It’s poetic that Candace Bushnell and Carrie Bradshaw, the alter ego she created nearly 25 years ago, are returning to take New York City at the same time.
The author’s one-woman show, “Is There Still Sex in the City?” starts previews at the Daryl Roth Theater on November 13 — and the buzzy “Sex and the City” sequel, “And Just Like That . . .” launches on HBO Max weeks later.
“It’s a coming-of-age story . . . It’s how I created Carrie Bradshaw, why I created Carrie Bradshaw, what happened to me afterward,” said Bushnell.
“It’s really the creation story of Carrie Bradshaw — and that’s my story.”
Bushnell, 62 and divorced, still had a lot to say about New York City dating in her 2019 novel, “Is There Still Sex in the City?” with her characters worrying about “cubbing” — when a younger man pursues an older woman — and vaginal rejuvenation, among other hot topics.
It was around that time that she started mulling the idea of a one-woman performance, with the help of director Lorin Latarro. Previews start Nov. 13 at the Daryl Roth Theatre, and the show — in which Bushnell’s poodles, Pepper and Prancer, have walk-on roles — opens Dec. 7.
There’s just one thing she doesn’t love about it: “I have to wear Spanx!”
After years ago insisting she wasn’t going to answer any more questions about “the nonexistent-in-reality Carrie Bradshaw,” Bushnell has made peace with her legacy. But that doesn’t mean that she’s not critical of “Sex and the City” — or that she understands why people are so obsessive about it.
“I don’t look at the TV show the way other people look at it. I don’t parse every little bit. It’s a great show, it’s really funny. But there are fans who . . . it’s like, that show really guides them,” she said.
Landing Mr. Big, she added, should not be the takeaway.
“The reality is, finding a guy is maybe not your best economic choice in the long term. Men can be very dangerous to women in a lot of different ways. We never talk about this, but that’s something that women need to think about: You can do a lot less . . . when you have to rely on a man,” Bushnell told The Post. “The TV show and the message were not very feminist at the end.
“But that’s TV. That’s entertainment. That’s why people should not base their lives on a TV show.”
She certainly isn’t surprised that “SATC” is making a return.
“HBO’s going to make money on it. They’re going to exploit it as much as they can,” Bushnell said. “They rebooted ‘Gossip Girl.’ If they didn’t reboot ‘Sex in the City,’ it would be really strange.”
And while “I don’t know anything about what the new show’s going to be about,” Bushnell added, she will watch the sequel — with stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis in their iconic roles as Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte, respectively.
“Of course I’m going to watch it . . . I hope it runs for six seasons. I get paid a little bit of money,” she said, laughing.
But one friend Bushnell may not talk about it with is Kim Cattrall — aka Samantha from “SATC” — who is not returning.
As The Post has reported over the past few years, Cattrall felt frozen out of her co-stars’ tight clique — news that shocked fans who wanted to believe the actresses were as close off-camera as on.
“My Mom asked me today, ‘When will that @sarahjessicaparker, that hypocrite, leave you alone?’ ” Cattrall wrote in a 2018 Instagram post. She also told followers to “copy and paste [the] link” to a Post story entitled, “Inside the mean girls culture that destroyed ‘Sex and the City.’ ”
“I absolutely love Kim,” said Bushnell. “But it seems she wants to do other things, and she doesn’t feel like doing the show. Maybe she doesn’t want to be that character anymore. Maybe she doesn’t want to put the Spanx on!
“In real life, those women are not those characters — they are the opposite. Sarah Jessica Parker, she’s been married forever to the same guy. She’s got kids. I don’t know her very well, but she seems to be very family-oriented [in a way Carrie is not].”
There’s another big difference, the author pointed out, between Carrie and SJP — and between SJP and Bushnell herself.
“[Parker] is rich. She is not keeping her sweater in an oven [instead of a closet, like Carrie once did], OK? When she was in her 20s, she was very successful. I wasn’t, and I was scared.”
In her off-Broadway show, Bushnell recounts her own origin story, growing up in Glastonbury, Conn., with a father who helped invent a hydrogen fuel cell integral to the Apollo space missions.
She moved to NYC at 19 with just $20 in her pocket and felt fear on the streets “every minute . . . You couldn’t walk half a block without being harassed. I mean, really harassed. Harassed in a way that you just — you’d feel yourself shrinking down to nothing and just feeling so ashamed.”
“You have to figure out, ‘How can I handle this?’ ” Bushnell recalled. Her tactic was to tell off her harassers: “F–k you, f–kers!’ Because you can’t make it go away.”
To Bushnell, “Sex and the City” was never merely about the physical act of sex.
“It was the larger idea of what’s sexy: Doing business is sexy, being ambitious is sexy, staying up until 4 in the morning and partying is sexy. Power conversation is sexy. Getting to the number-one table in the restaurant — that’s sexy,” she recalled. “New York was sexy. It was exciting, but at the same time, it was filled with landmines like Harvey Weinstein.
“These men are freaking scary. I would actually look at these guys and I would think, ‘How could the women even be around them?’ ”
From 1994 to 1996, Bushnell wrote her dating column for the Observer, which then became her book “Sex and the City” — and the rights were snapped up by her friend, TV producer Darren Starr, who turned it into the HBO show. (“You really don’t get as much money as people think you do,” she said about that.)
“That is my story and the story of my friends — single women in their 30s,” she recalled. “We hadn’t seen this character before: The woman who was exploring her own life, her options . . . she wasn’t getting married in her 20s and having kids.
“It was about a new woman who comes to New York to make it like a man.”
At 43, Bushnell, who has no children, wed Charles Askegard, a New York City Ballet dancer 10 years her junior. They divorced nine years later, amid reports of his alleged affair with ballerina Georgina Pazcoguin.
“She was a younger woman, and if a 23-year-old is after your 42-year-old husband and they work, travel and dance together, there are situations where you can’t compete,” Bushnell has said. “It’s just kind of the law of the jungle.”
She has only seen her ex once since their breakup. “We had a couple laughs,” the author told The Post. “There are some people who, they come into your life, you never saw them before, and then, when they go out of your life, you’re never going to see them after.”
Bushnell splits her time between Manhattan and Sag Harbor. Despite breaking up with Jim Coleman, a real-estate adviser/consultant whom in a 2019 Post story she called “Mr. Bigger,” Bushnell cryptically hinted that the two haven’t quite ended their romance, but did not elaborate.
Asked if she thinks her obit will read, “Candace Bushnell — ‘Sex and the City’ creator,” the author said: “It will say Candace Bushnell, and then my list of accomplishments. ‘Sex and the City’ will be one.
“I don’t think about the show that much. I’ve written, I don’t know, seven books since then. Each one has been about women at a different time in their lives, so that’s what I’m really interested in.”
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