Your book had passages about Hamptons bigotry, like at the Maidstone Club in East Hampton, where members claimed the grass where Senator Jacob Javits walked turned brown. Is there still anti-Semitism and racism?
I don’t know if we’ll get a lawsuit calling the Maidstone Club anti-Semitic, but if you looked at the membership, it would be 99 percent non-Jewish.
If you look at [the Hamptons] block to block, you don’t see many people of color unless they’re workmen, but there is a really famous black community here, where wealthy black people live—it’s in Sagaponack.
But, at the same time, one of the biggest African-American developers in the country, Don Peebles, just bought a house out here. He didn’t buy in that black community; he bought in another section of Sag Harbor.
The Southampton people don’t go to East Hampton almost ever. I once said to a woman, a very, very high-WASP woman in Southampton, ‘Have you ever been to [East Hampton restaurant] Nick and Toni’s?’ And she said, ‘Darling, they don’t want us there.’ And I’m sure by ‘us’ she meant WASP’s, non-Jews.
Is East Hampton more diverse and Jewish than staid Southampton?
This is anti-Semitic, I’m going to get into huge trouble for saying this, but I used to call the reservation book for Nick and Toni’s Schindler’s List!
You also have written quite a bit about gays in the Hamptons, like the flamboyant artist Alfonso Ossorio and the closeted mega-broker Allan Schneider. Why?
Well, I was drawn to those stories—one reason is that I’m gay, the other reason is that I’m Jewish. I think this became a place for them to hide who they really were, and become somebody else, and to use this for transformation.
There aren’t many artists like Ossorio around anymore—his estate is now owned by Ronald Perelman. When the Hamptons gets saturated in three years, will the area fade?
People will never go away, it will never disappear, it will never fall out of favor, it will never not be spectacular—as long as there’s a Wall Street and as long as there’s an Atlantic Ocean.