Emmy Award winner Leslie Jordan says he’ll roll into Atlanta today in his “big, Loretta Lynn-worthy, tricked-out bus” for a three-day stay promoting his new book, “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet” (Simon & Schuster Inc., $21.95).
At each of the 30 cities on his U.S.-Canada book tour, Mr. Jordan includes a signing/reading and performance of his one-man show. Two shows have been scheduled in Atlanta, his closest stop to Chattanooga, in order to meet demand. Mr. Jordan will be performing on the mainstage of the 14th Street Playhouse in Atlanta on Sunday and Monday nights.
According to Appollonia Khan, Playhouse spokeswoman, Sunday’s show has few seats remaining and Monday’s performance in the 400-seat theater is halfway sold.
“We anticipate being sold out by Monday,” she said.
Mr. Jordan is the alumnus of Brainerd High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga who won an Emmy Award for his recurring role as the cynical Beverley Leslie, arch nemesis of Megan Mullally on “Will & Grace.” He has had roles in more than 50 television shows ranging from “Reba” and “Murphy Brown” to “Boston Legal” and “Hidden Palms.”
His first book, “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet,” includes reflections on growing up in Chattanooga and life’s twists and turns before achieving fame in Hollywood.
Fans who have seen his one-man show, “Like a Dog on Linoleum,” will recognize that it is the foundation of this book, supplemented with funny anecdotes about stars with whom he has worked. Betty White, Boy George, the cast of “Will & Grace,” Cloris Leachman and Matt Lauer are all name-checked along with Mr. Jordan’s great tale of a practical joke played on him by George Clooney.
Mr. Jordan said his publisher’s original plan was to send him on a traditional book-signing tour. But friends know that would have been too tame for this showman. He decided he would “act out the book” in a stage show much like “Dog” at each stop on the tour.
“On my own dime, I hired a marketing firm from Palm Springs that puts together marketing tours. They came up with the bus tour going city to city,” Mr. Jordan said. “My plan was to do the show, and then say everybody meet me after for a book-signing in the lobby.”
But Mr. Jordan said Simon & Schuster nixed his idea of selling books at the venue, because sales reports from the major booksellers supply statistics from which best-seller lists are made.
“Even if I bought a million books myself, I couldn’t sell them at the venue,” Mr. Jordan explains. “I am seeing how corporate America operates.”
Mr. Jordan said he sold 240 books at his first signing in a Barnes & Noble.
“Book sales have been slow, but steady. I’m not a Tori Spelling or Lance Bass, this is the kind of book that will take word of mouth to sell books,” said the author.
Local booksellers agree with his “slow but steady” prognosis.
“We have sold 10 copies of the book in two weeks. It is selling steadily and we have just received more,” said Elizabeth Murphy, community relations manager of Barnes & Noble at Hamilton Place.
Staff at Books-a-Million said they had received a limited number of books, which have sold out. Meg Day at Rock Point said her store expects to receive five copies of the book this weekend.
Mr. Jordan said he wrote the autobiography over four months last summer.
“Writing was a lonely profession,” he drawled.
“I made the mistake of wanting to read it to people. I started noticing that people weren’t inviting me anywhere. Then a friend finally told me ‘We don’t invite you anymore because you make us listen to that book!’ Their eyes would glaze over. You can’t have that need to get patted on the back and be a writer,” he noted wryly.
The actor said he already has had two firm offers to take this show to New York this fall. He said his manager is hesitant to make a commitment.
“My manager wants me to see what the TV season has to offer. But Hollywood will never see me other than the funny little guy who comes in with the zingers. I think there’s more.
“I don’t know of any other actor who can stand on a stage and make people laugh and make them cry like I can. Maybe this is my calling. I can make good money onstage, not TV money, but I still say let’s ride this pony as far as we can go.”
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...