Alexandra Akira. 1986 What it feels like for a girl…
Arriving on Fire Island at fourteen years old, she would soon call this magical wonderland her second home. A love affair with Fire Island that she carries to this day. The journey began while traveling out to Long Island from her home in Connecticut as a groupie for the rock band Twisted Sister as love of music is part of her story.
Her brother was a drum student of Buddy Rich and knew the manager of Twisted Sister. One night after the shows and spending the night sleeping on Jones Beach, they all made their way to Bay Shore and the FI Ferries. It was 8a.m., and they found a surf shop open on Montauk Highway where they purchased bathing suits and all the beach accouterments and boarded the ferry. They ended up in Kismet where she felt the pull of Fire Island. Years later and several seasons spent on the Island, she moved to California to work as a petite model for Elite. She was asked to head back east to work in New York, and then left for Japan. A year later she’s back in New York where she cultivated a great group of friends. They invited her out once again to Fire Island’s Ocean Beach where she was lucky enough to explore all the communities via a few truck rides on the beach by a local contractor.
She later met the owner of most of the restaurants and clubs in Ocean Beach who asked her to work and help manage some of his establishments that lasted several seasons. In the meantime she grew her portfolio and went on go sees. At the end of the 1986 OB season she found her way to the Pines with her new group of friends. They arrived at the Boatel Tea Dance, and like many of the patrons, they all migrated through tradition to the Pavilion High Tea. She immediately felt connected to the place and people. She went to the Pavilion that evening as well, danced the night away, and as David Bowies ” This is Not America ” played by DJ Warren Gluck closed the evening, she exited with delight, and knew then this was where she needed to be. She had also connected with a bartender named Morgan Carey, who happened to be Mariah Carey’s brother. After a romp on the beach he took her back to the house he shared with (RIP)Rick VanDevere, Michael Dolan, Dale Strauss, and Liz Connor.
Liz Connor was a straight woman who lived there with her husband Lou. Liz disapproved of a slightly disheveled Alexandra and ordered her out. Not realizing that there were no water Taxi’s to take her back to Ocean Beach, she took the long walk back. After the season and back in New York she worked at Club A as a bartender where her friend Peter Bradley asked her about plans for the coming summer. He advised her to go to the new restaurant called “Café Pacifico” owned by Pines hostess Gloria DeMann . Gloria and her husband Larry threw lavish parties in their home on the bay called “Reflections.” From “Hooray for Hollywood” to “Carnival in Rio” the parties are part of Pines History. Rumor had it that Gloria was taking over ownership of the Pavilion in the Pines and looking for help.
There had never been a girl bartender at the Pavilion in the Pines at that point. The meeting went well and she was hired, however a call a week later told her things had not gone the way she had thought. Gloria advised Alexandra to call someone named Bob Howard who would be taking over the lease of the Pavilion. She called him and the next day arrived in the Pines decked in black tights, leopard print boots, bolero jacket, and cowboy hat. After shaking hands she was told she had the job…
She began at start of the 1987 season in April. She knew nothing of the goings on. Only what she had seen on her short trips the previous seasons. She was put in what was called the garage bar upstairs on the left. The uniform of the day then was a white polo with khaki shorts. Many did a double take as there was never a girl bartender. The first couple who approached her were named Alberto Mederos and his partner Gene Eagles (RIP). She was told they were good friends with Bob Howard, and if he thinks you should be here then we do. It was an instant friendship that lasted through the years. Then one by one they all joined in friendship as she became the girl…
Soon the white polo and khaki shorts were replaced with Liza Bruce workout wear as Alexandra made her name among the locals. She was soon moved to the main bar where she was a hit with the boys of the Pines.
She was a good bartender always remembering the drink and the name to go with it.
She became part of the community invited to all the parties.
She soon was the girl who became one of the boys. Even donning their Calvin Klein underwear and making it her own. Because nothing came between her and her Calvin’s…
Photo by Roxayne Daraio
Soon the AIDS crisis was being felt in the Pines. Being so close to the community Alexandra saw many disappear. She got involved volunteering at the GMHC Morning Party.
Her notoriety transferred to the NY club scene as she became the only female bartender at the Saint.
Feeling blessed to be working in a community she loved, she decided to capture it on film in a time where there were no cell phone camera’s. She was a straight girl in a gay community where it was never a thought for her, as the acceptance was a given. Her memories go deep as many of the friends she made during those working seasons are still in her circle today.
Today she lives in New York City and has a 20-year-old daughter Gabriella. Alexandra has dedicated the rest of her life work to all social justice related issues with a large focus on Clean Water, Oceans Sustainability, Healthy Communities including eradication of HIV/Aids and all Vector Borne Disease, and Gender Equality while leaving no one behind, and enjoys working with the United Nations on fostering Public Private Partnerships to further advance the Implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Fire Island will always be her second home and cherishes her relationship with “The Beach” and her friends that have become her second family.