If you haven’t heard of Dan Clay, a.k.a. the online drag sensation Carrie Dragshaw, then get to know.
To all those who experienced the nineties and early noughties, Sex and the City wasn’t just a show, it was a movement. How four friends dealt with sex, dating, and love among the general calamity of New York felt both authentic in its portrayal of women and fanstastical in its portrayal of their wardrobes. The ultimate among them: Manolo-loving Carrie Bradshaw. Perfectly imperfect and zingy with the one-liners, she inspired a whole generation of women to be themselves, style out the bad times, embrace their sexuality, and take pilates (because: those abs). What’s not to love right? Dan Clay thought so too.
Dan’s love for Carrie started at college; he spent his Sundays at his frat house in college pretending to begrudgingly watch Sex and the City alongside his female friends. Then one Halloween he decided to don a pair of heels and pink tutu, and unleash the Bradshaw within. We caught up with NYC based Dan to talk and find out more about the man behind the Dragshaw.
Let’s start with some background info! Where are you from? What did you study at college?
I’m from Michigan originally (Troy – it’s a suburb of Detroit). I moved to New York about 8 years ago. I went to Northwestern for my undergrad and studied Philosophy! And then I actually more recently went to grad school at UPenn/Wharton to get my MBA. Oh, and I’m 33.
What are you up to right this minute?
I work in strategy/innovation consulting now at a company called Lippincott. I basically help big companies create new products, services, experiences, or spin off businesses that will appeal to their future customers. It’s creative, but definitely more of a “Miranda” job.
How did Carrie Dragshaw come to life?
Carrie Dragshaw happened rather accidentally (or serendipitously). I dressed as Carrie for Halloween. The Saturday of Halloween, before a party at the Boom Boom Room, my friend and I pranced around the West Village taking some pictures, just having fun and making the most of the fact that I live three blocks down from the apartment they used on the show. The picture I posted ended up getting a lot of positive attention, getting reposted, getting a comment from SJP herself. It was so much fun, and seemed to be making people smile, so I decided to keep posting the pictures we took that day, but this time with a Carrie-esque caption (I have a bit of an over-analytical mind like her, and with my decade plus of watching the show I felt I could deliver!)
So why did you decide to continue with being Carrie Dragshaw?
People kept being so, so nice about it all, and it seemed to be spreading a bit of joy, and was turning into a cool outlet for self-expression, so I decided to keep going with some new outfits 🙂 And I set out a mission for Carrie: See if you can carve out a tiny little corner of the internet that is all positivity and all love. So far, so good!
What was it about Sex and the City that you found so inspirational?
So much! Even more so as I’ve gotten older. I think my favorite thing about the show is almost the trick of it. It lures you in with these fabulous clothes and these simple archetypal characters (The prude romantic! The sexually liberated one! The work-aholic!) But then you watch it and it becomes much more interesting. The prude gets experimental. The confident one cries in the elevator. The work-aholic opens up to love. They become humans instead of stereotypes. And it’s beautiful and relatable. And even though they’re all chasing romantic love, they fundamentally love each other (and sometimes themselves) first. And that’s inspirational to me, and I think one of the most important lessons of the show (and life): have good friends. Love yourself. And the rest will figure itself out.
I’ve always connected with Carrie (as so many people have). We have a lot of superficial things in common (we both: spend way too much money on shoes, overanalyse almost everything, have really solid friendships, love the glittery side of New York nightlife, stayed single longer than average, and use our ovens for storage).
You capture Carrie’s tone of voice incredibly well, it’s mind blowing.
That really is my favorite part. I study Sex and the City episodes now, listening for sentence cadence and question flow and her favorite transition phrases. At this point, I could write a doctoral thesis on Carrie Bradshaw’s tone of voice. But I really do think a big part of the brilliance of the show is this voice. It invites you in. She so often anchors the dialogue in a specific scenario and then quickly transitions to a universal emotion. A lot of times she even starts “I” and ends “We,” so the audience really feels part of the conversation. She hides pretty deep truths in silly metaphors, so it’s approachable and not too heavy. And the questions! We all make kind of make fun of them, but they make for these lean in moments (“Maybe I am faking more than orgasms!”) and they prevent the monologues from ever sounding preachy or pedantic. How often she says “Maybe” helps with that, too. Carrie doesn’t have all the answers (in contrast to the other girls, who all have much firmer opinions). And the writing style invites you in to help her sort it all out.
What is it about Carrie, or Carrie’s voice, that pulled you in?
The conflicts of Carrie’s character, her fundamental openness, the unexpected nuance of the show—is what makes it so interesting to try to capture the voice of the show. Because the show tackled big topics. And Carrie had a lot of questions! And now I get this chance to tackle them, too – but do so in a way that highlights my favorite side of Carrie – the side I found most inspirational. The independent, self-confident, self-loving, friends-first fearless dresser that (sometimes, deep-down) knew she didn’t need a man to prove her worth.
What was your all-time favorite Carrie outfit?
The epic green Versace gown she wears in Paris when she gets stood up by Petrovsky. I’ll be searching eBay & consignment stores for the rest of my life trying to find something similarly epic. A boy can dream!