- JT LeRoy
Jeremiah "Terminator" LeRoy was a
pen nameof American writer Laura Albert. The name was used from 1996 on for publication in magazines such as "Nerve" [((http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/features/14718/ Who is the Real JT LeRoy?] . After the publication of LeRoy's first novel, "Sarah", LeRoy started making public appearances. Albert's friend Savannah Knoop, wearing a wig and sunglasses, presented herself as LeRoy at public appearances.
LeRoy was supposedly born
October 31, 1980in West Virginia. His backstorywas one of prostitution, drug addictionand vagrancyin California, prior to the publication of his first novel in 1999. However, an exposé in October 2005 revealed that JT LeRoy was Laura Albert. In a January 2006 article in " The New York Times", LeRoy's agent, manager, movie producer, as well as several journalists, declared that the LeRoy seen in public was Savannah Knoop, the half-sister of Albert's then partner, Geoffrey Knoop. In a February 2006 interview with " The New York Times", Geoffrey Knoop stated that Laura Albert was author of the LeRoy books, which Albert has confirmed. [http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-jt-leroy,1,6558671.story L.A. Times "Writer Behind JT LeRoy Comes Clean"] ] [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/20/nyregion/20cnd-writer.html?ex=1339992000&en=dd65fdd75ca5b238&ei=5088 Writer Testifies About Source of Nom de Plume] By Alan Feuer, N.Y. Times, Published: June 20, 2007] She describes LeRoy as a "veil" rather than a "hoax", and claims that she was able to say things as LeRoy that could not have said as Laura Albert. Laura originally published as Terminator and later JT LeRoy. [http://www.jtleroy.com/images/TPR178_JTLeroy.pdf Laura Albert interviews by Nathaniel Rich for "Paris Review'] ]
*"Sarah" (1999) LeRoy, JT. "Sarah". Bloomsbury USA (
June 9 2000) ISBN 1-58234-146-X] :A story of prostitutionand child sexual abusetold by a 12-year-old boy, nicknamed Cherry Vanilla. The 12-year-old aspires to be a famous 'girl' lot lizard.
* "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things" (1999) LeRoy, JT. "
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things". Bloomsbury USA Hardcover ( June 9 2001) ISBN 1-58234-142-7 Paperback ( June 1 2002) ISBN 1-58234-211-3] :A collection of short stories about the early life of young Jeremiah and his truck-stop prostitute mother Sarah, which depicts drug abuse, child sexual abuseand physical child abuse.
*"Harold's End" (2005) LeRoy, JT. "Harold's End". Last Gasp (
January 30 2005) ISBN 0-86719-614-9. originally in "McSweeney's Quarterly Concern" Issue 7. Italian translation "La fine di Harold" by Martina Testa. Fazio Editore 2003. ISBN 88-8112-387-8)] :The novella follows a young heroinaddict who is befriended by Larry, an older man with an unusual turn-on, from whom he receives an unusual pet. Illustrations are by acclaimed Australian artist Cherry Hood. Published by Last Gasp. (The narrator has, by some commentators, been mistakenly called Oliver because that name captions a portrait of the character by Cherry Hood. In fact, the character has no name, a device LeRoy also uses in "Sarah.")
*"Labour" (2007) LeRoy, JT. "Labour". Last Gasp USA (
March 31 2007) ISBN 978-0867196542] :A young boy lives with his mother and her good-for-nothing boyfriend in a small trailer. When a new baby comes along, he must take care of it the best he can, drawing inspiration from a book about the labors of Hercules. "Labour" is the new novella from acclaimed author JT LeRoy, the second in a series, the first of which was "Harold's End". This volume also features watercolor illustrations from Australian artist Cherry Hood. "(It is still uncomfirmed whether this book will be published as it has been delayed since April 2006)"
Contributions to other written works
LeRoy's work has also been published in literary journals such as
Francis Ford Coppola's "", "McSweeney's Quarterly Concern", "Memorious", and " Oxford American" magazine's Seventh Annual Music Issue. LeRoy is listed as a contributing editor to "BlackBook" magazine, " i-D" and " 7x7" magazines, and is credited with writing reviews, articles and interviews for " The New York Times", the "The Times" of London, "Spin", " Film Comment", "Filmmaker", " Flaunt", " Index Magazine", "Interview", and "Vogue", among others.
LeRoy's work has also appeared in such anthologies as "The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003",
MTV's "Lit Riffs", "XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits", Nadav Kander's "Beauty's Nothing", and "The Fourth Sex: Adolescent Extremes". LeRoy is also listed as guest editor for "Da Capo’s Best Music Writing 2005". LeRoy, JT (ed). "Da Capo Best Music Writing 2005: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Hip-hop, Jazz, Pop, Country & More". Da Capo Press ( October 30 2005) ISBN 0-306-81446-3]
Additionally, LeRoy has written liner notes and biographies for musicians
Billy Corgan, Liz Phair, Conor Oberst, Ash, Bryan Adams, Marilyn Manson, Nancy Sinatraand Courtney Loveand profiled award-winner Juergen Tellerfor the 2003 CitibankPhotography Prize catalogue.
The original screenplay for
Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" (2003) is credited to LeRoy; in the meantime, Van Sant had begun making "Gerry", a largely improvisational, non-narrative film. He decided to continue that approach with "Elephant" while retaining some of LeRoy's contributions [http://movieweb.com/movies/download.php?id=1168&q=notes.htm/combined] . LeRoy is also listed as that film's associate producer.
LeRoy is also credited as associate producer for the 2004 film adaptation of "
The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things", directed by and starring Asia Argento. It was released in spring 2006. LeRoy made a few appearances at promotional events. Antidote Filmsand producers Jeff Levy-Hinte("Thirteen", "Laurel Canyon") had announced plans for a film adaptation of "Sarah" to be directed by Steven Shainberg("Secretary") from a screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilsonand short story by Mary Gaitskill. Laura Albert was sued in June 2007 by Antidote Filmsfor fraud, claiming that the contract signed by JT LeRoy to make a feature film is null and void, as LeRoy does not exist. On June 22, 2007, Albert was found guilty of fraudby a Manhattanjury, and ordered to pay $110,000 to Antidote, as well as $6,500 in punitive damages. [ http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LITERARY_LAWSUIT?SITE=VACUL&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT ]
LeRoy is also a contributing writer to the upcoming movie "
House of Boys", a love story set in Amsterdamin 1984. Layke Anderson, Deborah Harry, Stephen Fryand Udo Kierare set to star. The film is to be directed by Jean-Claude Schlim and produced by Delux Productions ("Girl with a Pearl Earring") with shooting scheduled to start in Luxembourg, the Netherlandsand Moroccoin summer 2007.
In 1994, LeRoy got in touch with novelist
Dennis Cooperby faxing a request through Cooper’s agent, Ira Silverberg. He struck up a telephone friendship with Cooper, who introduced him to the writer Bruce Benderson, through whom he contacted novelist Joel Rose, writer Laurie Stone, editor Karen Rinaldi, and agent Henry Dunow. He also got in touch with poet Sharon Olds, Mary Karrand Mary Gaitskill, among others. LeRoy thus built a core of literary supporters, engaging in lengthy, intimate phone conversations and correspondence with them. His biography seemed tailor-made for their interests. Like Olds, he had a strict family background; like Cooper’s characters, he was a boy who had fantasies of being beaten up; like Benderson’s characters, he was a hustler; like Gaitskill’s characters, he was involved in S&Mand prostitution.
In 2000, writer
Brian Pera, who had traveled the country on his own book tour, said he had met other writers who were in contact with Leroy by e-mail and phone; Leroy had bonded via extensive, often contradictory revelations, but was never able to meet these carefully cultivated confidants in public or in private. Throughout the 1990s, LeRoy rarely appeared in public. Then in 2001, a person claiming to be LeRoy began appearing in public, usually decked out in wig and sunglasses.
Peter Carlson wrote in "
The Washington Post", " The San Francisco Chronicle" called the LeRoy affair 'the greatest literary hoax in a generation'. But this fascinating interview reveals that the real story was far more complex and interesting." In "Lemon Magazine", head writer Robert Bundy wrote an editorial entitled "Yes Virginia, There Is A JT LeRoy," in the style of Francis P. Church's classic 1897 newspaper editorial defending the belief in Santa Claus. Bundy argued that LeRoy exists "because a touching expression of longing, suffering, love, and endurance is not disqualified simply because it issues from a construct. He exists because if words and stories resonate and move the reader, then it matters not that the hand writing them signed another's name."
In early 2001, Garbage singer
Shirley Mansonmentioned reading "Sarah" in her band's online journal [ [http://www.garbage.com Detecting Plug Ins... (One Moment Please) ] ] . Manson then received LeRoy's manuscript for "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things" and they became friends. At the time, Manson was writing and recording the band's third album, " beautifulgarbage", and wrote a song about LeRoy called "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)". Manson later referenced LeRoy and his friend Speedie in the title song from the band's fourth effort, " Bleed Like Me". Shirley Manson wrote JT Leroy and said "I can assure you, our little bug is really our little bug. I have held hands with him, I know he's for real."
While many authors have taken
pen namesfor various reasons ( anonymity, protection of privacy), the persona that Albert and her friends created raised criticism from those who took her novels to be autobiographical, though the works were published as fiction. The controversial subject matter in her work created substantial critical interest in the author, and various reporters and book critics sought out her natural identity. LeRoy, citing extreme shyness, refused to appear in public without being disguised in a wig, hat, and sunglasses. [http://www.rainbownetwork.com/images/jt_150.jpg] . To perpetuate his shyness, LeRoy would rarely speak in public and regularly hide under tables during his own book readings.
Interviewers were rarely left alone with "LeRoy," having to deal with his 'family' never leaving him alone for interview, claiming that they were "protecting" him from the temptations from his former life as a drug user. In an interview with "
The Guardian" on January 4, 2006, "LeRoy" says that he is "Twenty-three, er ... 24," when he would have been 25 years old, and becomes caught out when asked what Wiffleballis, although claiming in all of his author's bios that he enjoys playing it. The writer of the article, Laura Barton, quickly received an email from the LeRoy camp attempting to cover-up the slip-up. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1677409,00.html Laura Barton meets JT LeRoy, one of America's coolest young writers | World news | The Guardian ] ] Despite Albert's claims in the "Paris Review" article that Savannah Knoop had "become" LeRoy, to the point that Savannah Knoop did not need "coaching" anymore, the cracks showed in the hoax.
Beachy article and its fallout
Stephen Beachywrote in the October 10, 2005issue of "New York" magazine suggesting that LeRoy and his associate, Speedie, are personas adopted by musician Laura Albert. [ [http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/news/people/features/14718/index.html Who is JT LeRoy? The True Identity of a Great Literary Hustler ] ] Beachy, like several commentators since 1999, speculates on parallels to the case of Anthony Godby Johnson, who was also eventually proven not to exist.
November 11, 2005, " Women's Wear Daily" wrote that the editors of " The New York Times Magazine" killed an article LeRoy had written after Beachy's article questioning his identity was published. In the "WWD" article, LeRoy is quoted as saying, "They asked me for my passport, my social securitycard....I've always played with identity and gender. I understand what [the "Times"] is saying, but they entered into working with me knowing that....Just because the " Washington Post" came after them, why should I be forced to prove who I am? They knew exactly what they were getting when they dealt with me" [ [http://www.nowpublic.com/node/24880 More on NYT Credibility: Deadwood Piece Killed | The News is NowPublic.com ] ] .
"The Washington Post"'s
David Segalpicked up the "New York" magazine story and wrote, " [LeRoy] appears to be one of the great literary hoaxes of our day, and it fooled a whole lot of people as well as the media, including the "New York Times", which last year ran a lengthy profile of LeRoy" [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/12/AR2005101202422.html] [http://www.jtleroy.com/press_nyt.html] .
Hans Eisenbeis, in the
Minneapolis–Saint Paul newspaper " [http://www.rakemag.com/today/rakesprogress/archive/2005/11/nom_d_plume.aspx The Rake] ", wrote, "I don't know what all the fuss is about. In the business, it's called a pseudonym, and the fact that J.T. LeRoy has been writing and publishing under that name for more than a decade ought to be track record enough to establish his (or her) credentials... It's an interesting mystery, but seems to me sort of irrelevant to whether the work written by that person is publishable or not."
January 6, 2006JT LeRoy posted a blogentry titled "the Hoax edition" [ [http://jtleroy.blogspot.com/2006/01/test.html JT LeRoy: test ] ] which cites an article in "The Guardian" which takes a kind stance over the hoax issue stating that "identity is irrelevant". Also included are T-shirt prints which make light of the hoax, reading "I am the real JT LeRoy" and including an artistic image of the author's blonde wig and sunglasses. Also on the blog entry were promotional references to the film "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things", DVDcover art and opening dates, and a Sundance Film Festivalviewing.
"New York Times" articles and reactions
New York Times" article by Warren St. John, published on January 9, 2006, gave evidence that the person appearing in public as JT LeRoy was Savannah Knoop, half-sister of Geoffrey Knoop [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/09/books/08cnd-book.html The Unmasking of JT Leroy: In Public, He's a She - New York Times ] ] . This article is also the source of the rumor that LeRoy presented himself as being HIV-positive: St. John and Silverberg both made the accusation, although neither offered any substantiation. No evidence for it has been produced since; nothing in LeRoy's many interviews and articles, or in his voluminous email correspondence, provides any documentation of JT claiming to be "infected with HIV" or "dying of AIDS." Yet, the fact that Jt had AIDS was part of the oral tradition that Albert used with all of her early writer supporters, publishers, and editors to justify why LeRoy couldn't meet them in public. After Savannah Knoop took on a more polished public role, the AIDS story was less necessary.
St. John's follow-up article, published by the "Times" on
February 7, 2006, carried the headline, "Figure In JT LeRoy Case Says Partner Is Culprit," an investigative interview with Geoffrey Knoop. In this article, Knoop stated of Albert, "For her, it's very personal. It's not a hoax. It's a part of her." He further stated that he and Albert had separated in December 2005 and were then involved in a custody dispute over their son; However, their case has never entered the courts and no request has been filed by Knoop for sole custody. Knoop also expressed his belief that Albert would never publicly admit to writing as LeRoy.
January 10, 2006 National Public Radiointerview, Beachy noted that Laura Albert's work as a phone sexoperator honed her skill at creating elaborate stories about sexual acts and abuse, which Albert would use to elicit sympathy from other writers and editors who might help her get published. Beachy said he felt the hoax "was really about ambition and self-promotion."
Dr. Terrence Owens, a therapist at the [http://www.stmarysmedicalcenter.org/stellent/websites/get_page_cache.asp?ssDocName=048684 McAuley Adolescent Unit] of [http://www.stmarysmedicalcenter.org St. Mary's Medical Center] in
San Francisco, is credited by LeRoy for motivating him to write. LeRoy claims Owens encouraged writing between sessions to maintain continuity of thought, saying that LeRoy's accounts would help to train a class of prospective social workers. Those writings eventually made their way into the collection of short stories in 1998.
Owens has refused to confirm his involvement with any of the real or fictitious characters in the case, citing ethical considerations. But in an article in the "New York Times", he said that he did not know Knoop. Not until Laura Albert's interview in "The Paris Review" did she reveal that in fact she herself has been a regular patient of Owens's for many years. That cannot be confirmed.
Although Laura Albert initially maintained her silence about her own personal history, a negative backlash nevertheless tarnished LeRoy's reputation early in 2006. The attacks focused on Albert's credibility to speak on the issues which had supposedly impacted LeRoy, such as being
transgender, a victim of child abuse, a prostitute, and formerly homeless. Albert gave a lengthy interview to " The Paris Review" in Fall 2006, detailing her own troubled history and her alleged personal experiences with abuse, abandonment, sex work, gender identity, and her need, since childhood, to create alternate personae (chiefly over the telephone) as a psychological survival mechanism, through which she could articulate her own ideas and feelings. [cite journal | url = http://www.theparisreview.com/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5664 | title = Being JT LeRoy (excerpt) | author = Nathaniel Rich | issue = Issue 178, Fall 2006 | publisher = The Paris Review | journal = The Paris Review]
The LeRoy case was also frequently compared with the coincident controversy involving author
James Freydespite the difference that Frey's work was published as memoir and Albert's work was published as fiction. Armistead Maupin’s " The Night Listener" was a fictionalized account of the case of Anthony Godby Johnson. Johnson was supposedly a teenager with AIDSwho had endured an incredibly abusive childhood until he was adopted, at 11, by a “social worker” named Vicki. In the early nineties, he contacted the writer Paul Monette, who was himself dying of AIDS and who connected Tony to editors. After reading Tony’s memoir, Maupin asked to be put in touch with Tony and began a long telephone friendship. Nobody had ever met Tony in person, however, and it was noted how similar his voice was to that of his adoptive mother, Vicki, the only person who would claim to have seen him. Like LeRoy, Tony built a network of writers and celebrities, created a website, and touched the hearts of an adoring public. Although his editors and agents defended him, eventually people began to suspect he was a fraud. After Maupin’s novel renewed interest in the case, the holes in Tony’s story were made clear in Tad Friend’s 2001 " The New Yorker" article “Virtual Love.” The obvious difference between this case and JT LeRoy is that Laura Albert never claimed JT was HIV-positive. Evidence proving Albert's supposed claim that JT was HIV-positive does not exist and is based soley on an unsubstantial rumor generated by the 2006 New York Times article.
The November 29, 2007 "
Rolling Stone" (#1040) features an article about JT Leroy by Guy Lawson. It states that guitarist Billy Corganwas privy to the deceit since 2002 and that this felt "...like being inside the Magic Kingdom."
In June 2007, Albert was sued by Antidote International Films Inc. for
fraud, which claims that a contract signed with JT Leroy to make a feature film of "Sarah" is null and void.] "] , [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/20/nyregion/20cnd-writer.html?ex=1339992000&en=dd65fdd75ca5b238&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss "Writer Testifies About Source of Nom de Plume"] By Alan Feuer, N.Y. Times, Published: June 20, 2007] . On June 22, 2007, Laura Albert was found guilty of fraud by a Manhattan jury, and ordered to pay $110,000 to Antidote, as well as an extra $6,500 in punitive damages.cite news | title=Jury: Novel Bought by Company Fraudulent | last=Westfeldt | first=Amy | date=June 23, 2007 | url=http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LITERARY_LAWSUIT?SITE=VACUL&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT | publisher=Associated Press]
In August of 2008, the
Authors Guildreleased an amicus brief in regards to the trial verdict, supporting Laura and opposing the jury’s decision, stating that the decision “will have negative repercussions extending into the future for many authors. The right to free speech, and the right to speak and write anonymously arerights protected by our Constitution, and the district court'sdecision which holds that Laura Albert's use of pseudonym breached theOption and Purchase Agreement, is one that will have a chilling effectupon authors wishing to exercise their right to write anonymously.” [ [http://www.jtleroyblog.com/?m=200810] ] They go on to request that the court reverse the decision in regards to a breach of contract.
*Feuer, Alan. Her Journey, All True. The New York Times, 08/23/07
*Gagne, Nicole V. The Importance Of Bring JT LeRoy. http://www.jtleroyblog.net
*Burt, Stephen. SARAH's Antidote: Is The JT LeRoy Scandal What You Think It Is?. http://www.slate.com/id/2169125/pagenum/all/#page_start
* Hogan, Ron. [http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/authors/life_after_jt_laura_albert_not_sorry_moving_on_59749.asp Life After JT: Laura Albert "Not Sorry," Moving On]
*Bundy, Robert. Yes Virginia, There Is A JT LeRoy. "Lemon Magazine", Issue 2, 2006, Editorial Page.
*Carlson, Peter. After Plimpton, Onward & Upward. "The Washington Post", Oct. 10 2006, p. C04.
*Rich, Nathaniel. Being JT LeRoy. "The Paris Review", Issue 178, Fall 2006, pp. 145-68.
*Jourdan, Erin. JT Leroy and the Warholian. http://eriniajourdanski.blogspot.com/2006/01/jt-leroy-and-warholian.html
*Bahr, David. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1589/is_2000_June_20/ai_62741812 Sarah's Young Creator] . "The Advocate",
June 20 2000. pp. 139.
*Bavilsky, Dmitrii, translated to Russian by Meklina, M. [http://vz.ru/culture/2006/1/31/20806.html I am a bat. Interview with JT Leroy.] "Vzgliad",
January 31 2006.
*Press, Joy. [http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0124,press,25519,1.html The Cult of J.T. LeRoy: How a Teenage Hustler-Turned-Novelist Built a Celebrity Support Group] . "Village Voice",
June 13 2001.
*Waits, Tom. Strange Innocence. "Vanity Fair", July 2001. pp.99.
*Giles, Jeff. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_kmnew/is_200107/ai_kepm314802 Hustler Chic: A World Where It's Hard to Tell Who's Zooming Whom] . "Newsweek",
July 2 2001. pp.56.
*Carbon, Chris. The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (book review). "The Advocate",
July 17 2001. pp.66.
*Ziegler, R. Identity and Imposture in JT LeRoy's Sarah. "Notes on Contemporary Literature". 31(5), 2001. pp.3-5.
*Miller, D. Quentin. The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (Review). "The Review of Contemporary Fiction", Fall 2001. pp.207.
*Gross, Terry (
November 26 2001). [http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/fa/20011126.fa.02.ram Interview with JT Leroy (Real Audio)] NPR " Fresh Air"
*Hennessy, Christopher. One Boy's Life of Drugs, Rape, and Incest. "Lambda Book Report", Jan. 2002. pp.27.
*Withers, James. Son of Sarah. "The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide", March 2002. pp.38.
* cite news | title=You're No J.T. Leroy— Thank God. | last=Bright | first=Susie | publisher=Susie Bright's Journal
January 8 2006| url=http://susiebright.blogs.com/susie_brights_journal_/2006/01/my_name_is_susi.html
* cite news | title=She is JT LeRoy
last=Boulware | first=Jack | publisher=Salon | date=
March 8 2006| url=http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/03/08/albert/
List of books portraying paedophilia or sexual abuse of minors
Pedophilia and child sexual abuse in films
* [http://www.jtleroy.com/ JT LeRoy's official website]
* [http://jtleroy.blogspot.com JT LeRoy's blog]
* [http://www.thistlehq.com Thistle LLC official site] , a band which claims "JT LeRoy writes the lyrics"
*" [http://www.theheartmovie.com The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things] " film official site
* [http://www.laweekly.com/art+books/books/the-lies-and-follies-of-laura-albert-aka-jt-leroy/18362/ The Lies and Follies of Laura Albert, a.k.a. JT LeRoy] "LA Weekly" feature on JT LeRoy, Feb. 20, 2008
*" [http://www.thebookstandard.com/bookstandard/reviews/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1173906 The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things] " review at Kirkus Reviews
*" [http://www.thebookstandard.com/bookstandard/reviews/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1199541 Sarah] " review at Kirkus Reviews
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