New York Public Library: Our Favorite Female Characters

Our Favorite Female Characters
by Lynn Lobash, Manager of Reader Services
April 7, 2015

We asked our staff about their favorite female characters. Here are some they highly recommend for kids, teens and adults alike.

I love Mrs. Madrigal in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series! I admire her wisdom, tolerance, and ability to nurture people and relationships, qualities that make her everyone’s favorite San Francisco landlady. —Elizabeth Waters, Mid-Manhattan

Click Here to read the entire article.

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Juned In And Gayed Out

By Armistead Maupin

The Following originally appeared in The New York Times on June 27, 1981

SAN FRANCISCO— June is a hectic month for brides and homosexuals. Take my own schedule, for instance. So far this month, I have read from my books at the Gay American Arts Festival in New York City and at the Walt Whitman Bookshop in San Francisco, attended the New York premiere of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, addressed a rally at the San Jose Gay Pride Celebration, and rooted for the contestants in a gay tricycle race benefitting the S.P.C.A. and a gay dog show sponsored by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an ”order of gay male nuns dedicated to the expiation of guilt,” as it describes itself.

As you may have guessed, I’m a San Franciscan. I’m, therefore, wistfully aware that simple logistics prohibit me from taking part in the two-day gay block party in New Orleans or the gay Mississippi River boat cruise in Minneapolis or even the Fireman’s Ball sponsored by Black and White Men Together, in Houston. I suppose I could pass up Denver’s fabled gay beer bust, if it didn’t mean missing the music of the 100-member Gay and Lesbian Community Center Kazoo Band. As it is, there is scarcely enough time for me to complete my gay square-dance course and board the gay wagon train that’s ready to roll in the California desert.

A friend of mine, Vito Russo, who wrote ”The Celluloid Closet” – it’s about homosexuality in the movies -also suffers from gay overload in June. His schedule included a mad dash to The Coast for the San Francisco International Gay Film Festival where he screened, among other things, ”rare footage” of Bette Midler performing at the Continental Baths.

”Are you a mess?” I asked Vito at lunch recently. ”I sure as hell am.” He smiled stoicly and replied: ”It’s just June.” ”But it’s getting worse,” I said. He shrugged. ”Judy should’ve picked another month to die.” He meant Judy Garland, long an object of adoration among gays, for reasons that have never been fully explained. Miss Garland’s funeral was a dozen years ago this month. The following night (June 28, 1969), under the first full moon of summer, a small band of New Yorkers who had finally had enough stood their ground and fought back against policemen attempting to bust a gay bar in Greenwich Village. That event, commonly called The Stonewall Rebellion (after the establishment under siege), is regarded as the Lexington and Concord of the modern gay rights movement.

Ever since then, June has been an exhausting time for members of our tribe. Ken Maley, a San Francisco media consultant who has spent the last two years leading international journalists through ”The Gay Capital of the World,” says that this is the month when many homosexuals find themselves ”gayed out” for good. ”A lot of people can’t take it,” he says. ”I myself am thinking of spending July with my straight brother in Kansas.”

I know exactly what he means. There are times when I wonder how I can muster the stamina to attend one more Cops vs. Homos softball game, one more Dentists for Human Rights awards brunch, one more potluck supper and Bingo night to benefit gay Cuban refugees. Would it have pleased Oscar Wilde, I ask myself, to know that someday The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name would qualify him for membership in a health club, a bowling league, and a savings and loan association?

I don’t know. I do know what my own life was like before these oddly Rotarian-sounding institutions became a part of it. I remember all too well how the word ”queer” sounded when I was 14 years old and living in North Carolina. I know, too, that there are still children being brutalized by the obscene fundamentalist notion that their sexuality is an abomination to the God that created them, and that there are still nervous liberals who will tell you earnestly that they don’t care ”what you do in bed” but wonder ”why you make such a big deal of it.”

I make such a big deal of it, I suppose, because I wearied of other people making a big deal of it behind my back. The cards are on the table now, and the world seems a nicer place because of it. If nothing else, June is a time when I remind myself that I am queer in almost every sense of the word, and that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Armistead Maupin’s Design for Living

Although this article is posted on Armistead’s main website, I felt it was worthy of a repost.  This article is from the Advocate 1985.

1. Stop begging for acceptance. Homosexuality is still an anathema to most people in this country—even to many homosexuals. If you camp out on the doorstep of society waiting for ‘the climate’ to change, you’ll be there until Joan Rivers registers Democratic. Your job is to accept yourself—joyfully and with no apologies—and get on with the adventure of your life.

2. Don’t run away from straight people. They need variety in their lives just as much as you do, and you’ll forfeit the heady experience of feeling exotic if you limit yourself to the company of your own kind.

Furthermore, you have plenty to teach your straight friends about tolerance and humor and the comfortable enjoyment of their own sexuality. (Judging from ‘Donahue,’ many of them have only now begun to learn about foreplay; we, on the other hand, have entire resorts built around the practice.)

Besides, it’s time you stopped thinking of heterosexuals as the enemy. It’s both convenient and comforting to bemoan the cardboard villainy of Jerry Falwell and friends, but the real culprits in this melodrama are just as queer as you are. They sleep with you by night and conspire to keep you invisible by day. They are studio chiefs and bank presidents and talk-show hosts, and they don’t give a damn about your oppression because they’ve got their piece of the pie, and they got it by living a lie.

What earthly good is your discretion, when teenagers are still being murdered for the crime of effeminacy? I know, I know—you have a right to keep your private life private. Well, you do that, my friend—but don’t expect the world not to notice what you’re really saying about yourself. And about the rest of us. Lighten up, Lucille. There’s help on the way.

4. Stir up some shit now and then. Last spring I wrote a commentary for the Los Angeles Times on the subject of television’s shoddy treatment of homosexuality. The piece originally contained a sentence to the effect that ‘it’s high time the public found out there are just as many homosexuals who resemble Richard Chamberlain as there are who resemble Richard Simmons.’ The editor cut it. When I asked him why, he said: ‘Because it’s libelous, that’s why.’ To which I replied: ‘In the first place, I’m not saying that Richard Chamberlain is gay; I’m simply saying there are plenty of gay men who resemble him. In the second place, even if I were saying that Richard Chamberlain is gay, it wouldn’t be a libelous remark, because I’m gay myself and I don’t say those things with malice. I don’t accuse anyone of being gay; I state it as a matter of fact or opinion.’ When the new city of West Hollywood assembled its council last month, the Associated Press identified the three openly gay members as ‘admitted homosexuals.’ Admitted, get it? Fifteen years after the Stonewall Rebellion, the wire service wants to make it perfectly clear that homosexuality is still a dirty little secret that requires full confession before it can be mentioned at all. If you don’t raise some hell, that isn’t going to change.

5. Don’t sell your soul to the gay commercial culture. Well, go ahead, if you insist, but you’d better be prepared to accept the butt plug as the cornerstone of Western civilization. I am dumbfounded by the number of bright and beautiful men out there who submerge themselves completely in the quagmire of gay ghetto life, then wonder why their lives seem loveless and predictable. What the hell did they expect?

If you have no more imagination than to swap one schlock-heavy ‘lifestyle’ for another, you haven’t learned a goddamn thing from the gay experience. I’m not talking about sex here; I’m talking about old-fashioned bad taste.

No, Virginia, we don’t all have good taste. We are just a susceptible to the pitfalls of tackiness as everyone else in the world. Your pissing and moaning about the shallowness of other faggots falls on unsympathetic ears when you’re wearing a T-shirt that says THIS FACE SEATS FIVE.

3. Refuse to cooperate in the lie. It is not your responsibility to ‘be discreet’ for the sake of people who are still ashamed of their own natures. And don’t tell me about ‘job security.’ Nobody’s job will ever be safe until the general public is permitted to recognize the full scope of our homosexual population.

Does that include teachers? You bet it does. Have you forgotten already how much it hurt to be fourteen and gay and scared to death of it? Doesn’t it gall you just a little that your ‘discreet’ lesbian social-studies teacher went home every day to her lover and her cats and her Ann Bannon novels without once giving you even a clue that there was hope for your own future?

Not long ago I sat transfixed before my TV screen while an earnest young man told a gay cable announcer about his dream of becoming Mr. Leather Something-or-other. He was seeking the title, he said, ‘in order to serve the community and help humanity.’

He wore tit rings and a codpiece and a rather fetching little cross-your-heart harness, but he sounded for all the world like a Junior Miss contestant from Modesto. If our fledging culture fails us, it will be because we forgot how to question it, forgot how to laugh at it in the very same way we laugh at Tupperware and Velveeta and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

6. Stop insulting the people who love you by assuming they don’t know you’re gay. When I began my book tour, a publicist in New York implored me to leave his name out of it, because ‘my family doesn’t know about my…uh, lifestyle.’

Maybe not, but they must be the dumbest bunch this side of Westchester County; I could tell he was gay over the telephone. When my own father learned of my homosexuality (he read about it in Newsweek), he told me he’d suspected as much since I’d been a teenager. I could’ve made life a lot easier for both of us if I’d had the guts to say what was on my mind.

7. Learn to feel mortal. If AIDS hasn’t reminded you that your days are numbered— and always have been—then stop for a moment and remind yourself. Your days are numbered, Babycakes. Are you for living them for yourself and the people you love, or are you living them for the people you fear? I can’t help thinking of a neighbor of mine, a dutiful government employee who kept up appearances for years and years, kept them up until the day he died, in fact—of a heart attack in the back row of an all-male fuck-film house. Appearances don’t count for squat when they stick you in the ground (all right, or scatter you to the winds), so why should you waste a single moment of your life seeming to be something you don’t want to be? Lord, that’s so simple. If you hate your job, quit it. If your friends are tedious, go out and find new ones. You are queer, you lucky fool, and that makes you one of life’s buccaneers, free from the clutter of two thousand years of Judeo-Christian sermonizing.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself and start hoisting your sails. You haven’t a moment to lose.

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Did you know?

Armistead Maupin made a guest appearance on “Frasier” as a caller named “Gerard”.   The episode originally aired January 16, 1996 and is titled “The Friend” (Season 3, Episode 11).  The episode may be found on on Netflix, or HuluPlus.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.46.00 AM.







Frasier: So why is it we have so much trouble making friends? Is it
because we’ve become closed off? No longer want to reach out
to our fellow man? Well I’d like to think that if one of you
listeners out there happened to see me on the street you’d
feel free to walk right on up to me and
Roz: Excuse me Dr. Crane, we have to stop for a very important
public service announcement [waits for show to go off air]
HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? You’re opening yourself up to every
creep out there!
Frasier: Oh Roz that’s exactly the kind of cynicism I’m talking
about. I, for one, happen to believe in the kindness of
Roz: Well I believe in the strangeness of strangers! [signals
show is about to start again] Three seconds.
Frasier: Hi, we’re back with the topic of friendship. Now let’s go to
the switchboard. Roz, who’s on line one?
Roz: Good news Dr. Crane. It’s Gerard from Stanwood. A new
Frasier: Hello Gerard. I’m listening.
Gerard: Well I called for another reason Dr. Crane. But what you
just said really moved me. I wish more people felt that way.
Frasier: Well thank you Gerard. I sense a kindred spirit.
Gerard: Maybe we could get together some time? Have a beer? Maybe I
could, you know, comb your hair?

Transcript from

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“Tales of the City” Guided Walking Tour

My friend, Larry Rhodes, of is hosting a guided walking tour in San Francisco on Saturday, 23 May 2015.  The tour visits many locations in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series and includes Russian Hill, North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill and Union Square,

Space is limited, so quickly reserver a spot by visiting

I highly recommend the guided tours, it is a great way to meet other Barbaryphiles and spend a day in a great city walking the same streets and lanes the beloved characters in the series walked.


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A 2015 Interview with Armistead Maupin

February 2, 2015
Rick Kleffel’s The Agony Column Podcast

Armistead Maupin is every bit the gentleman you expect him to be. He’s crisp, smart and quite easily manages the paradox of being quietly outspoken. Sure, he’s not in the narrative, but he’s there in every one of the Tales of the City novels, especially the latest, ‘The Days of Anna Madrigal.’ He doesn’t need a Hitchcock-style cameo. He’s the embodiment of his books, and they are his literary twin.

To me it seems obvious that he is the Charles Dickens of San Francisco, and I am accordingly honored to speak with him. I’m inured to my own book-dweebishness, so I feel no shame toting my two omnibus editions of the Tales of the City series. Like anyone, I’d love to have a selection of the first edition hardcovers, but back when they were coming out, I was still buying Arkham House H. P. Lovecraft. Only after I moved up here did I chance on these in Logos Books. I think they are fine volumes to hold and read. If you’ve not twigged to Maupin, they’re the perfect place to start.

Maupin told me that they first came out via UK Publisher Chatto & Windus. I love this publisher and have many books by them, though my versions are the HarperCollins domestic editions. Maupin’s books in this series are superb for reading-as-you-go. It’s a lovely world to visit.

He also told me, off-tape, that a third volume (with the last three books in the series) is forthcoming. I will be the first in line, just because I’m the sort of guy who likes standardized series stuff. Yes, you sacrifice first edition hardcover, but in return get a super reading book, and sometimes, you have to go with that.

Not having had a chance to speak with him in the past, this interview is a career retrospective, sort of, with particular attention to the matter at hand. You can hear it immediately. He is just the guy who wrote these great, funny books about great, funny normal people. You can check in and relax with one of Armistead Maupin by following this link to the MP3 audio file.

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Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin – My self guided tour of San Francisco

by Jason Dutton-Smith
February 2, 2015
More Than Route 66 | USA Travel Blog | Blog on America

Our Most Viewed Blog Articles in 2014 Are…

Our 2014 goal of more travel was certainly achieved and a resolution we didn’t mind keeping! So much so that we decided to keep the same resolution in 2015. We wrote about just some of those wonderful travel experiences here and we have loved sharing them with you. So we thought we’d take a quick look at some of our most popular blogs last year. Here is a look at the highlights of 2014. (To see the entire list, click here).

Webmaster Note:  Don’t forget to visit for self-guided downloadable tours created by Larry Rhodes.

# 6 Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin – My self guided tour of San Francisco

“This is a must read!” a friend of mine exclaimed with excitement “but be warned, you’ll be hooked from the start!” Snickering under my breath I studied the front cover and wondered what this Tales of the City was all about. I mean we’ve all heard the claim before – the one that will supposedly rock our world, one that we just won’t be able to put down. Well, as it turns out, he was right.

Tales of the City brings a diverse range of friends together, in the liberated, go-go world of 1970s San Francisco. Each kooky and lovable character is brought richly to life by the writer, one Armistead Maupin who tantalizingly shares with us the drama, silly shenanigans and heartbreak of 28 Barbary Lane, the apartment complex where much of the story is set.

With a devoted following, the books have long since achieved classic status and the Tales of the City series goes on to finish with its last three books which were released in 2007, 2010 and 2014. I soon found that I was reading them every chance I could, morning and night. What has this friend done to me? I had become obsessed! So there was only one thing to do after that.

Tales, More Tales and Further Tales of the City…
After reading these raw, honest and beautifully written books, I become equally excited when I found out that the first three books were turned into a made-for-TV mini-series. This is one DVD box set that I had to get!

With a wonderful cast and the beautiful city of San Francisco as a backdrop, the characters, and the vibrant city were suddenly brought to life, all while remaining true to the books. If it’s possible, the books were even enhanced by this cleverly adopted TV mini-series. And they were all there, from Michael ‘Mouse’ Tolliver, his best friend Mona, kooky and mysterious landlady Mrs Madrigal, the innocent and slightly naive Mary-Anne Singleton and many more.

As it turns out, there are many ‘tales’ to this city. The well developed characters and fascinating story line reveal twists and turns at every corner. We soon find out that nothing is what it seems at the famous 28 Barbary Lane – and everyone has a secret.

Map, camera, action…
Last week during a quick visit to San Francisco for business I found myself with a few hours to spare and knew exactly what I was going to do. Having only been in America for a few days, my jet-lag was still pestering me and I found myself awake early. So I readied myself for the early start and rugged up to brave the crisp and biting San Francisco air as the morning fog continued rolling in across the bay. I grabbed my map and set out on foot for my very own Tales of the City tour.

Now anyone that has been to San Francisco understands just how steep the streets can be. It’s quite a work out when on foot and thankfully the first part was downhill, but I was ready to discover what I could in the short few hours I had available.

Setting off from the top of Nob Hill I weaved past several landmarks and points of interest from the book and movies, winding down to Russian Hill and ending alongside Fisherman’s Wharf. While only able to cover a small portion of the many scenes in the books and mini-series, I thoroughly enjoyed what I had seen. Here are a few snaps of what I discovered along the way.

I started with this map from Armistead Maupin’s website where it plots the main locations from the books and mini-series.

Tales of the City locations pinned to a map available on Armistead Maupin’s website.

Tales of the City locations pinned to a map available on Armistead Maupin’s website.

I then made my way to where it all started. The famous steps of 28 Barbary Lane. The real name is actually Macondray Lane, located between Green and Union St on Taylor St. Blink and you will miss it but once there be sure to walk to the top of the stairs and along the lane itself to see some the best of San Francisco architecture and scenery.

28 Barbary Lane – aka Macondray Lane

28 Barbary Lane – aka Macondray Lane

Top of stairs at 28 Barbary Lane

Top of stairs at 28 Barbary Lane


Stairs of 28 Barbary Lane

Stairs of 28 Barbary Lane


View from top of stairs – 28 Barbary Lane. Overlooking the foggy bay and city.

View from top of stairs – 28 Barbary Lane. Overlooking the foggy bay and city.


View of lane way of 28 Barbary Lane

View of lane way of 28 Barbary Lane

Dede and Beauchamp’s penthouse apartment in the mini-series was located at 1360 Montgomary Street, Nob Hill. This famous building has been used in other films, most notably in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Vertigo.

Dede and Beachamp’s apartment – 1000 Mason St

Dede and Beachamp’s apartment – 1000 Mason St

When Mary Ann Singleton first went to San Francisco for an 8 day holiday, she found herself in the popular bar of the Buena Vista on day five drinking Irish Coffee and contemplating what was ahead of her. Should she stay in San Francisco? Mary Ann then left the bar to call her mother back in Cleveland, Ohio.

Buena Vista – 2765 Hyde Street near Fisherman’s Wharf. Where Mary Ann Singleton drank on arrival to San Francisco.

Buena Vista – 2765 Hyde Street near Fisherman’s Wharf. Where Mary Ann Singleton drank on arrival to San Francisco.

Anna Madrigal would meet Edgar Halcyon in different parks around the city. They would often meet to have lunch, talk and laugh about life and the problems of the day. Washington Square Park was one of these parks.

Washington Square park – a meeting location of Anna Madrigal and Edgar Halcyon. Cnr Columbus and union Street.

Washington Square park – a meeting location of Anna Madrigal and Edgar Halcyon. Cnr Columbus and union Street.

In the second book More Tales of the City Mary Ann met a handsome stranger by the name of Burke Andrew during a cruise to Mexico with friend Michael. Burke, suffering from amnesia began to have rose triggered flashbacks. The rose decorated stained-glass window of Grace Cathedral became an integral part in this mysterious story line.

Grace Cathedral – The rose window that gave Burke flash backs. 1100 California Street.

Grace Cathedral – The rose window that gave Burke flash backs. 1100 California Street.

Beauchamp, Dede’s husband at the time was an interesting character. The secretive, handsome and popular Beauchamp Day would often mingle and conduct business with other socialites and dignitary at the Pacific Union Club. This exclusive club was a beautiful brown coloured building that sat high and proud on top of Nob Hill.

Pacific Union Club – Visited by Beauchamp Day – 1000 California Street

Pacific Union Club – Visited by Beauchamp Day – 1000 California Street

Although this was a completely fictitious series of novels, the characters are so intriguing and lovable, most with an innocent and often hilarious side that I can highly recommend reading the series. And next time you find yourself lost in the city of San Francisco, create your own memorable tales of the city.

For a personally signed copy of the books, visit Armistead Maupin’s website.

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