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Welcome to the Fun House

What happens when you cram 20-odd singles into a Hamptons hideaway and give each of them a queen-size bed? Less than you might think.

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Shares in the Hamptons are all about professional people," explains Ricky Spector, 34, taking a morning stroll on the spacious deck of his Bridgehampton house. Ricky, who says that he is an "equity-derivatives risk-controller," wears dark-blue J. Crew shorts and a Tag Heuer diving watch. You don't notice much about him except his eyes, which are the turquoise of an iMac. "See, we're all single," he explains. "We're 28 to 36. We're living the life in the city or Jersey. We're self-made, and making cash." He takes a swig of Diet Pepsi. "We just want to meet other people like us."

That shouldn't be too hard, considering that there are twenty or so people just like him lollygagging around the mammoth base camp on this scorching July morning, all reading Forbes, gabbing on cell phones, and slathering Coppertone Sport on well-maintained bodies. There's exactly a 1:1 ratio of women to men. "Everyone at work, all your friends, tell you: 'Gotta get a share in the Hamptons,' " says Ricky in his husky, mid-Island-accented voice.

That was what brought him out here seven years ago, to a run-down share in Westhampton; now, in what is becoming an increasingly popular investment trend in the Hamptons, Ricky is co-owner-operator of this newly built, beautifully landscaped $1 million house down a mile-long driveway off a Bridgehampton road, a share house crammed with hopeful bachelors and bachelorettes that has all the amenities of a first-rate Holiday Inn.

These are the denizens of the other Hamptons, the civilians who don't show up in the gossip columns or at the fancy house parties, the people who don't make Lizzie Grubman's list at Jet East.

"The main reason we do the share is to cover the house's expenses," explains Ricky, who still occupies the most spacious room with his two partners. They're currently building a $2 million house in the same neighborhood (bonus: indoor gym). "But of course we're into meeting new people," he explains. "So there's that too."

Three women in black bikinis splash about happily in the dark-blue pool as a buff, good-looking guy watches intently from atop his inflatable raft. Everyone has a respectable career, if not always a fascinating one: "Interestingly enough, I sell the cotton that you pull out of aspirin bottles," explains a 34-year-old brunette, stretched out on a white chaise longue. "At the end of the day, it's not what you did with the day," adds a 35-year-old Wall Street trader. "It's what your stock options did. That's how you get your share in the Hamptons."

Right now, their current house is rather quiet because the other dozen or so roommates have gone bicycling, beach-combing, horseback riding, tennis playing, or fishing off a sloop in Montauk. "People have come to expect things when they do a share in the Hamptons," says Sally, a law-office manager. "Pool, tennis court, A/C, a well-run house. We want Club Med."

"I only brought one pair of pants this weekend," confides a visiting sales manager from D.C. "But there's seventeen things that you need different clothes for here. I got to buy more pants." He looks confused. "I'll go to the Gap. It's okay. I like clothes."

At precisely 11:30 a.m., ricky sees to it that four cars are loaded up to go to Sagg Main Beach, with a brief stop at the town general store for iced coffees and bottled water. "You've got to get to the beach early," explains Adina, a 32-year-old media-relations specialist. "Otherwise, you wait forever. It's sick." Ricky is in his green Audi Cabriolet convertible, the sun beating down on him as the line of cars creeps forward. Someone has put up a hand-lettered sign on the side of the road: shag main beach.

Twenty minutes later, he's in. The beach is packed with people like him--Jones Beach without kids, old people, or anyone fat. "Yo, guys, you want a drink?" calls out Louis, an accessories sales manager who has figured out a way to run a blender off his car battery. He passes out a few piña coladas in paper cups. "You get, like, three batches out of those battery-operated crap-shit blenders," he explains. "I got to make twenty batches for my friends. I like to party. My friends like to party."

"If this were Seinfeld, they'd call him the blender guy," says a Merrill Lynch banker from Ricky's crew, pointing at Louis.

"Every time I see you, I think that you look like my buddy Howie," says the blender guy to Mr. Merrill Lynch. "But you're better-looking."

"Enough," says Ricky, firmly leading me away. "Let's get away from these guys!"

Ricky's housemates huddle together on a tiny strip of exposed sand. They bake in the sun, gossip, cruise the beach, and make tasteless jokes about JFK Jr. A few guys play a game of paddleball; by 2:30, however, the beach has lost its thrill.

"Let's go home and chill out," suggests one woman.

"Time to blow Shag Main," pronounces a diminutive investment banker. His blue-and-white Jams match the blue-and-white Chase water bottle he's sucking on. "Who's up for drinks in Shag Harbor?"

A fair-skinned blonde speaking from under a straw hat demurs, choosing to stay beachbound. "My new thing is, don't count on me for everything," she say.

The close-knit group splinters at 3 p.m. Ricky goes back with the "chillers," who grab bottles of Evian from the Sub-Zero fridge and take spots by the pool. A couple of women retire upstairs to their queen -size beds for mid-afternoon siestas. "No one out here can believe it when we tell them how big our beds are," boasts Donna. "They're all on mattresses on the floor. The floor someone puked on last night."


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