The creation of fake West Virginian teen hustler and author-savant JT Leroy took three people. One can see the deception as a selfish hoax or a grand experiment in fame—the idea of JT exposed a yearning for a certain type of authenticity. The post-scandal interview by Leroy's spiritual imposter and key manipulator Laura Albert has already been done—by Rolling Stone, which had her broke and borrowing $500 from her manager and mourning the loss of her creation. (Geoff Knoop, Albert's former partner in love and JT, follows her press assiduously, judging from the e-mail he sent us after doing an Albert item last fall.) Now, Savannah Knoop, Albert's sister-in-law who actually played the physical role of LeRoy—wig, glasses and all—has resurfaced with a new memoir (Girl Boy Girl) to shill. How'd she become JT Leroy, anyway?From Radar:
Laura Albert was successfully sued for fraud for pretending to be a drug-addicted teen in books she wrote under the assumed name and gender of JT Leroy, so of course she's in an excellent position to lecture her co-conspirator Savannah Knoop for daring to write a tell-all account of the deception. Knoop, you see, was the woman who pretended to be JT Leroy in public appearances, while Albert was the one who did the hard work of, uh, making shit up. Now Knoop is publishing Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy, and Albert thinks that is "sad and sleazy" because she, Albert, was the real defrauder in the JT Leroy saga. "Just because you play a writer doesn't mean you are a writer," Albert told Page Six. True, and just because you slap the label "non-fiction" on your otherwise mediocre "art" to build buzz doesn't mean you have to refrain from calling anyone else a sell-out. But people have been known to grow and mature! [Page Six]
In this week's Rolling Stone profile, Guy Lawson surveys the damage of the JT Leroy implosion, described as the "first complete recounting [Laura Albert] has ever offered of the decade-long transformation of an HIV-positive, transgender street kid named Terminator into the celebrated fiction writer Jeremiah 'Terminator' Leroy."
How can we describe Alan Feuer's profile of Laura Albert in today's New York Times? It is misery. For one thing, we are told that the woman formerly known as JT Leroy is now reduced to living in a "San Francisco walk-up." You know what? If she was actually poor she'd move to Oakland like everyone else. And anyway, how many buildings shorter than six floors in quake country actually have an elevator? "Ms. Albert has veracity issues. Can she be trusted? What, in short, should be discarded? What believed?" That's fun, coming from a guy with a bullshit memoir. He then describes Atascadero, California as "a cheerless town of bedding stores," which is sad, as he might have enjoyed knowing that Atascadero is actually home to California's favorite all-male maximum security psychiatric facility, which employs a decent percentage of the town's residents. Boy he would have loved to torture that metaphor. Then they get to L.A. and David Milch shows up and gives her some cash and boy I bet he wish he'd kept that $500 bucks, now that, thank God, "John From Cincinnati" got shot in the face.
So Laura Albert, who spent years pretending that her books were written by an abused AIDsy teen, feels that it is unfair that she's been successfully sued for fraud. Today, she tells Cindy Adams that her life, while perhaps not as difficult as the life of the truck-stop hooker child she invented, is still pretty rough. "My mother's just out of ICU. She can't bring even a cup of water to her mouth. My mom taught English in a New York City school. My assistant principal in Bushwick father and mother aren't together. Remarried, he lives in Stuyvesant Town. My sister's a speech pathologist. It's not a family with money. My ex is my son Trevor's father so I'll say nothing bad about him. He's a musician. He's 40. He wanted to be a rock star. And he wiped me out. From the stress my functioning has become limited. I'm under heavy medication with hypertension, diarrhea and bone infection." Jeez, did this lady never hear this in a creative writing class: "Never explain, never complain?" Apparently not, because boy does she go on.
"I was able to take problems of the soul and transform them into problems of art, to put on a disguise," Laura "JT Leroy" Albert whinged to unsympathetic Post scold Andrea Peyser. "I create like an oyster creates a pearl—out of irritation. Not to see itself on Paris Hilton's neck—and I'm not attacking her! Paris Hilton does not solve the problems of the spirit." But wait: Seriously, woman, what are you wearing?
Laura "JT Leroy" Albert has to pay Antidote Films $116,000. Guess the jury wasn't buying that "I was fat as a child" defense.
Here is how the Post's Kati Cornell is reporting about Laura "JT Leroy" Albert's testimony in her defense against charges that she defrauded Antidote films by implying that a transgender teen truck stop hooker wrote her books: "'I didn't want my name . . . I could have my character come out. But when that's gone and there's nobody but 'Fat Albert,' there's no place to go,' the busty writer told her lawyer, Eric Weinstein." Yuck. But maybe Kati is just trying to be reassuring! After all, Laura's whole defense seems to be that she was fat as a kid and got teased and that this caused her to have split personalities, one of whom just happened to be a writer with incredibly marketable sob story. Calling her "busty" might be Kati's way of trying to help Laura heal her psychic wounds. What a shining example of how ladies, even ladies who pose as girl-boys to sell books and ladies who pose as misogynistic men to sell newspapers, can stick together!
Jury selection starts tomorrow for Antidote Films v. Laura "JT Leroy" Albert. We hear the charge is fraud, though we'd like to add "making everyone feel like such dumbasses."
Earlier today, Britney Spears announced that she'd be starring in a Broadway production of "The Year of Magical Fabricating Identity," a Scott Rudin production of the life story of non-person JT Leroy. "I've got a wig, y'all," Ms. Spears announced. "And so did shim. Or herm. Thon! Whatever ya call it!"
Fake writer Laura Albert, who wrote the books originally attributed to a male truck-stop hooker named JT Leroy, continues to light the fire of our righteous indignation. Albert, you'll recall, is unrepentant, using the whole 'it was a literary hoax, I'm playing with notions of gender and identity' thing as a copout. She also 'didn't do it for the money,' she claims in this recent interview, though there must be a considerable amount involved, considering that two of Leroy novels have had their film rights optioned. But perhaps most infuriatingly, Albert seems to completely misunderstand the process by which profile subjects are selected to be on the cover of Vanity Fair. Here, she's talking about how thrilled she's been to be featured on the cover of the Paris Review:
We've spent the last 6 hours reading Vanity Fair's online exclusive about the "untold story" behind Fake Writer JT Leroy — honestly, it wouldn't have taken so long if we hadn't kept nodding off. So far as we can tell, the only part that's exclusive or particularly untold are the direct quotes from Geoffrey Knoop, estranged husband of JT mastermind Laura Albert. Kudos to VF for actually making this story less interesting — maybe that's why it's only available online? Not bland enough to kill, but not spicy enough to be printed on a glossy page.
• New York mag's sex columnist Amy Sohn spares us her return. Instead, she'll be writing in-depth features for the magazine on matters such as breast milk and bjorns, reasoning that "parenting is hot right now." Yeah? Tell that to our Ortho Tri-Cyclen, crazy lady. [NYO]
• A glimpse into Jared Paul Stern's future at Page Six: "Insiders say that Walter Ripley, currently serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence for racketeering, has been slowly moving in on the cigarette and pornography concession previously run by kidnapper George 'Two Thumbs' Theophilus." [McSweeney's]
• More on Ron Burkle's power in Democratic party. [Kausfiles]
• And even The Onion weighs in. [The Onion]
• MySpace is so dangerous, they've hired former federal prosecutor Hemanshu Nigam to keep the kiddies safe from internet predators. [NYT]
• The only Ann Coulter movie we'd ever see. [Towleroad]
• "JT Leroy" continues to write, albeit for something called Lemon. [FishbowlNY]
• Smirnoff will teach Brooklynites "how to do graffiti." Brooklynites, in return, will teach Smirnoff how to fuck off and die like the corporate whores they are. [Consumerist]