written by & starring Leslie Jordan
directed by David Galligan
@ the Celebration Theatre
through February 18
The name Leslie Jordan is synonymous with funny, so if you want to laugh - and I mean a lot, get yourselves down to the Celebration Theatre to see the latest installment in Jordan's autobiographical plays entitled Fruit Fly through February 18. Like the man himself, it's saucy, sassy and simply sensational.
Fruit Fly describes the early years of Jordan's life, growing
up with his mother, father, twin sisters and grandma in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Of course, there's a big emphasis on the puberty years and how he segued into doing drag for the first time at 17. At the top, Jordan poses the question "Do gay men really become their mothers?" Miss Peggy Ann, as we can see in his mom's photo, was beautiful from a very early age. Jordan uses projections on a background screen to guide him through his monologue, and there are many pictures of Peggy Ann - when she was courted by his handsome dad on through the time much later on when she accompanied him and 2000 other gay men on a cruise and became the honorary Queen of queens. His childhood was ideal; he had a golden family. But, after his dad, a soldier in the army, died in a plane crash, he started to take growth hormones, and as a result, found himself giving over excessively to sexual urges, all of which led him into the darker side of local night life and eventually to alcohol and drugs. His substance abuse is more the subject of his earlier show Like a Dog on Linoleum; Fruit Fly shows his introduction to Miss Odessa and her whore house where he started partying in drag with Kitty Litter and Lilly White, two other very young drag queens. The positive relationship with his mom suffered during these years, and it wasn't until much later that she became reconciled to his lifestyle. He ends up answering "Do gay men really become their mothers?" by saying he would be honored to be like Peggy Ann, who, when she was asked if she was a fag hag, retorted "I hate that term; I prefer fruit fly", and thus the title of the show, an ode to his mother. A nice show with a lovely message.
Jordan's monologue never slows down except when necessary, like to mourn the loss of his father when he was only 11. It moves forward in a consistently positive, comedic way and he, with expert staging from master director David Galligan, is in constant motion 99% of the time, whether walking, posing, sashaying, or just doing whatever strikes his fancy at the moment. If you are familiar with the man primarily from TV, you must see Leslie Jordan onstage to fully appreciate all of this talented lunacy. He's one-of-a-kind, having the time of his life, and we just cannot get enough of him.