Upstart Wins With Tattoos

Matt Schmitt, a k a Matt from the Meeting House, was crowned Mr. Amagansett on Saturday night at the Stephen Talkhouse. Carrie Ann Salvi

    A relative newcomer to the hamlet was crowned at the fourth annual Mr. Amagansett pageant, held on Saturday night at Stephen Talkhouse.
    Matt Schmitt, competing under the name Matt from the Meeting House, dashed out from that restaurant’s kitchen, just across Main Street, and onto the Talkhouse stage at the last minute to best the competition as $5,000 was raised for the Donald T. Sharkey Memorial Community Fund.
    “Everyone knows what this is about,” Peter Honerkamp, a contestant and an owner of the Talkhouse, told the crowd as the pageant got underway. “We lost our dear friend Don Sharkey. A couple of his friends came up with an idea to start a fund to help people in the community. We’re supporting that fund tonight, and no one would be happier to see the kind of event we do here than Don, who, like most men in the audience, was expert at women making fun of them in bars.”
    The fund, in honor of East Hampton Town’s former chief building inspector, who died in 2009, supports community members in need and efforts for which Mr. Sharkey volunteered his time, such as the Wounded Warrior Project.
    Mr. Honerkamp then introduced a short film by Nick Kraus, the club’s booking manager and winner of the third pageant, “which was a disgrace, in my opinion,” said Mr. Honerkamp. “He’s not a contestant this year, but he’s even more egocentric than me, so he made a video anyway.”
    “It’s been a great year: I’ve been dwelling on beating Peter the entire year, and I know my video will be better than his,” said Mr. Kraus. True to his word, his video presentation was superior to Mr. Honerkamp’s, which betrayed a vast storehouse of anxiety and phobia and was mostly unfit for description.
    Dominick Stanzione, a town councilman and member of the Amagansett Fire Department, followed “Computer Shop Lee,” who led the audience in a sing-along of the alphabet song. “They’ve refused to let me do my act tonight, which is a shame, because it was an incredible act,” Mr. Stanzione lamented. “I understand that Peter had something to do with killing it. The last four years, I have claimed that the judges have been paid off.” Next year, the councilman promised, “the gloves come off, and I get to do my act without any interruption or interference from the people who have fixed this gig for four years in a row.”
    Curtis O’Brien, a bartender at Sotto Sopra, detailed his family’s deep roots in the community, pointing out that his grandmother was Miss Long Island 1946. “Sixty-seven years later, her proud progeny stands before you,” he said. “Along with the beauty-pageant genes, there’s also the fact that I coach the local youth basketball team. If that’s not giving back, I don’t know what is.”
    “Peter Mullet,” bearing a striking resemblance to Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, sang a song about Amagansett. “When I can’t stand it, I go to Gansett,” he crooned. “Down to Indian Wells, watch the ocean swells, then I forget it. Oh Amagansett, keep your beaches free, for you and for me.”
    No sooner had the Amagansett Village People, featuring Joe Bloecker, a town trustee, completed its performance of “Amagansett Girls” — to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” — than Mr. Schmitt made his dramatic entrance.
    Mr. Schmitt, too, adapted a popular song, Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” performing solo, a plaintive vocal with harmonica accompaniment. “It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday, and the bartenders shake their heads No,” he sang. “ ‘Cause they know it ain’t me that they wanted to see, on the stage at this ridiculous show.” The crowd went wild, though by that point a correlation between its enthusiasm and the volume of beverages consumed was impossible to ignore.
    The final contestant, Boo Bonack and the Plague, continued the theme, performing “the Don Sharkey version of a Western classic,” Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher’s “Don’t Fence Me In.” “Just let me wander over yonder,” Mr. Bonack, a k a Gordon Ryan, an attorney, sang. “Is your pool sorta over your border? Well, tough luck, pardner, because here is your stop-work order.” The audience reaction was overwhelming, but the act would be named runner-up by the judges, Tina Piette, Britton Bistrian, Debbie DiSunno, Erica Yardley, and Mr. Kraus.
    With all contestants assembled on the stage, the upstart winner was announced. “I’ve only been in Amagansett for two years,” said a jubilant Mr. Schmitt, “but I’m going to take it over. This is my town.”
    The pageant is one of many fund-raisers Mr. Honerkamp has hosted since he acquired the storied watering hole in 1987. Beneficiaries have included fire departments, scholars, underprivileged children, and residents facing medical emergencies. “It’s not uniform, it’s not perfect, but it helps people in need,” he said. Mr. Sharkey, he said, “was a jovial, beloved character in town. Everyone knew him.”
    On Sunday Mr. Honerkamp was still fuming about the pageant’s outcome. “I thought the entire process last night was criminally corrupt,” he told The Star. “Prior to the contest, I paid off every one of the judges, and all of them betrayed me. One thing a good judge does: When he’s bought, he stays bought. So they were dishonest to the extreme, and all my bribery went to naught. And they gave it to a guy with tattoos.”