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For Joel Kim Booster, Making ‘Fire Island’ Was a Real Trip

Ahn was indignant, but as he told the story, Booster just nodded. “As a comedian, with everything I’ve done up to this point, I’m just supposed to be funny, you know?” Booster said. “But with this, I’m supposed to be a romantic lead, and it’s a lot for me in my life to be confronted with that and be like, ‘Am I that guy? Is this believable?’”

Booster had never been in a relationship before he started writing “Fire Island,” and everything he knew about love, he had learned from watching Nora Ephron movies. But as “Fire Island” headed into production, Booster met the video-game producer John-Michael Kelly, and something in him softened.

“I’ve just never met somebody that has made me want to not be alone until I met him,” Booster said.

He began to rewrite the scenes he shared with Ricamora, pulling from actual conversations he’d had with Kelly. And the film’s final beat between the characters, which initially culminated in a flippant joke, was tweaked to land on something sweeter and more romantic. “It was like I was doing drag when I first wrote the movie about love,” Booster said, “and then after experiencing it and doing the rewrites, it felt much more real and lived in.”

The movie has been earning stellar reviews, which has Booster breathing a sigh of relief: “When I was making it,” he said, “I thought, ‘If this movie is bad, I can never show my face here again. I just ruined my favorite place in the world.’” And yes, he and Yang both plan to go back to the island this summer.

“Do you think it’s going to be different?” Ahn asked. “Do you think it’s going to be weird?”

“It’s going to be extremely weird,” Booster said. “I’ll either be persona non grata or the mayor.”

And what will it feel like when Booster goes from “He’s the lead of ‘Fire Island’?” to “He’s the lead of ‘Fire Island’!

Booster just shrugged: He’ll know when he knows. “I don’t think it’s hit me quite yet,” he said. “I’m not getting Grindr messages about it.”

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