Thursday, December 27, 2012

Frances McDormand & Cynthia Nixon read Tales Of The City!

From Beatstreet Productions

Over the past month, we’ve recorded several titles from Armistead Maupin’s classic series Tales Of The City.  Oscar-winner Frances McDormand read the first and third books in the series, Tales Of The City and Further Tales Of The City, and Sex And The City star Cynthia Nixon recorded the second, More Tales Of The City.  Scott Sherratt directed the books for Harper Audio while Jared O’Connell & Jeff Malinowski engineered.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Tours of the Tales" Walking Tour

Larry Rhodes, of the Tours of the Tales website, is conducting a walking tour Monday January 21, 2013.  I highly recommend anyone interested in visiting the locales mentioned in the "Tales of the City" series to RSVP right away.

The tour begins at 9:00 a.m. at the Aquatic Park and will end approximately 4:30 p.m.  Locations include:  Russian Hill (the fictional location of 28 Barbary Lane and other landmarks), North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill and Union Square.  There will be a lunch break in North Beach.

For more information, or to RSVP for the tour, visit Larry's page at 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aimee Mann - Charmer

I'm a little late posting this, but here's the Amiee Mann video for "Charmer" featuring Laura Linney (aka Mary Ann Singleton)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Tales of the City

Published in OUT Magazine

A reflection on playing one of the first transgender characters on television, Anna Madrigal.

I got the call that they wanted me to do it. I was almost in shock because I knew there were many actresses in America who wanted to play that part. I acknowledged that I knew nothing about it, so I started to read. There were a couple of biographies and autobiographies around -- not much at that time. I felt somewhat prepared, and then as the [filming] got closer, I thought, I don’t really know anything. I have got to talk to someone who has gone through this. I have to really find out what this is all about. [The producers] arranged a meeting between me and this [transgender] woman who was now a sex/gender therapist.

So I bought a couple of croissants and invited her over for breakfast. And in through the door walked a woman who was 6-foot-2 with enormous hands and the softest voice. We sat down and were chitchatting, and then I finally said to her, “Look, I have read something about what you’ve been through, and I have to ask you, what was it that you wanted or needed so deeply, so profoundly, that made it possible for you to first of all have the courage to do it and secondly to endure it?” And this is what she said to me: “All my life I yearned for the friendship of women.”

I cannot tell you… I instantly started to cry. I know what it is to want the friendship of women. I know how difficult sometimes that is to make happen, especially when you are competing heterosexually with women for men. There are all sorts of things that it brought out for me, and I understood something about Anna Madrigal and her relationship to other women that are around her.

For example, we were shooting a scene -- the first time I invite Maryann (played by Laura Linney) into my bedroom to talk. I say “Come on, let’s go over here. We can talk.” They wanted us to go over to the bureau and talk at the bureau. And I walked into the room and the bed had been dismantled and put to the side, and I said, “If we were gonna talk, we would sit on the bed and talk. We wouldn’t go over to the mirror and talk.” The guy stopped for a moment and then he made them assemble the bed. We did the scene on the bed, and I understood that scene was my wanting her friendship, that this is the thing Anna had not had and was looking for, always.

As told to Jason Lamphier

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Armistead Maupin Store

From Armistead Maupin's Facebook Page 

These days publishers aren't exactly chomping at the bit to send authors on book tours, so my hubby Chris has found a clever way around that. He's set up an online store where you can buy any of my books and have them signed and personalized by me. (I love e-books too, but you can't get them autographed, can you?) We're also offering an elegant little blank journal where you can begin your own novel on actual paper. There are rumors that T-shirts and hats are on the way, so please don't give me any shit. Times is hard, children.

Click here to start shopping

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Special only-in-S.F. homes on the market

Carolyn Said
Updated 03:54 p.m., Sunday, July 22, 2012

The woodsy retreat of a writer who captured San Francisco in all its wacky splendor. A landmark Painted Lady on Postcard Row. A socialite's "mini Versailles" on Billionaire's Row. A Gold Coast mansion with echoes of "Downton Abbey."

A city as storied as San Francisco is filled with houses that are renowned in their own right. Every so often, some of them go on the market, offering tantalizing glimpses inside and chances to fantasize about inhabiting a legend.

Some current and recent listings illustrate the breadth of residences with historic, cultural and architectural significance. Some buyers are famous themselves, presaging new chapters in the homes' sagas: social media moguls, a trailblazing chef.

Many mega-mansions in the city sit on the market "for ages," said Sally Kuchar, editor of real estate website Curbed SF. "But now there is a flush of tech cash, just like the first boom, and people are buying these big abodes because they can."

Maupin lived here
-- 27 Belmont Ave., home of author Armistead Maupin (

Maupin, the literary icon whose "Tales of the City" series held a mirror to San Francisco from the 1970s to the present, is moving to Santa Fe with his husband, Christopher Turner. Their Parnassus Heights three-bedroom Craftsman just hit the market for $1.198 million, with open houses this weekend.

"I loved being able to write on that top floor and walk out on the deck and just stare into Sutro Forest," said Maupin, who penned three novels during his two-decade residence there, including the semiautobiographical "The Night Listener," which describes the house as "three narrow stories notched into the wooded slope."

"The house has grown and changed organically over the years," Maupin said. "It feels like my handwriting all over the place. Whenever I got a check, if it was a good check, I could buy myself a door. (If smaller) I would buy, say, a doorknob - not just any old one, but a hammered copper doorknob from an artisan.

"Many of my friends have visited me there over the years and their memory is stamped on it for me," he said. "People connected with the first 'Tales of the City' miniseries: Laura (Linney) and Olympia (Dukakis). Ian McKellen once stayed and left a note: 'Gandalf slept here with Magneto.'

"I hope it goes to someone who loves it well and long as I have done."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Teatime with Armistead Maupin

Teatime with Armistead Maupin

Date/Time: 7/20/12 4:00 pm

Location: Paramount, 247 Commercial St.

A lively afternoon with the author - featuring an early sneak preview of the next novel in his legendary "Tales of the City" series.

Ticketholders to TEATIME WITH ARMISTEAD MAUPIN can expect an afternoon of free-wheeling anecdotes and lively conversation with the audience – as well as a reading from Maupin’s current work-in-progress, The Days of Anna Madrigal.  The author’s books will be available for purchase and signing.

Armistead Maupin Speaks In P-Town

Posted by Joe My God

Today I attended Tea With Armistead Maupin, where the famed author entertained a standing-room only crowd with anecdotes from the history of his legendary Tales Of The City series. One highlight was his reading of a chapter from the upcoming The Days Of Anna Madrigal, which traces the history of one of his most beloved characters. The following Q&A from the rabid fanboys (and fangirls) could have gone on forever as questioner after questioner grilled Maupin about myriad aspects of the series. Leaving a lot of dangling hands in the air, the crowd then moved outside to the Crown & Anchor's pool deck where Maupin's hubby (and owner) Chris Turner handled the crowd clamoring for signed books. A great afternoon.

See Joe My God for pictures of the event

Monday, July 9, 2012 launches episodic fiction series, Boystown’s official geekologist Danny Bernardo branches out with new series

Mon. July 9, 2012  8:39:21 AM

Chicago, IL — Celebrating 10 years as the leading provider of online news and entertainment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Midwest, today announced the launch of Boystown, a new episodic web series written by Danny Bernardo.

Bernardo is best known in Chicago for his work in the burgeoning theatre scene, most recently with a yearlong stint with Silk Road Rising and as a new collective member and resident playwright with Bailiwick Chicago. readers have followed his coverage of gay comic book news and his blog Geek Out. This summer, he will add fiction writer to his list of accomplishments when his episodic series Boystown debuts on and the Network on Monday, July 16.

Following the lives, loves and hijinks of a trio of diverse gay men living in the heart of Chicago's famed gay neighborhood, Boystown marries the subversive intrigue of Tales of the City with the sexy escapades of Gossip Girl. In fact, Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin's serial take of San Francisco life in the 70's and 80's was a huge inspiration point for Bernardo.

"The first time I ever saw two men kiss romantically was when PBS aired the miniseries based on Tales of they City," he recalls. "I got the books from the library the next day and was hooked. The honesty and humor with which he created his characters just made me fall in love with San Francisco."

In fact, Bernardo spent the first summer out of high school living in the Bay Area and studying theatre at the famed American Conservatory Theater.

"It was the first time I was out on my own and I thought, ‘I'm like these characters. This is my story.' Then I moved away for college and fell in love with another city: Chicago. I hope that Boystown will have the same impact for those visiting or living in Chicago."

Taking a page from his literary hero, Bernardo's Boystown will run Monday through Friday on, with a new installment posted every day. Bernardo will utilize many of the tools of new and social media, which weren't available thirty-some years ago when Maupin's Tales series ran in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"I really want it to be an interactive piece," says Bernardo. "As the series progresses, reader comments will help shape future story lines. In the future, I want readers to share pictures through social media sites and get their stories out there. This story is for all of us."

Recognizing the visual nature of today's readership, Bernardo is partnering with many local photographers, both established and emerging, to showcase their images of gay Chicago life with each installment.

For more updates and developments of Boystown, follow @BoystownSeries on Twitter.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

This Monday! - Tea Time with Armistead Maupin

Teatime with Armistead Maupin

Date/Time: 7/9/12 4:00 pm

Location: Paramount, 247 Commercial St.

A lively afternoon with the author - featuring an early sneak preview of the next novel in his legendary "Tales of the City" series.

Ticketholders to TEATIME WITH ARMISTEAD MAUPIN can expect an afternoon of free-wheeling anecdotes and lively conversation with the audience – as well as a reading from Maupin’s current work-in-progress, The Days of Anna Madrigal.  The author’s books will be available for purchase and signing.

Book signing and After Party at the Wave Video Bar.

Sponsored by

Like Rose Water and Lysol, An Evening With Armistead Maupin is Breathtaking

by Tony Hobday in Arts News

Having been in the esteemed company of author Armistead Maupin, for a short two hours, on June 23, I left with the sensation of actually having been at a party at 28 Barbary Lane. Housed in an airy gallery located in the 15th and 15th district, Maupin stood over a crowd of 100 or so adoring fans like the gay alter ego of Jesus, the white-washed walls illuminating him, and read from the second chapter in the ninth volume of his ‘Tales of the City’ series, titled The Days of Anna Madrigal – the final book he irresolutely stated, summoning a few dubious chuckles from the audience.

Two decades ago, Maupin believed, after six books, the series had reached its culmination. “When I left the series in 1989, (the character of) Michael Tolliver was found to be HIV positive – at that time it was pretty much a death sentence. I didn’t want the series to end with which ‘the gay man dies,’ because that was the scenario with so many books, so many movies, year to year to year,” he pointed out.  “I wanted Michael to sort of be a beacon of hope. I wanted to leave the series with him living his life, consuming it and being strong.”

Come 2007, Michael Tolliver Lives — however, the book received much criticism. This seventh book was initially written as a stand-alone from the series, according to Maupin; hence the backlash on the author for having written MTL in first-person narrative, unlike all previous incarnations of Tales. Maupin simply explained to the audience, “I wrote MTL in first person because I really wanted to celebrate my generation of gay men. I don’t regret it.”

Then, in 2010, came Mary Ann in Autumn; the eighth installment, in which we find an embittered Mary Ann returning to San Francisco seeking solace from Michael. “Who really is Mary Ann,” asked a fan, hinting to the nonfictional basis of the character, “and what did she do to piss you off so bad?” Maupin replied with an observation about himself made by a friend: “I think that Michael Tolliver is the person you wish you were, and Mary Ann Singleton is the person you’re afraid you are.”

An astonishing cliffhanger in Mary Ann in Autumn, seemingly puts the ex-residents of 28 Barbary Lane on a precipice. Set among present day San Francisco and 1936 Winnemucca, Nev., The Days of Anna Madrigal, will open many more windows into the beloved character, from her younger years in a brothel to the ripe old age of 92.

“We just came from Winnemucca, by the way,” Maupin opened the evening, referring to himself, his husband Christopher and their dog Philo, who’s named after Philo T. Farnsworth. They were there researching for the book a place called “The Line” – an area of Winnemucca lined with whorehouses, he said. (Decades ago it consisted of five brothels in a row, and of which only two remain today.) He told of the uses of Lysol and rose water, “Lysol was sold as a feminine hygiene product in the 1930s and 40s.  It was also believed to prevent pregnancy.” He also suggested to the audience, with scads of enthusiasm, to google “1930’s whorehouse menu.” Which I did and wished I hadn’t.

Maupin’s stop in Salt Lake City was the first in a national tour called the Madrigal Mystery Tour, and which will eventually drop off Maupin and his family to settle in Santa Fe, N.M., via The Burning Man, he said, uprising a roar of laughter from the crowd. The announcement prompted more anecdotes – he reflected on a dinner party he attended and was seated next to “Shirl” (Shirley MacLaine), “… she said (to me) ‘I’m trying to figure out who your gorgeous husband reminds me of.’ So I had to sit there and play the guessing game with her and she finally said, ‘Christian Bale, Christian Bale!’ I said Christian Bale’s an asshole! And she said ‘No, he’s an actor.’” She then preceded to tell me that it was very important to move off the coast because something terrible was going to be happening very soon. And I asked which coast and she said ‘any coast.’”

“So I told this story to Olympia (Dukakis),” Maupin continued, “and Olympia said ‘I’m 82 fucking years old, I don’t have time for the apocalypse!’”

Olympia, whom as it became readily apparent that Maupin holds in the highest of regard, was (and is) Anna Madrigal. Olympia played the part of the pot-smoking landlady of 28 Barbary Lane in the 1993 miniseries of Tales. “Oly, she went out and hired a transgender consultant for her role,” Maupin told us, “and talked to this women about why she did it and how difficult was it and what emotional journey did she make. She asked ‘why would you go through this process, given that you know how hard it would be to live in this society as that person?’ And she (the consultant) said, ‘all my life, I’ve wanted a friendship with women.’”

Following the reading and spirited conversation copies of the first two chapters of The Days of Anna Madrigal were put on auction: “Who’s going to help me with the auction, I’ve never sold myself before,” Maupin joked. Auctioned off at $325 per chapter, with the total of $650 plus a percentage of the ticket proceeds benefiting the Trevor Project, the evening ended in great success.

Two days prior to Maupin’s visit to Salt Lake City, he was presented with San Francisco’s Silver Cable Car Award. The San Francisco Travel Association, each year, honors an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to San Francisco’s visitor industry.

“Through newspapers, books, films and the stage, Armistead Maupin has introduced people around the world to a place that is as unique as the person reading about it. In his descriptions of people and places, he imparts a sense of acceptance and tolerance that lets the reader know that all are welcome here,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel, during the ceremony. “It’s no wonder that so many people say they knew they wanted to visit – or even live – in San Francisco after reading his books.”

In Maupin’s acceptance he said, “I’m so happy to have this opportunity to stand here and thank you, all of you, and this city for giving me my life, for giving me my story, for allowing me to be me, allowing me to find who I was, and for continuing to do that. That’s scornfully referred to as ‘San Francisco values’ in other parts of the country. Here it’s something we’re proud of and you can see it here in this amazing amalgamation of gay and straight and ‘traveling,’ as I refer to it.  I’m just so grateful to you San Francisco, thank you so much. I will always, always consider myself a San Franciscan, no matter where I am. San Francisco made me a citizen of the world. And I’ve learned this from people who read my books. Even people who don’t come here love it for the same reasons that those of us who live here love it. And that’s why it’s so magical. I’ve very honored. Thank you very much.”

The Days of Anna Madrigal is scheduled to be published in 2013.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Madrigal Mystery Tour with Armistead Maupin


Armistead Maupin stunned San Francisco when he announced last month that he was leaving the city by the bay, the very city with which he is synonymous for his legendary series Tales of the City. Maupin is as San Francisco as are the Golden Gate Bridge, Beach Blanket Babylon and the hippies of Haight-Ashbury. Maupin leaving San Francisco is like moving the Statue of Liberty out of New York. But alas, it’s true. Maupin and his husband Christopher Turner are moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. But first, they will criss-cross the country, landing in Provincetown before heading to the Land of Enchantment.

“Yes, it was a huge decision,” says Maupin, riding in a car leaving Lincoln, Nebraska, where he stopped with Turner for a veggie wrap. “We need more sky and more nature. We don’t have a place to live yet. It’s curiously liberating. I needed to shake the cobwebs and go on a new adventure.”

To cleanse the mental palate, Maupin and Turner are traveling around the United States on what some have dubbed “The Madrigal Mystery Tour,” so named for the beloved landlady in his novels. The mid-point destination of the trip is Provincetown, where the two have rented a house in the far East End where Maupin plans to write. He will also present two readings from his next book in the Tales of the City series, a work-in-progress titled The Days of Anna Madrigal, at the Crown and Anchor this month.

This next tale focuses on Mrs. Madrigal, the transgender, pot-smoking owner of 28 Barbary Lane, jumping back and forth through time as an old woman and back to her childhood as a little boy growing up in a Nevada brothel. On their road trip, Maupin stopped in Winnemucca, Nevada, a town that was once home to fabulously ornate bordellos, to do research on brothels for the book.

“Oh dear, we’re passing a chicken truck. It’s the saddest thing,” says Maupin, momentarily distracted by the sights of the Nebraska highway. “Brothels aren’t what they used to be. [The] 1930’s Winnemucca would be embarrassed by the sad state of whorehouses today.”

Despite the decline in the sophisticated brothel, Maupin says he is excited by this latest continuation of a storyline that has meant so much to so many readers, as well as to the culture of San Francisco and for documenting the LGBT experience. His work grew from a column in the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1970s to a series of bestselling books, to movies, and now a stage musical. It’s been thrilling to watch his work and characters grow legs of their own, says Maupin.

“It’s heavenly to have other artists to come on board with your work,” says Maupin. “I’m a huge fan of most of the artists that have interpreted my work over the years. It makes you believe in the mythology.”

Maupin first arrived in San Francisco in 1971, still a time of hippies and be-ins, and also on the cusp of the days of Harvey Milk and gay rights. His start at writing fictionalized serials in the newspaper was, even for the time, an aging art – one he reinvigorated. But in today’s world, where technological changes have shifted writing to the Internet and corporate media ownership is strangling that creativity, Maupin sees these live readings as so important for writers to personalize the stories, rather than have them only on the page, or on a glowing screen.

“I was basically blogging my life through fiction for 36 years,” says Maupin of his Tales of the City stories. “All the action is really online these days, which is harder as there are so many options. It was easier to reach an audience before. It’s good and bad as far as I’m concerned. There are so many options, good stuff gets lost. I tell new writers just to reach a human audience. Print it and put it in a coffeehouse. Just reach a human audience. That’s why I do the readings. It is so important to have that eye-to-eye contact.”

Maupin has been to Provincetown several times before, but this marks the first time he is doing any public event. Fascinated by Provincetown, he chose to stay a month to be able to learn more about the town as a community rather than a tourist destination. He also plans to get work done, and plan for his next phase of life in New Mexico.

“Thinking about my work has me reflecting on my own personality,” says Maupin. “A friend once told me Michael Tolliver was the person I wish I was and that Mary Ann is the person I’m afraid I am. It takes a close friend to observe and be able to tell you that.”

Teatime with Armistead Maupin is at the Paramount at the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St. on Monday, July 9 and Friday, July 20 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $35 for VIP and are available at the box office or at A book signing and after party will be at the Wave Bar at the Crown and Anchor immediately following the event. For more information call 508.487.1430 or visit

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

San Francisco Travel Association presents Silver Cable Car Award to Armistead Maupin

By: Laurie Armstrong

June 21, 2012 - At its 102nd Annual Luncheon meeting today, the San Francisco Travel Association presented the Silver Cable Car Award to Armistead Maupin, author of Tales of the City and many other books set in San Francisco.

The Silver Cable Car Award is presented annually by San Francisco Travel to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to San Francisco’s visitor industry.

“Through newspapers, books, films and the stage, Armistead Maupin has introduced people around the world to a place that is as unique as the person reading about it. In his descriptions of people and places, he imparts a sense of acceptance and tolerance that lets the reader know that all are welcome here,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel. “It’s no wonder that so many people say they knew they wanted to visit – or even live – in San Francisco after reading his books.”

In accepting his award, Maupin said, “I’m so happy to have this opportunity to stand here and thank you, all of you, and this city for giving me my life, for giving me my story, for allowing me to be me, allowing me to find who I was, and for continuing to do that. That’s scornfully referred to as ‘San Francisco values’ in other parts of the country. Here it’s something we’re proud of and you can see it here in this amazing amalgamation of gay and straight and ‘traveling,’ as I refer to it. I’m just so grateful to you San Francisco, thank you so much. I will always, always consider myself a San Franciscan, no matter where I am. San Francisco made me a citizen of the world. And I’ve learned this from people who read my books. Even people who don’t come here love it for the same reasons that those of us who live here love it. And that’s why it’s so magical. I’ve very honored. Thank you very much.”

Maupin was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam.

Armistead worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971.

In 1976 he launched his groundbreaking Tales of the City serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Maupin is the author of ten novels, including the eight-volume Tales of the City series, Maybe the Moon, and The Night Listener. He’s currently working on his next book (the ninth Tales novel), entitled The Days of Anna Madrigal.

Two critically-acclaimed miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were made from the first three Tales novels. The Night Listener became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.

The musical version Tales of the City had its world premiere at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in June, 2011. It was greeted so warmly, the run was extended. Previous recipients of the Silver Cable Car award include Herb Caen, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with the “San Francisco Chronicle”; Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants; Jackson K. Hu, one of the impresarios behind the Chinese New Year parade and festival; Ruth Asawa, noted Japanese American artist; U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein; the San Francisco 49ers; Steve Silver of “Beach Blanket Babylon”; Kary Schulman, Grants for the Arts; the San Francisco Pride Celebration; Carol Shorenstein Hays, SHN, and last year’s recipients, the cable car operators.

The San Francisco Travel Association is a private, not-for-profit organization that markets the city as a leisure, convention and business travel destination. With more than 1,500 members, San Francisco Travel is one of the largest membership-based tourism promotion agencies in the country. Tourism, San Francisco's largest industry, generates in excess of $8.46 billion annually for the local economy. The San Francisco Travel business offices are located at 201 Third St., Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94103. ST Travel also operates the Visitor Information Center at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market Street at the corner of Powell and Market streets. For more information, call 415-974-6900 or visit

The San Francisco Travel Association’s 102nd Annual Luncheon was made possible by Wells Fargo with additional support from American Express®, the official credit card partner for the San Francisco Travel Association.

Join the more than 450,000 people who follow San Francisco Travel on Facebook at Follow “OnlyinSF” on Twitter at

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Armistead Maupin Is Leaving San Francisco: Our City Just Lost A Legend

Carly Schwartz

Armistead Maupin announced this week that he's leaving San Francisco for good.

Somewhere in the thicket of Macondray Lane, a fairy lost its wings.

Mr. Maupin is, to me, our original literary hero. His iconic Tales of the City series, a magical romp through 1970s SF, transcends the generations of readers he's inspired and entertained and taught to love San Francisco as much as he does.

It was through his books that I, too, came to love San Francisco as much as he does.

Now, after more than 40 years here, he's packing up his Labradoodle and moving to Santa Fe with his husband. (Naturally, they're spending the summer in Provincetown and making a stop at Burning Man before settling down in their new home.)

And I'm staying in town, left with nothing but a stack of his dusty books from the Chinatown library, five years' worth of late fees, and dozens of unanswered interview requests to both his agent and his personal email address.

When my best friend and I moved here in 2007, fresh out of college and wide-eyed at our alien, enchanting surroundings, we decided to book-club all six of his original novels.

From our shoebox apartment above Golden Boy Pizza, we devoured his writing, discussed it obsessively, retraced the steps of the main characters from the Searchlight Market to Club Fugazi to that endless line that still snakes around the corner of Mama's and all the way out to the Sutro ruins.

Our favorite place to perch and stare idly down at the Bay became the top of the rickety staircase where Leavenworth meets Macondray, Mr. Maupin's inspiration for Barbary Lane, where his heroes lived in a ramshackle house run by the prolific Anna Madrigal.

I was Mary Ann Singleton, the wayward and yet surprisingly resilient protagonist, chasing a career at all costs. He was Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, my loyal sidekick. We'd breathlessly reference scenes from the stories in our everyday life.

"Should we eat these sandwiches at that spot in Washington Square where Anna first met Edgar?"

"Stay out of the Broadway Tunnel. That's where Beauchamp Day met his fate!"

"Don't sleep with him, Mary Ann. Didn't you learn anything? He's probably gay."

Tales of the City unlocked San Francisco for me before I could unlock it for myself.

Just like Mouse lost Mary Ann to a career in Manhattan, I lost my own Mouse to law school in Brooklyn, and San Francisco is losing a legend to Santa Fe.

But our friendship, like Mary Ann and Mouse's, is far greater than the distance between us. Hopefully so is Maupin's San Francisco -- he already has a new Tales book in the works.

In the mean time, die-hard fans like me can appease themselves by clicking through our ultimate Tales of the City tour of SF below.

And if you haven't read the books yet, get the eff over to your nearest library immediately. (Just not the one in Chinatown. To the really nice librarian who helped me out that day: I promise to return them eventually. I'm really sorry. Really.)

Good luck on your next chapter, Mr. Maupin. Your city misses you already.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Maupin to leave San Francisco

Leah Garchik
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Armistead Maupin, who on Thursday will be honored with a Silver Cable Card award from San Francisco Travel, leaves town the next day as step one of a move to Santa Fe. Maupin, husband Christopher Turner and their Labradoodle, are driving cross-country to Provinceton, where they'll spend a chunk of summer, before returning west for a stop at Burning Man before winding up in New Mexico, where they plan to re-settle.

The re-location has "been percolating for a while," he said by phone Monday. Santa Fe "has a different magic from San Francisco, but it has magic, and I need an autumnal adventure." Turner, in the background, wisecracked that the movie reflects Maupin's "retirement and my mid-life crisis." But "retirement" isn't really accurate because the author is working on a new "Tales" book, "The Days of Anna Madrigal." He'll be giving a series of readings while they drive cross-country on what they call "the Madrigal Mystery Tour."

The move is "nothing I'm taking lightly," says Maupin. "It's been 41 years since I landed here and it gave me my story. ... I keep reminding myself that Barbary Lane is portable and everything I learned here became part of me and is something I'll always have."

He and Turner are "both craving a little more space and some nature," he said, and the move is "giving us new dreams. There's nothing wrong with that."

Author of famed "Tales of the City" series to visit Salt Lake

by Tony Hobday

It’s almost inconceivable that a man of 68 years, born and raised in a conservative Christian family, and whom he says was once a typical conservative and segregationist (of the time) – having been mentored by, and hobnobbed with, Jesse Helms – could today be considered a pioneer in bringing homosexuality into mainstream literature and, in contrast, gay activism. Author Armistead Maupin, a fine and benevolent storyteller, will be in Salt Lake City, June 23, to read and discuss the next chapter in the Tales of the City series, The Days of Anna Madrigal.

It wasn’t until Maupin was close to 30 years old that he decided to come out as a gay man, and during that same period he began writing a serial column for a San Francisco newspaper that eventually blossomed into a series of novels involving a mishmash of colorful and unforgettable characters, both gay and straight, living in San Francisco. Over the following 35 years, Maupin’s books have been translated into several languages, and today there are over six million copies in print.

Maupin, a veteran naval officer, is married and lives in San Francisco with is husband Christopher and their dog Phillo. You can find Maupin on Facebook, and for more info visit
Armistead Maupin will be at the King’s English Bookshop, June 23, 7 p.m. to read from his new novel and speak to his LGBT activism, life and work.  Tickets are $25, with percentage of the proceeds benefiting The Trevor Project. Tickets are available at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

San Francisco and the Silver Screen

I had the pleasure of co-conducting a “Tours of the Tales” tour with Larry Rhodes over Memorial Day Weekend to celebrate the 36th Anniversary of “Tales of the City”.  During our tour, we mentioned several films that take place in and around San Francisco, and in particular, places near and dear to the folks at 28 Barbary Lane.  Here is a partial list of the films we discussed.  Please feel free to add more in the comments, San Francisco must be a film-makers dream.

Dark Passage (1947) - Lauren Bacall lives in the Malloch Apartments, these are the same apartments Dede and Beacham reside in the “Tales” novels.

Vertigo (1958) - Kim Novak’s character, Madeline, is scouted by Scotty, James Stewart, at the Brocklebank apartments.  In the “Tales” miniseries, these are the apartments where Dede and Beacham live.

Woman on the Run (1950) - Ann Sheridan and Dennis O’Keefe.  Locations include Washington Square Park and the “meeting of the lines” on Nob Hill.

House on Telegraph Hill (1951) - filmed on location on Telegraph Hill.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) - Starring Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright, locations include 32 Napier Lane, Alamo Square and the Transamerica Pyramid.

The Conversation (1974) - A Francis Ford Coppola gem featuring Gene Hackman, filmed in Union Square and Embarcadero Center.

D.O.A. (1950) - Film Noir starring Edmond O’Brien, Powell and California Cable Car Line, 

There are literally a ton of movies filmed in location in San Francisco.  Mistersf has a wonderful section on “Cinematic SF”.  Let’s not forget one of my favorites, “What’s Up, Doc?”

Monday, June 11, 2012

Judy Kaye Wins Best Featured Actress in a Musical for NICE WORK

Judy Kaye is this year's recipient of the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT.

Judy Kaye has been a star of the theatre for over 40 years. Her Broadway credits include Phantom of the Opera (Tony Award), Mamma Mia (Tony Nomination), Ragtime (LA Ovation Award), On the 20th Century, Souvenir (Tony Nomination), Grease, Sweeney Todd and The Pajama Game.

She recently starred as Mrs. Madrigal in the new musical Tales of the City at A.C.T in San Francisco and in Saving Aimee in Seattle.

Ms. Kaye has sung with major orchestras around the world and recorded numerous albums, both cast and solo. She has sung in concert, opera and cabaret and twice at the White House. She has recorded all of Sue Grafton's Alphabet Mystery Series for Random House Audio of which V Is For Vengeance is the latest.

The new musical comedy NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, featuring music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and a book by two-time Tony Award-winner Joe DiPietro, stars Matthew Broderick and three-time Tony Award nominee Kelli O’Hara. The production is directed and choreographed by three-time Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall. The production is playing at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street).

In addition to Matthew Broderick as Jimmy Winter and Kelli O’Hara as Billie Bendix, the production also stars Academy Award-winner Estelle Parsons as Millicent Winter, Tony Award-winner Judy Kaye as Estonia Dulworth, Tony Award nominee Michael McGrath as Cookie McGee, Tony Award nominee Jennifer Laura Thompson as Eileen Evergreen, Chris Sullivan as Duke Mahoney, Robyn Hurder as Jeannie Muldoon, StanleyWayne Mathis as Chief Berry and Terry Beaver as Senator Max Evergreen.

The cast also features Cameron Adams, Clyde Alves, Kaitlyn Davidson, Jason DePinto,Kimberly Faure, Robert Hartwell, Stephanie Martignetti, Barrett Martin, Michael X. Martin, Adam Perry, Jeffrey Schecter, Jennifer Smith,J oey Sorge, Samantha Sturm, Kristen Beth Williams and Candice Marie Woods.

The creative team includes scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Martin Pakledinaz, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, sound design by Brian Ronan and orchestrations by Bill Elliott. The music supervisor is David Chaseand the music director Tom Murray.

This new musical features a veritable hit parade of iconic George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin songs as well as some unknown gems in their catalog, and a book by Joe DiPietro. NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT follows Billie Bendix (Kelli O'Hara), a bootlegger who meets wealthy playboy Jimmy Winter (Matthew Broderick) on the weekend of his nuptials. Mayhem ensues.

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT is produced on Broadway by Scott Landis, Roger Berlind, Sonia Friedman Productions, Roy Furman, Standing CO Vation, Candy Spelling, Freddy DeMann, Ronald Frankel, Harold Newman, Jon B. Platt, Raise the Roof 8, Takonkiet Viravan, William Berlind/Ed Burke, Carole L. Haber/Susan Carusi, Buddy and Barbara Freitag/Sanford Robertson, Under the Wire/Jim Herbert, Emanuel Azenberg, TheShubert Organization.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tales of the Tales

This article originally appeared in The Advocate May 22, 2001

An oral history of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, which marks its 25th anniversary with this month's debut of the Further Tales of the City miniseries By Michael Giltz

Further Tales of the City-the third miniseries based on Armistead Maupin's Tales novels-begins its four-week run May 6 on Showtime, just in time to mark a quarter century since the stories first appeared as a serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.  To mark the occasion, The Advocate spoke to some of the people connected with the serial, the books, and the miniseries.

ARMISTEAD MAUPIN, author of six Tales of the City novels and cowriter of the three miniseries:  in 1974 I wrote this single functional piece, and an editor at the Pacific Sun [a San Francisco weekly] suggested that I do it on a weekly basis.  I think I did an episode on the baths with Michael, and I can't even remember what the other four were, but the paper folded after five [installments].  When the editors at the San Francisco Chronicle told me they were interested in continuing it [in 1976], I had one of those great revelatory moments when you run down the street and click your heels in the air--and I mean that literally--because you know you're on to something really good.  I was filled with excitement because I had an idea that was completely fresh and subject matter that had not been tapped.

EDITH STEIN, Maupin's coworker at the Chronicle:  I worked in the People department of the Chronicle, [which] had evolved from the old "women's pages."  We were all in our 20s and early 30s--very conservative and all on our first marriages.  When Armistead first wrote the serial, he used to come in every day and bat out these stories--these wicked, wicked "Tales of the City."  We'd all gather around and he would spill the beans about everything--the true stories behind what he was writing.  We'd say, "Is this true?  Is this true?"  He was larger than life.

MAUPIN, This first five years in the city bouncing from job to job had given me all the material I could possibly need--not to mention that I'd been working at the opera and witnessing the peregrinations of San Francisco society up close.  It was as if every crappy little job that had ever bored me silly was suddenly going to be put to use.

The deadlines were enormously useful because they got me past my natural instinct to be self-critical.  I had to do 800 words a day, come hell or high water.  There were times when the editor of that section would come by and tap her fingernails on my typewriter out of sheer impatience.

My parents subscribed to the newspaper in order to follow the column.  So as the hairpins began to drop, they got more and more concerned.  And I eventually used the column as my vehicle for coming out.

STEIN, He was terrible with deadlines.  [But] he's a very, very fast writer.  It was like a sportswriter--he was writing on deadline but producing this really beautifully written copy.

MAUPIN, Rock Hudson [the basis for the Cage Tyler character in the Further Tales miniseries] showed up in San Francisco and took a bunch of [us] out for dinner.  Then we went up to his suite at the Fairmont hotel.  I had bragged to him that my column was going to start running the next morning.  He secretly went to the desk clerk and bought an early edition of the Chronicle.  So here's a dozen guys in Rock's suite, and he rises rather drunkenly to his feet and says, "I have a reading I'd like to do," and he read the first chapter [of Tales] to the group, attempting to approximate the voices of Mary Ann Singleton and her mother.  The great irony was that Mary Ann's mother warns her that San Francisco is a dangerous place because she just saw this horrible thing that happened on McMillan and Wife.

TODD HARGIS, resident of San Francisco during most of the Tales era and friend of Maupin's:  I [left San Francisco] to help my sister move to Arizona and ended up getting stuck in Phoenix.  A friend of mine came out to visit and brought me the first Tales  in book form.  I read it in one sitting.  I could not put it down.  I remember reading it and thinking, God, look what I'm missing.

After I got back to San Francisco, one of my roommates took me out to [the gay bar] Badlands.   I looked across the pool table and saw this guy sitting there reading the newspaper, and he kind of lowered the paper and looked over at me.  We smiled, and I went over and said hello.  It was Armistead.

MAUPIN,  [As the fourth novel, Babycakes, was being serialized], people were very, very angry with me for killing off Jon Fielding, their favorite character.  I had lost a very close friend in 1982, one of the very first victims of [AIDS-related] pneumocystis:  Daniel Katz.

HARGIS,  I had friends who were really upset.  "How could he do this?  We know he's got to make a political statement.  But why do it with our friends?"

MAUPIN,  Jon Fielding's death was, as far as I knew, the first AIDS death in fiction when it appeared in the Chronicle in 1983.  I knew that I had to be faithful to the rules that I had laid down for myself, mainly that I would try to reflect the reality of my own life as much as possible within the context of this protracted fairy tale.  I wanted to make other people feel some of the pain that I was feeling over this loss--the pain and the panic.

HBO had optioned the books in 1982, [but as they developed the project, it] felt like they couldn't do a story about the freewheeling days of 1976, and they couldn't update it without making AIDS a part of the equation.  So it sat on a shelf at HBO for many, many years.

ALAN POUL,  executive producer of all three miniseries:  HBO actually took it to the script stage.  But the rights fell to [the U.K. Producers] Working Title [and its U.S. production partner, Propaganda, where Poul worked].  I jumped up and down and screamed at the possibility of being involved.

OLYMPIA DUKAKIS, who has played Anna Madrigal in all three miniseries:  I hadn't read the books, and I was advised by the director [of the first series, Alastair Reed] not to read them until it's over.  So I did what he said; I waited until it was over.

MAUPIN, You can imagine Olympia's amazement when she began reading the novels and discovered her own family being discussed in [Sure of You, which includes a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos].

DUKAKIS,  I know, isn't that interesting?  That my paternal grandfather and grandmother come from that Island?  Then, of course, you know Anna gets involved later on with a Greek fisherman.  I'm waiting for that.

MAUPIN,  I remember the night that we final shot the kiss scene [in the Tales miniseries] with [Marcus D'Amico, who played Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, and] Billy Campbell [as Jon Fielding].  I was standing at the top of the Barbary steps, looking down on the car where the kissing was going on.  In between takes, Billy would come up and join me and talk about his current heartbreak, because he'd just broken up with Jennifer Connelly.  I remember thinking how blessed I was that this simple act of a kiss between men was finally being filmed.

POUL,  The first series [which was financed by British television and aired on PBS in the United States], we did 12 days in San Francisco, and the rest of it was shot on stages and locations here in Los Angeles.  Barbary Lane completely occupied a big stage.  At the time, it's just crazy and you never have enough money and you're trying to cobble together a production.  So the depth of the reaction from the critics and the incredible ratings success that PBS had with it took us by surprise.  And then we were completely flummoxed by the hostile reaction it got from certain parts of the country.  At first we were just kind of amused, and then we realized it was not necessarily a laughing matter.  Then PBS got cold feet.

DUKAKIS,  PBS said, "We don't like to repeat them."  Meanwhile, we had six years of Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect with stories about murder and pedophilia.  And this is just about people struggling to find love and be loved.

POUL,  We had absolutely given [a miniseries sequel] up for dead.  There was about three years of somewhat cautious hope followed by absolute despair and resignation.  And then we made the [second] show.  [Laughs] The way we were able to finance the second series was by shooting it primarily in Montreal, and financing dictated that we must hire a Canadian director who qualified as a resident of Quebec.  So I must have looked at the work of a dozen directors before we found Pierre [Gang, who directed More Tales and Further Tales].

HARGIS, I was working with computers in a hotel accounting office.  It was good pay, but it wasn't very stimulating.  Armistead and my mom both said I should do something with horticulture.  It really wasn't because [the character] Michael did it; I just really enjoyed it.  [But] one of the things about Tales I learned early on is that you never know where the fiction leaves off and reality starts, or vice versa.

STEIN, The Chronicle has talked over the years about doing something like Tales of the City [again].  but it won't work now.  Silicon Valley?  Those people aren't going to be interesting in that same way.  Everyone was living on the edge, and if they weren't, they wanted to know all about the people that were.  It was an outrageous time.  Armistead was just the right person at the right time.  now, when you think about those days you can hardly believe that they were true.

Giltz writes regularly for the New York Post and other publications.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mrs. Madrigal Reunites With Armistead

At last night's Lambda Literary Awards:

Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis presented the Foundation's Pioneer Award to Maupin, calling Anna Madigral, the Tales of the City character she portrayed in the television adaptation, the most meaningful role of her career. "What happened for me when I did Anna Madrigal was that I understood the most important thing was to survive myself-and that's what Anna Madrigal did." 

Photo by Father Tony.

24th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners Announced in New York

24th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners Announced in New York
Armistead Maupin and Kate Millet Pioneer Award Recipients

New York, NY – The winners of the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards were announced last night in a sold-out gala ceremony hosted by comedienne Kate Clinton at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Author of the groundbreaking Tales of the City books, Armistead Maupin, and seminal influence on second-wave feminism Kate Millett, were the Pioneer Award honorees. Taking place the same week of Book Expo America – the book publishing industry’s largest annual gathering of booksellers, publishers, and others in the industry – the Lambda ceremony brought together over 400 attendees, sponsors, and celebrities to celebrate excellence in LGBT literature. Legendary entertainer Lypsinka gave a special performance at the ceremony, and the VIP After-Party at hotspot Slate was a night to remember with Lady Bunny as DJ.

As “mastress” of ceremonies, Clinton treated the audience to her brand of topical, political comedy that The New York Times has called, “Quick-witted, clear-spoken… a bizarrely logical, seemingly free-associating style of delivery…” Welcoming the members of the audience from out of town, she joked, “If you’re here to buy a Big Gulp or smoke a cigarette in a park…you’ll have to go to New Jersey.” Later, describing Michele Bachmann as “the SkyMall of useless ideas,” Clinton set her target on the conservative right and their attack on women’s reproductive rights, to hearty laughs and whoops of support from the audience. Also in attendance were presenters such as Olympia Dukakis, Charles Busch, Frank Bruni, Ally Sheedy, and Ross Bleckner.

Awards were presented in twenty-four categories. Among the winners were Farzana Doctor for her novel, Six Metres of Pavment, Justin Vivian Bond for his memoir,Tango: My Childhood Backwards and in High Heels, and Rahul Mehta for his debut collection of short fiction, Quarantine. In his acceptance speech, Mehta reflected on his first experience encountering Tales of the City, as a scared and closeted college freshman in North Carolina, citing Maupin’s books as part of a pivotal moment of self-acceptance in his life.

Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis presented the Foundation’s Pioneer Award to Maupin, calling Anna Madigral, the Tales of the City character she portrayed in the television adaptation, the most meaningful role of her career. “What happened for me when I did Anna Madrigal was that I understood the most important thing was to survive myself-and that’s what Anna Madrigal did.” Accepting his honor, Maupin remarked how moved he’d been by Mehta’s earlier anecdote, and pointed to the similar experience he’d had when he first discovered the work of Christopher Isherwood as young man. “I thought: Who wrote this? Where did this come from?”

The other Pioneer Award was given to iconic feminist Millett and was presented by Dr. Eleanor Pam, a pioneer in the women’s movement and a founding member of NOW, the National Organization of Women, as well as an expert on women and violence. “I am so moved to have been chosen to present the Lambda Pioneer award to Kate Millett,” Dr. Pam began her introduction, “someone I have known for more than 55 years, and a true pioneer in life as well as in literature.” In her speech, Millett charmed the audience with her insistence that she was “a farmer, really,” and shared her hope that the Millett Center for the Arts, the arts colony for women she’s established in LaGrange, NY, will be her legacy.

Stacey D’Erasmo, author of the novels Tea, A Seahorse Year, and The Sky Belowand Brian Leung, author of the short story collection, World Famous Love Acts and the novels Lost Men and Take Me Home received the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prizes.

Once again The Lammys raised the bar for glamour with its dazzling roster of presenters from the worlds of film, television, theatre, politics, religion, sex, and of course literature. Gracing the stage were: award-winning actor, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, director, and drag legend Charles Busch; movie star and author Ally Sheedy; Ross Bleckner, globally acclaimed artist and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador; Frank Bruni, the first openly gay Op-Ed columnist of The New York Times, the former chief restaurant critic of The New York Times, and New York Times best-selling author; Ted Allen, Emmy Award winning host of Chopped on Food Network and star of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy; Wally Lamb critically acclaimed, best-selling author; Judith Regan, legendary publisher, journalist, TV and radio talk show host; Susie Bright, legendary sex-positive feminist author and speaker; Anthony Rapp, singer, stage and film actor, and star of the original Broadway production of Rent; Lucy Sexton, performance artist and magazine editor;Michael Nava, award-winning novelist, and judicial attorney for California Supreme Court Justice, Carlos R. Moreno; Jacqueline Woodson, award-winning author of children’s books; bklyn boihood’s Ryann Holmes, Genesis Tramaine and Morgan M. Willis; Paul Schindler, editor-in-chief at Gay City News; Jee Leong Koh, poet and publisher; Brent Taylor, youth blogger and activist; J. Bob Alotta, executive director of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice; Janet Mock, writer, trans advocate and editor; Rodney Evans, film director and writer; Sinclair Sexsmith, lesbian erotica author and editor; Liz Scheier, veteran book editor; Teresa DeCrescenzo, LLF Board Treasurer and founder of Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services; Amy King, poet and activist; and Emanuel Xavier, poet, novelist and activist.

Ceremony Sponsors

Benefactor Level: Harper Perennial, CLAGS (The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies) and Ketel One Vodka; Mentor Level: American Institute of Bisexuality;Friends Level: Bywater Books, Arsenal Pulp Press, Seal Press, Beacon Press, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, The Feminist Press, Torquere Press, Northwest Press, Cleis Press; Gift Bag Level: Scholastic, Sarabande, Northwest Press

24th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners

Lesbian Fiction
Six Metres of Pavement, by Farzana Doctor, Dundrun Press

Gay Fiction
The Empty Family, by Colm Tóibín, Scribner

Lesbian Debut Fiction
Zipper Mouth, by Laurie Weeks, The Feminist Press

Gay Debut Fiction
Quarantine: Stories, by Rahul Mehta, Harper Perennial

Lesbian Memoir/Biography
When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love & Revolution, Jeanne Córdova, Spinsters Ink

Gay Memoir/Biography
The Jack Bank: A Memoir of a South African Childhood, by Glen Retief, St. Martin’s Press

Lesbian Mystery
Dying to Live, by Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou, Bold Strokes Books

Gay Mystery
Red White Black and Blue, by Richard Stevenson, MLR Press

LGBT Anthology
Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader, ed. by Michael Hames-García and Ernesto Javier Martínez, Duke University Press

LGBT Children’s/Young Adult
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy, by Bil Wright, Simon & Schuster

LGBT Drama
A Menopausal Gentleman: The Solo Performances of Peggy Shaw, by Peggy Shaw, University of Michigan Press

LGBT Nonfiction
A Queer History of the United States, by Michael Bronski, Beacon Press

LGBT SF/Fantasy/Horror
The German, by Lee Thomas, Lethe Press

LGBT Studies
Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes, by Lisa L. Moore, University of Minnesota Press

Bisexual Fiction
The Correspondence Artist, by Barbara Browning, Two Dollar Radio

Bisexual Nonfiction
The Horizontal Poet, by Jan Steckel, Zeitgest Press

Transgender Fiction
Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, ed. by Tristan Taormino, Cleis Press

Transgender Nonfiction
Tango: My Childhood Backwards and in High Heels, by Justin Vivian Bond, The Feminist Press

Lesbian Erotica
Story of L, by Debra Hyde, Ravenous Romance

Gay Erotica
All Together, by Dirk Vanden, iloveyoudivine Alerotica

Lesbian Poetry
Love Cake, by Leah Lakshmi Piepza-Samarasinha, TSAR Publications

Gay Poetry
A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, ed. by David Trinidad, Nightboat Books

Lesbian Romance
Taken by Surprise, by Kenna White, Bella Books

Gay Romance
Every Time I Think of You, by Jim Provenzano, CreateSpace/Myrmidude Press

24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards Host Committee

David McConnell – Co-ChairDon Weise – Co-ChairS. Chris Shirley – Co-Chair
Charles Rice-Gonzalez -DirectorJamie Brickhouse – Publicity Chair
Brad BolesJames BrooksMario Lopez-Cordero
David GaleJames HannahamWayne Hoffman
Michele KarlsbergDean KlingerJay Moore
Dan ManjoviBill MillerHeather O’Neill
Pauline ParkLori PerkinsJay Plum
Melanie La RosaPatrick RyanLiz Scheier
Bob SmithJerl SurrattLinda Villarosa
Warren Wilson

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Evening with Armistead Maupin

Start: Jun 23 2012 7:00 pm
1511 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, Utah
United States

Saturday, June 23, 7 p.m.

Join us for an unforgettable evening with Armistead Maupin, author of the Tales of the City series. Maupin will treat the audience to an early sneak preview of The Days of Anna Madrigal, the next novel in the Tales series—coming next year! He’ll discuss his work, his life, and his longtime LGBT activism.

Tickets are $25. 10% of the ticket proceeds will benefit The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Event tickets will form the signing line after the presentation. Seating is general admission. Please arrive early.

In the New York Times Book Review, Mary Ann in Autumn, the most recent Tales novel, was described as “tenderhearted and frolicsome...A tale of long-lost friends and unrealized dreams, of fear and regret, of penance and redemption—and of the unshakable sense that this world we love, this life we live, this drama in which we all play a part, does indeed go by much too fast.”

Maupin was assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. In 1976 he launched his groundbreaking Tales of the City serial in the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the author of ten novels, including the eight-volume Tales series, Maybe the Moon, The Night Listener, and, most recently, Mary Ann in Autumn. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were made from the first three Tales novels and The Night Listener became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette. Maupin lives in San Francisco with his husband, Christopher Turner.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

36th Anniversary "Tales" Walking Tour

On Saturday, May 26, 2012, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a "Tours of the Tales" walking tour with Larry Rhodes ( in San Francisco.  Our group met near the Buena Vista/Aquatic Park and ended with dinner in the Castro at The Sausage Factory.  A surprise for everyone, Armistead Maupin and Christopher Turner joined us for dinner.  Christopher Turner toted a bag of books that Armistead graciously signed for the tour participants while personally greeting everyone.  Needless to say, it was the highlight of the night.

Larry led the tour pointing out locales mentioned in Armistead's novels, as well as other historical information.  We enhanced the experience by playing clips on an iPad from the miniseries at the locations they were filmed.  We also talked about the influence of Hitchcock in the "Tales" mini-series, and other movies that were filmed in San Francisco.

I want to personally thank Larry for organizing an amazing day roaming the world of Anna Madrigal and tenants, to Armistead and Chris for making the evening a memorable one, and the folks that came to share their stories of what the "Tales" universe means to them.  I met some amazing people that I look forward to seeing again in the near future.  Armistead's influence extends beyond being a great storyteller, through his work, I have befriended a handful of fans that surround the globe.

Included in the tour were Scott and Brandon from San Francisco, Peter and Maggie from England, Tim and Alicia from New York, Trish and Cindy from California, Nancy Snell and myself from Indiana, and tour guide Larry Rhodes from New Mexico.

If you are interested in signing up for a Tales Tour, check out Larry's website at or the facebook page  You can also download tours to explore the city on your own.

Macondray Lane 
Macondray Lane  
Macondray Lane

Me, Armistead and Larry

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Anniversary "Tales of the City"

"Tales of the City" debuted 36 years ago today in the San Francisco Chronicle.  I've posted this previously, but here it is again!  To celebrate, Larry Rhodes of is hosting an anniversary tour in San Francisco.  I am honored to co-conduct and spend the day with Larry and other Tales fans on Saturday, May 26.  Another bonus, the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge is the 27th.  This should be an amazing weekend and I'm looking forward to meeting everyone that signed up for the tour.


This is the first installment of the original "Tales of the City" series. It appeared in The Chronicle on May 24, 1976.

Mary Ann Singleton was 25 years old when she saw San Francisco for the first time.

She came to the city alone for an eight-day vacation. On the fifth night, she drank three Irish coffees at the Buena Vista, realized that her Mood Ring was blue and decided to phone her mother in Cleveland.

"Hi, Mom, it's me."

"Oh, darling. Your daddy and I were just talking about you. There was this crazy man on 'McMillan and Wife' who was strangling all these nice young secretaries, and I just couldn't help thinking ..."

"Mom ..."

"I know, it's just your silly old mother, worrying herself sick over nothing. But you never can tell about those things. I mean, look at that poor Patty Hearst, locked up in that closet with those awful ... "

"Mom, this is long distance."

"I'm sorry, sugar, I'm such an old worry-wart. You must be having a grand time!"

"Oh, Mom, you wouldn't believe it! The people here are so friendly. I feel like I've ..."

"Have you been to the Top of the Mark like I told you?"

"Not yet, but ..."

"Well, don't you miss that. You know, your daddy took me there when he got back from the South Pacific. I remember he slipped the bandleader five dollars, so we could dance to 'Moonlight Serenade' and I spilled Tom Collins all over his beautiful, white Navy ..."

"Mom, I called to tell you something."

"Of course, dear. Just listen to me rambling on. Oh, one thing, before I forget it. I ran into Mr. Lassiter yesterday at the Ridgemont Mall, and he said the office is just falling apart with you gone. They don't get many good secretaries at Lassiter Fertilizers."

"Mom, that's sort of why I called."

"What do you mean, honey?"

"I want you to call Mr. Lassiter and tell him I won't be in on Monday morning."

"Oh, Mary Ann, I'm not sure you should ask for an extension on your vacation."

"It's not an extension, Mom."

"What? I don't ..."

"I'm not coming home, Mom."

For a moment, the line seemed to go dead. Then, dimly in the distance, a television announcer began to tell Mary Ann's father about the temporary relief of hemorrhoids. Finally, her mother spoke: "Now you're being silly, darling."

Mary Ann tried to stay calm. "I'm not being silly, Mom. I really feel comfortable here. I mean, it seems like home to me already."

More silence.

"Mom, I've thought about this for a long time."

"You've only been out there five days."

"I know, Mom, but I'm really sure about this. It's got nothing to do with you and Daddy. I just want to start making my own life, have my own apartment ..."

"Oh, that. Well, of course you can, darling. As a matter of fact, your daddy and I thought those new apartments out at Ridgemont might be just perfect for you. They take lots of young people, and they've got a swimming pool and one of those sauna things, and I could make some of those darling curtains like I made for Sonny and Vicki when they got married. You could have all the privacy you ..."

Mary Ann's voice was gentle but firm. "Mom, you aren't listening to me. It isn't the privacy or living with you and Daddy or ... any of that. It's just me. I love it here. I'm grown up now and ..."

"Well, you certainly aren't acting like it! I've never heard such a thing! You can't just run away from your family and friends to go live with a bunch of hippies and mass murderers!"

"Oh, Mom, that's just a lot of TV crap!"

Her mother lowered her voice reproachfully. "Don't you talk nasty to your mother, Mary Ann ... and it's not a lot of TV ... stuff. What about those Giraffe Killers?"


"Well, whatever. And what about those earthquakes? Your daddy took me to see that awful movie, and I nearly had a heart attack when Ava Gardner ..."

"Mom. I've made up my mind about this. Will you just call Mr. Lassiter for me?"

Her mother began to cry. "Something terrible is going to happen to you. I know it."

"Now who's being silly? What could possibly happen to me, Mom? San Francisco is a lot safer than Cleveland, and the people are so mellow."

Her mother stopped sobbing for a moment. "What does that mean?" she asked suspiciously.

When it was over, Mary Ann left the Buena Vista and walked through Aquatic Park to the bay. For several minutes, she stared at the Alcatraz beacon, drunk with the prospect of an undefined future.

"What could possible happen to me, Mom?" The words came back to her on a chill wind, nibbling uncertainly on a corner of her mind.

Back at the Fisherman's Wharf Holiday Inn, she looked up Connie Bradshaw's phone number. Connie was the only person she knew in San Francisco. Mary Ann had heard that she was a stewardess for United but hadn't spoken to her old high school friend since 1968.

"Oh, God, I can't believe it!" squealed Connie, when Mary Ann identified herself. "How long are you here for?"

"For good, " said Mary Ann, savoring the words.

"Oh, super! Have you found an apartment yet?"

Mary Ann decided to be direct. "Not yet. I was wondering if I might be able to crash at your place for a couple of days. My savings account isn't holding out too well."

"Sure, " said Connie, without hesitation. "No sweat. That is, if you don't mind an occasional sleep-in."

Mary Ann was thrown for a moment. "Oh ... you mean guys?"

Connie uttered a throaty laugh. "Do I ever, honey!" {sbox}

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Armistead Maupin: Pen Pals lecture series

Salman Rushdie, who spent nine years in hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him for publication of "The Satanic Verses," will headline the next season of the Pen Pals lecture series. Other guests include mystery writer Dennis Lehane, New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, Minnesota native Alice Kaplan, who has written a number of books about France, and "Tales of the City" author Armistead Maupin.

All lectures will take place at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Main St., Hopkins. Cost for the series -- a fundraiser for the Friends of Hennepin County Library -- is $160. Cost for individual tickets is $40. Subscription tickets go on sale Monday by phone (612-543-8112) and online at Individual tickets will go on sale June 25. Here's the lineup:

• Salman Rushdie, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 and 11 a.m. Oct. 19. Rushdie is the author of 11 novels, three works of nonfiction, a collection of stories and an upcoming memoir, "Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie," which will be published in September. The cost of his Pen Pals appearance includes a copy of the book.

• Alice Kaplan, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29 and 11 a.m. Nov. 30. She was born in Minnesota and is a professor of French at Yale University. She is the author, most recently, of the biography "Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis."

• Roz Chast, 7:30 p.m. March 14, 2013, and 11 a.m. March 15, 2013. She is a staff cartoonist at the New Yorker magazine, where she has published more than 1,000 cartoons.

• Dennis Lehane, 7:30 p.m. April 11, 2013, and 11 a.m. April 12, 2013. He is the author of "Shutter Island," "Gone, Baby, Gone" and "Mystic River," all of which were New York Times bestsellers and were made into movies.

Armistead Maupin, 7:30 p.m. May 16, 2013, and 11 a.m. May 17, 2013. Maupin's "Tales of the City" began as a column in the San Francisco Chronicle and grew into a series of bestselling novels, a TV miniseries and a musical.


JLO + ENRIQUE: Jennifer Lopez, the actress-fashion designer who has used "American Idol" to reignite her music career, will perform Aug. 1 at Target Center with Enrique Iglesias, the voice of such smashes as "I Like It" and "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You). This will be JLo's first prominent performance in the Twin Cities. Opening will be the Wisin Y Yandel, the hit-making reggaeton duo from Puerto Rico. Tickets, priced from $29.50 to $129.50, will go on sale at noon May 18 at Ticketmaster outlets and Target Center box office.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Obama's Gay Marriage Evolution: A Societal Shift?

May 12, 2012
As the debate over the political calculations behind President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage continue, Host Scott Simon checks in with acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Armistead Maupin to talk about this as a cultural moment.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Crown & Anchor Appearance

Author Armistead Maupin will make his first public appearance in Provincetown at the Crown & Anchor's Paramount Nightclub. Maupin's iconic Tales of the City series has blazed a trail through popular culture – from a series of globally bestselling novels, to a Peabody Award-winning television miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney, to a musical that premiered last year at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater. Maupin's most recent Tales novel, Mary Ann in Autumn, was published to international acclaim in 2010.

Ticketholders to TEATIME WITH ARMISTEAD MAUPIN can expect an afternoon of free-wheeling anecdotes and lively conversation with the audience – as well as a reading from Maupin's current work-in-progress, The Days of Anna Madrigal. The author's books will be available for purchase and signing.

The after party at the Wave Video Bar (open to non-ticketholders) is sponsored by Bear Central, a new social site created by Maupin's husband, web developer Chris Turner. "This time it's a total family affair," says Maupin. "We can't think of a better way to kick off our summer."

"Tales of the City (is) perhaps the most sublime piece of popular literature America has ever produced... As with the Beatles, everyone seems to like Maupin’s Tales – and, really, why would you want to find someone who didn't?"

– Laura Miller, Salon

"To quote the inestimable Quentin Crisp (upon introducing a friend), 'This is Mr. Maupin, he invented San Francisco.' Not just San Francisco either. For millions of fans around the world Armistead Maupin might as well have invented gay culture.

-Out Magazine

Thursday, April 19, 2012

100-Plus-Year-Old Chinatown Restaurant, Home of Famed Rude Waiter, to Close This Weekend

Sam Wo, which by some accounts opened in its current location at 813 Washington Street in 1907 but may have opened ten years prior, is closing after service on Friday. The owner, David Ho, tells the Scoop his reasons: "Too old. Everything’s too old. The building is too old. It’s very sad." Sam Wo was the legendary home of "the world's rudest waiter," Edsel Ford Fong, made famous in part because the restaurant was also a hangout of the Beats. Fong, who died in 1984, was immortalized as a recurring character in Armistead Maupin's series of Tales of the City novels, a character later featured in the BBC mini-series based on the novels.

Fong was said to be in on the joke, so to speak, but nonetheless he was known for calling patrons fat, criticizing their menu choices, seating people with strangers, groping female patrons, taking orders with a cigarette in his mouth, swearing, forgetting orders, reminding people to tip him, and busing tables before diners were finished. (Alas, the restaurant's reputation for nutty/aggressive waitstaff continued into recent times, as evidenced by this video of a brusque, screaming waitress from 2009, shot by some amused tourists.)

The three-story restaurant has run into trouble with the fire department lately, and apparently the owner feels the kitchen and the building itself are beyond repair. (We should also note that Jonathan Kauffman just this week wrote about Sam Wo as part of this Rice Plate Journal series, calling it "dirty and adorable" and "the most charming dive in Chinatown.")

Luckily we still have the city's oldest Chinese restaurant, the former Hang Far Low which renamed itself (wisely) Four Seas a few decades back. It was originally located, pre-quake, on Dupont street, between Clay and Sacramento and was called the "Delmonico's of Chinatown" according to an 1885 guide book. After the quake it moved to its current location at 731 Grant Avenue.

Update: SFist reminds us that Sam Wo was featured on the Late Show with Conan O'Brien in 2007 when Conan was doing a week of shows in S.F. Also, they're open until 3 a.m., for those looking to squeeze in a last visit.

Friday, March 30, 2012

World of Armistead Maupin, novelist

The Tales of the City author talks to Melissa Whitworth about starting out, coming out and a note from Gandalf.

By Melissa Whitworth 4:32PM BST 30 Mar 2012

Armistead Maupin, 67, is the author of eight novels in the Tales of the City series, of which there are six million copies in print. The series began as a column in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1976 and has gone on to become a television mini–series, a film and a musical. The novels are all now available as ebooks. A ninth instalment, The Days of Anna Madrigal, will be published next year. Maupin lives in San Francisco with his husband, Christopher Turner, their labradoodle, Philo, and their cat, Maxine.

Mornings I get up at about nine o'clock; usually my husband and I spend a few minutes in bed with the animals before we open the curtains. The dog and the cat both like to crawl on and snuggle. We have a similar ritual just before bed, so that gives you a pretty good idea of how much we care about our creatures. The dog is named after the Greek root for love; he looks like a Muppet.

Writing My office is an eyrie at the top of the house. There's a lovely view of the eucalyptus forests out of one window, and we can look out across the bay towards Sausalito from the other. I work when my energy is high, in the morning. But the sunshine pours into this room and it makes me want to curl up like a cat.

Childhood I made every effort to become a lawyer because that's what my father wanted. But it was clear from the beginning that my instincts didn't lie in that direction. I was by nature a storyteller. When I was eight years old I would make my friends sit around the campfire and listen to ghost stories. It was how I found self–worth because I was so rotten at sports.

Starting out Tales of the City began as a failed effort to write a news story for a little newspaper about the heterosexual cruising scene at a local supermarket. I couldn't find anyone who would actually tell the truth about why she was there, so I made up a character called Mary Ann Singleton. Then the newspaper folded so I took the idea to the San Francisco Chronicle. The serial, now fiction, appeared five days a week and I had to come up with 800 words of a continuing story every day, no matter what, for two years. It was a pretty harrowing but exhilarating experience. Now Tales of the City is like a ball of sourdough starter I keep in the back room of my mind. I can use it to bake new bread whenever I want. Its DNA is always there, ready to generate new stories.

On the wall There's a painting of Christopher (pictured) by Don Bachardy, who was Christopher Isherwood's partner for many years. Don is still a very close friend. He was 30 years younger than Chris [Isherwood]. My Chris and I have a similar age gap, so their relationship has always been an inspiration. In my office loo I have a framed newspaper rack card from 30 years ago (pictured), announcing the return of Tales of the City. I think most self–promotional items should be in the loo – a certain amount of modesty is required.

Coming out I came out of the closet while writing the series. And what a revelation to realise that the thing that I had feared the most had become the source of my greatest inspiration and the cause of my success. My mother said to me, 'I don't mind you being honest, darling, I just don't want it to hurt your career.' I said, 'You don't understand, this is my career.' I knew very early in the game that my responsibility was to be publicly, openly, happily gay. That wasn't hard to do. I don't suffer closeted folks gladly. I let them know, especially if they're famous, that I think they have a responsibility. Years ago my friend Ian McKellen asked me how I felt about it and he told me that the evening he spent talking to me was what pushed him over the edge. I'm really proud of that.

Gandalf When Ian stayed here on one occasion, he left this note (pictured) on his bed. It says 'Gandalf slept here' – and, in parentheses, 'with Magneto! [McKellen's character in X–Men]' It's a little drawing of Gandalf lying on his back in the bed, smoking a pipe.

Lucky charm I have a brass Chinese dragon that I bought in the Chinese section of Saigon when I was stationed in the military there during the Vietnam War. I kept it by my radio in my bunker on the Cambodian border as a good luck charm.

In demand Readers see my characters as members of their own family. It makes me very happy to know that they matter to people so much, and have provided guidance for people I'll never even meet. Some fans can get quite proprietorial. I recently went into Facebook silence because I needed to write a novel. When I showed up on Facebook a week later people would post messages saying, 'Shouldn't you be writing?' To know that you are in demand is a lovely thing.

Award A crystal obelisk was given to me by the Trevor Project, the heroic organisation that helps suicidal LBGT [lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender] kids. There are a lot of them in the States at the moment with the homophobia being spewed by preachers and politicians. Children need to be told their life is worth something. I was given this award about 10 years ago. It just says 'for his efforts in saving young lives'. I think they meant that my work contributed to the spirit of LBGT self–acceptance and that makes me happy.

Coats of arms Chris and I have our coats of arms (pictured) framed side by side, in the wedding manner. We got them on a lark in Drumnadrochit, the village on Loch Ness where the monster is the chief tourist attraction. The poor lady who took our heraldic information didn't quite grasp the idea that it was our marriage that we were celebrating. Looking at the coats of arms she said, 'Which one is the bride?' We said, 'Neither of us, actually.'

Sexuality I have been conscious of being part of a cultural revolution for the past 35 years. There's no question that it's easier in some ways because gay folks aren't invisible any more. When I was young, many of us thought we were the only gay in the village. Now, because of that visibility, there's a much more concerted campaign against gay people, especially from the fundamentalist segments of America, and that means the pressure is much worse. Still, the polls now indicate that most Americans support the right for people to marry the person that they love. The battle hasn't been won yet, but we're close.

Relaxing I do enjoy a joint at night. I use something called a vaporiser, which removes the smoke from the cannabis. It's much better on your lungs. Lately I've been smoking something called Blue Dream. There are so many varieties these days, it's like wines, with similarly pretentious descriptions.

Viewing I spend the evening watching television with Christopher. Probably half of Britain will cringe to hear this but we love Downton Abbey. We giggle at the absurdity of all those people standing around dressed to the nines. But there's something oddly comforting about it. I'd rather wait for Maggie Smith's gowns than J–Lo's.

Love My life is full of love; I designed it that way. I try to make my own experience about love and I look for kindness and tenderness in others. That's what I've found in Christopher. That's the thing I value the most: it will get you through everything.