EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Leslie Jordan brings his one-man show ‘EXPOSED’ to The Triple Door on April 22 to benefit The AMP

by MK Scott

On Monday, April 22, Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian LESLIE JORDAN brings his autobiographical one-man show ‘EXPOSED’ to The Triple Door (216 Union St.) at 7:30pm (doors open at 6pm) to benefit the AIDS Memorial Pathway project (The AMP) which will open at the north end of Cal Anderson Park in 2020.

Best-known for his standout roles in ‘Sordid Lives,’ ‘American Horror Story,’ ‘The Help’ and as Beverley Leslie on NBC’s hit series ‘Will & Grace,’ and now playing a lead role in the new comedy series ‘THE COOL KIDS’ on FOX, Mr. Jordan has charmed fans for over four decades!

In ‘EXPOSED,’ Leslie invites his audiences behind-the-scenes of his childhood and career! Offering a charming and hilarious look-back at his life experience as a flamboyant youth raised as a Southern Baptist, as well as the ‘unbelievable real-life stories’ and treasured anecdotes from his renowned stage and television performances.

MK Scott: Leslie, we had the pleasure of meeting at the GLAAD Awards last year and I told you that we would be back, have you back to Seattle. Now that we have, how do you feel about being back?

Leslie Jordan: Well, I just love Seattle. You know, I’ve been up there several times with the Seattle Men’s Chorus. I’ve actually performed at The Triple Door, but it wasn’t my show, it was another show hosted by Kimball Allen, I do so many. (I did 44 venues last year.) But anyway, I did, and that was such a fun venue. And I thought I’d like to come back and do, you know, that venue, and then for you to, to bump into you at GLAAD – it’s all come together beautifully. And I just love, love, love Seattle. I go up there all the time and people will always apologize for the weather. Well, I’m in LA where it’s 73 fucking degrees every single day. I love rainy, blustery & I’m a depressive. I love when it rains. Rains, rains, rains. So, hopefully, it’s going to rain every day I’m there.

MK: We’re looking forward to seeing you bring ‘Exposed’ to Seattle. What can we expect?

Leslie Jordan: Well, ‘Exposed’ is kind of like the ‘Best of.’ I’ve been doing one person shows since about 19 – gosh, ’93 – ’90 was my first one, and it was called ‘Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far.’ And that went to New York and did really well. And then I did ‘My Trip Down the Pink Carpet’ and that one went to the West End of London and all over the place. And what I’ve done is, over the years, I collected all my stories about coming to Hollywood and growing up in the Deep South. And I just put them all together into a show that’s 75 minutes. It’s tight. It’s & it just covers all the bases. And it’s a lot more than people think because it’s about a little boy who got on a bus, you know, in 1982, a young man, and went to Hollywood with $1,200 sewed in his underpants, that his mother sewed. And all, you know, and even before that, growing up in the Deep South, it’s a journey, and it ends in a very unlikely place, in the White House, where I was asked to throw the ball out in memory of 49 people that were murdered in the night club down in Orlando. So I never held a baseball, and I had to throw the ball out at the Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs game. So it’s just stories, and I sing a little bit (I don’t sing very well) – oh, but there’s no telling what I’ll do. Who knows? Who knows? It’s different every night and I’ve never had a complaint. So I’m looking forward to it.

MK: Awesome. Actually, the first time I actually saw you was in an independent film in 2000 called Lost in Pershing Point Hotel.

Leslie Jordan: Hmm-hmm? I can’t believe you saw that. I wrote that &

MK: I did! Yes, it was at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Leslie Jordan: Wow! And we shot that thing on a – I think we had less than $80,000 – and we ran it out of the old hotel in LA – What’s that hotel called? – The Ambassador, where Kennedy [Robert F. Kennedy] was shot. And it was in complete disarray and hadn’t been touched since the ’70s. It’s been boarded up. We didn’t have to do – it was, you know, it was ready for a movie that took place in the ’70s. And it was my journey, and it turned out pretty good. It’s hard, you know, to shoot a film on that amount of money, but it was – it won this big grant from the Los Angeles Film Festival out of 600 scripts. They gave us ten grand. And it was fun. I actually remember that. Not many people remember that.

MK: I was saying that was my first introduction to you. And I just thought, my goodness, this guy is wonderful. And then, of course, I then soon followed you when you were on ‘Will and Grace’ as Beverly Leslie. And also ‘Sordid Lives,’ ‘Brother Boy.’

Leslie Jordan: Right. And it’s all come together in this new show that I’m doing. I have a TV show called ‘The Cool Kids.’ On FOX. It’s garnering a lot of followers. So it’s all coming together nicely.

MK: Is it looking good that ‘The Cool Kids’ will be back next fall? Or next season?

Leslie Jordan: Well, it is. We hesitate because you never know with TV. And the only thing in our way is a political big deal where Disney bought Fox, 20th Century Fox, which is our producing company that sold the show to FOX, which doesn’t own the FOX network. And so it’s, you know, we just, the new head of FOX is a guy named Charlie Collier, who has been very supportive, but he won’t say, you know, he just will not, he says he’s got a network, and oh, there’s all kinds of stuff about ‘SmackDown,’ that live wrestling show, which I happen to know, because, you know, I’m just from the South, I don’t watch it, but I know about those live, but it’s a Friday night staple. It’s live. They do it live from somewhere. And I thought, well, that’s our night to be on TV, so that’s one, I’ve got about a million worries. Anyway, we hope it’ll will be back. And I am, we’re pretty sure it will be. I don’t know how they could just throw us out. So we’ll see.

MK: Any new appearances on ‘Will and Grace’ or ‘American Horror Story’?

Leslie Jordan: Yes, I’ve already called. Not ‘American Horror Story.’ I don’t think my schedule would allow that. That show, ‘American Horror Story’ is just a really difficult show. It’s an hour long, and we do 14 hour days, and their schedule is so volatile because they do a lot of rewriting. ‘Will and Grace’ is willing to accommodate me. Like if I have a hiatus from ‘The Cool Kids’ I can go over there and shoot, you know, in two or three days. I come in on the main stage and rehearse. I mean, I come in on Monday and rehearse, and Tuesday come and do the Wednesday night shoot. And so they had already called about next season and said, you know, would you be interested? And we said, well, yes, you know, it will depend on ‘The Cool Kids,’ if it’s picked up. And my schedule. But absolutely, are you kidding? But then because of my contract with Fox I can really only do, they’ll only allow me to do two of ‘Will and Grace,’ which I think is so silly, because the more I’m on there the more people know and will follow me over on ‘The Cool Kids,’ and they don’t come on the same now. But now the jets are flying over, I can’t get a break here now on the phone. Okay, go ahead, I can hear you now.

MK: Also, I’ve actually been seeing you quite a bit, your videos that you’ve been posting on Instagram, and they’re just absolutely hysterical.

Leslie Jordan: Why, thank you! That was Fox, the Fox, when the series started, you know, (do things on Instagram), I said, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. And they said, what?!? You could be an Instagram star. And I said, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve heard of Twitter. And I do, but they said, no, no, no. So they set me up. And I just had more fun and I’ve gotten so many followers. The wonderful thing I found out, not to – , you know, that I could go on there and sell out, you know, on the show, like kill everybody, – look, y’all got to come to Seattle, if you’re ever there. And I’ll do that, you know, for the last minute tickets.

MK: Well, that’s what I’m saying. It’s just amazing how the tickets have just been doing so well, I think we got like about 75% to 80% sold already.

Leslie Jordan: You know the last time that I did The Triple Door I looked on the guest list and there was Eddie Vedder.

MK: Yes! Eddie Vedder! My god, yes, from Pearl Jam! (Laugh)

Leslie Jordan: And I said, what do you mean, Eddie Vedder? They said, he’s very supportive. He comes to The Triple Door quite a bit, and it’s – well, anyway I said, what are you talking about? Pearl Jam is going to come? Well, what happened was they were all going to come see me. And then they got stuck. They were rehearsing their world tour, so all their wives came. Eddie’s beautiful wife, Jill, and I got to meet her, and she’s already come, and she said I’m going to come again. They may have already gotten their tickets. It might just be a star-studded night!

MK: Now you’ve got lots of TV and film. What do you enjoy the most? Do you enjoy the film work? Or do you enjoy the TV work more?

Leslie Jordan: Well, TV, for me, is just where I, I’m the funny guy that comes in with a zinger. That’s my job, you know, on TV. And I’ve done that for 30 some odd years, I’ve won an Emmy doing it. And so I love the TV money, but what I do when I’m coming to Seattle is my joy, in front of people, but it’s not, I mean, there’s money in it, but not that big, big money. So the wonderful part is that when we did ‘Will and Grace’ or ‘The Cool Kids,’ that’s in front of a live audience, with that TV money! (Laugh)

I have to say that my real joy is what you’re going to see Monday, April 22nd. That’s what I love doing and that’s what I’m really best at. I told a friend of mine the other day, I said, you’d have to see me live. You have to see me live before you understand what I’m all about. Remember, Bette Midler, people love her movies and everything, but I was like, no, you’ve got to see Bette live before you really understand what that message is all about. And that’s me. You’ve got to see me live.

MK: All right. What is your response to the fact that this performance will be, this performance in Seattle, will be a benefit for the AIDS Memorial Pathway project that we’re building on Capitol Hill?

Leslie Jordan: Well, I am, a gay man who ended up in the 1980s buried in the Intel phone directory. I really did. You know, that was my generation. When I got to LA in 1982 I wanted to get to West Hollywood, and that’s where I just heard the little queers hanging from the trees, and it was a city in crisis when I got there. And it was, you know, we realized very quickly that nobody was going to help us. Nobody. We couldn’t get the President. You know, Legionnaries’ Disease came around and killed 11 straight people and the whole country was mobilized, you know. Like I’m saying, you know, we’re going, we’re dropping like flies over here. {Laughs) And nobody would help us. And we learned that we had to, we had to take care of our own. And so I’ve always, over the years, done anything I could do, you know, and it’s still a fight, you know, that we have to keep fighting.

And so I think it’s important that we remember. And I’m just so tickled that I could be a part of that, you know, and leave a little mark because that’s my, you know, that was my generation. It is my generation. And, you know, there’s so many of us that are walking around thinking, you know, I shouldn’t be here. You know, I missed the AIDS, I did everything that everybody else did, yet I didn’t. I’m here and I’m healthy, and so it’s up to me, you know, to keep waving the flag and burning the torches and whatever we need to do. And I just feel [it’s] so lovely that the Pathway [will be] right in the middle of everything. And when you see the fruition of things like that – I know we were talking about doing a quilt, and I thought, oh what a wonderful idea. And then I went to see the quilt [The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt], and you’re just, you’re just speechless. You know? Just once it all comes to fruition, it’s going to be wonderful. So I’m so happy to be a part of it.

MK: And I have one last question, which is my burning question: What would Beverly Leslie say in response to Karen Walker voting for Trump? Oh, wait! Beverly voted for Trump?

Leslie Jordan: Oh, yes. Listen, he’s a Republican to the core. Poor Beverly, see, he’s a Republican to the core. We even did an episode, we did an episode not too long ago where I had given so much money to Marilyn Melanie and Donnie that they named the Wall for me. They named the Wall down in Mexico, they’re building that Mexican wall, and we went down there to christen my wall and then here comes Karen Walker. She’s the best in my part of the wall. I said, no, it’s not. She wanted my part of the wall, they had given her part of the Wall, but she wanted my part because more drugs come through. (Laugh) And I said, well, Miss Walker, we thank you. She says, keep them out?!? And so her and I get in a tussle on our little RVs and fly over into Mexico, and we get put in Russian cages. (Laugh) You’ve got to find that episode. It’s so hilarious.

MK: Oh, my god. Yes.

Leslie Jordan: No, he would vote. He would vote, oh, he’s a big Republican. There was also an episode where she announced: You Republicans, Beverly Leslie is a homosexual. (Laugh) I said, shit! Oh, no he’s a Republican. He’s Republican.

MK: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Leslie Jordan: Okay, good. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

WARNING: Leslie Jordan’s ‘EXPOSED: may cause a great deal of laughter and a few tears!!!

Presented by BECU and produced by Unite Live and Seattle Gay News.

Tickets: $45. Seating and dinner service begins at 6pm (All Ages). Call The Triple Door Box Office at (206) 838-4333 or online at https://tickets.thetripledoor.net/eventperformances.asp?evt=1633

Starting at 6pm, DJ Disco Vinnie gets the Pre-Show party started with performances by Aleksa Manila and Arnaldo! Drag Chanteuse. All proceeds benefit The AMP: the AIDS Memorial Pathway that will open at the north end of Cal Anderson Park in 2020. (https://theamp.org/)

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