Leslie Jordan has turn out to be a queer icon over time, beloved for his unapologetically femme persona, thick Southern drawl, candy nature and witty one-liners. The actor additionally amassed a robust social following in the course of the pandemic as a result of his comedic insights into lockdown life. Now, the 65 year-old is releasing a gospel album that reworks the previous hymns he grew up with, that includes nation legends like Dolly Parton, Brandi Carlile and Katy Pruitt.
Leslie is presently in Hollywood, having simply completed filming Name Me Kat, the US remake of the hit British sitcom Miranda. His story started on this a part of city 39 years prior. “I received off the bus at Hollywood in 1982,” he says. “I had all these desires however they didn’t embrace an album. I needed to be in tv and films.” Over the course of his profession, he’s had notable roles in The Assist, Will and Grace, the new Billie Holiday biopic and, in fact, the American Horror Story universe, during which he’s performed a witch, a medium and a murderous PA.
However it was the Olivia Newton-John-starring Sordid Lives that he counts as his private favorite. “I performed a person in a psychological hospital, sitting there in drag with a blonde wig on performing Tammy Wynette songs.” The character spoke to queer youngsters within the American South; the film went on to turn out to be a sleeper cult traditional. “Proper after the film got here out I used to be in Piccadilly Circus [in London] and a taxi began following me. I assumed, that is creepy. They rolled down the window and shouted ‘Are you able to see my pussy now?’” — the long-lasting line his Sordid Lives character hollers as they get their revenge on a queerphobic warden. “I assumed, oh my gosh they’re hollering my traces out of the taxi cabs in London!”
His following surged in the course of the pandemic as a result of his day by day Instagram posts, a viral fame that will plant the seeds from which this new album would spring. “A pal of mine referred to as to say, ‘Honey, you’ve gone viral!’. I stated, ‘No darling I don’t have COVID’. It was so surprising.” Whereas the general public’s tolerance for movie star tradition faltered in the course of the pandemic, tipped by a deranged John Lennon cowl and the showboating of country-hopping existence, on the opposite aspect was Leslie Jordan’s heartwarming lockdown movies, sharing along with his followers (whom he calls his fellow hunkerdowners) the names of his house plant besties, his frustrations over working out of Netflix reveals and his Sunday Hymn series. His 80k following quickly turned 5.7 million.
The Sunday Hymn collection was led along with his pricey pal Travis Howard, who additionally grew up with these non secular songs. “Travis is straight and I’m homosexual however our expertise rising up within the church may be very related. We each didn’t really feel accepted. Nonetheless via our friendship we each realised that we nonetheless cherished these previous hymns.” The collection impressed them to sit down down and document an album, giving the songs a rock stamp. “I don’t have a very good voice. Rolling Stone referred to as it ‘succesful’,” Leslie laughs. “However I’ve all the time cherished music and I sang within the church choir and native boys’ choir rising up.”
Entitled Firm’s Comin, Leslie’s document transports you to rural America from the primary tune (a transforming of “This Little Gentle Of Mine” that includes lesbian singer Katie Pruitt) simulating the tipsy aftermath of a household gathering, guitars taking part in because the non secular anthems so deeply embedded throughout the tradition are sung and loved collectively. Utilizing his new-found social media fame, Leslie contacted Katie and different nation legends to duet with: “I despatched all of them a DM saying ‘Would you sing a hymn with me?’ Not one particular person stated no.” The completed album sees Dolly Parton be part of him on a joyous cowl of “The place The Soul By no means Dies”; current Grammy winner Brandi Carlile joins Leslie for the soulful “Angel Band”, alongside extra options from many different huge names within the nation music trade.
Curiously, regardless of singing about it collectively, Leslie and his duet companions didn’t focus on any of the larger questions the lyrics spoke of, although many themselves, Dolly included, come from religion backgrounds. “Dolly’s very religious. She’s the very best instance I can consider how an individual of religion ought to act. She doesn’t decide, she simply loves everyone,” he says. “However with Dolly, it was all in regards to the music. She was lovable. Throughout recording she would sing after which she’d say ‘Oh, I simply love this music! Don’t you? That is mountain music’. She was treasured.”
Leslie appears stunned that, in the middle of selling the album, he’s been probed about his personal religion. To him, there was no agenda to this album past having fun with making the music. “[The album] was by no means like ‘Oh, we’re returning to the religion’,” he says. “We’ve spoken our reality.” In previous interviews he’s shared his personal historical past with the church, having been baptised fourteen instances, renewing it every time he connected with somebody within the woods or did different acts thought-about ‘shameful’ by the church. “After I was seventeen I walked away, I needed to take my very own path.” He’s not returned since. However after a DUI cost, following which he shared a cell with future co-star Robert Downey Jr., Leslie returned to a extra non secular path, formed by sobriety. “They instructed us in restoration that faith is for people who find themselves afraid of going to hell, however spirituality is for these of us who’ve already been there! I search and I preserve an open coronary heart. I’ll go chant with the Buddhists typically, [even if] I don’t know what I’m chanting!”
Leslie hopes that the album could possibly be a lightweight at midnight for the numerous LGBTQ+ individuals inside non secular areas, like those that hear the UK’s Evangelical Alliance say banning conversion remedy would “threaten the everyday practices of the church” (in the USA the practice is still legal in 28 states) or see the Pope flip-floping over his stance on homosexuality. “That previous queen must get with it!” Leslie says of the pinnacle of the Catholic Church. “I hope [the album] brings consolation [to queer people] greater than something. I’ve had consolation in these instances simply to have the ability to pay attention to those songs. They’re simply so heartwarming.”
That’s the ability of Leslie Jordan. There’s simply one thing in his unapologetically femme-queer hymn-loving being that’s naturally comforting. He could not have supposed for it, however there may be an innate energy present in him becoming a member of forces with LGBTQ+ icons and refusing to really feel othered by songs from a tradition that has typically refused to simply accept him.
So what’s subsequent for him, now that he can tick actor, singer and viral meme off his record? Will we see him once more in American Horror Story? “I might like to! They’ve announced the latest season and are all filming in P-town. I’m not part of that.” Proper now his fingers are crossed that Name Me Kat will get picked up for an additional season, whereas anticipating an Instagram collection with Brandi Carlile that explores life as an LGBTQ+ particular person of religion popping out. There’s additionally an upcoming Apple Music nation radio present with Travis to sit up for, too.
Would he make any extra albums? He is positively thought-about it. “Travis stated the following album ought to be previous nation requirements like Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard and Tammy Wynette. I’d love that.” Leslie Jordan then proceeds to joyfully sing “Stand By Your Man” down the cellphone line. Identical to all these years in the past in Sordid Lives, he’s nonetheless making the gays comfortable performing songs by Tammy Wynette.
Firm’s Comin will likely be out there through Platoon on April 2. You may pre-save the album here.