Sex and the Sopranos X

I can’t find a photo of Josh Pais from The Sopranos and am too tired to take one of the TV.

Modelizers and Mobsters

I have been fine-tuning my theory about modelizers for years. Since Big is a reformed modelizer, I can no longer dismiss these men as shallow and superficial poon-hounds…or can I?

Still, my deep dive into the minds of modelizers led to the single sexiest thing Big has ever said to me, that day he swooped into Soup Burg—the coffeeshop around the corner from my apartment where I told him I wrote half my columns but never visited again—and decreed: “The thing is this…well, first of all, there are so many goddamn gorgeous women out there in this city.”

To which I replied, with my 1990s dry wit: “What an amazing observation.”

What he said next—along with the way he bit his lip—told me that Big would not be another cardboard cutout of a romantic interest, though we would go through quite a few ups and downs, as chronicled in this column and four subsequent books, on our way to happily ever after.

“But the thing is this,” Big continued, predicting our entire relationship. “After a while, you just want to be with the one that makes you laugh, you know?”

I nodded, and there began our flirtation, but this is a column about Miranda and the modelizer she once dated.

I couldn’t help but wonder: Why do I always highjack my friend’s stories with these self-involved tangents? Could that be why Samantha was pulling away? Miranda seemed to be disproportionately affected by these New Jersey mafiosos, dead or alive, so I really should have been more supportive of her during this strange time. And where the hell was Charlotte?

Anyway, Miranda and Nick Waxler rode the same elevator line for years before he finally asked her out. Miranda learned, too late, that she had been Nick’s “intellectual beard” for a couples’ dinner party, the female halves of which had decided they could no longer sit across the table from Nick’s anorexic dates.

Miranda told me she thought her answer to the dinner-party lob, “Old movie stars you would have liked to fuck when they were younger” had been very witty and accurate. “I answered with Sean Connery: yesterday, today, and forever,” Miranda told me, “but all the other girls Nick was bringing answered with guys like Charlie Sheen.” Deanne and Ellen told her they had learned to use the pouty-lipped answer as a barometer for brains and gave Nick an ultimatum: no more models. Hence, he asked out Miranda.

And just like that, Miranda stopped dating Nick.

I had a few questions about my column, so I caught up with Nick a few days later, back when I used to engage in actual journalism and interview people other than my friends. Nick’s response when I asked him for an on-the-record comment about models? “They make me fuck up my life!”

Nick said he was exhausted, that he was an old man at 34, and that he couldn’t keep going this way. I guess he took that little ultimatum seriously as well, because Miranda soon heard that he moved to New Jersey and went back to practicing law after his sports-agent schtick, a ploy to meet models, got old.

“Still, a leopard can’t change his spots,” Miranda announced when Samantha and I joined her for an afternoon drink at her new firm. The rooftop event space where Miranda’s kinder, gentler partners celebrated big wins, like the one Miranda secured for Global Families, Inc. shortly after joining the firm, overlooked St. Patrick’s Cathedral from the corner of 51st and Fifth Avenue.

“I can see Saks from here,” I interjected, looking over the railing, cocktail in hand. “Happy hour to me.”

“If I had a Victoria’s Secret on the ground floor of my office building, I don’t think I would get any work done,” Samantha said, staring straight down to street level. “Though I do prefer something a little less flammable.”

“That’s where I ran into Nick,” Miranda said. “He was down there ogling the mannequins in the window displays. He said it was the closest he gets to models now.”

“What kind of weirdo gets infatuated with mannequins?” Samantha mused.

“Reformed modelizers like Nick Waxler?” I offered, guiding us back on conversational course.

“His last name is not really Waxler,” Miranda said.

“Shocker,” Samantha pronounced.          

“Sounds made up,” I nodded. I had thought it was Wexler until I had to fact-check it for my column…back when I did real journalism.

“His real name is Nick Charney, but everyone calls him Zev. It’s Hebrew for wolf.”

“So he was a wolf in wolf’s clothing,” I quipped. Samantha touched her nose and pointed at me.

“Actually, I heard he has a thing for dressing up as a turtle,” Miranda said, looking pensive.

“Remember when I dated The Turtle?” Samantha said. “I dressed him up in a Helmut Lang turtleneck.”

“That was hilarious,” I recalled, then noticed Miranda frowning. “So what is Zev up to in Jersey?”

“He represented a guy named Corrado—er, Junior, when he shot his nephew,” Miranda lowered her voice and looked around.

“Don Squirrel-Leone?” I squealed. I swear, that pun was not even mine; credit goes to the headline writers for the Jersey papers.

“Nick—Zev—is the one who came up with that insanity defense,” Miranda nodded.

“How could that man head an entire crime family?” Samantha wondered aloud. “He looks like Mister Magoo.”

“The way Zev tells it, Junior was never in charge,” Miranda said. “Even when the nephew was just the street boss, he still ran things in The Family. I’ve been digging around on these disposable men from New Jersey, and I’m learning that…”

As Miranda babbled on, I had a thought:

Maybe it was not men that were disposable. Maybe it was everyone in my life. Were Michiko Kakutani and Nina Katz correct in their criticism? Was I the one who threw people away?

“Carrie, you can’t put this in your column,” Miranda concluded.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I wasn’t listening.”

This should more than make up for the missing photo above.

Sex and the Sopranos IX

SATC: Ranking Miranda's Love Interests - Fame10

Goldilocks and Goldicocks

Miranda’s one who got away, a cute G-man interpreter named Walker Lewis, was one of the few men who had a recurring role in our little self-created dramas.

Desperate to get laid before Brady arrived, Miranda had hot pregnancy sex with Walker without telling him she was carrying another man’s baby. When he showed up again a few months later and Miranda told him she had recently given birth, Walker Lewis was understandably curious about the timeline of her pregnancy. Relieved to learn the child was not his, Walker Lewis was game to reunite with Miranda.

Turns out, he was not quite as game as he thought. When Miranda started making the obvious joke: “Mommy’s coming!” as Brady cried over the monitor, Walker got a little freaked out and left. That was the last Miranda saw of him.

Recently, Miranda and I were indulging in some street food on a bench in Bryant Park while Samantha literally looked down on us.

“Would you sit down and eat something?” Miranda said between bites.

“Can’t,” Samantha said over her shoulder. “This outfit only works if I’m standing and not eating.”

Our people-watching turned up a familiar face coming toward us.

Miranda smacked Samantha on the ass and said: “Look, it’s Mr. Too Big!”

“I don’t get it,” I said. “You broke up with James because he was too small. This guy’s too big. Who are you, Goldicocks?”

“Yes, I want one that’s just right,” Samantha drawled. “Now make nice because this wall of flesh and I are supposed to be friends.”

It was true. After their sex life proved incompatible, Samantha had suggested she and Mr. Cocky just be friends. He was, allegedly, her first ever male friend. He was also the mutual friend who had set up the blind date between Walker Lewis and Miranda.

“How is Walker was doing?” Miranda pried.

“You mean Walker Lewis?” Mr. Cocky replied.

And just like that, we learned that Walker went by two first names, Walker Lewis. His full name was Walker Lewis Zmuida.

“I guess I was so desperately horny that I got his name wrong,” Miranda reasoned.

“Hell, I didn’t know Big’s name for six years,” I sympathized.

“And I bet none of you know my name,” Mr. Cocky said.

“Em,” Miranda said.

“Er,” I echoed, darting eyes at Samantha for help.

“Oh, you!” Samantha purred, playfully slapping at Mr. Too Big’s relatively tiny hands.

Assuaged, Mr. Cocky explained how Walker Lewis Zmuida, burned out from speaking five languages and traveling so much that he had not realized Miranda had a baby, used his State Department connections to transfer to Fish & Game…in New Jersey, of all places.

“But it’s the most densely populated state in the country,” Miranda opined. “What game could they have?”

“At least one flock of symbolic ducks,” Mr. Too Big answered, “and quite a few big-mouth bass.”

“I hear Jersey guys sleep with the fishes,” I quipped, wondering if I get a whole column out of that pun.

“They also have bears,” Mr. Cocky said, ignoring my joke and continuing with his story. Officer Zmuida had responded to a few calls about a bear—attracted by a bin of damp and aromatic duck food—that had rearranged some pool furniture before eating the small dog chained up next door. The frightened homeowner, a blond housewife we’ll call Goldilocks, started making eyes at him while her estranged husband tried to buy him off.

“Walker Lewis is my best friend,” Mr. Cocky told us. “I was already worried when he quit his interpreter job to go play Trapper Joe in the suburbs, but then he went into a fugue state about that damn bear.”

Mr. Cocky finally decided to get Walker Lewis some help. “I drove him to the mental hospital, also located in New Jersey,” he sighed. “The whole time he’s staring into the trees, yelling: ‘It’s the husband! The bear is really the husband! The husband is really the bear!’”

In the end, it wound up being Walker Lewis Zmuida getting shot with a tranquilizer dart.

“Poor Walker,” Miranda murmured, catching a glance from Mr. Cocky. “I mean, poor Walker Lewis!”

“The worst part is, no one knows what happened to the bear,” Mr. Too Big shook his head.

I couldn’t help but wonder: do women really want the forest ranger, or do we secretly prefer the bear? If Goldilocks deemed this porridge too hot and that bed too soft, maybe the comforts of a three-million-dollar mansion would also leave her unfulfilled. Was this Real Housewife of New Jersey on to something? Should we file for divorce and invite the law, in the form of an overgrown boy scout playing forest ranger, into our homes (and beds)? Or is it better to just live with the bear?

The Sopranos: All 6 Animal Symbols For Tony (& What They Mean)

Sex and the Sopranos VIII

The Dog Father

“Remember Brady’s godfather?” Miranda asked as we watched her son, Brady Hobbes, grow up before our very eyes. It seemed like yesterday he was winning science fairs with the rather passé baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano act.

“Steve’s second cousin, Patrick?” Samantha clarified. “Why do we never see him if he’s so important to Brady’s life?”

“He’s probably off baptizing himself in more bad cologne,” I quipped.

“Yes, there is nothing worse than a disappointing godparent,” Miranda snapped, staring at me.

And just like that, I remembered I was supposed to be Brady’s godmother. I had used the poor kid’s baptism as a segue to talk about my own original cynicism; worse, I had barely been there for the child when his parents separated for six months. And even though I made him ringbearer in my wedding-that-never-happened, I don’t think I have exchanged two words of dialogue with the boy since he learned how to talk.

I shook my head and absolved myself of my sins. After all, you can’t feel Catholic shame if you’re not a Catholic.

“Anyway, Patrick?” I prompted.

“He was extremely helpful with my mother-in-law’s funeral,” Miranda frowned.

“The guy who introduced himself as the godfather with the bad Brando impression at Brady’s christening?” Patrick was in several photos of the blessed event, often with his arm around my shoulder.

“Yes, and by the laws of movie-reference logic, that would mean Patrick the Godfather was supposed to kill Steve,” Miranda said, looking a little disappointed. “Clearly, that didn’t happen.”

Patrick Barold Sontag had been fiddling with his new SUV’s instrument panel during that beloved Sunday evening ritual—trying to find parking in Manhattan—when his Mercedes had been carjacked. The nice Jewish girl he married to please his mother left him, taking their nebbish and always-cold son, Evan, and their nameless daughter.

Barry traced the carjacking to Italian mafia dons, who were passing Polaroids of his 1999 Mercedes-Benz ML 430 around New Jersey and Naples. Barry wisely backed off, spending the next two years in a recliner, watching a mafia-movie marathon so intense that he could even quote dialogue from Godfather III. He finally emerged from his cocoon of pasta shells a new man: Patrick.

In honor of Ray Liota’s character in Goodfellas, Patrick had decided to embrace his father’s Irish/Italian heritage, resuming use of his first name and converting to the Catholic faith, which celebrated both sides of his father’s lineage. He became especially close with his Irish aunt in Queens: Mary, Steve’s mother. Thanks to Patrick’s liberal dousing of cologne, the pair became known as “the drunk and the skunk” whenever they met up at Molly Maguire’s on Sunday evenings.

“The worst part,” Miranda continued, walking around the auditorium where we were having this conversation, “is that the family dog, Churchill, ran away during the carjacking.”

“His dog left him too?” Samantha cried. “This sounds like melodramatic Irish tragedy porn. Somebody call Frank McCourt.”

“He’s dead,” Miranda frowned.

“Dogs run away,” I shrugged. “In my experience, they come back.”

Miranda and Samantha stopped short.

“What?” I soldiered on. “If your boyfriend’s dog runs off while you’re talking to the married ex-boyfriend with whom you are having an affair, and you chase the dog through Manhattan traffic and walk home three hours later in the rain to your own apartment—not even the boyfriend’s apartment that the dog knew as his home, where you should have checked first—the dog is just going to be waiting there for you, at your own apartment, with the clueless boyfriend.”

My two friends continued to stare at me, a united front of silent disbelief.

“It happens,” I finished weakly. “Something to do with their sense of smell.”

“That is the worst urban relationship myth yet,” Miranda said. “Nice touch with the rain, though.”

“Honey, as your publicist, I’m advising you to never try to expand your writing career into the fiction market,” Samantha said, sipping her flute of champagne. “Because that shite is unbelievable.”

I couldn’t help but wonder: do we all just need to be let off the leash sometimes? If Pete could find his way back, who’s to say Churchill never made it home? Maybe Pete the Brittany Spaniel and Churchill the Springer Spaniel met up with Charlotte’s King Charles Spaniel, Princess Dandyridge Brandywine “Elizabeth Taylor” Stork York-Goldenblatt, for spaniel brunches to talk about their spaniel sex lives.

It was entirely possible that Pete or Churchill could be the dog father of Elizabeth Taylor’s illegitimate puppies…or even the godfather.

Sex and the Sopranos VII

Buckle up, buttercups. This is a wild ride that follows two different actors across three different TV shows. As always, it won’t make sense if you haven’t seen the shows, and spoilers abound.

Who, him?

My digging around for Samantha’s nude photos had started her reminescing as we walked through Charlotte’s gallery, taking in an exhibit of finely curated photographs, unlike Samantha’s nudes, which Charlotte had declared “not very arty.”

At the studio, the photographer had let Samantha know that his assistant, Tiger, was ready with some music to help her ease into the shoot and feel more comfortable in the nude. Samantha immediately disrobed, leaving Tiger frozen speechless at her full-frontal unveiling.

“We had a lovely chat, once he recovered his power of speech,“ Samantha explained. “Tiger was an RN at an chemotherapy clinic and worked as a photographer’s assistant on the side. I tried to track him down when I underwent chemo for my breast cancer, but he had moved back to southern California.”

“What music did he cue up for your nude photoshoot?” I asked, never one to handle Samantha’s brush with cancer very well.

“Steely Dan,” Samantha guffawed her open-hearted floozy laugh that I love so very much.

“A band named after the dildo in Naked Lunch?” I whispered, incredulous.

“I thought it was an inspired choice,” Samantha said. “One of my vibrators is named Plasticky Dan.”

“I still think you should meet the Rabbit,” Miranda interjected.

“I told you, I’m not interested in a sex toy named after a cute, fluffy animal.” Samantha rolled her eyes.

“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” I quipped.

“Speaking of tigers,” Miranda continued, “that exhibitionist guy I dated in 1999, Jack, had a brother he called Tiger.”

“Oh, did Tiger also catch you two having sex?” I asked. Miranda had been relieved to finally have sex with Jack in a bedroom and not a Landmark Society alley or Central Park restroom, only to discover that his parents were visiting when they walked in on her in flagrante.

“No, but do you remember how we only discussed books—in, like, the most obnoxious way—and we were so consumed with name-dropping titles for historical biographies that I neglected to ask what he did for a living?”

“So what?” Samantha shrugged. “You were busy fucking him in taxis all over Manhattan. I hate when men expect you to get to know them.”

Miranda shook her head. “I ran into him at another bookstore, and it turned out he was an FBI agent!”

“A female body inspector?” I snorted, and Samantha snickered. We high-fived like 22-year-old frat boys at the Playboy Mansion.

“The real Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Miranda scolded, her scowl reading us our Miranda Rights. “Those weren’t even his parents that walked in on us—they were state’s witnesses he was in the process of relocating. His real parents are some big-time real estate developers in southern California.”

“Sitwell Enterprises?” Samantha asked. “I handled some PR for their alopecia charity.”

“No, that doesn’t sound right,” Miranda shook her head. “Jack never seemed like the family type, anyway. He completely abandoned the kid he had with another FBI agent, this woman who posed undercover as a personal shopper in New Jersey.”

“Who would fall for that?” Samantha asked.

“Not me,” I declared. “Shopping is my cardio.”

“You’ll never guess who she befriended on that assignment,” Miranda whispered. “Christopher Moltisanti’s fiance.”

There was that name again. “So he’s not single?” I asked, leaning back and smacking my lips.

“I don’t know if he’s single, but Jack’s baby mama got pulled off the case for giving Moltisanti a hard-on,” Miranda said.

“This Christopher guy sounds like a total catch,” I said.

“Jack said they hauled in the fiancé and her little dog, too. She threw up all over the table when they asked her to turn informant. And when the FBI finally thought they had worked a deal, she vanished.”

I perked up. “So he is single?”

As we nibbled our canapes, Miranda told us how the shake-ups at the bureau ended the romance between the two agents, especially after Jack’s baby mama got promoted over him. Jack the exhibitionist decided to pull a vanishing act of his own and quit the bureau to pursue his dream of becoming a famous magician.

Miranda ran into Jack while he was selling all his historical biographies to The Strand’s used book buyer, right before he moved back to southern California. He said he wanted to be near his dysfunctional family, including the brother he called Tiger, who had worked as an oncology nurse and moonlighted as a photographer’s assistant before joining the military.

The three of us stood there, contemplating a new work by Maria Diega Reyes, Samantha’s ex-girlfriend, whose career resurgence had made her an art-world darling beloved by Charlotte’s power-lesbian clientele.

“Stanny!” I cried, seeing my long-suffering gay husband and his gay husband across the room. The only two gay men to consistently remain in our lives, they had naturally married each other, despite a less than fortuitous first meeting. As I watched them cross the room toward us, I couldn’t help but wonder: What the fuck ever happened to Stanford’s beautiful boyfriend Marcus?

“Is that Bobby Fine?” Samantha asked, looking to the other side of the room and waving to Bitsy von Muffling. “He’s talking to the two gay men I almost had a threesome with, pretending to grate cheese on their abs.”

“I think I see the lesbian my co-worker tried to set me up with at the company softball game,” Miranda mused aloud.

“Isn’t that the pastry chef Charlotte dated who swore he wasn’t gay?” Stanford asked.

“I think I see the bisexual twenty-something I dated and his lesbian ex-girlfriend who looks like Alanis Morissette,” I interrupted.

It was as if the LGBTQIA retrospective at Charlotte’s art gallery had forced our long overdue reckoning with a parade of characters on the sexuality spectrum.

And just like that, Liza Minnelli walked in, trailing an entourage of hangers-on wearing vintage Halston.

“Liza?” Samantha and I asked simultaneously.

“It’s the law of physics,” Miranda winked. “Whenever there’s this much gay energy in one room, Liza manifests.”

Arrested Development Season 4

Sex and the Sopranos VI

“Nice Ass”

A woman who is used to getting a reaction, Samantha was dismayed when no one, not even the framer, commented on the nude photos she had commissioned.

When the photoshoot was over and the results hung in a pure-class, charcoal-matted frame next to the front door of her studio apartment in the meatpacking district, Samantha allowed herself a little fast food. She was, after all, extremely hungry after her diet of hot water and lemon. And since she was splurging on convenience-eating indulgences, Samantha even had her cheeseburger and fries delivered in a greasy paper bag.

The delivery guy caught sight of the boudoir portrait and told Sam: “Nice ass.”

“I didn’t tip you enough,” she said, handing him a twenty.

And just like that, Samantha formed one of the longest male relationships she had in the city: her late-night food delivery guy. Once in a blue moon, often with a post-coital companion, Samantha would order in from her favorite burger place, the only guilty pleasure she actually considered taboo.

Over time, Samantha would learn that this delivery guy, Ramone, moved to the city from Jersey, where he had worked at a wallpapering company. His former boss had almost gotten mixed up with the first lady of organized crime in the Garden State. The boss came to his senses in time to avoid any dangerous liaisons, and instead of the planned rendezvous, he sent his assistant, Ramone, to finish the contract at the mafia don’s McMansion.

A few weeks later, Ramone walked into the paint store and saw his boss chatting with the woman in question. After she left, Ramone’s boss turned to him and said: “Do you know who she’s married to?”

That was enough for Ramone. He was sick of his boss making out with clients while he was in the next room or lying that Ramone had backed over his lunch cooler with the company van to get clients to cook for him. Ramone quit that day. He moved away from Jersey to avoid any association with the “family” whose members could beat a waiter to death for complaining they had not tipped him enough.

Ramone took the first job he could find, running deliveries for a greasy burger joint. He met Samantha a year later, and as long as she lived in the meatpacking district, Ramone continued to deliver her beef.

I couldn’t help but wonder, why did we never see the nude portrait hanging in Samantha’s apartment again? Did she move it? I tried to google Samantha Jones nude photo, but I just got a bunch of results for pornography.

But that night, as Samantha tore into her cheeseburger, she looked out the window of her studio. It was still too early for her prostitute friends to be working their corner, so as she chewed, Samantha watched Ramone walking down the middle of her street. He threw his arms up, clutching the $20 in one fist, and shouted into the night: “I love New York!”

Photo of a TV. Like I said, this image is tough to google.

Sex and the Sopranos V

Postmortem Pucchiac

“They’re starting to die on us,” Miranda declared over brunch.

“No, Miranda,” I said, “I promise no more deaths.” And I meant it. I was running out of ways to resurrect certain gentlemen from New Jersey.

Unfortunately, Miranda was talking about a man who really was dead. Will O’Connor was an urban planner who Miranda met-cute at Starbucks. She thought he had stood her up, called to confront him, and learned from his mother that he had died of a heart attack at the gym.

At the wake, Miranda met Will’s college roommate—my old boyfriend, Asshole Jim. He said he and Will were very competitive, so I opined that they were the classic frenemies, and he praised my wordplay. He wrote his thesis on Robert Lowell and said he always read my column: quite literary for a civil engineer. When I dated him, Jim had hair down to his ass and sang in a band called Uncle Ted’s Ass.

I gave Miranda my blessing, however cautious and doubtful, telling her I thought Jim should be voted off the island of Manhattan. They went to dinner and a poetry reading. I happened to be present when the relationship rapidly imploded, and after hearing Jim childishly whine “the fancy lawyer lady is breaking up with me,” I got to gloat on the way home.

Miranda, who repeatedly claims trashy celebrity tabloids are “my thing, I love it, let it go,” despite only expressing interest in these magazine for like a month, was nevertheless flipping through one during our brunch. She landed on a spread about the anniversary of the movie Swingers, checking in on Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn and some of their other projects.

It got me thinking about my own stint in Hollywood, which involved taking meetings with Matthew McConaughey, watching a weird lip-dub thing happen with Sarah Michelle Gellar, and getting mistaken for a hooker and thrown out of bed by Carrie Fisher. The tall drink of water I dated out there, however, was just as cute as Vince Vaughn.

The tabloid reported Favreau had wrapped a movie with Janeane Garafolo and Sandra Bernhardt playing lesbian assassins whose silencers underscored their voiceless places in society. He got tired of people always asking about Vince Vaughn. A paparazzi photo showed Favreau standing with a production company vice president and her boyfriend: none other than Asshole Jim.

Miranda and I both decided to let sleeping assholes lie, and neither of us scrutinized why Jim would be going by Gregory or how long he had been dating the redheaded D-girl—er, I mean VP. Why perform a postmortem when everyone had gotten out alive?

“I’m staying way out of this one,” Miranda said.

“Way out,” I agreed. “New Jersey out.”

And just like that, I remembered Jim was from Jersey and had a cousin named Christopher Moltisanti. I kept hearing that name, and the man definitely had a weakness for women in Monolo Blahniks. I couldn’t help but wonder: Was he single?

“They’re Monolo Blahniks, Cwistophur.”

Sex and the Sopranos IV

The men Samantha Jones slept with on 'Sex and the City,' ranked | Revelist

Pinocchio e La Favolosa

After so much blood and gore and fecal matter, I was relieved when Samantha said she had a sweet story to share with me, one she promised would be dolce, dolce, Dolce.

This time, we met for Aperol spritzes in the West Village at Bar Pisellino…which is Italian slang for penis.

“Really?” I asked when I found Samantha waiting for me at the bar, cocktail already in hand, “Con te Partiro” blaring over the speaker system. “You couldn’t have picked a bar with a more obvious name?”

“Oh, honey, it’s just good PR. They know their audience. Best Aperol spritz in the city AND the name translates to ding-a-ling? Welcome to the cougar den.”

“Well ring-a-ding-ding,” I drawled as I looked around the room, indeed full of women of a certain age and promiscuity. One walked up to us wearing the most fabulous Dolce dress, strapless and turquoise. “Ciao.”

“Fendi?” I asked, petting her handbag and speaking my love language: Italian fashion design.

“Never!” The woman spit on the floor. “Roma has a war with us.”

“Carrie, this is Annalisa.”

I endured European air kisses. “Have we met before?”

“Bella, no, your column is about disposable men, remember? I come from Napoli and am such a, come si dice, favolosa character that I simply had to manifest in your little stories.”

“She’s like a cross between your friend Amalita and my friend Claire Ann,” Samantha said. “But so much more fabulous. Plus, she knows what it’s like to be a woman boss in the full Madonna-whore equation.”

I suddenly felt jealous of Annalisa. “Samantha, are we breaking up?”

“It can’t hurt to start seeing other people.” Samantha sipped her cocktail. “You never know what the future may bring.”

And just like that, I had to picture my world without Samantha.

“Annalisa and I have a mutual friend,” Samantha was saying. “Do you remember my short little lover, Jeff? The big dick with a little man attached?”

I did remember. Jeff had picked up Samantha with his charm and business acumen while seated at a bar, and it was only when he stood up to leave, having secured a date with Sam, that she realized he could only reach her nipples. He cracked her when he joked that she must shop at the Big & Tall Whore Store.

“You made it work with him for two weeks and then he just disappeared without explanation?”

“I get bored.” Samantha waved away the question. “Annalisa has informed me that Jeff was a real-life Pinocchio!”

“I’m going to need some details.” I leaned forward conspiratorially. “Did his pisellino grow a few inches every time he told a lie? If that was the case, all men should suffer the same affliction.”

“Sweetie, trust me, he needed no help in that department. And there is such a thing as too big, even for me.” I remembered: Mr. Too Big. If a woman of Samantha’s talents had given up, I worried about the poor guy ever getting laid.

“This man, Jeff, the tiny one, he is working as a waiter in my favorite restaurant,” Annalisa explained. She lit a Monopolio di Stato cigarette and began waving it around.

I had to ask: “Can we smoke in here?”

“I dabble in la stregheria, come si dice, witchcraft, like all women,” Annalisa said, ignoring my question and talking loudly with her hands. “Sibyls, curses with toenail clippings, herb gardens, psychic powers, animal familiars, yes?”

“Capeche,” I nodded, afraid to say anything else.

“This Goffredo, Jeff, he is such a good waiter while we are entertaining some Americans visiting from the other side. They make fun of the food and think we do not notice, ask for macaroni with gravy, worse than classless Germans. So I say he needs a vacation, I can send him anywhere he wants for two weeks. He tells me he always wished to be a big shot on Wall Street when he grew up.”

“So you made him a real boy,” I nodded.

“Who had to shop in the boy’s department at Bloomingdale’s,” Samantha added.

“This, he did not care about,” Annalisa shrugged. “He wants only to meet a beautiful woman and make love to her for the entire fortnight.”

I raised a questioning eyebrow at Samantha. She nodded in confirmation.

I couldn’t help but wonder: could Annalisa put a spell on me, too? If we all fantasize about living la dolce vita in Neapolitan novels or Tuscan villas, why are so many of us still stuck in the daily grind of the city? Without his strings to hold him down, Jeff had made his dreams come true, in the form of Samantha. Why couldn’t I?

Annalisa swished her Dolce into the kitchen, the staff too stunned to stop her.

“Let’s hope she doesn’t drop ashes in the moozadell,” I quipped.

Samantha lowered her voice: “Wouldn’t matter. She is acting boss of the crime family back in Naples.”

“The don is a Donatella?”

“Everyone thinks her husband is in charge, but she runs things while he serves a life sentence.”

“So the godfather is a fairy godmother, flitting around, granting wishes on stars.”

“Oh, honey, I am going to miss your little jokes.”

“Samantha…” I teared up.

“Let’s just make the most of the time we have left together, shall we?” Samantha soothed.

Annalisa emerged from the kitchen, heavy appetizers plated in both hands. “Mangiamo!”

Sex and the Sopranos III

Quick reminder and spoiler alert: this is a series of short stories connecting the shared actors between Sex and the City and The Sopranos…and, when I absolutely can’t help myself, another character that actor has played. These will probably only make sense if you have seen both shows…or in this case, all three.


Not long after I learned that I had accidentally set Miranda up on a date with a ghost, Samantha shared some equally disturbing news over sips of sake at the Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill on Columbus Circle.

“Do you remember my assistant Matt?”

“The rude guy you fired and then fucked on the front desk?”

“That’s the one. Did you ever actually meet Matt?”

“I can’t say I had the pleasure. Why?”

“Well, it seems no one did.”

“How did you hire him?”

“I was literally on the phone with Mitch, my headhunter, when Matt walked into my office. I just assumed Mitch had sent him and hired him on the spot.”

“Did you check out his references?”

“I checked out his pecs,” Samantha purred, “and honey, they were excellent.”

“Wait, didn’t this guy insult like half your client list over the phone?”

“That’s the thing. It was always just me and him, two alpha dogs in heat, caged inside an office suite. No one else ever saw him. He had horrible phone etiquette, even told some wannabe music promoter from Jersey that her parties sucked, but my career never suffered.”

“You have had some terrible assistants,” I nodded, thinking of Nina G. and the one whose leisurely lunch break allowed me to walk in on Samantha blowing the Worldwide Express guy. “I never understood why you kept him around for a whole week.”

Samantha inspected her flower cocktail ring. “He called me a boo-yah hottie and said he wanted to make sure I got the respect I deserved without having to get my nails dirty.”

“That reminds me: I still owe you a manicure for that time you fished out my diaphragm.”

“Oh, honey, I wrote that off a long time ago. We all know how terrible you are with money.”

“I am not.”

“Please. Have you paid Charlotte back for the down payment on your apartment?”

“I dedicated my book to her!”

Samantha smirked. “Did you pay her back?”

“She put me on a payment plan,” I said quietly.

“And I’m obviously paying for drinks and those secret-menu appetizers tonight. May I continue?” Samantha looked out across the rooftop bar toward the park. “He was always talking about someone named Matthew Bevilaqua, and maybe I wasn’t paying attention because I thought his own name was Matt, but it was actually Sean Gismonte. Matt Bevilaqua was his roommate and partner back in Jersey.”

“Were they gay?”

“That was definitely implied, but he was able to perform when I wanted him to, so no complaints there.”

“Good for you.”

“He did tell me they spent a lot of time hanging out in their underwear together, though, and Matt called him Jizz,” Samantha looked momentarily pensive. “You know, short for Gismonte?”

“If you say so.”

“So when I submitted all his I-9 information—because I am, after all, the sole proprietor of my own PR firm, Samantha Jones Public Relations—I got a call from my accountant that the information he provided was wrong.”

“Because his name was Sean Gismonte and not Matthew Bevilaqua?”

“Because he was dead.”

Now I was getting scared. I couldn’t help but wonder: are we so desperate for a decent date that we have started to unearth the undead? First Miranda and now Samantha had experienced this strange new phenomenon. Is the island of Manhattan in such short supply of suitable men that we have to import the recently deceased from New Jersey?

By the time Samantha had straightened all this out with her accountant and Mitch the headhunter, Matt/Sean had long since ghosted her. Sam learned that Sean Gismonte had been mentored into the DiMeo crime family by none other than Christopher Moltisanti, friend of Samantha’s tantric celibacy guru Brendan “Siddhartha” Filone (RIP). Both Sean and Matt had their stockbroker’s license and once beat the shit out of a fellow cold-caller.

“Three months before he walked into my office, an assassination attempt gone wrong resulted in a gunfight that left Moltisanti alive but in a coma. Jizz was found shot through the head.”

“Talk about bad head,” I opined, but Samantha gave me a withering glance.

“He was still strapped into his seatbelt, hanging out the passenger side of what was presumably his best friend’s ride,” Samantha nodded knowingly. “But the driver fled the scene.”

“Obviously Bevilaqua?”

“He said Matthew Bevilaqua always made him do the talking, which might be why he was so verbose working my phone lines. He also brought me a bunch of stockings as gifts; said he had loads of them.” Samantha took a deep breath. “And speaking of loads, the strangest thing happened after I fired and fucked him.”

“Something weird happened after you had sex with the ghost who worked as your assistant?”

“He squatted right in the corner of my office and…defecated.”

And just like that, I learned that Samantha could literally fuck the shit out of a man.

I stared at her for a moment. I had to admit, I was a little impressed, if also completely disgusted. “Is this a new fetish?” I finally asked her.

“Could be adrenaline? Irritable bowel syndrome? Who the fuck cares? All I know is I had to recarpet my office and find a new assistant.” Samantha drained her sake and poured us both another.

“So where is he now? Still floating around doing his unfinished business on other people’s floors?”

“My guess is he gigged as a plumber and joined the Fatberg Five, that task force that dislodges calcified waste from the sewers, before disappearing on his honeymoon to Italy.”

It sounded like Matt/Sean found his calling in the afterlife. I was tempted to make a bunch of body-waste puns, like when I dated that politician who wanted me to pee on him, but I was too stunned to utter a single quip that would glibly summarize my friend’s headhunting sexcapade.

Neither of us had much of an appetite when the waitress arrived with our pu pu platter.

(Younger 5.12)

Sex and the Sopranos II

The Freak Assassin

A wise woman once said: “I believe there is a curse put on the head of anyone who tries to fix up their friends.”

That woman was me, in 1998, after I set Miranda up on a date with a grown man named Skipper, who would be in and out of our lives for two years before disappearing entirely. I must not have learned my lesson, because in 1999 I once again set Miranda up on a date, this time with a guy who turned out to be the biggest freak in all of Manhattan.

Luke was a friend of Ben, the fellow journalist I met-cute in front of Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Ben unceremoniously dumped me when, in pursuit of the freakish truth, I ransacked his studio apartment and uncovered a wooden box containing his childhood collection of merit badges. Ever the boy scout, Ben got in touch again recently to share some strange goings-on.

“I wanted to reach out to you because you’re the only person I ever introduced to Luke,” Ben said over the phone. Intrigued, I arranged to meet Ben back at the carousel where we last saw Luke. The double-date had taken a turn for the worse somewhere around the Häagen-Dazs cart, and even though a guy buying her junk food was usually on the expressway to Miranda’s heart, she evoked our “I have to feed my cat” bad-date code. When I selfishly tried to argue, she reiterated that she was leaving to feed Fatty, and Luke uttered, “Cat people: all freaks.”

“The man hasn’t left Manhattan in a decade,” Miranda hissed at me. “And by the way, if Luke’s a freak, Ben is bound to be a freak too.” Then off she went to feed Fatty, eating her frozen consolation prize and once again regretting that she had allowed me to set her up.

“The thing is, she was right,” Ben said as we retread our brief history together over those same Häagen-Dazs bars in the park. “Luke is more than a freak—he is a freaking ghost!”

“Excuse me?” I shouted, startling the children on the merry-go-round.

As Ben explained it, he only knew Luke from the park, where Luke liked to heckle Ben’s weekend soccer team. “We were really bad,” Ben admitted, “but this jackass in a black leather jacket would just mock us from the sidelines.”

“He never wanted to play?”

“He was always wearing that jacket,” Ben shook his head. “Anyway, it never occurred to me that I only knew this guy within the confines of the park, and I thought nothing of it when he suggested we meet here for our double date.”

“So when he said he hadn’t left Manhattan in over ten years…”

“It was a promise he had made to his mother, that he would never go back to Jersey and get mixed up in his father’s business. His father was a guy named Donato Paduana, who used to do murders for hire in the 80s until someone got the jump on him. Anyway, little Luca kept his promise and moved here after college.”

“And he didn’t leave for ten whole years?”

“Not until a friend of his father’s offered him a crazy amount of money to kill some guy real high up.”

“How high?”

“Like, this guy was nephew of the acting boss at the time.”

“Who ordered the hit?” I was quite pleased with my mastery of mob-talk, but Ben looked scared.

“The acting boss himself, the uncle, plus—get this—the guy’s own mother wanted him popped.”


“So the guy you and I know as Luke is actually little Luca Donato Paduana. He went by Donnie back in Jersey where everyone knew his dad, Donato, and even though Donnie promised his mother to never try to fill his father’s cement shoes, he took the assignment. He was going to do this one job, just one, and even tried to farm it out to some subcontractors, but everything got snarled. So he caught a bus to Jersey, got lost driving around Newark in his old Pontiac from high school—because he hadn’t left the island or driven a car in ten years—and got himself shot in the head.”

“When was this?”

“March of 1999.”

“But we went on our double-date like three months after that.” I had done my due diligence and checked my past columns to verify dates.

“Right, and I had known him almost three months when I introduced him to you and Miranda. But he was already dead! I finally put two and two together when I realized the dude had never aged…or changed clothes.”

“At least a black leather jacket is a timeless style choice.”

“Donnie, aka Little Luca, promised his mother he would stay out of the family business while they were having lunch at Tavern on the Green, so now he’s doomed to wander Central Park forever with his unfinished business.”

“He’s still here?” I yelped again.

“He was supposed to shoot that mafia boss.”

“I can’t believe this.”

“I know. Nobody can. That’s why I am here, Carrie, to make sure you remember him and can vouch that I am not losing my mind.”

“Ben, you were one of the sanest guys I have ever dated.”

“Do you think Miranda would verify that she saw him too?”


“Please, Carrie, you know the Times requires two independent sources to fact-check.”

“Oh, you’re at The New York Times now?”

“Well, yeah—I’m a real journalist. I was editing that hip political magazine when we met, remember?”

“I’m remembering why we broke up…you’re kind of smug.”

“We were a non-couple, so we couldn’t break up. You turned into a freak right after we slept together.”

“And now you’re asking me to call my friend Miranda to meet a ghost for ice cream so you can write about it in the paper of record? I was wrong Ben; you are a freak!” I stomped off holding the Häagen-Dazs bar he had bought me as a bribe.

I couldn’t help but wonder: if a journalist from The New York Times was asking me to call up my friend so we could all wait for the ghost of bad dates past in Central Park, was journalism well and truly dead? If even the stately Gray Lady of newspapers has to resort to cheap parlor tricks and stories about the occult to resuscitate circulation rates, maybe my unfinished business would be the stories I would never get to write when my newspaper folded.

She already believed any date I set her up on was cursed, so I never mentioned anything to Miranda about Luke’s curse. I suppose she can just read about it here, in my lowly sex column, like everyone else.

And just like that, I scooped The New York Times.

Sex and the Sopranos I

I just watched The Sopranos all the way through for the first time, an undertaking that consisted of me yelling, through a mouthful of pasta, “That guy was on Sex and the City!” every other episode.

A fictionalized Michiko Kakutani, a real-life book reviewer for The New York Times, once wrote in a fictional review of Carrie Bradshaw’s fictional nonfiction book: “All in all, I enjoyed spending time in Ms. Bradshaw’s sharp, funny, finely drawn world, where single women rule and the men are disposable.” Indeed, men are disposable in both shows, although The Sopranos’ waste-management systems make sure most of those men are literally disposed of, while Sex and the City just regulates the cast-offs to the Island of Misfit Toys, aka the parts of Manhattan we never see in the show.

Written in the voice of Our Lady of the Voiceover and Patron Saint of Working from Home, Ms. Carrie Bradshaw, I present to you: Sex and the Sopranos, a column in The New York Star. I will have one for you every week of the summer, posting at 8pm each Sunday (real ones know why).

Samantha, Siddhartha, and Brendan

Remember that week Samantha was celibate? I do. We all do, what with the way she bitched and moaned about it.

Her latest boy toy, Siddhartha, was a voluntary celibate she met in our yoga class, hitting on him as he assisted opening her goddess pose while I lay on the mat next to her. They had tea at Tofu or Not Tofu, then practiced brachmacharya (or tantric non-sex) together for a few days until, somewhere between plow pose and horny warrior, Samantha cracked. She took home the first person in the room to agree to her proposition “Want to fuck?” (I, thankfully, skipped yoga that day.) Samantha left Siddhartha sweating bullets of lust down his chiseled cheekbone.

It turns out his name was not really Siddhartha. I know, I am as shocked as you! His real name was Brendan Filone, and he had traveled a long way to Manhattan: through the Lincoln Tunnel from the exotic land of New Jersey. His three-year stint into the celibacy experiment preceded and belied a much darker history of guns, violence, and an actual pork store in the Newark suburbs. His willpower was no match for the power of Samantha’s tantric tantrum, so seeing her run out of the yoga studio to enjoy meaningless sex was too much for Siddhartha. He first broke his vow of celibacy…and then he broke his vow of nonviolence.

Shedding the robes of Siddhartha, Brendan emerged and returned full-force to his life in the New Jersey underworld. He took up with a childhood friend, Christopher Moltisanti, and the two engaged in some sort of rogue operation where they held up delivery trucks at gunpoint. Now, no one appreciates fine Milanese craftsmanship more than I do, but stealing an entire truckload of Italian suits is taking the love of fashion a step too far.

Not long after, Brendan was found shot dead in his bathtub, the water in the tub diluted with blood. Brendan’s last cigarette floated in the tub with him for days, with that same Chinese character tattoo on his forearm resting just above the water’s surface. And just like that, both Siddhartha and Brendan ceased to exist.

Samantha expressed no remorse when learning of the death. “As far as I am concerned, a man who refuses to have sex with me simply does not exist—whatever name he goes by.” She said I could quote her on that.

I couldn’t help but wonder: With our sex lives comprising so much of our actual lives, is taking a vow of celibacy signing our own death warrant? Did Brendan die in that apartment bathtub, by the gun of a killer who has never been caught, or did he really die the day he changed his name to Siddhartha and willingly gave up sex? Sure, Sting tells us tantric sex is better than regular sex, and surely it’s better than no sex at all, but at what cost? In a city that never sleeps, is celibacy the big sleep?