Tour features more city than sex

NYC company takes fans to spots frequented by HBO characters

— The driver hasn't even pulled away from the starting point at New York's ritzy Plaza hotel (where Mr. Big got married) and the bachelorette party in the back is already going strong.

"Champagne! Look what I found!" exclaims one of the young women.

"Shhh!" another admonishes.

"Can you imagine? Getting kicked off the 'Sex and the City' tour!" says a third.

The seven young women don't get booted off. But they get off willingly by the third stop, Patricia Field's store that specializes in floozy fashions and sex toys. After all, there's a bar nearby and they don't want to burn daylight with the bottle of bubbly and the thermos of screwdrivers gone.

The bus is otherwise full, with about 40 women (mostly in their 20s and 30s) and a half-dozen guys checking out where the gals on the HBO series "Sex and the City" shop, hang out, shop, eat, shop, drink their cosmos � oh, and shop.

First stop: Jimmy Choo, which rhymes with shoe � pairs of which cost $400 to $1,100.

Before that, we see another expensive shoe store, Manolo Blahnik � who designed an SJP model in honor of star Sarah Jessica Parker � and Tiffany's, where Trey was coached into proposing to Charlotte and buying her engagement ring (after she said, "All righty").

The Little Church Around the Corner is next. That's where Samantha was quite taken with a clergyman, whom she fantasized about. A couple of people on the tour are a bit more reverent; they quietly light some candles.

Then comes the bacchanalian boutique run by the show's costume designer, Field � whose staff consists of flamboyant, bottle-blond young men who wear sequined cummerbunds, white-flowered sashes and, well, generally look like they take a long time to get out of the house each day.

Numerous tourists scoop up the reasonably priced "nipple enhancers."

Still, there's more city than sex on the "Sex and the City" tour.

And that's fine with many of the people on board.

"You get to see a lot of sights," says Richard Kent, a 47-year-old San Diego-based pilot, who brought his 20-year-old daughter, Alexandra, to New York for the first time. "It is a great way of being able to see the city."

"All my friends are jealous," she says, "because we watch it together all the time."

Now after passing all the stores, she says, "We know where to come back when we want to do more shopping."

A connection to the characters

On the bus, tour guide Georgette Blau assures that the last two stops will be places to drink.

One of them is O'Neal's Speakeasy, which serves as the watering hole Scout in the series.

Standing at the bar, Dawn Kostakis from New York's suburban Long Island has a gin and tonic with her sister-in-law, her brother's girlfriend, and her mother, who bought the $25 tour tickets as Christmas stocking stuffers.

The foursome say they can be just as fearsome as the foursome on the show � just with a different venue. "Our 'Sex and the Island' capers are just about as exciting as they are here in Manhattan," Kostakis says, laughing.

She got married two years ago, but before that "my life was very similar to theirs."

"The Samantha character," her sister-in-law suggests.

"Of course, the Samantha character," Kostakis plays along. "My husband will LOVE that."

Among the other places where people get off the bus are the D&G; boutique, the Magnolia Bakery (where Blau treats everyone to a cupcake) and the Furniture Co., where Carrie's fianc�, Aidan, works.

Along the way, Blau offers various tidbits about the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning show; background about Parker and co-stars Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon; and a trivia contest in which the female winners get little beaded necklaces and the men get leis � the latter allowing Blau to crack the obvious joke.

Living beyond their means

Wearing a pink boa, the 27-year-old Blau � who operates On Location Tours Inc. and runs other TV-related tours including the New Jersey jaunt through "The Sopranos" hit spots and hot spots � hands out a "Sexionary" of various "Sex and the City" terms and a sheet giving a cosmopolitan recipe.

She also gets around to discussing the way Parker's Carrie lives way beyond her means.

While Carrie makes roughly $50,000 a year as a columnist, she pays about $2,500 a month in rent, or roughly $30,000. Plus, she's bought five pairs of Jimmy Choo shoes, at about $450 a pair, or $2,250; five pairs of Manolo Blahniks at $500 each, or $2,500; three diamond horseshoe necklaces by Mia & Lizzie at $2,400 each, or $7,200; a vintage Chanel suit, $1,200; a Prada black linen duster, $1,120; a Keiselstein-Cord red alligator bag, $5,900; a Keiselstein-Cord snakeskin purse, $1,035; and an Apple computer motherboard, $395.

"Not to mention all the cab rides," Blau concludes, after stumbling over the pronunciation of "Keiselstein-Cord" and joking: "The other thing I know how to pronounce is Target."

"I certainly don't have enough money to live the way they do," says Sadie Sanchez of suburban Philadelphia, "so it's just interesting to sort of vicariously do it � for a day."


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