By Robert Levine
On May 31, 1959, fire destroyed the Botel, which was owned by Peggy Fears, an ex showgirl. John Whyte, a former billboard model, bought the property and rebuilt it. The new Botel became a worldwide destination for the gay and curious. Early on people from Broadway, Hollywood, and the fashion world bought houses here including Tommy Tune, David Baker, Joe Kipness, Lawrence Kasha, Peter Rogers, Stuart Ostrow, Sam Champion, Andrew Kirtzman, Calvin Klein, Paul Rudnick and others.
Frequent guests included Carol Channing, Betty Grable, Liliane Montevecchi, Dorothy Louden, David Geffen, Claudette Colbert, Carson Kressley, James Baldwin, Tammy Grimes, Truman Capote, Patricia Neal, Sue Willis, Leonard Frey, Alan Carr, Remark Ramsey, Tony Randall, Steve Ross, and many more.
Fundraisers in the ‘80s featured stars like Joan Rivers, Peter Alan, Melissa Manchester and Julie Wilson. More recently Billy Porter, Alan Cumming, Cher, Whoopi Goldberg and Joel Gray, among others, followed.
While strolling along the walk, you could often glimpse celebrities enjoying a drink or lunch near the Pines Harbor. Among them were Noel Coward, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Tennessee Williams, Sal Mineo, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Montgomery Clift, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Warren Beatty, Diahann Carroll, Katie Couric, Julia Roberts, Valerie Harper, Melba Moore, Gloria Gaynor, Egon von Fürstenberg, Larry Kramer, Paul Jabar and Angelo Donghia.
Fashion shows around the pool featured Giorgio St. Angelo, Bill Blass, Whittall and Shon, Michael Katz, Raymond Dragon, Michael Volbrecht, Halston, Diane von Fürstenberg and others. The polo shirt by Ralph Lauren and La Coste in so many colors was the uniform around the Pines back then.
Political figures have made appearances too: Howard Dean, Chuck Schumer, Steve Levy, Rick Lazio, Ginny Fields, Tammy Baldwin, and of course this summer Chasten Buttigieg (Pete’s husband) and Kirsten Gillibrand, as they campaign in the presidential race.
Gillibrand was in fact here just two weeks ago. She has visited over 10 times, perhaps more than any other U.S. Senator. A luncheon was held in her honor at the home of Joseph Conforti and Doug Jakubowski. She held an informal town hall meeting, and spoke eloquently as she answered questions from the audience.
I attended the Pines Conservation Society Go Native Tour, on Saturday, Aug. l0. A ferry took us from the Pines to Sailors Haven. At least 75 people attended. We split up into four groups. Ranger David Raymond conducted the tour for the group that I was in. We walked on the nature trail through the Sunken Forest and learned about the ecology of the trees and the wild plants that grow on Fire Island. Many in the group were brave enough to go into the bay and partake in seining. The nets caught lots of blue crabs, silverside fish, grass shrimp, and more. Thanks to Pines Conservation Society President Scott Ahlborn and Vice President John Krawchuk who organized the day. We look forward to next year’s tour.
• A Pines Pool Party with Task Force will be hosted by Todd Anderson and Tim Douglass, at Fire Island Boulevard, on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 2-5 p.m.
• Hal Rubenstein and David Nickle invite you to a fundraiser for GMHC, on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 5-7 p.m., at Shell Walk.
• “Tony’s Shorts,” directed and produced by Tony Impavido, a benefit for FIPAP, will be held at Whyte Hall, on Saturday, Aug. 17. Champagne and popcorn at 6:30 p.m., film at 7 p.m.
• The Human Rights Campaign will have their annual pool party at Beachcomber, on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 2-5 p.m. HRC Co-Chairs John C. Morrison lV and Chris Carola will be in attendance and the guest speaker will be Marty Rouse, senior advisor of HRC.
• A pool party for Immigration Equality will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24, hosted by Jon Tilli at Bay Walk. A VIP brunch will be from noon to 2 p.m., with a Stoli pool party following through 6 p.m. Discounted early bird tickets on sale at imeq.org/ liberation.
• Splash will have their annual pool party in support of Callen-Lorde, hosted by Gil Neary and friends at Bay Walk, on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 3-6 p.m.
• Shabbat in the Pines will be held Friday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m.. RSVP for location and tickets at 917-692-2041.
• FIPAP presents “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” at Whyte Hall, on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 1, at 6 and 9 p.m. Tickets at fipap.org and at the table in the harbor.
• Pines Conservation Society will hold their third annual benefit at Whyte Hall, honoring Billy Carrol, on Sunday, Sept. 1, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., with brunch and silent auction. Tickets again available at table in harbor.
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