Amistead Maupin reveals which deeply closeted movie star he had awkward sex with

Armistead Maupin may be known for creating the tangled lives of his characters in Tales of the City, but it turns out the author has led quite an interesting one himself.

That’s not all that surprising, of course, but what is somewhat surprising is the fact that he’s now opened up about some of the details of his sexual adventures, and misadventures. And one name is definitely standing out.

In a new memoir called Logical Family, the author reveals he had a “friend with benefits” relationship with actor Rock Hudson, as well as a love triangle that involved Sir Ian McKellen.

Maupin is quite candid about his affair with Hudson, including the pair’s first sexual encounter together, which was less than successful.

“I wrote that scene because sex isn’t very interesting if it goes off well – it’s just porn,” he told Chicago’s Windy City Times.

“There is something much more human about clumsy sex, and it was clumsy alright,” he added. “And it also illuminated something about the nature of his life – that people had a hard time connecting with [Hudson] on a personal level because he was competing with his own image on the screen.”

As for McKellen, there was a time that Maupin and McKellen both had eyes for the same guy — Broadway and TV actor Curt Dawson, who passed away in 1985 from AIDS.

“[Dawson] was completely with you when he was with you and that was extremely charming,” Maupin said. “And he was engaged in life. A lot of actors have that quality.

“He was very excited about the world. I remember watching him studying a tide pool up in Mendocino with utter fascination and being touched by the moment.”

The title of Maupin’s memoir, Logical Family, first appeared in the seventh installment of Tales of the City — 2007’s Michael Toliver Lives.

“It comes from Mrs. Madrigal, the land lady at Barbary Lane who has formed her own family of tenants and friends and strays, and it’s her way of saying that yes, you have a biological family, but then you have a logical family, the one that actually makes sense for you,” Maupin said.

“The one that accepts you as you are and loves you for who you are and doesn’t put requirements on you.”

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  • MacAdvisor

    One must point out, Mr. Dawson’s cause of death is listed as cancer, not AIDS.

    • Brian

      He died in 1985. We barely even knew what AIDS was then, I doubt it was listed on anybody’s death certificate.

      Plus, nobody technically dies of AIDS. They die of whatever their immune system is unable to fight off as a result of AIDS.

    • OGRogue

      See, I’m wondering-what was your point, contrariness? ? Ignorance? disbelief?
      In fact, I watched my brothers die of ignorance and homophobia?
      They were ignorant, because the ignorance and homophobia of the Reaganites left everyone in the dark, and in danger.New York and San Francisco did the best they could recognizing and dealing with compromised immune systems.
      I think that the proof is in the puddings, 40 years later;Blood banks still discriminate against gay men, though the disease has moved on to new prey.

    • MacAdvisor

      My point was accuracy. If the cause of death is listed as cancer, that is what should be reported. We don’t have evidence he died from complications due to AIDS (what is said when someone dies of an opportunistic infection that AIDS permitted to manifest). For all we know, he did die of cancer. One is entitled to one’s own opinion, but not one’s own facts.

      GRID, the original name for the disease, became AIDS by the end of 1982, so, by 1985, it was clearly the name of the syndrome. I saw puppet shows on safe sex by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in 1982. By 1985, most gay men in large cities were all too familiar. By 1986, the bigots knew enough to try to pass Prop 64 here in California.

    • Mike999

      I met Rock Hudson in about 1980 at his home in Beverly Hills. He was touring in a musical at the time
      and a friend of his used to throw “beauties parties” for him to come home to. There would be about 20 of the currently hottest guys in Hollywood waiting for him when he got home, hanging around the pool. I found him to be one of the most genuine and kind men I’d ever met. I was not interested in sleeping with him. he seemed like a nice old guy to me at the time, but he was very good about it and always friendly. Sad to think he has been gone so long.

  • Curtispsf

    Tales of the City will go down in history as having captured that quintessential magical moment that was San Francisco in the late 70s and early 80’s pre AIDS. It was a heady glorious time when the gay community reveled in the freedom from societal constraints and norms. Who knew that a storm brewed just over the horizon…a storm that would shake the world to its very foundation and would change life as we knew it ? Tales of the City captured the innocence of a community that would forever more be altered by the advent of a simple retro virus. And the Band Played On.

    • Mark Behar

      Thanks for a most astute summary, Curtipsf! I lived in WDC riding the Metro, reading Tales of the City, laughing out loud at that very time.

  • Charlie in Charge

    Ah so the legends are true, it was Hudson. It will be very interesting to compare Maupin’s life with his stand-in Michael Tolliver and see where their paths converged and diverged.

  • Brian

    Well that’s a disappointing reveal. I wanted it to be somebody like Sylvester Stallone or Harrison Ford, not the guy we’ve known was gay for 3 decades.

    • dubril



  • DeaconMac

    Not much of a revelation, considering that Maupin spoke openly about his relationship with Hudson in the early 1980s.

    This new memoir is really excellent and any fan of Maupin’s will want to read it. You’ll likely also be happy to know that “Tales of the City” is being remade for Netflix. Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney will be returning in their roles.

  • He BGB

    I thought everyone has known this for a long long time. In Tales the description of Hudson was very obvious but maybe it was just recently that he admitted it was Hudson. I also knew about his awkward and sometimes impotence from being famous and his partners being so nervous they were impotent, or sonething to that affect. In a bio written in the 80s by a close friend it was spoken about.
    It’s true gay men died of AIDS related diseases in the 80s but not AIDS and that many were so embarrassed by it or their families were, that they had cancer or heart attackput on the death certificate. Especially celebs like Liberace, and Rudolph, the ballet dancer. Such sad times.

    • He BGB

      Also, when I read about the awkward sex back in the 80s, I assumed Hudson was a bottom. I could be wrong and it isn’t important. They didn’t use those terms back then anyway.

    • He BGB

      I said 80s but it was more 60s, 70s and before in the comment below

    • JamJewel

      Even by 1990 when my ex died, you couldn’t find a funeral home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to bury someone who died of AIDS-related complications so we had to make sure that alternate facts were used on the death certificate.

  • Danny595

    So his tales of promiscuity involve 4 men and a 50% early death rate. How charming and entertaining!

    • mujerado

      A memoir is not necessarily “charming and entertaining.” Your disdain is misplaced.

    • OGRogue

      , Danny,
      Go buy a beach novel, then. This was true fiction/memoirs with the names changed. This was also a damn well written, humorous and loving way to cope with our losses and grief. Seemed like, one day the Castro was full to bursting with life, and 6 months later, it was a ghost town. Not fiction, not a snarky punch line.

    • ChrisK

      Go find another bridge to inhabit.

    • Gaytaffuk

      Danielle! There is no need to be nasty!

      We all know that you have a ‘thing’ about effeminate men and your internalised homophobia drives you to constantly get your panties in a bunch about all sorts of men who are happy to express their feminine side, but this is low.

      Using the AIDS epidemic to ridicule people is not only nasty, it is unnecessary. There are plenty of other targets out there without you having to resort to attacking the sick!

      We should be supporting the people who have this dreadful disease, not using them for target practise. You are better than this – grow up and behave like a ‘real’ man!

  • Wolfie

    I’m surprised. Rock used to go to the Ninth Circle in NYC and have the downstairs closed and his agent would send only blond boys downstairs. They were Hudson’s passion. Not dark hair. Oh well


    Sex doesn’t sell this book to me. Nor anything e else for that matter.

  • inbama

    I hate kiss-and-tell books.
    Especially when one party is dead, and the teller is ridiculously out of his league.

    • OGRogue

      Hate “kiss and tell” books; don’t read them and don’t review them.(If you did read it)
      There are NO convocations of writers or handsome men where Mr. Maupin
      is “ridiculously out of his league’.
      Finally, as I recall from Rock’s biography, people were exhorted, contractually bound, and/or paid to keep his secrets

  • Minerva Pomerantz

    The implication of ‘friend with benefits’ implies that there were numerous sexual episodes. Armi needs go into more detail. Does anyone know when the Roddy McDowell 50 years is up?

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