It’s no wonder Candace Bushnell is the inspiration behind Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw — her real-life romantic escapades are just as entertaining.
“You know, I have so many crazy dating adventures. I mean, one week I dated a guy who was 21 and a guy who was 91,” Bushnell, 64, exclusively told Us Weekly while promoting her one-woman show, True Tales of Sex, Success and Sex and the City. “Nobody tells you this is gonna happen. Like, that the age range is going to be 60 years.”
Bushnell’s column in the New York Observer was the inspiration for the bestselling SATC anthology book series, which was later turned into the famous HBO comedy that ran from 1998 to 2004. The show followed Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) along with her BFFs Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) through their dating lives in New York City.
Bushnell’s “crazy” life as a single woman in the Big Apple may have served as an influence for six seasons, two subsequent movies, a prequel and a Max spinoff, but the author never had plans to play the role of Carrie herself — even when Parker, 58, wasn’t sure she was right for it either.
“There was maybe one moment when Sarah Jessica Parker forgot that she made the pilot and, I don’t know, it’s a story. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to do it,” Bushnell explained. “So I think there was a moment when they were like, ‘Well, maybe [Candace] could do it.’ And I was like, ‘No. I wouldn’t even know how to do it.’ So I’ve actually always been thrilled that [Sarah is] Carrie Bradshaw. I mean, she’s fabulous.”
In fact, Bushnell doesn’t think Carrie — or any of the other women from the Sex and the City franchise — fully represent her at all.
“I don’t feel like the character is me. I didn’t marry a rich man,” Bushnell shared, seemingly referring to ex-husband Charles Askegard, whom she divorced in 2012. “I didn’t marry Mr. Big. But I’m single again. I’m dating, I have been for a while. And I’m always working and coming up with new ideas. I’m about being your own Mr. Big as I like to say.”
While Carrie did marry Mr. Big (Chris Noth), his death was the catalyst for the Max series And Just Like That, which premiered in 2021. The show’s second season, however, shows Carrie coming face to face with another former flame: her ex-fiancé, Aidan Shaw (John Corbett).
Carrie and Aidan dated on and off starting in season 3 of the OG series. While they called it quits after she cheated with Big, the twosome rekindled their romance and even got engaged before Carrie decided she wasn’t ready for marriage. The pair later shared a smooch in the second Sex and the City movie, despite both being married, but ultimately went their separate ways. And Just Like That, however, shows sparks flying between the couple once more.
“It’s another real-life story. I know so many women in their 50s or 60s, even 70s who got back in touch with an ex and it worked,” Bushnell said of the decision to bring back Aidan. “So you never know. It’s a pretty common thing. That’s something that happens in real life. So I think it’s interesting.”
Bushnell noted that it’s the thrill of an unknown future that makes dating so fun.
“That’s why I’ll go out with a 21-year-old and a 91-year-old,” she said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know, nobody knows.’ I’m divorced, so I don’t have all the answers. [But] that’s kind of [my] attitude toward dating. That you never know.”
In addition to enjoying her single status, Bushnell is focused on work — including her one-woman show, True Tales of Sex, Success and Sex and the City. The project was bred from the COVID-19 pandemic and features a whirlwind of remarkable personal stories of fashion, literature and sex — and features plenty of stories and games surrounding SATC.
“There’s a super fun game called Real or Not Real because everything that happened in the TV show is a little better or worse than my real life,” she told Us. “Like some of the guys who Carrie dates … I tell the story of how I came to New York and crazy things that happened to me. … And then how I created Sex in the City, how hard I worked to get there, why I invented Carrie Bradshaw and what happened to me afterward.”
True Tales of Sex, Success and Sex and the City will take place at Canoe Place in Hampton Bays, New York, on Thursday, August 17, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
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Reporting by Christina Garibaldi