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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

SEX AND THE CITY

Armistead Maupin is the much-loved author of the bestselling Tales of the City novels, which are set in his adopted home of San Francisco. But while his fiction has always drawn inspiration from his own experiences as a gay man, he’s now opening up in more detail about his life, in the memoir Logical Family. And it’s prompted his most revealing interview ever

A rmistead Maupin’s eyes light up as he enters the Diplomat Suite of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel.

“Well, it’s been 40 years since I’ve been here,” he says slowly, “so obviously it’s been redecorated. I really do feel like I’m on Extra or something.”

It was in this suite of rooms that Armistead lived through two significant experiences in his life, experiences he recounts in his memoir, Logical Family.

The first was when his friend, the actor Rock Hudson, read an extract from the opening chapter of Tales of the City to an entourage of gay men, the night before it debuted as a fictional serial in the San Francisco Chronicle [it wasn’t published as a novel until two years later, in 1978]. The following night, Rock and his partner Tom invited Armistead for dinner, after which they returned to the hotel and Tom fell asleep in the bedroom. Armistead and Rock retired to the lounge, where they began kissing and removing their clothes.

As Armistead sits down in the same lounge four decades later, he picks up the story from there. “Rock and I made a now famously disastrous effort at playing, not because of any drunkenness on my part but because it’s a little overwhelming to realise you’re about to have a shot at a movie star, especially when you’ve heard stories about this movie star for years.” When he confesses that he couldn’t maintain his erection, I ask if this was down to performance anxiety. “Yes, I think that’s probably the best term for it,” he says with a chuckle.

“Rock made a very sweet effort at consoling me,” he goes on, “and telling me that he was just like any other guy. ‘No, you’re not,’ I joked, ‘and I’m Doris Day’, which was lame because he’d probably heard it before.”

But Winq hasn’t travelled to San Francisco to talk about Rock Hudson. We’re here to talk about Armistead’s own story, as related in Logical Family.

It’s a witty, sensitively written memoir that chronicles the writer’s journey from his childhood in conservative North Carolina to adulthood in the freewheeling San Francisco that would provide such a colourful backdrop for his novels. The title comes from Armistead’s decision to look beyond his biological family for people he could call his own, a substitute family that felt right for him.

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