Reality Show Planned for Fire Island Pines
Are we experiencing a Fire Island Pines moment? First, there was an amazingly funny pilot for a TV series. Then there was the musical, "Little House on the Ferry," which has been playing off-Broadway and featuring hot porn "daddy" Colton Ford. This week, there was the devastating fire that destroyed much of the downtown harbor commercial area, including its main nightclub and main bar.
Now, we have a reality TV series set to take place in the world-famous gay beach resort community next summer. EDGE spoke to Vinnie Potestivo, who heads his own reality-casting agency in New York City, about the project.
Potestivo himself is a veteran of a few seasons on the island, so he knows the ins and outs of a share house. The producing company on the show is World of Wonder, which is as close to a blue-chip gay-oriented reality TV production company as exists. it is responsible for "Being Chaz," "Tori & Dean: Inn Love," and Logo’s break-out hit, "RuPaul’s Drag Race," among others.
Potestivo has cast some of those shows and many more. He says he is particularly excited about this one, because he wants to show a positive image of gay men, one that is, as he puts it, "non-exploitative."
He calls the upcoming show a "reality comedy," and contrasts it with the "you can’t stop watching train wreck" vitality of the Logo’s controversial "A List" shows in New York and now Dallas. "I want a group of guys full of laughter," Potestivo says, "a summer of fun." If you want a sample of the kind of guys he’s looking for, check out this video:
"A day in the life of thoseguys having fun." That’s how he envisions this show. "That’s what we don’t see enough of on TV now."
People are telling him to type according to, well, gay typecasting: You know, the butch one; the femmy one; the ultra-queeny one; the bitchy, sarcastic one. But Potestivo is "much more concerned finding guys who enjoy the beach and have fun during the summer. It will not be based on cat fights."
This will certainly be a change from the last reality TV series set in a share house in Fire Island Pines. As the central character in that show, EDGE columnist Vincent Pelligrino has just written a column on that experience, which aired on Bravo in the ’90s and ’00s. From his unique perspective, Pelligrino chastises gay reality shows for their skewed view of gay life.
What has been interesting has been seeing the videos arrive. Potestivo is inviting people to send video reels. More information is on the website. Many of the videos are of the typical reality series variety: drama queens.
No, he insists. This will not be a gay version of "Jersey Shore." No drunks. No drug addicts. No sexaholics. "Beautiful men, comfortable in their own sexuality," he says. "No in-fighting, no stealing boyfriends. We’re looking for people who like to have fun, not the jaded druggie."
Even so, he concedes, the show "still has to be interesting to watch. My job is to make compelling stories. There has to be a reason for people to tune in. It’s a real challenge to find people who are just out to have a great time and have fun," as opposed to fame whores who see reality TV as means toward their own Warholian 15 minutes.
Plot points may be built around a surprise birthday party, a beach dinner, bringing someone new to the island and introducing him around the house.
So what should you put in the video? "Tell why you should go to Fire Island," he says. "How do you interact with other people?"
You don’t even have to be male or gay. Potestivo says the show may well incorporate a woman (and no one loves their fag hags like the Fire Island boys!). And this writer can testify that he has known a few stag hags who have summered in the Pines and had a great time; after all, there are all those gorgeous fag hags, and for the guys, it’s a buyer’s market.
If you live in or around New York, there will be an open casting call (known as a "cattle call" in the theater industry) on Saturday, Nov. 19, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at Bar-tini, the gem of a bar on 10th Avenue between West 45th and West 46th Streets.
Oh, and while you should be young (no age specified), you don’t have to be smooth, thin, tall or any other stereotype of the "Pines boy." And Potestivo assures me that the show will indeed go on, like the town itself, despite the fire that tore the heart out of the commercial area.