Rebuttal to "The Fortress on the Hill"

The fact is that Arden Van Upp was very unfairly portrayed in that article in SF WEEKLY entitled "The Fortress on the Hill".

Everything in the SF Weekly article was true, but it did not go far enough.

For example, it said that Dr. Badgley won a $500,000 judgment against Arden. That is true, but the article should also have mentioned that the judgment was reversed on appeal and, after retrial, the new judge decided that Badgley must pay Arden $300,000, a swing of a total of $800,000.
The Bourn Mansion in San Francisco

The SF Weekly article wrote about a chiropractor named Dr. Robert Horan, who rented an apartment from Arden and then fell and injured himself because of the unsafe condition of the building.

It should also have mentioned that this "Dr. Robert Horan" had his license revoked years ago by the California State Chiropractic Board for creating fake personalities and submitting fraudulent insurance claims for treatments by Dr. Horan which these non-existent persons supposedly received, and that "Dr. Horan" has been ordered to complete both a drug rehabilitation and an alcohol abuse program by the California State Attorney General before he can be considered for reinstatement of his license, that Dr. Horan never rented an apartment from Arden, but conned her into letting him stay in one of her apartments for free until he got his license back, which of course never happened, that Dr. Horan lives off of food stamps and is wanted in Reno on fraud charges, etc.

Dr. Horan was injured because he is an alcoholic and got drunk and fell down the stairs. Other tenants in the building were a witness to this.

Worse than even that, the article accused Arden of virtually kidnapping her mother, Doris Rich. This is totally untrue. Arden did not even know where her mother was. I know this for a fact because Arden's mother was staying in my wife's apartment in Alameda and Doris Rich told me not to tell anybody, including even Arden, where she was, and I did not.

That is only the beginning of the misleading aspects of the SF Weekly article, and by the way I say all this even though I am not friends with Arden any more.

(We had a falling out because I went away to New York and while I was gone Arden twice tapped into my telephone line and made $250 of long distance telephone calls on my phone each time for which she refuses to pay even though she admits making the calls).

If you knock on the door to her house at 2550 Webster Street, nobody will answer. She does not have a doorbell.

Please be my guest and try.

I just read the article in SF Weekly again.

The incident in January 1995 when the fire department broke into her house occurred when Arden was in jail and I was living alone in her house. I came back from Alameda late at night and saw that the house had been broken into. It was not until a few days later that I found out that her brother, Neel, had gotten the fire department to break in, claiming that Arden's mother was inside.

I was keeping Arden's mother hidden in my wife's apartment in Alameda. Arden called me from her jail cell. Arden asked me to tell her where her mother was, so that she could tell the judge and get out of jail. I told Arden that I could not reveal that information, because her mother had told me not to tell Arden.

"Arden likes it in jail because they give her free food there," her mother, Doris Rich, had told me.

Regarding the house at 58 Caselli Street, which is also discussed in the article: I know more about the history of that house than Arden does, because I was there many times in 1966-1967.

The house was owned by Greg Mull, a bi-sexual man who used to bring his wife to my Sexual Freedom League parties in Berkeley. She was a statuesque woman, thin, with long black hair. The deal was, she would give Greg Mull a blow job while waving her tail in the air, hoping that some man would come by and put it in her. Also, Greg Mull would ask men to have sex with his wife and then he would watch them do it.

I was offered his wife many times but never availed myself. She was over 30 and there were younger, far more beautiful women available to me, if only I could get it up enough times. Every man has his limit.

Greg Mull also had similar parties at his house at 58 Caselli Street. I never went to one of those parties, but my friends who did said that there were all kinds of faggots there, which gave them the creeps. They did not like his parties.

When I was getting my friend Mara into Playboy, I decided that the house at 58 Caselli Street, which was exceptionally beautiful at the time, would be a perfect setting for the Playboy shoot. We went over with the Playboy photographer, Mario Caselli. Caselli liked the place and was about to take out his camera, when Greg Mull suddenly decided that he did not want pictures taken in his house.

Gregory Mull died in 1986. His so-called wife is dead as well. Arden purchased the house either just before or just after he died. The house is now completely run down and decrepit. It is difficult to imagine that it was once almost the setting for a Playboy photo spread. Yet, I can still recognize the house. The Jacuzzi is still there.

The torture chamber in the basement of the house at 58 Caselli Street is clearly something Greg Mull created for his gay-bi friends. Arden had nothing to do with that.

This is only the beginning. There are so many other inaccuracies about the SF Weekly article that I could write a book about this.

Sam Sloan

At 02:48 PM 4/1/99 -0800, Sherri Taylor wrote:

Good Afternoon Sam -

Finally! Some real answers. Thank you Mr. Sloan! I never believe what I read. Thanks for some clarification.

I think I will actually try to knock - perhaps some correspondence first. She doesn't have to answer ever and she probably won't - but for some very very very strange and inexplicable reason I feel like I know this woman. I really do worry about those cats. Call me a kook, but I've got to try.

Gratefully -


At 01:41 PM 4/1/99 -0800, Sherri Taylor wrote:

Hi Sam -

There is no "pretext."

And no I'm not with a tour group. The woman who wrote to you feels the same way that I do. We think that Arden's kinda cool. What a life! :)

I wrote because of the article in the SF weekly that I feel portrayed Arden as some weirdo crazy living in a big ol house with a bunch of stinky cats. I KNOW she's not that - she seems misunderstood and I see no reason why she's so secretive. I don't want anything from her. Anyway, after reading the article - I, being the cat lover that I am, felt an affinity toward Ms. Van Upp and I also think of her as one of SF's greatest living treasures!

Furthermore - How do you know she won't see anybody? What if I just go up to the door and knock? I mean really. Why are you the boss of her house? How do you know she doesn't want friends? And in any case, enjoying her company and listening to her stories of the "glory days" so to speak doesn't mean we'll be friends. thanks.

Are YOU Arden? I read that she has many aliases...Is Sam Sloan ...Arden VanUpp?

Still respectfully - Sherri

P.S. please don't get mad - it's just that I won't be satisfied with; "I am sorry but that is absolutely forbidden."

At 04:17 PM 3/31/99 -0500, Sam Sloan wrote:

If you want to see the house at 2550 Webster Street, I am sorry but that is absolutely forbidden.

Arden used to charge tour groups two dollars a head to walk through the house but stopped that years ago.

Every day, a few tour groups stop to photograph the outside, but they are not allowed in.

The funny thing is, you are the second person today to ask me that question. The other was also from a tour organization. Are you working together?

Don't try to get in on the pretext of wanting to become Arden's friend. She is not interested in having that kind of friend. If you subscribe to her Party Fax for $50 per year, she might be willing to talk to you, however.

Sam Sloan

At 01:13 PM 4/1/99 -0800, Sherri Taylor wrote:

Hi Sam -

So what's up with Arden? Do you keep in contact with her? Were you in a relationship with her? Did it end abruptly? I only want to know because I've been checking out your website and simply put - I would very much like to meet Arden and see the house. Not for any weird commercial purposes, but because I'll bet she's got some stories to tell. And it seems so sad that she doesn't/isn't/won't talk to anyone. I also wonder about her health and those precious felines that she lives with, etc..... I've even thought of offering to tidy up the place for her - for nothing - only her company.

I'm assuming that you've had some kind of connection with her, due to the fact that you know about her house and her children. Whatever, I suppose this is a total shot in the dark.

Respectfully -


Here are links:
My Home Page

Contact address - please send e-mail to the following address: