Final Tales: Q&A with Armistead Maupin on Concluding his Iconic San Francisco Series

Juan De Anda/SF Weekly
Armistead Maupin: Chronicling San Francisco one Tale at a time

Armistead Maupin refuses to be the old fart who bickers about San Francisco not being what it used to be, even after chronicling it for nearly 40 years.

What started off as a set of weekly installments in The San Francisco Chronicle in 1976, Maupin's Tales of the City series turned into an eight-novel series, three PBS television miniseries (based off the first three novels starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney), and a stage musical at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater in 2011.

Harper Collins

However, Maupin's work is more than just a popular fad of literature. It's a big-hearted portrait of a time, place, and people that were misunderstood, oversimplified, or simply ignored. Maupin was able to take a 1970s San Francisco that was the national mecca of sexual liberation/acceptance and depict in an endearing and humane manner.

Tales of the City chart the unexpected adventures of esteemed characters like Anna Madrigal, Mary Ann Singleton, and Michael "Mouse" Tolliver while simultaneously commenting and chronicling the changing times of San Francisco and the world at large.

Now Maupin has chosen to end the series after 40 years with last week's release of The Days of Anna Madrigal, a work that is less about departure than coming home. The book is an 270-page love note and elegy for the characters, their way of life, and to that place we and they call home: San Francisco.

SF Weekly had the opportunity to speak with Armistead Maupin on his literary trajectory, the changing nature of gay identity, writing plot lines and sagas over the span of decades, HBO's Looking, and saying good-bye to the residents of 28 Barbary Lane. Below is the full interview with some slight editing for brevity.

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San Francisco is hella expensive.

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S.F. Voted Best City for Same Sex Marriage, But the Fight Ain't Over

The engagement cake of Movoto CEO Henry Shao boasts jaunty gay extraterrestrials
While the streets of San Francisco looked like one big gay rainbow this past weekend with the throbbing throngs of Dionysian revelry, something more serious than a party was happening.

Now that DOMA is dead, San Francisco is the place to be, according to a new study by Movoto, which has deemed S.F. the best damn city in the nation for same-sex couples to tie the knot.

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Humans of Pride: Fashion Finds and What Still Needs Legalization

Sunday's Pride weekend parade boasted several hundred-thousand attendees. That's a lot of drag. And glitter. And crazy rainbow flag tattoo-pasties.

But while Pride is known for its quirky costumery, its significance transcends its glitz. For decades, members of the LGBT-and-allied community have been fighting tooth and nail for the right to be themselves. Today -- the last day of a multi-milestone week -- they are the sexy, unique, and overall fabulous Humans of Pride.

Here we talk to a few of the fabulous people who made up this year's Pride parade:

Palmer Lamb, 44, costumer


If you could legalize one illegal thing, what would it be?
Drinking in the park.
If you could legalize another type of marriage, what would it be?
I think marriage should be between consenting adult people. But corporations are people, right? Maybe corporations.

From left to right: Alex Carasso, 21, student; Erin Duff, 22, student; Shelby Backman, 22, lab technician, Aaron Giannini, 21, graduated


If you could make one other kind of marriage legal, what would it be?
Shelby: polyamory.
All: polyamory.

Christine Redor, 17, student and volunteer; Devin Redor, 17, student and volunteer


If you could legalize one illegal thing, what would it be?
Devin: Eating oranges in the bathtub. That's illegal in California for some reason.
Christine: Public nudity.
If you could marry a person, place or thing, what would it be?
Devin: A banana.
Christine: Nothing.

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Alex Newell of Glee Talks About Being S.F. Pride Parade's Celebrity Grand Marshall

Categories: Pride, Queer, TV

Every generation has an unlikely hero, someone on the cusp of a cultural shift. Not by choice perhaps, but by vocation.

Alex Newell first dipped his toes into the waters of stardom while he was still at Bishop Fenwick High School in Massachusetts and cajoled by his cousin to send in an audition video to the Glee Project. 7 episodes later Newell snatched a drool-worthy, but controversial part in the television series.

Newell, 20, was cast as Wade "Unique" Adams, a male-to-female transgender teenager who flexes his feminine side through music; his original audition of "And I'm Telling You" which channeled Effie White from Dreamgirls, cemented his powerhouse prowess as a dual-gender performer.

"My cousin kept sending me the link to audition, telling me to go and do it!" says Newell. "After the fourth or fifth time, I decided I might as well try. So at the very-last minute, I recorded my audition in my high school auditorium, solo on stage, and did my best to fill the room with my voice. And it was history ever since then."

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Meet Courtney Trouble, the Queen of "Queer Porn"

Categories: Pride, Queer

Carrie Aslan
2013 is Courtney Trouble's year. The local pornographer, who started her first porn site more than a decade ago at 19, now operates several sites, runs her own production company, has directed 14 pornographic films, and racked up award nominations from both AVN and the Feminist Porn Awards. She coined the term "queer porn" at the start of her career, and has been paving the way for the new genre with her riot grrl attitude and DIY aesthetic.

But this year, Trouble is proving that she's only just getting started. Fresh off the launch of her new DVD series, "Lesbian Curves," she's crossing over into feature films, having recently directed a chapter of Michelle Tea's film adaptation of her memoir, Valencia.

She spoke with SF Weekly about her history as an indie pornographer, her experiences on the set of Valencia, and how what was once a party in her backyard has grown into one of Pride's most anticipated events.

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San Francisco Voted Ultimate "Pride City" by Gay Travelers

Categories: Duh, LGBT, Pride, Queer
gay flag.jpg

San Francisco might not be gay enough for Oakland, but when it comes to travel destinations, S.F. is still No. 1 in the ol' U.S. of Gay.

GayCities, the world's largest LGBT community-driven city guide, recently announced the winners in its annual Best of GayCities 2012, and San Francisco nabbed not one but two distinctions.

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Gay People Love Vodka (Infographic)

Breaking: Oreo's "Gay" Cookie Agenda Crumbles

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11 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Bisexuals

Madonna and Britney Spears give America a collective stiffy with their MTV Awards kiss (see "gay for pay" below)

Bisexuality is the misunderstood goth teenager of the sex world. So many false assumptions and stereotypes are attributed to bisexuality, and it's often dismissed as "indecision," "in denial," or "college." With that in mind, here are 10 fun facts to shed light on the topic, to impress your friends at parties, or to convince that hot on-the-fence person to come home with you.

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10 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Lesbians

Even off the clock, a majority of female porn stars identify as bisexual

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Femmepire Records: Femme-on-Femme and Conspicuous Rainbow Flags


Femmepire Records is an interview series on femme identity. Click here for the elevator pitch and first interview.

Here's Louise, a writer and shelver at the public library.

If you don't have a definition of "femme," what do you think of Google's: "A lesbian or a male homosexual who takes a traditionally feminine sexual role."

I think I would be hard-pressed to define it any better. I was going to be snarky and say "the opposite of butch."

See also:

Femmepire Records: Can Straight Women Be "Femme?"

Femmepire Records: Celeste Chan on Unapologetic, Riotous Femmedom

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Making Waves: outLoud Radio Celebrates 10 Years of Helping LGBTQ Youth


I've often wondered what happened to Justin, the person who trained me in the fine art of flipping burgers at the McDonald's I worked at in high school. At first Justin seemed like any other high school kid -- we bonded over toasting buns, "running the bin," and daydreams of all the horrible things we could do to your milkshake. But over the course of a year, Justin changed a bit. He started out with, "I think I accidentally went on a date with this guy," then moved on to, "I'm definitely dating this guy," and eventually it became, "Okay, I think I'm gay, but don't tell anyone."

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Biden: Trans Discrimination Is a "Civil Rights Issue of Our Time"

Remembering Slain Transgender Teen Gwen Araujo

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