Club owners in the Hamptons are courting celebrities with a hitherto unseen fervor, and apparently some are pulling out their checkbooks. “The phenomenon of paying celebrities is something that clubs do to compete with clubs that already have that networking built in,” said Mike Satsky, co-owner of Stereo by the Shore, the Southampton outpost of the West Chelsea boîte. “Stereo operates on relationships.”
These are some pretty special relationships! The week of July 4, Mr. Satsky entertained singer-actress Mandy Moore, and musical couples Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson and Jay-Z and Beyonce at his club, also putting up some of them at his home. He said it is standard that a club provides transportation, comp tables and booze to its celebrity customers, and often housing as well. He added that if a star performs at the club he will pay a retainer, as in the case of his “close friend” Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein, who spun at Stereo by the Shore on Saturday, July 7.
Mr. Satsky insisted, however, that celebrities come to the club because they’re his friends and know they’re going to have a good time—not for a payday. “The big payers this year are Star Room and Pink Elephant,” he tattled. “I heard that Pink Elephant paid almost $10,000 for Rachel Hunter to host a party early this summer. I hear Star Room paid Akon just to host a party, not even to perform.”
Star Room co-owner Charles Ferri, who also owns the Star Lounge in Chelsea, scoffed at such charges. “Mike Satsky is the first one to try to put a knife in my heart because I fired him last year from promoting at Star Room,” Mr. Ferri said. He said he had paid Akon—whose R & B single “Don’t Matter” topped the charts earlier this year—a $12,000 appearance fee: “Of course, he performed and that was for a hugely reduced rate. It was a no-brainer.”
Mr. Ferri added: “The Stereo guys are notorious for paying people. They probably pay $12,000 for those Playboy and Victoria’s Secret models to show up at their clubs.”
One thing on which both club owners agree is that the club scene in the Hamptons this summer is more competitive than it’s ever been. “There are way more celebrities out here than ever before,” Mr. Satsky said. “It’s vicious this year,” said Mr. Ferri, who added that he opted to renovate his club and focus on music rather than compete for promoters. He said that because Star Room has been there longer than other clubs (since 2001) it’s become a “staple,” boasting that actors Chris Noth and Heather Graham (Mr. Ferri’s girlfriend) are regulars.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, July 5, “crunk” musician Lil Jon hosted a party at Dune, the Southampton spot run by New York nightclub mavens Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss. According to a publicist for the club, Lil Jon’s handlers phoned the following night to say he had had so much fun that he and his posse wanted to return the following night. But when his camp was informed that they would be charged the typical $1,500 fee for a table, the artist opted to go to Pink Elephant, in Southampton, instead. “I heard Pink Elephant paid Lil Jon $10,000—they’re the ones who are paying the craziest money,” said a club source. (Reps for Lil Jon and Pink Elephant didn’t return calls.)
In other developments, the battle for nightclub dominance between Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm, who own Tenjune in the meatpacking district and are helping to promote Pink Elephant’s Friday night parties, and Mssrs. Tepperberg and Strauss, who own Marquee, has extended to the Hamptons. “They hate each other,” said the same source, “and when the Tenjune guys tried to rent out Jet East, Noah swept in and blocked them, and that’s how Dune came about.” A rep for Mr. Tepperberg said it would be more accurate to say that the two teams were competing for the space, and that her client—”who’s been in the Hamptons for 10 years”—won it fair and square.
Mr. Birnbaum was not interested in discussing the matter, preferring the topic of Estate, a mansion-cum-event space he and Mr. Remm purchased—where, he boasted, singer Lance Bass and his new boyfriend, sometime model Pedro Andrade, stayed overnight on July 4. “There’s plenty of spaces to go around; we’re not interested in any of the pettiness,” Mr. Birnbaum said. “The good news is that there’s enough people coming out now to go to all these places.”