Armistead Maupin’s own tale in a documentary

By David Lewis
May 31, 2017 Updated: June 2, 2017 11:28am

Armistead Maupin, one of the world’s foremost gay writers, hails from a genealogical literary tree that includes Marcel Proust, E.M. Forster and Christopher Isherwood. His “Tales of the City” novels, which began as a serialization in The Chronicle starting in the late 1970s, have inspired generations of LGBTQ folks. “Letter to Mama,” an episode from the serial, remains one of the most influential coming-out moments in the annals of fiction.

The longtime San Francisco resident and groundbreaking author is the subject of the new documentary “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin,” which will open this year’s Frameline Film Festival:

Q: How will you feel about seeing the film at the Castro Theatre?

A: Wonderful. Some of the most exciting film-going nights of my life have been there. It was where I first read “Letter to Mama,” two days before it was published in 1977. Cleve Jones and Harvey Milk were in the crowd. I thought the roof was going to come down, because everyone in the room was feeling it.

Q: If you could write another letter home, what would you say?

A: Supporting a gay child is not compatible with voting for a homophobic politician. When you say, “It’s my politics, but I still love you,” I don’t believe that. You are no friend of mine, or a family member of mine, either.

Q: This has been a big year for you.

A: A lot of chickens have come home to roost: the movie, my memoir (“Logical Family,” HarperCollins, due Oct. 3) — and something else I can’t tell you about. I’ve been very blessed.

Q: Was it difficult sharing your life for this film?

A: It helped tremendously that I had seen (director) Jennifer Kroot’s documentary on George Takei (“To Be Takei”). It had a light touch, yet dealt with serious issues. That’s very compatible with what I’ve done over the years. I couldn’t be more grateful to Jennifer and (co-director) Bill Weber. They’re wonderful — and now they’re friends of mine.

— David Lewis

“The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” screens at 7 p.m., June 15, at the Castro Theatre.

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San Francisco avec Armistead Maupin

Check out this gorgeous piece on Armistead Maupin, and San Francisco, from ARTE ,a French and German network.  Thanks to Journalist Virginie Goubier for the heads up.  It’s great to see my friend, David Roundsley interviewed as well.

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“Tales of the City” a concert

I am back home from an extremely short trip to New York to see “Tales of the City” a concert at the Music Box Theater. The musical debuted at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in 2011, and it was wonderful to see the musical come to life in the Big Apple.  Monday’s performance was a benefit for the Eugene O’Neal theater and the Trevor Project, and featured much of the original cast. Here are some photos from the concert, and portions of the Playbill.  Check out some awesome photos from the performance on instagram here.

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‘Tales Of The City’ Will Sex Up New York For One Night Only

A musical version of the wild, queer-inclusive classic will benefit LGBTQ youth.

By Curtis M. Wong
03/22/2017 02:42 pm ET

Though it will be a brief, bittersweet affair, the beloved residents of 28 Barbary Lane are bound for Broadway.

A musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s sexy, unabashedly queer literary series, “Tales of the City,” will receive a one-night staging at New York’s Music Box Theater March 27. The show, which features a book by “Avenue Q” librettist Jeff Whitty and music by Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears and John Garden, was developed as part of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Music Theater conference in 2009.

Produced by the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the 2017 incarnation of “Tales of the City” will be a staged concert version of the musical as it appeared in its debut engagement at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater in 2011. The show, which takes place in 1976, follows Mary Ann Singleton (played by Betsy Wolfe), a naive Ohio woman who moves to San Francisco on a whim. She finds an apartment at 28 Barbary Lane, where she gradually befriends the building’s free-spirited tenants, including the openly gay Michael “Mouse” Tolliver (Wesley Taylor) and pill-popping Mona Ramsey (Mary Birdsong). New to the March 27 cast is Justin Vivian Bond, who will play pot-smoking landlady and surrogate mother to Barbary Lane’s pack of eccentrics, Anna Madrigal, while Maupin himself will also appear.

Shears told The Huffington Post that when Whitty asked him and Garden to help turn “Tales of the City” into a musical over a decade ago, the pair jumped at the opportunity. The singer-songwriter’s personal history with the source material – he said he “devoured” the books in high school, shortly before coming out as gay – made the decision a no-brainer. “I knew it was something I had to do, and something I wanted to do,” he said. “The books were a real eye-opener for me, and made me feel settled about who I was [as I was coming out]. They’ve always had a special place in my heart.”

The inclusive nature of Maupin’s work was certainly ahead of its time when his first “Tales of the City” stories were serialized in The San Francisco Chronicle in 1976, but continue to impact the musical’s cast members, too. The stories struck a personal chord for Taylor, a Florida native who was raised in a conservative Christian family. The 30-year-old actor-singer, who appeared on Broadway in “Rock of Ages” and “The Addams Family,” said relocating to San Francisco for “Tales of the City” offered him a fresh start after years of New York theater gigs. The city’s “weird, kooky and unabashed” queer community, he said, embraced him wholeheartedly.

“It gave me this gay fraternity that I never had before, which I think is important for a young gay person,” he told HuffPost. In some respects, Taylor had a unique challenge, given that Maupin had written the character of Michael as a stand-in for himself. Noting that the author “couldn’t have been more warm and welcoming” during the development of the musical, Taylor soon found that the role “resonated so much. Michael is lost, but not in a spiritual sense. He’s seeking the love and the support that his family can’t provide for him, and I identify with that struggle and that journey.”

Wolfe, 34, likened her “Tales of the City” experience to her work in the 2016 Broadway revival of “Falsettos,” which starred Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells as an embattled gay couple during the HIV/AIDS crisis. Though “Tales of the City” was extended three times during its San Francisco run, a Broadway production never materialized. The fact that the show has never been produced outside of the Golden State, she said, has sparked a cult-like interest in the musical among theater fans. “People at the stage door of other shows that I’ve done will constantly say, ‘Man! I wish I could see that,’ or ‘I have a secret recording,’” she said. “It was really, truly, a special story to tell, and that doesn’t always happen in the theater.”

Whether or not “Tales of the City” will live on beyond the March 27 production in New York or elsewhere remains to be seen. Of course, the team is cognizant of the implications of staging an LGBTQ-inclusive piece at a time when many members of the queer community feel uncertain about the future. Hence, proceeds from the show will benefit The Trevor Project, the nation’s leading suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth.

The concert’s charitable aim, Garden said, will undoubtedly please the author. “A lot of these stories are about finding family – about finding the family you want to spend the rest of your life with, or the family that’s right for you at that point in time,” he said. “Maupin treated everyone’s story equally. He presented people’s lives as human lives, rather than any particular gender or sexuality. Anyone I know who loves this story feels like they own it.”

“Tales of the City” plays the Music Box Theater in New York March 27. Head here for more information.

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“The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” Screenings

Here are a few screenings for “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin”, keep posted for additional updates!

Prince Theater, Main Stage | Friday, March 17th @ 5pm

BFI Flare
NFT 1 | Saturday, March 25th @ 4:10pm
Studio | Saturday, March 25th @ 8:20pm

Wicked Queer: The Boston LGBT Film Festival
Brattle Theatre | Saturday, Apr 1st @ 7:00pm

QFest St. Louis
The .Zack Theater | Sunday, April 2nd @ 5:15 pm

Ashland Independent Film Festival
Armory | Friday April, 7th @ 6:00pm

Cleveland International Film Festival
Tower Cinemas | Friday, April 7th @ 11:20am
Tower Cinemas | Saturday, April 8th @ 9:50pm

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Armistead Maupin’s Memoir, “Logical Family”, Available October 3, 2017

Armistead Maupin’s “Logical Family” will be released on October 3, 2017 and is available for pre-order now!

Critical Praise

“I fell in love with Maupin’s effervescent Tales of the City decades ago, and his genius turn at memoir is no less compelling. Logical Family is a must read.” — Mary Karr

“An enormously talented writer—witty but always sympathetic, generous in showing us the secrets of his heart…. By writing about what’s seemingly different Armistead Maupin always manages to capture what’s so hilariously painfully true for all of us.” — Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement

“Maupin deftly illustrates how far America and the pioneering Anna have come, and nearly 40 years into the [Tales of the City] series, his writing remains wildly addictive but is deeper and richer.” — People

“Together, the nine volumes of ‘Tales’ constitute a cultural touchstone that has enlarged our understanding of the varieties of human behavior…. ‘Tales of the City’ remains an immensely readable accomplishment that wears its significance lightly.” — Washington Post

“A consummate entertainer who has made a generation laugh… It is Maupin’s Dickensian gift to be able to render love convincingly.” — Edmund White, Times Literary Supplement


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10th Annual QFest St. Louis Runs Rrom March 29-April 2 at .ZACK

Tuesday, February 21 2017

Come get your Q on! The 10th Annual QFest St. Louis, presented by Cinema St. Louis, runs March 29-April 2, 2017, at the .ZACK Theatre. The St. Louis-based LGBTQ film festival, QFest will present an eclectic slate of 19 films — 11 features (eight narratives and three documentaries) and eight short subjects. The participating filmmakers represent a wide variety of voices in contemporary queer world cinema. The mission of the film festival is to use the art of contemporary gay cinema to spotlight the lives of LGBTQ people and to celebrate queer culture.

A highlight of the fest is the St. Louis premiere of the documentary “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” by veteran QFest director Jennifer Kroot (“To Be Takei”), which looks at the life the beloved gay author of the “Tales of the City” books. Other prominent films include the heartbreaking lesbian love story “Lovesong,” starring Riley Keough and Jena Malone; “Real Boy,” an empowering documentary about a young trans boy trying to make his way in the world and make peace with his mother; and the delightful Irish dramedy “Handsome Devil.” QFest also offers a rare chance to see two queer classics: the outrageous, groundbreaking 1970 film “The Boys in the Band,” directed by William Friedkin (“The Exorcist” and “The French Connection”), and a restoration of Donna Deitch’s lesbian love story “Desert Hearts,” starring Helen Shaver as a ’50s-era woman who goes to Reno for a quickie divorce only to find love instead.

The 2017 QFest St. Louis begins on Wednesday, March 29, and runs through Sunday, April 2. Tickets go on sale March 1. Cost is $13 each or $10 for students and Cinema St. Louis members with valid and current IDs. All screenings will be held at the .ZACK Theatre in Grand Center. .ZACK is located three short blocks east of Grand Boulevard at 3224 Locust St., St. Louis, MO 63103. Advance sales are available through Metrotix. Direct sales links will also be on the QFest website.

For the schedule of screenings and events, including trailers and full descriptions of the films, visit the festival website at The official QFest St. Louis page on Facebook is Advance digital copies of the films and some of the short subjects are available for press review on request. Please inquire with QFest St. Louis artistic director Chris Clark.

QFest St. Louis, a presentation of Cinema St. Louis, is sponsored by Jeffrey T. Fort, AARP in St. Louis, Whitaker Foundation, Regional Arts Commission, Missouri Arts Council, Arts & Education Council, Coffee Cartel, Just John Nightclub, Dennis Gorg Trust, Mark Utterback, and Michael Reiser. V

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Tales of the City Concert Will Play Broadway’s Music Box Theatre

FEB 21, 2017
The cast will include Betsy Wolfe, Justin Vivian Bond, and Wesley Taylor.

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center will present the New York City premiere of the musical version of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City March 27 at 7:30 PM at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre.

The cast will feature Justin Vivian Bond as Anna Madrigal, Betsy Wolfe as Mary Ann Singleton, and Wesley Taylor as Michael Tolliver with Armistead Maupin, Jose Llana, Mary Birdsong, Josh Breckenridge, Jeffrey Carlson, Kathleen Monteleone, and Dianne J. Findlay. Additional casting will be announced at a later time.

The concert will be directed by Travis Greisler with music direction by Cian McCarthy.

Tales of the City has a score by the Grammy-nominated Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears and John Garden, and a book by Tony Award winner Jeff Whitty.

All proceeds from the concert will benefit the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and The Trevor Project.

The musical, according to press notes, “follows a community of friends, lovers, and others who reside at the mythical address of 28 Barbary Lane in 1976 San Francisco. Mary Ann Singleton (Betsy Wolfe), a fresh arrival from Ohio, falls into a diverse band of Bohemians and blue- bloods, as families are created and rediscovered under the watchful eye of mystical landlady Anna Madrigal (Justin Vivian Bond).”

Tales of the City was first developed at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Music Theater Conference in 2009, and had a subsequent run at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in 2011. The concert will feature many returning cast members from both productions as well as support from the original creative team, including original director Jason Moore and music director/vocal arranger Stephen Oremus.

“I’m excited to rock the Music Box with this very special show. In 2009, the energy in the O’Neill’s Barn Theater was electric as Tales of the City took its first steps, and we’ll light up New York next month when the musical takes its next step,” O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway said in a statement. “It will be a magical evening, with the words and music of Jeff, Jake, and John, under the watchful guidance of Armistead. I’m grateful to our incredible cast, many of whom are returning to the roles, everyone at Dear Evan Hansen and the Shubert Organization for lending us the theater, and to the authors and creative team for bringing this piece alive again in support of the O’Neill and The Trevor Project.”

For tickets, priced $60, $175, and $400, click here. The Music Box Theatre is located at 239 W. 45th St.


Founded in 1964, the O’Neill is the country’s preeminent organization dedicated to “the development of new works and new voices for the American theater, and named in honor of Eugene O’Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and America’s only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.”

The Trevor Project is the “leading and only accredited national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under the age of 25.”

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A Documentary About Armistead Maupin’s Life Is Debuting At SXSW

The “Tales of the City” author steps into the spotlight.
by Christopher Rudolph

This March The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, a new documentary about the man behind Tales of the City, is making its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival.

The film “celebrates one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels inspired millions to reclaim their lives.” It’s directed by Jennifer M. Kroots who previously helmed the George Takei documentary To Be Takei.

In addition to a movie about his life, Maupin is also releasing a memoir in October entitled Logical Family—a phrase that Maupin’s character Anna Madrigal used in Tales of the City to describe her friends and tenants of Barnaby Lane.

Aside from news of a Maupin memoir and movie, the author also dropped some hints last year that there might be another Tales of the City TV adaptation in the near future. The last miniseries, Further Tales of the City, aired on Showtime in 2001.

The SXSW Film Festival runs March 10-19 in Austin, TX.

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“The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” Premieres at SXSW Film Festival

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin (World Premiere)
Director: Jennifer M. Kroot
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin celebrates one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels inspired millions to reclaim their lives.

Check out the full festival lineup here

Check out the films Official Facebook Page here

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