a whole. Brandon Osorio, a Photographer and NYU Student, wanted to make sure this was very important with the filming of the show. “The show has worked with people who have lived in Fire Island for the past thirty years, with the community board and people who are highly involved there.”
Patrick issued similar sentiments. “The intention of this show is for it to be a love letter for the Fire Island Pines, and I think as a group we all got to experience the magic of the pines in different ways whether it is for the first time or coming back. There is something so special about this island, people let their walls down, there is no cars out there. You create deep, meaningful bonds because you aren’t as distracted as you are in the city. So, I think it is really cool to capture that relationship between the six of us. There are some big personalities, some sparks that happen, but at the end of the day it has all made us better people.
Rounding out the group that night (Khasan Brailsford is also part of the cast, but couldn’t be there as he is filming a movie) is Jorge Bustillos, Khasan’s best friend, and a marketing strategist right here in Manhattan. He understands the challenges that gay men face, and this experience shows how those can be met head on when living with other guys. “We are all faced with adversity, and that’s one of the things that brings us all together. There are several personal things for each one of us, and when you bring a group of people together that don’t know each other that well you are forced to coexist and it’s a challenge and one that’s worth watching.”
For more information on Fire Island, check out their official site.