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Hamptons Heat Wave:
Ladies Mile

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On the pristine white sand of Two Mile Hollow beach, past the town of East Hampton, there is a tiny stretch of waterfront where men are in short supply. "It's weird how the beach divides naturally," muses Florence Finkle, a former Manhattan assistant D.A. "First there are the families and straight couples on the far right, to the left are the gay men, and straight ahead are the power lesbians." Unlike other gay women's resorts, like Provincetown, where the preferred swimming costume is a pair of boxers and a sports bra, the bathing beauties of the Hamptons opt for Versace thong bikinis and Calvin Klein maillots. "It's a group of professionals, a lot of lawyers and M.B.A.'s and advertising execs," says Finkle -- women like author Blanche Wiesen Cook, longtime activist Vivian Shapiro, and IBM heiress Olive Watson.

The Hamptons have long been a power base for gay men, but in recent years lesbians have also established a beachhead at this rarefied sandbox's parties, bars, and advocacy groups. Back in the early eighties, The Swamp, the area's reigning gay bar, was attacked for its strict boys-only policy; these days, it's owned by Linda Batiancela, a lesbian who's brought in a much more diverse clientele. The East End Gay Organization, also male-dominated in the eighties, is currently two-thirds women.

Despite a few high-profile exceptions, many of the Hamptons' most powerful gay women aren't officially out, though they come and go openly from events and restaurants with girlfriends and adopted Chinese babies in tow. "It's becoming very common in the power-lesbian community to adopt or give birth," notes M. J. Vineburgh, the premier caterer for gay events in the Hamptons. "I've been doing lots more birthday parties." Last weekend she co-chaired the Empire State Pride Agenda Tea Dance, one of the season's major dyke events. "Every year, the women get more beautiful," marveled Midge LaGuardia, vice-president of William B. May Real Estate, surveying all the blonde bobs and perfect pedicures. In one corner, three Bianca Jagger clones in black sunglasses used a tent pole as a go-go bar; in another, an energetic brunette incorporated her belt into her dancing-cowgirl routine. A bejeweled passerby turned to her date, dressed identically down to her chocolate Gucci loafers: "As if you need a lasso here!"


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