Saturday, February 11, 2023

Tom Bianchi Polaroids III

Today will be my third series of the Fire Island Polaroids (with one possible exception) done 
by Tom Bianchi.  These images chronicle the time on the eve of the AIDS epidemic when 
liberation and free sex were in the air.  We start with a handsome man on a small bed.



  1. In the 1970s, when Fire Island became such a destination for the gay men of the East Coast, inter-continental travel was far rarer than today. In Europe, we heard of Fire Island and it became something so remote, yet so totemic - like a Jerusalem or a Rome or a Mecca. In 1978, Andrew Holleran's novel, Dancer from the Dance was published, parts of which take place on Fire Island. It was a novel that changed many lives - as novels can and do. It changed mine.

    "One of the most important works of gay literature, this haunting, brilliant novel is a seriocomic remembrance of things past -- and still poignantly present. It depicts the adventures of Malone, a beautiful young man searching for love amid New York's emerging gay scene. From Manhattan's Everard Baths and after-hours discos to Fire Island's deserted parks and lavish orgies, Malone looks high and low for meaningful companionship. The person he finds is Sutherland, a campy quintessential queen -- and one of the most memorable literary creations of contemporary fiction. Hilarious, witty, and ultimately heartbreaking, Dancer from the Dance is truthful, provocative, outrageous fiction told in a voice as close to laughter as to tears."

    All these years on - a near lifetime for some - I cannot recommend it more than I always have for its account of life before the plague hit, which Andrew Holleran captures for posterity as much as Tom Bianchi's polaroids.

  2. Dancer from the Dance is exceptional and I have read it several times. For me, much like say Hemingway, there's a pervading sense of melancholy. Holleran's first person narrator feels like the outsider looking in. But maybe I'm projecting. When published, Bianchi's photos, while titallating, were depressing to me. I knew I would never attain this physical beauty nor exclusive Fire Island lifestyle. An outsider looking in. Ironically, that may be why I survived the 80s.