Welcome to the Fun House

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.”

Ricky paces around the pool. For his paying guests, he functions as a combination camp counselor, cruise director, and concierge: He calls the caterer for Sunday’s lobster barbecue, buys alcohol for the Saturday-evening cocktail party, and gets tickets to benefits like Gourmet Global Tastings, which the house is attending this evening en masse. “We like to go to these charity things,” explains Bonnie, a smiley 32-year-old nursery-school teacher who favors Gucci. “Not that we’re so into MS or whatever, but it’s always a good party.”

Walking me through the manicured grounds, Ricky fills me in on the elaborate selection process for the house. For most of the spring, about 500 people, “professionals, 28 to 36,” pass through his partner Jeff’s Upper West Side apartment for a weekly Sunday-afternoon meet-and-greet. “Most owners like to have their meetings at Hi-Life or Trilogy or some bar, but we make it more personal,” he says. “Picking a house is like sorority rush or something,” adds Bonnie. “I just liked this house and thought it was a nice clique of people. It wasn’t too anything.” Ricky nods. “We like to get people who know people that you know in the house, you know?” he says.

“Where’d you go to high school?” asks Bonnie, turning to me.

“Dalton,” I say.

“Omigod, I used to live right around the corner–on 89th Street and Madison Avenue, in that big red building,” she says.

“Hey, I have some friends who live there,” I say. “Do you know the Neiders?”

“They lived across the hall from me!” she exclaims.

“See,” says Ricky, clapping his hands and looking my way. “See! Now, if you were applying for the house, you’d be in.”

At 6:30, Ricky presides over the weekly cocktail party at the house. The Chablis begins to flow freely, but many of the women aren’t yet ready–Donna, for one, is prancing around with her blonde hair up in huge rollers. “My glamour technician–you know, like from Steel Magnolias–told me that I have to straighten my hair this way, not with a blow-dryer,” she says gaily. “I like to play tennis. I bring my racquet out every weekend, but by the time it’s cool enough to play, it’s time to do my rollers.”

“Too many women in this house are high-maintenance,” sighs Suzanne, a trim 34-year-old who sells fashion accessories, rolling her metallic-shadowed eyes. “It’s like, relax. You don’t need to wear flip-flops in the shower here–this isn’t camp.”

“It’s not?” I ask.

“Camp is like when you put Nair on someone’s legs when they’re sleeping,” she says. “God, I totally did that once. It was terrible, but she had such hairy legs and we didn’t know how to tell her!”

At 7:45, the well-dressed posse makes its way down the long driveway to the Shinnecock Shuttle, a van service they’ve hired for the night. “We don’t believe in drinking and driving,” explains Ricky. Popping the tops off of cold Coronas, everyone packs into the dark-red van as a sunburnt TV booker slips into the front seat. “Just ‘cause we’re going to a lobster bake doesn’t mean we need to bring one,” calls out Brian from the backseat. The booker giggles and turns up the radio: It’s playing “Livin’ la Vida Loca.”

A huge white tent has been erected at East Hampton Airport for Gourmet Global Tastings, a food-and-wine-tasting benefit for Guild Hall. It’s barely begun when we show up exactly at 8 p.m. Bobby Flay is sautéing mushrooms onstage. “My God, he is just the hottest thing ever,” says Donna, pushing toward the boyishly handsome chef. The rest of the gang start circulating. “The guys in the house are nice guys, guys to like start out the night with, but they’re not guys to date,” explains Leslie, Suzanne’s slender 30-year-old sister. “My God, you’re hot,” says a blond stockbroker with whom she has flirted on and off throughout the summer, sweeping her into his arms. “Ugh,” sighs a plump brunette. “I never meet anyone. And if I ever do, they always live out of town. It’s like, you could’ve told me that two hours ago when I started talking to you!”

Later this evening the trusty Shinnecock Shuttle will return to take the group to NV, a nightclub in East Hampton, all of them patiently biding their time outside as Ricky chats up the doorman. For now, however, it’s cocktail hour. Again. As most of the group swigs Merlot at the Forest Glen?winery stand, I approach four women in the house whom I haven’t met yet. “No offense, but we really don’t want to talk to you,” growls a tall, pretty woman who resembles Lara Flynn Boyle. “We all watched Sex and the City last week, and there was this episode where Carrie was supposed to be in this great photo shoot for the cover of a magazine, but she was all hungover and looked horrible. So she looked awful on the cover, and the cover was supposed to say single and fabulous, but instead they wrote single and fabulous??? So I guess that’s what’s going through all of our minds right now.”

Welcome to the Fun House