In early May of this year, Janey went to Pravda three times on one week. The first night was a party for the artist Damien Hirst—the dead cow guy. She stood in the middle of the room with one hip pushed out, letting photographers take her picture. Joel Webb, the art collector, was there. Janey thought he was cute, even though everyone said he’d had a nose job and cheek implants and wore lifts in his shoes.
But that wasn’t the problem—the problem was his house. It wasn’t exactly a house yet. For the past three years, he’d been building a big house in East Hampton; in the meantime, he’d been renting what Janey considered a shack—a rundown three-bedroom cottage. “I need a girlfriend. Fix me up with one of your gorgeous friends,” he said.
“How’s your house coming?” Janey said.
“The contractors promised it would be done by the Fourth of July. Come on,” he said, “I know you can think of someone to fix me up with.”
“I thought you had a girlfriend,” Janey said.
“Only by default. We break up during the year but by the time summer comes, I take her back.”
Two nights later, Janey showed up at Pravda with Eddie Winters, whom everyone was calling the hottest comic actor in Hollywood. She’d met him years ago, when she was doing her movie—he was a nobody then and had a tiny part playing a lovesick busboy. They sort of became friends and sort of stayed in touch, talking on the phone about once a year, but Janey now told everyone he was a great friend of hers. Her booker at her modeling agency had told her Eddie was coming into New York on the sly, so Janey called his publicist, and Eddie called her right back. He’d just broken up with his girlfriend and was probably lonely. “Janey, Janey,” he said. “I want to tear up the town.”
“As long as we don’t have to patch it back together when you’re done,” she said.
“God, I’ve missed you, Janey,” he said.
He picked her up in the Rolls-Royce limousine. His hair had been dyed red for his last movie role and was growing out with black roots. “Whatcha doin’ now kid?” he asked. “Still acting?”
Inside the club, Eddie drank three martinis in a row. Janey sat close to him and whispered in his ear and giggled a lot. She actually had no interest in Eddie, who in person was the kind of geeky guy who would work at a video store, which was exactly what he used to do before he became famous. But nobody else had to know that. It raised her status enormously to be seen with Eddie, especially if it looked like they could potentially be an item.
Eddie was drunk, sticking the plastic swords from his martinis into his frizzy hair. “What do you want out of life, Janey?”
“I want to have a good summer.”
She got up to go to the bathroom. She passed Capote Duncan, the bad-boy Southern writer. “Janey,” he said. “I’m so gla-yad to see yew.”
“Really? You were never glad to see me before.”
“I’m always glad to see you. You’re one of my good friends,” Capote said. There was another man at the table. Tanned. Slim. Too handsome. Just the way Janey liked them. “See, I always said Janey was a smart model,” Capote said to the man.
He smiled. “Smart and a model. What could be better?”
“Dumb and a model. The way most men like them,” Janey said. She smiled back, aware of the whiteness of her teeth.
“Zack Manners, meet Janey Wilcox.” Capote said. “Zack just arrived from England. He’s looking for a house in the Hamptons. Maybe you can help him find one.”
“Only if I get to live in it,” Janey said.
“Interesting proposition,” Zack said.
Janey went upstairs to the bathroom. Her heart was beating. Zack Manners was the huge English record producer. She stood in line for the bathroom. Capote Duncan came up behind her. “I want him,” Janey said.
“Who? Zack?” He laughed. “You and a million other women.”
“I don’t care,” Janey said. “I want him. And he’s looking for a house in the Hamptons.”
“Well … you … can’t … have … him,” Capote said.
“Why not?” Janey stamped her foot.
Capote put his arms around her like he was going to kiss her. He could do things like that. “Ditch that geek you’re with and come home with me. I don’t care if he’s famous. He’s a geek.”
“Well, being with a geek like that makes men like you more interested in me.”
“I want to have a good summer,” Janey said. “With Zack.”
Janey and Eddie left half an hour later, after Eddie spilled two martinis. On their way out they passed Capote’s table. Janey slipped her hand into the back pocket of Eddie’s jeans. She looked over her shoulder at Zack.
“Call me later,” Capote said loudly.
To be continued…
Candace Bushnell began Sex and the City as a column in The New York Observer in 1994; it subsequently became a book and a series on HBO. She is also the author of Four Blondes, Trading Up and Lipstick Jungle, which is being filmed as a pilot for NBC starring Brooke Shields. Ms. Bushnell is also the host of Sex, Success and Sensibility, a live weekly talk show on Sirius Satellite Radio. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, New York City Ballet principal dancer Charles Askegard.