“I’m not as funny like a stand-up comedian as I am a story teller,” gay Atlanta favorite and Emmy winning actor Leslie Jordan says as a preview of his return to a local stage with friend and cohort Del Shores to benefit AID Atlanta.
Seats are almost gone for Saturday’s “A Sordid Soiree,” a combination of Shores (top photo, right) own ups and downs as an iconic gay playwright and Jordan’s (left) uproarious tales of Hollywood and growing up gay in the South including Atlanta. They follow up the next morning with an encore of sorts, the Gospel Brunch at Lips Cabaret with a chance to munch, chat and get photos with Jordan and Shores. Both events benefit AID Atlanta.
“I always say Del Shores is my opening act now,” Jordan tells Project Q Atlanta. “Of course he’s not and he’s so funny in his own right, but it’s fun to tease about it. When you work with Del, you become part of a family. I’d go out of my way to work with him pretty much any time.”
Neither man is a stranger to gay Atlanta audiences. Both have detailed personal histories here, and both shored up all of our support forever when Shores’ camp classic film “Sordid Lives” came out with Jordan in the role of institutionalized, Tammy Wynette-obsessed Brother Boy.
Since then, Shores wrote the popular “Southern Baptist Sissies” among many other projects. Jordan also stars in the movie version of “Sissies” (second photo with Dale Dickey), which in October won the audience award for Best Men’s Feature at Out On Film in Atlanta. He turned to the stage after he got screwed by a TV version of “Sordid Lives” and when his divorce from a very public gay marriage went south. Shores became expert in making bitter funny on Atlanta stages.
Jordan has been an in-demand character actor on TV and in movies for decades. He won an Emmy winning on ABC's “Will & Grace,” and he says never had to audition for another role after that.
“Sometimes roles were scarce, but everything you’ve seen me in, they wanted me for the part or even wrote it with me in mind. That’s what an Emmy can do for you, but there were definitely still lean times," he says.
Between screen gigs and awards, Jordan won every last heart in Atlanta and across the country with his “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet” and “Stories I Can’t Tell Mama” biographical one-man shows. On screen, his prolific work includes memorable supporting roles in projects like “The Help,” “Boston Legal” and the current “American Horror Story: Coven" (bottom photo).
But a very real “American Horror Story” is what brings Jordan, Shores and their talents back together this weekend. Jordan waived his usual performance fee to offer a bargain basement deal to AID Atlanta for the appearances. He says some things are more important than money.
“Anything that has to do with AIDS, I’m there,” Jordan says of this week’s two Atlanta benefits. “Talk about a ‘Horror Story’! I remember all too clearly how awful it was. You would see people one day and literally they’d be gone the next. It was a death sentence, and gay people had to pretty much take care of our own, and even though it’s better now it’s still a problem. Shows like this I will find a way to be able to do it.”
Get ready to laugh so hard you cry. Or pee. Jordan and Shores are that funny and that biting. Even if you do wet yourself, it’s way better than what happens to Jordan’s witchy “American Horror Story” character on next week's episode. He gave us a fully detailed spoiler, but we’ll just say beware the wrath of Myrtle. And keep an eye out for that melon baller.
'A Sordid Soiree' stages at 14th Street Playhouse on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. Gospel Brunch includes food, show, bloody marys or mimosas, and face time with Jordan and Shores at Lips on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 12:30 p.m. Click each link for tickets.