Occupation: columnist/special correspondent, husband of Fiona Moore, Father of Finbarr Slonim, Declan Slonim
Current Residence: East Hampton
KDHamptons: How long have you been coming to the Hamptons?
Jeffrey Slonim: Since the late 1980s–a college friend was a Mulford, the very first family in East Hampton.
KDH: Why do you love it so much?
JS: The beach, the history. Sammuel Sherrill, the ancestor of one of my neighbors, was shipwrecked in East Hampton in 1650.
KDH: Do you come out all year round?
JS: Yes, we do, although we also like to ski.
KDH: Describe your Hamptons home and decorating style.
JS: Our house is on historic North Main Street, back from the street. We have a view of a horse farm. We’re close enough to Nick and Toni’s to hear the occasional bottle clink. The Dominy brothers made clocks and furniture across the street in the 1700s. So we decided to go a bit old-school with the interior. Part of the house was originally a store on North Main Street. We found antique silver bottle tickets in the sand under the basement, so we have them displayed on old bottles of rye and gin. The art is a mix of New York modernists: Andy Warhol, Ross Bleckner, Alex Katz, James Nares, Horst P. Horst, my brother Hunt Slonem, and vintage sailing photos. Our family loves sailing on Fort Pond in Montauk, it reminds me of the lake I grew up sailing on in Virginia. The kids do various sailing camps all summer in Montauk and Sag Harbor.
Every year I try to buy a painting of a sailboat at the flea market in Paris. Fiona grew up in Ireland, and when I first started visiting her family, the antiquing was great in Dublin and Cork, so we have 300-year old pews from Ireland, and ancient oars from the river Lee. I ran into Simon Doonan once at the airport on the way back from Ireland, and I had so many boxes of junk–old doorknobs, chairs, he probably thought I was insane. We’ve also been extremely lucky at tag sales in the hood. And the late Carrie Donovan gave me a piece of scrimshaw.
KDH: Do you have a Hamptons “uniform”? Which designer do you wear the most?
JS: Murray’s Toggery in Nantucket is my dream store. I have lots of red shorts. I have a good amount of Ralph Lauren seersucker and vintage Lilly Pulitzer. Every year at the Hamptons Classic, I find a tie or belt. I wear a lot of Belgian loafers and khaki pants. And at Super Saturday, The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund benefit, I have picked up stacks of colorful polo shirts from Brooks Brothers, Penguin, Lilly Pulitzer, and Lacoste.
KDH: What is your favorite restaurant and must-have dish and drink?
JS: Duryea in Montauk is on a dock by the water. They have a giant lobster roll only to be outdone by Dave’s (But I hate phoning over and over to get a reservation at Dave’s). The kids enjoy Gosman’s, where seagulls occasionally attack the table. We share twin culls. The margaritas are fun. And Ben and Jerry’s afterward is a must.
KDH: Will you describe your perfect Hamptons day in detail for KDH readers?
JS: The perfect day: Walk to Hampton Bagel to get an ice coffee at 6:00 a.m. and make an omelette for the family. Eat outside. At 10:00 a.m.: Tennis, round of doubles with Fi and the kids. At 11:30, bike to Egypt Beach. Fly a kite. Body-surf with the kids. If the breeze kicks up in the afternoon, we would rent a Hobie cat at Fort Pond and zip around to check out the lake and the action at Surf Lodge and Rushmeyer’s. At 5:00 p.m., dinner at Dave’s.
KDH: What is the greatest part about your job?
JS: I mainly write about celebrities. So, I tend to meet everyone. And, over the years, I’ve gotten to know all the famous nuts, and we usually have a good laugh when I see them.
KDH: What are your hours like?
JS: On Super Saturday, I started at 10:00 a.m. and finished at 2:00 a.m.
KDH: Do you live here full-time in the summer?
JS: Fiona and the kids do, but I work in Manhattan during the week, so I just visit on weekends.
KDH: What are your thoughts about all the new print publications this summer?
JS: I’m glad I write for Hamptons, the long-standing standard, because there are so many magazines. But the audience on the East End is not to be underestimated. Fi and I will just pick any random table at a benefit. We sit, and we are often wowed by how powerful these normal-looking folks just so happen to be.
KDH: Who would be your celebrity dream interview~ dead or alive?
JS: I knew Julianne Moore in high school, and of course, I see her all the time on red carpets, and we chat. But I’ve never done the big sit-down with her. And she has wowed me in so many films, in particular “Safe” and “A Single Man.” It would be fun to connect all the dots between the woman I knew at age 15 and the great actress today. And I guess it would be great to get a chance to talk with Andy Warhol one more time. He was my boss at Interview magazine when I first moved to New York. And he died so suddenly. It would be great to hear Andy’s account of the afterlife.
KDH: Do you have a summer anthem?
JS: The radio doesn’t work well in my vintage Jeep Grand Wagoneer. So I end up playing the same CD over and over until I practically know all the words. One summer it was ABBA. This summer, it’s Katie Perry for the kids, and my favorite is “Bobby Short Sings Cole Porter.”
“If a chief in the Sudan can,
If the hefty Aga Khan can,
If the camels in his caravan can,
Baby, you can can-can too.” –Cole Porter
KDH: Other than your family, what do you value the most? Whom do you admire the most?
JS: Great literature. Great art. Great architecture. Natural beauty. I enjoyed interviewing Diana Vreeland. Buckminster Fuller was a friend of my uncle, and I met him as a kid; he was a great. And when I first started coming to the East End, I used to have lunch on Sundays with Henry Geldzahler, the great art critic who discovered Andy Warhol. I learned a great deal from Fred Hughes, my boss at Interview. People say that the greats are no longer alive. But I find Karl Lagerfeld inspired—of all the people I’ve met, he has that unique outlook and inspiring style and taste of, say, an Andy Warhol. My brother, Hunt Slonem, is a great artist (sorry, I know I’m not supposed to mention family, but wait until you see the book about his work from Vendome in November). Woody Allen is incredibly charming in person. I sat next to Tom Stoppard at dinner one night; he was so smart that it was really scary. And when I was in college, I met Lucia Chase, a friend’s grandmother, who founded the American Ballet Theater—and she had known all the great Russian dancers; Anna Pavlova’s dance partner was her instructor. I guess I admire people who manage to accomplish a great deal in life.
KDH: How do you “do it all”–writing for so many titles and being such an involved husband and dad?
JS: Not such an easy thing. It makes me sick to let the kids down, and yet like everyone else in this town, I care a lot about my career. I read once that Graydon Carter said he had four kids in private school, so he had to be a success. So I figured if I put two through private school, I thought it would motivate me. But, in fact, putting two kids through private school is an enormous undertaking for a writer in Manhattan.
My wife, Fiona, works at a private school in admissions, so she is home for the kids in the evening and gets the summers off; so that helps. And in the winter, even if I’m up working until 5:00 a.m., I get up and help get the kids off to school. When I meet actors and actresses who have children, I always think that the first thing the kids will say when they can talk is “Where were you?” So when I do get a day off, I try to spend it sailing with the kids or skiing. We love to travel. There are a lot of tradeoffs in this town; I so envy my wife, who gets to spend the summer with the kids.
KDH: Share your most outrageous moment that happened during an interview?
JS: I was talking to Jessica Alba on a red carpet last year, and her gigantic diamond earring popped off and landed on a subway grate. I knew if I successfully recovered it, she’d kind of have to give me a great interview. I bent down, held my breath, and put two fingers on either side of it. And, miraculously, I was able to pick it up without knocking it in. She was thrilled and chatted for ten minutes and even came up and thanked me at the afterparty. “It was REALLY valuable!” she told me.
KDH: If you could snap your fingers and have any other career, what would you be?
JS: I do love writing, so I guess just to have the time to sit down and write a whole book–many of them, eventually. I also enjoy playing piano and writing music, so I guess that would be the backup.
*Photos by Patrick Mcmullan