Sunday, March 3, 2013

"My Trip Down The Pink Carpet" by Leslie Jordan

   I have never been a fashionista or a beauty queen (nor even fashionable or beautiful, for that matter), but somehow I've developed a fascination for fashion and glitzy spectacles. So when I was searching for a book to read and sitting on the library shelf was "My Trip Down The Pink Carpet," with an irresistible sparkling tiara on the spine, I snatched it up. Then when I saw Leslie Jordan on the cover -- the four foot eleven inch dynamo that played the snarky gay diva Beverley Leslie to perfection on "Will & Grace" -- I couldn't wait to start reading and trip down the pink carpet right along with him.
   Turns out the book isn't about couture (unless buying panties for actress Beverly D'Angelo at Victoria's Secret counts) or pageants, but Mr. Jordan still had me hooked even before the table of contents with a quote from his "witty and wonderful mother" Peggy Ann:

"If I live to be one hundred and five years old, I will never understand this deep-seated need you have to air your dirty laundry! Why can't you just whisper it to a therapist?"

I certainly understand where she's coming from, being the proper Southern mother that she was, but her son Leslie airing his dirty laundry is what makes the book so hilarious. And sad. And at times inspirational. But most of all, damn entertaining.
   Describing himself as "the gayest man I know," Leslie writes, "I fell right out of the womb and landed smack dab in my mama's high heels." So it's no wonder that when trying to find his special purpose as a boy, he tried out being a go-go dancer on the family's coffee table and being a majorette on the front lawn. Unfortunately, his daddy brought home a carload of army buddies just when Leslie was perfecting his twirling routine. "Daddy! Daddy! Watch me twirl," he hollered, like any kid would when showing off a new talent. "Oh, son," his daddy said, stretching out "sohhhn as if he was in deep pain," "why don't you twirl that little baton in the house? I'll pay for whatever you break. Just please twirl in the house." 
   Can't you just picture the scene in that front yard? Can't you just hear his daddy's trying-to-be-supportive but still-slightly-mortified voice? I sure can.  Mr. Jordan is gifted at spinning the anecdotes of his wild and crazy life so vividly that I felt like I was right there with him falling in love with a Gypsy in Bucharest, with him sharing a jail cell with Robert Downey, Jr., with him as two huge drag queens escorted him into his first gay bar and he realized he "was no longer alone."
   No matter how much fun I was having, I nearly had to slam the book shut and never go back when Mr. Jordan dissed my beloved Lynyrd Skynyrd, my all-time favorite rock group. Now everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when he said he "could not bear that white trash, rock 'n' roll music," to me that barrels way past opinion and borders on blasphemy. I forgave him, though, when he went on to profess love for the bluesy songs of Dusty Springfield and classic soul music. We share those loves. Plus, he penned so many pearls of wisdom that I have fingered like rosary beads (and wrote down for future quoting), there's no way I could leave the book unfinished. I might miss something like:

"In the South we do not put crazy people away -- we put them out on the porch so everyone can enjoy them!"

"Honey, if you've got one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you are in the perfect position to just shit all over today."

"Shit happens and I don't think God has anything to do with it. I love the idea of having a God that does not do anything for me or to me, but only shines through me. I love the idea of God as a light, a beautiful, all-encompassing, nonpunishing, healing light of love."

   If you're a bit squeamish about male genitalia, you may want to skip the chapter on "Peter Gazing." But, do not skip the "Drugstore Cowboy" story, a sweet, touching, sad scary tale about the tangled knot of addiction and abuse that can be so hard to break free of. Nothing that painful and personal is easy to share -- no matter how much a person needs to air their dirty laundry -- but Mr. Jordan tells it straight up with a side of humor, the same way he writes about his struggles with self-loathing, booze, drugs and sexaholism.
   What a hoot it's been to trip down the pink carpet with Leslie Jordan! And no pink carpet experience would be complete without celebrity dishing, behind-the-scenes showbiz secrets, and revealing snapshots, which he throws in at no extra charge. To top that, when I was checking out his website,, I found out there is a DVD version of "My Trip Down The Pink Carpet." Watching the trailer alone nearly made me wet my pants! So you can read the book, view the video, or do both. I love having options, don't you?!
   I'll leave you with a Beverley Leslie quote from "Will & Grace," delivered in his signature snide soprano Southern drawl: "Well, well, well, Karen Walker. I thought I smelled gin and regret." Loved him as Beverley Leslie, love his memoir "My Trip Down The Pink Carpet." I bet you will too, no regrets about it. 


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