Lena Dunham Stole Someone’s Underwear and Ran It Up a Flagpole

Photo: Steven Henry/Getty Images

At this weekend’s Hamptons Paddle & Party for Pink, which benefited the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Lena Dunham spoke about women’s health, a subject about which the writer-director-actress is very passionate. During one of the speeches, a giant pink centerpiece fell from the ceiling and hit our reporter in the head. (It hurt, but she's okay. A picture of the offending sphere is included at the bottom of the post.) After the accident, a concerned Dunham came over for a chat about water sports, sleepaway camp, and how she often gets hit in the head herself (with falling props).

Hi ...
Oh my gosh, are you okay?

I’m fine, just a little shaken up.
No, that was terrible. I’m so sorry!

It’s not your fault. Lisa Perry’s team rushed over to me, and Lisa sat with me.
Oh, I love her! Seriously, I feel badly.

Thank you.
And don’t be embarrassed.

I’m in a bit of a daze. I think embarrassment will kick in later. [We both laugh.]
Things fall on my head on set all of the time.

Really? Like what?
Props and all kinds of things. I don’t know why, but this kind of stuff always happens to me.

Speaking of misadventures, we’re curious about the craziest thing that’s happened to you while you were doing water sports.
Okay, this is the perfect day to ask me this.

Do tell.
This happened today. I raced in the paddle-boarding event this morning. I mean, I’m not sure I was really racing, but you know. I mean, I was excited. No, I was thrilled to be paddle-boarding with Tracy Anderson, but things kind of got out of control.

What happened?
I didn’t think I was going to die, but I thought maybe it was a possibility. So we were out there for a really fucking long time. Please excuse my French. And it got scary. I mean, I sort of thought the great deep, blue ocean might swallow me up. This kind of thing does happen. I started drifting pretty far, and I couldn’t stop.

What did you do?
Laird Hamilton had to come and help me. Without him, I'd still be drifting. He rescued me, and I’m not dramatizing. I didn’t know what I was doing.

Okay, that’s kinda awesome to be rescued by a surfing legend. It’s almost worth it, just for the story.

What did he do?
Well, he explained to me that I was completely misusing my paddleboard. Then he was like, Sit down and don’t be hero. You don’t need to stand up while paddling back. Look, you're working hard, but you need to keep at it. I just want you to get back to the shore.

It sounds like it might have been the pep talk you needed.
Totally. He was supportive, but he also showed me what I needed to do. I was doing the strokes or whatever completely wrong. Plus, Laird promised to tow me back in if I wasn’t making enough progress.

Was Tracy with you the entire time?
Yeah, she had some problems, too. But Tracy and I left as a team and came back as a team, and I’m really proud of that.

And didn’t you paddle pretty far?
Yes, you’d be surprised how long three miles is on a paddleboard. It’s a long way!

Yeah, and you’ve gotten in such good shape.
That’s nice of you. I mean, look, when I’m shooting the show it’s incredibly hard for me.

Well, I’m waking up at 5 a.m. and not getting home until at least 10 p.m. All I want to do is eat doughnuts and sleep. But lately I have a better relationship with my body. Now I think, Okay, exercise isn’t about vanity; it’s about strength. Frankly, I’m too busy not to take care of my body. It’s a profound shift in my thinking and how I feel. Now I feel good, and it's just a better way to live.

And shifting gears, I know that you went to sleepaway camp ...
Stop it! I love sleepaway camp! I love sleepaway camp!

You’re enthusiastic.
I’m not kidding, it was so much fun. I went to Fernwood Cove Camp for Girls for three years. But camp was a bit of a different experience for me.

How so?
Hmmm, honestly, summer camp was deeply emotional.

Frenemies or was this a good thing?
I mean — it was a good experience. It was. But it was girls-only in a bunk. Obviously things got testy. Really testy.

Does anything specific come to mind?
You know, a lot angst and emotional growth.

How so?
Just girls growing up and being difficult. And drama.

What about pranks? I’m sure you pulled some high jinks at camp.
Yes, I did the classic underwear up the flagpole.

I only think about that happening to people in a cheesy made-for-TV movie.
Nope, it's actually a thing, and we plotted it out and everything. We stole the underwear from our counselor and ran it up the flagpole. Now, it didn’t quite flap in the wind as much as I was hoping. But it happened.

The enormous pink sphere that fell on our reporter's head.