Photos by Matthew Leifheit. For more of Matthew's photos of Fire Island, check out Mitchell Sunderland's travel essay about their trip.
Like an aging drag queen staring at twinks from the corner of a bar, the Belvedere Guest House for Men stands at the edge of Cherry Grove, one of two popular gay beaches on Fire Island. Set designer John Eberhardt built the clothing-optional luxury hotel out of old sets and items from the Mae West and Astor estates, according to his successor, Craig Eberhardt.
The late set designer decorated room around a theme, like "baroque" or music." Inside, beautiful paintings and ornate antiques clash with tacky set decorations, a perfect symbol for the way the lifestyles of gay men who mix high-class values (nights at the opera, expensive vacations, fashion magazine subscriptions) with crass low culture (pop music, fast food, messy anal sex).
When VICE photo editor Matthew Leifheit and I stayed at the hotel for a travel story, we noticed stunning old paintings, photos, and statues of young men adorning the Belvedere's walls. Here are our favorite pictures of the men of the glorious gay hotel.