Meet Sir Ivan! The Boy Next Door
Water Mill resident Sir Ivan isn’t exactly the proverbial Hamptonite: The 60-year-old party maven lords over a custom castle that boasts its own dungeon, dance floor, and moat. Is it any surprise that he reputedly throws some of the most notorious parties in East End history?
What first brought you to the East End?
I came here with my friends when I was in college. When I got my first taste of it, I never looked back at New Jersey. I may have been the first person from New Jersey to discover the Hamptons.
How did you become “Sir Ivan”?
When my brother [Alan Wilzig] and I built the castle about 19 years ago, I got vanity license plates for our cars that read Sir Ivan and Sir Alan. I thought it was cute. If you’re going to build a castle, why not knight yourself? I put it on my Jaguar convertible, but he never put it on his Ferrari because he’s the shyer brother. I’m more “out there.”
You don’t say!
I got my first recording contract in 2001, and I needed to come up with a stage name. I wanted everyone to know that Ivan Wilzig, the banker, was the past and Sir Ivan, the recording artist, was the future. Half the people think I’m really royalty, so I have to spend half my time explaining that I’m not trying to be some phony blue blood. On the contrary! It’s all a satire of the rich and famous. I get very upset when the media goofs and introduces me as Sir Ivan Wilzig. It’s just Sir Ivan!
Noted. How long were you in finance?
For 20 years, I worked for the Trust Company of New Jersey, a bank that my father controlled. I ran PR, and headed up sales and marketing. We also worked on a lot of grand openings, which helped me become the party maven that I am today. I graduated in the top 2 percent of my high school. Then I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.
You’ve been dubbed the Hugh Hefner of the Hamptons.
Growing up, he was my idol. I wanted to live like that, surrounded by gorgeous naked girls every day in a giant mansion that’s like a playground. What could be better? I don’t think there’s a teenage male in the country who doesn’t want that, but I made it happen. What became important to me later in life was being more like John Lennon. If Hugh Hefner and John Lennon were able to have a baby, I’d be their son.
Do you have a Yoko Ono?
You bet I do! Not only do I have my own Yoko, I was the first person in the world to remake any Beatles or John Lennon ballad and turn it into a high-energy dance record, which was just re-released. My best friend [and ex-girlfriend] Mina [Otsuka] and I re-created the Annie Leibovitz shot.
What’s a typical weekend like for you?
I have friends here, tons of friends. It’s single guys, couples…anybody who hasn’t been here and wants to be here is welcome. I welcome straight, gay, transgender. My biggest thrill is people who are here for the first time. I find myself very lucky to have had a father who survived the camps in the Holocaust and to have done something in American business that nobody else did. There’s a book about him coming out in 2017 that will be turned into a movie or miniseries. I want the book to be read by as many people as read Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. That’s how important it is.
What do your neighbors think of the castle?
In the early years, it was shock and awe. Who were these two young single guys from New Jersey who built this place almost overnight? Jealous people who want you to fit in with all the others would say it’s tacky and cheesy, but anybody who looked at it objectively couldn’t argue that it’s breathtakingly beautiful. The details are something that you’d find in the Palace of Versailles. If you find the most elegant castles in Europe to be cheesy and tacky and over the top, you might say some discouraging words about it.
Are you still throwing large parties?
Once a summer. Every Sunday, I throw a barbecue for 100 people, but I consider that small.
What’s the story with the dungeon?
That came later—it was originally an eight-car garage, but when my brother got married and had kids, I bought him out and took over the whole castle. I built the one thing that was missing—a dungeon. It already had the gate, the dragons, gargoyles, the moat, and the drawbridge, so I built the dungeon for historical and educational reasons.
Is it used for sexual purposes?
No! Stupid reporters who have never been to one of my parties or sneak in uninvited to create some kind of scandal that doesn’t exist make up s**t to enhance their own reputation at my expense to sell magazines or newspapers or get hits on their websites. I built it for authenticity sake. I’m not into S&M and B&D. I’m a peace man, not a whip man. I resent when they write that.
What are the bunnies in the dungeon for?
Mina loves them, so I threw her bunny parties, and those 10-foot bunnies ended up becoming props for every party. They’ve been around for 18 years. We didn’t know where else to store them, so we put them in the dungeon.
Do you have a girlfriend right now?
Not one in particular. I’m footloose and fancy-free. I have many in Miami and many in New York.
How would you describe your style?
Flashy, colorful, unique! I have 50 capes. I redesign them. I wear them to openings and red carpets.
When I became an artist, I wanted it to be about the art. All my jewelry is a peace sign. I even drive a peace mobile.
Which designers are in your closet?
All the Italians! Versace, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana…
What are your other passions?
Art! I like hippie art with peace signs, or erotic art. My mother owned the largest privately owned collection of erotic art on display in the world. I started her on it. She had no idea what it was and wanted to know. Worst-case scenario is having a conversation about sex with my mother. I told her it was sexual art, but not pornography. It’s more detailed and more than meets the eye.
How can somebody get invited to a party at Sir Ivan’s castle?
Through a friend of a friend or they’ve got to meet me in person. Sometimes I meet people through Facebook. They might be fascinated by castles or their kids might like it and I tell them
to stop by. The more people who visit here, the happier I am. It makes everyone happy. No one has ever come here and not left in a better mood. And if I can change a mood for a few hours,
I feel very good. There’s something here for everyone.