What’s the difference between sex, marriage and prostitution? Less than you might think, according to CANDACE BUSHNELL.
\«".":7!:if" Maureen Ellis & Jim Schilder/IFA
andaee Bashnell has a chilling ability to hold a
mirror ol‘ truth tip to modern society and we reel
in the rel'leetion it easts. ln Sm" (null/1e ('ily'. her ehronieles ol the dating. party and societal habits ol .\'ey\ York's lashionable deni/ens. the stark reality of \yomen \y ho Use and abuse men. and the men's eompliant \yillingness to be treated this way. shocked and titillated in equal measure. Stemming from Bashnell's montth eolumn in the New York ()bSt'l'l't'I'. the book's shoekyy ayes were l‘elt around these parts only alter its traiisl'er to the small sereen yia HBO. 'l‘he SJl’ y'ehiele. ll? you like.
I'D/(r li/um/t'y. a series ol' l'out‘ short stories about eareer—driy en yyomen. reinl‘oreed Bushnell’s ball- breaking perspeetiye. 'l'he protagonists \y‘eren't likeable
more Scarlett ()‘llara than Anna Karenina. They used se\ as a tool to get \\ hat they wanted. shoeing up an internalised aspirational ladder: a series of strategic relationships treated like human rungs.
But at the heart ol Boshnell's l’it'st noyel proper. 'li'm/me 1]). lies her most unsettling question to date: yyliat makes “when yy ho marry for money. or Use sex for personal gain. any dil'l'erent to common yy'hores'.’ Is the distinction so blaek and \yhite‘.’
.laney \\'ileo\. one quarter ol‘ l-imr BlUIIl/US. makes a reaplwaranee to play otit that quandary. Noyy a .sueeessl‘ul model l'or Victoria's Secret. her murky past — as the sex plaything ol' an arms dealer and a succession of rieh. older men aets as both stimtiltis and diyersion in her tll'iye loyyal'tls aehieying .sueeess at all costs. \\'ileo\ bueks the model stereotype by haying brains to equal her beauty; a dangerously yolatile personality eoektail \yhieh emerges as the story transpires.
‘And as she turned from side to side, falling in love with her reflection, she thought, Yes, she coveted. But the difference was that now she saw that she could have. And somehow, she would have, very, very soon.’
ll the signature '(‘ari'ie Bradshayy" \yas Bashnell’s alter
ego. then soeial ereeper .laney \\'ileo.\ is an amplilieation ol‘ the extremes to yyhieh Bashnell has been exposed. btit ney'er sampled. 'She has a l‘layy ed eharaeter.‘ says Biishnell. rela\ing in a restaurant in her Greenwich Village neighbourhood. ‘She's kind ol‘ an asshole. really. But many yyomen are like that in their early 30s. It's sort oil a little phase that women go through. Janey is a
beautiful \yoman and she yy ants to be heard. That in itself
is disturbing to soeiety.'
The similarities betyyeen Btishnell and her model creation aren’t lost in the gloriotis quagmire ol‘ A-list satire. \Vhen 18—year-old trainee journalist Bashnell lirst moyed to .\'eyy York. she liyed yyith legendary Slim-A direetor (iordon Parks. \\ ho a as 40 years her senior. She
‘lt’s very dangerous to base your life on yourlooks'
- THE LIST FESTIVAL GUIDE 41