Once On This Island
By Tim Murphy
More than 25 years later, Bianchi showed the Fire Island images to Rich Young, who owns Palm Springs� Exposure Gallery. Thirty of the 1970s images now hang at the gallery in an ongoing exhibit, and more are at ExposuReps.com. Bianchi says he�s back in talks to have the images collected in a book. He lost touch with many of the men in the pictures but estimates that more than half of them have since died of AIDS.
�I remember sitting down with a friend on the beach,� he recalls. �He said, �My three best friends are dying right now. I can�t take it.� � Bianchi erupts into sobs. �He didn�t make it either. The sun was shining, and you�d walk by a house where all six people had died the previous winter. I kept a prayer list, but when I got to 200 I had to stop.�
Yet when he looks at the images now, they don�t sadden him but elate him. �I can�t help but be captivated by the sense of joy that�s so evident,� he says. �That�s what Fire Island was then -- a fabulous party that nurtured us and sent us back out into the world as happier men. It�s very important for me to tell this story.�