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Well-heeled Audience

Call the BFF. Don the chic designs. Order up some cosmos. Carrie and friends are back.

May 31, 2008|Lisa Rosen | Special to The Times

MOCK them at your own risk. They have heels and they know how to use them.

They're showing up in droves, in posses, in very well-dressed tribes. Worshipers of "Sex and the City" may not look like Comic-Con fans but they're every bit as tenacious -- and they smell better. Tickets for the ArcLight Hollywood's 12:01 a.m. Friday show of the movie based on the HBO series sold out so quickly that the theater added a 12:02 show. Then 12:03. And so on, for seven post-midnight shows, and 1,800 tickets sold.

And they aren't just there for the flick; they're making an event of it. By 10:30 Thursday night, the bar and restaurant were full of groups of women, and the occasional man, downing cocktails and awaiting the midnight hour. "If you see a cosmo on a table, they're going to 'Sex and the City,' " said waiter James Warfield as he carried a tray bearing the show's signature drink. "I have a lot more ladies than usual."

Lynze Radzyminski, 24, sat at the head of a table of seven friends, sporting Chanel. Her childhood buddy, Sarah McDonnell, 25, coordinated her visit from Ohio to make it to the opening show. Most of the women, all in their early to mid-20s, knew one another from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and were fabulously dressed. They've watched all the shows on DVD many times and wouldn't have missed the movie for anything. They did not care about the early, sometimes stinging, reviews, nor the epic length (2 hours, 20 minutes). "It can never be too long because I can watch the show for 14 hours in a row," said Sarah Perillo, 21. "I watch three episodes a night before I go to bed, every night."

Over at the bar, Kandis Mak and her friend Erica Weindruch were also impressively dressed ("This is totally a Samantha outfit, but I don't think of myself as Samantha. I think I'm kind of a Carrie with a little Miranda," Mak said.) Mak's boyfriend, Andrei Kissin -- in a sweat shirt and jeans -- was off to see the new "Indiana Jones" while the girls went to "Sex." "We've been planning this for months, said Mak, 23. "From the very beginning, we said we have to get dressed up, go have a cocktail before and pretend we're the girls before we go. It feels like we're reuniting with one of our best friends we haven't seen in four years." They got the tickets only a week ahead, so they're sitting in the front row. But that's OK, Weindruch said: "We have tickets for tomorrow night already."

The HBO series was a potent mix of outrageous fashion, soft-core bedroom action and relationships that ran the gamut from pillar to Post-It. But what held it all together -- and what detractors never understood -- was the friendship among Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha (Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis and Kim Cattrall, respectively). Mr. Big (Chris Noth) nailed it in the final episode, when he said to Carrie's friends that they were the loves of Carrie's life and a guy was lucky to come in fourth.

So who cares if the movie comes out four years after the show ended? You think women's friendships -- even those between real women and fictional creations -- are that tenuous? These women are coming to pay their respects.

"You have to come see this with a mess of your friends because it's about friendship. It's not about men, it's not about the outfits . . . it's about friendship," said Gohar Gazazyan, 25, from Sherman Oaks, who was there with 37 of her closest friends. One, Lilit Kalachyan, 25, just moved to Manhattan but came back for the event. They started out the night at the Bowery up the street, with cosmos and apple martinis. Three men -- two straight, one gay -- accompanied the 35 women. Straight men? At this movie? Call it research.

"The smart men use the show to figure out what's going on in the minds of women. And then they're better with women," Gazazyan said.

Since mid-April, the ArcLight has been getting so many calls from groups of women asking about the film that they created a "Sex and the City" package ticket for opening weekend. For $60, a private party with drinks and appetizers precedes a screening. "To be quite honest, I thought maybe we'd sell 100 tickets," said Robert Brugeman, who runs ArcLight's special events, "and we've ended up selling 900 of them." They've added a second weekend of party shows at the Hollywood venue.

Much has been made in the press (including this newspaper) about the film's narrow appeal. After all, what about those magical four quadrants that presage a hit? Young boys, young girls, big strapping men and, yes, grown women. Can a movie said to appeal only to women over 30 open big? That term "only" rankles some people. After all, the box office bonanza "The Devil Wears Prada" should have put the lie to that thinking two years ago. And if the midnight shows are any indication, plenty of twentysomethings are attending.

When a few of the fans were reached by phone the morning after the screening, the words "awesome" and "amazing" were most often used. Said Jessica Henry, 23, "I cried and laughed. I'm going to see it again on Sunday with two other girlfriends. We loved it. I had mascara running down my face by the end of the movie." She added that she was exhausted from the evening. "I'm a nanny and completely tired today and can barely take care of this little girl, but it was worth it."

Said Kalachyan: "I'm going to see it a few times. And then I'm going to buy the DVD and see that a few times."

Mak also raved about the film. "It was awesome. I'll probably see it again on Saturday or Sunday with my boyfriend." Meanwhile, said boyfriend didn't get to see "Indiana Jones" in the wee Friday hours after all, she said. "There weren't enough people to see 'Indy,' so they canceled it." Interesting. Maybe it's a movie "only" for guys.

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