Armistead Maupin in Blueboy Magazine (1980)

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Back in the early aughts, an older friend of mine was preparing to move out of his NYC apartment and gifted me with a gay time capsule: a closet full of porn magazines dating back to the mid-1970’s. He had moved into this rent stabilized 5th floor walk-up in college and stayed there for 30 years. Roommates and boyfriends came and went – leaving a trail of old magazines in their wake. But my friend stayed in this spacious top floor railroad apartment in the last tenement building on a stretch of East 59th street, with a living room facing the Queensboro Bridge. Why move? The landlord finally offered him a sizable cash settlement to leave, unaware that he was ready to depart NYC anyway. But it was a nice parting gift.

I, in turn was given a King’s Chamber of gay erotica: 7 file boxes full of near-pristine old smut.

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Shocker: porn is lucrative. For a few years I supplemented my income by selling them singly on eBay. The shrinking collection has now moved through 4 different apartments in the last dozen years. Unfortunately I did not have my friend’s tenacity (or luck) when it came to NYC real estate.

Torso cover 1980Recently I cracked the boxes open again and came across an article I thought was worth sharing. Yes, an article. As the old joke goes – I like these old porn mags for the articles. Well… the photo layouts are nice too, but… the articles do give a window into what gay life was like before the plague.

The September, 1980 issue of Blueboy Magazine was dedicated to the city of San Francisco – The Promised Land for gays. Presented below is an article titled The City That Dare Not Speak Its Name penned by Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin.

 

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Author Armistead Maupin at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Although this was written just before the AIDS epidemic blew the gay community sky high, San Francisco had already been through some shit, as Maupin mentions in his opening paragraph. The Zodiac Killer, Jonestown Massacre, Patty Hearst kidnapping, the murders of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone… followed by Dan White’s acquittal…. I’m not sure what “Decadence” was but I am sure it was a bloodbath. Maupin senses that the press will be critical of his beloved city. And he wasn’t wrong in his assumption. Like his Tales of the City series, the article is a love letter to San Francisco, capturing the time and place like nobody else could. It was the best of times… it was the worst of times….

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Note: The mayor mentioned in the article is Dianne Feinstein, now the senior California senator.

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Armistead Maupin photographed in 1978 as part of Don Herron’s Tub Shots photo series.

In the spirit of “everything old is new again,” Maupin observes “…. some local lavender ward healers (that) propagate the Cult of the Politically Correct can grow tedious beyond belief, and I wonder, in my heart of hearts, whether the immeasurable joys of cocksucking are worth the price of being either political or correct.” Yes, he ultimately concludes that nobody embraces eccentricity as unconditionally and as joyously as do San Franciscans.

40 years later, I think those who love the city would agree… even if they do complain about all the human feces in the streets.

Jackie Old

 

The article concludes with a reference to a novel Maupin was working on: Jackie Old – a fictional piece about Jacqueline Onassis at age 70. Unfortunately she did not live to see 70 and this novella – initially published as a 5 part series in New West magazine –  would not get an official release until a 2014 Kindle edition. Even so, it is not included in his bibliographies.

Also featured in this mag is an extensive piece by another prominent gay San Franciscan:  the late great Randy Shilts, author of And The Band Played On. I will post this piece – What If They Gave A Backlash And Nobody Came? -if there is interest. Lemme know if you want it.

Or…  I could post more photos of these guys:

Men of SF

 

The Christmas In Connecticut Delivery Woman

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“You’ve never seen Christmas In Connecticut??”
It has been over 20 years since I was first posed with this question. And by more than one gay friend or acquaintance. Each ensuing discussion regarding why this 1945 film is a Christmas classic would include a mention of The Delivery Woman. Just wait for her, they’d say.

 

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She appears 11 minutes into the film – just after we meet leading lady Barbara Stanwyck. She delivers her a mink coat. She has two lines – six words: “Miss Lane?” and “Same to you, Miss.” She smiles throughout – she is beautiful. Stylish. She wears a hat, cape and gloves. And she has a musical cue – a slinky clarinet riff. She seems to know things.

 

One friend described her as “sassy” although I think that assessment is a modern projection. She is on screen for just over 10 seconds. And then she is gone. She has better places to go.

“Wouldn’t it be great if postal workers dressed like that?” is another comment I have heard more than once. I think she is actually supposed to be a department store delivery person and not a postal worker. In any case, yes, I agree – capes and hats and leather gloves would be an awesome addition to any FedEx, UPS or Amazon Prime uniform.

Deliverywoman closeup

We don’t know the actresses name. The IMDB is of no help. One day I expect to get a reader response that says “You uneducated fool! Everybody KNOWS its a young Rudy Dee / Hazel Scott / Dorothy Dandridge.” But until that time… the mystery remains. At least in my house.

In the 1995 documentary The Celluloid Closet about the history of homosexuality in Hollywood, Susie Bright says something along the lines of “A gay audience is so accustomed to crumbs that you will watch a whole film just to see a hint of a gay subtext.” Reginald Gardiner as John Sloan

In Christmas In Connecticut, it’s pretty clear that Barbara Stanwyck’s sham fiancee – a disinterested interior designer – would be gay if 1940’s society and the movie code allowed. But that’s beside the point. The same statement can be applied to any minority in a classic Hollywood studio film – you wait for someone to show up, cross your fingers for a positive depiction, and then hold on to it when you find it.


The Smart Bitches, Trashy Books website mentions The Delivery Woman in a 2016 post dissecting the film.  “PERSON OF COLOR. PERSON OF COLOR;” they scream upon her entrance. “This movie is already more inclusive than several films released this year.”

And this is why, 75 years after it’s release, I am writing about 10 seconds of this film.


I tip my stylish cap to that nameless actress. We salute you!