THE BACK PAGES

Mr. Big has a little tea in Windsor

REBECCA ECKLER June 16 2008
THE BACK PAGES

Mr. Big has a little tea in Windsor

REBECCA ECKLER June 16 2008

Mr. Big has a little tea in Windsor

On this Canadian pit stop, Chris Noth has more to attend to than ‘Sex and the City'

REBECCA ECKLER

THE BACK PAGES

bazaar

There’s already talk

of a sequel to the Sex and the City movie, which grossed more than $55 million on its opening weekend, but right now I feel like I could be living Carrie Bradshaw’s future. Don’t be jealous, but in my arms is Orion (pronounced O’Ryan), the four-month-old son of Chris Noth (a.k.a. Mr. Big) and his real-life partner Tara Wilson. It’s Sunday morning, the night after a Sex and the City premiere after-party, and we’re at Once Upon a Tea Cup in Windsor, Ont. Yes, Mr. Big is in Windsor... at a child-friendly... tea house. Huh?

Noth, Wilson, Stephanie Cence (Wilson’s sister) and Tina Pavicic are all co-owners of the tea house and are hosting a brunch for investors, who must sit on mini-chairs and eat from green and pink plates and drink tea out of pink and green teacups. Wilson and Cence were raised in Windsor, where Cence lives with her husband and two children. A second Once Upon a Tea Cup, which offers children’s lattes, dress-up costumes and hosts children’s tea parties, is set to open this year in Montreal, where Noth’s wife and sister-in-law have family.

“What I like most about Tara is that she’s thrifty,” says Noth. (Wilson, who “loves” the store Target, is obviously no Carrie Bradshaw.) “I don’t own any Manolos,” admits Wilson. “But I knew what they were before Sex and the City.”

“Don’t get any ideas,” says Noth, who says he had “absolutely no f-king idea” what a Manolo Blahnik was before the hit series aired. “Trust me, men aren’t looking at women’s feet. We’re looking above,” he says, giving a loving slap to Wilson’s behind.

“She’s more of a purse person,” he says.

“Yes, I love bags. Tod’s is my favourite,” says Wilson.

I ask Mr. Big what kind of shoe he prefers. “I like those boots that go up to here,” he says, pointing at his ankles. “Ankle boots?” I ask. “Yes. I like ankle boots. I don’t look at labels.” He then proceeds to take off his shoe to look inside. “These are Hush Puppies.”

Much like Carrie and Mr. Big in the series (and—spoiler alert!—movie), Wilson and Noth broke up numerous times before realizing that they couldn’t live without one another. “At the beginning, I’d say we broke up every two weeks. Then it was every two months. Then it was every six months,” says Wilson of their eight-year courtship. So, to steal a line from the series, how did Noth know Wilson was “the one”? “We’d break up so often and I’d be like, ‘That’s it! It’s over!’ Then a few weeks later I’d be like, ‘Why am I missing her so much? Get over it goddammit!’ It got to be too much of a hassle to be apart,” he laughs.

He quotes Woody Allen. “The heart wants what it wants,” then says, “What’s that saying? What you resist persists?”

I ask both what kind of man is better to be in a relationship with—a businessman, like Mr. Big, or an actor, like Noth? “I’m an actor and only a businessman when it comes to clubs and this tea house,” he says. “I’m not interested in buying plots of land or playing the stock market.” (Noth is a co-owner of the

Cutting Room in New York, a lounge and music venue, and the Plumm, a trendy New York nightclub.) “It depends,” says Wilson. “Actors can be chameleons. If you want stability, I’d say a businessman. If you want passion, then actors. But I’ve got two in one.”

Having Orion has only solidified their relationship. “Now,” says Noth, “the things we used to fight about, like that the tone of my voice wasn’t perfect, seem stupid.”

“He’s such a worrywart when it comes to Orion,” says Wilson.

The idea for Once Upon a Tea Cup was Wilson’s, explains her sister, Stephanie Cence. “She would come back to Windsor every couple of months and would take my daughter out to the library or for breakfast and all over the place. She said there really should be a place where you could get coffee and hang out,” says Cence, who worked for the government before opening Once Upon a Tea Cup a year ago. (Tina, the other partner, also has a two-year-old.)

As for her sister’s relationship with Noth, Cence is the first to admit that having a celebrity name attached to the tea house helps. “He reaches our target market,” she says. “Mothers who get together like they do on Sex and the City and just chat.” Adds Noth, “People keep coming up to me and say, ‘Thank you for doing this for Windsor.’ ” But for now, there’s something more immediate on his mind: as he holds Orion, Noth announces, “I don’t think he smells too good.”