As a kid growing up in Tennessee, a seasonal excursion to Atlanta was always on Leslie Jordan‘s Christmas list.
“It just wasn’t Christmas without a trip to Atlanta with mama and Lenox mall!” Jordan confided to Intel. “I had my first-ever Chick-fil-A there 40 years ago! I thought I was in heaven with that fried chicken and pickle on a bun.”
The actor will draw on his childhood Saturday night as he brings his brand-new one-man show, “Deck Them Halls, Y’all” to the Buckhead Theatre.
But unlike his previous shows, “Like a Dog on Linoleum” and “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet,” Jordan’s Christmas show isn’t autobiographical.
“I just got tired of talking about myself if you can believe it,” Jordan cracks. “It was time to do something else.”
Instead, Jordan created three generations of a hilariously dysfunctional Southern family. The actor enters the show in drag as the family matriarch, a former burlesque dancer. Her daughter is a recovering meth addict who is considering gender reassignment. And her son? He’s a precocious 10-year-old named Ronnie Lee who is perhaps enjoying his billowing, dress-like Christmas pageant choir robe a little too much.
“It’s not your traditional Christmas story but it’s from me so what did you expect?” Jordan laughs. “When a friend suggested I do a Christmas show, I said, ‘What do you expect me to do? Tell the story of the baby Jesus and sing carols?!’ This is what I came up with instead.”
For Jordan, the show’s title came first. “For years, I had a Christmas ornament I had bought at a Cracker Barrel that read ‘Deck Them Halls, Y’all.’ It always tickled me.”
The burlesque dancer is based on an actual waitress Jordan frequented in a Dallas, Texas diner. “She was a former stripper and we would go in there just for her stories. She had a theory about the Kennedy assassination and Jack Ruby that made more sense than anything Oliver Stone could come up with too!”
But for Jordan, the heart of the show rests with little Ronnie Lee. “He’s probably the favorite of all the characters I’ve ever played,” Jordan says. “He’s confused. He’s wondering if he should have been a girl instead of a boy. There’s probably not a gay man alive who hasn’t thought that at one time or another. I managed to find an ending for the show that will put you in the spirit and give you hope too.”
Next year, Jordan will take his Broadway hit, “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet” to London where he’s heralded as a star because of the popularity of “Will & Grace” reruns, for which the actor won an Emmy with his role of Beverly Leslie, the arch nemesis of Karen Walker.
“You would think I’m Madonna over there!” Jordan says. “They have me booked in the 800-seat Apollo Theatre. A hundred and fifty nine journalists showed up to my press conference. It was insane!”
Prior to his show Saturday night in Buckhead, Jordan will indulge in a Chick-fil-A sandwich for old time’s sake and a few newer, ahem, adult interests as well.
Says Jordan: “These days, it’s not a visit to Atlanta without a trip to Swinging Richards!”
Tickets are $30, $50 or $75 for VIP seats which include a meet and greet with Jordan. For tickets, go to the Buckhead Theatre’s website.