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‘Fire Island’ sequel? Judy Garland shrine at Stonewall? The Pride tea has arrived!

Joel Kim Booster
Photo Credit: Jeong Park / Searchlight Pictures

Meeting Joel Kim Booster — the queer, Korean American actor/comic who wrote, produced and stars in Hulu’s Fire Islandat a Saks Fifth Avenue Pride event, I was seized by cliché and immediately asked if there would be a sequel.

“The studio is very happy with the response, and there is a demand for it,” Booster told me, “but I’m not sure. If the idea came, I’d jump at the chance to work with this cast and [director] Andrew Ahn again, but also, I don’t want to force it. Some sequels are great, but others aren’t, and I don’t want to be in that pantheon.”

“I agree,” I deadpanned. “I mean, Basic Instinct 2 is amazing, but The Godfather II is terrible!”

He laughed and was about to name a sequel he thinks is stinky-poo-poo, then stopped and muttered, “I don’t want to say it.”

“OK, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous, right?” I chimed in.

“Aaaanyway, what are you giving up for Pride month?” I wondered intently.

“Giving up?” Booster asked.

“Yeah, “I said. “Isn’t it sort of like Lent?”

“Well,” the funny man gamely replied, “I’m giving up a lot of sleep and a lot of water. I’m dropping a lot of water weight. Dehydrated is the way you look good in anything! My secret was not drinking any water all during shooting and being a gigantic bitch the whole time.”

And people understood? “Yes!” he explained, so I toasted him with an empty glass and feigned a look of terror.

And then Booster took the stage to make jokes about being in love with a guy — “The only problem is he’s white.”

And drag queens like MC Yuhua Hamasaki and the multi-talented Jan Sport scored [They filled in for Kornbread Jete, who couldn’t make it because her flight was apparently lacking a pilot], and I loved when Yuhua asked the ASL signer to sign Lil’ Kim’s “Wanna Lick,” and he lustily did so, to audience cheers.

Way up high

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this!” I joked to Lorna Luft and her husband, musician Colin Freeman, at the Saks event, having reconnected with them the night before, upstairs at the Stonewall. There, Lorna unveiled a gorgeous photo of her late mama, Judy Garland, that will be permanently on display at the legendary bar, and then Rufus Wainwright sang a thrilling “Over The Rainbow.”

Related: Rufus Wainwright’s Judy Garland tribute takes audiences over the rainbow

Michael Musto, Lorna Luft
Michael Musto and Lorna Luft. Photo by Matthew Rettenmund

“I’m honored to be here,” Lorna told the crowd, “not only for what it represents but for what it will go on to teach.” About her mother, she divulged: “The one thing people don’t know is that she prided herself not only as a parent but as a human being, on her sense of being inclusive. She was inclusive with her audiences, her family, everyone.”

Well, fortunately, Lorna included me in a private talk, thanking me for my support all these years and even introducing me to her “gay-gent.” Lorna told me she and Rufus had turned the switch that morning to make the Empire State Building all rainbow-colored, and the lights would go into effect three days later, for Judy’s 100th birthday. “It’s all over the internet,” Lorna exulted.

“Everything about Judy is related to Pride month,” I gurgled, “from her birthday to her dying day. And it all started here! The modern queer movement started at Stonewall!” It was almost as if I was narrating a documentary without being asked.

Adding to the specialness of the event, we were all handed a sample of the Judy perfume that Lorna and brother Joey Luft are behind. “I always wanted to smell like Judy Garland!” I exclaimed deliriously.

“I worked so hard on it,” said Lorna. “We wanted to make it unisex, so we avoided it going one way or the other.” Well, it’s homey and woodsy and as aromatic as where bluebirds fly. And then they started handing out pieces of “Happy 100th Birthday, Judy” rainbow cake, complete with ornamental ruby slippers and rainbow. It was all too much.

Judy Garland birthday cake
A cake celebrating Judy Garland’s 100th birthday. Photo by Michael Musto

I was going to fly over the rainbow and head back home, but outside the Stonewall, things were getting activist again, just like in June of 1969. There was a heated rally that was purposely timed to coincide with Mayor Eric Adams’ Pride Month gala at Gracie Mansion. These protestors had no intention of going to that. Instead, they were denouncing Adams for appointing people with horribly homophobic histories to positions in City Hall. The assembled were also demanding an apology from SRG (Strategic Response Group), a supposedly anti-terrorism police group that seems to have run astray from its mission and has become actively abusive to Queer Liberation Marchers. Hearing the fiery speeches reminded me of why I love the queer spirit, all while the newly mounted photo of Judy looked over it all again. Surreal!

Get this, b*tches
Moving on to a world without cake: Vogue editor Anna Wintour recently went with associates to the long-running Vietnamese restaurant Indochine in downtown Manhattan. Afterward, Anna graciously wrote the manager a thank-you note for the nice service and specified, “The food was fantastic.” Well, I found out just what she had eaten—a bowl of sticky rice and some water! Oh, well. At least, unlike some queer comics, she drinks water.