It’s getting hot, and I know that my summer in Fire Island really isn’t complete unless I’ve done it. As the temperature outside rises, I think about it more and more, until it consumes most of my day. I choose a sexy outfit to work to my advantage, knowing full well it won’t stay on very long. I’m moist with sweat as the time approaches. The anticipation of slipping into it for the first time, and longing to smear that goop all over my face when we’re done makes my body ache. My whole being is so focused on reaching that one moment, and as it approaches, I can’t think of anything else to shout but “I’m getting close!”
To the Invasion of the Pines, that is, taking place on Saturday, July 4th, 2009. And neither my friends nor I can wait to step into our gowns and spread that makeup all over our faces.
And oh, the possibilities!! Deciding on a persona is a huge task: do I go as the Asian goddess Miss Wun Hung Lo, the patriotic diva Bertha Venation, or my girl from the South Bronx, Ida Killdabitch? Perhaps a musical theatre-obsessed Indian lady, Ahwant Singh? Or do I stick with something simple, like Ginger Vitis or Liss Terine?
Well, no matter WHAT name I (or my friends) choose, for the greatest possible gay and lesbian Independence Day in the world, we know that Fire Island is the place to be. Nothing says “I love this country!” (or “F*ck you, establishment!”, depending on how you look at it) more than a 6’3 bear putting on pumps and a china silk ball gown.
This year marks the 34th annual Invasion, which was started in 1976 by the now infamous drag queen Panzi (Thom Hansen), who, as legend has it, organized a group of 9 drag queens to “invade” the Pines by water taxi, determined to raise hell as a reaction to one drag queen’s not being served at the conservative Botel. You can read more about the history of the Invasion at www.fireislandinvasion.com.
The event gears up two weeks in advance, when the Ice Palace in Cherry Grove puts on its annual “drag tag” sale, for those still searching for ideas about what to wear for the main event. A bargain basement of women’s clothes and accessories (all in mens sizes, naturally), it took place today (June 21, 2009), and great deals were to be had: wigs for $1 each; silver size 14W heels for $10; a stunning taffeta gown with intricate, elegant beading, designed and built by the incomparable (and wonderfully sweet) costume designer Jeffrey Wallach for $100 (and worth every penny for the lucky person that bought it!) And the best part of it is all of the money raised goes to Cherry Grove charity.
On July 4th, people rise and shine early! You can sense the excitement in the air, and most people are dressed and ready to go by eleven thirty in the morning, when they make their way to the town center of Cherry Grove and convene at the Ice Palace. Last year, a team of “Drag Repair” volunteers were on hand with tissues, Q-tips, lip and eye liner, and of course, mirrors, to help the drag queens out with fixes and finishing touches for their makeup and wigs. After an hour or so, all of the drag queens (usually around 250) board the ferry (last year, the ferry fare benefited the Cherry Grove Property Owner’s Association) and ride over to the Pines. The boat arrives around 2pm, and the harbor, packed shoulder to shoulder with people, cheers! Panzi announces each drag queen by name as they disembark the ferry and parade towards the Sip and Twirl, where they drink for free for the rest of the afternoon.
I’m sure this year is going to be a great one, so if you haven’t yet, start planning your outfit (be sure to wear sensible shoes) and I’ll see you on board the ferry!