La La Land in the Hamptons

Summer Wrap-Up: Exotic Animals, Cindy Sherman and Eva Longoria




And suddenly it was Labor Day! The seemingly endless Hamptons weekends filled with charity events came to a screeching halt just like that. Even though I adore great parties, what I’ll miss most are the long beach walks when I stroll for hours through isolated stretches of pristine beach passing seagull nesting areas scattered with driftwood and grand beach mansions with their decorative weathervanes. Of course, there’s always the Hamptons Film Festival to look forward to (coming up on Columbus Day weekend). Here’s a little look back, a roundup of glamorous events in August.

Probably the most unusual charity party of the summer was La La Land thrown by Sir Ivan (Wilzig) at his gothic castle with turrets on Deerfield Road in Water Mill. La La Land is named for Sir Ivan’s newly released song—the first single after his 2009 album “I Am Peaceman.”

Indeed the costume soirée did aptly fit the la-la state of mind attracting roughly 500 people, all dressed in animal costumes, most of the wild cat family—tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs—with peacocks, parrots and birds of prey (both in costume and not) mixed in. I dressed as a hybrid of a fox and tiger. My Australian date, Nik Lone (a known Aussie singer and songwriter who has just moved to America) had intended to go as a wallaby, but instead appeared as a bumblebee.


Instructions on the invitation stated that guests would only be admitted if they dressed as exotic animals. Once at the party I realized “exotic animal” had a wide interpretation, since many masqueraders appeared as more ordinary animals (cats and sheep) and lots opted for insects: praying mantises, butterflies and honeybees. There were several cavemen with clubs—maybe deliberately planted by management in order to tame the animals. A tall dashing crocodile hunter with a sizable net worked the crowd. My six-foot-four friend Chris Lucas was costumed from curved bill to clawed-feet as a multi-colored parrot and captivated the bird population.


Sir Ivan was surrounded by his packs of sexy females some covered with only body-painted tiger stripes. He took his groupies galloping along with him on a full-sized, old-fashioned merry-go-round with decoratively painted horses, which he imported for the occasion. There were cute, glowing ladybug electric cars to ferry the animals around the vast property. The fountains and pools were lit up and featured mythological animals. All these La La Land theatrics were for a good cause to benefit Trevor Project (a national organization to provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community).


Sir Ivan bussed in animal participants from Manhattan (a virtual Madagascar) assuring himself a spirited crowd for the performance of his song and a good backdrop for the song’s video, which was being filmed that night. The crowd circulated with flutes of French sparkling Rosé wine. Strangely, the food was not in the least exotic—where was the bok, the ostrich or the buffalo? The fare was strictly Catskill’s Jewish food, hot pastrami sandwiches and pickles, catered by Sir Ivan’s brother who’s a partner in the year-old hip Jewish restaurant, Kutsher’s Tribeca.


Sir Ivan, his signature peace symbol necklace around his neck, wearing a sequenced hot pink suit with a black long cape, took to the stage around eleven PM, to a swarm of exotic animals pulsating on the dance floor. After most of the bussed-in guests retreated to their homebound buses, I heard—but cannot confirm—that the after-party got wilder with inter-species shenanigans lasting into the wee night.

 


Few events could top La La Land in terms of creativity, but others had star-power, entertainment and great food and wine. During the week of Labor Day, artist Cindy Sherman hosted a big powwow with picnic on the grass and concert at her home in the Springs in East Hampton.


Martha Stewart, Calvin Klein and Ross Bleckner circulated on her breathtaking property with great lawn and surrounding marshlands right on Accabonac Harbor. The setting was perfect poster child for the evening’s charity, the Azuero Earth Project, a non-profit focused on protecting the ecosystems and biodiversity.


The concert held under a festive white tent with flags waving at its three high points featured performances by Laurie Anderson, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed and others. Chef Janet O’Brien catered the event with a picnic of Panamanian tapas with all locally sourced ingredients. The wine couldn’t have been more local: Wolffer Estate of the Hamptons. I sipped Wolffer’s refreshing unoaked Chardonnay as an aperitif—heir fabulous rosé is all sold out— and later the Merlot, which went perfectly with the empanadas. Among the guests were folks from Panama, where the charity has a branch. I heard all about what an ideal place Panama is to visit. Long ago my parents honeymooned in Panama. I put checking into the Bristol in Panama City on this year’s to-do list.

 


Like last year the food and crowd were fabulous, the 2012 Chefs Dinner in Bridgehampton---a benefit the Hayground School and the Jeff Salaway Scholarship Fund—was exciting, wet and wild.

“Exciting”: because of the great chefs and delicious food which included: Christian Mir (Stone Creek Inn), Josh Capon (Lure Fish Bar), Jason Weiner (Almond), James Carpenter (The Living Room) and Joseph Realmuto (Nick & Toni’s).


“Wet”: because a sudden and sustained windy downpour hit just at the start. Fortunately the festive white tent had zippered sides. Instantly, men secured the sides and igloo’d in the guests. The rain whipped against the tent in a real tropical storm, but everyone was sealed cozily into the bubble with all that food and liquor. I could have stayed all night.


“Wild,” because the inclement weather propelled people to drink up. And drink they did, totally surrounded by exciting brands. Where to start? Coming in an eye-catching clear crystal bottle shaped as a skull, Crystal Head Vodka (Dan Aykrod is behind this) is hard to miss and has a good story: made with pure water from Newfoundland, filtered seven times, and the official line behind the bottle, “The heads [skulls] are thought to offer spiritual power and enlightenment to those who possess them, and as such stands not as a symbol of death, but of life.”


Over there another boutique spirits gem: Diplomatico Rum. Again a good story: award-winning rum from Venezuela made with some of the finest aged rums in pot stills. And for the wines, naturally the best of the Hamptons: Channing Daughters and Wolffer. I ricocheted between them comparing and contrasting their great Rosés and citrusy whites.

 


The annual kick off party to the Hamptons Classic horseshow on Saturday night is HARVEST, where all the local Long Island wineries display their new vintages and local chefs offer great small plates. HC&G sponsored the Wine & Dine Lounge with great designer sofas and chairs provided by Roche Bobois. I hosted that lounge and created a cheat-sheet with wine pairing suggestions.


Three of my ten featured suggestions:
A Mano’s Seared Crescent Farm duck breasts with fennel puree and peach conserve
Wine: Clovis Point 2007 Vintner’s Select Merlot

Almond’s Grilled Long Island Duck with Corn Succotash
Wine: T’Jara Vineyards 2007 Reserve

Race Lane’s Hamptons Summer Tomato Gazpacho
Wine: Sherwood House Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Franc


Other wineries that I savored that night: Merliance, Raphael, McCall, Bouké and Sparkling Pointe. This is an event that is a must-not-miss to sample the bounty of our wine region. Any naysayers who think we don’t live in a world-class wine region, just try sampling these exciting wines. Cabernet Franc again shown the brightest to me. And besides, the all-you-can-eat Long Island clams make for a great time. Pair them with The Old Field’s wonderful vintage sparkling wine with its surprising minerality!

 


To cap off the summer pre-Labor Day weekend, I was invited to the US Open to sit in the Moët & Chandon club suite at Arthur Ashe Stadium. On a beautiful sunny day there are few greater pleasures than sipping Moët Champagne in a perfectly situated box with view of both courts right at the net and view Serena Williams battle against Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. Serena with her bright yellow underwear and Sanchez with her sexy grunts. The viewing within the box was not bad either, sitting just in back of me, sipping out of the shiny gold ceremonial Moët goblet was Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives. In the same box the previous year, I sipped Champagne with Boardwalk Empire’s Steve Buscemi.

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