Tag Archives: Leslie Jordan

Happy Birthday, Tammy Wynette

5 May

Tammy-WynetteToday Tammy Wynette would have been 72 years old. Sadly, Wynette died at the very young age of 55 from cardiac arrhythmia.  She was known as the First Lady of Country Music. Like many other country music legends (such as Dolly Parton), Wynette did not shy away from real issues around the disparities and complexities of women. There are plans to honor Wynette with an upcoming postage stamp.

Wynette was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998.  While most people know her song, Stand By Your Man, and D.I.V.O.R.C.E., one of my favorites is Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad, probably because of my association of that song with the movie Sordid Lives. Leslie Jordan plays a homosexual imprisoned in a psych ward for being gay and impersonating Tammy Wynette.  If you have not seen this movie, I strongly recommend it.  Later in the television series of Sordid LIves, Tammy’s daughter Georgette Jones plays Tammy’s ghost.

Some will argue that her best work was in partnership with her tempestuous and passionate marriage to George Jones. I liked the album she did with Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, Honky Tonk Angels.  In 1991, Wynette showed her gay friendly side and recorded the hit Justified and Ancient, with the British pop group KLF.

In the last years of her life, Wynette struggled with addition issues and pain medications. I can still hardly believe she is gone and to have been so young. Happy Birthday, Tammy Wynette.  You are still with so many of us.

 

Happy Birthday, Leslie Jordan

29 Apr

LJordanToday I want to celebrate a person who makes the world more delightful by his presence. Fifty-eight years ago today, Leslie Jordan was born in Chattanooga, TN. Growing up small — his adult height is 4’11” — and effeminate in the South was no picnic, so he learned to use humor to cope. With a personality and sense of joy far larger than he looks, he eventually burst free and moved to Hollywood where he began his very successful career.

Jordan is notable for being openly gay since he got started, something pretty unusual in the early 80s. He’s also been happy to portray gay characters, preferring to have fun with a role than worry about stereotyping. By being himself, he’s made a wonderful success based on integrity as well as talent, thus opening the door for LGBT youth to see themselves represented in the media.

As with many, my first encounter with Jordan was in his Emmy-winning role as Beverly Leslie on Will & Grace. As Karen Walker’s charming, co-dependent nemesis, he was one of the brightest spots on the series. He and Karen traded barbs in an amazing style; one of my favorite lines is this greeting:

Why Karen Walker! I thought I smelled gin…and regret.

Jordan amazed and amused me again when my husband and I saw Sordid Lives, one of our favorite films. His turn as Brother Boy is a testament to the challenges of being true oneself. That he manages to make the character strong rather than pathetic is a testament to Jordan’s talent (and perhaps his love of Tammy Wynette).  If you have not seen Sordid Lives, I strongly urge you to rent it from the Netflix. It also stars Olivia Newton-John and Delta Burke.

I was fortunate enough to see his delightful one-man show, Like A Dog On Linoleum, in Atlanta a few years ago. I laughed ’til I cried and then had a chance to meet him in person. He is gracious and witty with or without a script.

In his many wonderful performances, his autobiography (and second one-man show) My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, and his willingness to be honestly and unabashedly himself, Leslie Jordan has made the world a better place. Happy Birthday, Leslie, and thank you!

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