Disco star France Joli lived the old “42nd Street” movie line dream “if you’re going out a youngster but you are coming back a star.”
Over 40 years ago on the hot summer night of July 7th. In 1979 before an estimated audience of 5000 screaming gay men on Fire Island Pines the 16-year-old singer at the last minute was asked to fill in for Donna Summer at an all-star disco music concert.
Jolie remembers it vividly. “Sister Sledge was there. EVERYBODY was there!”
When it came time for her to perform. She stepped up to the microphone and began to sing, never realizing that she was about to turn the first major corner in her career and the process steal the show from some of the biggest and brightest names in the industry. Seven minutes later, when she took her bows, the crowd went wild, flipping head over heels for this unknown Canadian teenager and proclaiming her, from that day forward, a star in the truest sense of the word.
“Come to Me” became the number-one disco song of the summer, and the definitive Fire Island gay tea dance classic.
A plane trailing a banner reading “Boycott Hi/Lo Tea! Fight For Full LGBT Rights!” will fly above the beach at Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines on Sunday, June 7, between 2 pm and 3 pm. The action will underscore the LGBT community’s outrage over the April 20 meeting between Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and gay businessmen Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, who subsequently donated money to the Cruz campaign. The two gay men also held an April 14 fundraiser at their Manhattan penthouse for Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), another anti-LGBT politician.
Reisner and Weiderpass own most of the businesses in the Pines—including the Blue Whale, Sip-N-Twirl, and the Pavilion, where the “High Tea” and “Low Tea” cocktail hours are held—as well as the gay-oriented Out Hotel in Midtown Manhattan.“Two gay business owners are making money off of the LGBT community at a world-famous gay vacation spot and then giving that money to outspoken anti-LGBT politicians,” said Ken Kidd, a member of Queer Nation, the gay rights group that orchestrated the flyover. “Our community is out to win comprehensive federal legislation that will make LGBT Americans fully equal under the law. We will not be taken backward by funding anti-LGBT politicians.”
Last week a band of gay activist took to Fire Island this weekend to spread the news and point out which of the Fire Island properties belonged to Ian Reisner’s and should be boycotted in The Pines after the New York Times revealed that Reisner, who also owns OUT NYC hotel, lied about cutting a campaign check to ultra-conservative and anti-LGBT candidate Ted Cruz at the same time that he and his business partner Mati Weiderpass hosted a reception for Cruz in their Manhattan penthouse.
Reisner did, in fact, cut a check for $2,700, the maximum individual contribution allowed.
While many knew of Reisner’s ownership of the OUT-NYC Hotel complex many are unaware of his specific holdings in the Fire Island Pines.
That is until now.
The flyer urges the a boycott of some of Fire Island’s most historic gay landmarks like the Pavilion, Botel, Bistro, Sip-N-Twirl, Blue Whale, Pines Pizza, and the Cultured Elephant.
When the gay hoteliers Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass found themselves under siege for hosting a dinner for Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who is running for president and has been vociferously opposed to same-sex marriage, they repeatedly stressed that the event was not a fund-raiser.
“There were no checks given, it was nothing like that,” Mr. Reisner told New Yorkmagazine, after The New York Times first reported on the mid-April dinner at the Central Park South penthouse. Protests and calls for boycotts of Mr. Reisner’s and Mr. Weiderpass’s properties, including their groundbreaking hotel for gay clientele, the Out NYC, ensued.
As it turns out, Mr. Reisner himself wrote a check to Mr. Cruz’s presidential campaign, making a $2,700 donation — the maximum allowed in a nominating contest — around the time the dinner took place. But shortly after The Times reported on the dinner, where about 18 people sat down at two tables in separate areas of the palatial penthouse, Mr. Reisner called the campaign and asked for his check to be refunded.
“In the interest of transparency, I gave Senator Cruz a $2,700 check to show my support for his work on behalf of Israel,” Mr. Reisner said in a statement he provided after The Times learned of the donation from two people with direct knowledge of it. “When I realized his donation could be misconstrued as supporting his anti-gay marriage agenda, I asked for the money back. Senator Cruz’s office gave the money back, and I have no intention of giving any money to any politicians who aren’t in support of L.G.B.T. issues.”
After hosting rabidly anti-gay Republican Ted Cruz, and his partner Ian Reisner calling gays “cheap” and “entitled” one would think that the quisling multi-millionaire gay owners of OUT NYC hotel and entertainment complex in NYC would know better by now.
Mati Weiderpass had to open his mouth again in an op-ed for New York Observer playing victim this time and claiming that he and his reputation are the ones being attacked by big bad “gay extremists”
“Since hosting a discussion with Texas Senator Ted Cruz in my home, I have been inundated with hateful, biased social media messages, and attacks from gay extremists (do I dare say the word?) who demand inclusion, but do not believe in dialogue. I know in my heart that these attacks do not represent the rich culture and diversity of the gay community. Yet, in our community, as in so many others, the most vocal often dominate the conversation. I hope this op-ed will help heal wounds and continue necessary progress and discussion. It is amazing that my businesses are being boycotted by some because I hosted a discussion with an elected official. Not a fundraiser. Not an endorsement. A dialogue. What would we say if the Jewish community organized a boycott of a business leader who hosted a private discussion with an important Muslim politician? We know the answer. I am a longtime leader of my community – and proud of who I am and what I have accomplished. Boycotting me for a discussion? Since when have we grown so small and intolerant?”
“You know, it’s so ironic — I wanted to build kind of a community center in the gateway to Hell’s Kitchen, which in 2008–2009 was already a gay place and now it’s even gayer. Very close to Broadway. We decided there’d be so many different ways to give back to the community. We show gay artists there. For gay performers, we have let this cabaret club go on for three and a half years. And you don’t make money when you let drag queens in on Tuesday night and 30 people drink at $10 a drink and you have to pay five people to watch over the place. You don’t make money … My only point is, this has not been a profitable venture. Gays are cheap. They’re frugal; gays are frugal. Let me retract that … gays are entitled … Do you know how challenging it is to make a penny off a gay person? I’m gay, I don’t pay cover. I’m gay, where’s my comp drink?[Everyone laughs.] No, I’m being serious! The Out NYC has not shown a profit yet.” – Ian Reisner, in a New York Magazine joint interview with Mati Weiderpass.
Oh keep digging, by all means!
In related news……..
Yesterday on the Facebook page of the NYC Council’s LGBT Caucus, they call for a continued boycott of OUT NYC, and all Reisner and Weiderpass properties.
STATEMENT – LGBT CAUCUS – NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL
“Owning businesses that cater to the LGBT community comes with a heightened level of responsibility. For the proprietors of the OUTnyc and Fire Island Pines, hosting anti-LGBT politicians like Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson in their home – for whatever reason – was the height of irresponsibility. We hope that the events of the last week send a message to businesses that serve our community: you cannot make money from our community and support those who don’t support our basic civil rights.”
LGBT Caucus – Council Members Daniel Dromm (Queens), Corey Johnson (Manhattan), Carlos Menchaca (Brooklyn), Rosie Mendez (Manhattan), Ritchie Torres (Bronx), James Van Bramer (Queens)
Some of the most historical gay property in America next to The Stonewall Inn, namely the business strip of the Fire Island Pines home to The Pavillion Nightclub, The Blue Whale, and the harbor-front which became a destination for millions of gay men since it was founded in 1952 have been sold at auction for $10.1 Million dollars to Manhattan Hotelier Ian Reisner
A strip of commercial real estate along the harbor in Fire Island Pines sold for $10.1 million at auction on Thursday to developers with plans to continue the revival of a former mecca for closeted gay men. The sale price was well below the $25 million the previous owners sought when they placed it on the market last fall, and below the $17 million they paid for it in 2010. In a deal hammered out over more than six hours, the property was bought by Ian Reisner, who also owns the Out NYC, a hotel on West 42nd Street in Manhattan that focuses on a gay clientele. The deal is expected to close in February.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Reisner said he, his business partner and a small team of investors planned to spend $4 million over the next 18 months to “renovate and rejuvenate” the property, which includes a hotel, a nightclub, a restaurant, a bar and retail space. The Pavilion nightclub in Fire Island Pines was rebuilt after a 2011 fire and reopened, but in the interim the crowd moved on. “My idea for the Out was to have a place for L.G.B.T., because we didn’t have that at the time,” said Mr. Reisner, who said he has been visiting Fire Island Pines since he came out as gay in 1989. “The Pines is the Out.”
Hopefully Mr. Reisner will see the historical value to the community and spotlight some of it in the rebuilding.
As for the writer of the New York Times article that this is quoted from, Ashley Southhall (@assouthall) who starts her article with:
“A strip of commercial real estate along the harbor in Fire Island Pines sold for $10.1 million at auction on Thursday to developers with plans to continue the revival of a former mecca for closeted gay men.”
“Meccaa for CLOSETED GAY MEN”?
Ms Southall you need to learn how to do research before you write a story.
Fire Island was a mecca for ALL GAY MEN, LESBIANS, BISEXUALS, DRAG QUEENS, and TRANSGENDERED people and their straight allies and friends for more decades than you have been alive. What you wrote Ms. Southall is not only insulting to the entire gay community and insulting New York Times readers who know more history than you. To which it seems there are many.
The Pavilion, (originally named The Sandpiper back in the 1970’s) was destroyed last night as a fire roared through the commercial district of Fire Island Pines, the popular gay resort village on a barrier island was one of the most famous gay clubs in the world spanning over 40 years. Famous for its “high tea dances“, “low teas“, and “middle teas” it was the major destination for gay men and hosted a Who’s Who of NYC’s gay elite and men on the make during the summertime.
Initial reports indicate the blaze broke out around 9:15 p.m. It quickly engulfed the Pavilion, C.F. LaFountaine, Sip N’ Twirl, the Pines Bistro and a bay front home. Walter Boss of the Fire Island Pines Fire Department confirmed to The News around 11:20 p.m. that the fire destroyed the Pavilion, La Fountaine, the Sip N’ Twirl complex that includes the Bistro and a bay front home
An unprepossessing wooden building, it hosted some of the most memorable DJs on some of their most memorable evenings. It became an incubator of what has since been dubbed “the Fire Island Sound,” and nurtured the careers of several beginning DJs.
The Pavilion was destroyed at the end of the summer of 2006 and replaced at great cost with the New Pavilion in 2007.
Larry Kramer the legendary American playwright, author, public health advocate, and LGBT rights activist who has devoted his life to the cause of LGBT equality returned to the Blue Whale in Fire Island Pines where he spoke about his life, career and activism.
Kramer’s 1978 book “Faggots” (which if you haven’t read I highly recommend) chronicled the fast lifestyle of gay men of Fire Island and Manhattan in the late 70’s who look for love while encountering the drugs and emotionless sex in the trendy bars and discos.
The novel caused an uproar in the community it portrayed; it was taken off the shelves of the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore—New York’s only gay bookstore, and Kramer was banned from the grocery store near his home on Fire Island. Reviewers found it difficult to believe that Kramer’s accounts of gay relationships were accurate; both the gay and mainstream press panned the book. On the reception of the novel Kramer says, “The straight world thought I was repulsive, and the gay world treated me like a traitor. People would literally turn their back when I walked by. You know what my real crime was? I put the truth in writing. That’s what I do: I have told the fucking truth to everyone I have ever met.” Faggots, however, became one of the best-selling gay novels of all time.
The outspoken 77 year old Kramer also co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which has become the largest private organization to assist people living with AIDS in the world and was was the catalyst in the founding of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP).
Kramer not only talked about the past weighed in on more contemporary gay issues-including the passage of New York’s marriage equality law on June 24. “I don’t think we have gay marriage in New York,” he said. “We have feel good gay marriages in New York. The only marriage that makes any sense is a federal marriage.” (And like it or not out there he does have a point.)
Kramer described President Barack Obama as a “wuss” for his stance towards LGBT issues.
“He says all the right things and he doesn’t do it,” said Kramer
Kramer also talked about his accomplishments and the current problems that face the LGBT community when it comes to what he describes as an ongoing complacency among gay people: “I don’t think I do anything that is special,” he said. “I use my brains. I use my voice and I point out the things I want. I am gay. I am proud to be gay and I want everybody else to feel that. And I don’t always see that.”
Love him or hate him Larry Kramer is a true LGBT hero. He stood up and fought through the darkest days days that our community have ever faced and still at his age speaks out more than those who are younger and who’s future is in jepardy