Friday, December 2, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Armistead Maupin Confirms New Tales of the City Novel

The author Armistead Maupin has revealed to a So So Gay writer that he has began the process of writing a brand new installment in the beloved Tales of the City series. Through his Twitter account, Maupin announced the novel would focus on the nonagenarian transsexual Mrs Madrigal, the wise and witty mother-figure to Michael, Mary Ann and Mona, and should be expected to become available “within the next two years”.

The Days of Anna Madrigal continues a similar pattern laid down by the two most recent novels in the series – Michael Tolliver Lives in 2007 and Mary Ann in Autumn in 2010 – by returning to focus on one particular central character, as opposed to the multiple-storyline serialised format of the earlier instalments. It seems Maupin is still in a period of creativity regarding the Tales series, after an eighteen year drought between Sure of You in 1989 and Michael Tolliver Lives. The collection remains enormously popular with it’s solid base of loyal readers. Being introduced to the first novel is seen by some as a rite of passage for young gay men and women with its blissfully positive and open-minded portrayal of liberal men and women, young and old, in 1970s San Francisco.

Cut and Paste

ARA JANSEN, The West Australian
Updated December 2, 2011, 12:00 pm

Get ready to redefine what you know about the Scissor Sisters. The band Bono called the best pop band in the world are brash, racy and buckets of naughty fun but they don't have any problem taking a sharp turn each time they make an album.

Known for stomping dance-pop singles like Take Your Mama, Filthy/Gorgeous and I Don't Feel Like Dancin', the Brit-Award winning and Grammy-nominated American quartet's coming fourth album is "very different" from their previous ones, doesn't have as much of a theatrical edge and is driven by beats.

"The last album was very cold and had lots of sex and dark moods, which is why I loved it," frontman Jake Shears says from his parents' home in Virginia, where he spent Thanksgiving last week having a rare few-days break. "This one has a real emotional quality, a real honesty and a romantic and loving feeling. It's summery and sunny and I think connects emotionally."

The lightening up was also reflected in the process of writing and recording which the Scissor Sisters' co-singer and songwriter says came with ease and a sense of joy not truly present since their debut album.

"When you have people around you who have no question that you can do something, it makes you believe it too," he says of the collaborators the band worked with this time around. "Great songs come from that confidence.

"I really think people are going to fall in love with this music. I feel so great about it. We're doing things we've never done before and taking turns which will put jaws on the floor. Be ready for some big surprises."

He vowed to do his "damndest" to get a couple stage-ready for us to hear during the band's Australian visit on the Summadayze bill next month.

Not only have the Scissor Sisters made an album he truly loves, the year has been one of new adventures for Shears, whose real name is Jason Sellards. The band started 2011 by touring with Lady Gaga before Shears worked on his first musical.

He co-wrote the songs for the musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City novels which follow the lives and loves of a group of gay and straight friends living in San Francisco. He worked with playwright Jeff Whitty and director Jason Moore of the Tony- Award winning Avenue Q.

The singer is a long-time fan of the Maupin books and has described them as a rite of passage for gay men, after he was given a copy of Tales of the City as a teenager. Because he "can't act his way out of a paper bag" Shears was totally happy to work behind the scenes writing the score and lyrics with Scissor Sisters collaborator JJ Garden. He did, however, sit in the audience almost every night of the San Franciscan summer season and cry.

"I don't think I have ever been so emotional about something," he says.

"Sitting with a full house and to hear the first notes on stage every night, I cried my eyes out and white-knuckled it to the end. It was a really emotional experience but someday I would love to do it again."

There's talk of another production being staged and he hopes it will make its way to Broadway or the West End at some point.

From there, Shears jumped straight into the new Scissor Sisters album. After taking four years to deliver 2010's Night Work - the follow-up to 2006's Ta-Dah - and shelving one early version, the band's new album is just about finished and will come out in the first half of next year.

Shears' experience with Tales of the City influenced the album. He says that watching from the audience gave him a hint of what fans experience.

"It just reminded me how important that connection is. At the same time as working on the musical I was DJing as Crystal Pepsi with my friend Jeremy Lingvall and we were playing pretty hard and intense dance and squelchy, noisy techno," he says.

"I loved that extreme and that I can live my life in this way and dabble in things that are different from another. That also informed this record."

Scissor Sisters play Summadayze at Sir James Mitchell Park, South Perth on January 3. Tickets from Ticketmaster outlets.