Print Share It has been a boom time for oral histories: This week, Vulture will be doing its own take on the format, but narrowing the lens, focusing on iconic micro moments in entertainment: The secret history of all these and more will be retold this week.
We kick off the series by reflecting on the literal tragic fall of an aging party girl in a particularly memorable Sex and the City episode: As soon as Carrie got into a good relationship, we felt like we were going to be out of good material. But now we thought, What happens if she stopped examining love and just experienced it?
Michael Patrick King executive producer: Carrie was aware on some level of what she would be sacrificing if she moved to Paris with her boyfriend. We needed to scare her with what her life could be like if she stayed, which is why Lexi was created. And we knew we needed something really shocking to happen so that the idea of Carrie leaving New York seemed less shocking. Candace Bushnell Sex and the City creator: Lexi is that kind of party girl, years on.
The character was a legend in New York. I fucking hate you. I knew Kristen would kill it. Kristen Johnston Lexi Featherston: She kept asking me to come on the show, and I could never do it because of 3rd Rock From the Sun.
Lexi is actually a Frankenstein monster created from all our years of living in New York. Amy turned partying into a business. There was as much Candace Bushnell as there was Amy or anyone else. But in the eighties, we all had our moments I would have nights in the late eighties that started at the Knitting Factory with [performance artist] Annie Sprinkle showing people her cervix, and then end up at Show World, a sex-club thing in Times Square.
You sober up very quickly when you watch sad-stripping at a sex club. At Studio 54, you would walk into the bathroom and there would be people doing lines on the sink. And it was okay. It was fine — because Bianca Jagger was on the dance floor. Everything was so glossy. Lexi is what Carrie was in season one.
I was bloated and not fit. I just had been doing theater and eating late burgers and drinking a lot. I thought everyone was going to make fun of me. And I had to do it in that Versace fucking dress! Sarah Jessica Parker Carrie Bradshaw: Kristen today is radically different than Lexi. The thing that connects them is that great, bold, unapologetic sense of humor — to hold court and amuse people.
But Kristen is really somebody who hunkers down. Sex and the City was when the fat lady sang for me. I was mostly a red-wino and a pill addict [at that time], as I recount very openly in my book [Guts: My stomach burst open, and I almost died. Remember that time when I was scary skinny? My stomach blew open. Kristen was also pissed at the number of times we had to shoot the scene in the [tiny] bathroom where she does the line [of coke]. She was so tall it was so physically hard.
When we did that episode, coke was out! Literally, that night was the press opening for Aunt Dan and Lemon, a play I was doing, written by him. They had to shoot me quick, because I had to go. The details of her falling out that window, you could almost do a film about it: Even the windows were a major specific.
I knew a person in NYC who lived way high on Central Park West, whose windows were floor to ceiling and opened out from a latch at the bottom. They hired a stuntwoman. Basically, there was a giant pad right under the window. It was all on a set. I probably did four or five takes of the fall out the window. There was a thousand ways to do that monologue. She did one, and it was sad and sweet. But she knew what it meant. Then she just did it. Having Sarah laugh at everything I said kind of pumped it up, too.
I kept checking in with her: The fall was shot separately. It was, like, me and the crew. The actors all played it like they got hit with electricity! A lot of the shock was like, there was that sense of energy — and then it was gone. I was surprised at how shocked people were because us, we were shocked that we were sending Carrie away. New York is very treacherous sometimes: The idea of falling … falling is really the word.
Getting hit by a car? Falling into the subway? But falling from a great height? Lexi was brought in as a target to see what happened to a single party girl who never committed to anything. She had to really fall from the highest height of New York society to the ground. Me trying to walk through Chelsea the next year?
It was insanity for the following month — month! Nobody saw it coming. They certainly never killed anyone in front of you. I had no idea that they were going to take it that far! And I love that they did. Candice Bergen Enid Frick: It just seemed to me like a classic script. Even in the playing of it.
I still remember exact lines of dialogue. It was so beautifully written, and weird. Following that awful event, we have a very rare montage of quiet snow just falling in New York. And that is not stock footage. During that episode, we had a blizzard, and I had the cameramen go out and film exactly what we wanted. There was this sweet poetic pause for everyone to react to what just happened.
Did anyone else take credit for that? As they say, you should only be in the paper when you get married and when you die. So for Lexi, it was probably a win. That is a dry humor that is very uniquely New York. The city does beat you up, and it asks a lot of you. But I still love it. Related Suck and Blow: