If you know who Carrie Bradshaw is, you also know that the “city” in “Sex and the City” is undoubtedly, irretrievably and inescapably New York.
And Women and the City? That’s a Big Apple thing, with a Ventura twist.
It debuted in 2008 as a fundraiser for Women’s Economic Ventures, a nonprofit organization that offers training and small-business loans for female entrepreneurs in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
A potent cocktail of girl power and networking opportunities, the gala event included drinks, a bachelor auction and a mock paparazzi-lined pink carpet that led right into Ventura’s Century Downtown 10 theater for an opening-night screening of the movie “Sex and the City.”
Now that the second film in the “Sex” franchise is on the way, so is the return of the WEV benefit.
The tricky part? “Sex and the City 2” will open in selected theaters at midnight Wednesday, while Women and the City is slated to roll out the hot-pink carpet on Friday.
“We’re really hoping ‘Sex and the City’ fans can hold off long enough to come see the movie with us, as a show of support for WEV. That’s what girlfriends do for each other, right? Support each other,” event co-organizer Seana-Marie Sesma said with a laugh.
Adding to the attraction: gift bags that actually are black satin clutches supplied by event sponsor Fashion Forms, a Ventura-based bra and bra-accessories company founded by CEO Ann Deal.
Stuffed in each of those bags will be about $75 worth of lip glosses, rhinestone-studded emery boards, fragrances, Fashion Forms “petals” and other items, handily offsetting the $125-and-up admission fee, said Sesma.
Separate gift bags containing cigars, matches, breath mints and little black books also are being prepared for men attending the event.
“We had 32 brave souls who actually came to the movie last time, but the real mantourage was the number of gentlemen waiting for us at the after-party,” Sesma said, laughing again.
A Ventura business owner who has served on educational panels for WEV, Sesma is spearheading the event through her Ace-ana Promotions firm. Her wine bar and retail shop, The Wine Rack, also will be the site of one of the six simultaneous parties to take place before the screening.
Planning for a second Women and the City benefit began as soon as Sesma and co-organizers Ellie Richman of Bella’s Beauty Bar, Marni Brook of Montecito Bank & Trust and Maria Fiore of Cafe Fiore learned that “Sex and the City 2” was not only in the works but had a premiere date.
“The movies are so great to organize this particular fundraiser around because they’re about four women who are like our own girlfriends: They’re all so different but have something in common,” said Sesma.
This time, event organizers rented two theaters instead of one in which to show the film, nearly doubling the event’s capacity to about 490 people.
The mock paparazzi will be back, along with the giant video images projected by Illuminights onto the sides of the Erle Stanley Gardner building, Sesma said.
Also returning will be Christine Abtey, a WEV Self-Employment Training graduate whose Abtey’s Limousine service provides transportation for weddings, wine tours and events like Women and the City.
Sesma said that the first “Sex and the City” movie broke her heart, and that trailers for the new film have her wondering what happens when Carrie Bradshaw — the now-married character played by Sarah Jessica Parker — runs into old flame Aidan Shaw (John Corbett) while on vacation with the gals in Abu Dhabi.
And if there is no “Sex and the City 3,” what then?
“We’ve already been talking about keeping Women and the City going as a benefit for WEV, with or without another movie,” Sesma said. “The work WEV does is too valuable to let the idea go.”