By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
The same old summer resorts have been beckoning with all new doodads and personalities to lure us back on the beach, with our tongues out.
On Fire Island, Cherry Grove has been trying to bump itself up a notch, leaving baits for younger gays
who can't afford the adjacent Pines and might want to saunter over to a more affordable neck of the woods, as it were. There, the Belvedere—the sprawling white castle of a homosexual hotel—sent a bunch of us to bask in its renovations and marvel at its exclusive maleness. (They don't allow women because, as co-owner Craig Eberhardt told me, that's the way the gay guys want it. Maybe they should just make the doors open to everyone, and chances are no women would set foot in it anyway. Then again, I'm not in marketing.)
Anyway, it's a gem of a place—bedecked with all manner of plants, statues, foofy lampshades, pastoral motifs, and oozy fountains. It's like a Fragonard painting as reinvented by Tom of Finland. "Make a lot of lefts," I was told when searching for my room through all the hallways and courtyards, the concierge slyly adding, "The fun is in getting lost." But past the communal computer with the Manhunt icon on it, I finally found it—the "Sunset Room," with all the expected flowery designs, as well as two condoms on a stool by the bed and a trellised window that opens to a lounge deck right on the bay, the water looming at you like a creeping terror out of an Ingmar Bergman movie.
Beyond the precious décor, the mood is totally about sex, of course. In fact, it's a "clothing optional" hotel, and the only small penis in the building is on the Apollo statue by the pool.
Switching over to fish for a while, I had a fab meal complete with showtunes at Jumping Jack's Seafood Shack, and then we stopped at promoter Daniel Nardicio's merch-laden rental house, where even the pool has a Stoli logo on it. The rest of the time, the mood stayed as hormone-drenched as you'd expect on the isle of nonstop wiener roasting and nipple tweaking. En route to Nardicio's underwear party at the Ice Palace, I heard a guy on the planks say, "The great thing about the cold wind coming in is it turns a breast into a pec. I look like I just went to the gym!" Alas, it only made mine sag even lower.
But everything tightens at the long running store Rainbow Dreams, where they sell novelty items from miniature ruby slippers to stretchy sexual aids. The owner told me, "Any minute now, they'll all come in to buy their cock rings. The second they see someone with a bigger bulge, they've got to have one." I promptly bought one to put on the Apollo statue.
A Countess and Some Queens And on to the more tasteful Suffolk County gays, who occasionally like to mix with the other team, everyone's salmon-colored jackets throwing you off as to who does what to whom at night.
Let's start at the North Shore, which has emerged as the anti-Hamptons: quaint and pretty, with nice seafood restaurants and excellent thrift shops in lieu of pretensions. But the bigger towns there—like Greenport—have been growing so much in popularity, they're going to need an anti-trend to combat the anti-trend. Maybe a West Shore?
I recently joined the hubbub at Greenport, and then we took two ferries to get to the Hamptons anyway, because if you didn't, you might be missing something. At the Bridgehampton Tennis & Surf Club, there was a benefit for Miracle House, an organization that takes care of patients and caregivers and miraculously got people to pay for a night out.
"This isn't the real me," I said to host Lance Bass, spinning around in my lightly striped Brooks Brothers jacket. "But you look good," he cooed—which was certainly a better response than another guest's: "Your bag has stains. They'll take it away from you and burn it!" (Fortunately, they didn't want to touch it to even do that much.)
At the event, Lance and Real Housewives of New York City's slinky Countess LuAnn de Lesseps auctioned off various jet-setty items, Deborah Cox performed in tip-top voice as the queens relived their forties, and surgeon to the stars Dr. Mark Warfel told me that Amanda Lepore regularly puts his skin cream all over her body. (And she looks not a day over 29!)
Another Housewife, Jill Zarin, convinced me that she's not into the statusy aspect of Hamptons existence at all. "I'm always in my house with my family," Zarin said. "There are 22 people sleeping there. I take care of three meals a day, 22 people. I felt very guilty even coming out for this, but it's such a good cause.
"I step in and out of the Hamptons scene," she continued. "I don't want to do makeup and get dressed. I want to stay in my pajamas. If you saw what I was wearing today—embarrassing. I'm still wearing scrunchies from 1985!" It was heartening to hear that the Housewives are an anti-trend onto themselves.
"I live in K-Mart, TJ Maxx, and Costco," concluded Jill, beaming. "It's a sensory overload!"
PS: In a bigger shock, she's really friends with LuAnn. It's not just for TV!
Anyway, goodbye, summer resorts. I'm back in Murray Hill festooned with scrunchies and my dirty bag, and I'm staying there for a long, long time.