The Wages of Sun

Photo: Photographs by Michael Edwards

Caroline Purcell, housekeeper

Are you from the Hamptons?
No, Ireland. I came for a friend’s wedding nine years ago and ended up staying. Back there I was a sewing machinist.

How’d you become a housekeeper?
A friend asked me to clean with her. Then I got my own small jobs, and it was word-of-mouth from there. I get anywhere from $75 an hour on up.

What’s the best way to make money?
Just get in and out as quick as you can. Big jobs I charge by the hour. Smaller ones I charge by the house. A small house, I’m done in two hours.

What’s the biggest house you’ve had to clean?
Ross Bleckner, he’s a big house. I go there three times a week: once for his guest house and twice for his house.

Are there any jobs you refuse?
The renters I usually find very hard to deal with. They just leave things. Like food on the counter, and when you get to it, ants are all over it.

What’s the worst thing you’ve found in a share house?
Used condoms in bed, of course. But what can you do? You’re there to clean.

Mauricio Castillo, landscaper
CSC Estate Care, East Hampton

How much does landscaping cost out here?
Contracts run anywhere from $7,000 to $55,000 just for mowing, weeding, and trimming. My highest customer is $95,000 for a season. There’s people that don’t even blink an eye when they buy a tree for $35,000. They’ll buy six or seven.

Do people get uppity about their lawns?
Absolutely. It’s like a competition. They freak out.

Why do you think women like gardeners so much?
I don’t think it’s the gardeners so much as the personal trainers or tennis pros. Those are the guys that are getting it. There’s definitely desperate housewives around, but they’re not going for the gardeners. We try to look somewhat professional. Our shirts are always on.

Jill Holloway, massage therapist and chiropractor
East Hampton

Do you get a voyeuristic thrill from going to other people’s houses?
No! Don’t say that. This is a tough clientele.

Are massage parties common?
Yeah. A big celebrity will say, “Call up five massage therapists and have them come to my house, because I’m having twenty guests.”

Ever get a client who thinks you’re going to give him a happy ending?
You can tell on the phone if someone thinks like that. It stops after you’ve been here a year or two.

Is it competitive?
There really is enough work for everyone, especially in the summer. August, you’re pulling your hair out.

Client Mike Heller, lawyer

What kind of law do you do?
I run a third-generation law firm called Heller & Heller. We’re in charge of the 1-800-LAWYER-911 number. It’s one of the biggest numbers in the country.

So you must pull in a lot of money. How much did you pay for your Hamptons house?
We got it for a good price a long time ago. It’s my father’s house. We’ve been coming here for twenty years.

How often do you get massages?
Every other week.

Do you ever wonder what the year-rounders think of summer folk?
I know what they think. It’s a love-hate relationship. They love that all this money comes in. They hate that all these people invade their town.

Wendy Schmid, stables owner
Applewild Farm, Bridgehampton

Did you grow up in the Hamptons?
No, I moved out here after college and started working with the horses. I built this farm with my husband twelve years ago.

How much does it cost to keep a horse here?
Anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 a month. It’s not lucrative. Your heart has to be in it.

Who was your strangest client?
I had a woman who would call to tell me what she was wearing so I could set the horse’s saddle pad and polo rack to match. She wore purple a lot.

Do you ever go out clubbing in the Hamptons?
I’m usually too tired at night to go out, which is the case with a lot of people who work out here.

Do you still get excited to see celebrities?
You know what?
I don’t, because so many are not nice people. A lot of celebrities believe they deserve special treatment and they can just walk into a place and just, you know, be rude.

Peter Ortiz, body-shop manager
West Hampton Coach Works

What kind of car is that?
An XK150, a 1960 Jaguar. It’s a nice little car to drive around town— a little tough on maintenance.

What brings people in here?
People that drink too much, although they’ve been pretty responsible lately. Years ago, after a weekend it would definitely pick up. Now it’s mostly deer hits. We have a couple people who lend friends their Ferraris, and they smash them up by accident. Nothing major, just enough to do $30,000 worth of damage.

Where do you vacation?
Anywhere but the Hamptons. I don’t even stay after work. I go to Virginia Beach. Hawaii, I’ve been theretwice.

If you were coming from the city, what would you drive out here?
Motorcycle, definitely. Cuts right through the traffic.

Hook Lavinio, pilot
East Hampton Airlines

What do you fly?
I fly two planes. One’s a Beechcraft Bonanza. That’s a six-seat aircraft, single-engine. The other is a jet, the Falcon 10; it’s pretty plush—tan leather interior, and five chairs that are like a La-Z-Boy.

Do you get paid per flight?
No, salary. Low five digits. I wish I’d get paid per flight. My house is in Southampton, one house away from the water. It’s 600 square feet, but we’ve got half an acre. Our goal is to tear down the house and build something modest, maybe 1,600, maybe 1,800 square feet. I bought it for $260,000 two years ago. Now it’s probably worth $425,000.

What do you do in the winter?
We fly our clients down to Florida and back. It blows me away how much money they will spend on a flight.

Chris Numbers, tennis professional
East Hampton Indoor Tennis Club

Who is the kid in the picture?
That’s Jack Cook. I teach him and his parents, Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook, the architect.

Is he good?
He’s a very good player. He’s my little protégé. What are you working on with Jack?
I switched him to a one-handed backhand last year. He’s 10, so he doesn’t really have the physical strength to make that change, but a lot of the top pros like Sampras, Federer make that switch young.

How did you end up in the Hamptons?
The club was looking for a head pro. I met the owner and here I am, three years later.

What’s your rate?
It’s $125 if I go to their house, $115 if they come to the club.

Does it get competitive?
Oh yeah. A lot of the men get very competitive. But I love that.

Do they win sometimes?
Very rarely. Only if I let them.

The Wages of Sun