Armistead Maupin: ‘How do I relax? Grass’

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The author on being in drag, coming out and Donald Trump

Born in Washington, Armistead Maupin, 75, began a column called Tales Of The City in the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1970s; it went on to become a series of nine books that are currently being adapted by Netflix. His 2000 novel The Night Listener was made into a film starring Robin Williams. He moved to London this year and embarks on his first UK tour, An Evening With Armistead Maupin, on 23 September.

What is your earliest memory?
Being in drag: the little girl who lived next door dressed me in an oversized doll costume.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
My friend Ian McKellen, who has an extraordinary record as an actor and a gay activist.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Procrastination.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Pretentiousness.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My belly – but my husband likes it.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
My English grandmother: I’d want to retrace her steps as a suffragist in London.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
I’d take Jeff Bridges.

What is your favourite word?
Serendipity.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
A seventh-grade teacher, Mrs Snow, accused me of rigging an election when I won the title of president of the debating society. It wasn’t true – it still rankles.

Which book changed your life?
Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle. It made me want to tell stories.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Not a lawyer, which was what I told everyone, because my father wanted me to be one.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Endless reruns of The Golden Girls.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
Oh yes.

Which living person do you most despise, and why?
Donald Trump, because of the way in which he has corrupted American life. I didn’t expect to have a miniature Trump in charge when I arrived in England. I am swamped with dizzy blondes.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I would have come out earlier.

How do you relax?
Grass.

How often do you have sex?
To quote Aunt Augusta from Travels With My Aunt: I’ve always preferred an occasional orgy to nightly routine.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The coming out letter I wrote in Tales Of The City – it seems to be the thing that’s going to last after I’m gone.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a kind man who told good stories.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
It’s not about me.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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