The actor and Instagram star, 66, is releasing a new essay collection, How Y’all Doing? Here, he divulges his own Southern charms.

By Seija Rankin
April 16, 2021 at 10:00 AM EDT
Leslie Jordan
Leslie Jordan
| Credit: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

Leslie Jordan rose to social media fame early in the pandemic, thanks to his witty, uncensored, and downright delightful Instagram presence. Yet, as his fans know, the actor has been on the film and television scene long before his videos went viral. In his new essay collection How Y'all Doing?, Jordan continues the divulging he offers up to his followers, with hilarious and heartfelt tales about everything from the time he had an altercation with a homophobic biker gang inside a West Hollywood Starbucks to some of his most treasure on-set memories. To commemorate the book's release, he waxes poetic about the movies, books, and music that have shaped his life and career.

My favorite book as a child

I used to love the bookmobile. We didn't live out in the country [in Tennessee], even though I've tried over the years to make it seem like it — no, honey, we were in the middle-class suburbs. But I would walk to the mobile and sit and read. My favorite was Black Beauty; it was so rich. I read what were at that time considered "little girl" books.

The movie I watch over and over

The Coal Miner's Daughter. Whenever I watch movies and a Southern accent comes around, I think, "What part of the South is that from?" But in Coal Miner's Daughter, which is Loretta Lynn's story, the accents are dead-on. I'm friends with Beverly D'Angelo, who played Patsy Cline, and she sent me a picture of her in yellow pedal pushers. They must not have used that footage.

The last movie I saw in theaters

You're not going to believe it, but [2005's] Brokeback Mountain. I don't go to the movies. I don't know why. I read a lot. But what amazed me about it was how well it portrayed gay people.

The books I read in secret as a kid

[My parents] doted on my twin sisters, so I would go off on my own to see adult movies and things like that — I snuck in to see The Boston Strangler! But I remember reading The Female Eunuch, by Germaine Greer, and The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan. I found them in the library. I was very inquisitive.

Credit: William Morrow

The sitcom I watch that I've never been on

Scripted television is too close to work for me, but I do like The Big Bang Theory. Chuck Lorre's office is right down the hall from my dressing room [for Call Me Kat], and we share the hallway with Mom. Sometimes I hear Allison Janney. And I admire that The Conners just kept going and going — kudos to those kids for that.

The first album I bought with my own money

It was Help!, by the Beatles. [There] were little 45s, and I always liked the flip side of that record better. What I would do is look for the popular albums and buy them for the B side. Paul Revere & the Raiders was big for me too. I always had all these crushes.

My pop culture crush

There was a TV show called The Rifleman, and Johnny Crawford played the rifleman's son; I wrote him a fan letter. See, I would hear the girls at school talking and saying, "Oh, he's so cute," and I would think, "I think so, too." And the boys would say that Angela Cartwright is a fox and I would think, "I don't get it." I couldn't process it yet. But it made me a good actor!

The last book that made me cry

I cry at the drop of a hat — but mostly at reality TV.

My quarantine discovery

There's a wonderful cook named Tabitha Brown, and she has a massive amount of followers. For some reason, when you go on Instagram and start scrolling down, she's always right below me. But I started following her and we've gone back and forth a little bit. She has this wonderful family and involves them in the cooking. I don't even cook, really, but I love when they post pictures of the food.

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