Out's June/July issue excerpts an excruciatingly funny chapter from Leslie Jordan's upcoming memoir My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, involving himself, Boy George and a monkey in the middle of the desert -- and that's just one of a thousand tales Jordan's got up his sleeve. The actor-writer-storyteller called Out just before he kicked off his summer-long tour.
Leslie Jordan: Is this Out magazine?
Out: It sure is.
I'd like to place an ad, please. I'm an old cocksucker who can take his teeth out.
Well that's the third call like that I've gotten, today.
But I'm the best.
Have you taken that ad out before?
A few times. You're gonna print part of my book! The story about Boy George. I'm scared Boy George will come after me!
I would be too, he's scary. He's built like a football player.
He's a big ole' queen but he'll probably say it's all a big lie and I'll end up on Oprah's couch. Won't that be awful? Well, it happened, it really did!
You'd prefer us to run Gypsies, Tramps, and Queens?
I like that one the best probably. It's a story from when I went to Romania while it was under Communist rule. We were in Bucharest and it was very wink-wink for how to find the gay bars and everything. And we found this old gay bar and we walked in and I was just the Queen of the Night. I was the Belle of Bucharest. All the young gay boys weren't getting any attention. We finally figured out that all these boys wanted sugar-daddies, all these young boys wanted to get out of Romania. So anyway, I ended up with this boy and it's a long story -- he stole my passport and left me on the side of the road.
These things happen. You also mention an episode at La Poubelle in L.A
Yeah, I got thrown out of there.
Me too! About a year ago.
Really? My friend Billy Butler and I had about six very dirty martinis, back when I drank. I'm sober, gosh ten years now, but they used to call me the Tiny Terror because I would just slap people. I don't know what that was about. Sometimes peoples' faces I could barely reach. I would just slap people right across the face. And I slapped [Billy] and he slapped me back and we had this big kind of gay smack down right in the middle of La Poubelle and they threw us out.
I can't believe the number of famous people who show up in your book.
My friend Michael Broussard who works with Simon & Schuster has pestered me relentlessly for years. He said, Just write down ten stories, or ten ideas or ten pages, anything I can pitch and I'll get you a book deal. And I'd think, I don't know, I don't know. And every time I'd be with him somewhere he'd say See that's an idea, that's a story, write that down. So anyway, finally after I won that Emmy [in 2006 for
That's not normally how they do things
Yeah, he said, I don't care if you're Michael Jackson, you've got to get here on your own dime. So I was a little surly when I got there, but I walked into the room and I was just at home. I just started spouting off stories about everybody I'd worked with, from George Clooney to Luke Perry and they just hollered and so I got this book deal. The cool thing was that I'd signed onto this television series with Lily Tomlin on HBO that Linda Bloodworth-Thomason wrote called 12 Miles of Bad Road, that's since been shelved.
Such a shame.
Yes. Well, we shot the pilot and they gave Linda six months to get some scripts under her belt, so I had a little bit of money from Simon & Schuster and like six months free to sit here in Los Angeles and just write. And I was amazed at how disciplined I was. See I always though that to write you had to be inspired and, no, honey, if you're under a deadline you sit your ass down and you write! So I'd get up and go have a nice breakfast and I'd write from 10-12, and then I'd have a nice lunch and have a good afternoon writing session. I thought, This is a new career here! I love this. And you know, you make mistakes, like early on you want to read everything to people and their eyes just glass over. You're reading pages and pages and they think, Oh God, here she comes, she's gonna read to me! Oh God, here she comes, hide! She's gonna read to us from that fuckin' book! But I learned that it's kind of a lonely profession, and you have to kind of serve yourself.
But it ended up in the end being a good experience for you?
Yeah, it was incredible. And we'll see, I could very easily buy a cabin up at Big Bear Lake and just disappear and write. As long as I could get Rentboy.com to deliver up to Big Bear Lake.
I don't think that'd be a problem. And you've clearly got at least a thousand more pages in you.
Listen, I've got a thousand more pages that she has. My wonderful editor Ursula Kerry cut whole chapters. At first they told me, Just write the book. Don't edit yourself, just write. I turned it in and of course it was just filled of everything I could think of. So Ursula called me and said, You know, we could publish this book as is and it would be very popular in gay bookstores, but you're preachin' to the choir, honey, and you have a wonderful message. If you let me clean it up, I can get it in Borders, I can get it in Barnes & Noble, and we can have a big hit on our hands. And she'd send me things and I'd think, Oh my god, I'm losing my voice, I'm losing my voice, and you're kiddin' me she cut that, and now it's so sanitized! But you know, the more that I just allowed her to do her thing, which is editing -- I'm so proud of it now.
What are you saddest about not working into the book.
I was at a party one time with two lesbian filmmakers from Texas. One of them had grown up in Tyler, Texas, and there were about 40 kids who'd all grown up from first grade all the way to high school together of various ages. Thirty-eight of them all turned out gay in their neighborhood. She did a documentary called There Must Be Somethin' In The Water. When we were there, she said, I want you to meet our son. Well, he had run for class president in a Dallas public school. Now this is Bush country with short stays on execution row. Anyway, he put signs up all over the school that said, Vote for Mike, because his mom's a dyke, and they know how to get things done. And he won! And here comes this kid who is also a junior rodeo champion, and I said Well, with two dykes from Texas raisin' him how could he be anything but? He came in with a belt buckle you could serve a turkey on and this cowboy hat, and I'm telling you he was the coolest kid. He looked you right in the eye, and he worked that room like a politician.
What's the dirtiest thing that had to go?
Oh, well there was a lot more to the cowboy story. There's a chapter in there called Drugstore Cowboy where I describe the biggest dick I'd ever seen. And I went into a lot more detail about that. There was a lot more in the Billy Bob Thorton story, not really salacious stuff. It's funny because the legal department called me and they said, We've got a few issues here. I found out that the more famous the person the more you can say. But I had to go to Beverly D'Angelo because I said she had a fat ass, so I called Beverly and she said, Oh, honey, I'm proud of my fat ass. I don't want to be one those little skinny Paris Hilton-y types.
In the chapter Peter Gazing you talk about your life long fascination with penis size and how you can't help yourself from checking out men's packages. Tom Cruise is mentioned. Did you have to get his approval?
I said I didn't [inspect the size of his penis] because his religious fervor bugged me. [Laughing] Everyone thinks he's gay -- but he's too boring to be gay. I don't think he's gay at all. He's just not clever enough to be gay. But anyway -- there was all kinds of stuff about big dicks, my obsession with big dicks. A lot about my obsession with rent boys and stuff. They just cleaned it up. It's still naughty, you know.
It's definitely still naughty. Who haven't you met that you're dying to meet?
There's only probably two people in Hollywood that I would love to meet: I've never met Dolly Parton.
I'm probably her biggest fan. I went to college in Knoxville, Tennessee, and that's less than an hour below Pigeon Forge, which is now Dollywood and it's like Vegas. But back then, this was '72, it was like one gas station where they had a bear in a cage. A little baby bear in a cage and you could stop to feed the baby bear. But I would smoke a whole lot of pot and I would drive to see this free concert she would give in the high school auditorium. And this is back when -- long before Dolly the movie star. This is Dolly when she'd come in and say, What's a country girl without her hay stack? and pat her hair. I'd go there and just cry and listen to her. I'd always wanted to meet her and then my friend Del Shores told me he was going to go meet her about a film project at this little place she kept in West Hollywood forever and I said, You call me the minute you get out of there and you tell me everything! He said she met him at the front door in full Dolly drag and that the house looked like Laura Ashley had thrown up in it -- that it was just bows and ribbons. And he said that the first thing when they started talking, Dolly said Now Del -- he said when she talks to you she wants to pet you and arrange your clothes and pat you and she's just so sweet. And she said, There's this actor -- a little tiny man that I've seen on these television shows and I think he should play my brother. And Del said, My God, Dolly, he would die. He is your biggest fan. And Dolly said, Where's he from? And Del said, He's just white trash from the hills of Tennessee, and Dolly said, Well honey, aren't we all? [Laughter] I'd also like to meet Bette Midler. Two tinys. I saw her once doing that little Bette Midler walk. And you know her husband is 90 feet tall -- a big old German! She used to say, I dress up like Poland and he invades me!
She's in Vegas now.
Yessss. Wouldn't you kill to see that? I saw Elton there. Front row. Begged to meet him. I know the head of publicity there because we shot some Will & Grace there, and I said to him, Tell him that little guy off Will & Grace is here and that I'd love to meet him. Beg him! Well he came back and said No, Elton don't want to meet you. [Laughs.]
No! He didn't!
He said No. He don't want to meet you. But don't feel bad. He didn't want to meet Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz. So I didn't feel bad. He said it's just what mood he's in. There's nights when anybody in the audience could come in there and meet him and then there's nights he just don't meet anybody.
You talk about your excitement over Matt Lauer's appearance on Will & Grace and how you thought you had to explain to him what tea-bagging was. Obviously you need to go on the Today Show to promote the book.
I know! I was scared to death I was. I mean I couldn't even speak. I was just like a Japanese girl behind my hand fan just giggling. How could I talk about tea-bagging on the Today Show?
When does Sordid Lives start airing on LOGO?
The premiere is 10 o'clock on July 23rd. I have never been so proud of anything. We've got Olivia Newton-John, Rue McClanahan. We filmed in Shreveport, Louisiana, which is just a cesspool of vice -- it's just like way below even Vegas.
What can you tell me about the show?
They made me sign this huge confidentiality agreement, which I don't agree with because I thought, Honey, you don't know the gay community. We like to whisper. This one whispers to this one, and this one whispers to that one and that's how you get the buzz going. You know you can't keep a tap on it. But it's a prequel -- it's everything up to the movie. And it is out of control. Bonnie Bedelia is brilliant in it. I'll tell you who steals the whole damn TV series is Caroline Rhea. She took over for Delta Burke.
So what's next?
Listen, I'm along for the ride. I used to worry about, Oh my God is this gonna happen? I'm 53 years old and I am in my prime, honey. I am like an aging show pony. They just trot me out. You know it's such a wonderful feeling when you're not thinking that you career is gonna fix you. I spent 20 years thinking, God, I can't wait. I'm gonna get a big series. I'll be like Madonna. I'll walk into gay bars and people will just die! It's so funny cause I was at the Emmys, and I thought, you know what? Back in my drinking days honey, I would have been eating this shit up! Getting to work this red carpet and go out there with Cloris Leachman and stand there in front of Warren Beatty and Annette Benning and all those famous people. and all I could think of was I just want to be home watching Forensic Files.
You open your tour in New York?
Yes, I'm coming with my trainer!
I trust that's a euphemism?
Well, that's what my friends said. No, he's this big, gorgeous straight boy who just kind of goes everywhere with me. He played Scorpion on American Gladiators. He's huuuuuuuuge! And he's got blond dreadlocks. He's the most arresting human being. He walks down the street and people just -- he doesn't even look real.
If he goes everywhere with you, he's got some traveling ahead of him.
Yes, I'm doing 30 cities! I'm getting on a bus in Memphis, Tennessee, and doing 30 cities all the way to P-Town. When I told Lily Tomlin, she said, Oh honey, I played the Crown and Anchor. We all did P-Town back in the 60's. I thought, That is so cool!
Read an excerpt from My Trip Down the Pink Carpet.
The book is currently available for pre-orders on Amazon.com and will be released by Simon Spotlight Entertainment in June. See www.thelesliejordan.com for tour date details.