Armistead Maupin | Australia | Discrimination | Gay Bar | News

'Tales of the City' Author Armistead Maupin Told He Couldn't Use Bar Restroom Because It's Reserved for 'Real Men'

Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin, on a book tour in Australia for the latest book in the series, Mary Ann in Autumn, was told he couldn't use the restroom at Bojangles Saloon in Alice Springs, because it was "reserved for real men."

ABC News Australia reports:

Maupin Armistead Maupin, writer of the popular Tales in the City series, was in Australia on a book tour when he visited Alice Springs with his husband Chris Turner last week.

They went into Bojangles Saloon to have lunch and approached a staff member behind the bar to ask if they were serving food. According to Mr Maupin, they were told to take a seat, after which Mr Maupin's husband Chris asked if he could use a rest room.

"The guy said, sorry, we don't have one in here but you can go across the street to the public facility."

Mr Maupin, who had used the toilet in Bojangles the day before, said he pointed in the direction of the toilet and said 'what's that over there?'

"[The barman] gave me a very pointed look and said that's reserved for 'real men'," said Mr Maupin.

Maupin left the bar and made an official complaint at the Visitor Information Centre. Shortly thereafter he was contacted by and received apologies from Tourism Central Australia.

Phil Walcott, Regional Director of Gay and Lesbian Tourism Australia says that Alice Springs is an inclusive community and that the incident was likely a 'one-off'.

"By and large, Alice Springs has moved beyond tolerance to acceptance of gay & lesbian people," he said. "We are proud of our very vibrant 'rainbow' community here with people in all spheres of government, business and even politics. The comment attributed to one individual who may well have issues with his own sexuality is seen as an isolated incident."

Maupin wrote about it on his Facebook page, saying: "We went here for lunch. When Chris asked where the toilet was, the bartender told us to go across the street because their toilet was reserved for 'real men.' So we did what real men do and crossed the street to the visitor's center where we filed a complaint. Impressively we received an email apology from the bartender that afternoon. Fair dinkum, mate. Next time don't f**k with the poofters."

He added later: "I was interviewed tonight by a newscaster from Alice Springs. Honestly, that town has responded like a champ to the homophobia Chris and I encountered in the local saloon."

(photo via Facebook)

In related news, check out this new story in the Wall Street Journal interviewing director Jason Moore and librettist Jeff Whitty about the musical adaptation of Tales of the City!

The musical version will contain all of those elements, along with polyester clothes and big hair. But the show will focus on what it felt like to be in that time and place, rather than what might be "archaeologically accurate," Mr. Moore said.

Moore For example, Mr. Moore said that he and his lighting designer decided to ditch disco lights authentic to the period. "By today's standards, that lighting might seem really banal," he said. "But the experience of people going to [a disco] was amazing, trance-inducing and exciting."

While gently poking fun at how much has changed in nearly four decades, the play's script also highlights issues that remain controversial, such as the battle over gay rights. The story line features anti-gay rights crusader Anita Bryant, and a key song in which one character writes a letter to his parents to come out of the closet.

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  1. Wonder if his book tour will be taking him to Coober Pedy ;) Seems like he's following in the steps of the gals from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

    Posted by: Dagoril | Mar 16, 2011 9:14:57 PM

  2. So the bartender mistook Armistead Maupin for a Sheila?

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 16, 2011 9:46:26 PM

  3. "a key song in which one character writes a letter to his parents to come out of the closet."

    If that's "Michael's Letter to Mama," it certainly won't be original to the play.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Mar 16, 2011 10:00:03 PM

  4. So, exactly what did the bartender thing Armistead was? Because as I can see, he is a real man. The response against this action from the head of the bar to the citizens is good, though, and really makes me think of the difference between Australia and the US on this type of issue. A lot of Americans would say the bartender is in the right to discriminate. Unfortunately, you can't always fix stupid.

    Posted by: Francis | Mar 16, 2011 10:15:29 PM

  5. You can email or call the Bojangles Saloon and let them know how you feel about how homophobic their bartender was to one of our most beloved writers.,com_contact/Itemid,8/

    Telephone: (08) 8952 2873
    Fax: (08) 8953 4150

    80 Todd Street
    Alice Springs
    Northern Territory

    Posted by: rob | Mar 16, 2011 10:30:51 PM

  6. I would love to know what the bartender said in his apology.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Mar 16, 2011 11:13:02 PM

  7. C'mon Francis. That's a gross generalization. No need to compare Australia and the U.S. The incident occurred in Australia, not the U.S.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 16, 2011 11:26:15 PM

  8. If I were him, I would have just replied, "Oh, ok, I understand." Then I would have sat back down at my booth and pissed all over it.

    Posted by: Justin | Mar 16, 2011 11:35:36 PM

  9. It's like the bar scene from "Priscilla Queen of the Desert". Armistead should have said, "Why don't you light your tampon and blow your box apart, because it's the only bang you're ever gonna get, Sweetheart".

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Mar 16, 2011 11:55:09 PM

  10. Were they in drag?

    Posted by: hank | Mar 17, 2011 12:18:56 AM

  11. @Francis. And right on cue here comes Ratbastard rushing in to deflect any criticism of the United States, however true it maybe.

    Posted by: Frank | Mar 17, 2011 4:37:04 AM

  12. Mr. Maupin handled that with grace and class - how many of us would have flown off the handle or, worse, said nothing?

    Posted by: Alan | Mar 17, 2011 7:24:04 AM

  13. Australia has become a bit of a hole in recent years. Not a very gay-friendly place except for a couple of streets in Sydney or Melbourne. Best to avoid.

    Posted by: brian | Mar 17, 2011 8:03:39 AM

  14. Maupin should have hit the bartender over the head with a beer bottle. Isn't that what a "real man" would do?

    Posted by: Jack M | Mar 17, 2011 8:57:16 AM

  15. I wonder if that homophobe realizes the only reason anyone outside of Australia has heard of Alice Springs is because of a gay movie and musical? I wouldnt be surprised if there's a big uptick in LGBT tourism to the area because of Priscilla.

    Posted by: dizzy spins | Mar 17, 2011 9:23:00 AM

  16. I visited Alice Springs about 20 years ago with my partner... we had no anti-gay experiences. In fact, the people all around Australia were wonderful. This sounds, as someone said, like a "one-off".
    The same kind of thing happens in the US, but it's on rare occasion, at least in my experience.
    I might have been tempted to hit the bartender with a beer bottle or piss on the table - which would not have been the best thing. Maupin handled the situation perfectly. Kudos.

    Posted by: John | Mar 17, 2011 9:54:35 AM

  17. A nice relaxing piss on his floor is what's called for in that situation. If questioned, just ask the guy, "what is real about my piss? Cleaning it up is all in your head. I'm a mirage, remember?"

    Posted by: SeriouslySick | Mar 17, 2011 2:07:57 PM

  18. That is rotted, Australia.

    Posted by: Hollywood, CA | Mar 17, 2011 3:48:31 PM

  19. LOL What is with all these guys pissing on everybody's floor? This is the downside of anonymous comments. I might know some of the guys making comments here, and now I have to worry about somebody pissing all over my furniture to make a point.

    Posted by: romeo | Mar 17, 2011 5:05:02 PM

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