''Sex and the City'' is based on the author's real-life dating experiences

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
August 23, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT
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The troubles of two little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. But when Manhattan newspaper columnist Candace Bushnell recently broke up with her boyfriend, Vogue magazine publisher Ron Galotti, gossip pages gave the news valuable space that might otherwise have been appropriated by Madonna’s baby. Why? Because (a) Bushnell, 37, writes an arch, talked-about ”sex” column in the weekly New York Observer, reporting about high-impact mating rituals from the chicest of New York’s dating trenches; (b) she shows up in her pieces dolled up as ”Carrie” and calls Galotti ”Mr. Big” — all other real names are similarly disguised; and (c) the breakup occurred just before publication of Sex and the City (Atlantic Monthly Press, $21), a collection of those columns, for which movie rights have been optioned by Melrose Place Mr. Big (and author’s pal) Darren Star. Oops. What’s a confessional-style author to do?

”I’ll probably write something about the breakup,” Bushnell declares in a Manhattan hotel tearoom, getting down to business with a procession of Merit cigarettes. ”What’s a private life anyway? In New York City, everybody knows everything about everyone else, so what’s the big deal?”

Apparently, for her, no biggie at all. In Sex, Bushnell writes about ”toxic bachelors” (”Let’s face it,” one character says, ”the unmarried guys in New York suck”); ”modelizers” (”they love [the girls] for their beauty and hate them for everything else”); life with her wheeler-dealer, cigar-smoking beau (he bought her some ski paraphernalia she wanted ”in exchange for a blow job”); and a universe of tough city chicks like herself, who have reached ”this place of complete independence where we had the luxury of treating men like sex objects.”

Why such swagger from a Connecticut-raised Yankee? ”I should have been married by now,” she says with a shrug. ”But I don’t want to be with just any old shnurly guy.” She shakes a hunk of honey-colored hair. ”And I’m too busy thinking about my career. I guess I’m looking for the male version of me.” Which, of course, means a guy who is happy to see details of his sex life in print. In New York? What’s the big deal?

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