The Party

“Michael picked up a tray of brownies in the kitchen. “Are these loaded?” he asked.
Mrs. Madrigal merely smiled at him.
“I thought so,” said Michael.
“Has Mary Ann come down yet?”
“Not yet.”
“What on earth could have…?”
“I can check, if you want.”
“No. Thank you, dear … but I need you down here.”
“Are you expecting any others?”
She checked her watch. “One,” she said vaguely, “though I’m not sure…. It’s nothing definite, dear.”
“Is everything … all right, Mrs. Madrigal?”
She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. “I’m with my family, aren’t I?”

When Michael returned to the living room, he almost dropped the brownies.
“In the firm but pliant flesh.”
“Hot damn! What happened to D’orothea?”
“She’s having a White Christmas with her parents in Oakland.”
“It’s snowing in Oakland?”
“It’s too long a story, Mouse.”
He set the tray down and flung his arms around her. “Goddammit, I’ve missed you!”
“Yeah. Same here.”
“Well, you don’t look any worse for wear.”
“Yeah,” she grinned. “Same ol’ Mona … smiling in the face of perversity.”

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Excerpt From: Armistead Maupin. “Tales of the City.”

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PBS visits Armistead Maupin

Mark you calendars and kick off 2018 with The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin on PBS!  The award winning documentary premiers on PBS 1/1/2018.  Click here for a preview, and check you local listings for air-times.

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Tim Adams’s best biographies of 2017

The Guardian
December 3, 2017

“Chroniclers of other people’s lives do not always make the best memoirists, but there are exceptions to that rule. Armistead Maupin made his name with the episodic revelations of San Francisco’s gay culture before and after Aids in Tales of the City. His own coming out is the memorable epiphany of Logical Family(Doubleday £20), the story of how he overcame the bigotry of blood relations to forge an alternative loving community.”

Read the full article here

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“Logical Family” available today!

In this long-awaited memoir, the beloved author of the bestselling Tales of the City series chronicles his odyssey from the old South to freewheeling San Francisco, and his evolution from curious youth to ground-breaking writer and gay rights pioneer.

Born in the mid-twentieth century and raised in the heart of conservative North Carolina, Armistead Maupin lost his virginity to another man “on the very spot where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.” Realizing that the South was too small for him, this son of a traditional lawyer packed his earthly belongings into his Opel GT (including a beloved portrait of a Confederate ancestor), and took to the road in search of adventure. It was a journey that would lead him from a homoerotic Navy initiation ceremony in the jungles of Vietnam to that strangest of strange lands: San Francisco in the early 1970s.

Reflecting on the profound impact those closest to him have had on his life, Maupin shares his candid search for his “logical family,” the people he could call his own. “Sooner or later, we have to venture beyond our biological family to find our logical one, the one that actually makes sense for us,” he writes. “We have to, if we are to live without squandering our lives.” From his loving relationship with his palm-reading Grannie who insisted Maupin was the reincarnation of her artistic bachelor cousin, Curtis, to an awkward conversation about girls with President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office, Maupin tells of the extraordinary individuals and situations that shaped him into one of the most influential writers of the last century.

Maupin recalls his losses and life-changing experiences with humor and unflinching honesty, and brings to life flesh-and-blood characters as endearing and unforgettable as the vivid, fraught men and women who populate his enchanting novels. What emerges is an illuminating portrait of the man who depicted the liberation and evolution of America’s queer community over the last four decades with honesty and compassion—and inspired millions to claim their own lives.

Logical Family includes black-and-white photographs.

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Mr. Maupin, it’s time for your close-up

August 11, 2017 at 9:21 pm PDT
by John Paul King

For a certain generation of gay men and women, the name Armistead Maupin will always strike a deep and richly satisfying chord in the soul.

His serialized “Tales of the City,” which ran throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle (and later the San Francisco Examiner) before being widely published as a series of popular novels, captured the heady atmosphere of its exciting time, and through the intertwined sagas of its assorted characters – gay, straight, and in between – it encouraged its readers to embrace their own queerness and live an open and authentic life.

Nearly 50 years later, Maupin’s beloved stories are as relevant as ever. With three successful TV miniseries having brought them to an even wider audience (and a fourth reportedly in the works), the lives of Mary Ann, Mouse, Mona, and Mrs. Madrigal are as famous and familiar to many of us as our own – much more famous and familiar, in fact, than the life of their creator.

That may soon change.

Maupin has penned a memoir, “Logical Family,” which will be published in October. Around the same time, a documentary, “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin,” is due to hit screens after a tour of film festivals across the country – including a recent showing at Los Angeles’ own Outfest.

Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot (also responsible for 2014’s documentary, “To Be Takei”), the new film takes audiences on a tour of Maupin’s storied career, of course, but it also delves into the life he lived before becoming one of the foremost literary voices of the LGBTQ community.

Born into a North Carolina family with roots in the aristocracy of the American South, Maupin grew up in a deeply conservative environment. He became interested in journalism while attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and spent time after his graduation working for future U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, who managed a TV station in Raleigh. Subsequently, he served multiple tours of duty in the U.S. Navy (one in Vietnam) before returning to the states to begin the newspaper career that would ultimately take him to San Francisco.

He remained closeted throughout all this time. Though he knew he was gay from an early age, he never acted on it until he was 26 years old. The details of that encounter are among the many biographical anecdotes Maupin shares in interviews throughout Kroot’s movie.

A considerable portion of the film’s 90-minute run time, in fact, is made up of interview footage, but this never feels like a cop-out. This is largely due to the way Kroot pieces together her movie; instead of placing events in a chronological sequence, she separates them into sections devoted to particular subject matter, cross-referencing between time periods to make connections and underscore recurring themes in the author’s life and work – and by extension, in the history of the LGBTQ community.

This process is facilitated by the use of archival footage, a wealth of photographs capturing the rich history of San Francisco, and even animated sequences that serve as transitions between the movie’s various chapters. There is liberal use of excerpts from the televised adaptations of “Tales,” which astutely illustrate the parallels between the author’s real-life story and the events and characters in his writing.

Even so, the movie’s strongest appeal comes from hearing Maupin speak for himself, which he does with disarming wit and candor; his expansive persona comes across onscreen with so much easy-going familiarity that one walks away from the film with the impression of having spent the time with him in person – not as an audience member, but as an intimate friend.

It doesn’t feel like artifice, either.

Though he carries the air of a genteel “southern gentleman” (there’s still the slightest hint of that accent), and though he displays a well-mannered delicacy even as he talks openly about his own sexual exploits, there is no arrogance or pretense here. He comes across as the genuine article, a product of his past who approaches life with an open heart.

Though Maupin’s interviews form the bulk of the film’s “talking head” footage, there are a host of others offering their insights as well.  Appearances from Neil Gaiman, Amy Tan, Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Margaret Cho, and several others help to illuminate the far-reaching impact made by the author – not just through his work, but through his connections and influence as a core figure in LGBTQ culture.  Though he maintains a tasteful humility, the film makes it clear that Maupin is as big an icon as any of the famous names with whom he has rubbed elbows.

As interesting as all this biographical information may be, though, Kroot’s film does not use it as an end in itself; rather, it helps her to impart a much deeper revelation about her subject. For by tracing Maupin’s path through the past five decades in the history of gay life, she shows just how much he has given back to the community that made him a success.

After all, he made his name by giving voice to the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of millions of his fellows; and in doing so he provided a touchstone for them all, a sort of emotional road map by which they could chart their own journeys through the changing social and sexual attitudes of the era.  Quite simply, he united them into a sort of extended family.

This point is driven home in what is perhaps the movie’s most memorable sequence, in which Maupin relates how he came out to his family through one of his most beloved characters. In “More Tales of the City,” Michael “Mouse” Tolliver writes a letter to his mother telling her that he is gay, in a chapter expressly written by the author with the intention that his own parents would read it and understand that it was his personal message to them. Kroot then splices together segments of the letter being read (and sung) aloud, powerfully illustrating how Maupin’s work gave words to the hearts and minds of an entire community – and providing an unexpectedly moving culmination to her film.

Powerful climax notwithstanding, “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” is largely a light affair; though it necessarily travels down a few dark roads (after all, the author’s history runs straight through the middle of the AIDS epidemic), it is marked throughout by a tone of wit and positivity – fully in keeping with the good-natured personality of its subject.  It flies by and leaves you hungry for more, like a coffee date with an old friend with whom you can never spend enough time.  It will likely inspire you to revisit “Tales of the City,” or even better, to discover some of Maupin’s other writings.  Perhaps it will even inspire you to live more freely, like the denizens of 28 Barbary Lane.

Whatever it inspires you to do, you will find it to be time well spent.

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Netflix Developing New Installment of ‘Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City’

June 28, 2017

Cynthia Littleton
Managing Editor: Television

Netflix is developing a new installment of “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City” with Working Title Television U.S. Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis are on board to revive the characters they played in Showtime and PBS adaptations of the landmark LGBT-themed novel series in the 1990s.

Michael Cunningham (“The Hours”) has penned the first script for what is envisioned as a 10-part installment, although the project does not yet have a series order from Netflix. Maupin would return as an executive producer, and Alan Poul is on board to direct. Netflix declined to comment.

Prolific novelist Maupin launched the series that follows a colorful, diverse group of characters living in San Francisco as a newspaper serial in 1976. He has published nine novels in the “Tales” series, with 2014’s “The Days of Anna Madrigal” said to be the final edition of the book series.

“Tales” focuses on the residents of a boarding house at 28 Barbary Lane run by Anna Madrigal, played by Dukakis. The Netflix series would be set in the present day, focusing on Linney’s Mary Ann Singleton character as she returns to San Francisco and the boarding house after 25 years away.

The book series has long been hailed as a cultural touchstone for the LGBT community with its finely drawn portrayals of gay, straight and transgender characters and their struggles. The “Tales” novels were among the first to address the AIDS crisis.

PBS carried the original six-part “Tales” miniseries in January 1994, which generated controversy in some regions for its depiction of LGBT relationships. Showtime ran the subsequent miniseries, 1998’s “More Tales of the City” and 2001’s “Further Tales of the City.”

Netflix Developing New Installment of ‘Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City’

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Happy Pride! “Tales” and “More Tales” available on All 4

Happy Pride Barbaryphiles! All 4, Channel 4’s on-demand streaming service, is airing “Tales of the City” and “More Tales of the City” to their programming service and as a bonus, ALL episodes are free this month in the UK.  Pride would not be complete without spending some time with Mrs. Madrigal and the tenants of 28 Barbary Lane.  Check out All 4 here!

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