I wanted to see Sex and the City 2 (I really kinda liked the first one), but I had to be forced to see a preview on Friday night at the Time Warner Center because I'd been saving it for my partner and my mom, who's visiting soon. But I couldn't say no because I was required to see it before attending a surprisingly intimate press conference with Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Chris Noth and writer/director Michael Patrick King today in the shoe department of Bergdorf Goodman—and I mean, there's saving movies and then there's saving movies.
I arrived early, only to have trouble figuring out which entrance to use—who knew Bergdorf's doesn't open till noon on Sunday? Once inside, I cursed my luck—trapped in the third row behind the tallest-ever woman, a striking Francophone who felt the need to pile it on by piling her hair on top of her already Everest-status head:
I was seated with a nice writer from SheKnows.com and an older woman who appeared to be someone's mom (but don't sniff—she wound up getting to ask one of the only questions and she told me I'm cute and that Noth could be my grandfather), with my pal Kenneth of Kenneth In the 212 a couple rows behind us.
They were late (shocker!) but not too, with Sarah Jessica Parker cutely calling out that they weren't all there yet, causing the hostess to stall a bit longer. Finally, they emerged, all looking gorgeous (Parker especially exquisite) in defiance of the "no photos, please" request that had preceded them.
The most exciting part—aside from when the eager security guard shut me down for using my Flip Video (I obliged by flipping it backwards so I could at least get sound)—was that I managed to get the second question of the day. Determined to ask something interesting, I asked the panel why they thought the series and films appeal so strongly to gay men, and then asked if any would like to comment on the anti-gay Newsweek article.
Nixon—who may have thought she was the obvious target of my question—laughed and asked if Noth wanted to handle it. Then, King took over. Weirdly, he started out bristling at my question, calling it "antique" (um, excuse me but I'm at least mid-century modern!) and rephrasing it to me as if I'd asked him if the female characters were really gay men and/or if gays only liked his work because it's fluffy. I definitely hadn't asked, nor was I implying, either of those things. But his reply softened the longer he spoke...until the bizarre ending, when he asserted he doesn't think gay men are any more likely to be attracted to this film than anyone else. Strongly disagree, but sorry, Mr. King, I came in peace!
Sex's stellar seller
Much better, gay-whisperer Parker answered me directly and gave a far cooler and more realistic reply:
"When I'm asked that, and I'm going to call it 'antique' question, about 'are these gay men, are gay men liking these characters, why, because of the style?'...I always said that the reason that Sex and the City actually became present in people's minds is it was a voice that needed to be heard, and at that time it was the single girl as leper, the outsider, anyone who wasn't married after 30 when society told them they should be married. So, I think anyone who's ever been an outsider—whether it be due to your sexual orientation or your anything, your gender, your race, your anything, these four girls have moved through the world trying to claim themselves...If gay men, women, children, animals, like this movie, I think it's 'cause of this story about looking for love, maybe with someone else, but of course mostly looking for a love of yourself...I don't really think that gay men are drawn to this any more than anyone who likes a good story."
—Michael Patrick King
"There is an emotional ingredient that when I talk to people in the gay community, the clothing is fun and it's the cherry on the sundae, it's the soufflé, but I really think it's this ability to articulate emotion—embarrassing and candid and intimate—and the humorous way of observing our emotional journeys that a lot of my gay friends really, really love, and I think that they're comfortable saying that and it's taken maybe the striaght community, the men, a little bit longer. They used to, like, at the luggage carousel say, 'I like your show...my wife or girlfriend forced me.' Now they're much more...they seem to volunteer more freely the fact that occasionally they even watch it on their own...the remote got stuck or whatever. I don't know. That's been my experience."
—Sarah Jessica Parker
Out actress Cynthia Nixon went on to point out that the girls are a makeshift family of the sort that many gay people experience (particularly in New York).
The rest of the presser was light and fun, with a nice feminist exchange regarding their status as "fun, fearless women":
...and with Parker throwing her hands up at the state of our culture today, with women being pitted against each other instead of being BFFs as in the Sex series (Kenneth wondered if she were complaining about the Real Housewives brand, though she's good pals with Bravo's Andy Cohen):
After, we descended on them like tweens on a hot Bieber, and I managed to get some nice, close-up footage of Noth and of Parker, who graciously signed someone's autograph and posed for a picture despite saying in her best Carrie way, "This isn't the best lighting, I understand...":
Then they split.
I decided I needed brunch, something being with them on a Sunday suggested in the same way seeing the movie made me attempt to flirt with a hapless French-Canadian journalist afterward. Good grief, he turned out to be the showbiz reporter for a big Canadian show...it's like I was hitting on Le Ryan Seacrest or something. It's okay—José lets me flirt as long as I feed the dogs. (Once you see the movie and read my review, this rules-of-the-game reference will make more sense!)