Candace Bushnell: A Woman Still in Love With Manhattan, Girl Friends, and Sex and the City
‘Sex and the City’ author Candace Bushnell proves she’s the real-life Carrie Bradshaw as she talks about her new novel, ‘Summer and the City.’
At the age of 34, Candace Bushnell created the four girls we’ve come to know and love: Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Miranda Hobbes and Charlotte York of Sex and the City. What started out as a sex column in the New York Observer, blossomed into a book deal, a TV series, and two box office hit movies that have transformed the way women talk about and view sex, martinis and Manolos.
Now, almost twenty years later, Bushnell’s impact is still largely significant. Not only can one tune in to E! every weeknight for a healthy dose of SATC reruns, but a newly released study proves that the series has actually made couples more open to talking about sex and STDs.
Guys, groan all you want, but Bushnell’s genius creation isn’t going away anytime soon.
In fact, Bushnell, 52, has just released her latest novel, Summer and the City: A Carrie Diaries Novel. The book starts where the first prequel, The Carrie Diaries, left off in the ’80s, when 17-year-old Carrie Bradshaw leaves her small town and arrives in New York City, only to be mugged and left helpless on Samantha Jones’s doorstep.
Earlier this week, Bushnell spoke at a New York Women in Communications event held (fittingly) in the café next to the shoe department of Saks Fifth Avenue. Besides reading from her new novel, Bushnell revealed that she lives and breathes the Sex and the City lifestyle. Not only is she madly in love with Manhattan, but she emphasizes the importance of having close girl friends to turn to and sticking up for yourself. She’s the closest think to the real life Carrie Bradshaw you can get.
Here’s what Bushnell had to say about the possibility of Sex and the City 3, how to succeed in New York, and how the dating landscape has changed since Carrie and the girls were on the scene in Summer and the City:
On understanding the context of when Sex and the City was written: “Sex and the City was forged in the early ‘80s, which was really the first time when women were encouraged to go into the workforce en masse, and to have it all. At the time, it was a mix of feminism and Cosmopolitan magazine. It was one of the first times when women said, ‘Hey take the boardroom by storm,’ and also one of the first times when it was kind of okay for a woman to have sex before marriage. And if you were really, really lucky, you had this mysterious thing called ‘the big O.’ No one knew exactly what it was or whether or not they had one, but it was a big topic of conversation.”
On how the dating scene has changed: “There are a lot of things that have changed. There was a lot of personal interaction with people in the ‘80s. If you wanted to communicate with someone you could go home and talk on the phone, but you couldn’t Facebook them. I think perhaps there was more intimacy, more face time with people… I don’t know what happened to that thing where you meet somebody, and talk to them, and there’s the art of conversation. I was reading Jane Eyre recently, and it’s very, very conversational. In those days, conversation was entertainment. When you spoke, you really made an effort to be entertaining – it was one of the reasons that got you invited to dinner. There were no movies, there were novels and the entertainment of sitting at dinner with other people, and it was like creating a play right there in your dining room. That’s the way New York used to be. Every time you went out, every restaurant was a scene – it was a play, entertainment, theater!”
On the possibility of Sex and the City 3: “I don’t know. There may be something about the prequel.”
On women helping one another: “One of the things I love about New York City and that really inspired me to write Lipstick Jungle is that this is probably one of the only cities in the world where women kind of rule the city. If you don’t have women friends, you really won’t survive – the men are not going to take care of you here. When it comes to business, I’ve always had so many women to talk about career issues, business issues, what to do, and its like the camaraderie makes the difference for women here.”
On becoming successful: “You’ve got to ‘do you.’ Figure out what’s unique about yourself, your voice, and what you do well and develop that. The only person who can figure that out is you.”
Faye Brennan is senior editor at BettyConfidential.