DJ Susan Levine At The Invasion

One of the gayest and most festive days in Cherry Grove is an event we call "THE INVASION OF THE PINES" The Invasion takes place every 4th of July on Fire Island. Over the years the Invasion has become a famously fun day for everyone gay and straight to spend celebrating being out and proud in Cherry Grove and The Pines. It's our own spectacular carnival Fire Island style!

For those of you that are not familiar with the legendary annual Fire Island bacchanalian event called "THE INVASION", I am going to give you a little history lesson on it's origin. You will find it interesting and it will help all the Invasion virgins understand what I am going on about as I give you a recap of this years INVASION from my point of view as MC on the dock in front of CHERRY'S ON THE BAY the club where I am the resident DJ.

Who gave THE QUEEN a mic? Big mistake!

I'll defer to Wikipedia for the history of the Invasion since Wikipedia's retelling of this piece of Fire Island folklore is more accurate than the bits and pieces of the stories I have been told of this infamous yearly event that was born one day 37 years ago coincidentally on JULY 4th!


During the summer of 1976, a restaurant in Fire Island Pines, New York, denied entry to a visitor in drag named Terry Warren. The Fire Island Pines is a beach community on Fire Island east of New York City with a gay majority population that was at the time more affluent and conservative than the population of nearby Cherry Grove. When Warren's friends in Cherry Grove heard what had happened, they too dressed up in drag, and on July 4, 1976, with Cherry Grove's 1976 Homecoming Queen Thom Hansen (aka Panzi) in the lead, sailed to the Pines by water taxi. The boatload of drag queens that stormed into the Pines that day—to a surprised but exuberant welcome—was the first "invasion," an event now repeated each year.

Now, many years later, the annual Fourth of July Invasion of the Pines attracts hundreds of drag queens and thousands of spectators to what has become an annual Independence Day event.

The queens arrive at the Fire Island Pines Harbor on the afternoon of July 4th each year. Drag queens from both Cherry Grove and the Pines gather at the Ice Palace Bar at the Cherry Grove Hotel in Cherry Grove; after parading through the boardwalks of Cherry Grove, they board a chartered ferry boat and sail to the Pines Harbor, where they are greeted by thousands of cheering residents and visitors. As each drag queen leaves the ferry and marches onto the dock, she is announced by Panzi, the original 1976 invasion leader, now mistress of ceremonies.


It is important to remember that the first Invasion started as a protest in a time when as gays we were also persecuted by our own community for being too flamboyantly gay because the majority of us were not out of the closet. We have come a long way as a community, and this years death of DOMA was a major step towards full equality.

Now that we are all illuminated about why the INVASION was an important historical moment, I will tell you what I experienced on the dock observing the celebration that the Invasion has become. As always, this years parade of drag queens was an extravaganza and the costumes did not disappoint! In years past I have DJed during the Invasion and have missed seeing most of the spectacular and "not so much" spectacular costumes because there is no view of the Invasion from the DJ booth as I am spinning the gayest of gay dance classics to the afternoon crowd. Last year I became Cherrys MC on the dock in front of the club announcing and commenting on the drag queens to Cherrys crowd before they boarded the ferry to the Pines. So now I am front row, prime real estate and get up close and personal with the yards of duct tape, sequined fabric, false eye lashes, wigs hairsprayed sky high, size 13 pumps, unshaved legs and silicone boob enhancers! Move ova Joan, "The Queen" is doing a Grove version of drag Fashion Police!!! Anyone have a connection with "E?" I see a fabulous reality show in the making! The lesbian Andy Cohen! My one brush with celebrity during this years Invasion was with the award winning singer/song writer Neil Sedaka who was in the house at Cherry's !! He is a veteran Invasion fan! 

I also met "Mr Hollywood Squares" himself the hysterical comic Bruce Vilanch at breakfast at my favorite breakfast joint in the Grove, FLOYD'S but that was on Sunday after the 4th so it doesn't count as an Invasion celebrity sighting. He and I had some silly banter about his stay at the notorious "men only" Belvedere Hotel and the fluffer bellboys! Bruce performed at the Ice Palace Saturday night for the Ice Palace's excellent "Icon Series" put together by nightlife impresario Daniel Nardicio.

Susan Levine With Co-Star Hector

The photo above is me and my red, white and blue drag queen wrangler Hector on the dock getting prepared for the drag procession to begin. I have to give big kudos to Hector and the always amusing Grove character Martha Lorenzo for corralling the best drag queens and drag kings wearing the most fabulous costumes for me. It wasn't an easy job. It takes a lot to make a drag queen wait for her turn in the spotlight and not push her competition out of the way! Meow!! 

The procession took FOREVER to start since it was moving in DRAG TIME emphasis on the DRAG but once it did, we were in for a treat that didn't disappoint. Hands down the sexiest drag queen that paraded by my red carpet was Rebecca Glasscock from Season 1 of RuPaul's Drag Race. HOT! HOT! HOT!

Cherry Grove's own Ariel Sinclair made the most hysterical Paula Dean dropping the "N bomb" like the queen of butter!

Cherry's kookiest resident drag queen, Miss Big Hair herself, Gusty Winds ensemble did not disappoint! She was a vision in blue and looked like the perfect Pan Am stewardess from the 60's! Not a hair out of place!

I want to give special props to the entire IMPERIAL COURT for their outfits! They always dress so spectacularly in the most gorgeously designed over-the-top Vegas showgirl type costumes. The Imperial Court is one of the oldest and largest gay organizations in the world. The court raises money for charity through large annual fancy-dress costume balls.

The crazy rag tag parade included so many Fire Island drag legends. Invasion legend of legends Panzi lead the procession shouting into her megaphone followed by other Fire Island drag celebrities including Porsche (from the Wanda Sykes Show), Charity Charles, China, Bella, Rose Levine (no relation), former Miss Fire Island's Logan Hardcore and Yuhua Hamasaki as well as so many other beloved Fire Island drag icons that I have to apologize for not naming them all but it was a blur of gorgeous glamazons!

Happily, I did note that there were many more women that participated in the Invasion this year. My favorite themed crew were the girls that did "Goldilocks and the 3 Chelsea Bears!" VERY FUNNY!! They won "Best Group Costume" in The Pines. I am sure it took those girls hours to remove the glued on facial and body hair!!! 

It was a full and colorful ferry that set sail towards The Pines on a perfect sunny day with the "girls" gayly waving to the crowd! Looks like they were having the most absolutely fagulous time getting their "at the bow of the ship Leo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet Titanic" moment!!!

I am really going to have to talk to some of these QUEENS! The rule is to never wave higher than the crown! REALLY GIRLS!

Cherrys is always a favorite spot to watch the Invasion and the crowd there was quite festive! Thanks to my drag wranglers, Cherrys crowd got to see most of the colorful costumed characters and hear their crazy drag names. I wish I could tell you what the best or funniest drag name was but they came at me so fast that all I can remember is one big "nom de drag" or something or another..... At the end, everyone at Cherrys got to cheer and wave goodbye to the ferry as it departed to invade The Pines while the Invasion anthem Gloria Gaynor's "I AM What I AM was blasting from Cherrys speakers! Such a "La Cage aux Folles" moment!

The ferry departing the dock in the Grove to invade The Pines was a beautiful rainbow of colors!

The Cast Of Dune Point Guest House

Petra from DUNE POINT GUEST HOUSE and her contingent of Czech girls were on the Invasion ferry decked out in an explosion of red, white and blue! Visit to book a room at her famous hotel.

The Invasion ferry got a HUGE greeting
arriving in THE PINES!

CHERRY'S and all the parties in The Grove and The Pines were packed all day and night till 4AM with revelers dancing there a--es off! The current dance floor favorite was definitely "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke. But the Invasion which was born in the 70's is nothing without out the big disco hits. So, for the music part of this blog I am going to give you my playlist of what I refer to as:


I Am What I Am- Gloria Gaynor 

I WIll Survive- Gloria Gaynor

We Are Family- Sister Sledge

Love Is In The Air- John Paul Young

Hot Shot- Karen Young

I You Could Read My Mind- Viola Willis (I personally prefer the Amber version much gayer)

My First My Last My Everything- Barry White

It's Raining Men- The Weather Girls 

So Many Men- Miguel Brown

The Boss- Diana Ross

Relight My Fire- Dan Hartman

Young Hearts Run Free- Candi Staton

Heaven Must Have Sent You- Bonnie Pointer

You Make Me Feel Mighty Real- Sylvester

I Feel Love- Donna Summer

Shame- Evelyn Champagne King

and of course the gayest of gay songs.......YMCA- Village People

That's my short list of top favorties that the dance floor loves in Cherry Grove! There are so many great ones from that era. If you are interested in hearing any of these songs they all can be found on iTunes.

This week I will be DJing Cherry's Thursday night for the naughty naughty "BLOW" party! Friday is "FABULOUS FRIDAYS" at Cherry's hosted by the adorable Rachael Valentine and Joshy "Pantz" Hart holding court behind the bar as I spin the best of the pop dance anthems. This weeks theme is burlesque. You are going to be treated to a sexy burlesque performance! Get out your pasties!!!

Next week July 19th to 21st I am off to the Jersey Shore for Sand Blast Asbury Weekend the biggest gay and lesbian BEACH PARTY on the East Coast! Tickets are still available for the event at For those of you that can't make this awesome weekend event I will give you a report and pictures when I return!

FRIDAY, I will be DJing the opening party "LOST AT SEA" with Corey Craig at the Convention Center!

Saturday it's POOL PARTY TIME for the girls at my infamous "SIREN OF THE SEA" pool party at the Berkeley pool!

Gay Pride In Cherry Grove With Nikki Cerrato

I must add one thing to this column which is a very funny video shot in the Grove for the "Cherry Grove Pride Parade" a few weeks ago! It will give you an idea of what walking through town looks like and of the weekly shenanigans that go on in this magical place we call home for the summer Cherry Grove! Come join us! The summer fun has just begun!

 I hope you are all enjoying your summer. See you in the clubs!!! Ciao for now!

xx Queen Levine

P.S. You can find me on Facebook for listings of the events I am DJing. Keep checking!!! I have lots of fun gigs in store for you this summer!

Photo Courtesy Of: Sue Calini King