Hamptons come alive: the ABC documentary The Hamptons benefits from the fascinating gays who hobnob in the summer playground of the rich and famous – television – Brief Article
“To pretend it’s not the good life would be lying–it is the good life,” divulges fashion designer, equestrian, and part-time Hamptons resident Eric Gaskins. “That’s the press the Hamptons gets, as a place of nirvana. But it’s a real place too. Hopefully, this series will help people not be snowed by its mystique.”
The series is The Hamptons, ABC’s first foray into the reality miniseries genre, documenting the lives of 20 or so individuals who convene for the summer in Long Island’s legendary playground for the rich and (as the series illustrates) not-so-rich. Besides dealing with dranken rich boys and sexy party girls, The Hamptons, scheduled to air June 2-3, follows the lives of very different residents–retired police officers, fishermen, and “local folk”–during the tranquil weekday downtime. Also landing in this diverse mix are a few gay characters, including Gaskins and Anton Bronner, his boyfriend of 16 years.
“We saw Eric standing there with his riding gear on, looking gorgeous, and we knew we had to film him,” explains Barbara Kopple, director of the series. Better known for her documentaries on coal miners and meat-plant workers–Harlan County, U.S.A., on the former, and American Dream, on the latter, have earned her Oscars–Kopple explores her lighter side as she turns her cameras on this Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous getaway. Controversy, however, remains the order of the day: Coverage of socialite Lizzie Grubman’s highly publicized auto accident last summer, in which 16 people were injured when she backed up her SUV in front of a trendy Hamptons club, is included in the series.
Far from the glamour and mayhem of the Hamptons’ nightlife scene, Gaskins and Bronner’s life together as an interracial gay couple looks downright civilized as they visit with family and ride horses. “The filmmakers saw us as this stable, harmonious couple. Thank God they didn’t get any of our fights on camera,” says Gaskins, whose gowns have draped the famous frames of Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Vanessa Williams, and Goldie Hawn.
And what about the Hamptons’ renowned gay scene? Bronner chimes in, “The number of gays in the Hamptons scene has been really burgeoning lately, but we don’t plug into it much. It will be interesting if people now recognize us at the beach and around town.”
Recognition is sure to come to another famous Hamptonite: Steven Gaines, author of the 1998 Hamptons tell-all Philistines at the Hedgerow and local gossip extraordinaire, has already become a household face nationwide as he blurts out in The Hamptons promos, “The girls are so hot here, I almost wish I was straight!”
Gaines acts as the Greek chorus for the miniseries, commenting on local people in his function as the self-proclaimed “Mr. Hamptons.” His incisive gaze into residents’ lives is uncanny: “The Hamptons is for when you finally graduate from Fire Island. I took drugs and fucked my brains out but reached a certain age when I wanted to settle down, and I came to the Hamptons. As for the people living here, a lot were nervous they would look bad in the documentary. But listen, the best fashion accessory last summer was to have a film crew following you around. It meant you were someone.”
Link is associate editor of Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine.
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