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Candace Bushnell: ‘I dated a 21-year-old and a 91-year-old in the same week’ | Television

Candace Bushnell: ‘I dated a 21-year-old and a 91-year-old in the same week’ | Television
Candace Bushnell: ‘I dated a 21-year-old and a 91-year-old in the same week’ | Television

I was a funny little girl with lots of little girlfriends. A friend of mine said I always had the best shoes. She had to wear orthopaedic shoes – she had weak ankles. I wore red patent-leather Mary Janes. My mother was very stylish. I suppose that sense of style was in me, too.

I was a bit of a rebel, but I never got caught. I didn’t get up to anything really naughty – I just wanted people to have fun. I did once get up on stage at 17 and start singing with a band. I thought I was pretty good. Nobody else did.

I ran away from college and arrived in New York at 19, and I felt a lot of pressure to make it. I got paid $50 for my first published piece and modelled in punk fashion shows for the free clothes. I used to say to people, “I’m a writer. Do you need a writer?” I was determined. Aged 20 I got paid $1,000 to write a children’s book and thought I was rich.

I saw people doing drugs and women dancing topless in Studio 54, but I wasn’t down in the basement with Mick Jagger. That’s probably because I’m from a nice family in Connecticut. I was more of an observer.

Sex and the City didn’t change my life. It was an evolution. I was two years into the show, working in the writers’ room, having just written my second book, Four Blondes, when I got a million-dollar contract. That was what changed my life. TV didn’t make me successful. It was writing the novels.

Before the show took its own direction, Carrie Bradshaw was pretty close to Candace Bushnell. The character really was my alter ego. There are a lot of things in the show that happened to me in real life. Some of them were better in my life. Some of them were worse.

Sex and the City struck a chord because it’s about women taking charge. In the 80s, women were going to do and have it all. By the 90s, a lot of those women had careers and money, but they still hadn’t found a guy. What I realised was that when you take the “I need to depend on a man for my finances” out of the equation, women’s sex lives start to look very different. There’s more control, more freedom and more partners.

I got married very quickly [to ballet dancer Charles Askegard]. We married three months after we met and were together for 10 years. The day we signed the divorce papers was the last time I saw him until I ran into him in the street three years ago. We talked and laughed a little, but I’ve never seen him again.

I got divorced 11 years ago. The editor in chief of the New York Observer described the feeling of divorce best to me. He said, “You walk around feeling like you’re full of broken glass.” It’s a terrible experience.

I dated a 21-year-old and a 91-year-old in the same week. I go out with guys of all different ages. I’m not having sex with these people, but I do like going to dinner with them. Younger guys ask a lot of questions; the older men only talk about themselves.

When it comes to sex there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Another lesson is that you can’t rely on a relationship for your happiness or a roof over your head.

I have no idea what the future holds. What defines that is how healthy I end up being. People have very different trajectories when they’re in their 60s. Some people end up with cancer and that’s it. But I have friends with mothers well into their 90s. You just don’t know.

Candace Bushnell: True Tales of Sex, Success and Sex and the City premieres at the London Palladium on 7 February, visit

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