Breaking Glass Pictures and filmmaker Michael Fisher team up for the sugar daddy of films that embrace the Pride spirit regarding the 2018 Fire Island documentary "Cherry Grove Stories." Queer as folk cinephiles and other friends of Dorothy who missed this movie on the pink film-festival circuit can get it on DVD.
The broadest relatable bit of this film is the recognition that Pride is about much more than hairless anorexic 18 year-olds only wearing Speedos and roller blades and hirsute far-from-anorexic middle-age men in drag that makes clownesque Mimi from "The Drew Carey Show" look like a natural beauty. Pride primarily is about community and showing that guys who connect with Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now are just as respectable as breeders.
A similar note that is even more in tune with the theme of "Cherry" is it evoking memories of hearing stories of regulars at JRs Bar in Washington, DC fully toning it down to watch "The Golden Girls" on the bar TV every Saturday night. To those guys at that time, friends as flawed as you in their own way somehow forming a family presents an ideal that endures 30 years later.
A related tale of the capital city is even the '90s being a time that hearing your named called out in a gay bar can cause angst, especially when the performers provide entertainment that prompts recent crackdowns. The rest of that story that involves a surprising impromptu high-school reunion is not fit for this family friendlish forum.
The following YouTube clip of the "Cherry" trailer barely scratches the surface as to the copious vintage clips and titular boys-to-men tales by the guys who enjoyed the heyday of the scene.
The opening scenes consist of the scores of talking heads, who share the dates of their first trip to Cherry Grove. These begin in the post-war years and span to the recent past.
Our panel of experts also speculate about the origins of the name of the island; one theory is that pirates would set fires to attract prey. Although there does not seem to be definite proof of buccaneers ever calling the island home, it is indisputable that a certain form of pirate favors that locale and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
The titular lore closely reflects societal attitudes toward gay men. The early days especially were a period of liberation during which the guys could more easily socialize, dance together, and do everything else that gay men do together mostly free of legal repression and almost universal disapproval of friends, family, and employers. This is akin to the next generation who could enjoy the community and the celebration of the early days of Pride parades. The classic Lisa Simpson quote "we are used to it" shows that all of us have come a long way, Baby,
Speaking of repression, the folks who were there tell of the distressing ways in which the real world invaded one of the few places that men could openly express their friendship (with or without benefits), love. and lust for each other. Milder forms of this included quickly having to change to a dance partner of the opposite sex when the cops came by.
Worse tactics relate to an aspect of Cherry Grove that be considered the best of times and the worst of times. Men who wanted to hook up in the pre-Grindr era would cruise the Meat Rack just off the beach. (Tales of the lesbian equivalent the Doughnut Rack seem to merely be rural legends.) That cruising area dying off in the Internet Age is one of the many examples of Cherry Grove reflecting the times.
The cops would go beyond well-orchestrated raids. They would handcuff the arrested man (some of whom presumably still were in various states of undress) by the dock for early risers to see. The humiliation would continue with publishing the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of theses boy who just wanted to have fun in the newspaper in an effort to ruin their personal and professional lives.
On a lighter note, an amusing story that involves the perspective of two persons with a role in a "blocking" incident at the Meat Rack is a "Cherry" highlight. This one comes very close to literally being a case of biting the hand that feeds you.
The award for best story essentially involves the raconteur discussing essentially having a monkey whom he shocks on his back. The rest of the story involves a form of trauma and drama that is typical of most gay friendships. The pattern is offense provided, offense taken, and then adequately forgiving to maintain the relationship but never forgetting.
The relate bigger picture is that this labor of love by Fisher helps ensure that this important aspect of gay history never will be forgotten.
A pink film-festival Q & A with Fisher is a highlight of the always special Breaking bonus features. This includes discussing the very apt genesis of the project.