Candace Bushnell used to be quite the party girl, says Andrew Goldman in Elle. But the author of Sex and the City didn’t start out that way. Raised in straight-laced Glastonbury, Conn., she wasn’t allowed to date in high school. At home, discipline was strict. “Where I came from, you’d get your mouth washed out with soap. You always got hit with the belt. All the mothers would say, ‘Wait until your father comes home.’ And the fathers drank! It was like hell.” But once Bushnell left for college in Texas she cut loose, throwing parties and taking up with film director Gordon Parks, who was more than 40 years her senior. “When I was that age, no one could tell me what to do.” Bushnell’s active social life continued in Manhattan. “I’d be doing my own thing. I would stay out until 4, socializing, going to clubs.” But although, as she puts it, “I never felt like I lacked for male companionship,” potential mates were wary of her freewheeling ways. “I guess, in a way, I lived my life like a man.” Today, at 49, Bushnell has come full circle. Happily married for six years to dancer Charles Askegard, she’s generally in bed by 11. “It was a natural evolution.”