Armistead Maupin in Blueboy Magazine (1980)


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 remaining 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.


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.

Armistead 1980a
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 am unclear what “Decadence” he is referring to, but surely it was a bloodbath.

Maupin sensed that the press was sharpening its knives to criticize his beloved city. And he wasn’t wrong in his assessment. Like his Tales of the City series, the article is a love letter to San Francisco, capturing the time and place as nobody else could. It was the best of times… it was the worst of times….

A1 full page




A couple of notes:  The mayor mentioned in the article is Dianne Feinstein, now the senior California senator. And the 30-inch girlfriend he refers to was Tamara De Treaux, basis for the main character in his novel Maybe The Moon.

M39389-3 001
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. (UPDATE: I posted it HERE)

Or…  I could post more photos of these guys:

Men of SF

23 thoughts on “Armistead Maupin in Blueboy Magazine (1980)

  1. Thanks for the article what a Wonderful Find Brian! I too had inherited a collection of hundreds and hundreds of Colt, Mandate,Honcho & Blueboy Mags that I ‘One handedly’ scanned through. Later I read every article and saw the History of our Community unfold in front of me. They really were the Best of Times that were before the ‘Storm’. Keep on writing so the next GenerGaytion will learn what we did to secure their Freedom today. We’re NOT just a bunch of Miserable Old Horney Trolls they make us out to be!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Brian, for posting Armistead’s article. Also, thank you to Armistead for bringing it to my attention via his Facebook post.

    My father was raised in San Francisco and my grandmother lived there for many years from the 1930s to the 1960s, so I feel that I have an inherent attachment and claim to that city. I lived in San Diego from the 1980s until 2010 – a city that had a twin trajectory and peculiar charm for the LGBT community (as well as a similar path during the AIDS epidemic). 🌈

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  3. Yes, thank you. An original cast member of Beach Blanket Babylon Goes Bananas, I was there when it all happened. These were pristine moments for so many of us. The only time in my life I belonged anywhere, and a treasure. It’s important for those of us who were there at this time in history to add our own stories.Who’s the keeper of the time capsule?

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  4. Mauling and shilts were both quick customers of mine, being a bartender in s.f. From 1974-2000, along with most of our lost generation, thanks for the memories!πŸ’₯πŸ€”β€οΈπŸ‘πŸΏπŸ‘€πŸ’₯that’s maupin…….

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  5. I remember this magazine. I remember this edition. What a surprise to see it on on Twitter this morning! I’m nearly 65 but at the time was living in Swindon, Wiltshire, England and used to subscribe to Blueboy and eagerly used to look forward to those plain brown envelopes dropping though the door. I would have been about 25 at the time and we had nothing like this in England. Not sure why this edition stuck in my mind but the cover boy might have had something to do with it πŸ˜‰. I also remember a shot where a couple gazed out from a window (or a balcony?) – that’s part of the image at the bottom right of the triangle. Sadly I also donated all my magazines when I left Swindon to move to Norwich about 17-18 years ago. But I still have the memories.

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