Hamptons billionaire Derwood Hodgegrass surprised everyone this week when he unveiled a new “prayer temple” on the grounds of his Southampton estate.
Hodgegrass flew celebrity ayahuasquero Don Julio Luiz Pedena in from the Peruvian Amazon last Saturday, and the two men stood hand in hand at the unveiling of his stone, beehive-like temple on Tuesday, August 13.
“This will be the epicenter of my spiritual journey,” the billionaire said as two of his staff, dressed in what appeared to be burlap tunics and pants, removed a red satin sheet from the new structure—which billowed black smoke from a fire burning within it. “I am no longer concerned with giant pools, expensive escorts or the glitter of a golden bathtub,” Hodgegrass said. “I have been to the spirit realm and its denizens have made my mission clear—it is time to bring deeper meaning to this vapid Hamptons hell.”
Following a disappointing rejection of his plans to build a giant, 150-yard pool at his Southampton estate, Hodgegrass detonated explosives in protest and then fled to the Amazon after July 4. The eccentric heir said he imbibed the hallucinogen ayahuasca there and he has been exhibiting bizarre behavior since his return.
“I welcome those louts and layabouts who have drank my booze, slept in my beds and partaken in my sinful wealth to join us in this new direction to find out higher selves,” Hodgegrass continued at the unveiling ceremony. “And I dare the Town of Southampton to come at me. I dare you to demand this temple be felled, because it won’t happen,” he added. “This is my right and my religious freedom and I choose to exercise it boldly and without thought of consequence.”
Luiz Pedena, who “helps” the rich and famous with his ayahuasca therapy in the Amazon, nodded his head earnestly as Hodgegrass spoke on Tuesday. The two concluded the ceremony with a tobacco blessing, then raised their clasped hands together in solidarity, before disappearing into the temple, leaving a bewildered crowd of Hamptons party people, local business owners, press and Town officials.
Only Hodgegrass knows what comes next in this wild ride that demonstrates how often truth is stranger than fiction here in the Hamptons.