The preservation, history and soul of the East End have come to a new platform. The Hamptons is a special place to many, and Irwin Levy and Esperanza León bring their love for this area to the forefront in their new podcast, Our Hamptons.
Levy and León have a unique take for their podcast: they encapsulate the Hamptons’ deep-rooted sense of place. As two East Hampton residents, Levy and León have been in the heart of that history for years, and they designed this podcast to showcase their passion.
“This place has such a soul and I feel like Irwin and I both, we see that, and we don’t want it to go away,” says León.
Levy, born in Queens and a 35-year resident of Great Neck, launched the podcast with León in May. As the former owner of Aladdin Pest Control, Levy sold his business to Terminix in January 2021, to take on the more relaxed role of consulting. Going from working 60 to 65 hours a week, he was hesitant to have too much free time. “I was never going to be one of these people that said, ‘Oh yeah, I can’t wait to play golf every day,’” says Levy. Following the sale, he made the full-time move out East after years of spending weekends there.
León, born in Venezuela, made the move to East Hampton at five years old. After graduating from the University of Toronto, where she studied art history, she moved back to Venezuela for five years before returning to Wainscott, East Hampton. “I moved back here thinking, ‘Well, you know, I’ll just try it out and maybe I’ll go to the city or someplace else,’” says León. “But I remember going down to the beach, and sitting on the beach and just saying, ‘Wow, I missed this.’”
The co-hosts first connected at León’s Latin American art and design gallery, ARTSOLAR. León opened this East Hampton space on North Main Street in 2001 featuring all types of contemporary art, including paintings, drawings, prints, photography and sculpture from around Latin America. Levy was a regular client at the gallery, and formed a friendship with León during their conversations about art and ideas.
Eventually, Levy suggested starting a podcast with León. She agreed and the two began recording stories for listeners to “eavesdrop” on their conversations that range from history to preservation. Levy learned everything he could about podcast production from a relative.
Next, Levy and León began creating episodes. Their first dropped in May on the Amagansett neighborhood of Poseyville, home to many baymen, and now undergoing major development. Their next was on The Apaquogue, an early 20th-century boarding house that was part of a 100-acre farm in Georgica. A two-part series on Sag Harbor’s historically black communities referred to as SANS, the acronym for Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest and Ninevah Beach Subdivisions, was released in August.
Levy’s and León’s involvement in their community has strengthened over the years. They dedicate their time to preserving the place that they call home. Levy is president of the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society and serves on the Springs Citizen Advisory Committee and the town’s nature preserve committee. He also volunteers as a docent at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton and remains involved with the library and historical society.
León is the vice chair of the East Hampton Town Architectural Review Board – plus she has played a huge role in saving the shack remains of a historic Wainscott farm from demolition. “I suppose that really awakened the passion for history and preservation that I know I’ve always had,” says León. Considering León’s far-away birthplace, she has longed to find comfort in new places, and the East Hampton community has provided her with that.
“East Hampton is a real love for me,” she says.
León and Levy’s journey continues with episodes released every other week and they tease their episodes as well as impart some historical nuggets on their Instagram page @ourhamptonspodcast. At the root of it all is their everlasting love for this part of the island.
“We’re not academics, we’re not historians, we’re not celebrity/billionaire stalkers, we’re just two people who love this place,” says Levy.
Search “Our Hamptons” to listen anywhere you get your podcasts or click here.
This article appeared as the cover story for the September 2022 issue of Behind The Hedges. Read the digital version here.