Thursday, 14 March 2013

I used to get my pee-pee out in the shopping mall

"I didn’t have a choice about being gay – I mean I literally fell out of my mother’s womb and landed in her high heels!"

In her review in Beige magazine, the estimable Dame Vesta Bules describes Mr Leslie Jordan's new one man show Fruit Fly as "a series of reminiscences told in a delicious Southern accent that makes Blanche Devereaux sound like a trucker."

And indeed it was thus - as we settled into a bijou and largely curtained-off Leicester Square Theatre last night [it didn't seem to be sold out, more's the pity] for an intimate evening with the star of Sordid Lives and Will and Grace, a man who has variously been nick-named "the American Ronnie Corbett", "a pint-sized Alan Bennett lookalike" and (by the man himself) “The Gayest Man I Know”.

Opening the evening's entertainment was the latest big name in drag entertainment, The Supreme Fabulettes (Miss Vicki Vivacious, Miss Maddison Lee and Miss Vanilla Lush), protegés of Boy George and purveyors of some of the best vocal harmonies in the business. They glittered, they pouted, they captivated the audience with ther "tribute to the girl groups and singers" - the Supremes, Tina Turner, Adele, ShangriLas and so on. They truly lived up to their stage name (they even showed a spoof cartoon of them as superheroines!), and we loved them so much we vowed to catch one of their full shows some time.

The appetiser over, it was time for the full meal - as Mr Jordan hurled his petite form on to the stage, and dragged us, hilariously, through the history in Polaroids of his evolution from an obviously gay boy in deepest darkest Chattanooga, Tennessee to the showbiz treasure we know today. He painstakingly described cherished trips to the beauty parlour, where he absorbed the mannerisms and bitchiness of the Southern belles ("I wanted to be Miss Varlene: "I don't want my hair teased, I want it terrorised!", she said"), his precocious development as a growth-hormone-infused pre-teen “choirboy slut”, his trips, in drag, to the black jazz club "Miss Odessa's Good Time House", a venue his family and neighbours would have been horrified to know he was frequenting - all illuminating and deliciously salacious stuff.

However, the man is so adorable, so mischievous - “Don’t you dare judge me!” is just one of his winking asides to the audience as yet another shocking anecdote (gonhorroea at thirteen, deciding to quit college and become a female impersonator at seventeen, drink-and-drug-fuelled twitching and general whore-dom becoming his hobbies) causes a collective sharp intake of breath - while he minces back and forth across the stage, that we instantly fell for him and his honesty.

The point of this extravagant, meandering out-pouring of fun, frolics and madness (and, invitably, moments of sadness)? To explore the eternal question: "Do gay boys become like their mothers?" Although his relationship with his beloved Daddy and his struggles with his masculine concerns (football, fishing) are a source of almost tearful soul-searching - Mr Jordan always felt, especially after Daddy's early death, he was a "disappointment" to him - and his jealous relationship with his twin sisters ("That's...uh...I forget her name!") is a perfect illustration of where his penchant for attention-seeking came from ("I used to get my pee-pee out in the shopping mall to get attention!"), it is his enduring love for Momma Peggy-Ann that is real crux of the Leslie Jordan story.

"I thought that my mother was a fairy princess because she was so pretty."

From his upbringing as a tiny "sissy", playing with his treasured umbrella and trying on his sisters' petticoats ("Don't show your Daddy" became a mantra), through the tempestuous upsets of Leslie's teenage sexual revelations, through her remarriage that almost alienated her from her son and brought on her bizarre psychosomatic illnesses, it is Miss Peggy-Ann who emerges as the star of this particular show. Indeed, it is the fabulous tale of her triumphal appearance on an all-gay cruise ship as Leslie's guest, and her soft words on meeting two elderly lesbians in a fifty-year relationship, that is the final touching story he tells to end this magnificent evening - when asked on the cruise if she was a “fag hag” she said, “No, I’m a fruit fly”, and thus gave the show its title.

This was an absolutely top-notch evening, only slightly marred by some over-enthusiastically "participative" members of the audience who had to be told to shut up. I fell ever-so-slightly in love with Leslie Jordan...

Leslie Jordan: Fruit Fly is at The Leicester Square Theatre until 16th March 2013.

Here's a trailer for his last triumphal show (now on DVD) - My Trip Down the Pink Carpet:

Leslie Jordan official website


  1. not reading this as I'm going to the show on Saturday … purchase x

    1. It's a review, not a plot-spoiler, darling...

      You'll love it! Jx

  2. saw him a few years ago.
    he was wonderful,
    but jackie beat opened for him.
    i'd never heard of her
    and she kind of stole the show.

    1. It's a dangerous business, having a fierce rulin' diva as your support act... Jx

  3. Sweetie, I saw this show here a few months ago and loved it. I also love the fact that although we are the same age, he looks like he has a long, rough decade on me, which makes me feel cheery in a petulant sort of way.

    1. I a petulant sort of way, an awful lot of gay men in the audience thought the same thing... "57 years old - with a little shipping and handling", indeed. Jx

  4. Leslie Jordan was ver ver funny but we didn't get the Supreme Fabulettes opening for him due to poor ticket sales it seems, a good third of the arena was curtained off again.
    A shame as The Fabulettes were 50% of the lure for me booking tickets but Leslie didn't disappoint and actually excelled my expectations of him.


    1. It was a fabulous show - I just can't understand why it isn't more popular! Shame you missed the Fabulettes; they are very good. However, as I said they were merely the appetiser... Jx


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