Itinerant Emmy Award-winning comedic actor (and honorary Texan) Leslie Jordan brings his skills back to Dallas for a one-night-only benefit performance
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Executive Editor
I’m coming!” Leslie Jordan shouted. But it’s not what you think.
Jordan — the Emmy Award-winning actor (Will & Grace), film star (The Help, Sordid Lives), playwright, raconteur and inimitable personality — isn’t getting orgasmic … but he is excited to be returning to Dallas, a sort of home-away-from-home for the well-traveled bon vivant.
“It all revolves around Joe Pacetti,” Jordan says. “It’s Joe’s 60th birthday and he wanted to have everyone in town to this very black tie, very bejeweled event.” But rather than just attend a party, the two decided it was a great opportunity for Jordan to perform, and raise funds for one of Pacetti’s favorite charities: Legacy Counseling and Founders Cottage. The timing was good, too: Melissa Grove, executive director of Legacy, is this year’s recipient of the Kuchling Award.
“Poor Melissa has [handled] it all — she is my champion,” Jordan says. “They really went out on a limb for me.”
In many ways, Dallas was lucky to get Jordan for this big event at the Majestic Theater on Nov. 21. He’s not the struggling actor he once was, but a senior statesmen of queer comedy … and one of its most outrageous.
“Did you see that story about me at the Starbucks?” he asks of summer news event, where Jordan threw a drink in the face of a customer at the WeHo café, after hearing him make a gay slur. “There were 10 cop cars. It was total pandemonium! … and definitely the butchest thing I’ve ever done.”
Butchest, perhaps, but it seems Jordan is a magnet for hilarious escapades. His stint on Celebrity Big Brother in England was distinguished by a fierce confrontation with fellow houseguest Gary Busey, and he’s been in more than his share of fan scuffles over the years.
“Honey, I’ve had my penis grabbed a million times … and that was just yesterday!” he jokes. Seriously, he does recall one incident especially vividly.
“One time Delta Burke and I were appearing at a club, and someone had bought a live pig because Delta’s character on Designing Women had a pet pig … but we ain’t talkin’ some little pot-bellied pig, but a waist-high hog that got spooked! I’m only armpit level so that [scared me],” he says. Another time, he was appearing at club when some fans became a little too enthusiastic.
“I don’t know if you can print this, but someone stuck a tongue in my ear and someone else put a finger in my bottom!” he drawls in mock shock. “The next day, I showed up with these two big Samoan bodyguards, and people were saying about me, ‘Who does she think she is — Mariah Carey?’ But I’m getting too old to deal with bar trash — I’m in recovery myself.”
Still another time, a Facebook friend confronted him at Atlanta Pride. She explained that her “Daddy” had paid for her transgender reassignment surgery. “She said, ‘After I had it all prettied up, I walked in on him, threw my dress up and said, Can you see my pussy now?’” quoting back one of Jordan’s most famous lines.
These are the experiences that only add grist to the humor mill that is Jordan’s storytelling prowess and have made his personal appearances events.
“Somehow, over the past 10 years, throwing my pussy from one end of this country to the next, I have built a career as the most popular cabaret performer in America and I don’t sing a note,” Jordan crows. “I leave Dallas for Puerto Vallarta [for several weeks of shows] — I appear in up to 44 venues per year. My management team tells me, ‘You have to stay in Hollywood and get work [in TV and movies] to keep your name out there — how much longer can you trot out Will & Grace?’ But I tell them, my people, those who come to see me, couldn’t care less what I do in Hollywood.”
People are always trying to put Jordan in a pigeonhole, but at 60, he’s defiant about marching — or maybe sashaying — to the beat of his own DJ.
“The marketing people always ask me, ‘What is your new show called?’ and I’ll just make up a title — like Gin and Regret,” he says, quoting a line from his iconic Beverly Leslie character. “This time I told them to call it Not in My House … which is what I said to the boys who called us faggots in West Hollywood.”
Even if he doesn’t fret over titling his appearances, he’s committed to delivering a good show to his fans. “It’s just me and a mike. I do plan beforehand, because I don’t want people saying, ‘Here she is, that same old story.’ And I’ve never had a complaint yet.”
His Dallas show should include his most recent travails, but he’s sure he will end with a tribute to Joe Pacetti.
“Joe will tell you that we met on a flight, but actually I met him in L.A. at a gala — all the elites were there, and he was at my table,” Jordan says. “The next time I saw him was at Parigi in Dallas, but I didn’t remember him! He said, ‘It’s wonderful to see you again,’ and I said, ‘Isn’t it?’”
It is, Leslie; it really is.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 13, 2015.