Leslie Jordan returns to Camp Bar with 'Fruit Fly'
Photo by Kelly Smith
Emmy Award-winning actor Leslie Jordan, self-dubbed the "gayest man I know," returns to Camp Bar this week to answer what he believes is an age-old question: Do gay men become their mothers? The resulting show, Fruit Fly, is inspired by photographs from his childhood.
"My mother is the baby of nine children and my dad was the baby in his family so when the babies had a baby -- oh my gosh, I was photographed relentlessly," Jordan says.
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The show is a tribute to motherhood. Jordan will share hysterical stories about growing up as a flamboyant, doll-loving boy with his Southern, religious mother and Lieutenant Colonel father in Tennessee. While many of the tales will have the audience laughing until they cry, others are intended to be thought-provoking.
"I think when you see Fruit Fly you'll see what I put my mother through, because I was kind of an angry teenager," Jordan says. "I'm not sure where that anger came from. I was just angry because I knew I was gay and I couldn't tell anyone. I think I took it out on her."
While she may not have always understood her son, Jordan says that his mother was always supportive of him, and she has been the most important influence on his life. Recently, he wrote her a letter thanking her for being such a good mom. He was inspired by a tribute to actress Sally Field in a gossip magazine (Jordan's guilty pleasure when he's on airplanes) that referred to a speech Field gave at a gay event about her son's journey coming out. Jordan sent the article, along with a note to his mom.
"I said, 'I just want to thank you for being a really good mom because I'm a really, really good human being, and I think that's because of you,'" Jordan says.
Jordan's father also had a great influence on his life and he shares some personal stories about him in Fruit Fly.
"My dad was killed in a plane crash when I was 11. I immediately said to David Galligan [the director], 'I don't want to bring that into the show. I don't want to stand onstage and deal with that.'"
Jordan says. "It was a terrible time. Not only was it a terrible time for a boy to lose his dad, I really felt to the core of my being that he might have gone to the grave ashamed to have a son like me."
While the subject matter can be emotional to talk about, Jordan and Galligan decided that his relationship with his father was integral to the show.
"There's a wonderful sense of closure [with my father] and I'm really proud of that," Jordan says.
And while most of the show is lighthearted and fun (it ends with a story about Jordan, his mother, and 2,000 gay men on an Alaskan cruise), Jordan says he wanted to include some moments that have really shaped him into the person he is today.
"You want everyone to laugh, but I want everyone to walk away with a little something more," he says.
Jordan's last performance at Camp Bar, Stories I Can't Tell Mama, was more of a standup show. Fruit Fly is a theater piece with light cues, music, and slides. Jordan's other theatrical one-man shows include Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far, Like a Dog on Linoleum and My Trip Down the Pink Carpet.
Jordan typically performs Fruit Fly in a theater. This will be his first time doing his show in a cabaret setting. While he was sought out by bigger venues in the Twin Cities, he says he is really loyal to the gay community, and Camp Bar campaigned to bring him back. He is excited to be back at Camp, and to be performing in a smaller setting.
"People should come and see my show because not only is it a wonderful night of theater and you'll laugh until you poop your pants, it's also thought-provoking," Jordan says. "It's everything that theater should be."
IF YOU GO:
Cabaret Theater at Camp Bar
490 North Robert Street, St. Paul
7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday
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