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To See and be Scene
By Beth Lapides

I'm in heaven: the wardrobe room of Sex and the City. Racks and racks of exuberant clothes reaching all the way up to the vaulted ceiling. Leather and lace, Chanel and chiffon, garters and Gaultier. There are racks that say "archive" and racks that say "auction." Racks for each of the girls. Racks for each of the girls' racks. And then there's the fitting rack. And on the fitting rack… drawstring pants and button down shirts?

"That's your costume," says Tracy, the wardrobe assistant. I'd been told this is what I'd be wearing, and I'm game, but somehow seeing it in the context of a warehouse full of the most fantastic clothes ever assembled for one television show, I feel a little bit like I'm Cinderella and the clock just struck twelve.

I put on one of the shirts. Tracy insists it fits too well and he swaps out the small for the medium which deems appropriately sackish. I am still in the wardrobe room of Sex and the City but it is no longer in heaven. There are actually two sets of drawstring pants and button down shirts, one for each scene I'm doing. One set is orange, which I dub pumpkin. The other one is green, which I'm calling moss. A kind of posy mid-century palette. Ever the optimist, I say: the colors are fantastic!

We Polaroid both outfits. I start warming up to the green one, which I think makes me look like an angry elf, but in a cute way.

Michael Patrick King, the executive producer, comes to welcome me. He takes one look at the wardrobe and says: "absolutely not!"

Finally, the voice of reason. I knew it was a cruel joke and I turn expectantly upwards, towards the bustiers and ball gowns floating above me like angels. But no. What Michael wants are these exact costumes, drawstring pants and button down shirts, minus the fabulous colors. He wants this, but in black and in white.

Tracy is sad because it is 7 PM and he will have to put this wardrobe together before tomorrow morning and I am sad because I will have to wear them. I am, of course, thrilled that I am going to be on Sex and the City and I've been telling everyone.

"Oh that's great," they say. "Maybe you'll get to keep your wardrobe!" Have I mentioned that both the button down shirt and the drawstring pants were a hundred percent polyester?

Michael takes me on a tour, first stop Carrie's apartment. I have an odd kind of vertigo: being inside something I've seen so frequently from the outside. I guess that's why guys want to sleep with centerfolds. Then he shows me the set of the Coffee Shop. Out the window, there's a backdrop: the storefront window of a bridal gown store in which are hanging four wedding gowns that, Michael points out, are never really seen in the show, but just kind of hover, luminescent in the background. They strike me as ghostly. In a hopeful way.

At the elevator we run into the script supervisor and Michael introduces us. "I guess we won't be working too closely together," I laugh. Did I mention that I have no lines?

"Patty Duke rocketed to fame after Helen Keller," Michael points out. True but she wasn't wearing drawstring pants!

It's not that I really blame them about my costume. It's perfect for my part. I'm playing a performance artist who lives in a gallery for ten days, fasting and looking out at the audience from up on a platform. In the first scene of the script Carrie and Charlotte come to see me. Her. And that's where Carrie meets Baryshnikov. Oh did I forget to mention that this is the first Baryshnikov episode?

By now you probably know that Baryshnikov is playing Carrie's final love interest. What you might not know is that years ago, I had a dream about Baryshnikov. We are in an underground parking lot and we are dancing. And I feel totally light, almost weightless and bright, not unlike those phantom wedding dresses that Michael showed me. It was one of the best dreams I've ever had. Although I do not remember what I was wearing I am pretty sure it was not drawstring pants.

When Michael told me that Baryshnikov was going to be on the show I told him this dream then, when he called to tell me I got the part he said, "You had the dream, you should be in the show." Now there's a sentence I'd like to hear more often.

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