Exclusive interview: Author Candace Bushnell wants us to know there is still sex in the city

Candace Bushnell standing in front of a cityscape
Author and social icon Candace Bushnell is gearing up for her one-woman stage show. Pic credit: Pic credit: Michael McGregor

Candace Bushnell is eager to assure her fans that there is still sex in the city.

The internationally bestselling author wrote her blockbuster book in 1996 based on her own experiences that became a cult classic following four stylish women living in Manhattan and their sexual mishaps and desires.

Her book became the basis for the groundbreaking HBO television series for six seasons and helped changed social attitudes about the way we view single women.

Bushnell changed the popular culture by writing about her alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw, first in her column for the New York Observer and later for the books. She also created the colorful characters of Carrie’s close pals, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda, who we all wanted to join for Sunday brunch on a regular basis.

After years of loving the characters and the actors who played them in the popular series and two subsequent movies in 2008 and 2010, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), there is a highly-anticipated 10-episode HBO Reboot in the works called And Just Like That.

Now, all these years later, Bushnell’s life and legacy are still relevant. The long-time New York native, known for her saucy humor, is spending her “summer of love” at the Bucks County Playhouse in picturesque, New Hope, Pennsylvania, where she is getting ready to present her one-woman stage show Is There Still Sex in the City?

The playhouse’s trio of Tony Award winning producers – Alexander Fraser, Robyn Goodman, and Josh Fiedler — recently announced a month-long engagement in front of a limited live, socially distanced audience.

The new show will reveal details from Bushnell’s arrival in New York City alone with $20 in her pocket to working her way up the ladder, to secrets behind the creation of Sex and the City and finding herself single again in her 50’s.

The always-provocative Bushnell has a lot to say about sex, feminism, fashion, Cosmopolitans, Manolo Blahniks, girlfriends, men, and New York City!

“Working with a company like Bucks County Playhouse and creating a show has been a dream of mine since I first arrived in New York, back in the late ’70s. I used to do a lot of lectures and stand up in front of a crowd for an hour and a half and had a great time doing it, and the audiences enjoyed it,” Bushnell explains to Monsters & Critics.

“I’m so excited to share the story of how it all began…how a young woman reinvented her life and in the process created a cultural phenomenon.”

Candace Bushnell
Candace Bushnell for her new stage show Is There Still Sex in the City. Pic credit: William Thomas Cain

Monsters & Critics: Why are you excited about your new show?

Candace Bushnell: It has been a dream in the back of my mind, but something that I thought could never happen. When I met Marc Johnston, my co-producer, who works with David Foster’s one-man show, he was interested in my doing a one-woman show and mentioned taking it on tour. Creatively, I am very excited to do this.

M&C Please talk about the basis of the show.

Candace Bushnell: We will talk about Sex and the City, the real Mr. Big, feminism, success and being a woman who wants to make it in a patriarchal world and how you manage that, and some truths about dating. So, I suppose this show has kind of been a longtime dream in the back of my mind.

M&C: Why do you want everyone to come to your new show?

Candace Bushnell: Because they are going to have a good time, and hopefully, when they leave, they will feel a little bit inspired to just go out there and be themselves. They will hear a lot of great stories. It’s the kind of show you go with your girlfriends and I am sure that you will laugh…a lot.

M&C: Is New York (Broadway or off-Broadway) in your plans for this show?

Candace Bushnell:  Well, of course, we hope for New York, but it is too early to say with COVID restrictions. Who knows what is open and what is not.

M&C: Tell me about being the “original Carrie Bradshaw,” what this means to you and how fans relate to you in that way.

Candace Bushnell:  Well, Carrie Bradshaw was a persona that I created and this show is about exactly how I created this persona and what the persona allowed me to do. That’s definitely part of this exploration on stage. 

M&C: When you were writing Sex and the City could you have ever anticipated starting a movement, and the way women related to men and themselves everywhere?

Candace Bushnell:  Well, that is also part of the show, because when I was a kid, for some reason, I was hyperaware of sexism, and, so that’s always been something that I feel like I need to talk about and say to women just don’t buy it. Society tells women many things about what they are supposed to think and feel, you know what? I say, “Just don’t.”  This has always been important to me, and one of the reasons I am doing this show.

M&C: Talk about your latest book, Is There Still Sex in the City, and why you wrote this book?

Candace Bushnell:  I wrote it about a passage of time which, when young women hear about it, they are like “no, no.” I want them to know it’s okay to have ups and downs in your life. I had a lot of loss, and it correlated with one of my best friends killing herself. I was just like how tough it was going through my 50s; I don’t even know how to deal with this except to write about it.

I thought it was just me, but I had all of my friends in their 50s and the same things were happening to them. They were also getting divorced after 15 or 20 years, having to move and having to deal with a completely different world out there. There is online dating, there are younger guys who are after you and you’re saying I am 25 years older. Now, that is definitely not something that happened in 1994 when I first started writing Sex and the City. 

M&C: Are there one or two major questions that fans have to know or get excited about?

Candace Bushnell: Well, they always want to know if I had three friends, like the characters in the show; if I had a Miranda, a Samantha, and a Charlotte in my life. And they want to know if there was a real Mr. Big. (There is!)  And, I also answer all of those questions in my show.

M&C: What are the other areas you cover in your new show?

Candace Bushnell: We are going to talk about girlfriends, the real Mr. Big, feminism, romance, money, careers, sex, and we may touch on … the many, many men I dated before I found my so-called Mr. Big…It’s about women in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and how women’s lives look and how they change through the decades.

M&C: I heard you are friendly with Chris Noth (The Equalizer), who played the part of Mr. Big on the show and the two movies?

Candace Bushnell:  We used to live in the same building and we are good friends. I see Chris a few times in the summer. He is a character, a really cool guy; I love him.

M&C: So what can you tell me about the reboot?  How do you feel about it?

Candace Bushnell:  I am excited about it and I am very excited for Michael Patrick King. 

M&C: If someone always wanted to write a book, perform a one-woman show or another tough pursuit, what advice do you have for them?

Candace Bushnell:  Well, you just have to go and do it. And practice. I’ve written a lot of stuff that people have just said no to.  And then I’ve written a lot of stuff that people say yes to. You have to somehow do it. I think it’s just about doing it if you don’t get paid. That’s part of the job, in a way.

M&C: Do you feel that women are often too afraid sometimes to be themselves?

Candace Bushnell: Well, I think that clearly, women my age have been through a time when society did not really want them to be themselves, and I think this is an ongoing exploration.

M&C: Well, and doesn’t it go back to when you get to a certain age, it’s not only about yourself but your daughters and your sisters and your nieces and all the women in your life?

Candace Bushnell:  Yes, and that is something that really has changed in the last 25 years. I think young women are more independent and unafraid to make money. They are not afraid to start their own company. When I was in my 20s, the thought of doing that was impossible. It just did not happen. People would just laugh at you.

Shot of Candace Bushnell's new stage show
Candace Bushnell and the producers of her new stage show. Pic credit: William Thomas Cain

M&C: Do have special plans while you are in New Hope?

Candace Bushnell: Well, I will be there with Pepper and Prancer, my two standard poodles. So, I know that we’ll probably go on a lot of walks. And, there are a lot of great restaurants. I’m looking forward to going to them, as well as to lots of little shops and great antiquing. It’s a beautiful, historic area.

M&C: Do you have a book that you recommend?

Candace Bushnell:  I am reading The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward. It’s about a family, they go on a cruise, and it’s very dark and funny and also kind of disturbing and scary. 

M&C: Overall, in your life what are you most proud of?

Candace Bushnell:  I might be the proudest of the fact that I am still here. 

M&C: Was there any advice that you got in your life from anybody that really helped you through tough times?

Candace Bushnell:  Yes, it was from a talented architect friend of mine, a guy. He said the key to all of this is he said you just keep doing you. He said don’t do other people, just keep doing you, and eventually, you’ll get you right!

Bushnell’s one-woman show will run from June 22 through July 19 at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA.

For ticket information, Click Here.

Seasons 1-6 of Sex and the City are currently streaming on HBO Max.

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