April 22, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Leslie Jordan is most famous for his stint on NBC’s Will & Grace as Beverley Leslie, the effeminate Southern spitfire who was so slight that in the series finale he famously blew off a balcony to his death. But on the evidence of his one-man Off Broadway show, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet — which is based on Jordan’s memoir of the same name — there’s a lot more to the pint-size actor than his ability to trade barbs with Megan Mullally’s infamous bitch Karen Walker (and his ensuing Emmy win). As becomes quickly apparent, Jordan has a doozy of a story to tell.

Jordan begins by dramatizing his childhood in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he battled barbs about his decided lack of masculinity. Jordan claims he was born right into his ”mama’s high heels.” The situation was no different when he arrived in Hollywood in 1982: Jordan encountered directors who thought he just wasn’t butch enough. ”I’m the gayest man I know,” he says early in the show. ”If you cut me open,” he continues, ”Hannah Montana would jump out.”

And on that blazing note, you should be forewarned: My Trip Down the Pink Carpet is quite the gay fandango — and completely rated R. Without missing a beat, Jordan chronicles the phone calls he made to the town pervert in grade school; his exploits with boys in his teen years; his obsessions with Mark Harmon and George Clooney; and his dalliances with hustlers later in life. There are regular interludes involving ”gay bar music,” as Jordan calls it, which allow him to gyrate to disco anthems while telling stories of his past.

Despite all that gay flash and a few questionable moments of frenzy, though, Jordan’s story is deeply heartfelt. He reveals that it wasn’t until he hit rock bottom in 1997 and went to rehab that he truly confronted his biggest problem, and a rather surprising one at that: internalized homophobia. It’s a confession that cuts deeply. As you can imagine — and this is no spoiler — he has triumphantly prevailed. And he has gained enough distance from his troubles to laugh about them heartily, which conveniently contributes to the show’s jaunty, refreshing feel. B

(Tickets: mytripdownthepinkcarpet.com or 866-811-4111)

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