Between Jeffrey Schwarz (Tab Hunter Confidential, I Am Divine) and Jennifer M. Kroot (To Be Takei, It Came from Kuchar), it’s looking like every prominent gay man of the 20th century will get the documentary treatment sooner or later. (That’s a good thing, and bonus points to the more experimental-minded Mark Rappaport, whose similarly themed films seldom get a standard theatrical release.) Kroot’s latest, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, looks at the life and work of our local chronicler of how San Francisco once was.
Many of the tales Maupin tells in Untold Tales have, of course, been told before — unlike George Takei or the Kuchars, Maupin’s own life has always been a primary inspiration — but there’s no way the picture wouldn’t be tied in with his seminal work, Tales of the City. Kroot shows how Maupin’s life intersected with local super-queer history and with national super-not-queer history, including shaking hands with Richard Nixon and covering a Klan rally for Jesse Helms, all well before he came out of the closet. (Maupin, that is. Helms remained firmly closeted.) In addition to being a sweet portrait of a local legend, Untold Tales demonstrates that it’s possible for privileged white males to rise above poisonous upbringings of racism, sexism, and homophobia. If only more would try.
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.