By Jessica Barrett

Candace Bushnell: ‘There’s Actually Still Sex In The City’

As the original Carrie Bradshaw, writer Candace Bushnell has seen it all. Now she's back with a one-woman show about dating.

For an entire generation, the name Candace Bushnell has been a constant, comforting presence, there for you during the opening credits of every Sex And The City rewatch (and, let’s face it, there have been a lot of them). It was Bushnell whose work the now iconic series about love, friendship and ‘funky tasting spunk’ was first based on. After all, Candace Bushnell actually is Carrie Bradshaw. She wasn’t just an inspiration for the beloved character, she has lived her life; Bushnell documented her dating life in her twenties, during the ’90s, in columns for The New York Observer. Big even had real-life inspiration in the form of Ron Galotti, the former publisher of GQ, who Bushnell dated. Those columns formed the Sex And The Citybooks, which in turn became the Sarah Jessica Parker fronted HBO series in 1998.

And so, as I log on for our Zoom meeting, I realise I feel quietly starstruck when she appears on the screen before me with a Zoomscape that is, while not exactly Carrie Bradshaw-core, is still pleasingly fabulous: all pink details, cats and a mural of what I presume to be herself.

We are meeting to discuss Bushnell’s new one-woman show (True Tales Of Sex, Success And Sex And The City), which is arriving in the UK in February. In it she will indulge Sex And The City fans with pearls of wisdom from the ‘real Carrie Bradshaw’. She tells me, it is ‘Carrie Bradshaw’s origin story’ as well as a fun escape for fans to come and hear about everything from career advice to dating in middle age.

Candace Bushnell True Tales Of Sex Success Sex And The City


The show itself is ‘proof that things still happen after a certain age’, Bushnell, 65, tells me – a topic that is important to her – and something she has enjoyed about watching the SATC reboot, And Just Like That. ‘I think they did a good job with the show, I really do,’ she says. ‘I think that the audience, you know, they want exactly the same thing. They want that same feeling they had when they were watching the original. But it’s 25 years later, and times have changed. So it can’t be the same. That’s just the reality of doing a reboot or a spin-off.’

Bushnell says that what the reboot really got right was to put the women in charge of the dating narrative more than they ever were in the original (bar Samantha Jones, of course), and that she saw her single 50- and 60-something friends’ New York lives reflected in those on the show. ‘There is actually still sex in the city,’ she says, adding that she appreciated that it didn’t take itself too seriously. ‘There was one scene with Seema, and the guy had a penis pump? I mean, you have to be able to laugh about these things. And, you know, of course that always was Sex And The City, it was always kind of taking the piss a little bit.’

Out of all the women she met through the show, Bushnell became very close friends with Kim Cattrall – though insists she only found out at the same time as everyone else that Cattrall was making a cameo in the season two finale. Of the long-debated ‘feud’ between Cattrall and Parker, which has tirelessly played out in the tabloids for two decades, Bushnell says she thinks it has ‘probably’ been overblown in reports (something SJP herself accepted in an interview with New York Magazine last year. ‘It’s the weirdest thing, to be told we’re in a catfight,’ Parker explained), and Bushnell adds she would love to see her friend return to And Just Like That for season three, though notes, like Samantha, Cattrall is ‘living in London now’.

While it is her own material that first inspired the show, Bushnell has never had any creative control over its direction. She does, however, have a new television show in the pipeline, a dating show that will focus on the over-fifties. According to a report in industry bible Variety, titled Is There Still Sex In The City?, the show will follow four friends in their fifties as they trade in their busy city lives for a ‘dating utopia’ in the countryside. Bushnell said she watches a lot of dating reality shows (and is a closet Married At First Sight UK fan) but was frustrated that women her age weren’t reflected. ‘You can still fall in love at any age and be vulnerable,’ Bushnell says. ‘You never really outgrow that, which is always fascinating to me.’

Candace Bushnell and Sarah Jessica Parker


Although love stories will always appeal to her, it’s the empowerment of single women that Bushnell finds most potent. She says that, for her, Carrie Bradshaw’s legacy has been all about just that, adding, ‘Although she does end up getting married and all that, for the most part, it was the break-ups and what happened in-between that I feel was more powerful.’

Between the time that she first started writing her dating columns and now, Bushnell says it has become easier for women to be single. ‘You don’t have to be with a not great guy, which was what you used to have to do. There’s just all kinds of different ways for people to live now, it’s not hard to be single. And it’s interesting that, given the opportunity to be single, a lot of people will be single.’

As for Carrie, Bushnell knows that it is when she is single that she is perhaps the most relatable and interesting, and for that reason she understands entirely why Big was killed off in episode one, season one of And Just Like That. ‘In real life, “happily ever after”, that’s great,’ says Bushnell. ‘Carrie? She needs to start over, she needs to have new adventures. I can’t wait to see what she does next.’

This story first appeared on GRAZIA UK