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Leslie Jordan rides a rollicking `Pink Carpet'

The Associated Press, Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 3:30am (PDT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Leslie Jordan may be short in stature, but he is hugely funny in his autobiographical off-Broadway show, "My Trip Down the Pink Carpet," based on his book of the same name.

An Emmy-winning actor who calls himself "the gayest man I know," Jordan regales his audience in the cabaret-style Midtown Theater with stories about his conservative upbringing and his career in Hollywood.

"I am such a showoff. One of my huge character defects is that I love to talk dirty and shock people," he says.

Besides telling celebrity-laden tales about his acting career, Jordan makes campy fun out of incidents from his lonely, showbiz-obsessed childhood in Chattanooga, Tenn.; his lifetime of homophobic self-loathing; and his adult battles with a drug-addicted lifestyle.

Jordan's witty, energetic delivery, combined with his Southern drawl, amusing colloquialisms and obvious enjoyment of his own words, make for a fast-paced and mirthful 90 minutes.

Director David Galligan must have had quite a time reining in his star, who burbles with laughter at his own jokes. "Honey, I fell right out of the womb and landed smack dab in my mama's high heels," he chortles. When describing his overwrought romantic imaginings, Jordan repeatedly throws himself down onto the pink carpet on the stage.

Gleefully radiating flamboyance, Jordan bounds around a relatively modest set; Michael Hotopp is credited as scenic consultant. Besides the tasteful strips of pink carpet, there are two black cubes and a few pink velvet ropes attached to silver stanchions.

Six black-and-white posters featuring architectural bits of various theaters in New York and Los Angeles form the backdrop. In the center is a revolving door, through which Jordan either sashays or stumbles, depending on what part of his life he's illustrating.

Lighting by Jesse Belsky and sound by Wallace Flores are part of the fun, which includes regular interruptions that Jordan joyfully calls "gay bar music." Whenever the lights flash and the disco music swells, he runs to a black cube, jumps up on it and gyrates in place, all the while reminiscing about the good old days of fun, dancing and drug use.

Whether or not Jordan ever makes complete peace with his "true authentic self," he remains a wonderful storyteller, with impeccable comedic timing and an abundance of elfin charm.

Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner are among the producers of "My Trip Down the Pink Carpet," which is playing a limited engagement through early June.

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