Leslie Jordan, the Emmy-winning Will & Grace guest star, is a stalwart of Broward theater, but he’s never played South Beach. That changes this weekend.
“I love, love, love South Florida. I feel as if I’ve been to Miami a million times because I do so many cruises out of Miami,” says Jordan, who performs Saturday and Sunday at The Cabaret South Beach. “It’s funny. I’ve found you can do the Parker Playhouse, you can do things in Fort Lauderdale, but the Miami queens ain’t coming — they just don’t come up there! And when you do Miami, these Fort Lauderdale queens don’t come down there!”
Tennessee-born Jordan, 60, says the engagement is convenient, too.
“I’m going to be in Lakeland the night before for Polk County Pride, then zip down to Miami,” he says. “What worked out really well is that it’s my mother’s 80th birthday in Tennessee. So I can zip from Miami up to my mother for a couple of days. Then I’ve got a gig in Lexington, Kentucky, where I went to college.”
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Jordan’s specialty is telling stories — always folksy, often bawdy and usually politically incorrect.
“My media people ask me every year, ‘What is the name of this show?’ I just make up a name. I say, ‘Oh, let’s see: Full of Gin and Regret.’ They say, ‘Oh, wonderful.’ Well, it’s the same show, it’s just me yammering about whatever’s going on in my life,” Jordan says. “The next show, they’ll call and say ‘What is this one called?’ ‘From Whence I Came, and I’ll talk about being from the South.’ Same show.”
Jordan — who won a 2006 Emmy playing Beverley Leslie on Will & Grace and co-starred as Brother Boy in Del Shores’ Sordid Lives — says he prefers working live in an intimate venue. The Cabaret South Beach has only 120 seats.
“He’s going to have people rolling in their chairs because he’s so funny,” Cabaret co-owner Edison Farrow says. “He’s very out and flamboyant and fun, with special Southern-charm delivery.”
Throughout his show, Jordan spends much time talking about a disastrous 2014 stint on British reality television — and trashing his co-stars.
“I had an awful experience where I went to the UK and did reality,” Jordan says. “I can’t even get into it — it was called Celebrity Big Brother UK. You can go to YouTube and see me spit on Gary Busey! I was at my worst behavior. They took away my food. They gave everybody alcohol and you know, I don’t drink.”
Among his worst experiences: “I was up against a French stripper who cut my underpants to ribbons with a pair of scissors because she got mad at me,” Jordan says. “I had a huge fight with a transgender boxing promoter named Kellie [Maloney]. I was accused of transphobia which absolutely blew my mind. I’ve never been so angry in my life. They said, ‘You keep calling her a he.’ I said, ‘Well when SHE takes her wig off and puts it on a nail tries to bust me in the mouth, I don’t see her. I see he!’
“Then they said, ‘transphobia, transphobia.’ I said, ‘Listen. I’ve been a tireless champion of the LGBT community when you kids were s---ting in your diapers, so I’m not buying this crap.’”
The worst, he says, was working with Busey: “He has a lovely wife. She’s a lot younger than him, and she’s so beautiful. I thought, it’s not the money because he doesn’t have any. If he had money he wouldn’t be doing these awful reality shows,” Jordan says. “That’s the sad part. To see this wreck. He’s done so much cocaine, his face fell in. He fell off a motorcycle and his brains came out.”
Jordan took the job in reality TV because he needed the money, too.
“I got six healthy figures. That’s the only reason. I could take care of some IRS problems. I’m completely out of debt now. I paid off all my credit cards,” Jordan says. “I use this in my show. It gets a big laugh, but it’s true. I say, ‘People think that because I’m in entertainment I make a lot of money.’ Honey, if I made a lot of money, I wouldn’t be ... in Miami at the Cabaret club. Let’s just get real here. I love what I do, but I’d just as soon be home watching Forensic Files at my age.”
Jordan says his “love life has dwindled.”
“I just love the rent boys. I just love them. I’m a gay man, I’ve got a few dollars. I like them young and pretty. I don’t mind throwing out a few dollars to buy them new tennis shoes, whatever,” he says. “That’s what my accountant always says. You know when Mr. Jordan’s working — there ain’t a boy on the boulevard who don’t have on brand new tennis shoes.”
If you go
What: ‘An Evening of Laughter With Leslie Jordan.’
Where: The Cabaret South Beach, 233 12th St., Miami Beach.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Cost: $40 and $50 (plus two-drink minimum).
Information:305-763-8799 or www.reactionshows.com.