Gays Reading

Armistead Maupin (Mona of the Manor)

March 05, 2024 Brett Benner, Jason Blitman, Armistead Maupin Season 2 Episode 42
Armistead Maupin (Mona of the Manor)
Gays Reading
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Gays Reading
Armistead Maupin (Mona of the Manor)
Mar 05, 2024 Season 2 Episode 42
Brett Benner, Jason Blitman, Armistead Maupin

Jason and Brett talk to Armistead Maupin (Mona of the Manor) about living in the world of Tales of the City for 50 years, inspiration for the character of Mona, a day in his life at nearly-80, shows he's seen in the West End recently, Bernadette Peters, and more.

Armistead Maupin is the author of the Tales of the City series, which includes Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, Babycakes, Significant Others, Sure of You, Michael Tolliver Lives, Mary Ann in Autumn, and The Days of Anna Madrigal. His other books include the memoir Logical Family and the novels Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener. Maupin was the 2012 recipient of the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Pioneer Award. He lives in London with his husband, Christopher Turner.

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

Jason and Brett talk to Armistead Maupin (Mona of the Manor) about living in the world of Tales of the City for 50 years, inspiration for the character of Mona, a day in his life at nearly-80, shows he's seen in the West End recently, Bernadette Peters, and more.

Armistead Maupin is the author of the Tales of the City series, which includes Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, Babycakes, Significant Others, Sure of You, Michael Tolliver Lives, Mary Ann in Autumn, and The Days of Anna Madrigal. His other books include the memoir Logical Family and the novels Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener. Maupin was the 2012 recipient of the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Pioneer Award. He lives in London with his husband, Christopher Turner.

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Jason Blitman:

Hello? Can you get a little closer to your microphone?

Brett Benner:

I can, I can. Is that better? Is it better? Is it better?

Jason Blitman:

yeah, keep going.

Brett Benner:

Is that better? Is that better? At this point, I'm on it.

Jason Blitman:

I don't think it's coming out of there,

Brett Benner:

you a great sound? Okay.

Jason Blitman:

Now it's, now you're just on mute.

Brett Benner:

Now I'm muted. Yeah. I'm just going to see if, um, select a microphone. Oh, yeah. Is that better?

Jason Blitman:

Oh my god,

Brett Benner:

But, You all of a sudden became like a little bit of velvet in my ears too. I don't know what that is.

Jason Blitman:

I, well, that's what these microphones do.

Brett Benner:

I know, I know. You could do that. You could be one of those people and you could be like, you know, love songs on the coast with Jason.

Jason Blitman:

what do you mean I could do that?

Brett Benner:

You have that kind of voice. You have that kind of like velvety voice that could do that.

Jason Blitman:

funny. I find the voice so annoying, but I, I'm grateful to those who

Brett Benner:

some dulcet, you have those dulcet tones.

Jason Blitman:

Thanks.

Brett Benner:

so, um, very excited for today.

Jason Blitman:

I know. so today we have Armistead Maupin on the show to talk about his latest installment, number 10, book number 10 of his Tales of the City series, Mona of the Manor. Apparently it is going to be his last one in the world of Tales of the City. What an, an honor.

Brett Benner:

It really was. I have to say, I mean, I've loved, I loved all everyone we've interviewed, but personally, for me, this was truly a highlight because of who he is and what he represents and his. Work that he's done. I, I just thought it was really special.

Jason Blitman:

yeah. for those who have no idea who we're talking about. Uh, Armistead

Brett Benner:

What rock are you under?

Jason Blitman:

I know, well, you know, some

Brett Benner:

I understand

Jason Blitman:

especially if you're not gay, but that's okay. Um, Armistead Maupin is the author of the Tales of the City series, which includes Tales of the City, more Tales of the City, further Tales of the City, Baby Cakes, Significant Others, Sure of You, Michael Tolliver Lives, Mary Anne and Autumn, and The Days of Anna Madrigal. His other books include the memoir Logical Family, and the novels Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener. Maupin was the 2012 recipient of the Lambda Literary Foundation's Pioneer Award. He lives in London with his husband, Christopher Turner. And of course, Tales of the City was turned into a series on television, and it was sort of rebooted.

Brett Benner:

PBS, the first two seasons, and then yet, and Netflix rebooted it in kind of a weird way. They kind of combined some of the later stuff and added new characters and,

Jason Blitman:

yeah, but it made it relevant for today's audience, which is super cool. So if you haven't gotten a chance to watch any of the content. It's really all great and you should check it out. The series features a fantastic Laura Linney. and in a small role, the wonderful Parker Posey.

Brett Benner:

But also Olympia, the, the, the late Olympia Dukakis.

Jason Blitman:

Of course, of course, oh my god, how, what a, what a, what a papa.

Brett Benner:

I have to really quickly there are some books that come out today that came out today too,

Jason Blitman:

yeah, shout him out.

Brett Benner:

that I want to shout out. Feeding Ghosts by Tessa Halls, which is a graphic memoir. It is amazing. I just read this thing. It is beautiful, fantastic, really creative storytelling. Rachel Lyons Fruit of the Dead, that comes out today. Edward Lewis Change, which is the follow up to The End of Eddie, which was a fantastic, uh, memoir. And this is the second part of that. The Radiant, the life and line of Keith Haring, which Brad Gooch has done this incredible biography of him that is absolutely stunning and incredibly comprehensive. And then finally, Anita DeMonte, Laughs Last. It's the latest novel by Jason Pronouns, name, so don't mess it up.

Jason Blitman:

Xochitl Gonzalez?

Brett Benner:

Thank you. Who wrote, who wrote the best seller Olga Dies Dreaming, but that is also out today. So there you go.

Jason Blitman:

So many good books, and speaking of good books and coming out soon, if you're listening to this the week that this episode is released, we are giving away an advanced reader's copy of The GuncleAbroad, which is the sequel to The Guncleby Steven Rowley. and so head over to our Instagram page, which@gaysreading. And sign up for that giveaway. You're not going to want to miss it and be among the first people to read the sequel to The Guncle. As always, if you like what you're hearing, share us with your friends, follow us on social media, like and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And if you could give us a five star review. Just click the little five star button wherever you listen. It's super, super helpful, helpful for us and the algorithm. You could even do it right now while I'm talking to you. If you're not driving, I'm in your ear and I'm just, you know, we could, we could sing a little ditty while you're scrolling over and just click over and you're clicking and five stars. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. it's always very helpful. Anywho, you can also find all of the books that we talk about, that we've just shouted out and Armistead's book in our bookshop. org page. The link is in our show notes. We have merchandise. The link is also in our show notes. Um, and you could join our Patreon where we post bonus content. The link is also in our Show notes!

Brett Benner:

It's all about the show notes.

Jason Blitman:

It's all about the show notes.

Brett Benner:

It really is.

Jason Blitman:

I'm Jason

Brett Benner:

And I'm Brett. Gays

Jason Blitman:

this episode of

Brett Benner:

much Gays Reading

It's not a translation! I love it! I hope you enjoyed it.

Armistead Maupin:

Hello, gentlemen.

Brett Benner:

Good afternoon. Good evening.

Jason Blitman:

I know it's bright and early for us. It's 8 30 in the morning for Brett and I.

Brett Benner:

You know what? We have some sun though today, which I'm so thrilled about

Armistead Maupin:

oh, good for you. We haven't had any for years.

Jason Blitman:

That's what you get for moving to London,

Armistead Maupin:

I know

Jason Blitman:

right? You pick that.

Armistead Maupin:

there are other advantages, but,

Jason Blitman:

what brought you there in the first place? My

Armistead Maupin:

um, We just decided we wanted to move. Both of us. Chris had spent time here 30 years ago and I had spent time over the years and we just wanted a new experience, and London seemed familiar enough, but also exotic enough and it's proven a wonderful thing. a citizen, thank you.

Jason Blitman:

Or top of the moon and no, that's not that I'm not gonna every once in a while on this podcast, I'll do an accent and it

Brett Benner:

You really will. If you go back into Hello, Governor, I'm just gonna be out.

Jason Blitman:

No, governor. I'm a citizen now. My husband and I are our backup plan is Amsterdam.

Armistead Maupin:

That's a good one.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. So that's eventually at

Armistead Maupin:

That's if Trump gets in.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

We're all thinking that way.

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah, I know.

Brett Benner:

we are, it's funny because my husband and his co worker, his co boss, whatever, because they're said to him the one day, I don't know any American that shouldn't be thinking of some kind of exit plan for this. If this becomes an inevitability, it's really frightening. It's really it's terrifying to me. It really is.

Jason Blitman:

Amsterdam makes it very easy for people, so I shouldn't say that on a podcast because I don't want everybody running over there.

Armistead Maupin:

to go at the same time. My only disappointment in London. It's lousy pot.

Brett Benner:

is it really,

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah. At least if I'm not asking the right people.

Brett Benner:

you really aren't, you left too early. Cause now you can't go down the street without hitting seven different shops to go

Armistead Maupin:

Oh, I know. But

Jason Blitman:

You win some, you lose some.

Brett Benner:

There's plenty of ways you bring it over. Come on, listen. All the illegal

Jason Blitman:

We only do legal things on the Gay's Reading podcast.

Brett Benner:

That's exactly right. Allegedly. I would never do said things, but yes. And you don't, you have no desire. You'll never come back to the States. You think?

Armistead Maupin:

I don't want to say never, but We're not inclined that way.

Brett Benner:

yeah, I

Jason Blitman:

But your face dead. So it's okay.

Armistead Maupin:

There are new chapters that happen,

Jason Blitman:

yes,

Brett Benner:

Yes, that's what it's all about wait, Jason, have you guys have been to Amsterdam?

Jason Blitman:

oh yeah.

Brett Benner:

Okay I didn't know if this was like whimsy and I'd never

Armistead Maupin:

That's why I was deciding the red light district. That's what

Brett Benner:

that's exactly right. That's exactly right Or you have just a special penchant for Anne Frank.

Jason Blitman:

I have to say, we were going to Barcelona and Mallorca, and it was cheaper for us to do a multi day quote unquote layover in Amsterdam on our way there. And so we were just like, let's just also go then, since it's literally, it was like a couple hundred dollars cheaper. And we loved it. So it was this accidental trip, and we had the most incredible

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah. It's a wonderful place. We came we moved to this country via Amsterdam because we had to take our dog. My first memory of coming to Europe is being in a nice big bed with clean sheets. And I don't know why I remember that I'm a luxury person,

Brett Benner:

so you had to quarantine the dog, right?

Armistead Maupin:

yeah no, not quarantining, but we had to, I don't know. Chris can tell you exactly what we did,

Jason Blitman:

But in order to get there, you had to go through Amsterdam

Armistead Maupin:

had to go to Amsterdam.

Jason Blitman:

That

Brett Benner:

and how old is the dog now?

Armistead Maupin:

That dog died.

Brett Benner:

okay, but

Armistead Maupin:

one is

Jason Blitman:

Way to go, Brett.

Brett Benner:

exactly, starting us off with a bang. Whatever, it's life. Doodle, right?

Armistead Maupin:

A doodle.

Brett Benner:

Golden

Armistead Maupin:

doodle.

Brett Benner:

it's a Golden Doodle?

Armistead Maupin:

A labradoodle.

Brett Benner:

Okay, yeah, we have an Australian Labradoodle as well, and I'm obsessed with. I would clone him if I could, and then we have a Golden Retriever, who is a pain in the ass. But, the Doodles I love. The doodles are the best. I really love them so so obviously we want to talk, we're going to talk the book and Tales of the City. There's so much that you've already covered and especially in regards to tales of the city. If there's particular stuff that you don't ever get to talk about, or there's something you want to bring up, we'd love to talk about that as well.

Jason Blitman:

Even just in your life do you ever, do you get to talk about your time as a burlesque dancer?

Armistead Maupin:

No, that's completely under wraps.

Jason Blitman:

Dammit!

Brett Benner:

those are for the hidden files.

Jason Blitman:

Exactly. The untold tales of the city. For our three listeners that have never encountered Tales of the City before, over your decades of talking about it, do you have a quick two lines about what Tales of the City is?

Armistead Maupin:

It was a bunch of people who live in an old apartment house in San Francisco who become friends. I tried to cover everything, this, in terms of the spectrum, and their life and loves, and I'm not

Jason Blitman:

it's starting in the mid seventies.

Armistead Maupin:

Starting in the mid 70s and going on for 50 years.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. Yeah.

Armistead Maupin:

That's the that's the operative word right now. I've been doing this for 50 years.

Jason Blitman:

How does that feel?

Armistead Maupin:

I, it crept up on me.

Jason Blitman:

Wow. Yeah.

Armistead Maupin:

But it feels good. I'm proud of it. I'm glad I didn't stop. Let me put it that way. It's not made me rich, but

Brett Benner:

So are all of us.

Armistead Maupin:

it's what?

Brett Benner:

I said, so are we're glad you didn't stop either. We're really glad. Yeah it's an interesting, I love what Laura Linney said about the books and the stories where she said it's a classic and like a classic, you can pick it up at any time in your life and get something different from it. You feel close, you feel intimate and that's something that everyone craves and that, I thought it was so beautiful.

Armistead Maupin:

So did I. We'll let Laura have the last word on that.

Brett Benner:

I discovered these in college and I remember like it, there's such a propulsive read because you'd always be like, I'm just going to read one more chapter. I'm just going to read one more chapter. And suddenly it was done. There weren't a lot of books out there that celebrated just people that didn't have, that weren't dealing with AIDS immediately, that were like Palminet or, they were, it was very selective and there wasn't a lot to find. And the two books for me, was The Tales of the City series and The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren, those were the two books. And so I remember discovering these and being so engrossed in them and like so many people just absolutely fell in love with.

Armistead Maupin:

Thank you. I felt the same way about Fiction Now Lauren. I gobbled up.

Jason Blitman:

were there other books like that, that you were inspired by?

Armistead Maupin:

There weren't many,

Jason Blitman:

sure.

Armistead Maupin:

In the early 70s, I read a book called P. S. Your Cat Is Dead.

Brett Benner:

Yes. Yes.

Armistead Maupin:

The cover said, it's New Year's Eve, Your best friend just died, your girlfriend has left you, and there's no one to talk to but the gay burglar you have tied up in the kitchen. Yes, your cat is dead. That was designed to lure people in, I found it really charming. it's, I don't think I would like it today, but I, it worked on me at the time.

Jason Blitman:

I believe it was originally a play too.

Armistead Maupin:

I think it was made into a play. So you got to see who was it, who played the gay burglar? Buck naked.

Brett Benner:

Oh, Jason's doing the search.

Jason Blitman:

I know. Now I need to, now I have to look

Armistead Maupin:

Um, famous person, so hard at

Jason Blitman:

Tony must Masante.

Armistead Maupin:

no, more famous than that.

Brett Benner:

so many, uh, wow,

Armistead Maupin:

I saw him buck naked in San Francisco, tied up on that tape,

Brett Benner:

was this post and this was post a rebel.

Armistead Maupin:

Oh, yeah.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

wow. How fun! I need to check it out.

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Okay, anyway. So that inspired you. How funny.

Armistead Maupin:

I wanted to write a book people wanted to read as bad as I wanted to read that book. That's what I wanted. I wanted to find the language to draw people into a story.

Jason Blitman:

You saying what the cover said makes me want to read it. So I understand that.

Armistead Maupin:

It's brilliant, isn't it?

Jason Blitman:

decades later. Yeah.

Armistead Maupin:

He was never fully out of the closet, which is very frustrating to me since he created a chorus line and that book and several other books, but he was prissy about the subject, so he was not a hero of mine. When I tried to kiss him. I met him at a party and was so overwhelmed that I was meeting him. I gave him a kiss, very chaste kiss, and he really flinched.

Brett Benner:

Oh, interesting.

Armistead Maupin:

But yeah, we didn't have many heroes then.

Brett Benner:

That's what I'm saying. There was no one to, and there was no one, like, I remember reading Yes, Christopher Isherwood, of course, there was some stuff that was slowly coming out, but it just, there was a dramatic, and like a play response, like William Hoffman's As Is, and these things were all coming out, but there wasn't enough, there really wasn't, when you look at now, especially with literature, it's so much that people can read, especially young people just the amount of young adult fiction that revolves around the queer literature. Dyspora, it's

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah. Wish I could get him to read tales.

Brett Benner:

Well, is for. That's hopefully that's what this is.

Armistead Maupin:

It's perfect for

Jason Blitman:

I I also think more people are reading it than you realize.

Armistead Maupin:

I know. I don't. Never. It's never enough. You know how writers are.

Jason Blitman:

Of course. It's just so crazy. And I think one of the reasons why Brett and I were so excited to talk to you, not be, not simply because you're, a living legend, but also because something that we love about our podcast is that. He and I are 20 years apart. And so we each come to the table with a really interesting perspective

Brett Benner:

Jason 16 FYI. You could do the math. It's all like,

Armistead Maupin:

I was going to say, which one's the older one?

Brett Benner:

right. That's

Jason Blitman:

And so now to have you in this conversation as well, we're looking at three very specific generations of gay men. And I And as a young person, younger person, I could tell you, I read Tales of the City and it meant a lot to me in a different way that it meant to Brett and a different way that it meant to your peers. In fact, I was just talking to a friend of mine. Shout out to Chris. He's a big fan of the podcast. Chris, he was telling me that his Wi Fi password or Wi Fi network is called Mrs. Madrigal.

Armistead Maupin:

Oh, really?

Jason Blitman:

And he's my age, and he grew up in the Bay Area, and he said that interacting with Tales of the City helped him come into his own and learn how to be a queer adult in, the San Francisco area, and so talk about generations after you wrote it, and he gives it as gifts to everybody he knows, starting their life because it really is this coming of age story,

Armistead Maupin:

Yes, it is. I wasn't aware of it exactly because. I was living in the moment every time I wrote it. It it grew with me.

Jason Blitman:

right. Something that I find so Crazy and talk about a change of the time is that, you it was originally serialized in the newspaper. And so it was accessible in a way that writing and books just are not at our fingertips in the same way that it was at that time. And now the book is getting banned.

Brett Benner:

I'm sure Florida, but

Armistead Maupin:

I'm sure it's, I'm sure Florida's the answer to everything.

Brett Benner:

it, it really is. It really is.

Jason Blitman:

but it's just nuts to me that at some point it was like in everybody's fingertips because it was as simple as being in the newspaper, and now people are being like, you can't read that because it's gay.

Armistead Maupin:

amazing.

Brett Benner:

Did you ever find as you progressed through these characters, did they dictate to you where they were going to go? I'm thinking specifically of Marianne the trajectory of her character over the course of these stories. To me, she becomes in some ways pretty despicable in some ways, some of her

Armistead Maupin:

you know, I, I, uh, I went home with two guys on a lucky night in Paris. And uh, as soon as we were done with our little frolic they started arguing with each other about something that I couldn't quite make out. And I said, What is it? He says no you ask him. One of them said, about the other one, said, You ask him. I'm not going to ask him. You ask him. And eventually I said, What is it you want to ask me? And they said, Why did Marianne become such a bitch? And I wish Laura had been able to do the whole series because she would have known exactly how to play every moment of Marianne's life.

Brett Benner:

You're right.

Armistead Maupin:

I don't know what's the answer that I think I'm I maybe was a cautionary tale in part to myself because Marianne had her head turned by fame. And I didn't want to. And it just happened. I hadn't planned it particularly. But then I realized somebody's got to turn out. Somebody's got to go bad here. The best stories are stories in which that happens. Look at Breaking Bad, for heaven's sakes.

Jason Blitman:

sure. And Talk about a cautionary tale. At the beginning, Marianne Singleton, everyone wants to be Marianne Singleton,

Brett Benner:

She's your

Jason Blitman:

Leave your life behind and have an adventure.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. It's a brilliant entry point, especially because of all the women who look at her and say, I am this woman. I am. And many men too. Many men, although I think many more probably thought that they were Michael. Certainly that's who I identified with for a lot of it.

Armistead Maupin:

That's who I largely identified with. But sometimes I was Didi.

Brett Benner:

yeah,

Armistead Maupin:

She had a family that she was, struggling to get out from under.

Jason Blitman:

I just want to be Parker Posey.

Armistead Maupin:

Don't we all?

Brett Benner:

and why okay, so why you had said at one point that the last book was going to be your last book and then suddenly here comes Mona. So what made you decide is it suddenly just, she just spoke and said, look, we have more to tell. You've got to

Armistead Maupin:

Yes, that was exactly what it was. And the voice was louder after we moved to England.

Brett Benner:

I bet.

Armistead Maupin:

And and a lot of people said to me that they felt I'd, not done her justice. She didn't get her own book. They were, there was. Marianne in Autumn, Michael Tolliver, The Days of Anna Magical, but I left Mona in England, so when we got here I revisited the manor house that I wrote about 40 years earlier and found that the lord of the manor was just as charming as he was back then, and he welcomed us in and and I, the fire got going again.

Brett Benner:

amazing.

Jason Blitman:

Have you cooked up a one liner about what this new book is about?

Armistead Maupin:

You just want it to be easy, don't you?

Jason Blitman:

no. You could say it in as many words as you want.

Armistead Maupin:

it's About MoMA.

Jason Blitman:

to people who don't know Mona, this book could really stand alone.

Armistead Maupin:

I think it can too.

Jason Blitman:

And so people who don't know Mona, how, how would you describe her?

Armistead Maupin:

An eccentric American who inherits a manor house from her husband and who lives there with a teenage that she's adopted. See, it's too much. You have to find it as you get there.

Brett Benner:

What's fun about it. And of course, initially reading this, there was no miniseries yet, but now reading it, Chloe's voice is so in my head as I'm hearing Mona, as I was reading the book. I love that. I also have this. Did you see Saltburn by chance?

Armistead Maupin:

No, I really want

Brett Benner:

Okay, you need to see Saltburn because, first of all, beyond the obvious, like all the things, but, and you're going to love it because it just looks so gorgeous and you're going to be like, oh this is where I am now. But there's an actor in it who would be so perfect to play Wilford

Armistead Maupin:

The bunch of them on my list right now. All of the strangers.

Brett Benner:

Oh my God. Oh, it's so amazing. All of Us Strangers and Past Lives, I think, are the two best films of the year. Yes. Yes. And I'm obsessed with both Andrew Scott and Paul Meskel. I'm obsessed

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah,

Brett Benner:

them.

Armistead Maupin:

I am too.

Brett Benner:

Andrew is just he's next level of an actor. Sexy. He's hot priest. So so hello.

Armistead Maupin:

He can't shake that either. Nor should He

Brett Benner:

No, absolutely not. Although he did say in an interview recently, he never wants to talk about it again. Netflix has a the series adaption, they're doing talented Mr. Ripley and he's playing Ripley.

Armistead Maupin:

Oh, really? That's a good idea.

Brett Benner:

yeah, it's coming out in April. It looks,

Jason Blitman:

I saw him first on Sherlock.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

And so my first experience with him was not hot priest. It was, It was bad guy. Yeah.

Armistead Maupin:

Well, he's got both sides. That's, you know,

Jason Blitman:

Yes.

Armistead Maupin:

that's why I work very well for Ripley.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. You're going to love All of us strangers it's so incredibly beautiful that the four performances are just truly sterling gorgeous.

Jason Blitman:

To go back for a second, I think, asking the question, why revisit Tales of the City, you, in the last three pages of this book, I think you say it quite plainly why you've come back,

Armistead Maupin:

yes, I was.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. How did the Secondary characters come to be in the story. How did the story, in and of itself, come to be?

Armistead Maupin:

Wilford? Wilford began as a very horny teenager.

Jason Blitman:

I met Rhonda and Ernie.

Armistead Maupin:

Oh. folks like that. And I wanted to address what it's like to have them in your life, to have them come through and have assumptions about you that aren't accurate.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Armistead Maupin:

And, don't want to say anything about what they do,

Jason Blitman:

No, that's fine. I don't want you to either.

Armistead Maupin:

but I'm from North Carolina. So I know a thing or two about that breed,

Brett Benner:

well as Jesse Helms.

Armistead Maupin:

as well as Jesse Helms who makes a kind of indirect appearance

Brett Benner:

Yes,

Armistead Maupin:

in this novel. Yeah,

Brett Benner:

I said she was your it's almost like your callback to Anita Bryant in the first book. Jesse

Armistead Maupin:

and in some ways it was, and it shows you they haven't gone away. There are a number of things in this novel that I had to address that weren't actually, that I looked at as old news, and they weren't. When I first came over here, I was with a reporter from the, one of the big dailies, a very intelligent woman, or seemed to be, who told me that the transgender issue was complicated, she said. And I said, what's complicated about it? They exist, and she was basically of the J. K. Rowling. feminist bigot And and it made me really mad because I thought I'd come to this country where they were, by and large, are done with those kinds of ignorant thoughts, but transgender people have had a hell of a time here, Blake.

Jason Blitman:

Sure.

Brett Benner:

here, it's awful. It's awful.

Jason Blitman:

Armstead you just, you were saying you've been doing this for 50 years. You've been telling the story for 50 years. I can only imagine it's exhausting and frustrating to see that we're essentially running in place.

Armistead Maupin:

That's very well observed. It makes me run screaming from the room sometimes.

Jason Blitman:

To be fair, it is a little like three steps forward, two steps back, right? I don't want to say, there, there has been progress. I don't

Brett Benner:

yes, there is. It's not all gloom and doom, but,

Jason Blitman:

but there are still issues that you address in Tales of the City 50 years ago that are still issues today. And I can only imagine how you want to bang your head against a wall.

Armistead Maupin:

I had to address them because they were still there,

Jason Blitman:

And that's, you do it beautifully in this new book. Where it's it's so frustratingly relevant to today, but you create it, you articulate it in a, we're still in the, this book takes place in the 90s. So you, so you like, write it from the perspective of the nineties, which I imagine, very interesting for you too to present to in, in 2023, writing the nineties.

Armistead Maupin:

yeah, it was. What I liked the most, I think, was the fact that Mona was, has a very, what we regard as, you and I regard as a very civilized position on the subject 30 years ago.

Jason Blitman:

right.

Armistead Maupin:

And there are people today that are still fighting that idea,

Brett Benner:

it's also a great, it's an interesting, as we're sitting here having this conversation, it's, it, her voice, albeit your voice, coming through her to address these things in terms of that, in terms of transgender, in terms of the issues and her frustrations, also your frustrations, also many of our frustrations, but it, what a great way to express it. through

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah, it's fun for me. I love having Mona around, kick some ass and take names.

Jason Blitman:

Where did the inspiration for her come from?

Armistead Maupin:

I think there was a woman that the ad agency where I worked, who was the professional hippie at the ad agency. I was mocking it at the time, is she kept the hookah in her room and I don't even remember but she was. But that's where she came from then she was me, she just

Jason Blitman:

How so?

Armistead Maupin:

uh, impatient with things sometimes

Brett Benner:

is there anyone in this book that you're like, oh, this isn't, this has nothing to do with, you know, this

Armistead Maupin:

Some of the villains, some of

Brett Benner:

Yes. Yes. And you've had great

Armistead Maupin:

I like to think I'm not Norman Neal Williams,

Brett Benner:

One would hope.

Armistead Maupin:

But for the most part I try to find the humanity in the major characters, by which I mean myself.

Jason Blitman:

Sure. Do you ever get tired talking about all of this?

Armistead Maupin:

Well, It's the only thing I've ever done,

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Armistead Maupin:

I'm proud of it, so no, I don't get tired of talking about it.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. you're allowed to, if that were the case,

Armistead Maupin:

No, if that were the case, I would have stopped,

Jason Blitman:

uhhuh I would hope. I would like to think so. But

Armistead Maupin:

yeah. No, I'm not I'm not Barbara Cartland or something. I shouldn't badmouth Barbara Cartland. I was asked recently by the, the New York Times has that buy the book thing.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Armistead Maupin:

They ask you questions, and one of them said you quoted in Mona as saying I can't even remember what it was, but it was something to do with Barbara Cartland. Are you a fan of hers? The New York Times have a nerve to ask. I just didn't answer the question. I removed the question

Jason Blitman:

That's fair.

Armistead Maupin:

because I didn't want to be nasty to that old lady,

Jason Blitman:

You say it's the only thing you've done. You've also written a memoir. You've also written two other novels that live outside of the world. Let's give credit where credit is due

Armistead Maupin:

Thank you very much. I'm glad you're aware of those.

Jason Blitman:

What is a day in the life for you like? What are you doing when you're not talking about Tales of the City these days? What

Armistead Maupin:

which is a very green, leafy area of south London. There's a, the common is just down the street. So that's where the dog has his runes. I stay on my computer a lot. Sometimes looking at scrolling for trash.

Jason Blitman:

kind of trash?

Armistead Maupin:

Nothing interesting, believe me.

Jason Blitman:

Okay.

Armistead Maupin:

No, I'm serious. There's a whole parade of beefcake that happens whether you like it or not,

Jason Blitman:

Sure.

Armistead Maupin:

and sometimes I like it. but I'm 80 years old. I'm about to be

Jason Blitman:

Yes.

Armistead Maupin:

And, uh,

Brett Benner:

Congratulations.

Armistead Maupin:

thank you. It is amazing that I got here.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. You did.

Armistead Maupin:

and so we go out to the theater in the evening, several times a week sometimes, into London, into the West End.

Jason Blitman:

What have you seen recently that you've loved?

Armistead Maupin:

okay, that's a good question.

Brett Benner:

Did you see Sunset? Did you see the new Sunset?

Armistead Maupin:

no. I love that musical. I love the music a lot.

Jason Blitman:

Apparently the revival of Guys and Dolls is very good in

Armistead Maupin:

We saw that.

Jason Blitman:

And? It

Armistead Maupin:

It moves in every direction around you. It's

Jason Blitman:

looks so good.

Armistead Maupin:

We what did we see?

Brett Benner:

Did you see Cab? Cabaret.

Armistead Maupin:

The cab! Yes we did, with James Sears, who was the in Tales, well, He didn't, wasn't in Tales, he wrote the music for Tales,

Jason Blitman:

For the musical.

Armistead Maupin:

we saw his production of it and it was wonderful.

Brett Benner:

He's so cute. Jake Shears.

Armistead Maupin:

so cute. And his co star was a woman called Self Esteem.

Brett Benner:

Wow. Did she have

Armistead Maupin:

I know, I can't remember her name. Hello, Self.

Brett Benner:

Hello, self. Mrs. Steam.

Armistead Maupin:

I'm sure the young people find that very hip and wonderful. She was really great. She made a perfect Sally Boldt. She was blousy and not as perfect as some of the previous Sally Boldts. And that's what made her good. Christopher Isherwood always complained that Liza Minnelli was all wrong for the role because She could

Jason Blitman:

was too good. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, the woman I saw, because I saw that same production out there when I was in London two years ago, and the woman I saw was incredible, I loved it. it.

Armistead Maupin:

they're adjusting it all the time and in ways that fit the times and it's a brilliant thing about that musical. I think Isherwood, if he were around still, would be liking some of these modern presentations of it.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, it's very gritty.

Armistead Maupin:

I just heard from him, he's on my mind because I just heard from his a friend of ours, a mutual friend, that she's written a book about him and I'm very excited to see it.

Brett Benner:

have you read all the diaries?

Armistead Maupin:

Oh yeah, particularly the parts I'm in.

Brett Benner:

They're so spectacular. They're just beautiful. The books themselves are just gorgeous.

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah, they are.

Jason Blitman:

What does he say about you?

Armistead Maupin:

I came out okay. He didn't trust me at first because I was too cheerful or something. I don't know what he said, but it's true. I am too cheerful,

Jason Blitman:

Is that how you would describe your demeanor

Armistead Maupin:

but he was, he said I was growing on him.

Brett Benner:

Okay, we're not going to put this, we're not going to put this part in because I don't want to give this spoiler away, but I do need to know because, obviously you allude to Rock Hudson in your earlier books or you don't mention it, you blank it out, but you do have a, your celebrity in this particular book. Is that a dalliance that you got to take part of as well?

Armistead Maupin:

no, didn't know the guy.

Brett Benner:

Okay. That's so funny. I was very excited when I read it. I was like, Oh my God, that's a good one.

Armistead Maupin:

I know people draw that conclusion because of Rock, but no, I never met him, but I admired him. I admired him a lot

Brett Benner:

And he, yeah. And so he was so hot. He was so hot. I was just gonna ask if you're a scrumpy drinker.

Armistead Maupin:

Yes, I've had scrumpy. I'm not real big on any kind of beer.

Jason Blitman:

What is grumpy?

Armistead Maupin:

It's a homemade beer.

Jason Blitman:

yes, yes, Yes.

Armistead Maupin:

That's just something I researched and put in there. A lot of stuff like that. Dogging.

Jason Blitman:

jogging?

Armistead Maupin:

No, dogging.

Jason Blitman:

Oh,

Armistead Maupin:

You remember dogging?

Jason Blitman:

no, what's jogging?

Armistead Maupin:

Wilford and Michael talk about it. You can just leave it in mysteriously for people to guess about. It's what straight people do when they're bored.

Jason Blitman:

so funny. I clearly was reading too quickly. I must have missed that entirely. In our last, chunk of time with you, the legacy of Tales of the City, you've been doing this for 50 years, you just said you're 80 years old, you've lived a life, leaving this whole world of logical family in your dust you're sprinkling the world of Tales of the City around the world. What, why'd you just make that face?

Armistead Maupin:

Oh, I don't know if it was sounding like I was about to die or

Jason Blitman:

No, I just mean it's been going on for so long. When I say in your dust, I mean like, In the path behind you, not, that's all mean. Oh, geez. no, no. I that there are like generations of people that have experienced this.

Armistead Maupin:

poor thing, you're going to remember this afterwards and be so embarrassed. I didn't mean to be

Jason Blitman:

That isn't what I meant Armistead.

Brett Benner:

He's young, Armistead, he's young.

Jason Blitman:

no, There is a legacy, whether you're, whether you like it or not, right? It's this deep rooted legacy throughout generations behind you. If there's one thing that people take away from it all, what would you say that is? What would you, what do you hope that is?

Armistead Maupin:

I say is going to sound unctuous. I don't want to be sounding unctuous.

Jason Blitman:

you're not going to sound anxious.

Armistead Maupin:

I don't know. I'm pretty good at it. I've had a few drinks. I just want them to remember the story and who wrote it of course. And uh, remember that I was a part of their lives when they read it.

Jason Blitman:

I love that. And I think it's true. I think Brett, this podcast has been going on for seven months now. In our very first episode, we talk about gay books that inspired each of us. And the first one out of Brat's mouth was Tales of the City, and we have a whole conversation. We have a whole conversation About it and the legacy and my experience with it versus his experience with it. And your name is synonymous with Tales of the City. So I think it all, if that is what you hope for, then that is

Armistead Maupin:

yeah, I think it is. I keep becoming a question on Jeopardy for several years now. Many years, 10 years. I don't know, I don't know who, what little queer in the Jeopardy department there is celebrating me, but I do appreciate it.

Jason Blitman:

The gay intern is like, I just read this great book. That's

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah,

Brett Benner:

Have you read anything you've loved lately? Any, either any queer lit or anything that you've really responded to lately that you've liked?

Armistead Maupin:

not immediately,

Jason Blitman:

Do you like reading?

Armistead Maupin:

I do I like the Patrick Gayle's books. I like Andrew Sean, Greer, a lot.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Those books are lovely.

Armistead Maupin:

and I enjoy Neil Gaiman.

Jason Blitman:

It's'cause his name has the word gay in it.

Armistead Maupin:

Is that it? I'll tell him that. We're dear friends and he he let us stay in his house in Skye not long ago, which is a completely magical place.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, he speaks I don't remember the exact quote, but the way that he talks about you and Christopher is and how you are for each other and to each other is really so lovely and that like everyone could aspire to that level of companionship is really beautiful.

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah, particularly coming from a straight guy,

Brett Benner:

yeah. So that's just great.

Jason Blitman:

Very sweet.

Brett Benner:

no, it is.

Jason Blitman:

Wait, where is sky?

Armistead Maupin:

Up there, to the east of Scotland.

Jason Blitman:

first I thought you were making an obnoxious joke about Where's the sky? The

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

up in the sky.

Brett Benner:

He's listen, you dumb fuck, it's over your head. You didn't figure that out yet.

Jason Blitman:

Got it.

Armistead Maupin:

like, there's the sky.

Jason Blitman:

It is northeast of London. I got it. Oh my God, it's so funny. Oh, I just need, oh, it's in Scotland. Okay. Just looking. I'm

Armistead Maupin:

That's the short answer.

Jason Blitman:

yeah. Thank you.

Brett Benner:

do you. travel? Do you guys travel much?

Armistead Maupin:

amount. Chris does more than I, I'm a homebody.

Brett Benner:

Yeah,

Armistead Maupin:

amazing how much I like living in this old house.

Jason Blitman:

in what way? about it?

Armistead Maupin:

It's a house. I mean, if you look at my work, you'll see what I've romanticized over the years, always a house.

Jason Blitman:

That's a cool thing, right?

Armistead Maupin:

This place was, is 114 years old, and, uh, that's nothing for England, but. I was very impressed. And I like being at home. I like having That stuff.

Brett Benner:

What do you like to watch?

Armistead Maupin:

Oh, we're on a complete Breaking Bad binge right now. We both have watched it before, but

Brett Benner:

Okay,

Jason Blitman:

I got like four episodes in and had a hard time. I like couldn't keep going.

Armistead Maupin:

Think I was a little bit that way myself,

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

I don't know if because the first time I wasn't ready for the darkness of it and I just, but then I went over to it and I thought, Oh my, it's truly, it's one of the best shows ever,

Armistead Maupin:

yeah, but it does with that family is amazing.

Brett Benner:

And all of them, every performance, they're all just so good.

Armistead Maupin:

of them.

Jason Blitman:

All right. Armistead Moppin said, so I'll give it, I'll give it another chance.

Armistead Maupin:

You don't have to.

Jason Blitman:

No, listen, everybody around me has said it's so good, so you're binging it again.

Armistead Maupin:

we were living in New Mexico when some of it was happening.

Jason Blitman:

Oh wow.

Armistead Maupin:

And they nailed that so well. It was incredible.

Jason Blitman:

You talking about your house, years ago you started writing Tales of the City, coming of age story in a world where you didn't really know what was gonna happen to queer people, what a future could look like, and now you are living your London Manor fantasy with your hot husband who. Could you have ever imagined this is what 50 years from starting the series would look like for

Armistead Maupin:

No. I kind of hope for the hot husband, but,

Brett Benner:

that's the dream.

Armistead Maupin:

It is the dream,

Jason Blitman:

A brilliant example of manifesting.

Brett Benner:

You're Michael's happy ending.

Armistead Maupin:

I feel like that,

Brett Benner:

Yeah. You're Michael's happy ending.

Jason Blitman:

that just, I just really got choked up. You saying that,

Armistead Maupin:

but we have, we have to know what we want and, and when we get it, otherwise we'll never be happy.

Jason Blitman:

And

Armistead Maupin:

aware.

Brett Benner:

you know what you want, then you know, no,

Armistead Maupin:

what is that?

Brett Benner:

it was a song time lyric to the Woods. I was on leave, you know what you want, then you go and you find it and you get it. So that was what I suddenly came to my mind when you said that.

Armistead Maupin:

what I had in mind, a Sondheim lyric.

Brett Benner:

That's exactly right. You're living, yes you're basically living a Sondheim life right now.

Armistead Maupin:

We went to see old friends the other night. It was wonderful.

Brett Benner:

wow.

Armistead Maupin:

Well, it's an embarrassment of riches. It's just incredible.

Jason Blitman:

right. It's like all of the greats

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

greats,

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Armistead Maupin:

I got to meet what's her name?

Jason Blitman:

Bernadette Peters.

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

how is she?

Armistead Maupin:

Very sweet.

Brett Benner:

She, I know like we know the musical of Tales and Jake Shears, the whole thing, but she could have been your Mrs. Madrigal for the musical version.

Armistead Maupin:

she could be anything.

Jason Blitman:

She can be anything.

Brett Benner:

But probably not Marianne. Are you working on anything else now? Are you taking a break? Are you pondering ideas? What's next?

Armistead Maupin:

Chris and I have an idea. He's been spearheading this for me because I couldn't get into it at the beginning and then I'm totally into it. A book about Charles Warren Stoddard. Do you know who he is?

Brett Benner:

No.

Armistead Maupin:

He was a a writer in 19th century San Francisco who was queer, and pretty much openly who went to Hawaii and got it on with the natives.

Brett Benner:

Wow.

Armistead Maupin:

And I'm writing a book about it. We're writing a book about it. It'll be a little co authored because he's having to do all the legwork.

Jason Blitman:

How fun that it's a project that you're doing together.

Armistead Maupin:

yeah, it is. It is fun. I can yell up the stairs And say, how old was he when he went to the Bohemian Club? Okay,

Jason Blitman:

And I think, for those of us who are thrilled to hear that you're not at 80, it's fantastic.

Armistead Maupin:

We'll see.

Jason Blitman:

That's okay.

Armistead Maupin:

announcing anything,

Jason Blitman:

No, but it's great to know that you're still noodling around with

Armistead Maupin:

well, it keeps you, happy to be focused

Jason Blitman:

Yeah,

Brett Benner:

I would have loved to have said, I'm doing a spin off of Tales of the City called Tales of London.

Jason Blitman:

And on that note, we thank you for Mona of the Manor. It was a delight to dive back into the world of Tales of the City for those of us who have been in the world, and I also think it can totally stand alone for those who have not experienced the world.

Armistead Maupin:

Thank

Brett Benner:

And for those who haven't, what a gorgeous new reissue of the entire set. They're beautiful. they're

Jason Blitman:

I know, so go check it out from the beginning and buy copies for your friends like my friend Chris does. This has been a pleasure and a joy and we're so grateful for your time.

Armistead Maupin:

Thank you, guys. it. has been for me, too. You made it very easy for me.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, good.

Brett Benner:

And thanks. Thanks to Chris for setting you up this morning. We appreciate it.

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah. Yeah. be at a loss half the time.

Jason Blitman:

That's the hot husband I talked about earlier.

Armistead Maupin:

That's the hardest one you talked about.

Jason Blitman:

Oh And since it's coming out on March 5th Jake Shears is in cabaret until March 9th For anyone who's listening to this and it is in London and has a chance to go

Armistead Maupin:

to be nursed.

Jason Blitman:

still have a couple days to go see him. So check it out.

Armistead Maupin:

Yeah. Yeah. Good plug. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

What a delight, Armistead Maupin.

Brett Benner:

Moppin. You are the best.

Armistead Maupin:

Thank you.

Jason Blitman:

You're the best. Everyone go check out Mona of the Manor. Armistead's brand new book comes out today. Check it out in our bookshop. org page. Follow us on social media at Gay's Reading. Again, check out that giveaway for The GuncleAbroad, and we will see you next week. Bye!

This is the end of the video.