Hello Chicago/Adieu Fire Island Pines!

By Will Seagers



Hi folks! Will here. Today's excursion back into my past deals with a mishap that turned into a very fun experience. Getting to know Chicago!

The year was 1978 and it was my last of three consecutive years working for the world-famous model John Whyte and his Boatel in The Pines on Fire Island, N.Y.


Ad for John Whyte's Boatel


For all three years, I drove cross country from San Francisco to Bayville, Long Island, N.Y. where I parked my vehicles in the Fire Island Pines Ferry parking lot. As most of you know there are no personal vehicles on most of Fire Island.

I loved the long drives. Once I passed Grass Valley, Ca. on my east bound I-80 trek, I entered a zone." The whole driving experience became more relaxed and my mind drifted into many exotic places. I usually allowed about three days for the trip. Meals and rest stops were a must in order to keep it from being too laborious.

This last trip, I drove a recently acquired Peugeot 504. To tell the truth, I don't remember the exact year. Although it was lacking in power with its very modest four cylinder, it made up for it with a spectacularly smooth ride! Going through the Continental Divide was a bit challenging. But, when I hit the flat and extensive plains, it was smooth sailing. True to plans, I arrived in N.Y. in just over three days. I was excited to be back on "The Island!"


Blue Peugeot 504

A Peugeot 504


John Whyte had surprised me with a call early in 1978 and asked me if I had a lifeguard's license. I didn't. But I quickly acquired one at a San Francisco YMCA. That set the stage for a very different summer working on The Island. Along with watching over the safety of the Boatel guests at the pool, I had a new and very cute bar to tend. Piña Coladas and daiquiris of all flavors were to be made by yours truly! But, that wasn't all. Adjacent to the pool was the "Cultured Elephant," one of John Whyte's restaurants just down from the Boatel. The rear of this restaurant opened to my pool area. So, slinging drinks as well as food was once again part of my job description. Now, add just one more thing. A gym! It seemed that someone had given Mr. Whyte a huge assortment of free weights and left them under the tent that connected the Cultured Elephant to the pool. I really loved setting up Will's Gym! I think between lifting and swimming, I was in the best shape of my life! And, I loved hosting the boys who came to work out, as well!


Boatel full view
John Whyte's Boatel and Blue Whale Bar & Restaurant, home of the original tea dance
Will slinging drinks & food in The Pines (L); A Boatel view of its pool, bar & gym (R)
Will slinging drinks & food in The Pines (L); a Boatel view of its pool, bar & gym (R)
Will modeling photo from Fire Island

Will from a photo shoot on Fire Island


Getting to the point (or should I say title). One of my pool/gym guests was a very well built and handsome gent from Chicago named Bob. He was dark and swarthy. And, judging by his last name... Italian! We played around several times and I was extended an invitation to visit him in Chicago on my drive home at the end of the season. Yippie! He was so hot and I had never been to Chicago.

Well, the season had been pretty eventful with all of my work duties. But, I was also invited to take part in the yearly Fire Island Pines Fashion Show, which was held poolside... my poolside! I was pleased and proud to be a part of it. I modeled swimwear. I was naughty and did not follow the script. At the end of my walk down the runway (which was artfully suspended above the pool), I shed my bathing suit and gracefully dived into the pool. Gasps and squeals of laughter followed... except for Mr. Whyte... he was pissed! Oh well, I was just putting my best foot forward!

Late in the season during the Full Moon in August was my "swan song" with working on Fire Island. Fire Island was frequented by straights from local towns in Long Island, especially on the weekends. They could be rowdy and sometime altercations happened. It was after my work was over and I was having some tequila with co-workers at the bar of The Cultured Elephant. Out of nowhere, a fight broke out and one of my friends was being attacked. I am not normally a fighter. But with my friend and the restaurant in danger, I jumped right in the middle of it, and to my surprise I bodily threw out the culprits. Moments later, Mr. Whyte showed up to see what had happened. For some reason, he tried to pin the ruckus on me... I guess my tequila was showing. I became incensed and said, "Did you know that I just saved your restaurant and staff member from injury?" After which I expelled, "Son of a Bitch!" (This was just my anger and it was not directed at him.) However, he arose and commanded me, "Leave my premises!"

The next day, I returned to the pool (with a bit of a hangover!). The fellow who ran The Cultured Elephant came to me and asked, "Didn't you know that you got fired last night?" I was flummoxed. I didn't remember that happening. Balls to the walls, I walked right down to Mr. Whyte's palatial beach house and requested to speak with him. At first, he wouldn't. Then I asked him why he fired me. He told me that I called him a Son of a Bitch. I quickly told him that I did not aim that at him but at the situation at hand. After a moment, he relented and said I could finish the season (two more weeks). 1979 came around and I did not offer my services nor did he invite me back. End of an era!

One of the things that I did during the summer was to have the engine rebuilt in my Peugeot... BAD IDEA! I had nothing but problems with the car afterwards. It stalled in the Mid-Town Tunnel (Manhattan). And, on my way to see my folks on the Jersey Shore, it broke down once again. I was scared to death about taking it back cross country!

From N.J., I headed straight to Chicago to visit my Italo-Stallion, Bob. The drive there was deceptively uneventful... just the way I wanted it. I got into town and met up with Bob. The sparks flew and we both had a good time. He showed me around town for my (intended) weekend stay. At the end of this fun-packed weekend, I headed west bound out of town on the interstate. It was only 60 miles outside of Chicago when I saw smoke coming out of the back of the car and the engine seized! I freaked out. It took a while to get a service truck out there. I was more anxious when they looked at my car and said, "Oh, we can get this 'Porsche' running in no time!” My heart sank as I told them it was a Peugeot, not a Porsche! This part of the country didn't get to see many Peugeots I guess. When the repair truck people realized what it was, they decided to bring it back to Chicago to a dealer that was more familiar with the vehicle.

Meanwhile, I phoned Bob and told him what had happened. He welcomed me back to his place where I could launch some kind of rescue plan. But, it was then that he told me he had a relationship and he spent most of his nights with his other half. I said that I would be as unobtrusive as possible. The next day was Monday and I needed to contact local mechanics to see what I could do. That turned into a multi-day task.

Fate struck in two favorable ways. One, I got to meet Bob's other half. When I met him, I instantly recognized him. We had met several years ago in Phoenix. He was a very good looking guy, too! Although we had never had the chance to "get together," we certainly made up for it in Chicago. Bob was a teacher and was already back to work by the time I visited. His other half was a concert pianist and had a totally different schedule. We took advantage of this schedule several times that week. I don't think Bob picked up on what was going on (even though I was walking a little funny! Lol.)

Fate struck the second time. Not wanting to crowd anyone's lifestyle, I went on my own to explore what Northhalstead - otherwise known as "Boystown," the gay village of Chicago - had to offer. Right away, I met a very handsome doctor who lived in a beautiful brownstone in that area. I wound up spending most of the rest of the week there. Although great hosts, Bob (and his partner) seemed to be relieved at my transition. My doctor friend was into some of the kinkiest sex that I have ever had!


Chicago skyline and Boystown signage/view

Chicago skyline (L); Boystown signage/view (R)


So, toward the end of the week I got a dreadful call from the mechanics telling me that the engine had to be replaced. Not only would that have taken more than a week, I didn't want to spend the money. I called United Airlines and made reservations to come home to San Francisco. This was was more inconvenient than just writing off a car... I had the car packed to the hilt with all sorts of stuff that I had acquired from Fire Island and NYC. I based the booking of my flight on the extra day it would take to box up all of this stuff.

Being 45 years ago, I am a little fuzzy about who picked me up at the San Francisco Airport and with what kind of large vehicle for all of my treasures. I was grateful for the ride but devastated when I discovered most of the terra cotta plant pottery from the flower shop in The Pines was shattered during the flight. Nonetheless, I was finally home and grateful to be there. No more of the glamorous bi-coastal living for me! End of an Era!


Bio of Will Seagers:

Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted careers and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model, film performer, and DJ, just to name a few. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.

Will Seagers, present day image


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1
The Wheels of Steel
Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s
An Alphabet Soup of Powders and Pills
Merry Christmas (and Getting Re-Organized)
Now and Then
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: "Just Another Stroll Down the Castro!"
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Hamburger Mary's
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Long Live the Stud!
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Club Life..."Hit me with your Rhythm Stick!”
A "Split Ticket" - SoMa/Folsom and The Haight!
Back to Basics: "Staying Vanilla in a Flavorful Culture!"
A Little Secret
"I love a Parade!" Recollections of the 1977 S.F. Gay Pride Parade
Pics, Pics & More Pics... Life's a Beach
Flora & Fauna - the Flora part anyway!
Once Is Just Not Enough!
A Love of Cultures – A Knack for Languages!
"For the Birds": My Lifetime With Feathered Friends!
"It's About Time!" My Love Affair With Clocks & Fine Watches
The Perfect Storm


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