When Leslie Jordan’s new book was released, I quickly snapped it up and finished reading it within a week. How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived is a lovely collection of stories, memories and advice from a man whose life has recently been catapulted more into the spotlight through his Instagram fame during the pandemic.
Jordan has actually been in the entertainment business for several decades, but it seems like recently his career has had quite a resurgence due to Instagram. I have been a fan of his forever. His portrayal of Beverly Leslie on Will & Grace, for which he won an Emmy Award, is brilliant, as were his numerous roles in American Horror Story. I adored his Brother Boy, the Tammy Wynette-loving drag queen in one of my favorite camp classic movies, Sordid Lives. I saw his one-man show many moons ago in New Orleans at the AllWays Lounge doing what he does best — telling stories. As an audience member, I found him sassy but gracious, hysterical yet humble and most of all authentic.
Recently, however, when we were all in lockdown and dealing with very dark days from the pandemic (and political upheaval), Jordan’s Instagram posts lifted my spirits and made me laugh. I even started mimicking his introduction to his posts — “Well, shit, how y’all doing?” — when I spoke with friends and family. He is a living example that laughter is the best medicine. Because for a brief moment when I watched his videos, I wasn’t scared or lonely or angry; I was happy and at peace.
How Y’all Doing? is a 200-page quick read of some of Jordan’s more memorable stories in which he discusses many things from his love of ponies and fascination with dolls to his roles in American Horror Story and his unique meeting with Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.
He does not shy away from tough stories about himself such as his addictions and insecurities; he tackles them head on with dignity and humor. I love every time he says “I fell out of the womb and right into my mama’s high heels” because it reminds me a bit of myself. I think every Southern gay man can relate on some level to many of his experiences. His chapters “Not in My House” and “My First Last Pitch” are stirring accounts of specific events that happened to him that resonated with me as a member of the LGBT+ community since they deal with homophobia and the Pulse massacre. The humorous stories about his family are so sincere and touching that I felt like these people were part of my upbringing.
I highly recommend this book. It is an uplifting memoir of a Southern gay man who brings laughter and heart to everything he does and this comes across so eloquently in his stories. Mr. Jordan, thank you for making me smile and I look forward to hearing about many more of your adventures in your truly “well lived life.”