As we drove out to the Hamptons Nicky, we learned a little about each other’s backgrounds. For instance, I learned that Nicky and Bobby-G worked together at the legendary Media Sound Recording Studios in Manhattan. Back in the day, the three top studios in NYC were Media Sound, The Record Plant and Electric Ladyland – my brother and I recorded at the Record Plant so we built up immediate respect for each other …plus we just hit it off. Nicky took a liking to me because I was “living large” after my band AMERICADE broke up and my fiancé at the time left me. I liked Nicky because …well quite frankly because he was one of the oddest human beings I had ever met, and I met a few in my day …my dad called us both “knuckleheads.”
As we headed out to a house that a few friends of mine (6 girls) rented in Hampton Bays aka “Brooklyn East” Nicky asked me why we shouldn’t go out to Fire Island instead. Yeah… I told him the closest I go to Fire Island is on a boat fishing about ¼ mile off the shore. He told me he knew a few people (I asked him …yep… all guys) that go out there on weekends and said it was great. It was at this point I learned the real reason why Nicky almost bought an expensive orange sports car that he couldn’t afford – while Nicky was a very talented professional in music …the boy was NAÏVE! I’m talkin’ ….a proverbial Huckleberry Finn living in New York City. After gently explaining to him that – for lack of a better way to put it – “real” men do NOT weekend on Fire Island, I saw the very slow and gradual realization and then horror creep into his mind. It actually made me feel good to hear him explain all his hetero-sexual ways for the rest of the journey. By the time we arrived at the girls rented house in Hampton Bays, Nicky was walking around like he was Hercules meets John Wayne… whew ...okay!
I introduced Nicky to six fine looking ladies and Nicky immediately does two things – he falls in love with each and every one of them and …he immediately tells me he wants to BUY something out there! What is it with this guy, I’m thinking, maybe he has some mental illness that compels him to spend lots of money. Well, to this day, I’m still not sure about the mental illness part but one thing I found out the next weekend – while he had some savings, he wasn’t super rich – although like every Greek I know, he kept referring to his “dad’s island” and his “mom’s island” in Greece!
Nicky spent the next week investigating on his own, using his music company contacts and friends to tell him the BEST place to weekend on Long Island. I mentioned before that Nicky Kalliongis ran the studio and was an A&R man for ARISTA RECORDS, so of course, the suggestions he was given were things like, “Ya know, MICK and BIANCA like to holiday out in Montauk…” So with no regard to where Montauk Point is (let’s put it this way, from Brooklyn I think it’s slightly closer to drive to DISNEY WORLD in ORLANDO!) or how much is costs, Nicky asks me to take him to a place called Gurney’s Inn in Montauk Point!
I spent the entire 2-day trip (okay, it was probably only 5 hours but I felt like I was driving to Scotland) trying to explain to Nicky that 1-IT’S TOO FRIGGIN’ FAR (I don’t like to cuss, but I wanted to be accurate here); 2-Gurney’s was known to be one of the most EXPENSIVE places on our planet to vacation; 3-There were 6,000 beautiful women back in the Hamptons that we could be hanging with …that we passed back about 3 hours ago!!!
…it was like I was talking another language …Nicky smiled, joked and turned up the radio. As all Greeks like to remind the rest of us, they invented culture …well I think they also invented OBSTINENCE!
So we finally ….finally …FINALLY get to Gurney’s and it was like we arrived at the Queen of England’s summer retreat! The whole resort was ritzy and beautiful – the valet was parking nothing but Rolls, Bentleys, Ferrari’s, etc. - and the whole place looked like it was built out of hundred dollar bills! I found out that “we” had an appointment with some lady that looked like she came from four generations of money (and she just worked there). When we sat down, the lady noticed our long hair, looked at Nicky’s business card with ARISTA RECORDS printed on it and immediately her mouth began to salivate! All of a sudden she started dropping names and innuendos faster than I could disseminate them! “Ya know Mick and Keith are out back …having a barbeque with …Mr. Crowley,” and “Your being Greek, Mr. Kalliongis, I SO MUST introduce you to Jackie and Aristotle… the place I want to show the …two of you …is right next to their hideaway!” It was the next innuendo that made me grab Nicky by the back of his neck and try to lead him out of there, “…oh and by the way, you two don’t have to worry about …privacy!”
WE TWO …WHAT?! Yo, Nicky, this lady thinks we’re two finochios! (translation: finochio=Elton John) Does that deter Nicky …not a chance! This lady shows us this beautiful villa right smack on the beach. WOW! At my age and hormone level, all I was thinking was – a blind, one-legged man with leprosy could even have a harem with this place! We got back to the lady’s desk and after sipping champagne and eating crackers with beluga caviar for about 20-minutes, the lady finally puts the rental contract in front of Nicky.
…I will never forget the look on his face! Haha… finally something gets to him! All of a sudden, he’s looking at his watch, “OH… look at the time,” he says and then turns to me, acting annoyed, ”g! Why didn’t you tell me the time, you KNOW we have to get back to the studio, we can’t keep WHITNEY waiting!”
Uh-huh… yeah… as we shake this poor confused aristocrat-lady’s hand, I gaze at the contract …it said $38,000 A WEEK!
Nicky got back in my car a broken man. As we started the 2-day journey back to civilization, Nicky didn’t utter a word until we past Amagansett, this sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere. Nicky told me to pull over – as we do, Nicky starts saying, “This looks like a nice place.” I finally had it – I explained to Nicky that we were two single young men – there were certain rules …certain conventions of the day that we had to follow. For instance, two single young men DO NOT spend weekends on Fire Island, rent beachfront villas in Montauk, or lease homes in Amagansett! They shack up with 6 beautiful girls (for free – just have to chip in for booze and burgers) in HAMPTON BAYS!
I thought I had him …I really did. The next week we headed straight out to Hampton Bays and as soon as we were greeted by the 6 beautiful female friends of mine in bikini tops, the light bulb turned on again over Nicky’s head, “g, I’m gonna BUY something here!”
What is it with European immigrants? Even my Italian grandmother who couldn’t scratch two nickels together got off “the boat” and immediately went to the bank, got a loan and bought the apartment building in which I was raised. I’m not completely knocking it – most of those immigrants made money on their real estate investments – but Nicky wanted to BUY in the Hamptons! Okay, let’s look at our options, forget about South Hampton – I explain to him that anywhere where Billy Joel owns, he can’t own. Then there’s Hampton Bays, which is basically a bunch of homes that rich people buy and rent out to people like us! The only thing left was West Hampton. Situated between the splendor of South Hampton and the “party-hearty” of Hampton Bays lies a strip of rickety motels that were converted into WAY-overpriced co-ops.
Of course, Nicky immediately fell in love with one of these short-stay rooms turned co-ops. The price tag for this motel room …$87,000 (that’s THOUSAND)! Alright, so I didn’t mind having a place we could call our own out in West Hampton, on the beach – the plan was supposed to be that we make friends and influence people down at NEPTUNE’s on the beach (NEPTUNE’s was a beachfront bar that packed out and got crazy) and then drop the line that we have “a beach house in West Hampton.” The plan went wrong when we almost immediately began getting in trouble by “the co-op board” for just about everything! Apparently Nicky didn’t read the fine print that spelled out – No frolicking (I love frolicking), No barbequing with more than 2 people or 3 burgers, no drinking on premises, no more than two people allowed to stay in the room, no loud music, no soft music, no one under the age of 70 was allowed to use the recreation room …and the ice machine is locked at 10pm!
I seem to recall the local police becoming acquainted with Nicky’s room and his door being chained and bolted. We all did have a good time there though …breaking the rules!
…and you would be surprised at just how many drunk young people can actually fit into a one room, glorified motel room …I think we set the record!
(Continued… Part V, “RIO for Carnival and the disappearance of Nicky!” will appear on Wednesday, March 10)
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Dean Wesley Smith