Interview: And Just Like That, Candace Bushnell Makes Her Off-Broadway Debut
The writer stars in her new solo show, Is There Still Sex in the City?
For more than 40 years, Candace Bushnell has been a super-successful journalist and author, often drawing on her own life – and those of her friends — to entertain and enlighten her readers. That was especially true of Sex and the City, which started out as a series of newspaper columns in 1994 before becoming the basis of the megahit HBO series, its two follow-up movies, and now, in part, the upcoming HBO Max series And Just Like That…
In 2019, Bushnell published a critically acclaimed book of essays, Is There Still Sex in the City?, talking about her many experiences over the past decade (including dating after her divorce from ballet dancer Charles Askegard). The book is the inspiration for her new solo show of the same name, which began performances November 13 at the Daryl Roth Theatre.
TheaterMania recently spoke with Bushnell about performing the show, her writing process and her feelings about "And Just Like That…"
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What was your main purpose in both writing the book and turning it into a stage show?
With both the book and the show, I'd like audiences to think about life in a slightly different way. As for the show, it's also just a really fun night out; it's funny, bawdy, and poignant. As the youths say, it gives you all the feels. And given what we've been through for the last two years, we need to laugh, individually and collectively. When I was writing my Sex and the City columns, I would have friends come over to my apartment and we would just talk about sex and my life in Manhattan and laugh, and I want the show to feel like that. In fact, if you go to the "Candi Bar at the D-Lounge" after the show, you might even make some new friends of your own!
What's the biggest change from being a writer to being a stage performer?
It's obviously much more physical; you need a lot of stamina to do a show like this. When I first came to New York in the 1970s, I went to acting school and read about the actor's body as an instrument – and I didn't get it all. Now I get it. You have to really use both your body and voice on stage. So, I took some voice lessons for the show. And I exercise a lot, which I might do anyway, but now it feels like it's necessary. I have to walk, talk, change costumes; this is not just me sitting a chair giving a lecture. I even get to do some acting, and that's been really fun!
Obviously, your book could have become at least a three-hour show. How did you decide what to keep and what to cut?
The old-fashioned way one does these things: I saw what's repetitious, what I didn't need, what didn't work, and got rid of them. As a writer, I have always been good at cutting my own words. And I knew the show, like a good column, had to have a definite beginning middle and end. Also, my goal is always to present what I think is the very best version of whatever I am doing in the form I am doing it. I always believe that execution is more important than subject matter. Finally, I don't ever worry about what the audience wants, because that gets overwhelming and can cripple your spirit.
I know you're not involved with "And Just Like That…" but can I ask how you feel about it?
I am looking forward to the whole new series. I haven't seen any of it, but given all the people who are involved, I think it's going to be great. And I think it's fantastic something I wrote so long ago will continue to entertain people.