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How Leslie Jordan made it big: ‘If you want to get sober, try 27 days in county jail’

After starring in Will & Grace and American Horror Story, his life took a twist in lockdown and he became an Instagram superstar at 65. He discusses fame, fun and sharing a cell with Robert Downey Jr

For a man of such diminutive stature – 4ft 11in in shoes – Leslie Jordan loves a tall tale. A cursory question at the start of our interview about where he is calling from, for example, results in this glorious flight of fancy: “I got on a bus in 1982, from the hills of Tennessee. I had $1,200 sewn into my underpants by my mother and I arrived in LA and found West Hollywood, which is where I currently live.”

Such vivid storytelling – delivered in a honey-thick southern drawl, accentuated perfectly by a knowing campness – is part of the reason for Jordan’s unexpected career boost at 65. A jobbing actor best known for his role in American Horror Story and his Emmy-winning turn as Beverly Leslie, the acid-tongued rival of Megan Mullally’s Karen in Will & Grace, Jordan spent most of 2020 becoming an accidental internet sensation, racking up 5.6 million Instagram followers – including the likes of Rihanna and Lily Allen – thanks to his charmingly chaotic videos.

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