Sexy City

New York: With our insider's tour, you can do Manhattan like the leading ladies of HBO's 'Sex and The City.' Traveler discretion advised.

March 26, 2000|By Tamara Ikenberg | By Tamara Ikenberg,Sun Staff

MAYBE you've heard of HBO's hit comedy "Sex and the City." Maybe you've seen it. But have you lived it?

Filmed on location in Manhattan, the show puts a shrewd, ironic spotlight on the busy lives and even busier love lives of its four liberated leading ladies: sympathetic sex columnist Carrie, cynical red-headed lawyer Miranda, insatiable PR exec Samantha and optimistic WASP art dealer Charlotte.

The heroines meet their men at some of the city's most sleek spots. They all look stylish and sultry, and so does their city.

After only two seasons, the show has won Golden Globe awards and a fierce following: ("It's my religion on Sundays," says Rosemary Perez, 24, a legal assistant from New Jersey).

Fans definitely like to watch. But they're more into it than that. Some intentionally drop in to the elegant, upwardly trendy bars, clubs and restaurants showcased in various episodes.

"Do you know they filmed here?" asks Lindsay Gold, 42. She's sitting in Edgar's Cafe on 84th Street, a pastry paradise where Charlotte brought Carrie and a friend to figure out if a confusing potential love interest was a "gay straight man" or a "straight gay man."

"Sex and the City" hasn't yet spawned an official spinoff tour like "Seinfeld's" Kramer's Reality Tour. But with all this buzz, can one be far behind?

On the other hand, why wait? The women never do.

With the help of "Sex and the City" location director Seth Burch, take a walk in the $500 shoes of the show's heroines -- that is, until you can grab a cab.

Drink where they drink, flirt where they flirt, shop where they shop, and, along the way, discover their New York.

And as you do New York like the show's frisky foursome, take time between drinks and winks to dish with "Sex and the City" fans you will likely bump into, all of whom are more committed to the show than Carrie's fortysomething flame Mr. Big ever was to her.

Excess and the city

Forget the ladies who lunch. These are the dames who drink. And the drink of choice for Carrie and company is the Cosmopolitan martini.

In a city where there's a bar on every corner and in every restaurant, the cocktail has replaced the appetizer. People start drinking at 5 p.m. to unwind, finishing around 5 a.m., uninhibited and often undressed. What is it about that seductive mix of vodka, cranberry juice, Cointreau and a lime wedge that makes it the only real choice?

"It's never too early for a Cosmopolitan," says Jenna Piccirillo, 29.

Piccirillo, an interior designer who lives on the Lower East Side, is enjoying a 4 p.m. cocktail at the Coffee Shop, a Greenwich Village bar with a setup that forces flirtation: The seats face each other, making eye contact unavoidable.

The place brims with international supermodels apparently moonlighting as bartenders, and the male cell-phone cuties who love them.

It was here that Samantha met Don, a cigar importer and sports fanatic, who, as she found out later, would only let her score when his favorite team did.

This arrangement didn't work for long with Samantha.

She would never let herself be anything less than the center of a man's attention. Piccirillo seems to have some of that same sexual ego.

"It's all what you put out there," she says, snubbing out a cigarette. "It's not hard if you play the game right."

Piccirillo's friend Edin Rudic, 29, thinks finding a mate is a tad more difficult than that. "The whole city is competition," says Rudic, an interior designer from Astoria, Queens.

But Piccirillo doesn't let Rudic's grim assessment discourage her.

The corporate guy with a sexy smile across the bar catches her roving eye, and she perks up.

"I have to check out the package over there," she says.

Meanwhile, in a bar uptown, equally tasty Cosmos are being sipped by consumers of higher ages and tax brackets.

The Oak Bar at the Plaza Hotel, with its dark wood tables -- oak, presumably, and dreary oil paintings -- resembles a hunting lodge, a man-hunting lodge.

The Cosmos here are a staggering $12 (chain-smokers like Carrie, be warned: direct-to-table cigarette delivery may sound like heaven, but be ready to fork over $7).

Time-warp women in sable stoles, Krystle Carrington hairdos and neck wrinkles that betray their new noses and frosted blond hair, glide by.

Men all wearing the same dark blue business suit with a different tie sit together. It's crowded and loud, plus the man-to-woman ratio here is like Alaska. And it smells like money -- old money.

You wouldn't call this a young crowd.

This is where a millionaire senior citizen picked up Samantha as she sipped a Cosmopolitan in solitude.

Looking for something younger to ogle as you sip your pink drink?

Then grab a cab to the Lower East Side, one of the city's best places to meet young men who aren't gay.

It was at Torch, unmarked from the outside, but distinguished by huge, heavy doors inlaid with huge diamond cutouts, that the "Sex and the City" women had a rendezvous with their twentysomething boy toys.

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