Leslie Jordan | Bringing Trailer Trash to the Midwest

You know, I'm hairy; I have hair on my back, which is a gay cardinal sin. I am covered with a thick pelt of fur and I have to clip it constantly.

 

Get ready, St. Louis, Leslie Jordan is coming to town! With not one, but two plays coming to the Roberts Orpheum Theatre, Jordan is poised to take the Gateway City by storm. From Oct. 27-29, Jordan will be appearing in two of Del Shore's plays, Sordid Lives – It's a Drag and Southern Baptist Sissies. Jordan will undoubtedly win over St. Louis audiences with his charm and warm Southern drawl. With breakout roles in Boston Public and Will & Grace, Jordan has always been able to give his performance a health dose of that irresistible Southern charm. I got the chance to talk to the recent Emmy-winning actor about his career, his personal life and, most importantly, what his bright future has in store for him.

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How is life on the road right now?

We just had an investor party. We are trying to raise money for the film version of our play Southern Baptist Sissies. At the investor party we raffled off one of Delta's crowns, for which we raised quite a bit of money.

How much did the crown go for?

I am not exactly sure. I think we have raised about $800,000 and the largest donor gets the crown. We are looking to raise two million for the movie. We shot Sordid Lives [another Del Shores play made into a movie] for $400,000. You know, so we are looking for a much bigger budget. We had a wonderful party the other night, all the elite of Dallas were there, and now we are giving Delta her 50th birthday party-we are going to have one birthday party for her in every city. I am not sure where we are going to have it in St. Louis, though.

How is your life after your recent Emmy win for your role on Will & Grace?

That win has really opened some doors for me. I'm doing not one, but two television series. Actually, I am doing three; I am going to be the Heather Locklear of the new millennium. You know she did Dynasty and TJ Hooker. I am doing a series for the CW network called Hidden Palms. It is being written by Kevin Williamson, a dear friend of mine; he also wrote Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and he created Dawson's Creek. And then in October I start my big new pilot for HBO [12 Miles of Bad Road] with Mary Kay Place and Lily Tomlin; we play realtors in Dallas, Texas. It's hilarious; it's the funniest script I have ever read; Linda Bloodworth-Thomason wrote it. And then we start in January with the TV series version of Sordid Lives, which will be on the new gay network, LOGO. So my plate is full. I am just so blessed. And we are so excited. I don't think I have ever been to St. Louis. I had a friend that went to Webster College and I was supposed to go see him, but I don't think I have ever been there.

How long are you going to be in St. Louis?

Well, you know, because I have all this other stuff going on, we have it down to a science. We usually fly in the day before and tech on that day. So I should probably only be there for that one weekend. I haven't looked at the schedule, but I think we perform on that Saturday and Sunday and then I will leave the day after. I travel so much, I hardly know where I am. I have been out in L.A. for the last eight months. I have my own one-man show that I should bring to St. Louis; I have taken it everywhere else. The show is called Like a Dog on Linoleum. It has been all over the country; I took it on the RSVP cruises.

What got you into doing these plays?

When I did my play in Atlanta, this lady came up to me and she said, "You know honey, you have a ministry." And I said, "Oh Lord no, honey, I don't have a ministry!" But the more I thought about it, I do. There's a real important message in both of these plays. You wouldn't believe how many e-mails we get about how moved people get—you know these plays are basically Del Shores' coming out stories. Del Shores was my best friend for 10 years when he was straight—supposedly. I was best man at his wedding and godfather to his oldest daughter. And then after 10 years, he called me up and said, "There's something I need to tell you and I can't. And it angers me because I can't tell you because you have the biggest mouth in Hollywood. And I am sure you know what I am about to tell you." Well, I thought he had cancer, and I have good gaydar, too! So when he wrote Sordid Lives, you know all those things with the mother were conversations he had. That is why I think this is so important to get these messages out, especially with Southern Baptist Sissies.

What is your greatest challenge playing the roles you do in Sordid Lives and Southern Baptist Sissies?

I will tell you what: I am eight years sober. I got sober in 1997 and I was not sober when we did the play version, so I have been doing it for 10 years. Can you imagine Brother Boy [Jordan's role in Sordid Lives] high? But I would say the greatest challenge of that whole role because I love it so much: I hate to shave. You know, I'm hairy; I have hair on my back, which is a gay cardinal sin. I am covered with a thick pelt of fur and I have to clip it constantly. Then when it grows out, I am so miserable. I don't know how those drag queens do it. When I was in San Diego, I had just shaved about three weeks previous and it was growing back in. I told Del, "You know, from the stage at the Majestic, I don't think they will be able to see my hair." And he said, "No self-serving drag queen would go out hairy." And I had to shave myself. That is probably the most challenging aspect. I have no problem slipping on those high heels.

Have you been having good audiences for the shows?

They told us at the Majestic that, in four performances, we have outsold every single Broadway show that has ever played there. In San Diego, we sold out within a week. Yesterday, the Dallas paper, called and said they would not run our ad which shows two men embracing. Now the Dallas Morning News has agreed to run engagement notices for gay couples so we asked them, " You will run that, but not an ad with two men embracing that did not show any nudity?" We told them to get ready for a fight and we were prepared to fight them on a national level—and they ended up running the ad.

What is something about you that the average Leslie Jordan fan wouldn't know?

I have charity out of San Diego called Stepping Stone, which is a recovery home for gay men addicted to crystal methamphetamines. It's a huge problem in the gay community.

What keeps you going while out on the road?

You know, anytime I get tired or worn out, I think to myself I am living the life that I have always wanted. I mean, it had been 25 years in the making, this amazing life that I have. People come to me for work; I don't have to go out and audition. It is really amazing.

 

For everything you need to know about both productions, please visit Del Shores' official tour Web site at www.theofficialtour.com.

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