The wit and wisdom of Leslie Jordan

IMG_3157In this week’s cover story, I interviewed Leslie Jordan, Del Shores and Emerson Collins about their upcoming appearances in Dallas at both a fundraiser for Al McAffrey and screenings of their film Southern Baptist Sissies. As with most interviews, your subjects say a lot more than you can use in the final story. Most of the time, you just let it go. But when Leslie Jordan is talkin’, there are just too many gems to let them be lost forever.

Here, then, are some of the great comments Leslie made during our talk that I didn’t have room for in the story. Enjoy!

On the scope of his fame: I was performing at the Leicester Square Playhouse in London — you know what’s really popular over there? Sordid Lives! Who knew? Anyway, I was walking down the street at Piccadilly Circus and this cab slows down and the cabbie shouts, “Can you see my pussy now?” Then he took off, laughing! But I got misty eyed. People are screaming my lines at me out of taxicabs — I’m an international star!

On interacting with his co-stars: I was doing a show with an actress who plays one of the maids on Downton Abbey, her name is Siobhan Finneran and she tells me, “Just call be Shiv.” “Shiv?!” I said. “In American, ‘Shiv’ is what they stab people with in prison!”

On his rent-boy obsession: I spent three weeks in Puerto Vallarta [recently]. The best part of being there are the beautiful brown boys who hang out in the square. They’re all married straight boys with children, and all you have to say is, “Do you need a little diaper money?”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: Leslie Jordan’s “Fruit Fly”

Throughout the opening night performance of Leslie Jordan’s one-man show Fruit Fly, which runs through tomorrow at the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, the flamboyant actor and comedian referred to his standup act; that’s not what this is. In fact, while hysterically funny in ways that print cannot do justice, Fruit Fly is, first and foremost, a performance: In the course of 90 minutes (it was only suppose to be about 70, but he was on a roll), Jordan spoke not only in his own voice but that of his still-living mother, a hard-drinking Southern lady, an antique drag queen, an obese speakeasy proprietress and too many more to count.

“I’ve always been a good mimic,” Jordan notes almost off-handedly.

No shit.

The show — basically a living room slide presentation tracing Jordan throughout his life of debauchery (“this is just the tip of the iceberg” he says after explaining how he contracted gonorrhea at age 13), his coming out (“Mama would laugh, then say, ‘Don’t tell daddy’”) and his relationship with his mother, father (who died tragically young) and his twin sisters — is surprisingly thin on Hollywood gossip. It barely even mentions his career, except to frame certain issues (going on a gay cruise as the entertainment, how London cabbies recognize him from Sordid Lives, etc.). But it doesn’t need any name-dropping: His life is so endlessly fascinating, you could sit and listen to him, in that squeaky Tennessee drawl, wax for hours more. (It’s amazing he survived this long.)

“You can’t make this shit up!” Jordan says, only half joking. He’s got that right. It’s an unmissibly dishy and touching performance, a real intimate night of theater that feels more like a dinner party with the best host you could imagine.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Shores, Dottley announce split

Shores and Dottley, in happier times

Del Shores announced via Facebook this weekend that he and husband Jason Dottley, his producing partner and one of the stars of his series Sordid Lives, have decided to divorce. They met 10 years ago and had a commitment ceremony seven years ago; they legally wed in 2008 in California before passage of Prop 8. No details were released about the reason for the breakup, though Shores expressed support for Dottley, who was step-father to Shores’ two daughters. He also stressed that splits like this are further evidence of the need for marriage equality — including divorce rights.

Shores has a deep connection to Texas and Dallas. He grew up in Winters, Texas, and has set several plays in North Texas, including Southern Baptist Sissies. They were last in Dallas this past June, with Dottley performing his music and Shores doing his one-man performance. Shores tells me he has not canceled a scheduled performance, scheduled to take place at the Rose Room in January, where he will film his show.

Shores’ next project, the film adaptation of The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife starring The Help‘s Octavia Spencer, comes out next year.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Applause: Stage pink

Queer highlights from the upcoming theater season

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Anticipation should be strong for the upcoming theater season in general. Ambitious shows like Giant, The Tempest, West Side Story and Hairspray all dot the stage horizon.
But we also like to see some of our own up there. As we look over the upcoming offerings from local theater companies, we always ask, “Where’s the gay?”  In addition to Uptown Players’ first  Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival, here are some of the others.

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Fall

Although the Dallas Opera canceled the opera she was set to star in, lesbian soprano Patricia Racette will still perform at a TDO gala. (Photo Devon Cass)

Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik gave an indie music flair to the musical adaptation of the 1891 play Spring Awakening. Set in 19th century Germany, Awakening follows a group of youths as they discover more about themselves and their rapidly developing sexuality.

The original Frank Wedekind play was controversial in its day, depicting abortion, homosexuality, rape and suicide. Now the show just has an added rock ‘n’ roll score. Along with Sheik’s musical perspective, Steven Slater wrote the book and lyrics in this updated version which debuted in 2006 on Broadway and won the Tony for Best Musical. Terry Martin directs.

WaterTower Theater, 15650 Addison Road., Addison. Sept. 30–Oct. 23. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

It’s almost un-Texan if you’re gay and not familiar with Del Shores’ tales of Southern discomfort.  Southern Baptist Sissies and Sordid Lives are pretty much part of the queer vernacular in these parts, but Shores got his start way back in 1987.

How will those northern folks take to Shores work (And by north, we mean past Central Expressway past LBJ)? Jeni Helms directs Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will for McKinney Repertory Theatre this fall. As the family patriarch suffers a stroke, the Turnover family gathers as they wait for his death. This family may just put the fun in dysfunctional.

McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. Sept. 30–Oct. 7. McKinneyRep.org.

WingSpan Theatre Co. will produce one of the greater comedies of theater-dom this fall: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with Nancy Sherrard sparring over the gay wit’s price bon mots as Lady Bracknell.

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Oct. 6–22. WingSpanTheatre.com.

Although A Catered Affair might sound a bit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it has the added flair of Harvey Fierstein’s wit. That’s because he wrote the book for the show alongside John Bucchino’s music and lyrics. The play is based on the Gore Vidal-penned 1956 film The Catered Affair starring Bette Davis.

When Jane and Ralph decide to get married, Jane’s mom Agnes wants to put on an elaborate spectacle of a wedding. The truth is, she can’t afford it and Jane isn’t all too thrilled about a huge affair. As in most cases, the wedding planning is more about the mom than the daughter and Agnes soon realizes the fact. Jane’s Uncle Winston — the proverbial gay uncle — is left off the guest list and is rightfully pissed. But as most gay characters, he rallies to be the voice of reason and support.

Theatre Three, 2800 Routh Street, Ste.168. Oct. 13–Nov. 12. Theatre3Dallas.com.

Lesbian soprano Patricia Racette was going to be featured in the production of Katya Kabanová but unfortunately the show was canceled by the Dallas Opera. But fear not. Dallas will still get to bask in the greatness that is her voice as Racette will perform An Evening with Patricia Racette, a cabaret show with classics from the Great American Songbook for a patron recital.

Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Nov. 9. DallasOpera.org

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Spring

Nancy Sherrard will star as Lady Bracknell in WIngSpan Theater Co.’s fall production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ perhaps the greatest comedy ever written by theaterdom’s gayest wit.

Kevin Moriarty directs Next Fall for the Dallas Theater Center next spring. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, the play centers on Luke and Adam, a couple with some unusual issues. What’s new about that in gay couplehood? Not much, but when Adam’s an absolute atheist and Luke’s a devout Christian, the two have been doing their best to make it work.
The comedy played on Broadway in 2010, garnering Tony and Drama Desk nominations. And now Dallas gets to see how, as DTC puts it, “relationships can be a beautiful mess.”
Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. April 13–May 6. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

Perhaps the most surprising queer offering this next season is Theatre Arlington’s production of The Laramie Project. The show usually creates quite a stir — at least it did in Tyler, thanks to Trinity Wheeler — so how will this suburban audience handle it? Doesn’t matter. Props to T.A. for taking Moises Kaufman’s play about the tragic bashing and death of Matthew Shepard to its community.

Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St., Arlington. May 18–June 3. TheatreArlington.org.

Usually the question with MBS Productions is “what’s not gay?” Founder Mark-Brian Sonna has consistently delivered tales of gay woe and love that are sometimes silly and sometimes sweet, but always a laugh.

This season is no different. Playwright Alejandro de la Costa brings back drag queen Lovely Uranus in The Importance of Being Lovely. The last time we saw Uranus, Sonna wore the stilettos and pink wig in last season’s Outrageous, Sexy, (nekkid) Romp.  This time around, Uranus graduates to leading lady status as the show is all about her as audiences follow her through the changes she makes in her make-up, wigs and men.

Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. July 16–Aug. 11, 2012. MBSProductions.net.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Caroline Rhea tapped as Black Tie M.C.

Comedienne and actress Caroline Rhea will be master of ceremonies for the 2011 Black Tie Dinner, set for Nov. 12 at the Sheraton Dallas, BTD officials announced this week. Organizers called the addition of Rhea “the latest in a fresh approach” for the dinner.

Caroline Rhea

Although Rhea started out as a stand-up comedian working in New York, she ended up moving to Hollywood to pursue an acting gig. Her small-screen debut came in the NBC series Pride and Joy, with Jeremy Piven, but her breakout role was as “Aunt Hilda” in WB’s Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. When Rosie O’Donnell left her syndicated talk show in 2002, she chose Rhea as her replacement, and the show was renamed, obviously enough, The Caroline Rhea Show. And she was the host of The Biggest Loser in its first three seasons.

Those of us who have kids and therefore watch The Disney Channel Cartoons (along with those of us who like watching Disney Channel cartoons just because they’re fun), may recognize Rhea also as the voice of Linda Flynn, the clueless mom on Phineas and Ferb.

But Rhea’s biggest “gay cred” came from her role as Noleta Nethercott in Del Shores’ Sordid Lives: The Series. (She stepped into the role when Delta Burke, who played Noleta in the Sordid Lives movies, wasn’t able to re-create the part on the small screen.)

BTD Co-Chair Nan Arnold, in a statement released today, praised Rhea’s “fresh, smart and spontaneous approach to comedy,” adding that Rhea’s “innate curiosity and formidable talents give her the natural abilities we’re looking for in a master of ceremonies.”

In other Black Tie Dinner news this week, online table captain table sales started today. For more information, go here. And BTD officials also said this week that they expect to announce the 2011 Kuchling Humanitarian Award winner very soon. So stay tuned.

—  admin

Men about towns

Jason Dottley and Del Shores are happy making Dallas their second home

POWER COUPLE | Dottley, left, pursues his music career with a show in Dallas Friday, while Shores has added standup comedy to a resume that includes challenging Republicans to debate gay issues.

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

……………………..

NATION OF JASON
The Rose Room at Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road.
June 17. Doors open at 9 p.m.

……………………..

Hollywood has had more than its fair share of powerful couples. Bennifer. Brangelina. Tomkat.

And now, Delson?

Yep, Del Shores and Jason Dottley are gay, they’re in love and they’re diversely talented. And they seem to have made Dallas almost a second home.

“I love Dallas so much, I listed it twice in an article on my favorite places in the South that I did for a gay travel site,” Dottley says.

“We have great friends here and always stay with our friends Patrick and Kevin. Texas will always be my home state and Dallas has adopted me and treated me like a star and a friend,” adds Shores, who grew up in Winters, Texas, and sets most of his plays in the Lone Star State.

Both stay incredibly busy. Between them, they have nearly every entertainment segment covered: singer, actor, dancer, playwright, producer, director, screenwriter, activist and standup comic. Throw in craft services and they’ll never want for work again.

Shores gave the world a comedy classic with Sordid Lives, a play-turned-movie-turned-TV-series-turned-live-comedy-show that has practically become the writer’s alter ego. Then there are his other plays and movies, like the upcoming 2012 release of the movie version of his tragicomedy The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, as well as plans to turn his latest critically acclaimed play, Yellow, into a film.

For husband Dottley — whom Shores married first in 2003 and then again (legally) in 2008 prior to passage of Proposition 8 — acting in Shores’ projects is only one of his occupations. Pop music is keeping him busier than ever; his first single, “Party Round the World” with Debby Holiday, brought him a Billboard Top 20 record. He followed up with “Hit Play!,” which broke into the Top 30. He’s performed both in Dallas.

Now, he’s making it a threefer. This week, his latest single, “Pop It,” dropped and will certainly be one of the songs he performs as part of his Nation of Jason tour at Station 4 on Friday.

Tonight is just the beginning of a full summer for Shores and Dottley, who will be touring again together: Shores with his new show, Del Shores Sordid Confessions (booked for July 8 in the Rose Room), and Dottley with Nation of Jason.

For anyone looking to catch either star while they’re in town, there’s a certain diner that is a pretty sure bet, as it’s on both of their short lists for favorite places to eat.

“Lucky’s, every time,” Dottley says. “Same dish: chicken fried chicken. I don’t even have to say it, they just know.”

For Shores, favorite hangouts include “The Rose Room and the Round-Up. And I like The Tin Room for a not-so-guilty pleasure. I gave up guilt,” he says. “Uptown [Players] is always a treat.”

“Oh, and anywhere Krystal Summers is performing,” Dottley adds.

If he’s lucky, he won’t have to go far, as Summers is a regular cast member at the Rose Room where Dottley performs tonight.

“My Nation of Jason tour is eye-candy mixed with hot music and a sense of old-school style that I think has been lost on club culture. It’s fun. It should make you feel good about life, to make you wanna dance!” he says.

Shores has been tap dancing a bit himself these days — only not onstage. First there was the bitter fight with the Logo network over residuals from the Sordid Lives series, which left heartbroken fans yearning for a second season that will never be. (There appears to be a happy ending though: He is already talking about doing more Sordid Lives movies, and the experience provided grist for his standup routine.)

He also engaged Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield (“What an asshole, right?” Shores says plainly), who sponsored a bill preventing the discussion of homosexuality in schools, in a war of words on Facebook, challenging the politician to a debate and calling him a coward when he tried to wiggle out. And he’s currently on a crusade against gay Republicans.

“Oh, and I can rant, can’t I?” Shores laughs. “Let’s just say that the Log Cabin Republicans and I are not loving each other lately. I challenged the [Dallas Chapter] president, Rob Schlein, to a debate here in Dallas. I wanted to charge and give all the money to the cause of our choice — mine was Youth First Texas. He would write nasty comments on my fan page, but was too chickenshit to debate me on the topic: ‘How Can You Support Gay Rights and be a Republican?’ It’s appalling the anti-gay rhetoric in the Texas GOP platform. I don’t get it.”

Rants aside, the meat and potatoes of his life is supporting Dottley, and vice versa. Dottley has booked the first date for his debut one-man show at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco: XXX: My First 30 Years … Get Your Mind Outta the Gutter (he hopes to bring it to Dallas eventually, too). And Shores has more irons in the fire beyond pissing off the political right wing in this country.

“I pursue my writing and directing, Jason his acting and singing and we work our asses off to make everything work!” Shores says. ”And we love it still.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Weekly Best Bets • 01.14.11

Click here to view the full calendar.

Friday 01.14

Hunka hunka burnin’ love times 2
If you’re going to have a birthday party, the best idea is to have not one, but two hot men jump out of the cake. Or is that just us? The Tin Room celebrates 10 years this weekend with adult actors Diesel Washington and Cameron Adams making cameo appearances. No doubt, the bar staff will enjoy blowing those candles out.

DEETS: The Tin Room, 2514 Hudnall St. Through Saturday. TinRoom.net.

Friday 01.14

This comic takes his first steps
Life as a Southern gay man would be far less interesting if Del Shores hadn’t been around. He gave us close-to-home hilarity with Sordid Lives and Southern Baptist Sissies, but now he gives us a different kind of funny. We’ll see Shores like never before — as a stand-up comic. Easy enough because we already know he’s funny.

DEETS: The Rose Room, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 8 p.m. $15.Caven.com.

Wednesday 01.19

Get twisted out this hump day
Twist GLBT is back and the lineup continues to open eyes to local out musicians. Kudos to the show for bringing these artists to light. Static Mind, pictured, Flash Mob, Junye, I.L.E. and Audacious star in this second edition of Twist while the night also features art by Laney Green. School night be damned.

DEETS: Lakewood Bar and Grill, 6340 Gaston Ave. 8 p.m. $10. TwistDallas.com.

To view the full Calendar, go here.

—  John Wright

Del Shores turns on the stand-up comedy at the Rose Room

This comic takes his first steps

Life as a Southern gay man would be far less interesting if Del Shores hadn’t been around. He gave us close-to-home hilarity with Sordid Lives and Southern Baptist Sissies, but now he gives us a different kind of funny. We’ll see Shores like never before — as a stand-up comic. Easy enough because we already know he’s funny.

DEETS: The Rose Room, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 8 p.m. $15. Caven.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Another reason to go to Aspen: Leslie Jordan

Last week, I mentioned that time was running out to get some early-bird deals for Aspen Gay Ski Week, the Who’s-your-granddaddy of gay ski events. Scheduled entertainment included Dallas’ own Paul J. Williams, who will host the “comedy night.” Now word comes in that the headliner for the event will be Leslie Jordan.

The Emmy-winning star of Will & Grace and Sordid Lives is a fixture in Dallas where his home-spun queer humor plays well. No word yet on whether Jordan will perform his Trip Down the Pink Carpet one-man show, his standup or just improvise with Williams. (I know from experience: Jordan needs no help to be funny extemporaneously for long stretches.)

The show takes place at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen on Jan. 20. Tickets are $50. Buy ‘em at 970-920-5770.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones