At one point in his one man show Like a Dog on Linoleum, LGBTQIA icon Leslie Jordan recalled his desperate, unreturned affection for a young Romanian hustler. The two had met while Jordan was on location for a low budget horror film called Madhouse. As the actor, open heartedly and honestly, poured out his sorrow about never having been really loved, I felt my soul reach out in a true connection with him.
The year was 2006 and I was in my late 30s. My one long term relationship had ultimately turned out to be more of an intense friendship on my end…and even that confusing partnership had ended almost 12 years previously. It seemed that, much like Jordan, I, too, was to remain luckless when it came to love. I couldn’t have fully admitted that then, of course. Indeed, it has taken well over a decade for me to reach that kind of honesty with myself. Still, Jordan’s brave reflection has stayed with me over the years.
That sense of truth, poignantly peeking out from beneath the floorboards of his often-flamboyant comic energy, is what ultimately endeared this diminutive performer to the public over the years. Thus, his unexpected death at the age of 67 this past October hit the world harder than many other celebrity passings. The horror community, in particular, felt this loss. While his most loved role was probably that of Shelby in Jason Goes to Hell, one of the Friday the 13th universe’s many sequels, he also added his singular spark to such projects as American Horror Story, Frankenstein General Hospital, Undead or Alive and Fear Inc.
Interestingly, his work in the Friday film, which was released in 1993, hinted at the more openly specific work that he would, passionately, do in the future. There, romantically paired against Rusty Schwimmer’s towering Joey, he seemed to be helping act out the small town reality of many gay folks. This unusual couple registered, caringly, as two people performing a lifetime commitment to each other as beards for each other’s true sexual identities. It was a loving relationship, for sure, but one that reeked of mutual assistance in a world that wasn’t quite ready to accept people for who they actually were. I know I felt a spark of recognition watching them onscreen. I am sure I was not alone in that fact.
30 years ahead of his time, Jordan left this world far too quickly. I can only hope that towards the end of his life he felt some of the romantic love that he so richly deserved. Ever open minded, I wish the same for myself in the days and years ahead. as well.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!