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Jack Biderman’s Three Hamptons’ Rules

Originally Posted: June 01, 2012

Lee Fryd

Jack Biderman and daughter Pam Barclay. (Photo: Lee Fryd)

"Everyone must bring something to the table," Jack Biderman always says. "And I don't mean material things. I mean something of themselves. Be interesting." Jack has been bringing his friends together for dinner parties for more than 30 years. Wife Isabel was a longtime art dealer who had the Barnard Biderman gallery on 72nd and Madison. So they attract writers, artists, gallery owners, significant Southampton locals, a former White House Under Secretary of State -- and, once, even Isabel's friend, Dewey Sukarno -- to their soirees. They cultivate new people while remaining faithful to old friends. And their Friday night Memorial Day dinner party in their Southampton estate section home was no exception.

Raphael Kustura by the Bidermans pool. (Photo: Louisa McKee)

Artist Ivan Kustura, local commercial real estate developers Arnold and Esther Paster (also a SVP at The Corcoran Group), local artist Neill Slaughter and media trainer Jeannette Hektoen, clothing designer Regina Kravitz, social Cheri Kaufman with fiancé, architect Bill Sclight, jet-setter Caroline Lieberman, even a Southampton High student in a hot pink wig, joined the handpicked group that included daughter Pam and her family. "We also had an expert on Emily Dickinson, with three PhD's," Jack said. "She's my favorite America poet, so he sent me a book."

Jack could spark a room of dullard's with his opinionated pontifications. Here are more of his Hamptons rules:

1. "Don't talk about the traffic, and how long it took you. No one cares if you got off at Exit 52 or 57." Ditto for how much your real estate is worth -- "unless you want to sell your house." (Wife Isabel is a Corcoran broker in Manhattan.) Acceptable topics include: literature, current events, movies and theater.

2. "Guests are like fish. They are usually not good for more than three days. The first day, they are fresh and delicious. By the third day, they begin to smell." And they should be able to entertain themselves.

3. "Never wear a black bathing suit in the Hamptons." But it's okay in St. Tropez. "You won't see too many here on the beach," he pointed out, "especially this year when the colors are so bright." (Jack is in the fashion business.)

Wait, there are rules for a host as well: "Don't concentrate too much on the food. Do something that's easy and concentrate on the people." Jack is known for his gourmet dishes, never serving the exact same dish twice. Yet he insists, "I put a few things together, put them in the oven and – Boom! It alleviates the pressure." No barbeques. "It requires a lot of work while the people are there, and it kills the sauces. A good oven gets as hot."

Disagree with any of these rules? It's okay. We love a firsthand traffic report and summer grill.

Among the locals, Ivan Kustura, who shows at the Pamela Williams Gallery in Amagansett, came with son Raphael and his Southampton High School sweetheart Louisa McKee. We wondered about her iridescent wig. "It's from Ricky's," she told me. Does she wear one every day? "Kinda. Sometimes. All the time. Sometimes not." See, we even got a teen perspective at the Bidermans' bash this year.

Louisa McKee, Raphael Kustura, and Isabel Biderman. (Photo: Lee Fryd)


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