In a year of glittering ‘pinch me, I’m dreaming’ successes – a five-star sold-out Edinburgh Fringe show, a new self-written TV series with Simon Pegg and a night at the London Palladium, one moment stands out for transcomedian/singer/actress/whatever-she-wants-to-be Jordan Gray.
It’s a story of a full house, her grandfather and full nudity. And no, that’s not an anxiety dream.
‘It was so beautiful,’ says Jordan, looking very glamorous for 10am, posed against a bunch of balloons, part of her wife of four years’ birthday celebrations.
‘I saw my granddad standing out in the rain waiting to get into the show at Edinburgh and I know that as far as he was concerned he was just coming to see his grandson. He doesn’t know anything about transgenderism.
‘I saw him laughing during the songs and then at the end as a surprise I’m nude and there was a lovely standing ovation and I said, “Keep that standing ovation going for the most important man in the room, my actual granddad.”
‘And he got up on stage, hugged me – I’m nude, remember – and then he put his walking stick up in the air and said: “She’s amazing!”
‘In the course of the hour, he’s figured out what’s going on and has declared it to the whole room.’
Another nude appearance that got the whole room going was Jordan’s performance on Channel 4’s Friday Night Live last week, where she stripped off mid-way through a song.
The audience loved it, but 1,400 viewers didn’t, with complaints to Ofcom. ‘It’s been incredibly heart-warming that the vast majority of the press has been so overwhelmingly positive about my Friday Night Live performance,’ Jordan says.
‘I hope I’ve opened the door a crack wider for more acceptance in the long run.’
The appearance may only add to her popularity, as she is set to become the first ever openly transgender person to have their own show at the mighty London Palladium.
Jordan’s dad actually made a grid of pictures of everyone who’d ever played the Palladium – Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Kate Bush – with a question mark as if to say ‘Who’s next?’, knowing full well who it was. ‘Apart from Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, everyone has played it.’
The show is called Is It A Bird?, and Jordan adds: ‘You can work out from the pun that it’s a bit about superheroes – “Is it a bird? Is it a plane?”, and about me being transgender…
‘The story of transgender people is that we’re apparently earnest and worthy, but we are very much like anyone else. Like the X-Men, we walk among you. And so many of us are literally ex-men.’ Jordan even got Sir Ian McKellen, who went to see the show in Edinburgh, to officially ‘knight’ her an X Man/ex-man live during the show.
‘If you’re tied up in knots about using the wrong pronouns, this show is there to dispel that,’ says Jordan, Essex born and bred.
‘Half of the show is me saying: “You know that thing you thought you had to take very seriously? No one cares about that.” When you’re transgender, whether you want it or not, everything is about being transgender, because that’s all people think about.
‘They see you and their brain is going “woman/penis” so it’s in their minds anyway, so I might as well play with it.’
It may be what Jordan calls a ‘lightning bolt’ moment for her, career-wise, but she has been toiling away, first in music, for years, even going on The Voice, where, having failed to get any of the judges to turn round, she replaced a dropper-out and ended up making the semi-final.
‘You hear horror stories about reality TV,’ says Jordan, ‘but it was just great. Paloma Faith was the one who told me not to worry about my voice not being particularly feminine.’
And even though Boy George didn’t turn round, he did want to go out to dinner with Jordan ‘and he’s been really supportive as well’.
And now it seems like the sky is the limit, even if it does mean Jordan is working her fingers to the bone.
‘I’ve got two new sitcoms on the go,’ she says. ‘I made a short-form show called Transaction and Nick Frost said if it ever gets made for TV, I want to be in it.’
Now, it is being made and Nick will play supermarket boss to Jordan’s bolshy shelf-stacker Liv – ‘basically me with a different name’ – and ‘all being well, Simon Pegg will play his boss, if he ever comes back from making Mission Impossible 20’.
As for being the official talk of the town, Jordan is loving it. ‘I’m 12 years sober and I’ve never smoked a cigarette, so I’ve got nothing else to get high on…’