Yeah, he's that guy—the funny-sounding, gay-at-50-feet-away actor from Will & Grace. One glance at that impish grin and you can already hear the Southern twang of the 4'11" Leslie Jordan. He's touring his one-man show Like a Dog on Linoleum and making a three-week stop in Boystown.
Time Out Chicago: The first line of your show is, "I am the gayest man I know." Who's the second-gayest?
Leslie Jordan: The second-gayest man I know would probably be the character Jack on Will & Grace. Not the actor. Let's don't go down that road. The character.
TOC: Who's gayer? You or Karen Walker?
LJ: Oh, she's gayer. Please. I couldn't keep up with that. That is the gayest man I know, let's say that.
TOC: I heard that your Will & Grace part was originally written for Joan Collins, but she wouldn't let them pull off her wig. Any truth to that?
LJ: Absolutely. They wanted a Dynasty bitch fight, and they were gonna have Joan Collins steal Rosario away from Karen, and then Karen was gonna say, "You committed the worst thing a woman could, steal another woman's maid." And they were gonna roll around on a billiard table and pull each other's wigs off. My agent called and said, "They've changed the character. Put on that little white linen suit that John Ritter gave you." I put that on and I went over to meet with the Will & Grace people, and I walked in apologizing profusely for being so late, and they just sat there with their mouths open, and they said, "You're it."
TOC: Growing up a short queer kid in Chattanooga, Tennessee—that couldn't have been fun. Or was it?
LJ: No, it was not exactly a picnic, and also my daddy was a lieutenant colonel in the Army, and I was not exactly the son he envisioned. He used to call me "son" as if he was in deep pain. I really wanted with all my heart and soul to be a go-go dancer. I would push all the furniture in the living room back, and I would get up on the coffee table and practice.
TOC: Do you still have family there?
LJ: I do. My dad was killed in a plane crash when I was 11, and it was just Mom and my identical twin sisters. I have twin sisters 18 months younger than me. The reason I had to become an actor, according to my mother, was because I got no attention. They had blond Shirley Temple ringlets below their butts. I would spin on the floor, turn cartwheels—which I'm still doing, by the way.
TOC: You talk in the show about your longtime addictions to drugs, alcohol and bad boys. Is all that under control now?
LJ: Absolutely. Eight years completely clean and—well, maybe not the bad boys. I'm at a certain age where I'm fiftysomething, and I like 'em young and I like 'em really, really pretty, and I don't mind, shall we say, dipping in my pocket book. I love being a sugar daddy. I'll just say it: I love being a sugar daddy. Course they'll be linin' up now in Chicago.—Novid Parsi
Like a Dog on Linoleum skids into Bailiwick Arts Center Thursday 4.