Leslie Jordan answers the age-old question—“Do gay men really become their mothers?”—in his latest autobiographical one-man show, Fruit Fly, and as anyone who’s ever seen the Chattanooga native in Sordid Lives or on Will And Grace can well imagine, there’s not likely to be a more delightful autobiographical one-man show in any foreseeable future.


Fruit Fly isn’t the elfin gay icon’s first trip down solo-show memory lane, nor even his second. Those honors go to Like A Dog On Linoleum and My Trip Down The Red Carpet. Still, when you’ve got as many stories to tell as Jordan has, it’s no wonder there’s room for one more.

The axiom that “Every Gay Boy’s Best Friend Is His Mother” could not have been more true for preschool Leslie, whose mama “Miss Peggy Ann” created for him a secret garden where he could play with dolls and make pot holders to his heart’s content—with a single proviso: “Let’s not tell Daddy.”

Miss Peggy also instilled on her first born a lifelong sense of style, from little Leslie’s red cowboy boots (“a look I stuck with for years”) to the sporty madras jacket the kindergartner insisted on having dry-cleaned because even at a tender age he knew one thing to be true about madras: “It bleeds.”

Jordan illustrates Fruit Fly with copious family snapshots, one of which shows little Leslie wearing the shortest of short bangs, the end result of the ten-year-old’s attempt to imitate the do worn by his favorite Hullabaloo go-go boy. (If anyone wonders if gay men are “born that way,” wonder no more.)

There are photos of Leslie’s army officer daddy and of a pair of younger twin sisters whose sudden arrival was not at all welcomed by a boy used to getting all his family’s attention. Other snaps show Leslie as the shortest (and sluttiest) member of the Chattanooga Boys’ Choir, hardly surprising for a boy who sprouted abundant pubic hair at age twelve (the result of growth hormone treatments) and who was doing drag by age seventeen because “I thought that was what gay was.”

Not all of Fruit Fly is sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, however. Jordan’s more poignant recollections include a family tragedy which struck when he was a mere eleven and a mother-son estrangement that came about years later as a result of a profligate lifestyle. (His, not hers.)

Not surprisingly for anyone familiar with Jordan’s work, the petite charmer is able to find the humor in just about everything—a survival skill he developed from an early age—and that includes his mama’s bizarre psychosomatic reaction to the failure of her second marriage.

David Galligan directs Fruit Fly with ample flair, and makes sure that no seat surrounding the Celebration Theatre’s thrust stage gets shortchanged. Jimmy Cuomo has designed a set that allows us to feel like guests in Jordan’s living room, a scenic design lit to perfection by Matthew Brian Denman. An excellent uncredited sound design features aptly picked musical selections as well as some cleverly timed record scratches and bursts of applause.

The Fruit Fly production team includes executive director/executive producer Michael C. Kricfalusi, artistic director/executive producer John Michael Beck, producers Jerry Gibson/Reaction Productions and Billy Miller, associate managing director/production manager/properties designer Michael O’Hara, and technical director Denman. Production stage manager Marcedes Clanton takes some good-natured kidding by Jordan at various Fruit Fly moments.

It’s not until Fruit Fly’s final seconds that we learn just what (or who) a Fruit Fly is, a surprise this reviewer wouldn’t dare spoil. Suffice it to say that the term came about as the result of a gay cruise taken not all that long ago by Jordan, Miss Peggy, and his inseparable twin sisters. The reveal makes for Fruit Fly’s crowning moment, one that will likely plant a smile on your lips and a tear or two in your eyes—and when all is said and done, what more can a theatergoer ask for?

Celebration Theatre, 7051B Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood.

–Steven Stanley
January 8, 2012
Photos: Matthew Brian Denman

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