By Tim Parks
When I spoke with Leslie Jordan about his role in Eating Out 3: All You Can Eat, he was getting his car serviced.
Hey, he’s just regular people! Well, if you consider regular people to be consistently hilarious and able to spin a tale roughly about the size of Texas.
Seriously, if there is ever a yarn shortage, one’s grandmother would not need look further than him. However, he is certainly not telling tall tales – he merely tells it like it is as only he can.
But, the diminutive thespian is very, ahem, down-to-earth about his stature as a character actor, which enables him to try on all types of roles.
Such as his latest one as Harry in the third Eating Out installment, which is a far cry from “Will & Grace’s” Beverly Leslie and certainly does not walk in the same pumps as Brother Boy of Sordid Lives fame.
At the movie’s center is a tale of mistaken identities, courtesy of a fake online profile. Before you think this is based on a true story, it is a factional, I mean, fictional account of what happens when Tiffani (Rebekah Kochan) encourages her friend Casey (Daniel Skelton) to talk to his dream man Zack (Chris Salvatore) via the World Wide Web.
The problem is (and becomes) that she uses a photo of her ex-boyfriend Ryan (Michael E.R. Walker), who later re-enters her life again with complications, shenanigans and hilarity ensuing. Plus, it features an appearance by Mink Stole reprising her role as Aunt Helen.
But, at its heart is Jordan’s portrayal of an older gay man who works at a youth center and acts as a mentor to the younger queer generation.
Fans of the first two Eating ventures know to expect raunchy humor peppered with pop culture references to celebrities, such as Madonna and Anderson Cooper, and lines like “It’s gayer than a midnight screening of Showgirls” being used to describe attendance at a funeral.
Much like it is featured in the film, the advent of the Internet has certainly changed the way that the world communicates. However, Ma Bell aided me in hearing that unmistakable Southern drawl oozing out of the phone receiver, like so much spilled molasses.
He chatted about why he considers himself to be a “whore to laughter,” what’s happening with two Del Shores-related projects and how he kept focused with all the man flesh around on the set of Eating Out 3 – talk about a buff-et.
“It was a little jewel that dropped into my lap,” he said of his participation in the latest Eating venture. “I loved the script – it was adorable. But the way I read a script is bullshit, bullshit, my line, bullshit, bullshit, oh my line again!”
As for his role of Harry, he was drawn to the part because he saw parallels between the role and a previous project where he portrayed a “pitiful old queen” known as Peanut in the Del Shores play Southern Baptist Sissies, and thought the character had a good message to relay.
“In the end he gives advice to one of the young gay characters,” he recanted. “And I think there’s not enough of that within the gay community. It’s not easy growing old and being gay – somebody needs to do a movie about that.
“The gay culture is all about lookin’ good and six-pack abs and la la la, you then start growing old. What I loved about that was the first time you see the character, you think he’s this lecherous old queen. He’s eyein’ everybody,” Jordan said. “But then I end up giving the character the advice that cements his journey. I liked that.”
“He’s real and when I’m given the chance to do that, I really relish it.”
Jordan even had a chance to do some research for the role that coincidently involved a night spent eating out in L.A.
“There were two gay boys – adorable – and they’re holding hands, sitting side-by side in the same booth,” he explained. “I almost got teary-eyed. As I was leaving they said, ‘You’re the guy from “Will & Grace.” ’ And I said, ‘You know what? You kids have no idea what we went through, so that you can sit side-by-side in that booth and hold hands.’ And they said they did, they realized. I said, ‘I hope so, because it didn’t come easy.’”
Something else that was hard, maybe difficult is a better way to put it, was the on-set nudity coupled with the guy candy factor. Jordan, ever the consummate professional, took it all in stride.
“Honey, that was such a fun set,” Jordan revealed. “One day we were in a coffee shop and you have all these beautiful young boys playing extras. Then I was there for the big party scene and I even recognized a couple of porn stars that I love.
“In fact, one of them came to me and said, ‘I’m a really big fan of yours.’ And I said, ‘I’m a HUGE fan of yours!’ And he turned beet red. I said, ‘You’re AMAZING what you can take up your bottom.’”
Perhaps his appreciation stemmed from what he sees as the only useful tool the Internet provides – porn. Up until four years ago, Jordan was wary of the online world and didn’t even know how to answer e-mails. But he quickly changed his point-of-view.
“I slowly began to navigate the Internet,” he explained. “Of course when I found all that free porn was when I really thought, ‘Wow! This is something I really need to learn how to do!’ I’m just amazed at myself at how I find these sites. It’s a whole new frontier out there.”
One way the Emmy Award-winner also keeps busy in his acting life is by not being too selective, because of the lifestyle he has grown accustom to. Might want to stay off the video-on-demand sites, there, Leslie!
“People think that we are just offered stuff left and right,” he said, “Maybe for the Tom Cruise’s and Angelina Jolie’s of the world. But, honestly, I supplement my income with a lot of stand-up work and I’m on the road eight months out of the year. I’m such a whore to laughter.”
Seeing as the 54-year-old has been busier than a whore on dollar day lately promoting his autobiography My Trip Down The Pink Carpet, while subsequently performing a one-man show of the same name in the past year – you’d think he’d be ready for a vacation.
Well, as the saying goes, there’s no rest for the wicked, as he was prepping to go on an Alaskan cruise. Albeit, it’s a working vacation, naturally.
“I’m the featured entertainment doing my stand-up,” Jordan professed. “I’m taking my 75-year-old mother and identical twin sisters on a gay cruise! 2,000 gay men and my mother – there gonna have a blast.”
Another family that Jordan has always counted on is the one he made through working with writer/director Shores. Unfortunately, two of their collaborations – a film version of Sissies and a second season of the television version of “Sordid Lives” – seem to come down to the almighty dollar, as Jordan explained.
“It’s [Sissies] is on the back burner, and at one point we had the money raised, sets built, actors hired and the money fell through. It was heartbreaking,” he confessed. “The whole debacle of “Sordid Lives: The Series” has dampened our enthusiasm. Not to point fingers – why were we surprised when they [LOGO] couldn’t pony up for another season?”
But, this is one man who is not deterred and remains steadfast in his conquest of all areas of the entertainment world. He cited the fact that he is really acting out his dream role as himself.
“I know this is going to sound so conceited, I have never found a part to play that was more interesting than me in real life,” he answered laughingly. “I’m a good actor, but I ain’t no Meryl Streep or Robert De Niro. I’m never going to lose myself in a role; I just do little different aspects of me when I act.
“I don’t want to be an actor-for-hire,” he stated. “My manager wanted me to go audition for this one scene with some upcoming movie with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. And I was the straight man, just a boring little part playing a doctor.
“If I’m in a scene with Meryl Streep, I’ll just be sitting there serving her. I don’t have any interest in that. And my manager said, ‘It’s Meryl Streep!’ And I said, ‘I don’t give a shit if it’s Jesus Christ!’
“I was thinking the other day what dream role could drop into my lap, and that’s yet-to- be-determined.”
While the 2006 Academy Award-winning song illustrated that “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp,” Jordan definitely personifies that one doesn’t have to sell himself out in order to be a self-proclaimed laugh whore.
This article was originally published in October 2009.