The Boys in the Sand*

Steve Buscemi and Bill Sherwood, NYC, 2/12/86

As the summer of 2017 slips away, like sand sifting though sunburned hands, Metrograph offers “On Fire Island,” six films set on the barrier island sixty miles southeast of Manhattan, known, particularly before gay men and lesbians gained widespread acceptance, for the queer meccas of Cherry Grove and The Pines.

“Parting Glances” (1986), deftly directed by Bill Sherwood (1952-1990), as both a relationship dramedy and an unsentimental look at the AIDS crisis, stars a young, charismatic Steve Buscemi as Nick, an underground rock star facing his mortality.

Andy Warhol and Chuck Wein’s very funny, very campy “My Hustler” (1965), features a trio–a middle-aged queen, his female neighbor and an aging male prostitue–enjoying their deck chairs as they compete for the attention of plantinum-blonde “Dial-a-Hustler” hunk Paul America.

Broadway dancer and director Wakefield Poole’s “Boys in the Sand” (*from which I stole its punning headline) created a sensation “when he and producer Marvin Shulman opened their gay adult feature at the 55th Street Playhouse in NYC in 1971. Starring Casey Donovan in three sexual vignettes, the film made Fire Island an international tourist destination and introduced gay sex positivity to straight audiences.”  It screens with Fire Island ’79, directed by Todd Verow and Patrick McGuinn.

The two other films in the series are “Sticks and Stones” (1970), directed by Stan Lopresto, and Frank Perry’s “Last Summer” (1969).

“On Fire Island” opens today at Metrograph and runs through Sunday, August 13.

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