The gay mecca and popular summer getaway Fire Island is known for its fun-in-the-sun debauchery, but over this past 4th of July weekend, the chaos was taken to a whole new level.
There was #ChickenFingerGate—in which one Pines-goer’s tale of a stolen chicken finger inadvertently made them the villain of the island—”Che Diaz” sightings, and even a gay-on-gay brawl outside the Canteen.
There was enough drama crammed into that 32-mile long island to make you think, “Hey, they should make a movie about this!”
Of course… they totally did. And, one year on, the rom-com Fire Island stands as the definitive pop culture ode to the magic and mayhem of the Pines.
But, credit where credit’s due: The 2022 feature wasn’t the first comedy to lovingly skewer the destination and its denizens—that would be “Fire Island Pines On $0 A Day,” a short film from comedian Randy Eisenberg, which premiered 20 years ago this summer.
Back in 2003, Eisenberg wrote, directed, and co-starred in the 10-minute short, which played at a number of queer film festivals. It follows the journey of a young gay man named Jonathan, who arrives to the Pines with little more than a day-bag, a dream, and a To-Do list.
As the title suggests, Jonathan is trying to get the full Fire Island experience for free, and the film finds a lot of humor in the way he effortlessly cons his way into a day of sun, sex, and fun.
For years, a low-quality upload of “Fire Island Pines On $0 A Day” has lived on Eisenberg’s YouTube channel, but last summer, amid all of the Fire Island buzz, he uploaded it in three-minute segments to his TikTok, @wayoldgay. Since it’s the short’s 20th anniversary, we figured there was no better time to re-share it!
Each segment comes with brief into and bit of commentary from Eisenberg himself. In the first section, he credits himself as “the person who invented the Fire Island comedy genre,” and promises to share the rest of the short if people are interested.
Here, we watch our protagonist, Jonathan, arrive to the Pines and immediately overhears two gays talking about a guy named Jim’s botched Botox procedure, meaning there’s an empty bed somewhere on the island. “Find place to stay”? CHECK!
@wayoldgay #fireisland #fireislandpines #cherrygrove #fireislandmovie #iinventedthat #gay #lgbtq #queer #shortfilm ♬ original sound – Randy Eisenberg
In Part 2, Jonathan arrives to the house Jim was meant to stay, easily conning his way into the group of friends—including a character played by Eisenberg, who hilariously talks exclusively in quotes from camp classics—and a free pair of sunglasses. CHECK!
@wayoldgay #fireisland #fireislandmovie #fireislandpines #cherrygrove #shortfilm #queercinema #gay #lgbtq #queer #pride2022 ♬ Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here (Dance Mix) – Deborah Cox
Then, Part 3 finds Jonathan accomplishing his easiest task yet: “Have sex.” CHECK! Check, check, check again. Slightly more difficult is getting groceries from the Pantry so his new housemates/sex partners for free, but our clever hero finds a way.
@wayoldgay #fireisland #fireislandmovie #fireislandpines #cherrygrove #shortfilm #queercinema #gay #lgbtq #pride #pride2022🏳️🌈 #gayhistory #queerhistory #throwback ♬ Body – Club 69 Future Mix – Funky Green Dogs
And, finally, in the thrilling conclusion, Jonathan has to find a way to get home without paying those pesky fares for the ferry and the train—which of course he does in the short’s biggest and darkest joke.
Twenty years on, “Fire Island Pines On $0 A Day” still feels like a fresh and biting riff on gay culture—a satire well worth a watch next time you have 10 minutes and need a laugh. Plus, if you’ve got a trip to the Pines coming up and don’t want to spend a fortune, maybe watch with a pen and paper so you can take some notes!
If you want to see more from Eisenberg, there’s plenty more of his past sketches on the YouTube channel, and he posts his frequent “semi-old and very gay and theoretically funny” musings on TikTok to the tune of 50k+ followers.