“Y’all, I’m the gayest person I know“
says Leslie Jordan. “I fell outta my mama’s womb and right into her high heels.”
So began a ninety-minute raucous romp down Leslie Jordan’s life on (and sometimes beneath) the pink carpet of fame, glory and wealth. Someday he’s going to go back to the bully who tormented him in junior high volleyball (aka “Smear the Queer”) and thank him. “Because of you, I learned to be funny,” Leslie will tell his unsuspecting former tormenter in Chattanooga. “And you can kiss my rich, gay ass!”
If you haven’t heard of Leslie Jordan, the Taliban is recruiting and I think you should join because apparently you enjoy living in caves. “Beverly Leslie” Jordan, of “Will & Grace” (“Well, well, Karen Walker. I thought I smelled gin and regret.”) hasn’t always enjoyed glitz and glamor. In his 2005 show, “Like A Dog On Linoleum,” he details his early life in Eastern Tennessee and elsewhere in the South.
In “My Trip Down The Pink Carpet,” Leslie comically weaves anecdotes from his early life with his adventures in Hollywood in the eighties and nineties. Having seen his first show in Atlanta, where the khaki-and-Lacoste crowd went absolutely wild, I wondered how last night’s New York suit-and-tie audience would react. Amazingly, they went just as crazy for this short sober man as the folks had in Atlanta, proving Leslie’s near-universal appeal.
As popular as “Dog on Linoleum” was in certain parts of the country, judging from last night, “Pink Carpet,” with its stories about the young unknown George Clooney, Mark Harmon, “Dorothy” Faye Dunaway, Rue McClanahan, Beverly D’Angelo, Marlee Matlin and many others will appeal to audiences everywhere. Is Boy George a saint or pure evil? Go to the show to find out. More importantly, the show ends with the culmination of Leslie’s decades-long journey from self-loathing to self-acceptance, a message many people will find hopeful.
Last night was only the third performance of his show and it was spectacular. His tour resumes in a month and as of now, there are twenty-nine stops listed May – August. Check his website here and go see this show!
The LGBT television show “Under The Pink Carpet” was there and soon they’ll have a report on it, so watch it if it’s on in your area, or check their website for a streaming video of the event.
To anyone who says there are no gay heroes or role models, I say there plenty, just open your eyes and see what Leslie is doing. And hear his message.
Last night’s New York performance wasn’t just about Leslie (okay, it was). He cleverly inserted at the end that he worked for free, as all of the proceeds benefited the Harvey Milk School, where students can go and feel safe regardless of sexual orientation or other differences. The show was produced by Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, producers of GAYFEST NYC, new plays for our time. Pictured here are interns for GAYFEST 2008, some of whom also graduated from the Harvey Milk School. Another charity Leslie supports is The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention hotline established for gay and lesbian teens. Sadly, Leslie said that most of the calls are from the Bible Belt.
A nice surprise was the opener. Playwright Brian Dykstra performed a ten-minute excerpt from his show, “The Jesus Factor.” For someone who didn’t grow up steeped in fundamentalist dogma, Brian fully grasps its many flaws and inconsistencies. I look forward to seeing the whole show.
The show’s only drawback is the technical choreography. As endearing as it is to watch the hyperactive Leslie fidget with the velvet ropes and toss the pink carpet, it becomes a distraction from his sharp humor and powerful story. No doubt in the next month, Justin Timberlake’s dance coach will help him fix this one minor shortcoming. After all, he says he paid her $500.
NOW, as if a tour weren’t enough, here’s the best part… June 3, Simon Spotlight (of Simon & Shuster) is publishing Leslie’s book!!!! My Trip Down The Pink Carpet is the title (go figure, what BRILLIANT marketing!) Most readers of this blog are avid book readers too, so this will be a real treat. I’ll post a review of it here so check back.
If you want to connect with Leslie, send him a friend request on his MySpace page.
FINALLY. Many of us also know Leslie from his role as the Tammy Wynette “Tribute artist” in Del Shore’s “Sordid Lives.” Well…”Sordid Lives” is coming to the small screen, in the form of a television series!! It premieres on the Logo Channel July 23. I wish I could freeze myself into a deep sleep until then because I WANT TO SEE IT NOW!!!! Because that’s not an option, I’ll have to settle for the trailer, which I’ve embedded below (although you’ll have to watch that soon because I’m sure YouTube will take it down for copyright violations, you can click here to go to AfterElton.com and watch it: