Celebrating Armistead Maupin


photography by rickycphotography.com

Greetings chums,

Litquake 2007 kicked off this weekend with a salute to San Francisco’s most famous living author, Armistead Maupin, the man who brought us Tales of the City. At the Herbst Theatre on Saturday night, Armistead, with his husband Christopher Turner, was honored with the first Barbary Coast Literary Award. Yours truly was the master of ceremonies for the evening as friends of Armistead paid tribute to their literary pal.

With Armistead and husband Christopher Turner

The evening was both a toast and a roast as comics, poets and writers shared words and memories of their treasured pal. There were many highlights throughout this evening of words and song, including a video message from Robin Williams who referred to him as Amistad and spoke in a clipped southern drawl. He brought the house down. Father Guido Sarducci was a riot doing his usual scattered Italian priest bit. The audience loved him. Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division sang two queer punk songs. "Twenty Years of Cock" had the audience in stitches. I announced soon after that the song would be available after the show in a 12-inch format. ... I know, sorry, had to.

Laura Linney and Armistead

The evening wrapped up with Armistead, our national literary treasure, coming to the stage to accept The Barbary Coast Literary Award from actress Laura Linney, who became a household name after starring in Tales of the City on PBS. Providing one of the evening’s high points, she said, “You are the dearest friend whom with I could not imagine life without.” Her eyes were filled with tears.
In fact, there was not a dry eye in the house as Armistead, filled with emotion, thanked the audience, Litquake organizers and his many friends who showed to honor him on this night.

And then the crescendo—Beach Blanket Babylon’s Armistead tribute. It was over-the-top and utterly brilliant. 

"It was a wonderful, evening, a little overwhelming," Armistead told me afterwards. "And boy, you know how to milk a laugh," he said, referring to my introduction:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we celebrate one man's body, sorry, one man's body of work. A man who has touched people everywhere, I mean all over the world. Some of those he has touched are here tonight."

Armistead and husband Christopher Turner

Armsitead’s husband, the charming Christopher Turner, was equally bowled over by the three-hour lovefest: “It was a great night, a great, great night.”

A glass of wine with Craigslist founder Craig Newmark

At the after-party, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark sang Armistead’s praises. He even asked Mr. Maupin to sign his copy of Tales of the City. See, even wealthy dot-commers are groupies.

It was a wonderful evening befitting a man who has given San Francisco and the world so much—wonderful words that have amused, enriched and inspired. Had it not been for Armistead’s Tales of the City, I may never have ventured here. I fell more in love with San Francisco with every page I turned in the six-book Tales of the City series. My curiosity brought me here on vacation in 1992. I did not find Miss Madrigal nor Barbary Lane, but I found home, a magical city as rich with life and character as Armistead had portrayed in his tales. Armistead Maupin, it’s all your fault that I am still here in this mad, fab city 13 years on. Thank you.

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