[Ed. note: This article was originally published on July 25th, 2007.]
Sex in the Hamptons is a lot like sex in Manhattan—except it’s not. Odd couplings and brief flings, which in the city might raise an eyebrow, are somehow forgiven out on the East End. And these amours fous are not like those, say, which one might commit in Paris or St. Barts. That’s because it is still New York—the characters are the same—and there is excitement in the air, an expectation that what was impossible in Manhattan—sleeping with that model, that mogul—might just be possible behind some Southampton hedge. After all, women who walk briskly through Manhattan behind Persol sunglasses take off their tops on Sagaponack’s “Media Beach.” In other words, maybe in the Hamptons, sex drive and romantic longing count for more than pure ambition and careerism when it comes to the person with whom one ends up in bed.
I don’t think so….
Here’s a cautionary tale about three hopeful bachelors in the Hamptons during this past Fourth of July weekend.
Bachelor No. 1: “Skipper Johnson,” 26. Preppy. Entertainment law. Boy wonder. Plans to run one of the big studios someday, which he says will be in New York. Beach toys: small Mercedes, cellular phone. Is worried about his recent lack of sexual success. “Do women think I’m gay?” he asks, earnestly.
Bachelor No. 2: “Mr. Marvelous,” 65 says he’s 60. Square jaw, silver hair, bright blue eyes, athletic—all parts work on demand. Married (and divorced) five times. Beach toys: none. But can talk about penthouse apartment on Park Avenue, house in Bedford, apartment in Palm Beach. Staying with friends for the weekend on Further Lane in East Hampton. Considering buying a place.
Bachelor No. 3: “Stanford Blatch,” 37. Screenwriter. The next Joe Eszterhas. Gay but prefers straight guys. Long, dark curly hair; refuses to cut it or put it in a ponytail. Will probably get married and have kids someday. Stays in grandmother’s house on Halsey Neck Lane in Southampton; grandma lives in Palm Beach. Beach toys: doesn’t drive, so convinces family chauffeur to come out on weekends to drive him around. Best beach toy: has known everybody worth knowing since he was a child, so he doesn’t have to prove it.
Skipper’s Cold Shower
Friday night, Skipper Johnson drives out to Southampton, where he has arranged to meet friends at Basilico: four women, all in their late 20’s, who work at Ralph Lauren, and who, to the naked eye, are indistinguishable from one another. Skipper finds their bland prettiness comforting.
They drink Pine Hamptons at the bar. Skipper pays. At 11 o’clock, they go to Conscious Point. There’s a crowd outside, but Skipper knows the doorman. They drink cocktails out of plastic cups.
At 2 A.M., one of the girls gets sick in the bushes. Skipper offers to drive them home: a ranch house just before you get to the good part of Southampton. They have a case of beer in the refrigerator, nothing else. Skipper goes into a bedroom, and sits on the bed with one of the girls and sips a beer. He lies down and closes his eyes, slipping his arm around the girl’s waist. “I’m too drunk to drive home” he says, puppy dog voice.
“I’m going to sleep,” the girl says.
“Oh, please let me stay. We’ll just sleep. I promise,” Skipper says.
“O.K. But you have to sleep on top of the bed. With your clothes on.”
Skipper complies. He falls asleep and begins snoring. Sometime in the middle of the night, the girl kicks him out to the couch.
Saturday morning. “Can I take a shower at your house?” Skipper asks. “I’ve got all my stuff in the car.” The girls, who are already in their bathing suits, exchange glances. “Hey, you can’t kick me out of here without letting me take a shower,” Skipper says, trying to look helpless.
“We’re not kicking you out,” one of the girls—the one who got sick last night—finally says. “We just want to go to the beach.”
“I can’t leave until I take a shower,” Skipper insists.
The girls walk out the screen door and hold it open for Skipper. He feels not unlike a total failure.
Skipper drives toward his house in East Hampton, and decides to stop off to visit his friends Carrie and Mr. Big in Bridgehampton. Mr. Big is shirtless in the backyard, smoking a cigar and watering the plants around the pool. “I’m on vacation,” he says.
“What are you doing? Don’t you have a gardener?” Skipper asks. Carrie is smoking cigarettes and reading the New York Post. “He is the gardener. He washes cars, too.”
Skipper strips down to his boxer shorts and dives in the water like a cartoon character; with his knees bent at right angles sticking out to the sides. When he comes up for air, Mr. Big says, “Now I know why you can’t get laid.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Skipper asks.
“Have a cigar,” says Mr. Big.
Mr. Blatch in Love
Saturday, Halsey Neck Lane. Stanford Blatch is sitting by the pool, talking on the phone and watching his brother’s girlfriend, whom he hates, trying to read his New Yorker. “But you have to come out,” he says into the phone. “It’s ridiculous. What are you going to do? Sit in the city all weekend and work? Get on the seaplane. I’ll pay.
“Well, bring the manuscripts. You agents, you work too damn hard. Of course there’s plenty of room. I have the whole upstairs.”
Stanford hangs up, he walks over to his brother’s girlfriend. “Do you know Robert Morriskin?” When the girl looks at him blankly, he says, “I didn’t think so. He’s the hottest up-and-coming literary agent. He’s adorable.”
“Is he a writer?” she asks.
Skipper Blows It
Saturday night. Skipper goes to a barbecue at the home of his friends the Rappaports, a young couple who always seem to be on the verge of divorce. He gets drunk again, and tries the “drinking beer and lying on the bed” trick again with a girl named Cindy. It seems to be working, until he mentions that he thinks Jim Carrey is a genius.
“You know, I have a boyfriend,” she says.
Something Amazing Happens
Sunday night. Coerte Felske’s book party at Ted Fields’ house. Skipper hasn’t been invited, which pisses him off. Nevertheless, he has arranged to go to the party by offering to drive Stanford Blatch, whom he knows vaguely and who is invited everywhere, to the party.
The party is outside. Skipper notices that a young woman named Rebecca is paying a lot of attention to him. Rebecca’s short, with dark hair and large breasts, pretty—but not Skipper’s type. Works in public relations. Skipper and Rebecca decide they have to go to the bathroom, which means walking through a torchlit path snaking behind some bushes to the Porta Pottis. They head for some hedges. They start kissing. And then something amazing happens.
“I just really want to do this,” Rebecca says, and she kneels down and unzips his pants. Skipper is astounded. The whole act takes less than two minutes.
“You’re going to give me a ride home, aren’t you?” Rebecca says, nudging him.
“I can’t,” he says. “I promised I would give Stanford a ride home and you live in the opposite direction.”
Oh, Mr. Marvelous!
Further Lane. Mr. Marvelous from Bedford arrives just in time for dinner. His host, Charlie, has been divorced for five years. He’s invited some men and some women in their 30’s to early 40’s. Mr. Marvelous sits next to a woman named Sabrina: 32, breasts spilling out of a black Donna Karan tank top. Mr. Marvelous gets her drinks, is sympathetic about her ex-husband. At 11 o’clock, Sabrina says they have to go Stephen’s Talk House in Amagansett to meet some friends. Mr. Marvelous offers to drive her car, she might be a little drunk. They end up at Sabrina’s house at 3 in the morning.
At 5, Mr. Marvelous wakes and feels claustrophobic. Sabrina’s house is tiny. He can hear someone snoring on the couch just outside the bedroom door. “I’m going out of my mind,” he thinks.
Skipper is playing tennis when he hears his cellular phone ringing.
“Hi, honey,” Rebecca says. “Just wondering what you’re doing.”
“I’m in the middle of a tennis game,” Skipper says.
“Wanna come over after? I’d love to cook you dinner over here.”
“Uh, I can’t.”
“I mean, I don’t know what I’m doing yet. I told some other people I would go over to their house for dinner.”
“So we’ll go together.”
Skipper lowers his voice. “I don’t think I can do that. It’s kind of business, you know what I mean.”
“My little mogul,” Rebecca says.
‘Is It Elle?’
Monday evening. Carrie, Mr. Big and Mr. Marvelous are on their way to a cocktail party. Mr. Marvelous drives his big Mercedes slowly up Mecox Lane, past the horse farms. The sun is beginning to go down. There’s a little hill, and when the car comes over the top, there’s a woman awkwardly Rollerblading. She’s wearing a tight white T-shirt and tiny black shorts. She has long dark hair tied up in a ponytail, but it’s her legs that get you.
“I’m in love,” Mr. Marvelous says. When she turns off down a side road, he drives the car straight on, but then stops and puts his hands on top of the steering wheel. “I’m going back.”
They pass the girl and Mr. Big says, “Is it Elle? She looks like Elle.”
Carrie’s sitting in the backseat, smoking a cigarette. “To young for Elle,” she says.
Mr. Big rolls down his window and says, “Hi.”
The girl comes up to the car. “Hi,” she says smiling, then looks confused. “Do I know you?”
“I don’t know,” says Mr. Marvelous, leaning across the seat.
“I’m Audrey,” says the girl. She looks at Mr. Big. “You look like someone I know.”
Mr. Marvelous hops out of the car. “Do you know how to stop? You’ve got to know how to stop. Rollerblading can be dangerous.”
The girl is laughing. “Here’s what you do,” Mr. Marvelous says, demonstrating by squatting down with one foot in front of him and sticking his arms straight out.
“Thank you,” the girls says. She began to skate away. “Are you a model?” Mr. Marvelous says.
“No,” she says, over her shoulder. “No, I’m a student.”
Mr. Marvelous gets back in the car.
“She had a ring on her finger. What’s her husband doing letting her go Rollerblading by herself? I would have asked her to marry me. Did you see her? What was her name? Audrey. Kind of old-fashioned, huh?”
The Boy in Blue Chintz
Robert Morriskin finally arrives by seaplane. Stanford sends the chauffeur to pick him up in the old Ford station wagon. Stanford has arranged a dinner at Della Femina’s for Robert. Afterward, they all go back to the house on Halsey Neck and smoke pot. At 2 in the morning, Robert begs off, saying he’s got to plow through that pile of manuscripts in the morning. Stanford walks him to his room, which is decorated in traditional Southampton chintz. “I’ve always loved this room,” Stanford says. “You can’t get this blue chintz anymore. I hope you won’t be too hot. I still think it’s best to sleep without the covers in the summer. We used to do that when we were kids.”
Stanford sits down in an armchair as Robert gets undressed. Robert doesn’t seem to mind, and Stanford keeps up a patter of chitchat. Robert gets into bed and closes his eyes. “Tired?” Stanford says. He walks to the bed and looks down at Robert, whose eyes are closed. “Are you sleeping?”
Tuesday, Fourth of July. The cellular phone: It’s Rebecca. “Hi, honey. Everybody’s going back early, and I don’t want to. When are you going back? Can I get a ride?”
“I’m not going back until tomorrow morning,” Skipper says.
“Oh. Well, I could go back tomorrow morning. I’ll call my office.”
“Sure,” says Skipper, unhappily.
“Don’t you just love the end of the weekend when everyone’s left and you’re still out here? Let’s go to dinner.”
“I don’t think I can. I promised some friends…”
“No problem,” Rebecca says lightly. “We’ll definitely see each other next weekend. We can plan it in the car tomorrow morning.”
Tuesday, early evening. Mr. Marvelous turns his Mercedes into the road where he’d last seen Audrey. He gets out, opens the trunk, and after a struggle, puts on a pair of Rollerblades. He leans against the side of his car and waits.
Candace Bushnell began Sex and the City as a column in The New York Observer in 1994; it subsequently became a book and a series on HBO. She is also the author of Four Blondes, Trading Up and Lipstick Jungle, which is being filmed as a pilot for NBC starring Brooke Shields. Ms. Bushnell is also the host of Sex, Success and Sensibility, a live weekly talk show on Sirius Satellite Radio. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, New York City Ballet principal dancer Charles Askegard.