Leslie Jordan's Attempt to Play Straight on Ellen's Sitcom

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It's so good to see you. Thank you. It's good to be seen. Yeah. [LAUGHTER] You're so sweet. You're fantastic. And you know, we did a couple of things together. You were on my sitcom. We didn't have a scene together. You played Joely's boss. I played-- I was so excited, because it was a little bit after your announcement that changed everything. When you told everyone you were gay. And so I thought, oh, wow. I get to be on this gay sitcom. I get the script, and I'm playing a straight guy. And I opened my mouth, and 50 yards of purple chiffon come out. And I thought, I could do this. I've got this. I'm going to butch it up. I had to make an entrance with a playmate. And of course, the joke was every time I turned around, I went into her boobs. But I still thought I pulled it off. And I called a friend of mine after it aired back East, because it aired three hours earlier. And I said, so what do you think? Did I pull it off? He goes, oh, honey, I don't know. [LAUGHTER] He said, there was a big group of people here that didn't know you. And when you opened your mouth, they said, get a load of her. [LAUGHTER] Did you come out pretty young? Well, I sort of fell out of the womb into my mother's high heels. There was like-- [LAUGHTER] People ask me, when did you come out? Well, you have to have been in to have come out. Now, in high school, you know, you have to play the game. And nobody bothered. Me nobody teased me, because I was funny. I learned to be funny to keep the bullies at bay. And so nobody would tease me. But I'm just always waiting for that ax to fall, you know? Yeah. Do you-- Grow up with that secret in Tennessee. You know-- Yeah, I can't imagine. --the [INAUDIBLE]. I was going to say. And how were your-- did your family-- were they OK with it? My dad was killed in a plane crash. It was pretty horrible. I was 11. He was on active duty in the Army. And so I wonder, many times, what it would have been like, had he been around. But I told my mother. I sat her down when I was about 12. How did I know? What did I know? I mean, what do you-- but anyway, I said, this is the way it is. I thought she might pull her Bible, because we were in church every time the doors opened. I've been baptized 14 times. [LAUGHTER] The preacher would say, will the lost sinner come forward. I'd think, oh, hm. My sweet mother would say, remain seated, you're already saved. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] But she said the sweetest thing. She said, I am concerned that you'll be subject to ridicule, so I think you should just live your life quietly. Here I am! [LAUGHS] [CHEERING] Do you feel like, in the world of Instagram, that you were able to access a certain audience, or be more clearly yourself? I mean, you did gain a lot of notoriety on Instagram in quarantine. I did. And I didn't even know what the word content meant. [LAUGHTER] People, now I wake up like, I got to come up with some content. Oh, look. But anyway, I was just-- I mean, you playing straight-- and now I want to go and see this. [LAUGHS] I started posting-- just I was stuck in Tennessee. It was the pandemic. I thought, I'm going to stay here because my mom's here. I got really bored, and I would just post. For 80 days, I posted twice a day. Now I wake up and think, I got to have some content. And I never thought about that. And I thought, without knowing it, I was a marketing genius. I had no idea, looking back on it. I didn't go near religion, I didn't go near politics, and I didn't try to sell anybody anything. I'm rethinking that part. Yeah, well now-- You're an influencer. Yeah, really, you can get in there, now. I know. You would not believe. When you have that many followers, companies come to you. It's amazing. Leslie, we have to take a break. More with Leslie after this. So you posted something recently. What year was this? Let's share this post. Oh! Look at you. [HOWLS] Owww! See, people look at me now-- look, look, look. I was a cute little thing, running around Miami with those six-packs-- This was Miami? This was Miami. Oh, you got in trouble. Oh, you don't know. Oh, I can imagine. Did you know Waldo Fernandez in Miami? I did. All right, we'll talk about that later. So how old are you there? I would say-- that's my little Fiat 120-something Spider something or another. I would say I'm 26, maybe. Yeah. And what were you doing then? Were you acting? I was exercising racehorses. I had always-- I grew up riding. I've ridden my whole life. Yeah, you could have been a jockey. I wanted to. This was the problem. [LAUGHTER] I look like my water is about to break. They couldn't even get me on-- Trying to get-- Hoist you up-- -- little fatty-- -- on the horse. Like, get up. Little fatty trying to get on. No, you really do. You have to weigh about 109. Yeah, it's crazy. You have to be tiny. Yeah, they have to constantly weigh themselves. But I was an exercise rider. I got up at 5 o'clock in the morning, and I got on five horses, and we went around-- two or three laps each, training-- and then I was off running. Do you still ride horses? I do. Do you? I do. But, like, race horses, you have to go really, really fast. You're on a horse going that fast? Really fast. That's dangerous. It is dangerous. I remember, though, one time, a contact lens popped out. And I spit on it and stuck it back in. I had a lot of skills. [LAUGHS] That's impressive. That's impressive. And now you have an album. I mean, how long have you been in the business and you suddenly release an album? Well, never. I got off the bus in 1982 with $1200 that my mother sewed into my underpants. And I took a bus. I was at De Longpre and Vine. I know exactly where that is. It's McDonald's now, I think, but it used to be the old bus station. Couldn't afford Greyhound, I was Trailways. But I got off and never-- my list of things to do was not record a gospel album. But it-- how did it happen? I'm not sure. I met Tanya Tucker-- who I just love-- in Nashville. And she said, you know, let's record something together. I said, but I'm not sure I can sing. She goes, yes you can. I've seen you on your thing. Your Instagram thing. So she came on board. And then, all of a sudden, Dolly. I asked Dolly Parton, who I got to meet. And she said, I'll sing a hymn with you. And I thought, it was that easy. Did you guys sing it together, at the same time? No, because of COVID. I don't know if that's the way that people record anyway, now. They lay down the music tracks, and then you come in and lay your track, and then they send it. And Brandi Carlile was a big part of this. And Eddie Vedder? Eddie Vedder. It's amazing. All right. You're incredible. You have to come back and see us again, OK, Leslie? I will. I'll circle the block. All right, do it. Be sure and pick up Leslie's new album, Company's Comin'. It's available now. We'll be right back.

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