JT LeRoy, phantom author (Updated!)

This is a weird one. A book allegedly written by a young man, JT LeRoy, made a sensation recently. JT was a truck stop hooker, got involved with drugs, was possibly transgendered and generally had a pretty screwed-up life. The book was billed as non-fiction, supposedly the true story of JT's life. Naturally, it sold very well.

Oprah loved it, the movie director Gus VanSant and other Hollywood types were interested in it. Then the JT LeRoy saga started coming apart. Funny story, turns out there is no such person as JT LeRoy.

Even funnier, also turns out that more than one person, some of them female, portrayed JT at book signings and other appearances. As you'd expect, the people who put up good money to produce a book based on "JT"'s life story didn't see the humor in the situation. They sued Laura Albert, the woman who really wrote the book and who recruited friends and relatives to play JT.

The case came to trial this week. I don't want to spoil the ending for you, so click on the link and see how the case turned out. Oh, and you're gonna LOVE Albert's lawyer's defense of her actions. It's, uh, creative, I'll give him that.

AOL News, JT LeRoy.

OK, this is annoying. The article that link takes you to had a summary of Albert's defense of her actions, but it's been changed since I originally copied the link. The gist of it is that the lawyer said that Albert suffered from "multiple personalities." Now you *might* be able to buy that, but she claims that her multiples were contagious (my term) to explain how other people portrayed "JT" when the "author" needed to make an appearance. I've found the reference elsewhere, though.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

Albert and her lawyers say the matter is more complicated.

The middle-aged Albert testified during the trial that she had been assuming male identities for decades as a coping mechanism for psychological problems brought on by her sexual abuse as a child. To her, she said, Leroy was real — something akin to a different personality living inside her, but one that was capable of transferring to the people she hired to impersonate him.


If the meme of the 90's was, "I know I did something wrong, but I apologize from the bottom of my heart and, by the way, I've found Jesus," the Ought's version seems to be, "I have no idea why you think what I did was wrong. I'm a misunderstood genius unappreciated by philistines like you."

I direct your attention to:

Gawker story on J T LeRoy.

Con Artists Folklore/Tall Tales Identity/Imposters Literature/Language

Posted on Mon Jun 25, 2007


Uh - so what was the lawyer's defense? It doesn't seem to be there (unless you mean Albert's 'JT was real to me' bit, which is her own quote and not the lawyer's).
Posted by outeast  on  Mon Jun 25, 2007  at  04:40 AM
Hmm, I had two news stories about the JT LeRoy thing and I guess it's the OTHER one which has the rationalization in it. No prob. I'll just add a link to that one. Hang on, t'will be fixed.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Jun 25, 2007  at  05:17 AM
Multiple personalities. Sheah, right. Hey, I'm Indecision Man. Well... maybe not. No, yes, sure I am. Indecision Man, that's me. Well, not INdecision Man, more like- you know what, sure, I'm Indecision Man. Well, maybe not. I used to be Procrastination Man. I tell you about that later. Like when CMG fixes the link. Or not. I'm Indecision Man. Well... maybe not
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Jun 25, 2007  at  08:43 AM
Just as an assist to CMG on this subject...

Previous Posts on J.T. LeRoy
Posted by oppiejoe  in  Michigan - USA  on  Mon Jun 25, 2007  at  10:50 AM
Yeah, that LeRoy thing. What I find interesting is the second source of info you quoted, the Augusta Chronicle. That's the newspaper I read every day! I don't suppose you live in Augusta, do you? If so, that's cool. Anyway.
Posted by RedNeckOreo  on  Mon Jun 25, 2007  at  01:57 PM
Oh wow, another "nonfiction" book to be a fraud. Oprah should really learn her lesson after this one.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Mon Jun 25, 2007  at  07:08 PM
No, I don't live in Augusta, RedNeckOreo. When I went to look for the additional material I wanted, the Chronicle article popped up on Google News and given that it was an AP story, the Chronicle was as good as source as any.

Yeah, Chris Cole, you really WOULD think Oprah would be a little more circumspect by now, wouldn't you? No such luck, though. Check out my posting about "The Secret," currently on the front page.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Jun 26, 2007  at  03:22 AM
By the way, thanks oppiejoe for the link. Every little bit helps.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Jun 26, 2007  at  03:23 AM
Didn't they do a story that was 'inspired' by this on Law and Order:Criminal Intent? I still think Gus Van Sant should make the movie - it may be a fake story, but it's still a good story.
Posted by Nona  on  Tue Jun 26, 2007  at  06:43 AM
"[much verbiage omitted] ... To her, she said, Leroy was real
Posted by Big Gary  on  Tue Jul 03, 2007  at  11:38 AM
"... you really WOULD think Oprah would be a little more circumspect by now, wouldn't you?"

Anybody who's got, like, 500 hours a week to fill with talk show guests and topics, plus her own magazine about herself, plus beaucoup other projects, really can't afford to be very cautious in her selections of what she publicizes. In that context, if you're even a little bit interesting, you're on the air. On a slow day, if you're breathing, you're on the air.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Tue Jul 03, 2007  at  11:47 AM
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