By Jerry Powers
South Beach, FL – My name is Jerry Powers. I’ve had about four gigs in my life; gigs to me are companies that I started. I never applied for a job mostly because I was certain no one would ever hire me. Actually, I did have one—a whole other yarn—but suffice to say it didn’t even last one year.
But publishing is the most magical business so far. No names have been changed; no people, places or things that are innocent need protecting. It was fun, exciting, game-changing in so many ways and gave me and a whole bunch of people a chance to live their dreams. It’s a hell of a story.
It was the summer of 1991. I lived and worked in New York City and was lucky enough to have a cozy place in Southampton. Every weekend from May through September it was driving, escaping from the city under the Midtown Tunnel or the Triborough to the LIE (Long Island Expressway) to Route 27 and the Hamptons.
In May and early June, the minute the clock hit 4:00 on Friday, it was off to the “races.” Quick stops at Zabar’s, Barney Greengrass and what usually turned out to be three hours on the road to paradise, my American dream from a small apartment—and offices in the concrete jungle known as the city—to the country. Yep, country living, hills, winding roads, bays, streams, trees, farms, pick-your-own-berries, fresh corn—all of it and more.
It was, and still is, God’s chosen few thousand lucky New Yorkers who got a three-day pass every weekend to escape from the hustle and bustle of stressful high-intensity, “survival of the fittest” work environment. This one-percent worked for or owned NY’s fashion, real estate, media and entertainment industries. Did I mention lawyers, hedge-funders, trust fund babies? They (we) all swore we were “going to the country,” mostly for a holistic escape from the exact same people we spent all weekend trying to find by tuning our factory-installed “South of the Highway” micro chip GPS. It was East, South and Westhampton; Sag Harbor, Water Mill, Sagaponack, etc. And search we did: At the two movie theaters, watering holes, chic and not so chic restaurants, beaches, art galleries, flea markets, and trendy local and national high-end, expensive stores.
That was just the daytime. At night, we lifted our antennas hoping for strong signals that broadcast invites to private dinner parties from the richest of the rich. An invite to Ron Perlman’s private weekend movie screenings, if played right, could make your whole year. Puffy’s “White Party” or the occasional Paul Simon concert took second place. If unsuccessful we could always purchase tables or admission to high-ticket charity events for local museums, polo or tented events where you could definitely see and meet celebs like Billy Joel, Roger Waters, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, Calvin Klein, Spielberg. And then God created Polo and Super Saturday.
And believe it or not, the whole enchilada was tied to this oversized coffee table weekly (not exactly a literary prize winner), the in-season chronicler of it all, called Hamptons magazine. It was the Bible. Your picture in the magazine or name on the list could make your whole season.
I see the ball early. I was about to move to Miami Beach and the summer of 1991 was devoted to figuring out a way to start the Hamptons magazine of South Beach. Most people around me didn’t think it was a brilliant idea.
The Hamptons was one of two or three places in the world where cash, creativity, art and cachet dominated. Originally, a hip artist colony turned wasp CEO enclave, where the Palm Beach crowd spent summers, the Hamptons ruled.
Miami Beach on the other hand was in ruins. The Beach was full of rundown “old age homes,” with mostly broken or flickering hotel names—some famous in the ’30s and ’50s when Sinatra and the Rat Pack came to play. What was the home to the number-one weekly “live” network TV show hosted by Jackie Gleason and the June Taylor Dancers hit bottom by the late ’80s and early ’90s. Crack houses and crime ruled (watch Scarface, the Pacino version). Just take a second to recall where Dade County dumped Fidel Castro’s joke on the U.S. after he released Cuba’s criminals and insane population.
Miami Beach’s main import was drugs, and its chief export was cash and guns. There was more cash being deposited in Miami—laundered by very willing banks—than anywhere else in the United States.
Hamptons magazine in Miami Beach, why not?
Sometime in the summer of 1991 Ocean Drive magazine, at least in concept, was born. All the preconstruction took place on Noyac Road in Southampton. Soon the founders (myself, Jacquelynn and Sandi Powers) sought out two people: Jason Binn, who played a super important role in the yet to be published magazine and would remain in my life for many years, and Randy Schindler, who never took part in the Miami company but nonetheless always remained a ghostly like shadow.
Featuring Alan Grubman, The Move To Miami, Hurricane Andrew, The News Café, Gianni Versace, Tony Goldman, Tara Solomon, South Beach magazine, Gary James, Louis Canales and Susan Brustman.