Skip to main content

The third book, out in December... adoringly reviewd by 'no less than' John Waters, Bono and Hubert Selby!

"Unlike his crew of elusively gendered hustler-junkies and their pets, the narrator of 'Harold's End' is nameless, a boy vigilantly protective of his emotions. When Larry, a self-described 'homme d'affaires' shows up on the block and ingratiates himself with its mistrustful inhabitants ("We scan him for signs-outreach or vice.") by handing out clean needles and treats for the animals, LeRoy's narrator feigns indifference; but when Larry announces there's something for him, too, he can't resist. 'Maybe it's something I want or something I can sell,' he tells himself.

"That something is a snail. Not just any snail, mind you, but 'a descendant of the first snails brought to the Bay Area by the French in the 19th century.' Christened 'Harold,' the snail happily munches on Larry's organic mesclun as the trio's relationships unfold through LeRoy's rich language until a final sad mishap in a residential hotel dumpster provokes the defiant climax to Harold's End."
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Boo! this is tonight and I can't make it. Anyone going to the screening>? Anyone seen the film yet? Why's it taking so long to release?

The Trinity @ Tribeca Grand 10pm-2am
NY Underground Film Festival Opening Party
After Party for JT Leroy's Film "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things"
DJ's: Matt Safer (The Rapture), Dan Selzer, Eddie Newton and guest set by Asia Argento


The Unmasking of JT Leroy: In Public, He's a She

NYTIMES 1/8/06

Published: January 9, 2006
It has been one of the most bizarre literary mysteries in recent memory: Who, exactly, is the novelist JT Leroy? An answer, at long last, is taking shape.

Mr. Leroy's tale was harrowing in its details and uplifting in its arc. He was a young truck-stop prostitute who had escaped rural West Virginia for the dismal life of a homeless San Francisco drug addict. Rescued as a young teenager by a couple named Laura Albert and Geoffrey Knoop and treated by a psychologist, he was able to turn his terrible youth into a thriving career as a writer. JT Leroy has published three critically acclaimed works of fiction noted for their stark portrayal of child prostitution and drug use.

Along the way Mr. Leroy gained the friendship and trust of celebrities and noted writers, who supported his career financially and offered him emotional support when he declared that he was infected with H.I.V. Sales were good, and his books were published around the world. Shy and reclusive, Mr. Leroy, now 25, appeared in public often disguised beneath a wig and sunglasses.

But the young man in the wig and sunglasses, it turns out, is not a man at all. The public role of JT Leroy is played by Savannah Knoop, Geoffrey Knoop's half sister, who is in her mid-20's.

A photograph of Ms. Knoop at a 2003 opening for a clothing store in San Francisco was discovered online. Five intimates of Mr. Leroy's, including his literary agent, his business manager and the producer of a forthcoming movie based on one of his books, were shown the photograph and identified Ms. Knoop as the person they have known as JT Leroy.

"That's JT Leroy," said Ira Silverberg, Mr. Leroy's literary agent, upon seeing the photograph. Mr. Silverberg said he had met Mr. Leroy a number of times in person. Lilly Bright, a producer of "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things," a 2004 film based on Mr. Leroy's 2001 collection of stories, was no less certain. "It's JT Leroy," she said, adding that she had worked with Mr. Leroy extensively on the production.

Nyoka Lowery, a Bay Area hat designer who appears in the photograph alongside the person in question, also said she knew that person well.

"That's Savannah," Ms. Lowery said. She said she had known Ms. Knoop for years. Ms. Lowery identified Ms. Knoop in another photograph online, on the events page of a site for a San Francisco clothing company called Nisa ( Umay Mohammed, an owner of Nisa, said in a telephone interview that Savannah Knoop was a friend, and a model on her company's Web site.

Reached by telephone, Ms. Knoop said, "I don't need this in my life right now," before hanging up. She did not respond to several voice mail messages seeking further comment.

But the discovery of the public face of JT Leroy is only part of the mystery. Still unsettled is the question of who writes under that name.

Writers like Dennis Cooper, Mary Gaitskill and Mary Karr were among those who offered support to Mr. Leroy's literary career, as did several prominent editors at Manhattan publishing houses, and numerous film and pop music celebrities offered him emotional support, including Courtney Love, Tatum O'Neal, Billy Corgan, Shirley Manson and Carrie Fisher.

And of course there were journalists (including, in November 2004, this reporter), who wrote credulous profiles of the successful young writer after interviewing him, often in person. The New York Times even published an article last September under the byline JT Leroy in a Sunday magazine supplement, T: Travel. (A subsequent T: Travel article by Mr. Leroy, about the HBO series "Deadwood," was reassigned by editors when questions about his identity began to surface.)

The unmasking of Ms. Knoop adds to a mounting circumstantial case that Laura Albert is the person who writes as JT Leroy. Pressure to admit the ruse has been building on Ms. Albert since October, when New York magazine published an article that advanced a theory that she was the author of JT Leroy's books.

The New York article, written by Stephen Beachy, portrayed Ms. Albert, 40, and Mr. Knoop, 39, as unfulfilled rock musicians who concocted the character of JT Leroy to gain access first to literary circles and, later, to celebrities. The scheme began, Mr. Beachy wrote, with faxes, e-mail messages and phone calls by Ms. Albert, speaking in a West Virginia accent as JT Leroy. The article also described an acquaintance of Ms. Albert's who said she had asked him to type and fax manuscripts that bore striking thematic similarities to work later published by JT Leroy. When that name became famous, Mr. Beachy theorized, an actor was needed to play JT Leroy in person; he did not know, he wrote, who that actor was.

Mr. Beachy discovered that the advance for Mr. Leroy's first novel, "Sarah," published in 2000, was paid to Laura Albert's sister, JoAnna Albert, and that further payments to JT Leroy were made to a Nevada corporation, Underdogs Inc.

The president of that company, according to public records, is Carolyn F. Albert, Ms. Albert's mother, who lives in Brooklyn Heights. Reached by telephone, she declined to comment. The payment for Mr. Leroy's article in The Times was also made to Underdogs.

After the publication of Mr. Beachy's article, The Times began to examine the circumstances of the T: Travel article written by Mr. Leroy, about a trip to Disneyland Paris. A review of the paperwork accompanying the assignment revealed a discrepancy: the article described four people on the journey. Expense receipts submitted to T: Travel by Mr. Leroy, however, included only an Air France itinerary for three people.

Employees at Disneyland Paris and at two Paris hotels identified Ms. Albert from photographs as the person who presented herself as JT Leroy. Those employees said no one remotely resembling photographs of JT Leroy was traveling with Ms. Albert, who told them her companions were her husband and son. Ms. Albert and Mr. Knoop are the parents of a young son.

When hotel employees told Ms. Albert they were under the impression that JT Leroy was a man, they said, she told them that she had had a sex-change operation three years before and was now a woman.

Ms. Albert did not respond to numerous voice mail messages requesting comment. Reached by telephone, Mr. Knoop declined to comment.

Peter Cane, a Manhattan lawyer, responded to phone and e-mail messages left at the number and e-mail address JT Leroy provided his editors at The Times.

When The Times asked Mr. Cane to provide his client's passport to confirm his identity and that he had traveled to Europe, Mr. Cane declined. Later, however, he gave this reporter an e-mail statement from JT Leroy in response to questions about Savannah Knoop: "As a transgendered human, subject to attacks," the statement read, "I use stand-ins to protect my identity." In the past, JT Leroy has invoked transgenderism to explain confusion over his identity.

It is unclear what effect the unmasking of Ms. Knoop will have on JT Leroy's readers, who are now faced with the question of whether they have been responding to the books published under that name, or to the story behind them. The identification of Ms. Knoop may also have repercussions for the publishing world; JT Leroy is under contract with Viking for a new novel, and Mr. Silverberg, his agent, said his books were on sale in as many as 20 different countries. Carolyn Coleburn, the director of publicity at Viking, said simply, "We stand by our authors."

But perhaps those most affected by the revelation that Ms. Knoop has been playing the public role of JT Leroy are those who went out of their way to help someone they thought was a troubled young man.

"To present yourself as a person who is dying of AIDS in a culture which has lost so many writers and voices of great meaning, to take advantage of that sympathy and empathy, is the most unfortunate part of all of this," Mr. Silverberg said. "A lot of people believed they were supporting not only a good and innovative and adventurous voice, but that we were supporting a person."
Well How exciting is that. A woman posing as a man who becomes a woman all the while writing amazing books. Where have we heard this before. Perhaps Georger Sand the french writer who was a woman and wrote and dressed as a man. Or Anne Rice who wrote under a male sounding name before she wrote under her own. Who really cares though. First of all He/she is not THAT great a writer. Terrance Sellars could do much better if she put her mind to it and already has. But I don't like the part about the writer potraying herself as a boy with aids to get money and support. What's wrong with just having talent?
Or for that matter in this day and age what's wrong with a woman writer? I mean what was the point of all this charade?
I think it starts to go wrong with the part about being disappointed would-be rock'n rollers, Bobby.

Trying to think up a kind of publicity stunt as a last resort to scam some fame. The cynical part is the 'persona' that was created. A kind of stereotype pandering to the sentiments of pariah-lovers.

And no contest Bobby. Terrence Sellers is way past LeRuse as a writer with major chops!
Oh darn you guys beat me to the posting!!
Seven you have Times Select? Cunt!

I personally love hoaxes. To have pretended to be a young and brilliant hustler, 'reformed,' with a literary genius (and I do think "JT" is a major talent, whoever they turn out to be) was a beautiful idea. I mean the biography was utterly compelling.

Bobby, as per why, just imagine: a 25-year-old girl (if she is indeed the 'real' JT) presenting a story about a sex-abused boy-child with a prostitute Mom, raping Grand-dad, etc. Now a man can write "Story of a Geisha" and everyone ooohs and aahs how he was able to get into a young woman's mind. But "how on earth" could a twenty-something GIRL simulate a gay teenage hustler's mentality? How could she KNOW about sex-abuse, S&M, etc... Well, she did it. A big HA HA to the lit powers-that-be.

When I wrote "The Correct Sadist" I was slammed by gay male critics who said no young woman could really know what S&M was all about. I was trashed by women who thought since I was a sex-worker, I couldn't even be a writer. All kinds of trash is flung at you and I'm not 100% sure it's because you're a female. Youth and social status are also held against you.

If you'd like to know about yet further torments I underwent, see

Some jolly members of the literary gay Mafia figure largely in that story of my 1978 S&M literary attempts!!!

It will be fascinating to find out what the "Underdogs" motivations were, to be certain.

What I just love is that JT tricked all those hotshot writers and movie stars... and her own agent. Not that I. Silverberg reads anyone he represents or anything like that.

There was one old article (maybe linked earlier on this thread) about how Dennis Cooper talked to "her" every day for weeks and weeks. Helped her with her writing. I wonder how the hell he feels now. Raped!

Pretending to have AIDS. That was unnecessary... That shows these hoaxers are more scam-artists than artists. ... On second thought, though, maybe that was going to be their way out. JT was gonna die, or commit suicide from despair? I mean how much longer could it have gone on?

Maybe that too is 'why' the third book sucked. The hoax ran out of steam... I kept thinking it was fake. A group of sex-workers who play with their pets while street-walking? Whaaa?

Still, that one short story where JT allegedly went to see a Master to get his rocks off... after being beaten by both his mother and her boyfriends for years... some of the best S&M writing I've ever read and I am assuredly jaded on that score.

btw thank you for all the votes of confidence. All I need now is an agent for the three unpublished novels. xoxoxoxooxoxox
Last edited by S'tan
Some interesting discussion on the Hoax:

E.g. ---

I have to say I'm impressed at the skill involved in the deception and only slightly annoyed. The eroticism, identity play, and exploration of the horrible, abusive depths and bizarre renewals humans are capable of were the, er, thrust of JT's story for me, and I recall The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things delivering on all those scores.

But then again, I'm not a seriously abused kid who might have gotten real hope and strength from JT's story. If I was, I'd probably feel a lot differently about this mess.
posted by mediareport at 9:55 PM PST on October 10

I've always sort of considered JT Leroy both a real person and a literary construct at once, and still do, so this comes as no real surprise - to be honest, it strikes me as needlessly combative to think of this in terms of being 'suckered', as if it's the author versus the reader.

Both books flaunt their fictional and embellished elements anyway - Sarah and The Heart is Deceitful... are both so obviously magical-realist that - to me at least - the presence or lack of a core of truth becomes irrelevant. If you're willing to believe in the story for a while, surely believing in the author on the same terms isn't too hard.

Speaking as someone to whom both books mean a lot, and who's had similar experiences, I can't imagine how this 'revelation' is supposed to shatter any illusions.

I think readers looking for a hero to lift them out of their own troubles or a truthful window into a very different life were looking in the wrong place from the start, and projecting their own expectations onto books that never promised those things. To me, they're fairytales about a life I can relate to and a testament to how anything can be made magical, and knowing the author's a fairytale too doesn't alter that, or make it a hoax.

posted by terpsichoria at 2:09 AM PST on October 11
I was just awake at like three am S'tan, when the post went up on the Times.

I like the hoax juju completely too.

And anyone who has ever written even a bad shopping list knows anything between two covers is a STORY.

And yes, people will identify with something when they 'hear' it speaking to them in what they previously felt was their experiential isolation, feeling affirmed is what every fan feels.

But I really like the hoax, it shows out people's foibles so bad.

I'm not sure the AIDs tip was thought up to be just an objective fact of a plot twist on the horizon as much as it is just a ruthless aspect of the con.

Anyway, now we get to see how the real(?)
story(ies) end.
This modern worship of the writer as a person is an illusion and has killed many major talents.

Because in the end whoever the hell you are
does not matter.
What you wrote and left behind does.

If you are a writer, you are actually nobody.

All the blather about WHOM here is just noise and filler and irrelevant in the hushed halls of the great literary ghosts.

Will JT Leroy live as more than an amusing footnote in the fin-de-siecle "transgressive tradition"? If JT is in truth an unglamourous 40-something dame with a larcenous streak, most likely only posterity will lay the laurels.
Unless some brave editor with a larcenous streak reprints ha'.

And to those literary bigwigs so famous at present, and their little-wigged entourages, who touted JT so avidly ... Yes you kissed a fantasy. You were just like those truckers in "SARAH" who stood in line to gaze with awe at the perfect little chicken laid out on the pimp's bed. You paid your money and gawked, so stop your whining and swallow your chagrin without coughing further.
Back to your respective drawing boards! Enough dirtying up time's smudgy blackboard... look out you're about to yourself go poof as so much chalk dust.
OUTED! Kind of a low beginning to the end of the deceptions. If you go to the article in the Times there is a nice picture of all three of the protagonists in the scam, all looking massively neurotic and spooked under the cameraflashes. Kind of sociologically perverted that novels done from the persona of a gay hustler end up in a totally hetero personal conflict. I like how, much more than just making a nom-de-flimflam, they created a media virus that once it infected the literary and newsworlds, spread voraciously enough to generate huge revenue. And then that was the undoing of it all -live by the dollarbill die by the dollarbill. But wierdly, no one has proposed what the moral of the story is so far.

Figure in JT Leroy Case Says Partner Is Culprit

A central figure in the case of the mysterious writer JT Leroy has come forward to say that no one named JT Leroy exists, and that the books published under that name were actually written by a San Francisco woman named Laura Albert.

Geoffrey Knoop, Ms. Albert's partner for the last 16 years, said in a telephone interview on Saturday evening that he had seen Ms. Albert write the books of JT Leroy in their San Francisco apartment. He added that for much of the last decade, he had been present when Ms. Albert conducted telephone conversations as JT Leroy with unwitting editors, writers and celebrities, using the voice of a young man with a West Virginia accent. Ms. Albert, 40, is originally from Brooklyn.

"The jig is up," said Mr. Knoop, 39, a rock musician. "I do want to apologize to people who were hurt," he added. "It got to a level I didn't expect."

Mr. Knoop said that he played an important role in the creation of JT Leroy, who developed a cult literary following. "On the business side, I ran a lot of the day to day," Mr. Knoop said. "Sending things out and contacting people, making decisions about what we were and weren't going to do."

Mr. Knoop, whose 25-year-old half sister Savannah Knoop was unmasked by The New York Times last month as the public face of JT Leroy, said that he had come forward out of concern for his son, family members and others affected by what he called an all-consuming web of deceit. He said he and Ms. Albert separated in December, in large part because of stress caused by the deception. He said they are involved in a custody dispute over their young son. "If you're feeling more and more suffocated by the complications and lies, it's not worth it," he said.

Mr. Knoop has hired a Los Angeles entertainment lawyer and said that he hopes to sell a movie about his experience. (New York Magazine yesterday cited an anonymous source saying that Mr. Knoop was seeking a book deal about the Leroy story, which Mr. Knoop denied.)

Mr. Knoop's statements and first-hand account "” the first by anyone involved in the deception "” may help solve once and for all a truly bizarre literary fraud, one that drew in countless people, many of them celebrities and noted literary figures who had lengthy contact in person and on the phone with someone they thought was making literature out of a terrible childhood.

"People were generous because they thought they were helping an H.I.V.-positive former drug addict, ex-prostitute, who used the hardships of his life to make art," said Ira Silverberg, JT Leroy's former literary agent and an early champion.

In the interview, Mr. Knoop outlined the origin and execution of the scheme, which he said was motivated initially by his and Ms. Albert's shared desire to have their artistic work "” his music and her writing "” acknowledged by a wider audience. Ms. Albert's attorney, Peter Cane, of Manhattan, declined to comment. A person answering the phone at Ms. Albert's home hung up on a reporter.

Mr. Knoop said the ruse began in 1996, when Ms. Albert sought to get in touch with Dennis Cooper, a noted gay writer of edgy fiction whose work she admired. Concerned that Mr. Cooper might not be interested in communicating with a woman in her 30's, Ms. Albert had the idea to approach him as a troubled teenage boy nicknamed Terminator, with the biography of a street hustler.

Mr. Cooper said his memory of that early call was consistent with Mr. Knoop's account. He said that Terminator's life story seemed almost taken from the pages of one of his own novels.

"He was very much like one of my characters, so I was interested," Mr. Cooper said.

The conversation went off without a hitch, Mr. Knoop said, and soon Mr. Cooper and Terminator "” Ms. Albert later changed his name to JT ("Jeremy Terminator") Leroy "” were speaking frequently about Ms. Albert's writing. Eventually Mr. Cooper championed JT Leroy to writers like Bruce Benderson as well as several prominent Manhattan editors. As JT Leroy, Ms. Albert also successfully solicited editorial advice from writers like Michael Chabon and Dave Eggers.

As the books of JT Leroy built an audience "” the first, "Sarah," was published in 2000, followed by "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things" in 2001 "” Mr. Knoop said, media interest in JT Leroy and his improbable story increased. When a German television station asked for an interview around the time "Sarah" was published, Mr. Knoop said, he and Ms. Albert recruited his half sister, Savannah, to stand in. She wore a wig and sunglasses as a disguise, he said, an outfit that would become JT Leroy's trademark.

Ms. Knoop did not return voice messages left seeking comments.

"At first it was just to validate it," Mr. Knoop said. "There was a lot of buzz, but you couldn't meet JT."

"We just need to make an appearance or two," he said, summing up the thinking at the time. "Then JT would go back to being a reclusive writer."

But that didn't happen. Instead, in 2002, Ms. Albert put together a six-week European book tour with JT Leroy's various European publishers. Savannah Knoop went along to play Leroy in public, with Ms. Albert in the role of his chaperone. The trip culminated with a large event in Rome, at which Ms. Knoop, as JT Leroy, conducted a reading while hidden under a table.

But the ruse, Mr. Knoop said, eventually began to take its toll on the couple's relationship. He said he had tried to convince Ms. Albert to abandon the deception, either by taking credit for the works of JT Leroy, or simply by letting the persona quietly fade away, but that she refused.

Though Mr. Knoop and Ms. Albert lived together for years, they were not legally married. If Mr. Knoop is to share in any of the monies generated by JT Leroy's books and films, he might need to demonstrate that he was an integral part of the deception.

Mr. Knoop's account also sheds light on one of the most confounding aspects of the Leroy story, the involvement of a Bay Area psychologist, Dr. Terrence Owens, whom JT Leroy often credited with starting his writing career. Several writers, including Mr. Benderson and Patti Sullivan, a screenwriter who worked on a film script for "Sarah," said that they took part in conference calls with Dr. Owens and JT Leroy when the writer was supposedly experiencing psychological problems. The involvement of a legitimate psychologist lent credibility to the ruse, they said.

Mr. Knoop said that Dr. Owens himself was a dupe. He conducted his sessions with JT Leroy by telephone, Mr. Knoop said, and met a stand-in only once, in the late 1990's.

In a phone call, Dr. Owens said that he did not know Mr. Knoop and that patient confidentiality constrained him from speaking. "I know it doesn't meet the public curiosity, but it's a different obligation I'm held to," Dr. Owens said.

Mr. Knoop said he did not believe Ms. Albert would ever admit to her role in the JT Leroy scheme.

"For her, it's very personal," he said. "It's not a hoax. It's a part of her."

The moral of the story is in the very last lines of this article: the actual writer does not believe it is a hoax. She IS JT Leroy.
She is obviously mad, and obviously talented --
otherwise the illusion could not have continued.

Talent will always out.
It is not enough to be weird. You have to also be able to write a hell of a sentence.

That a therapist was tricked and extended the illusion exposes the poor practice some therapists have of doing therapy over the telephone. Many times when I was in therapy I tried to get my doctor to do this, when I felt I was too fucked up/depressed to get out the door. But they still wouldn't. I understand why now. There is no cathexis/catharsis whatever ...without a face-to-face.

The first deception, getting through to a famous gay writer as a GAY person, is also of note...

'The media virus' that created piles of cash... what a great description! She better not give back a nickle.

I totally support her in the deception, as I have been burned in this respect.
I'm not mainstream-male-gay. As a writer on the topic of S&M,
I was picked up here and there, more than once, as an interesting freak case, gayish and a sexual anomaly... and then dropped for whatever queer reason of the moment. E.g., Ira Silverberg was my publicist when he worked for Grove Press... and sequed to unsupportive later on, with one exception -- the "High Risk" anthology... So I am happy to see them all burned by Ms. Laura Albert -- who, when all is said and done, IS JT Leroy.

I believe the work will live, even though there has been a media blackout on Ms. Albert. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Last edited by S'tan
Consider the "media blackout on Ms. Albert" over, S'tan now that she is on trial for fraud or somesuch.

From today's Gothamist


...But now a film production company is suing Albert for money advanced towards making a film based on "Leroy"'s novel Sarah, arguing that since JT Leroy signed the contract and since JT Leroy doesn't exist, the contract is void.

Carolyn Albert, Albert's 70-year-old mother, detailed her daughter's past, which included bringing Laura to a psychiatric ward when she was 14 after suicide attempts.
Last edited by Chi Chi

But how can a nom de plume be considered fraudulent?

It seems her 'hoax' could be a function of pathological shyness?

How very peculiar.

She sounds wrecked...

Anyhow she is a still a major artist in my book.

June 23 -
Jury Finds ˜JT LeRoy' Was Fraud

Alan Feuer wrote 5 articles on the case in one week...

It is so demoralizing when an innate pathology overwhelms the genius.

"Yet even though the company's lawyers assailed her in court as a trickster and wily master of self-promotion, they "” and their client, Mr. Levy-Hinte "” admitted a grudging admiration for her writing talents, and for her performance."

Oh yeah, by the way - she's brilliant.
Last edited by S'tan
from Times' Select...
another point of view... sort of a 'Farewell Charming Old NY' mixed in with JT...

The City's New Motto: ˜See You in Court'

Manufacturing is all but gone from New York. The information technology industry, while on a roll, does not quite have the Silicon Alley '90s buzz. This city is in danger of falling behind London as a financial capital.

Thank goodness, we still have lawsuits.

... We have people of unparalleled dedication, like a lawyer who said he had worked 30 to 40 hours "” worth nearly $10,000 in billable time "” to fight a $65 parking ticket. Last week he won. Where else would you find someone willing to spend so much on so little, all in the name of justice?

[Or the case of] Mamadou Soumare, the unfortunate immigrant from Mali whose wife and 4 children were among 10 people who died in a terrible fire in the Bronx three months ago... he has filed [a claim] with the city comptroller's office. The notice was a required first step in a possible $100 million lawsuit "” repeat, $100 million "” against the city.

Among those named by Mr. Soumare was the Fire Department, which he said had "failed to respond in a timely manner." Never mind that firefighters arrived 3 minutes and 23 seconds after 911 was called. Never mind that the call had come disastrously late because people in the burning house had wasted precious time trying to put out the flames themselves.

The notice of claim does not mean that Mr. Soumare, who is in this country illegally, will definitely follow through with a lawsuit. But it means that he might. If he does, he will show that he truly understands American ways.

As does a company called Antidote International Films, which is suing a writer for fraud in federal court in Manhattan.

The company paid $45,000 for the rights to "Sarah," a novel that made a splash in 2000, in part because it was supposedly written by one JT LeRoy, said to be an H.I.V.-positive, teenage male prostitute out of West Virginia. Only there was no JT LeRoy. He was the invention of the actual writer, Laura Albert, 42, a mother with Brooklyn roots.

Antidote, which was entranced by the autobiographical back story of the nonexistent author, was not happy. It was so unhappy that it had six lawyers "” enough people to form a hockey team "” in court yesterday trying to get its money back.

Is Ms. Albert a malevolent fake? Or is she, as described by her lawyer, Eric Weinstein, a "complicated person" who created the JT LeRoy persona because "this is how she communicated with the world."

In case anyone may have forgotten, we are talking about a novel, by definition a work of fiction. What difference, some might ask, does it make if it was written by a young male hustler or a middle-aged mom?

It's not as if Ms. Albert is the first writer, female or male, to create a false identity. Mary Ann Evans wrote "Silas Marner" as George Eliot. Isak Dinesen, of "Out of Africa" fame, was not a man, but a Danish noblewoman, Karen Blixen. George Sand was the French Baroness Dudevant, Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin.

The list of assumed identities goes on and on. It includes Joyce Carol Oates, who 20 years ago wrote a pseudonymous novel, "Lives of the Twins." She hadn't intended to play "a trick," Ms. Oates said at the time. She simply "wanted to escape from my own identity."

In a 1987 essay, she said that with a pseudonym "there is the possibility, however quixotic, of making a fresh start" and "not being held to severe account for it."

But then, unlike Ms. Albert, Ms. Oates didn't get caught up in the thriving New York world of lawsuits, where it is all about being held to severe account.
Last edited by S'tan
And more!
I'm posting all this in case one doesn't have Times Select.

June 22, 2007
In Writer's Trial, a Conflict Over Roles of Art and Money

Ms. Albert, both in testimony and through her lawyer, Eric Weinstein, has said that JT Leroy was never a profit-making venture, despite the fact she paid a friend to appear in public as "JT" in a blond wig and sunglasses to promote the book. Her contention is that JT Leroy was not an ordinary nom de plume in the Mark Twain-Samuel Clemens mold but a fictional necessity, a sort of imaginary survival apparatus that allowed her both to write and to breathe.

It is within reason to assume that the commercial value of "Sarah" will rise on the force of the publicity the book has received at trial. There is, however, another situation that might inflate its value even more.

Steven Shainberg, the proposed director of the film, testified that when he learned who had truly written "Sarah" an inspiration came to him to make a "meta-film," a triple-layered movie that would blend the novel with the lives of its real and purported authors in a project he took to calling "Sarah Plus."

Of its three required elements "” the book, the JT Leroy saga and the inner life of Laura Albert "” the latter two have essentially been thrust into the public sphere by testimony at the trial.

While it remains uncertain, in a legal sense, it may be that those latter two are now fair game for any screenwriter to employ.

Which leaves the key to making "Sarah Plus" the option rights to "Sarah" "” which also remain uncertain, at least until the end of the trial.

[Didn't we say the story of the hoax is more interesting than anything...?]

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.