08/28/2014 11:57 am ET

three’s company

“EVERYONE IS COMING UP with a creative excuse to hang out and make art on Fire Island,” artist Lee Maida told me as we watched the tide roll in.

And why not? Two of Fire Island’s neighboring hamlets—Cherry Grove and The Pines—are gay oases with a storied artistic lineage. Roughly three hours from NYC by train and ferry, Fire Island offers both respite and raunchiness for queers and comrades. Oscar Wilde, W. H. Auden, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Peter Hujar all summered and made work there. And over the past four years, programs such as the Fire Island Artist Residency (FIAR), the New York Performance Artists Collective (NYPAC), and BOFFO have built a flamboyant infrastructure for creative types.