When the class war comes, Leslie Jordan is the only celebrity we’re saving. Here’s the plan: drive down to the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Airbnb where Jordan is quarantining with his 84-year-old mother and twin sisters. Pile them into our Subaru and head out to find greener gay pastures. We may not have toilet paper or jobs, but at least we’ll have Jordan — and his Instagram account.
The 64-year-old Will & Grace star is the hottest influencer on Instagram. (Sorry, Caroline Calloway.) Jordan had a penchant for funny videos pre-quarantine: They combine the aw-shucks charm of grandparents learning social media with the authentic hilarity of cutting-edge front-facing videos. All are imbued with his signature queer chaos.
Jordan’s video on March 30th, though, solidified the quarantine-grandpa energy many of us didn’t know we needed. With his head rested against a pillow and his phone camera tilted, Jordan distressingly asked his followers in that signature sweet Southern drawl, “Well, shit. What are y’all doin?’”
Nothing, Leslie. The TV legend is just like the rest of us, bored out of our minds and Instagramming through it. “All I need to get me up in the morning is to hear him say, ‘Well, shit. What are y’all doin?’ Love that girl,” says certified Bushwick, Brooklyn, gay Kevin Reid, 29.
Jordan is giving horny Twitter a run for its money, reacting in real-time to a clip of porn shown off-screen while eating a sandwich. “She’s so loud. Oh, don’t you dare judge me. Y’all are out there doing it. I can at least watch it,” he says in the clip, tilting his head to understand the “very limber” positions this camgirl is putting herself in.
For much of Jordan’s career, he played downtrodden sidekicks. In his 2008 book My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, Jordan outlines drug and alcohol addiction while trying to keep his career afloat when his 4-foot-11 height and flamboyant gayness were mocked for laughs.
Recently, though, the Jordan renaissance has illuminated the gay icon he’s always been. He’s still stealing scenes in the Will & Grace revival as the bitter rival of Karen Walker (Megan Mullally). Jordan is a member of Ryan Murphy’s queer coven, appearing on several seasons of American Horror Story. Last year, he secured his spot as sitcom royalty in Fox’s short-lived sitcom The Cool Kids alongside Martin Mull, David Alan Grier and Vicki Lawrence.
As he gleefully shared on Instagram earlier this month, Jordan will star in Fox’s Call Me Kat, an upcoming comedy with Mayim Bialik, Kyla Pratt and Cheyenne Jackson. “Not a pilot, baby. Straight to series,” he says in the video.
As we quarantine to protect older populations, Jordan’s sweet videos are the big wet grandpa kisses we’re missing, the hugs we can’t have and the black licorice we can’t steal from the cupboard. Jordan even coined an adorable term for his fans: Hunker Downers. “He’s an adorable man who’s getting us (mainly the gays, obviously) through this with a few laughs,” Reid says.
Jordan offers the “back-in-my-day” grandpa stories many of us waited too long to hear from our own relatives, except Jordan’s are usually about twirling a baton in front of his Southern army-colonel father.
Clayton Jordan, 25, discovered Leslie Jordan’s Instagram the day after Clayton’s aunt Mary died from heart failure. Due to the pandemic, Clayton’s family couldn’t give Mary a proper funeral. Jordan’s Instagram provided an unexpected comfort, resembling his aunt’s sweet narrations. “My most fondest memories of her were listening to her catalogueeeee of stories!” Clayton says. “Sometimes I would sit adjacent to her bed because my legs would grow tired of standing in the doorway while we talked and laughed.”
With no end to the pandemic in sight, Jordan, alongside actress Tabitha Brown, is one of the few online figures offering joy and positivity — not pointless platitudes or rehashing old beef. “I am forever indebted to their cheerful, uplifting and authentic spirits,” Clayton says.