Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Armistead Maupin's sell-out UK tour

Armistead Maupin delighted fans when he toured the UK to publicise Mary Ann in Autumn, published in the UK by Doubleday in November.

The tour included a reading and signing in London, an appearance at the Cambridge Wordfest, and visits to bookshops in Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Nottingham.

The author of the hugely popular Tales of the City series, of which Mary Ann in Autumn is the eighth instalment, who was greeted by sold-out audiences, also found time to appear on The Review Show on BBC2.

Armistead Maupin: Barbary Lane, barbarism and the Vatican

As Armistead Maupin revisits the world of Tales of the City, he tells Eva Wiseman why the pope is the enemy of all he holds dear

Eva Wiseman
The Observer, Sunday 19 December 2010

Armistead Maupin speaks like he writes, in slow short sentences that trickle from beneath his white moustache like honey on the turn: sweet but sharp. When he talks about the things that anger him – the pope, for instance, or Republicanism – his pitch doesn't rise, his voice doesn't quicken. In fact, it's when discussing what he perceives as the wrongs of the world that Maupin, chronicler of gay life and the first novelist to tackle Aids, seems most at ease.

Maupin's 10 novels all linger on themes of identity, sexuality, loss and the logical ("as opposed to biological") family. He is, of course, most famous for his Tales of the City, which were first serialised in a San Francisco newspaper in the 1970s, growing into six volumes over the next 10 years. A mini-series (starring Laura Linney as token straight Mary Ann) was made in 1993, and a seventh book appeared 18 years later, in 2007. This month an eighth volume – Mary Ann in Autumn – is published. It's a return to the heartbreaking and rickety world of Barbary Lane (or thereabouts) and a return, the critics are saying, to his 1970s best.

While Maupin's books have always featured soapy storylines – secret identities, strange religious sects, amnesia – these bubble in a basin of such delicate writing and beautifully flawed characters that for his many readers (one of whom, upon discovering his name was an anagram for "Is a man I dreamt up", wrote to him questioning his very existence) his novels are more like bibles. At a reading recently, a fan told him that when her best friend died, he'd been buried with Maupin's books.

Despite its ties to the 1970s and 1980s, the legacy of Tales of the City continues to grow. The day we meet, the pope has condoned condom use for the prevention of sexually transmitted disease. I ask Maupin how he feels about this inching forward of morals, and he scoffs. "The pope's barbarism is so enormous that all he could do is quit to impress me at this point, so deeply mired in hypocrisy, in bad thinking. I have very little patience for organised religion," he says, "which is mostly dedicated to demonising homosexuality. That shows you right there how little they know about the nature of love, and true spirituality."

Maupin (one-time lover of Rock Hudson, who appears in his novels as closeted film star ____ ___) got married in 2007 to Christopher Turner, the editor of a website he'd been browsing, At their wedding Laura Linney, to whom his new book is dedicated, read a poem –"The Bliss of With" – and at her wedding some months later, Maupin returned the favour. "The last line is 'You are my undoing and my altogether'," he says. "It's about the way someone takes you apart then puts you back together again. It was the loveliest way for Laura and me to be bonded for ever."

"For ever" is a theme he returns to often. Despite having served in Vietnam, Maupin's war, he says, has been with Aids. "I'm distressed to realise that now there are gay men who've lost their sense of self-worth to the degree that they experience a sense of relief when they're infected," he says, "because they think there's nothing else left to worry about. But of course that's really when the worrying starts." The worry, he says, of a "for ever" on medication. "People my age end up looking 90 after a lifetime on meds. But at least it is a lifetime now, if not an eternity".

Maupin has fallen happily into the role of international spokesperson for gay rights, but, at 66, is unafraid to veer endearingly off-message. In More Tales of the City, his second novel, Michael Tolliver (the character Maupin based most clearly on himself) writes a coming out letter to his mother, a letter that's been used as a template by real people countless times since. Referring to this, Maupin explains why he hasn't lent his name to Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign for bullied gay teens, a video project whose contributors include Barack Obama and Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters. "My work has basically been saying it gets better for the last 36 years," he sighs. "I'd be surprised if the suicide rates [that inspired Savage's video campaign] have really increased – the sad truth is that gay kids have been killing themselves for years, and it simply hasn't been reported because of their families' shame. But the thing what Dan's done that is quite revolutionary, is calling upon adults to defend children. For years adult gay folks had been wary of concerning themselves with the plight of gay teenagers for fear of being accused of seducing them. But we're the experts. At least now people are willing to talk about the bullying – that's an improvement." However many decades pass, this will always be the story that Maupin tells, one of marginalised people fighting for a voice.

But then, just when you think you see where his sweetness is spreading, there's the unexpected sharpness, Alcatraz looming on the horizon of a peaceful Californian sea. "On the other hand," he adds, "when I was a child, homosexuality wasn't a constant topic of discussion. Now it's everywhere." He shakes his head. "Even though back then there was great darkness around the subject, the pressure for young people now is greater. It gets better, sure, but it gets worse too."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Author Magazine - An Interview With Armistead Maupin

Friday, December 10, 2010

Five real places that inspired great fiction

Audrey Medina, Special to The Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle December 10, 2010

All good fiction has its roots in the real world. The settings where stories take place have their own charm and character, influencing and changing the fictional folks that inhabit them as well as the readers. Here are places that inspired great works of fiction - but where experiences can be real.

1. Macondray Lane, San Francisco

There was always something interesting going on at 28 Barbary Lane. In Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City," Barbary Lane is home for an adventuresome little band of locals. Listen closely and you might hear Mary Ann Singleton and Anna Madragil chatting in the garden as you stroll along this leafy path on Russian Hill. Explore it on your own or as part of the daylong Real SF Tour ($50). (888) 973-8687,

2. Cannery Row, Monterey

Doc Ricketts' lab, Lee Chong's grocery and La Ida's cafe are a few of the spots that inspired John Steinbeck's portrayal of life along the piers during the Great Depression. Learn more at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cannery Row exhibit, or take one of their monthly walking tours. (831) 648-4800, (search for "Cannery Row").

3. Angels Camp

"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was the yarn that launched Mark Twain to international stardom. While Twain spent only 88 days in Angels Camp as a miner during the Gold Rush, he managed to find plenty of time to spend in the bar at the Angels Hotel listening to local stories. These days, Angels Camp is a quiet little mountain town, except for a few days every May during the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee. (209) 736-2561,

4. John's Grill, San Francisco

The interior hasn't changed since Dashiell Hammett sat at the bar ordering Sam Spade's usual, "chops, baked potato and sliced tomato." Spade was here, along with some other suspicious characters, on the lookout for the Maltese Falcon. Search for clues in the photos upstairs. 63 Ellis St., (415) 986-3274,

5. The Bishop's Lodge, Santa Fe, N.M.

In Willa Cather's "Death Comes for the Archbishop," the first Archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean Marie Latour, arrived in his new diocese in 1852. He made many improvements throughout his territory, including a small ranch in Little Tesuque Canyon. The story is based on the real life of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy. A lot of changes have been made during the last century, and today the Bishop's Lodge is an elegant resort. The little chapel has been saved, as has the stunning beauty of the landscape that Cather loved. Rooms from $149. Bishop's Lodge Road, (800) 419-0492,

This article appeared on page M - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Castro LGBT museum reopens

by Matthew S. Bajko

After months of permit delays and last-minute construction issues, the GLBT Historical Society will open the doors to its new exhibition space in the Castro this Friday, December 10.

It has been a little more than a year since the archival group closed its first foray into opening a museum in the city's LGBT neighborhood. Now it is back in a new venue with a five-year lease and two exhibits showcasing numerous items among its collection that have never been shown to the public.

Society officials warn that it is a soft opening and that the installations may not be fully complete until the official opening Thursday, January 13. Nonetheless, they are excited to be back in the heart of the city's LGBT community.

"This is a preview exhibit. The doors are open but there still might be some rough edges. Signage still needs to be put in and some electronic displays may not be fully functional, but we want to let people come in and see" the new museum, Paul Boneberg, the society's executive director, told the Bay Area Reporter Tuesday afternoon.

Several times this year the society has had to push back the opening date for the museum. Boneberg initially had hoped to be open in time for Pride in June but permit issues caused that deadline to come and go.

The society then had hoped to be open last month and has been racing to install the two new shows into the remodeled storefront at 4127 18th Street. As it became clear that the work would not be completed over the Thanksgiving holiday, the unofficial opening date was pushed back to this weekend.

"This last project has been more difficult in some ways than we hoped," acknowledged Boneberg. "We lost six months. We wanted to be open six months ago and we lost it. The permits and build out process was more difficult than we had thought."

The archival group is renting the space from Walgreens, which signed a lease for the vacant storefront in order to expand its specialty pharmacy that is next door. When neighborhood opposition to those plans derailed the project, openly gay District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty helped broker a deal to allow the national drug store chain to share the building with the historical society.

In return for city approval to use a portion of the space for its expansion, Walgreens agreed to pay for the construction costs to remodel the remaining area for use as an LGBT museum. The historical society, in turn, will pay reduced rents during the first several years of its lease. Its first payment of $2,000 was made December 1.

"Walgreens did a wonderful job for us. They absorbed all the costs and hassles with permits and made it so we were able to open," said Boneberg.

New treasures go on display

With $100,000 in city funding to help mount the new exhibits, the historical society has created two brand new shows for the museum's opening. The first is called "Great Collections from the GLBT Historical Society Archives" and was curated by Boneberg.

The show is broken into various categories of the types of material in the archives, from posters and videos to textiles and ephemera. It is meant to educate visitors why various items are collected and preserved by the society.

Included are the pantsuits worn by Phyllis Lyon and the late Del Martin when they became the first same-sex couple to marry at San Francisco City Hall in 2004 and the kitchen table and personal effects that belonged to the late Supervisor Harvey Milk, the city's first openly gay elected official.

The second, larger show is titled "Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating GLBT History." Founding society member Gerard Koskovich; former board member Don Romesburg; and Amy Sueyoshi, who is on academic leave as a director and associate professor of race and resistance studies at San Francisco State University, curated the exhibit. They took inspiration from items donated in 23 of the last 25 years since the archival group was formed.

"When we looked into the archives to see what to put in the show, we pushed ourselves to tell more interesting and less known stories," Koskovich told the B.A.R. during a sneak peek of the exhibit Tuesday, December 7. "This is all entirely new stuff. The vast majority of documents have never been show in an exhibit at the historical society."

Romesburg said they have attempted to tell "100 years of queer history in 25 years of the archive."
They have also strived to reveal hidden LGBT stories through the objects selected for the 23 different displays. A case inspired by the 1978 sales report for the now defunct Old Wives Tales, a feminist bookstore that had been on Valencia Street, led to the topic of "Consuming Queers: The GLBT Marketplace."

While shoppers can go into any number of gift shops in the Castro and buy gay merchandise, that wasn't always the case, explained Koskovich, yet people often overlook that fact.
"We are bringing forth these hidden histories," he said.

Another display centers around the papers of George Raya, one of the first fulltime gay legislative advocates in the country and the first to roam the halls of the state Capitol in Sacramento in the early 1970s. One black and white photo shows Raya, who lives in Sacramento, with then-Governor Jerry Brown, who will be sworn into a third term in the office next month.

"You know Jose Sarria was the first gay political candidate in the country. Both he and Raya were Latino men. It is not normally what we think of," said Romesburg, referring to the long held stereotype that the gay community is made up of primarily white men.

Other panels depict the lives of little known gay pioneers such as Jiro Onuma, the only known gay man to be interned in the Japanese camps during World War II, and Donald S. Lucas, whose work in the 1960s around poverty issues in the Tenderloin led to the creation of the first transgender and LGBT youth organizations.

Due to the large space they have to work with – it is 1,600 square feet – the society is able to display items it could not in its previous galleries. In one corner stands a gown worn by Baroness Eugenia Von Dieckoff (a.k.a. Henry Dieckoff) to the Grand Ducal Ball in 1983.

"It has amazing stitch work and rhinestones but we have never been able to display it because the cape is 15 to 16 feet long," said Romesburg.

Another outfit serves as the closing statement of the show: the dress that Laura Linney's character Mary Ann Singleton wears in the opening scene of the television adaptation of local author Armistead Maupin's novel Tales of the City.

"The object is meant to symbolize that both gay and straight people come here with the same hopes of coming to San Francisco and making your dreams come true," said Romesburg.

With the opening of the new exhibit space, the historical society is one step closer to achieving its dream of having a permanent home to showcase the city's LGBT treasures and forgotten stories.
"I think of this as our first real museum. The space was constructed to our specifications," said Koskovich.

The museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. It is closed Mondays and Tuesdays; general admission costs $5.

Due to support from the Bob Ross Foundation, named after the B.A.R.'s founding publisher, the museum will be free the first Wednesday of the month throughout 2011.

Armistead Maupin's "Mary Ann in Autumn" WNYC Interview

Armistead Maupin, author of the bestselling Tales of the City series, discusses Mary Ann in Autumn, the eighth book in his series. It tells the story of Mary Ann Singleton, who left her husband and child in San Francisco to pursue her dream of a television career in New York. Twenty years later, she’s returned to the city of her youth and into the arms of her oldest friend, Michael.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Armistead Maupin interview

By Paul Burston
Thu Dec 2 2010

Armistead Maupin talks about love, sex, marriage and 'Mary Ann in Autumn'

Armistead Maupin was at a book signing recently when someone suggested that he resembled a gay Santa Claus. 'That's okay,' he replied in his cheery way. 'My husband thinks Santa is hot!'Afterwards, as he sat on a low chair and people queued to get their books signed, it was difficult to know whether to kneel before him or sit in his lap. It's a measure of just how loved the author is. When British readers voted for their favourite gay books a few years ago, 'Tales of the City' came out on top. So it's cause for celebration that he's back with a new addition to the series, 'Mary Ann in Autumn'.

The new book is described as 'A Tales of the City Novel', though your book, 'Michael Tolliver Lives', also featured characters from the series.
'I wanted to write a novel about a gay man who had survived Aids, and was now dealing with middle age and beyond. And it dawned on me that I had just such a man in my repertoire, readers knew his history, and I might be able to explain his perspective through a first-person narrative. Some of the critics, especially the British ones, took it as an exercise in self-indulgence. The accusation was that I'd highjacked my own character for my own autobiographical purposes. But there's not a single character from “Tales of the City” that I haven't used for my own autobiographical purposes, including DeDe and Mona and Mary Ann!'

And now Mary Ann is back again, older and wiser.
'I've always drawn on my own experience. And the critics and readers who cringe over the notion that these characters who once made them feel so youthful are now old, are in part revealing their own fears. I think it would be in abysmal bad taste on my part to ever regret growing old. There are too many friends that I lost years ago that would have loved to have come along for this ride, and were not able to do so. I get very angry at gay men of my generation who complain about ageing. My job is just to be the best version of an old gay fart that I can be!'

Is there less awareness of HIV now?
'We had a dear friend who seroconverted the day before yesterday. A young man - in his forties. His emotional state made it quite clear that he knew what sort of road he had ahead of him. It's not easy with the meds, and it's not a given that you're going to survive. There are plenty of people my age who look like they're 80 now, because of those meds. And, more tellingly, feel that way. So it has always been, and it remains, a question of personal responsibility and self-love, I think. You have to love yourself enough not to condemn yourself to that experience. And it saddens me to think that a lot of gay men still aren't at that point.'

Illness features in the new book, but there's also love, sex and social networking. Like Mary Ann, you're on Facebook.
'Facebook and, most recently, Twitter. Twitter is a bore.It annoys the hell out of me. There are actual conversations going on on Facebook. I love a good thread, and I am the dominatrix of my thread! If somebody gets on there and starts tossing “bitch” and “cunt” around every time a woman's mentioned, they're gone. I like the civility of Facebook. There's something very old fashioned about it, I think. People swapping ideas, gently apologising if they're misunderstood. But there is something very creepy about it too, obviously, which is acknowledged in my book.'

What do you say to those who regard gay marriage as an attack on the family?
'Why are you attacking an institution if you're merely attempting to expand it? That's the question. Isn't that merely a way of people defending their own homophobia? They don't want to put a blessing on it. Well, tough shit, because they're gonna have to. They're gonna have to allow the right for people to love each other the way they want to, and choose the partners they want. Because that's what basic human freedom is about.'

'Mary Ann in Autumn' is published by Doubleday at £17.99

Monday, December 6, 2010

Desert Island Disks: Armistead Maupin

Here is an interview from Desert Island Disks from November 30, 2007.

Click here for the interview

Writing Mary Ann by Armistead Maupin

Barnes & Noble Announces December “More In Store™” Offers Available Only on the NOOK™ Family of eBook Readers

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading

New York, New York – December 1, 2010 – Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world’s largest bookseller, today announced the December line-up for the “More In Store™” program for the NOOK™ family of eBook Readers. Available only in Barnes & Noble stores and only on NOOK, the free More In Store program offers NOOK customers new, exclusive content from bestselling and new authors, special offers and savings, and weekly bestseller and new release lists.

Barnes & Noble’s free in-store Wi-Fi service makes access to More In Store content easy. With just a simple tap of the NOOK “shop” button, customers can explore content from such authors as Dean Koontz, Tony diTerlizzi and Armistead Maupin, and in-store promotions including special savings and free cafĂ© offers. More In Store is updated weekly and each new feature is available for four weeks on a rolling basis. Once a customer downloads the content to their NOOK, it is saved to their digital locker and can be accessed at any time.

December 26
Writing Mary Ann by Armistead Maupin
Bestselling author Armistead Maupin is widely known for his wonderful, humorous novels of life in a tight-knit and eccentric San Francisco building. In this exclusive essay for Barnes & Noble, Maupin discusses the return of one of his most troublesome characters: the delightful and difficult Mary Ann Singleton.

Armistead Maupin's visit to the Armistead Centre in Liverpool.

Special thanks to Tim for this wonderful interview.

For more information on the Armistead Centre, visit

One Minute With: Armistead Maupin, novelist

Interview by Arifa Akbar
Friday, 3 December 2010

Where are you now and what can you see? I'm on a train on my way from London to Liverpool and there are English fields flying by the window and the sun is coming out. It's a milky view of an England that doesn't change.

What are you currently reading? Alexander McCall Smith's 'The Charming Quirks of Others' and Christopher Isherwood's diaries from the 1960s. He was an old friend of mine so it's like having him back for Christmas.

Choose a favourite author and say why you like her/him I would say Christopher Isherwood again because of the clarity of his voice and ever present wit. I have re-read 'A Single Man' many times, just to remind myself what beautiful writing looks like.

Describe the room where you usually write It's a garret at the top of my house and it overlooks a forest. There are a few books there but it's relatively pristine. I don't have a view from where I write. There's a studio couch where I can conk out.

What distracts you from writing? Facebook, occasionally television shows, walking the dog.

Which fictional character most resembles you? I don't identify with fictional characters. I've been trying most of my life to identify with myself!

What are your readers like when you meet them? They are generous, kind
, emotional, and many identify with the mistresses in my work. There's a lovely, familial feeling in the room when I go to readings. It's pretty evenly balanced in Britain between gay and straight.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature? Ian McKellen because of his generosity, and his complete willingness to sacrifice his time to the causes of gay rights, which is utterly inspirational. At the moment he is travelling around the schools of Britain telling kids they can live their lives honestly and openly.

Armistead Maupin's novel, 'Mary Ann in Autumn' is published by Doubleday

Friday, December 3, 2010

Be among the first to buy tickets to Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City!

A new page has been added to Armistead Maupin's website, courtesy of the ACT, to pre-order tickets to Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City musical debuting at the American Conservatory Theater next Spring.

To visit the Armistead Maupin page, click here

Join the TALE Chasers at to get exclusive first looks, messages from the creative team, and much more.

American Conservatory Theater: A limited-time offer to buy TALES tickets now!

Be among the first to buy tickets to
Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City!

Dear Tale Chaser,

After an exciting workshop production this fall, the countdown to Tales has officially begun! And now you have an exclusive, limited-time opportunity to purchase tickets—before they go on sale to the general public.

Click here or call 415.749.2228 to order your tickets! Don't delay—sales end at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, December 9.

The capstone of A.C.T.'s 2010–11 season, Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City will unleash an exuberant celebration of the irrepressible spirit that continues to define our City by the Bay. Performances begin May 19.

Interested in bringing a group of 15 or more? Enjoy free tickets for group leaders and amazing discounts! Call 415.439.2473 for details.

Don't miss out on the magic of this unprecedented theatrical event—and your chance to see Mary Ann, Mona, Mouse, and Mrs. Madrigal take the stage. Lock in your seats today!

See you at the theater!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Seeking to Create Buzz, Tales of the City Musical Will Get "Flash Sale" Dec. 5-9

By Kenneth Jones
30 Nov 2010

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) will put single tickets for the world-premiere musical Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City on the market in an early "flash sale" offer Dec. 5-9.

The highly-anticipated show from the writer and director of Avenue Q is based on the popular novels (first seen as newspaper-serial columns) by Maupin, who wrote of life, love and friendship in pre-AIDS San Francisco. The limited-time opportunity to purchase single tickets begins 10 AM Dec. 5 and ends 11:59 PM Dec. 9. A.C.T. performances in San Francisco are expected to sell out quickly, and single tickets will not be available for purchase again until January 2011.

Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City will play May 17-June 19, 2011, at the American Conservatory Theater at 415 Geary Street in San Francisco. No casting has been announced, but it's thought that Tony Award winner Betty Buckley will play Anna Madrigal, a part she performed in the recent workshop of the show.

According the not-for-profit A.C.T., "Three decades after Armistead Maupin mesmerized millions with his daily column in the city's newspapers, detailing the lives and (multiple) loves of Mary Ann, Mouse, Mona, Brian, and their beloved but mysterious landlady, Mrs. Madrigal, his iconic San Francisco saga comes home as a momentous new musical from the Tony Award–winning creators of Avenue Q (librettist Jeff Whitty and director Jason Moore) and the musical minds behind the glam-rock phenomenon Scissor Sisters (composers Jake Shears and John Garden). The capstone of the 2010–11 season, A.C.T.'s world premiere musical adaptation of Tales of the City unleashes an exuberant celebration of the irrepressible spirit that continues to define our City by the Bay."

Tickets will be available on the A.C.T. website at

"Tale Chasers," members of A.C.T.'s email fan club, will be able to purchase tickets beginning Dec. 2. To join "Tale Chasers" — and to receive exclusive first looks, presale ticket information, and other special offers — visit


Development of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City was supported by the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center during a residency at the National Music Theater Conference of 2009.