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