[28 May 2008]
Contra Costa Times (MCT)
How pumped up is Michele Wong over the “Sex and the City” movie? Well, pour a round of cosmos and let’s talk.
To celebrate premiere night, the Danville, Calif., resident is planning a hot-and-fabulous bash with, oh, about 30 of her closest female friends. The women will be rocking their ultra-high heels, big flower brooches and nameplate necklaces. There will be lots of fizzy cocktails, fun theme music, frivolity and self-indulgent fantasy.
A little over the top? Not if you’re among the millions of “Sex”-aholics dying to see one of the summer’s biggest films.
After all, as Wong likes to say, “We’d do anything for our girls.”
The girls, as if you had to ask, are Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), the gal-pal posse that spent six delicious seasons on HBO prowling Manhattan’s concrete jungle in towering stilettos, bagging various beaus. Along the way, they revolutionized television, became fashion authorities and put forth a convincing argument that being single is not a disease.
When the series ended in 2004, there was lots of talk about a quick leap to the big screen. Unfortunately, Cattrall and HBO couldn’t agree to contract terms and the project fell apart.
But in the spring of 2006, Parker met with writer-director Michael Patrick King and got the ball rolling again. Now, the girls are back in a film that picks up four years after the series finale and finds our comely quartet “settled,” as Parker has put it. Among the plotlines: Her Carrie Bradshaw is planning a wedding with beloved Mr. Big (Chris Noth).
Naturally, the fans are stoked.
“I expect it to be like getting together with people you haven’t seen in a long time. You want to know what they’ve been up to,” says Donna Lynn Rhodes of Walnut Creek. “At first it might be a little awkward. But then it will be like just old times and you’ll wonder why you didn’t get together sooner.”
Her words speak to the remarkably intense bond that “Sex and the City” has forged with its largely female audience. Ardent devotees do, indeed, think of Carrie and company as their BFFs - characters in which they see pieces of themselves and/or someone close to them.
“Over time, you get to know exactly how they’re going to react in certain situations,” says Rhodes, who admits she has watched the film trailer “at least 25 times.”
It’s a relationship that began in 1998, when “Sex and the City” debuted on HBO in all its brazen glory. Based on the titillating musings of relationship columnist Candace Bushnell, it featured glamorously dressed (and often undressed), potty-mouthed women chatting ever so frankly about their sexual escapades.
It was both eye-opening and groundbreaking, says L.S. Kim, a pop-culture expert at UC Santa Cruz.
“It came right on the heels of `Ally McBeal,’ which gave us a notion of feminism that I found superficial and even damaging,” she says. “`Sex and the City’ represented a very different kind of feminism. Yes, there was a great deal of attention on hair, makeup and shoes. But there was a lot of substance behind its dilemmas and discussions.”
And it certainly got people buzzing.
“I remember watching it with my boyfriend, and he was stunned to learn that I had conversations (about sex) just like that with my girlfriend,” says Sarah Boland of Concord, Calif. “It was great to finally see that kind of female perspective on TV.”
“When I first saw it, I was a little shocked,” says Elise Wang of Danville. “But it was a good shock.”
“I just thought it was fun and (gutsy),” adds Celeste Ramos, a fan from Oakland.
Over time, millions became attached to lovelorn Carrie, hedonistic Samantha, acerbic Miranda and prim Charlotte. They followed them through “toxic bachelors” and “modelizers,” and through countless sessions of saucy banter devoted to topics ranging from whether size matters to the art of faking an orgasm.
Much of the naughtiness was embodied in Cattrall’s Samantha, who, as one writer pointed out, “sampled men like finger food.”
“I loved how she could do what I could not,” says Wang. “She was a strong, confident, independent woman who had sex like a man. I said, `Good for her. Go for it!’”
Then again, “Sex and the City” ultimately was about so much more than sex.
“It was the first show I ever saw that truly delved into our natural fear of men and how scary it is for us to deal with them,” says Chris Marx of American Canyon, Calif.. “Things like: `Is my butt too big? Does my hair look OK? Will his friends like me? Will I break a heel?’ By the time you walk out the door, you’re lugging a suitcase full of insecurities and the show just nailed that.”
“Sex and the City,” adds Marx, also nailed the “jealousies, the cattiness, pettiness and competitive nature of women” involved in mating rituals
“I hate to say so, but I loved that part it,” she says. “The show made it OK for us to be flawed.”
For some, “Sex” also worked on other levels.
“It gave me a boost,” says Ramos. “It was something that made me feel a little sassy after watching it.”
Says Boland, “For me, just watching the men was just, omigod, `Yum!’”
Speaking of men, a few aren’t afraid to admit they enjoy a little “Sex.” Bryan Deleon, for example, is a straight guy who gleaned dating tips from the show (“To discover that girls could be just as raunchy as guys was great”) and is eagerly awaiting the movie.
So which character does he relate to the most?
“Oh, I’m definitely a Carrie,” he says. “I’m a writer. I don’t have a real job. I’m into stylish clothes - Dolce & Gabbana shirts, Gucci sunglasses - and I have a horrible collection of exes.”
Like a lot of fans, Deleon plans to see the “Sex and the City” film with a group of his close friends - which brings us to what many say the show was ultimately all about: the tight-knight bond shared among the tightest of pals.
“That was a huge part of it,” says party-planning Wong. “So many women tend to cling to a close core of friends - friends who you can say anything to. Friends who will be there through the good and bad choices you make in life. Friends you can depend on forever. The show really tapped into that.”