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Annette John-Hall: The mayor sizzles with 'City' heat

Anticipation hugged the room like a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. Any Sex and the City addict understands that four years is a long time to go through withdrawal.

Anticipation hugged the room like a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress.

Any Sex and the City addict understands that four years is a long time to go through withdrawal.

Four years without the shenanigans of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha, those Manolo-wearing mavens whose HBO series helped define single women and make offbeat phrases like "funky spunk" part of every girl's nod-and-wink vernacular.

Explains why folks were teetering on stilettos and balancing plates of crab balls and cosmos at a cocktail reception at Old Original Bookbinder's the other night for Sex and the City, the movie, which opens today.

Nibbling and air-kissing, pinched toes and all, everybody was doing her best to channel the Fab Four's fabulousness when, suddenly, he walked in.

As always at events like these, it's not so much who you are but who you see. And when Mayor Nutter arrived, it was pretty clear that only Sarah Jessica Parker herself could have generated the kind of adoration the mayor caused.

Admitting he was an unabashed SATC fan, Nutter, ever the public servant, saw in the series ways in which he could try to bring sexy back to Philly.

"Sex and the City is all about nightlife and glamour," he said. "It's about how you create an environment where people want to be.

"There are 100 people here who don't know each other. Amid all of our challenges, there are events like this. It's part of how you bring an engaged community together."

Clad in a people-magnet lilac tie and flashing his trademark thumbs-up sign, Philadelphia's Most Public Public Official accepted a glass of chardonnay and worked the room.

Some of the stiletto-standers literally flung themselves on him, causing an aide to admonish, "Please don't do that. His wife is here."

(They must have been on Samantha overload. Either that or too many $3 cosmos.)

In a back booth, holding her own court with a group of girlfriends, sat the classy-yet-understated Lisa Nutter, who has mastered the art of looking fabulous without wearing a designer label - unless you consider Ann Taylor designerwear.

But on this sultry, pre-summer night in the spotlight, I saw the mayor in a whole new light.

And I couldn't help but wonder: Could Michael Nutter be Philly's own Mr. Big?

For your consideration

Played by Law and Order's Chris Noth, Big is Carrie's longtime love interest, the straight-talking financier who personifies New York, an unflappable mover and shaker able to handle any crisis.

And the mayor?

He is the straight-talking law-and-order guy who looked a suspected cop killer dead in the eye and said, "I'm disappointed in you." An unflappable mover and shaker who personifies Philadelphia while giving the city a new, hip persona.

Yet, he's the same law-and-order guy who goes on national TV and calls the conduct of abusive cops unacceptable and then exacts swift reprimands.

It's not just about policy or new initiatives, though he announces one every day, whether it's prison reform, greening or homelessness.

It's about being the city's cheerleader, too.

He's been in office only five months. Yet it seems Mayor Nutter has shaken hands in every nook and cranny in Philadelphia.

He once joked he needed a clone.

OK, so he's not cannonballing into public swimming pools, a la Gov. Rendell (obviously, a lasting image).

But, unlike his antisocial "I'm having a great day" predecessor, Mayor Street, Nutter seems to thrive among the people every day.

Let's see. On any given day - heck, hour - Mix Master Mike can be found circulating, serving beers in an Irish bar, rubbing shoulders with Taller Puertorriqueño membership, making a national name for himself campaigning for Hillary Rodham Clinton (OK, we'll forgive him for that one), or presenting a proclamation to the Ukrainian community.

Last night, he appeared briefly at the Fraternal Order of Police dinner, where he was certainly not the most popular person in the room.

"The mayor has to be the face of the city, and part of that is being out," said Nutter, pausing amid meeting-and-greeting at the Sex and the City reception. "We have to show that we understand this town and we're not just a bunch of reformists and policy wonks."

He said he'd continue to host screenings as he did for the finale of The Wire and the Sex and the City movie "because we think we're kind of sexy ourselves."

It wasn't clear if Nutter was referring to himself or Philadelphia.

I'd say both.