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As New York’s premier blonde sex scribe, Candace Bushnell has been compared with a number of the city’s pulp fictionalists, but never before to Tom Wolfe.
Her third book, “Trading Up” (Hyperion), coming out in July — and guaranteed to be burning up beaches from Bridgehampton to Bondi — is filled with sex, of course. But it also boasts of details architectural, financial and social that prove Bushnell’s been doing her homework.
This story first appeared in the June 3, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“A lot of people have been mentioning the Tom Wolfe thing to me,” Bushnell admits, calling from the Manhattan apartment she shares with her husband of a year, dancer Charles Askegard. But Bushnell’s latest, which follows the life of Victoria’s Secret supermodel Janey Wilcox, was also inspired by Edith Wharton and Jacqueline Susann’s “Valley of the Dolls.”
As Wilcox spends another summer in the Hamptons, she catches the eye of a major movie mogul, an old money socialite and a handsome polo player, her story divulging as much detail about the media world, money and men as shopping, fashion and hairstyles.
“I didn’t have to do that much research about New York and the buildings,” says Bushnell. “I walk the streets staring at these buildings, like one at Park and 64th, and dream of buying them.”
As for getting into the minds of men — corporate and otherwise — Bushnell used the silent treatment. “I kept my eyes and ears open everywhere I went,” she says. “I may not be able to remember what I did last night, but when I’m writing, I remember everything people have said, and I travel in a lot of circles. I talk to tons of guys when I go out — nice, single, assholes, married — about what they think and feel.”
Bushnell penned the first draft before she met Askegard through a friend at the New York City Ballet, and finished the final draft after they’d been married. “I did take a lot of those feelings of being married and applied them to the second draft — that feeling of being in love,” she says. “I finally do believe that all New York women can meet a great guy if they’re patient enough — and if the timing is right.”
A number of popular New York personalities seem to crop up in the book, though Bushnell swears all her characters are composites — including the megamogul behind New York’s Parador Pictures, who the author insists is not based on Harvey Weinstein.
But Bushnell, who will depart on a major book tour and has another novel due in a year, has already interested some real-life film types in “Trading Up.”
“When I was eight years old, I said, ‘I will live in New York and be one of those women like Jackie Susann and Helen Gurley Brown,’” she says. “I knew my fate. I’m like a character in one of my own books.”
And with “The Devil Wears Prada” thriving, and “Bergdorf Blondes” on the way, Bushnell herself has become a role model for New York’s ambitious — and often blonde — scribes.
“Do all these girls want to be me, really?” she purrs, sweetly. “I don’t think that’s true. And besides that, I’m not going to trash anybody. And you know why? Because these days I’m nice, generous and loving. That’s what marriage can do to you.”