Armistead Maupin Reads from His Last Tale of the City, ‘The Days of Anna Madrigal’ – LISTEN

by Towleroad
November 27, 2015

Days of Anna Madrigal Artwork 1Today’s TowleREAD pick comes from author Armistead Maupin and his most recent book, The Days of Anna Madrigal. Published in 2014, Anna Madrigal is the ninth and final installment in his magnum opus, The Tales of the City series. What began as a San Francisco newspaper serial in 1978 expanded into one of the most beloved LGBT book series whose installments have spanned four decades.

The Days of Anna Madrigal focuses on the central figure of The Tales of the City (adapted into a TV series in 1993), the loving and beloved transgender landlady of 28 Barbary Lane, whose name you probably guessed is Anna Madrigal. Now 92, Anna remembers her youth at the Blue Moon Ranch (a whorehouse n Nevada run by her mother) where she was raised as a boy named Andy. She ultimately returns to the Blue Moon to confront some unfinished business from her past before going on with a member of her bohemian San Francisco tribe to Burning Man.

Maupin spoke with San Francisco Weekly about why he decided to focus this last chapter on Mrs. Madrigal:

It just felt right to me. Anna has always been the heart and soul of Tales of the City and as she reaches the point where she wants to “leave like a lady”, as she puts it, I felt that the series should conclude at the same time. To be truthful with you, I have a bit of trepidation trying to drum up new youthful characters and make them realistic. My work has always been about what I know to be true and I can write about these older characters because they are in their 60s as well as the much older character, Anna, But I didn’t want to have that inauthenticity come into my work. I’m ready to try something different.

Maupin added that ending with Mrs. Madrigal seemed to complete the arc of the Tales of the City series:

There is a story arc here and it is finally completed on the last page of The Days of Anna Madrigal with the final sentence: “There was a city waiting for her.” It’s an echo of Mary Ann first arriving into town and it’s the essence for all of us who move to San Francisco with some dream in our hearts.

If you’re new to Tales of the City, however, Maupin advises you start from the beginning:

It’s a journey and I think you should start at the beginning if you’re going to read them. You will know things that you don’t want to know if you read Anna Madrigal, On the other hand it might be interesting to go back to see how certain people start. Either way, there’s always something to take away from Mrs. Madrigal and the residents of 28 Barbary Lane.

It’s easy to forget how revolutionary Maupin’s work was when it was first serialized in 1978 and later printed in book form. Maupin often recounts a story about how his editor at The San Francisco Chronicle kept tabs on the number of homosexual and heterosexual characters in his work to make “sure that the gay characters didn’t overtake the straight characters and thereby undermine civilization.” One need only imagine that actual chart in that editor’s office with one column marked “heterosexual” and one marked “homosexual” to understand how Tales of the City broke barriers.

Today, the books have withstood the test of time even as they encapsulated the moments in which they were written. The series remains an enduring favorite to its initiates and brings more devotees into the fold each year. With The Days of Anna Madrigal, The Tales series may come to an end, but its impact on readers certainly won’t. It is the impact on people once cast to the fringes of society that Maupin says he is proudest of: “I know that the most important thing I’ve done is bring the gay experience to the world at large, I know that and I’m proud of it.”

As part of its sponsorship of TowleREAD, Audible is offering a free download of Armistead Maupin’s The Days of Anna Madrigal at with a 30-day trial membership for Towleroad readers.

Listen to Maupin read an excerpt from the book HERE:

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Check out Larry Rhodes new posted Tour that highlights locales from the “Tales of the City” miniseries.  His website is

A downloadable PDF of the miniseries, self-guided tour may be found here


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Sir Ian McKellen describes Armistead Maupin as his godfather

By Leah Garchik
October 13, 2015

The Mill Valley Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Armistead Maupin to Sir Ian McKellen on Sunday night, Oct. 11. The two are old friends and more: As they shared with delight at a Saturday cocktail party hosted by the writer; Maupin’s husband, Christopher Turner; and Roadside Attractions and Miramax (makers of “Mr. Holmes,” McKellen’s new film) at the Ritz-Carlton, Maupin played a pivotal role in McKellen’s life.

The chronological punctuation marks of McKellen’s tale are professional. The two met in the late ’70s, when McKellen was making “Priest of Love,” in which he played D.H. Lawrence, and was on his way “to do ‘Amadeus’ on Broadway.” They met again through mutual friends in Santa Fe, N.M. Later, when McKellen was appearing here in “Richard III,” Maupin took him sightseeing.

In 1988, McKellen was here in “Ian McKellen Acting Shakespeare,” and the two had supper. “And then we went back to his house,” said McKellen, “and out of my mouth popped the question, ‘Do you think I should come out?’”

Maupin has always been a fierce crusader for openness. They talked late into the night, and “he persuaded me to come out,” said McKellen. “He is my godfather.” It was in a debate with conservative journalist Peregrine Worsthorne over England’s Section 28, a law regulating mentions of gayness in schools, that McKellen blurted the truth.

Standing at the edge of this party in San Francisco in 2015, it seems incongruous that McKellen, so celebrated professionally, ever could have wrestled with the decision. He’s more than comfortable in his own skin; he seems to relish inhabiting it.

Sir Ian McKellen describes Armistead Maupin as his godfather

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10 spooky Bay Area curses

Excerpted from “10 Spooky Bay Area Curses
By Katie Dowd on October 5, 2015 11:07 AM

1024x1024Socialite Pat Montandon was the talk of the San Francisco society scene in the 1960s, so much so that Armistead Maupin modeled one of his characters after her.

But despite her sunny party girl attitude, Montandon’s Lombard Street home was a house of horrors. As related in her 1975 book ‘The Intruders’, Montandon fears she was cursed by a scorned tarot card reader. Enraged when Montandon didn’t serve him a drink at a party, the tarot card reader swore Montandon would never find happiness in her home.

Over the next eight years, her home became the site of multiple tragedies. The most famous was the death of her friend and secretary Mary Louise Ward, whose dead body was found in a locked bedroom after a fire broke out in the house in 1969. An autopsy found Ward had died before the fire; no cause of death was ever determined.

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NLGJA lists 2015 inductees to LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association ( NLGJA ) is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015 and the 10th year of our LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame. Please join us in recognizing this year’s inductee: Randy Alfred, Alison Bechdel, Alan Bell, Lou Chibbaro, Jr., Charles Kaiser and Armistead Maupin.

Leroy Aarons founded NLGJA in 1990 — and inspired us all by pioneering a watershed change in journalism and newsrooms throughout the nation. After his death, the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame was launched in 2005 to honor remarkable individuals like Aarons and to tell their stories.

The LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame endures and over the past decade has honored 28 men and women. These are individuals, living and deceased, who have left a lasting mark on the profession — through their own courage, by blazing trails and by their dedication to telling the truth about themselves and in their work. In 2015, we honor six new Hall of Fame Inductees:

Randy Alfred may be best known for his detailed 1980 probe of the biased and unfair portrayal of San Francisco’s gay community in CBS Reports’ “Gay Power, Gay Politics,” an investigation that ultimately resulted in CBS making a rare public apology for its failed coverage. In 1978 he co-founded theS.F. Bay Times, the first community newspaper on the West Coast to be produced equally by lesbians and gay men. The very next year, Alfred also began producing and hostingThe Gay Life on KSAN-FM —the first regularly scheduled LGBT-oriented program on commercial radio in the United States. Alfred ran the show for almost six years. For four decades, he has spoken out in newsrooms and in professional organizations for bias-free usage, bias-free news coverage, and bias-free workplaces and benefits, not only for LGBT people, but for women, minorities and disabled people. Alfred is one of the founding board members of NLGJA.

Alison Bechdel, the creator of the Bechdel Test for gender bias in works of fiction, has been writing for and about the LGBT community since 1983 when she began producing and self-syndicating Dykes to Watch Out For, a comic chronicling the lives, romances, and political involvement of a group of lesbians in the United States. She produced her popular strip for 25 years before ending its run in 2008. She also has published two graphic memoirs: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic in 2006 and Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama in 2012, both of which met critical acclaim. Among her towering achievements, Bechdel has been honored with a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012, a MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2014 and a Tony Award for the musical adaptation of Fun Home.

Alan Bell has been an indelible, vibrant presence within LGBT journalism for almost 40 years. Beginning in 1977 when he founded Gaysweek, New York City’s first mainstream lesbian and gay newspaper, and continuing with BLK and Blackfire, Bell has been a pioneer of LGBT journalism and activism, particularly on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. He continues to work with many non-profit organizations including the Minority AIDS Project, Magic Johnson Foundation, Black AIDS Institute and the health departments of Los Angeles County, Fulton County, Miami and Florida. Bell places special focus on serving the black lesbian and gay community through BLK Publishing Company, which he founded in 1988, which places a special focus on assisting community-based organizations focused on fulfilling the health, educational and social needs of inner-city communities. He is also the founder of Black Jack, a safer sex club for black gay men in Los Angeles.

A prize-winning reporter for the nation’s oldest LGBT news publication, The Washington Blade, Lou Chibbaro, Jr. first took up his pen in 1976 under the pseudonym Lou Romano. Fast forward four decades, Chibbaro has covered almost everything for the Blade, including the nation’s political triumphs and protests, the rise of the AIDS epidemic, federal efforts to find and fire gay government employees and towering gay civil rights figures like the late Dr. Frank Kameny. Along the way, Chibbaro has earned countless honors, including the NLGJA’ Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media Second Place Award in 2008 and the Rainbow History Project’s Community Pioneers Award and GLAA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010. In 2011, Chibbaro made journalism history as the first LGBT inductee into the Society of Professional Journalists’ Washington Pro Chapter Hall of Fame.

An award-winning author and journalist, as well as an NLGJA founding board member and the second president of the New York Chapter of the NLGJA, Charles Kaiser has been practicing his craft since 1971, when he began writing for The New York Times while still an undergraduate at Columbia College. After eight years at the Times, he also wrote for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, as well as publishing three books, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning The Gay Metropolis, which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His latest book, The Cost of Courage, published this summer, is the heroic true story of the three youngest children of a family who worked together in the French Resistance — a family whom Kaiser has known and admired for five decades. He has taught journalism at Columbia and Princeton universities, and at the latter was a Ferris Professor of Journalism.

Armistead Maupin is the treasured author of nine best-selling novels, including six Tales of the City which were originally collected from the daily serials he wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle beginning in 1976. A young man of the South and a Vietnam veteran, Maupin began his journalism career writing for The Daily Tar Heel, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s student newspaper. He later found himself working under future U.S. Senator Jesse Helms at WRAL-TV, whose anti-homosexual rhetoric inspired Maupin to leave North Carolina to pursue his ambitions with the Associated Press’ San Francisco Bureau. With his successful new roots in California, Maupin began to write his popular Tales of the City. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were captured from the first three Tales novels, and The Night Listener became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.

Founded in 1990, NLGJA is the leading professional organization for LGBT journalists with 18 chapters nationwide, as well as members around the globe. The 2015 Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at the Awards Ceremony on September 5at the Coming Home National Convention & LGBT Media Summit and 25thAnniversary Celebration in San Francisco. More information is available at

See to learn more about these individuals like Roy Aarons, Sarah Pettit, Marlon Riggs, “Lisa Ben” and others who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Windy City Times Publisher and co-founder Tracy Baim was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

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Who Is Armistead Maupin, Whose Quote Opens ‘I Am Cait’? He’s Something Of An Icon


After all this time, it’s finally (almost) here! The premiere of Caitlyn Jenner’s eagerly anticipated documentary series I Am Cait is July 26, but details about the first episode are already pouring in from across the Web. As you’ll soon see when you watch it yourself, Episode 1 of I Am Cait opens with an Armistead Maupin quote at the top of the show that seemingly expresses the mission statement for both the series and Jenner, herself. If you’re unfamiliar with the author, I’ve got your crash course right here.

But first, Maupin’s quote:

The world changes in direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about their lives.

Not only does the quote perfectly embody the stage of life Jenner has embraced in the past year, but immediately sets the tone for the series. If I Am Cait hopes to create lasting change for the trans community, then producers could not have picked a more appropriate person than Maupin to look to for guidance. An American author and literary icon, Maupin has done wonders for the portrayal of the LGBTQIA community in mainstream literature.

His most popular work is the novel series Tales of the City, a semi-autobiographical fiction series centered around the lives of gays and lesbians in San Francisco. The first book in the nine chapter series was published in 1978, a time in which queer characters in literature were essentially nonexistent. At the time, he felt like the homosexual and transgender community were being relegated to the sidelines, unable to lead their own lives or be thought of as actual human beings. In an interview with The Guardian in 2014, he said that he hoped his writing could “[allow] a little air into the situation by actually placing gay people in the context of the world at large.”

Even while conceiving the revolutionary Tales, the writer met with an absurd amount of resistance to his realistic portrayal of “the homosexual experience. In that same interview, Maupin recalled one of his early editor’s biggest concerns for the book, namely that “that the homo characters didn’t suddenly outnumber the hetero ones and thereby undermine the natural order of civilization.” Talk about old-fashioned.

Attitudes have changed since Maupin first started writing, and many in the LGBTQIA community think that Maupin himself had an awful lot to do with it. Gay British author Quentin Crisp once described him as the man who “invented San Francisco,” and when Ian McKellen came out of the closet in 1988, it was Maupin he turned to for guidance. Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears even collaborated with Maupin to create a musical version of Tales of the City in 2011. Now, Jenner joins the ranks of LQBTQIA icons who tip their hats to his work as she, too, attempts to expand the boundaries of representation.

Who Is Armistead Maupin, Whose Quote Opens ‘I Am Cait’? He’s Something Of An Icon

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Reader’s Poll: The 50 Most Important LGBT Television Series

By /bent | /Bent
June 17, 2015 at 3:22PM

In the third of 10 lists announcing the results of our annual Reader’s Poll, we count down the 50 most important LGBT television series since Stonewall, according to you.

15. Tales of the City
Network: PBS/Showtime/Channel 4
On Air: 1993, 1998, 2001
Note: This adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s novels aired as three miniseries over a near decade, the first on PBS and the next two on Showtime. Fun fact: HBO originally acquired the rights in 1982, but reportedly ending up feeling that the book’s celebratory attitude toward homosexuality, casual sex and marijuana usage would not be deemed acceptable by the viewing public.

Click here for the full list

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Q&A: Laura Linney, actor

The Guardian
Rosanna Greenstreet
Saturday 13 June 2015 01.00 EDT

Born in New York, Linney, 51, was raised in a single-parent family. She appeared in the 1993 TV adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City, starred on stage with Liam Neeson in The Crucible in 2002, and has been Oscar nominated three times. Her new film, Mr Holmes, is out on 19 June. Married to estate agent Marc Schauer, she lives in Connecticut and has a one-year-old son named Bennett.

When were you happiest?
During this past year, enjoying my family.

What is your greatest fear?
Everything that leads up to getting on a plane.

What is your earliest memory?
Talking to flowers in the front yard of my cousin’s home in Boone, North Carolina.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Self-loathing: it’s paralysing.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What was your most embarrassing moment?
It’s less of a moment, more of a continuum.

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
A painting by Aron Wiesenfeld.

What is your most treasured possession?
My memory.

What is your screensaver?
My son, when he was a week old.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
If I tell you then everyone will be looking at it all the time.

What is your favourite smell?
Sun on skin.

What is your favourite word?
Places. At the top of the show, when the audience is seated and the cast and crew are ready to go, through the monitor in your dressing room, the stage manager calls “Places”.

Which book changed your life?
The Iliad.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Part of a large family.

What is top of your bucket list?
Do a musical. Learn to sing first.

What do you owe your parents?
My life.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
They know who they are… I’m sorry.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My husband, son and the theatre.

What does love feel like?

What was the best kiss of your life?
The first time my son kissed me.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn’t. The good, the bad and the ugly have led me to a good place.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To see Laurette Taylor in The Glass Menagerie, and Jessica Tandy in A Streetcar Named Desire.

How do you relax?
Watching Game Of Thrones.

How often do you have sex?
None of your beeswax.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Watching my father die, I suppose.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My relationships.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a good parent.

Where would you most like to be right now?
Jumping off a dock into a New England lake on a sunny day and swimming with my family.

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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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