Meeting the moment has paid off big time for Leslie Jordan.
The pint-sized actor, known for flamboyant TV roles in "Will & Grace," "American Horror Story" and "The Cool Kids," is now a New York Times best-selling author with his new book, "How Y'all Doing? Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived."
Released by the William Morrow imprint of HarperCollins on April 27, the compact hardcover essay collection debuted in the No. 4 position on the coveted best-sellers hardcover nonfiction book list.
Emblematic of Bevy Smith's honest adage: It gets greater later, the 66-year-old Emmy Award winner shared the good news in a "door-to-door" sketch on Instagram.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Jordan became a social-media sensation by regularly posting videos where he commiserated about the pandemic, life, Southern roots, and dished about his career in show business.
The self-described "hunker downer" — who asked "How y'all doin?" in many of the videos — now boasts more than 5.7 million on Instagram, mostly gained over the past year.
When a friend told him he had gone viral while Jordan was quarantining with his mom in Tennessee last year, Jordan informed the friend he was fine and didn't have the coronavirus — having no idea what the terminology meant.
In his first New York Times best-seller, Jordan dishes about working with Jessica Lange, Lady Gaga and Ryan Murphy on "American Horror Story," the impact Truman Capote had on him during his younger years and an unexpected phone call from Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds after the National Enquirer published photos of him in women's clothing.
The first-rate raconteur even offers up a wild story about throwing sweet tea in a homophobic hoodlum's face during a confrontation at a Starbucks in West Hollywood.
"How Y'all Doing?" is Jordan's second book. His first, "My Trip Down the Red Carpet" was published in 2008 and focused more about struggles he had growing up gay and his struggles with the Baptist church.
While insightful, the collection of intimate and sassy essays isn't all wine and roses.
The 4-foot-11 Chattanooga native reflects on how his larger-than-life personality has been just a little too big for his hometown at times. Jordan even delves into more weighty topics like the loss of his father at age 11, his battle with substance addiction, drug overdoses, hospitalizations, a battle with alcoholic hepatitis and being wired money when he was starving between jobs.
The opening line of each witty essay poses a question, makes a statement or repeats some adage that Jordan applies to his life.
Weeks before the book was released, Jordan released a gospel album called "Company's Comin'," featuring traditional and original hymns with sought-after country and pop music acts such as Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Eddie Vedder and Tanya Tucker (whom he used to perform as in drag).
"Singing these songs, it felt like I was recapturing the joy of what this music meant to me as a kid but without all the baggage," Jordan said when the project was announced. "When I was growing up, I wanted so badly to be a good Christian, but I knew that the church would never accept me for who I was. It's liberating now to come back to these hymns, completely at peace with myself, and sing without any hint of the guilt or shame I felt in my youth."
A true highlight of the music collection was a collaboration with his idol Dolly Parton on the hymn "Where the Soul Never Dies," originally recorded by Christian Gospel Choir in 2012.
"I grew up very near below where Dolly grew up and I've just always had this dream of meeting her, and I even drove one time, from Knoxville, where I was in — I went to the University of Tennessee — and I drove up to Pigeon Forge where she's from, and she performed in the high school auditorium," the Southern Baptist celebutante recalled during a recent appearance on "Tamron Hall."
"And when I met her, I told her that and she said, 'Oh, yeah, that was 1973.' And I said, 'Dolly, I was there.' And she said, 'Oh, you're just making that up.' I said, 'No, I'm not darling. I remember you came out and you said, What's a country girl without her haystack?' Because that's when her hair was really high," he continued. "We just hit it off. You know, she's everything. When we got to meet, people would say, well, what's she like? Well, you know what she's like. She's just Dolly."
Jordan was scheduled to make his Grand Ole Opry debut on May 22, alongside such stars as Vince Gill and Brothers Osborne.
Jordan, who can also be seen in the Fox comedy "Call Me Kat" starring Mayim Bialik, recently portrayed journalist Reginald Lord Devine in Lee Daniels' acclaimed historical drama "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," which netted two Academy Award nominations for Hollywood breakout Andra Day.
Of his casting, Daniels told Variety: "I'm a big fan of Leslie's, and I've always wanted to work with him. When I was thinking about this character — a journalist who interviews celebrities down on their luck — I envisioned a fusion of Quentin Crisp and Skip E. Lowe, a role I knew only Leslie could bring to life."
In the final paragraph of "How Y'all Doing," Jordan writes: "So, to all my dear new friends, this is not goodbye forever. It is only goodbye for now. Goodbye till I get revved up and ready to sync unto a whole bunch of new stories."