Maupin created a phenomenon when he started writing Tales of
the City as a column for the Chronicle in the 1970s. Reformatted and published
as books in the '80s then television films
in the '90s, Tales of the City is unmatched as a diary, however fictional,
of San Franciscans. The entire range from secretaries and waiters to TV
hosts, movie stars and international criminals are included as characters
in Maupin's tales as they are in San Francisco's own true story. The adventures of Tales heroine Mary Ann Singleton predate the Chronicle serial, having first appeared in the San Francisco edition of the Pacific Sun. As in
real life, most of Maupin's characters keep one eye on their secrets while
looking for love in the bay city. In addition to characters based on popular
public figures, the tales take place in well known City locations. Maupin's
alter ego, Michael Tolliver, wins a dance contest at the Endup but nearly loses the love of his life when Dr. Jon Fielding and
his snooty Pacific Heights friends walk in during the finals.
While Macondray Lane on Russian Hill is accepted as the Tales of the City location, 28 Barbary Lane, Maupin actually lived in several apartments on Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill from the time he moved to the City in the early '70s. The tales debuted in the Chronicle on May 24, 1976. Later, Maupin moved to Noe Street in the Castro before settling in Cole Valley. Since everything about Tales of the City is a composite of real life, you can be sure that Maryann, Michael, Mona Ramsey, Brian Hawkins, landlady Anna Madrigal, and others all crossed the thresholds of these locations:
"I had always been on the move, a serial renter leaping from hilltop to hilltop in search of home." - Armistead Maupin, "The Night Listener"
Copyright 2001 - 2002 Hank Donat