I need to confess to never having heard of Leslie Jordan, the author and star of this autobiographical one-man show, before today. Half the audience knew him through a role on Will and Grace (it's a American TV 'situation comedy', m'lud) for which he won an 'Emmy' award.
The story is how he ended up being able to make a joke about taking the Emmy statuette to bed, "the first woman I've ever slept with", on live TV despite starting out loathing his homosexuality. It's also indirectly the story of how the audience – a list of names in the front row is dropped – applauds him for doing so, as does the audience here, in contrast to the homophobia of years ago.
In wondering whether or not to see it, I came across a review that wondered how many of the audience would have heard of some of the names that get dropped, like Faye Dunaway and Cloris Leachman. Erm, the main target audience, people for whom Sylvester's Do You Wanna Funk means something, will know them, even if they prefer Dunaway in Mommie Dearest to, say, Bonnie and Clyde.
As well as the showbiz gossip, he covers his childhood in Missionary Ridge, Tennessee (which I had heard of – it was the site of a battle in the American Civil War) where his father died when Jordan was aged eleven, through numerous crushes on other boys, to his decision to go to the only local gay bar.. with a little help.
He also covers his drinking (he credits the experience of being in a rehab group with a hundred straight men as teaching him how to be a man), drug use ("look, a pill on the floor, take it!") and promiscuity (his accountant said he knew when Jordan was working because all the street hustlers had new trainers). One noticeable omission is any mention of HIV and Aids. For someone who arrived in Los Angeles in 1982 and spent years partying on the gay scene, it is not possible for HIV not to have had a major impact on his life.
After writing this, I had the thought that it reminds me of an extended version of the scenes in La Cage Aux Folles (the original French film version, of course) where the effeminate Albin is attempting to 'butch up' to pass as heterosexual, but ends up a star as what he really is.
It's a good mix. I laughed a lot, and the night ended up with a standing ovation from a large portion of the audience. You probably know whether or not you'll enjoy it from the subject matter alone.