It helped define a generation with its hilarious yet searingly honest account of thirtysomething Carrie Bradshaw’s quest to find love.
Sex And The City introduced millions of viewers to Jimmy Choo stilettos, Cosmopolitan cocktails and, of course, Mr Big, Carrie’s handsome but decidedly on-off love interest.
Now, more than 20 years after Sex And The City first hit our screens, its author Candace Bushnell is back with a hotly anticipated new book. A TV series is already being planned.
In the pink: Candace Bushnell, now 60, is back two decades on and has written a new book
However, if diehard fans are hoping to see the return of Carrie and her gang, they are in for a surprise. For while the original show featured endless romantic entanglements and ‘major dreamboats’, the new book depicts a radically different world – of post-divorce dating, Botox, young ‘cubs’ attracted to older women, and bizarre therapies.
Candace, now 60, has married and divorced since writing her 1997 classic.
She says she now wants to address women who find themselves seeking passion – not to mention the secret of eternal youth – at an age when once their mothers and grandmothers were easing comfortably into wrinkles and retirement.
Explaining that the new book – Is There Still Sex In The City? – is in her own voice and unashamedly autobiographical, Candace says: ‘At one time, fiftysomething meant the beginning of retirement, working less, spending more time on your hobbies, and sliding into a more leisurely lifestyle.
‘Retirement-age folks weren’t meant to do much of anything but get older and a bit heavier. They weren’t expected to exercise, start business ventures, have casual sex with strangers and start over again.
‘But this is exactly what the lives of a lot of fifty- and sixtysomething women look like today.’
Girl gang: Sarah Jessica Parker, far left, with her Sex And The City co-stars Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall
Candace says writing the book was a ‘no-brainer’. She started it two years ago after a series of events turned her world upside-down. Her mother died of breast cancer and her ten-year marriage to ballet dancer Charles Askegard fell apart (in divorce papers she alleged he cheated on her).
She had an enviable lifestyle, splitting her time between a £2.1 million flat on New York’s Upper East Side and a £3.5 million 18th Century farmhouse in The Hamptons, the super-rich enclave a three-hour drive from New York.
Yet Candace, who had once partied until dawn and was wooed by a series of wealthy suitors including Vogue publisher Ron Galotti – the inspiration for Mr Big – found herself alone.
‘The topic of sex, once the source of so much amusement, embarrassment, fear and joy, rarely came up,’ she says.
Jet-set lifestyle: Candace’s Instagram snap shows her relaxing in the pool
‘My single friends had been single for ever and not dating and therefore not getting any [sex], while my married friends were married and dealing with kids and also, I imagined, not getting any.
‘The thirties are about establishing yourself, your career; the forties are when you’re pushing forward, making money, about how the world sees you and how you see yourself. I wanted to look at this later stage in life, a time when women can focus on themselves.
‘I saw it with me and my friends. It’s a time of real upheaval. Getting older for women is nature’s way of saying it’s your time, your creative time. You can’t rely on romantic tropes.’
No wonder the new book has already struck a chord – with programme makers at least.
No return: There will be no comeback for Carrie or her friends in the new book
It has been snapped up by Paramount Studios for a reported £15 million TV series, and filming will begin later this year.
However, there will be no return for Carrie or her friends – man-eating Samantha, sweet Charlotte or whip-smart lawyer Miranda. Instead, proposed new characters called Queenie, Tilda Tia, Sassy and Marilyn have set off a feeding frenzy in Hollywood, where glamorous roles for mature women are in short supply.
Ferrari-driving ex who was the REAL Mr Big
Lovers: Galotti and Candace in 1995. They remain good friends
He was Carrie’s great love in Sex And The City – and a topic of speculation among fans. But the real-life Mr Big – the inspiration for the handsome, commitment-phobic charmer played by Chris Noth – now lives a quiet life in Vermont. Ron Galotti, 60, dated Candace Bushnell on and off in the mid-1990s.
At the time he was single, powerful (he earned millions as the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ) and a Ferrari-driving, self-professed ladies’ man. ‘He was one of those New York guys with a big personality – you just notice him as soon as he walks in the room,’ Candace said later. They dated for nearly two years before splitting for reasons neither party has chosen to disclose publicly.
After retiring, Galotti married Lisa, a former Olympic skier, had a daughter and moved to a ranch in Vermont.
He and Candace remain friends.
A Paramount source says: ‘We’re looking to cast a whole new set of women. It’s become the hottest casting call in town. The original show made global stars out of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon. Every actress of a certain age is begging to be in this one.’
Candace had wanted to call the book Middle-Aged Madness, saying: ‘You have to understand that in the past nobody thought fiftysomething people would need to go on dating apps and take their clothes off in front of strangers. Nobody ever thinks that’s what their fifties are going to look like.’ Until now, perhaps. Here then is her compelling portrait of today’s professional women – as Sex And The City hits middle age.
You can still be sexy at 60
IN person, Candace – whose novels, TV shows and films have earned her a reported £22 million – epitomises the new breed of women she is writing about. Slim, lean and still strikingly beautiful, her body is cellulite-free and honed thanks to daily yoga sessions, a strict diet which includes no food before 4pm, and long walks with her two poodles Pepper and Prancer.
She has a standing desk in her office and even a mini trampoline, which keep her posture perfect.
Her Instagram account is filled with glamorous pictures of her flawless figure in bikinis on beaches around the world, alongside photographs of her continued ‘obsessions’ – sparkly pink shoes, designer clothes and, of course, her favourite Cosmopolitan cocktails.
She met current boyfriend Jim Coleman, a 57-year-old millionaire property developer (who is suitably tall, dark and handsome), in 2017 after being seated next to him at a dinner party hosted by her old friend, author Jay McInerney.
She refers to Coleman as MNB – My New Boyfriend – and regularly posts pictures of him on social media, prompting fans to dub him her ‘new Mr Big’.
Bizarre therapies in the quest for eternal youth
The book describes the lengths women of Candace’s age resort to in their bid to stay young, including £12,000 wrinkle-busting creams and even vaginal rejuvenation surgery. Candace is unashamed about admitting she has a £1,000-a-year Botox and facial-filler habit (which she claims is much less than some of her friends, who spend £15,000 on wrinkle-reducing fixes).
She also discusses some of the outlandish procedures women her age have undergone in their quest to stay youthful. For example, there is the ‘Mona Lisa Treatment’, a £2,000 vaginal restorative surgery which Candace declares ‘is all the rage’ in The Hamptons.
The treatment involves using a ‘wand’ laser internally to ‘tighten and stimulate’ muscles to help menopausal women regain sensation.
Dating game: Candace says she believes online dating is ‘too much hassle’ after signing up to Tinder
‘Cubs’ – the younger men flocking to older women
CANDACE explains that she signed up to Tinder after not being on a ‘proper’ date for many years.
At first she was outraged that the dating app automatically set her profile to reach men in her own age group, which resulted in only a handful of half-hearted enquiries.
But when she set the male age range from 22 to 38, she was inundated with requests from younger men – she calls them ‘cubs’ – interested in ‘hooking up with women old enough to be their mothers’.
The book discusses the joys of ‘Unintended Cubs’ – or young men who unexpectedly throw themselves at older women.
Not that app dating went particularly smoothly. She explains how after two dates with a 31-year-old musician called Jude, he stood her up, saying he had to go to hospital with a mysterious ailment. Candace later discovered – during a champagne-fuelled lunch with a group of younger women she dubs ‘Tinderellas’ – that this is a common excuse used to dump a date.
‘Online dating is too much hassle,’ she concludes. ‘It’s much easier to say to people, ‘Can you fix me up with someone?’
The book also talks about ‘Bicycle Boys’, men in Lycra who become ‘weekend warriors’ on wheels. Indeed, she reveals she knows women have taken up cycling themselves and are ‘stalking’ these men in a bid to find a mate.
THE FRIENDS WHO CAN HELP YOU SURVIVE ANYTHING
THE idea of starting over again is central to the new book – and Candace credits her female friends with helping her survive.
‘When you get into your fifties, everyone’s had bad stuff happen,’ she says. ‘And these friendships become important because this is a time when a lot of women will find themselves on their own again for the first time in years.
‘While there are hurdles, for women it can be a time of freedom. It’s a time to start over and get to know who you are again before you were a partner, parent, caretaker.
‘I see a lot of women doing things that they’ve always wanted to do that they’ve never had the time to do before. So for a lot of women, it’s an opportunity to say, ‘F*** it. Now it really doesn’t matter what people think.’