Fire Island recap: 'Not in the Face'
The boys play dodgeball, Patrick enters a drag pageant, Brandon finds a man, and Cheyenne is drama — again.
It has become de rigeur for people of older generations to make fun of millennials because they are obsessed with reality TV and have been given participation trophies all of their lives. On this episode of Fire Island, the cast were given all sorts of participation trophies on reality television, which is like some sort of Baby Boomer nightmare come true. And it wasn’t just one. The people of the Fire Island Pines were handing out participation trophies to the cast like they were free condoms at the bathhouse. There was just a bowl full of participation trophies next to the front door; just take a handful and stuff your pockets.
The first came from the house’s participation in a dodgeball tournament. If you couldn’t tell by the grimacing gentlemen whipping balls in their Speedos, these queens take dodgeball very seriously. Big Apple Dodgeball is like a whole thing where guys sign up mostly to meet other guys and end up becoming indoctrinated in a cult-like atmosphere made even worse thanks to testosterone and competitiveness. It’s like CrossFit, except fewer people get hurt and proponents of dodgeball won’t drone on and on about it at a dinner party, boring every single one of the guests.
Anyway, enter our house of abs. They think they can show up and win the whole tournament without any practice whatsoever. They don’t even know the rules or have enough players. How the hell do they think they’re going to win? They need to fill out their ranks by drafting Jorge’s “mistress” (whose name we never learn for somewhat obvious reasons) and Brandon’s new overnight visitor Jallen (whose name seems to have both too many consonants and not enough vowels at the same time).
Not surprisingly, when they play, it seems like they don’t score even a single point. Later, at the awards ceremony, they’re given the “Most Spirit Award,” which is some made-up bulls— if I ever heard it. They didn’t even have that much spirit. They just hung around and talked about which of the other dodgeball players they wanted to sleep with. That’s not spirit, unless Spirit is a deodorant that is strong enough for a man but pH-balanced for dodgeball players. That’s not really shade, because I would do the exact same thing.
Patrick seems about as ill-prepared for the Miss Cherry’s contest as his housemates were for the dodgeball tournament. Before we get into that, let me school you a bit about how Fire Island works. There are a dozen different communities on Fire Island, but only two of them are gay: Fire Island Pines, where our boys reside, and Cherry Grove. The Pines is all giant modernist houses, swimming pools, loud Robyn remixes thumping out of parties, and mostly naked guys screwing each other on every available surface. The Grove is all cozy cottages, lesbian breast cancer benefits, drag shows at Cherry’s, and a handful of scruffier gays who look down on the preening narcissists of the Pines. The Grove is also home to the only ice cream shop on the island, which Brandon goes to. If there’s one thing you don’t want the judgey body fascists of the Pines to catch you doing, it’s eating fats and sugar in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.
The two communities are separated by a small forest officially called the “Carrington Estate” but more commonly referred to as the Meat Rack. As Khasan tells us, it was once where all the guys would go and cruise at night and have sex in the bushes. These days, Grindr has all but killed that aspect of the Meat Rack, and you’re more likely to find a molly-fueled dance party there at 2 a.m. than you are an orgy. (Though often one sort of turns into another.) What they don’t tell you is that the Meat Rack is somewhat treacherous, with winding paths abutting a swamp that often end mysteriously, leaving those without a flashlight surrounded and afraid. They also don’t mention that it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the island, if you can look past its sordid past.
Anyway, Patrick rolls up to the drag competition with outfits that look as hastily sewn as someone’s second Project Runway creation the week Heidi Klum asks them to leave forever. The “cherry” on the front of his dress looks more like a drunk tick under a microscope than it does a piece of fruit, and his makeup is as pale as Casper the Friendly Ghost after riding a roller coaster. Yes, his evening gown is cute, but those queens in Cherry Grove take their drag very seriously, and that he seems to have done this on a whim is a bit of an insult to the august institution of Cherry Grove drag pageants. (Of which there is like one every weekend.)
Of course, they can’t give nothing to the queen who brought all of his friends who work on the island to the event, along with his housemates and their hastily made signs. Also, cameras are following him; don’t you think the crowd was reacting to that maybe a little bit? Anyway, Polly C–kit gets “Crowd Favorite” or some other made-up trophy and gets to parade around in her too-small heels like she actually accomplished something.
All of the big drama this week comes thanks to Cheyenne, of course, who can’t seem to get it into his head that there are other people who exist in the world and that their feelings are valid. He has to leave at the last minute for something work related and can’t go to Patrick’s pageant. Still, he couldn’t shoot off a text on the ferry home and be like, “Sorry I can’t make it, girl. Break an eyeliner”? That’s all the effort it would take, but when Brandon brings up such a remedy, Cheyenne bats it off like he can’t even be bothered.
The problem is that Cheyenne doesn’t like Patrick and is also all riled up when he brings some other dudes into the house (one of whom I’ll tell you about if you ever catch me at tea). What’s funny about Fire Island is no one cares that Jallen is there because he’s hot. They’re just upset that there are some ugly dudes with Patrick as well. If Cheyenne were into all of them, he would have been all, “Hello boys!” But he’s not. He wants a family dinner, and he’s going to have it, no matter how everyone else feels.
Speaking of Jallen, this show has a very interesting approach to how it deals with sex. It wants to be both chaste and slutty at the same time, like an unwed teenage mother doing PSAs about abstinence. So Jallen is an overnight guest and everyone will talk about how “proportional” he is to his height, but they won’t like come out and say what he and Brandon are up to. Jorge has a “mistress,” but no one will really talk about how he is in an open relationship. Also, he talks about how he “regrets” what he did the night before, but it seems like the camera crew was on the last ferry off the island and missed all the nitty-gritty of what went on with his side piece. Fire Island wants to have its cake and eat it too, or maybe just smear it all over their nether regions and have someone else eat it off of them, but that would be too filthy for the straight people, so don’t show what the gays really get up to!
There is one thing that is clear though: Jorge needs to break up with his boyfriend. Fabio, who is not nearly blond enough for the name, has no interest in moving to New York and doesn’t seem to be able to give Jorge both the attention and affection that he needs in order to have a healthy relationship. According to Khasan, it seems like they have one of those volatile, passionate relationships where they’re either always fighting or “making up” (and by “making up” I mean screwing until the sun comes up).
But that is not enough to sustain Jorge. It doesn’t help he’s out on this island with all of these beautiful dudes vying for his attention and giving him outlets to force Fabio’s jealousy so that he’ll pay attention. If Fabio isn’t willing to move and can’t say, “I love you,” like Jorge wants him to, then it’s time to just dump him and move on. It seems like he’s a boyfriend in name only at this point, and Jorge deserves better. He doesn’t want a boyfriend who is just getting a participation trophy. He deserves a man who is going to take first prize.