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Leslie Jordan dishes anew

THEATER REVIEW

The veteran actor follows up his 2004 solo show with an anecdote-rich 'My Trip Down the Pink Carpet.'

May 16, 2008|David C. Nichols | Special to The Times

"I am, without a doubt, the gayest man I know," Leslie Jordan says in "My Trip Down the Pink Carpet." True -- and thank heaven for that. As seen on Wednesday at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Renberg Theatre before a 30-city tour, "Pink Carpet" is as deceptively compact, delightfully self-aware and flat-out funny as its nonpareil writer-performer.

An offshoot of Jordan's same-titled memoir, which hits bookstores on June 3, "Pink Carpet" opens with a YouTube-ready video montage of career high points. To thunderous applause, Jordan sashays out onto the titular rug between velvet ropes, and dives in with conversational elan, bountiful technique and the sharpest sense of ribaldry this side of Belle Barth.

"So there I stood at the 2006 Emmy Awards," Jordan coos, his tale of co-presenting with Cloris Leachman setting the riotous tone of bemused candor. In sly collusion with director David Galligan, Jordan sails through a stream of tartly written anecdotes, some blue, some dishy, all affectionate, while building his point about the internal homophobia that plagued him from his Tennessee childhood through nearly 40 years in show business, substance abuse and acute crushes on divas and male costars.

That may sound familiar to audiences who recall Jordan's 2004 "Like a Dog on Linoleum," and some retooled sequences do pop up. Where the previous autobiographical work unearthed paternal, regional and identity issues by zigzagging to its moving finale, "Pink Carpet" is more specific and schematic, and if hardly as rending, it's even funnier. Whether sharing a priceless Faye Dunaway reminiscence, verifying George Clooney's early prankster bent or underwear shopping for Beverly D'Angelo, Jordan is enormously winning.

Barring the lack of a "Will & Grace" tidbit and a somewhat hasty segue into the admirably intended seriousness of its Trevor Project ending, so is his exhilarating testimonial.

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