Kim Cattrall (samantha)

updated 06/01/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/01/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

IT WAS A SAMANTHA JONES moment. Kim Cattrall—whose character is so lusty that Sex and the City creator Darren Star calls her "the Mae West of the 21st century"—was enjoying a drink and some jazz at Manhattan's Blue Note nightspot when she caught the eye of audio equipment mogul Mark Levinson. It was back in January 1998, and "we were sitting on opposite sides of the club," Levinson, 53, recalls. "I could see a woman moving to the music. My radar was triggered."

The two hit it off and wed eight months later, she for the third time, he for the second. "Kim's a sexy, beautiful woman," says Levinson. "But there's much more to her. She loves to read, she loves the ocean, and she loves her dalmatian Dot."

Onscreen, the 44-year-old actress has made a career playing carnal comedians. Before sashaying onto the Sex set, she portrayed a randy gym teacher in the 1981 teen hit Porky's, as well as a vampy Vulcan in 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. As for slipping into the often uncovered skin of libidinous public relations executive Samantha? "I'm playing this wonderful, joyous, uncompromising, nonjudgmental person," she told New York's Daily News last year. Samantha is "a role model for women saying 'yes' to their sexuality and 'yes' to their empowerment."

Born in England and raised in British Columbia, Cattrall came to New York City at 16 to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In Manhattan, she felt "like Andy Griffith from Mayberry," she once told PEOPLE. "I was such a country bumpkin."

She still enjoys the domestic life. At her East Hampton home (she and Levinson also have a place in New York City), Cattrall does the housekeeping. "I've never found someone who can clean as well as I can," she told New York magazine last year. Says castmate Cynthia Nixon: "Kim protects her home time. She really likes to go and refuel."

To help others keep their engines primed, Cattrall and Levinson are writing a book of sex tips, tentatively titled Satisfaction Guaranteed. Meanwhile, Cattrall offers some advice. "The secret to a good marriage," she recently told IN STYLE, "is not having a TV in the bedroom."

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