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"Pines '79" - Revisiting a Play Depicting Carefree Days Before AIDS




Recently, my friend Andy loaned me a paperback he bought on Amazon titled Pines '79.  Actually, it's a bound script and stage notes from the off-Broadway play that opened at Actor's Playhouse in the West Village in 1981.  Set in the Pines, it takes place over four weekends during the summer of 1979.  The comedy's main characters are five gay men sharing one house and an older, straight female friend who lives in another.  It touches upon drugs, disco, sex, relationships, fear of intimacy and the freedom found on Fire Island.  Lightweight and angst free, it's light years away from the self-loathing tone of Boys in the Band.




Prominent play is given to the Meat Rack, the Sandpiper disco (pictured, above), disco naps and "Beach '79" - the first dance party held on the beach, featuring 16-year-old France Joli.  There's no deep talk about politics, just decadence.  Disco songs such as Ring My Bell, the Village People's Fire Island and Don't You Want My Love are featured.  Unfortunately, the last act devolves into slapstick with the appearance of an oafish hustler and a clingy trick.  


Because Pines '79 is such a period piece it would probably be of interest only to those who experienced this way of life.  It would have been interesting if sequels were staged that followed the housemates over subsequent summers.  I wonder if any of the characters would have survived the onset of AIDS?  Alas, the playwright Terry Miller (not to be confused with Dan Savage's husband, who has the same name) succumbed in 1995 at the age of 47.  Miller also authored the book Greenwich Village and How it Got That Way, which was published in 1990.







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