Gay comic offers 'Fruit Fly'
by David-Elijah Nahmod
Best-known as Karen Walker's semi-closeted arch-nemesis Beverly Leslie on Will & Grace, Emmy winner Leslie Jordan is himself an out and proud gay man. He brings Fruit Fly, his new one-man show, to the Rrazz Room for six shows beginning Dec. 18. Jordan will be inviting his audience to join him on a personal journey in a show that's very near and dear to his heart.
"I wanted to do a lovely tribute to my mother's journey into my gaydom and queerness," Jordan told the B.A.R. "It's a big extravaganza. I wanted it to be in a theater, because when people are drinking it's hard for them to follow along. But it does work in a cabaret."
The show derives its title from the story he has to tell. He prefers not to reveal the meaning of the title in advance. "It refers to something my mother said. My mom is pretty devout. I told her I was gay when I was 12, and until I was in my mid-50s it was don't ask, don't tell. Then I took my mom on a gay cruise to Alaska, and 2,000 gay men adopted her – she had an epiphany!"
Jordan likens his mother's earlier attitude towards his gayness to a story told by the late gay playwright Tennessee Williams. Williams said that when he came out to his own mother, she replied, "I'm just going to sit here and think of yellow daisies." The key to changing people's minds, according to Jordan, is to introduce ourselves to them. "Once a person meets someone gay, it opens them up."
The actor looks back upon his Will & Grace role with immense pride. The sitcom, which ran on NBC in prime time from 1998-2005, was about the friendship between a gay man and his straight, female best friend, whom he had once dated. W&G was considered groundbreaking, as it featured numerous gay characters, many of whom had active sex and romantic lives. "I'm convinced that W&G was instrumental in turning the corner for us – it was the first time straight men admitted to watching a gay show. And now we have a sitting President who acknowledges us.
"It was such an honor to be Emmy-nominated for a show that did so much for my tribe. I was the only gay nominee, and I won!"
He has fond memories of the Rrazz Room. "It's one of my favorite rooms to perform in, I've been there six or seven times. I did a show there called Deck the Halls in full drag, but I wasn't playing me. People came up to me and said, 'We just want you, honey.'"
And so it's Leslie Jordan himself whom audiences will see at the Rrazz when they attend Fruit Fly. "There are two ways to combat homophobia: humor, and put a face on it. And if a little boy wants to wear a dress, let him!"
Leslie Jordan: Fruit Fly, at the Rrazz Room in Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., SF. Tues.-Sat., Dec. 18-22. Tickets ($40-$45): (415) 394-1189 or www.therrazzroom.com.