Residents of Amagansett crowned royalty on Saturday night at the Stephen Talkhouse with the coronation of Tyler Armstrong as Mr. Amagansett.
The East Hampton Town Trustee was declared the winner of the eighth annual Mr. Amagansett pageant after reading a poem he wrote about the unique spirit of the community. Mr. Armstrong was one of eight participants in the pageant, who also included Chris Tagliavia, Telly Karoussos, Ian Ozturk, Dan Becker, Nick Kraus, Larry Wagner and Ralph Perricelli. The pageant brought in a slew of local attendees whose $20 individual entry fees were to be donated to the Donald T. Sharkey Memorial Fund.
"I feel very happy and flattered," Mr. Armstrong said after receiving his crown and staff. "I love my town, I love everyone that came out. I wasn't sure what to expect tonight, but it was a huge turnout and all the performers were great. Everybody just loves to be here and come out for Don Sharkey."
Mr. Kraus, who was crowned Mr. Amagansett in 2012, pulled double duty as contestant and host of the show.
"It was a lifelong dream, even though it only started eight years ago," Mr. Kraus said. "I just want to keep the standard high. Don was a friend of mine, he was friends with a lot of people in town. Being a part of keeping his memory alive is important to all of us."
That keeping of the memory involved a fair amount of silliness throughout the night. After the contestants answered a series of raunchy questions, each individual performed a talent to win over the crowd. Mr. Perricelli performed a rousing rendition of "Blue Moon of Kentucky" in full Elvis attire, though he decided to skip the wig and proudly bopped his bald head around. Mr. Becker brought the mood down to a cool groove with his rendition of B.J. Thomas' "Rock and Roll Lullaby." Mr. Tagliavia also used music for his performance, though he chose to rile up the audience with a series of acrobatics and shirtless dancing for three lucky audience members who joined him onstage.
Also in attendance was Britton Bistrian, president of the memorial fund, who credited the participants and their "beer muscle" in bolstering their performances onstage.
"Don Sharkey had a huge personality and was the quintessential Mr. Amagansett," she said. "We tried to think of an event that was different from a run or all these other fundraisers, so we came up with a Mr. Amagansett pageant. It's good fun, it's the middle of winter, it's Amagansett, you never know who you're gonna get on stage, and it's all for a good cause. People love participating in it!"
The donations to the memorial fund have gone to various community efforts, including paying for taxi service for cancer patients who are going through treatment in Riverhead, creating scholarship opportunities for local students, and providing funds for local fire departments. Ms. Bistrian said that approximately $3,500 was raised at the pageant, all in the spirit of the fund's namesake.
"It's a really quiet way to get money filtered through the community for people in their most need, and that embodies the personality that Don had," she said. "People would always come up to him and say, 'Hey, I need something,' and he would give you the shirt off of his back. We started this charity to continue the mission that Don had."