Cheyenne Jackson has made some changes in his life recently—including a new husband and children.
Just a month after his last performances at Feinstein’s at the Nikko in January, 2014, the veteran of Broadway, American Horror Story, Glee, and the San Francisco Symphony production of West Side Story announced his engagement to Jason Landau, an actor and entrepreneur, who he praises as “smart, animated, and sharply funny.”
Jackson, who met Landau at a 12-step meeting, says that he had natural trepidations about building a relationship while working to recover from addiction and the end of his first marriage. “But when I met Jason,” he recalls, “I knew. We both did.”
The couple were married in September, 2014 and welcomed daughter Willow and son Ethan this past October.After the twins were born, Jackson took six months off of work to be a stay-at-home father. But that didn’t stop him from exercising his musical talents.
“I sing to my kids constantly,” he noted recently from the family’s home in Los Angeles. “Sometimes its children’s songs, but there’s almost always music playing in our house, so I just sing along. Both kids really respond to music. Their bodies wiggle and their arms and legs shoot out adorably and they squeal. Sometimes I just make up a song for them. Jason does fully choreographed danced routines—they love that, and they laugh hard.”
Jackson says he grew up in a house full of music himself, “My mom always sung to me. My mother never took a music lesson, but she had perfect pitch and a clear, beautiful voice. She sang folk music mostly: Joni Mitchell Joan Baez, Bob Dylan—my parents were hippies.” And evangelical Christians.
“My mother taught me how to sing harmony when I was five. There’s a song I remember singing with her, ‘Oh you can’t get to heaven on roller skates/’Cause you’d roll right by those pearly gates.'”
“Lots of subtext in that one,” jokes Jackson, whose early Broadway leads included the rolling role of Sonny in the camp extravaganza, Xanadu.
While Jackson now maintains a good relationship with his mother after some uneasiness in the years after his coming out, he says that he’ll raise own his kids with slightly different lessons: “The golden rule always applies…but I’m going to be skipping the Bible stories. And I’m going to teach them what RuPaul taught me—Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business!”
As his six months at home with the children comes to an end, Jackson says that while “it’s been the most rewarding experience of my life, I definitely feel the pressure to be employed because there are two more mouths to feed. I don’t fret about it though. My priority is still my relationship with my husband and with my kids.” He’s even hoping the family will be able join him in San Francisco.
His performances at Feinstein’s at the Nikko will include some new selections, but also familiar tunes from Jackson’s cabaret repertoire. “It’s interesting what fatherhood does to your storytelling as a singer,” he remarks. “I’m finding much more pathos and nuance in some of the songs.”