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André Leon Talley reminisces about Fire Island in the 1970s

From a WWD article earlier this month. Take a look though the slide show of photographs to see André on raft in a pool, seriously!

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by Anonymousreply 43Last Friday at 12:43 PM

The raft didn't sink?

by Anonymousreply 1Last Thursday at 9:56 PM

Could he fit into human clothes and not just drape himself in tarps then?

by Anonymousreply 2Last Thursday at 9:57 PM

Since I've already seen Lens Dunham in a bikini, I can't think of anyone I would less prefer to see in swimwear than that tub of guts Andre Leon Talley.

by Anonymousreply 3Last Thursday at 10:00 PM

You guys are being mean. He was a handsome man when he was younger!

by Anonymousreply 4Last Thursday at 10:02 PM

The article in case you don’t have a subscription to WWD:

As a salute to the Fourth of July weekend, WWD dipped into its archives to resurface some snapshots of surf and sun on Fire Island in the Seventies — specifically, the summer of 1976. That’s when former WWD staffer André Leon Talley photographed fellow fashion-minded New Yorkers kicking back one weekend on the 31-mile island.

In an interview earlier this week,Talley recalled that he started visiting friends on Fire Island while working for WWD, but those jaunts were work-free reprieves. But as a few of these photographs reveal, Talley had somewhat of a working weekend in August 1976, attending the second annual Pines Conservation Society fashion show. While the inaugural one was televised, the follow-up was not and only two of the 25 featured designers — Donna Karan and John Anthony — made a cameo at the Botel pool. “Stay-at-homes” included island regulars Stephen Burrows, who spent the afternoon cutting his friends’ hair, and Calvin Klein, who visited neighbors in search of saffron oil needed for a dinner for two.

by Anonymousreply 5Last Thursday at 10:06 PM

”Fire Island was fun. It stood for fun with a capital ‘F’ and freedom with a capital ‘F.’ People were free,” Talley said. “I had never seen anything like it because I came from the South. It was an eye-opening moment of liberation to see a community where people can just be themselves. I mean gay men in particular. There was a gay women’s section on the island, but this was mainly gay men.”

Reminiscing about those carefree weekends, Talley described a liberating, accepting and happy environment where all were welcome. While drugs and explicit sex were the norm for some, that was not his game. “I was an observer of the scene. As you can see from the photographs, they are innocent pictures. I was never taking pictures of people having sex in the bushes or things like that. For me, it was a very innocent time and a very wonderful time,” he said. “It was just a great place to be — wonderful sun, open air, beautiful weather was almost guaranteed and dancing. The focus was on the socializing and dancing at the Botel.”

by Anonymousreply 6Last Thursday at 10:07 PM

While winging it on a seaplane was the preferred mode of transportation, driving or taking the Long Island Railroad to catch the Sayville ferry did the trick, too. Many in the fashion crowd welcomed the island’s simplicity after a hectic work week. The weekends often started with wonderful food at a host’s summer house, followed by a stroll on the beach, a swim in the pool or a dunk in the ocean, and then it was off to tea dance at the Botel. Talley said, “It was very exciting. Suddenly, you’re going to something at five o’clock in the afternoon and dancing. Ahhh, it was amazing. The disco music was amazing.…People were dancing in and dancing in their swimsuits then.”

Burrows and Klein were “the fashion stars of the island,” but other stylish weekenders included Marina Schiano, Elon and Diane von Furstenberg, Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo, Manolo Blahnik, Perry Ellis, Bethann Hardison, DD Dominick, Victor Hugo, Peter Lester, Joe McDonald, Angelo Colon, Maxime de la Falaise, Halston model Karen Bjornson and Ronald Kolodzie. Poolside or surfside, bare feet and sunglasses were a given, and many lounged around in bikinis, shorts, cutoffs and sarongs. “People just loved it. I remember the conversations would be, ‘Are you coming to the island this weekend?’” Talley said.

by Anonymousreply 7Last Thursday at 10:07 PM

There was also an undeniable sexual overtone in “how the bodies were on display, the attention to the body and the Greek ideal of a man. It was very explicit the way they were having sex in the afternoon in the bushes, in the brambles and off from the beach. There was group sex. Once Manolo Blahnik and I walked in on a group sex thing by mistake. We were giggling. We had never seen anything like it,” Talley said. “We were not welcome, because Manolo and I were dressed up over-the-top.”

Walking up and down the beach, Talley said he and Blahnik would see people wearing “bikini thongs” and suntanning. “Manolo would be wearing Saint Laurent. I’d be wearing something like a version of a Geoffrey Beene black-and-white wool and cashmere French blanket as a one-shouldered sarong with a Japanese parasol and a big straw hat. So we would sort of be the anti-Fire Island citizens but weekend guests,” Talley said. “But we were all welcome. It was a very warm place. It was not a place of hostility.”

Although Talley never felt that drugs were being pushed on him, they were all around him on the island, he said. Over time though, the drug use — primarily marijuana and cocaine — became “so explicit and evident that people had lost control,” he said. “And this was way before AIDS.”

One night while watching “The Boys in the Band” at someone’s beach house, someone spiked the punch with more than alcohol. “That was a signal to me that it was a place that could be dangerous, if you allowed yourself to fall into the traps. I never wanted to fall into the traps,” Talley said. His point-of-no-return arrived one summer morning in the late Seventies, when he and Schiano had to step over passed-out bodies on the boardwalk. With that, the pair vowed to never come back.

by Anonymousreply 8Last Thursday at 10:07 PM

All in all, Talley considered that time on Fire Island as a moment of freedom and liberation. “The picture of Bethann [Hardison] surrounded by all these boys represented the best of Fire Island. She’s wearing these extravagant pants. It was all great. That’s how I got to know all of these people,” he said.

Hardison’s leopard-printed drawstring pants were designed by Burrows, who can be seen in a similar pair in other photos. After taking a look at Talley’s photos, Burrows described the pants earlier this week as “joggers without the elastic at the ankle.” More than anything, the easy breezy mood of that period stays with him. He said, “It was such a free social time that was unlike anything that had happened before. There were no cars. That made it a fantasy island that everyone enjoyed and loved. The DJs played all the new music and we all heard it first.”

Having visited the island from 1965 until 1984, Burrows said, “It was a great time in New York. It was very diverse. That was what was so unusual about it — all the different nationalities that were involved there. That made it great and like no place else. All the artists gravitated there every weekend, and dressed up and went to parties and danced at The Sandpiper, the Botel and the Monster in Cherry Grove.”

Fire Island was also where Burrows was discovered by Joel Schumacher, during the future filmmaker’s Condé Nast days. The designer said, “Joel worked for Vogue with Carrie Donovan. He came up to me on Fire Island and said, ‘You have great style. We would like to shoot you for Vogue.’ Joel also introduced me to Geraldine Stutz at [Henri] Bendel’s. He suggested I go see her, when [my store] O Boutique was closing.”

When the AIDS epidemic took hold in the Eighties and “all my friends were dying, we just lost interest in going. It wasn’t the same. Everyone separated. It was just the end of a time,” said Burrows, adding that others started drifting away to other states, like California.

But hanging out at home or poolside has always been one of the draws of the large barrier island off the south shore of Long Island. As noted, Talley’s aforementioned coverage of the 1976 Pines Conservation Society fashion show referred to Burrows and Klein as “stay-at-homes.” Burrows explained his backyard barber shop this week: “I used to cut my own hair. I just started cutting people’s hair. I didn’t like the way they looked, so I just changed it. People liked what I did. I wasn’t really a hairdresser.”

Talley said “stay-at-homes” was a commonly used term with Fire Islanders at that time. Regarding the term’s current coronavirus-driven popularity, he said, “It is a coincidence. Apt for now; apt for then. In many ways, some people just wanted to get out to The Pines and shut down from hectic career schedules. It was a calm and serene environment. I hope it still has that today.”

Hardison agreed, describing how the weekend revelers retreated back to the city by Monday morning and The Pines returned to the simplest place. She and her son were among the families that whiled away the work weeks there at her interior designer friend Angelo Donghia’s house. Kids would run on the beach, and pull their wagons and bike on the boardwalk. “You never had to have any fear that they would have any problems with anybody. You never had to feel that something could go wrong and they would be unsafe,” Hardison said. “You would just be so calm.”

by Anonymousreply 9Last Thursday at 10:10 PM

Asked what people might re-create from that time today, Hardison said, “Forget that. There ain’t no re-creating. They couldn’t re-create it even if they could imagine it. And most people are too distracted to remember anything that happened before. It’s straight up.”

She continued, “Even when I look at the photographs of the men and the boys, it was a typical look. It’s so interesting how beautiful they all were, really. There’s no re-creation of this. It was truly a moment in time.”

Talley presented another view: “What could be wonderful today is the sense of community, wholesome and positive community. I think it still exists on Fire Island today, although I’ve never been there since the last time I left. A place where gay people had their own community, and it was a very, very positive environment. The Castro District in San Francisco is a prime example of this type of community — stores, restaurants, social life all built around this community. And it wasn’t isolation. Straight people were always welcomed. Notice the amount of straight women in the photographs.”

by Anonymousreply 10Last Thursday at 10:10 PM

Andre in the pool... 1976

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by Anonymousreply 11Last Thursday at 10:13 PM

Forget this article, its paywalled. Read the novel "Dancer From The Dance" instead.

by Anonymousreply 12Last Thursday at 10:19 PM

You either have to subscribe or log in. So no - that won't be happening.

Waste of time OP.

by Anonymousreply 13Last Thursday at 10:24 PM

Didn't Talley make a big stink a few years ago about not being gay? I thought Jeebus healed him or something...

by Anonymousreply 14Last Thursday at 10:25 PM

I just accessed the article without a subscription and looked through the gallery. If you get a pop-up ad just hit the x at the corner and it goes away.

by Anonymousreply 15Last Thursday at 10:26 PM

If so - it wore off R14.

Because he is FLAMING and the flames can be seen from outer space.

by Anonymousreply 16Last Thursday at 10:27 PM

I accessed the article, too. I’m not a subscriber.

by Anonymousreply 17Last Thursday at 10:41 PM

R12 and R13, why don’t you read R5 through R10? The article is pasted right there for you.

by Anonymousreply 18Last Thursday at 10:59 PM

You know the answer R18.

by Anonymousreply 19Last Thursday at 11:01 PM

No, we really don’t know the answer. Pointless bitchery? Belligerence? What?

by Anonymousreply 20Last Thursday at 11:06 PM

I just want to look at the pictures R20.

Anyway - some of us get a login/subscription message block so we can't.

I'm bored now.

by Anonymousreply 21Last Thursday at 11:09 PM

Ahhh! Here are the pictures and captions in order as per the WWD gallery that was with the article.

The fashion crowd has always flocked to Fire Island. On the far left, designer DD Dominick joined in a round of applause.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 22Last Thursday at 11:13 PM

Day or night, casual clothes were always in order on Fire Island. But artist David Hockney stuck with the suit and tie for this event in the summer of 1976.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 23Last Thursday at 11:14 PM

Sarongs were a staple for men and women on the island in the Seventies.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 24Last Thursday at 11:16 PM

Artists and designers showed off their individualistic style.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 25Last Thursday at 11:17 PM

André Leon Talley kept things cool in the pool, wearing a mesh shirt and relaxing on a raft.

Photo Credit: Manolo Blahnik/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 26Last Thursday at 11:19 PM

Bethann Hardison unwound with friends including designer Ronald Kolodzie wearing tinted glasses.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 27Last Thursday at 11:20 PM

Accustomed to cutting his own hair, Stephen Burrows said that cutting other people’s hair was just something that he did.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 28Last Thursday at 11:21 PM

While Stephen Burrows trimmed a friend’s hair, designer Angelo Colon sketched on a picnic table nearby.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 29Last Thursday at 11:22 PM

Wearing leopard-printed drawstring pants designed by Stephen Burrows, Bethann Hardison strikes a pose with model Karen Bjornson.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 30Last Thursday at 11:23 PM

Designer Victor Hugo (left) and model Karen Bjornson in the arms of John McDonald.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 31Last Thursday at 11:24 PM

The peasant finale look with the bride wearing Frank Masandrea at the second annual Pines Conservation Society fashion show in August 1976.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 32Last Thursday at 11:25 PM

Weekenders liked to keep the dress code casual as proven by these bare-chested men at the pool.

Photo Credit: Andre Leon Talley/WWD 1976

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by Anonymousreply 33Last Thursday at 11:27 PM

Well, maybe Andre’s photos aren’t all that great. Oh well, I liked the article.

by Anonymousreply 34Last Thursday at 11:30 PM

It depends on the browser, R21. When I use Opera I can't get to Daily Mail at all, even though I don't have an adblocker. On Chrome, it's fine, even WITH an adblocker.

You can find the photos on Google Images if you search for Bethann Hardison Fire Island. The first several images are from this WWD article.

by Anonymousreply 35Last Friday at 12:50 AM

The older gentleman at the back of the peasant finale photo seems to have smuggled an extra guest in his shorts.

by Anonymousreply 36Last Friday at 1:54 AM

That guy on the left in R33 with the white underwear and prominent bulge is hot!

by Anonymousreply 37Last Friday at 3:13 AM

Another boring 70s article from another tired fashion queen. Photos are boring.

by Anonymousreply 38Last Friday at 3:50 AM

We get it already. "Drugs and sex." Why do people keep telling the same Fire Island stories over and over again?

by Anonymousreply 39Last Friday at 4:27 AM

[quote]other stylish weekenders included Marina Schiano, Elon and Diane von Furstenberg, Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo, Manolo Blahnik, Perry Ellis, Bethann Hardison, DD Dominick, Victor Hugo, Peter Lester, Joe McDonald

Hmmm...I dated someone named Peter Lester for a couple of months in 1977-78. I've mentioned him before in "cut/uncut" threads, as he was one of two uncut guys I dated that winter. I always bring them up in those threads when someone starts to talk about the smegma myth. Neither of them had any. Peter was blond, English, and a year or two older than me. He always seemed to be staring off into the distance, as models do. Ultimately, I dumped him. I was never really into blonds.

by Anonymousreply 40Last Friday at 4:32 AM

R40 and nobody cares. Your 2 cents is as worthless as Pat Cleveland’s. Now fuck off.

by Anonymousreply 41Last Friday at 4:34 AM

I care! I remember you posting about him before, R40. I loved blonds, I would have taken him!

by Anonymousreply 42Last Friday at 4:52 AM

Andre!

by Anonymousreply 43Last Friday at 12:43 PM
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