Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



TV Writer Joel Kim Booster, director Andrew Ahn take a trip to 'Fire Island'
by Jerry Nunn

This article shared 2051 times since Sun May 15, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Based on the classic Jane Austen book Pride and Prejudice, the new Fox Searchlight film Fire Island has an important story to tell LGBTQ+ audiences specifically. In that story, there are plenty of laughs along the way, thanks to the hilarious and poignant script written by Joel Kim Booster that's about a gay cultural divide.

Out and proud stars are connected to the project including Booster himself, Saturday Night Live's Bowen Yang and comedian Margaret Cho. The storyline is set in the Pines of Long Island, New York, on Fire Island, a popular resort destination for the gay community.

The plot follows an eclectic group of friends staying at the home of lesbian owner Erin (Cho) while relaxing in a party atmosphere away from their usual lives. Looking for love while navigating friendships is a challenge for anyone, and that is depicted in the flamboyant adventure.

Booster has written for LGBTQ+ shows such as Billy on the Street, Big Mouth and The Other Two. His acting includes a previous history with Hulu, the company that will stream Fire Island, with the series Shrill.

Andrew Ahn is an openly gay Korean American director who has brought audiences the films Steam Room and Driveways in the past; he now directs Fire Island.

Booster mentioned on the microphone before Fire Island's first public screening at Landmark Century Centre Cinema on May 9 about how proud he was to return as an Illinois native to promote the movie. The early screening was followed by a festive party at Virgin Hotel's Cerise Rooftop that same night.

Booster and Ahn discussed their new endeavor together at the hotel the following day.

Windy City Times: Joel, can you talk about the writing process and creation of Fire Island?

Joel Kim Booster: I brought Pride and Prejudice to read on my first summer going to Fire Island with Bowen. While reading that book on that island the parallels really struck me of what Jane Austen wrote about class and my own experience in the artificial class system that gay men have created for themselves, which is really brought to the fore in a place like Fire Island.

It started as a joke. I didn't think I would ever write a gay version of Pride and Prejudice set on Fire Island, but every year subsequently I would bring a different Jane Austen book to read on the beach and it became clear what the story would be.

WCT: Was this also an opportunity to produce your own representation instead of waiting for Hollywood to come along and do it for you?

JKB: That was a big reason that I wanted to write the movie as well.

Conventional wisdom might say that Bowen and I go in for the same parts but would never be in a movie together. That was frustrating for us coming up in the business and also now in our current careers. I decided to do it myself.

As much as Bowen and I check some of the same demographic boxes, we are very different. There is a huge range between us. It was important for us to show that.

WCT: How was Hulu to work with as far as depicting some of the graphic sex scenes in Fire Island?

Andrew Ahn: I tell Joel all the time that I can't believe he bamboozled Searchlight into green lighting this movie! Even in 2016 after making Spa Night with a gay Asian protagonist I still don't know how that would get made in a major studio system.

This felt really significant and special as an opportunity. I asked Joel exactly how explicit this movie would be and we both wanted to show the sex on Fire Island. That part of the story shouldn't be sanitized or shied away from.

We talked with producers and executives about how much we could show. I did ask them about penises but instead, they told me I could have as many butts as I wanted, so I said, "I'll take it!"

WCT: Andrew, your film Driveways was one of my favorites that year. How has the progression from that film to this current film been?

AA: Thank you. I think filmmakers like Ang Lee or Todd Haynes have had careers I would really like to one day have. They work in different genres and explore different themes but at the heart of it, they have a real sense of humanity. They make high-quality films and that is what I hope to do in my career. I want to explore different things and grow as a filmmaker and as a human being.

One of the reasons that I wanted to make this movie was because I wanted to go to Fire Island and have the opportunity to do that. This is my version of Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, but gay and set on Fire Island.

WCT: The HIV prevention drug PrEP is casually mentioned a few times in the movie. Did you feel like you had to explain to the audience what PrEP actually is?

JKB: No. It is woven into the fabric of my life like so much of this movie. I didn't even think about the fact that PrEP has probably not been mentioned in many movies before this.

It is just a reality of my sex life and the sex lives of most of my friends. It came from an honest place and was organic at the moment. I am glad we didn't have to explain it. The people on the island know what it is so we didn't have dialogue such as, "PrEP, you know the thing you take every day to not catch HIV…"

For a certain audience, it is going to feel very authentic and although some audience members might not know what PrEP is, they can look it up and find out about it.

WCT: I didn't see a lot of content in Fire Island for straight audiences, but thought maybe I have been conditioned to feel that way. Our community definitely deserves to have more gay movies.

JKB: Yes, this is one thing that can be just for us! It is true. We weren't really concerned about teaching straight audiences about gay culture. Thematically there is so much in there that is universal with friendship, love and family. For example, I have never been to Mordor, but I still like Lord of the Rings. There are things to connect to no matter what. People will be able to key into this no matter what their background because we all have a group of friends like this and we all love to have fun!

WCT: How was tackling the subject of the division of the gay community within itself on Fire Island? Joel, your comedy background makes the jokes easy but the drama must have been challenging for you to write.

JKB: That part is really going to surprise a lot of people. People will turn to this movie thinking it will be a fun romp, but so much of it is ripped from the headlines of my life such as my friendship with Bowen and the things we have experienced on that island. Walking into a party and being mistreated has happened to me personally on Fire Island. It was really traumatic and damaging.

I wanted to honor the breadth of experience that Asian gay men face in this community. It wouldn't have felt like an honest movie if I hadn't tackled those things. If I am going to title a movie Fire Island then it has to be a 360-degree view of it.

WCT: Did you consider making the friend group all Asians?

JKB: Only Bowen and I had our races delineated in the script. For the other characters, we saw actors of every race. It fell into place that Margaret Cho and Conrad Ricamora were cast that it became a more heavily depicted Asian movie.

If we saw people with the right chemistry there could have been a version with an all-Asian cast, but I am glad it worked out the way it did. We got a little bit of everything in the movie.

WCT: How long have you known Bowen?

JKB: I have known Bowen for close to a decade. I met him for the first time when I moved to New York close to 2015. We have been close ever since we had an immediate connection with not a lot of us being in the industry. There are more now, but we really bonded back then.

WCT: Joel, we judged a singing contest together for Windy City Gay Idol at Spin Nightclub many years ago and I remember you being smaller. When did you bulk up with muscles?

JKB: [laughs] Honestly, I went through a very bad breakup in the past and that pushed me to start taking yoga. It grew from there. Going to the gym is a meditative experience for me.

WCT: What does the tattoo on your shoulder signify?

JKB: It is a Jane Austen quote from Mansfield Park and is also an anal sex joke. There is some disagreement on if she knew what she was doing when she made the reference or not. "Of rears and vices, I saw enough" is from a character talking about the navy and seeing guys fuck each other in the ass. It shows the range she has as a writer!

WCT: For the sequel of Fire Island are you planning on going to Provincetown or Palm Springs?

JKB: It will either be an anthology of gay locations or it will be similar to Sex and the City's And Just Like That… where we come back in 20 years. Hopefully, Bowen won't be the Kim Cattrall hold out and will come back for it!

WCT: What are you both working on next?

JKB: My Netflix special Psychosexual is coming on June 21 and I am hosting another Netflix gay comedy special called Stand Out that comes out June 14. I am on a new Apple TV+ series called Loot with Maya Rudolph that comes out June 24.

That is my June. I will be sleeping for three months straight after that!

AA: I have nothing that I can talk about yet, but a lot of cool stuff!

WCT: How is everyone celebrating Pride this year? Sounds like you are really busy, Joel.

JKB: I will be in San Francisco with my boyfriend for Pride.

AA: I will be traveling with the movie. I am excited for Provincetown and I am super-psyched for the screening in San Francisco. The press for this will be fun because it is a celebration.

Fire Island turns up the heat on the streaming service Hulu on Friday, June 3.

This article shared 2051 times since Sun May 15, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

SAG-AFTRA and WGA join GLAAD in releasing Studio 11th Responsibility Index 2023-09-14
--From a press release - Hollywood—Sept. 14, 2023 — GLAAD released its annual Studio Responsibility Index in a joint press event in Hollywood alongside the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio ...

Gay News

Dykes to Watch Out For Audible series returns listeners to the '80s 2023-09-08
By Ro White - From 1983-2008, Alison Bechdel's comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For captured the drama and hilarity of lesbian life. Now it's been adapted into an Audible Original series that draws parallels between the queer past and ...

Gay News

Billy Masters: Billy unlocks the DaVinci Code 2023-09-04
- "Mmmkay! And I'm 110lbs and a virgin! I'm not a scale or a doctor but I have spent some time beneath 215 lb. men and Tiny was not one of them." —Stormy Daniels' Tweet about the alleged weight of the former president. ...

Gay News

Matthew Shepard film to be shown ahead of 25th anniversary of his death 2023-09-01
- Ahead of the 25th anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death, a new two-hour documentary has been announced to honor the posthumous impact made by the gay college student who died after being abducted, beaten and left for ...

Gay News

Chicagoans remember Selena at downtown tribute concert 2023-08-29
- Despite a two-day heat wave topping 100 degrees, a near SRO crowd attended the second annual Selena tribute concert at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park on Aug. 24. The event, which was sponsored by the ...

Gay News

Bisexual ex-'Bachelorette' contestant: Hacker posted false death report 2023-08-29
- Josh Seiter, a former contestant on ABC's "The Bachelorette," posted a video on Aug. 29 saying reports of his death were due to someone hacking his Instagram account, according to NBC News and TMZ, among others. ...

Gay News

'A League of Their Own' cancelled; second season not filming 2023-08-19
- Prime Video is not moving forward with the previously ordered second and final season of comedy-drama A League of Their Own, which is about a WWII-era women's professional baseball team, according to Deadline. The show's fate ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Scream,' 'Paris Is Burning,' Shea Coulee, Noah Schnapp, Broadway 2023-08-11
- Gay film director Christopher Landon—who's helmed Happy Death Day and Freaky—will take the reins of the next Scream movie, Out noted. While Landon usually also writes the projects he directs, it is not known if he ...

Gay News

Wayne Brady comes out as pansexual 2023-08-08
- Actor/singer/game-show host Wayne Brady has opened up about his sexuality, according to a Deadline item that cited People Magazine. "I am pansexual," Brady told People. "Bisexual—with an open mind." The entertainer said he had been researching ...

Gay News

Sami White rules as king on Worst Cooks 2023-08-05
- Sami White is taking a whisk by competing on season 26 of Food Network's Worst Cooks in America and hopefully, it all pays off. She goes out of the frying pan and into the fire while navigating the new theme of ...

Gay News

Controversial comedian Chappelle coming to Chicago 2023-07-26
- Controversial comedian Dave Chappelle is embarking on a summer/fall tour that will include stops in NYC, New Orleans, Nashville and Chicago, among other cities, per NBC Chicago. Chicago will be the last stop, with an Oct. ...

Gay News

Darius Caffey offers a seat at The Table On Air 2023-07-24
- Darius Caffey is making moves at Chicago Access Network Television with a new program titled The Table On Air. He's the host of the show focusing on the work and accomplishments of Black LGBTQ+ members of ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Nonbinary icons, country music, gay films, queer rapper 2023-07-21
- The Advocate unveiled its list of 13 nonbinary icons people should know. They include actor Bella Ramsey, singer/actor Janelle Monae (who shared that they identify as nonbinary during an interview on Jada Pinkett Smith's Red Table ...

Gay News

Opinion: Artificial Intelligence and the Hollywood strikes, and why you should care 2023-07-20
- The two primary issues in the Writers Guild and SAG/AFTRA strikes are streaming and artificial intelligence. In my judgement, the AI issue, in the long term, is the fundamental issue. But, let me begin with streaming. ...

Gay News

A Transparent Musical debuts at LA's Mark Taper Forum, first Amazon original series on stage 2023-07-11
--From a press release - CULVER CITY, California—July 10, 2023—For the first time, Amazon Studios has debuted an original series on stage with A Transparent Musical. The musical began performances at Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles ahead of Pride Month ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.