For years I heard tales of the Hamptons. My husband talking of his glory days in high school and college lifeguarding the beaches, scenes in movies like Wall Street, and watching season after season of the Real Housewives of New York City take summer refuge there. When Sonja Morgan sent me the press release that she would be performing one of her infamous caburlesque acts in East Hampton I immediately saw it as a chance to see what all the buzz was about. I called up my long time friend and travel companion Patrice to assist me, and cross off another entry on our bucket lists.
Now I was not a complete Hamptons virgin. My mother tells me we used to go when I was a small child to a house rented by family friends. I have fragmented memories of sand in my suit, and a long galley type kitchen with too many people inside, but nothing like the Tommy Hilfiger or Ralph Lauren ads that often depict the lifestyle of the ultra preppy urbanite jetsetter. This was my chance to get a taste of both that and the inner workings of another Housewife show. We booked a hotel room in Southampton (the closest place we could find), as places to stay are few and far between. As one local told us, “most people here own or rent a home.”
Getting to the Hamptons can be tricky. A two hour drive can easily become a six hour one if you leave at the wrong time. We headed out early to beat the city rush. We skipped the LIRR’s Cannonball service for fear the seats would be sold out by the time we reached Penn Station. We ended up hopping the Cannonball train to get from Southampton to the studio where Sonja was performing, a guest in a full cabaret show to benefit the new Long Island Center for LGBT youth. The train indeed was packed with loads of people, and their dogs, some already with libations in hand to kick off the almost summer weekend.
When the train reached East Hampton station it was like we had been transported to another planet, one in which the entire population had just exited a Violent Femmes concert. The late great 80’s filmmaker John Hughes himself could not have staged such a scene. Every person looked like they shopped at Brooks Brothers and had graduated Harvard. The crowd was hustling and bustling and within an instant they were piled into waiting taxis and cars. Then everybody was gone. We found out our destination was in Wainscott, a little off the beaten path. When our driver arrived he asked why we were going to East Hampton’s only television studio. “We are going to see the New York City Housewives,” we told him. “Oh I’ve met Kelly Bensimon many times,” he tells us, “she is very nice.”
Long roads lined with lush trees and large stretches of land surround us on our drive. None of it fits my idea of the beach. I equate the Jersey Shore, with everything in walking distance from an ocean view as the beach. The Hamptons so far were reminding me more of country farmland. The studios seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and without our own car there we were, stranded, over an hour early, unable to even get something to eat beforehand as we had planned. Oh well, when in Rome, so we befriended some of the people working the event and watched some of the set up. Lights, chandeliers, seating cards. The excitement of the preparation was exciting enough to behold…and then the guests began to arrive.
They looked just as you’d imagine. Tall, lean people. Women in slender white pants. I believe I may have even seen one or two men wearing an ascot (or was that just my imagination?). These people could have been uppity Biff and Buffy types, but everyone was easygoing and friendly (and some a little drunk). If you are going to the Hamptons be prepared to party, because as we learned after the show, there are no wallflowers here. Everyone gets in on the action…drinking, dancing, dining (in moderation).
The day after we went into East Hampton’s business district. Shops align the street selling mostly clothing, jewelry, and goods for the well appointed beach home. I picked up a Father’s Day gift in a Ralph Lauren that was so representative of the brand (maybe it was the salesman that were wearing the ascots) it should have been the flagship.
Just like the cab driver there seemed to be somebody in every part of town that had a Housewife story. We wandered into Mayfair Jewelers and saw pendants just like the one Jason Hoppy gave to Bethenny Frankel during ‘Hoppier” times on Bethenny Ever After. “It is”, stated Justin Kulchinsky, who operates the store with his sister Lauren. “Our sister (Kristen Farrell) is the designer. We see Bethenny weekly and did her rings.” Those who watched the show would remember the young jewelry designer that Bethenny’s intern Max had a crush on. In case you are wondering their sister did eventually go on a date with him.
As our shopping day and our trip came to a close we headed back to the car. Our last stop was in front of a young girl directing traffic. “What brings you to East Hampton?” she asks. “I’m writing an article about a Housewives filming,” I tell her. “I met the Countess,” she says,”she was not nice.” “Oh really,” I answer,” she must have been having a bad day. We met her last night and she was delightful.”