Sex and the City, which debuted 20 years ago, was not just a TV series. It was a phenomenon—a comedy, a fashion bible, a trend report, a manual to New York, a lifestyle manifesto. The show’s success, and its cultural footprint, can be attributed to several factors that amounted to a perfect storm: frank and provocative subject matter, ultra-contemporary fad-spotting, and an arc, old-fashioned in tone that sometimes laughed with its sexually adventurous characters, but more often laughed at them.
“Pretty much every topic discussed in the first season could double as a 2018 Style Section article with very little tweaking.” says Glynnis Macnicol with Elle Magazine.
Sex and the City radically changed the conversation about women and sex—arguably as much as Madonna did in her day—and it provided a few new templates for women to see themselves in (you can complain these are restricting, but not as restricting as no templates). But as far as the fundamentals go, we’re still struggling with exactly the same issues. Maybe this is to be expected; modern-day womanhood is barely half a century old. But it gives the lie to the idea that recognizing there is a problem is the first step toward fixing it. Recognizing a problem is good for ratings, website traffic, and book sales; fixing it is a whole other matter.
“Carrie was writing about sexual politics and relationships, and men and women’s roles socially, so the conversations were often about intimacy and the role it plays in these women’s lives, “says Sarah Jessica Parker said to HBO.com, “That’s what was so new — it involved language that made it new for women to be having these conversations. What was equally as important as the sex, is the way they were sharing and revealing truths of their lives.”
Despite Carrie’s rumination, Sex and the City, was never an angsty, gritty, or even especially thoughtful show. But this didn’t stop it from becoming a religiously observed guidebook, of sorts. While things have certainly changed in 20 years, it’s remarkable just how much has stayed the same. The distance between what is mythology and what is reality is still an endless source of entertainment. The universal truths and mistruths of sex and relationships still resonate.
Sex and the City still lives at Oasis. Adapted and Directed by D’Arcy Drollinger with Sets by Sarah Phykitt, Lighting by Sophia Craven and costumes by Ashley Garlick, Sex and the City LIVE! features some of San Francisco’s most prominent drag performers including Sue Casa as Carrie Bradshaw, D’Arcy Drollinger as Samantha Jones, Lady Bear as Miranda Hobbs and Steven LeMay as Charlotte York. Rounding out the cast are: Sergio Lobito, Joshua Beld, Andy Alabram, and Crissy Fields.
Hailed as “laugh out loud funny,” by the Huffington Post, Sex and the City LIVE! is a send up of the ground-breaking series that ran on HBO from 1998 – 2004. Each performance features two popular episodes, each tackling modern social issues including sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, safe sex, promiscuity, femininity, and of course, shoes – while exploring the complex differences between lasting friendships and true relationships.
We caught up with the girls of Sex and the City LIVE! just before opening night to get a sneak peek at this outrageous show.
First of all, the production value has improved so much over the years. However, maybe doing a few shows at Oasis has given you an advantage because you now know what you’re working with – you know what you can really do with the production. <D’arcy> Having the same team also really helps; not just the actors – but the lighting, sound, tech folks together. We sort of have our own language and we can get things done more quickly. It helps tremendously when we are attempting these two popular episodes.
“You haven’t lived until you’ve had to dress in drag in a mop sink just outside a barbecue kitchen.”
How many years for you as Carrie? <Sue Casa> This is my third year…..No! Wait, my fourth. Has it been four years already? <laughs>
Are you a big Sex and The City fan in real life? I’m a late bloomer with Sex and the City. But I am certainly a fan. I find myself doing daily inner monologues now. <Laughs>
I feel like you all have the faces and expressions down. The characters feel very developed. <To Steven Lemay> Are you ready to shave off the beard? <Steven> Huh? Wait, do I have to shave off the beard!? No, let’s just plaster it all down… <laughing> I mean, I am a woman under here after all.
What do you think about the two episodes you’ve chosen for this year’s run? <Lady Bear> These are two classics that we’ve done before; they are audience favorites. We’re going to restage them and give them a bit of an upgrade. I think they’re going to freak the fuck out. The production has been elevated so this will certainly be a new experience — even to the die-hard fans of the show.
<D’arcy> We thought about doing something new, but we haven’t done these in over 6 years. And honestly, I have watched those episodes over and over myself. We are bringing back so many scenes we had to leave out previously because of space and character restrictions. People want to see them again I think. It will feel like a brand new show because it is a brand new show.
<Sue Casa> And one of my special skills is falling, so I am excited that I get to do that night after night. It’s my moment to shine! <laughing>
<Steven> And Charlotte continues to have sex problems and issues with her vagina… soooo unlike me. I mean, this is really a stretch for me to play. <laughing>
You all have full time jobs. Is it hard to do this a few nights a week and work all day? <Sue> It’s a juggling act for sure. But my co-workers actually come to the show. So they know I’m serious when I say “I have to leave early today to go put on a dress and pretend to be Carrie Bradshaw.”
<Lady Bear> Much like the girls on Sex and The City, we’re just modern, career gals trying to have it all. Managing both a career and our personal love lives.
Do you guys ever slip into the character’s voices in your real lives? <Laughing> <Lady Bear> We all generally slip into Samantha’s voice … <in unison> Honnnneeey, pleeeaaase… <more laughing.>
<Sue Casa> My voice is actually nearly the same as Carrie’s in real life so it’s not that different for me. <laughs>
<D’arcy> In trying to do the voice for Samantha, I just went for old school gay man voice. I added a slight inflection, a purse of the lips — and there it was.
It’s just enjoyable to watch how far the show has come. <D’arcy> My understanding is that this is the only Sex and the City drag version out there….
Well, give it five minutes and I’m sure some queens will copy it. <Laughing> <D’arcy> Maybe! But so far, no one has yet. I think we have the market cornered on this one. We have made these our own in the way we’ve produced them over the years. They’ve really evolved into something special.
I didn’t mind going to the show when you did it at Rebel. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t mind. It wasn’t the best space for a drag show. <Lady Bear > Neither did we. You haven’t lived until you’ve had to dress in drag in a mop sink just outside a barbecue kitchen.
And it was then that I wondered, do men in wigs really care about the process of drag more than a good pulled pork sandwich…?
Oasis, San Francisco’s award-winning drag nightclub and cabaret theater, hosts the return of the hit drag-parody Sex and the City LIVE this summer. Now in it’s seventh year, Sex and the City LIVE! is running now through September 8, 2018. Performances are Thursdays at 8PM, Fridays & Saturdays at 7 p.m. Single tickets range in price from $27 – $40. Front Cosmopolitan Tables for $250, which includes a front row table for four guests, plus four premium Kettle One ‘Carrie Cosmos.’ All tickets are available now at www.sfoasis.com.