Mommy dearest

Comedian and actor Leslie Jordan presents 'an open love letter to mothers everywhere'

Comedian and actor Leslie Jordan will soon provide Toronto with his answer to the age-old question: do gay men really become like their mothers? After a year and a half of touring, his one-man show, Fruit Fly, finally lands in Toronto as a benefit for the HIV/AIDS organization Casey House.

Jordan is most recognizable for his role on Will & Grace, as Karen Walker’s diminutive nemesis Beverley Leslie. In Boston Legal he was Bernard Ferrion, a villain who Betty White’s character bludgeons to death with a frying pan. He will soon appear alongside Kathy Bates in American Horror Story.

Jordan refuses to say in advance of the show whether gay men become their mothers but will say that Fruit Fly is “an open love letter to mothers everywhere.”

Inspiration for Fruit Fly came from viewing the Jordan family slides. They show “this journey of a gay boy and his mother.” He developed that journey into a hilarious 90-minute autobiographical performance, featuring many of the actual slides.

The show touches on Jordan’s strict religious upbringing in Tennessee. When he was a teenager he was condemned for his homosexual urges and told, “The only way to be saved from hell is to make a public profession of your faith and be baptized.” But baptism never seemed to do the trick. “I’d think, ‘I was out in the woods with that boy; I’d better go get baptized.’ I was baptized 14 times and it didn’t take,” he says.

Despite being central to the plot, Jordan’s mother hasn’t seen the show. “My mother saw me only one time in my entire standup career and said she never wanted to see me again, because she didn’t raise me to talk dirty.”

Fruit Fly runs Fri, Nov 8 and Sat, Nov 9, 7:30pm at Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 231 Queens Quay W. harbourfrontcentre.com

Jeremy Willard is a Toronto-based freelance writer and editor. He's written for Fab Magazine, Daily Xtra and the Torontoist. He generally writes about the arts, local news and queer history (in History Boys, the Daily Xtra column that he shares with Michael Lyons).

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