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J.T. LeRoy: An Update
Status: Evidence is mounting that he's a hoax
Last October I posted about the writer JT LeRoy, and the suspicion that he was an elaborate hoax: that his books had actually been written by a woman named Laura Albert, and that the person who appeared in public as LeRoy was an actor. Today the New York Times has revealed more evidence that seems to confirm this theory. The person who has been appearing in public as LeRoy seems to be Savannah Knoop, the half sister of Geoffrey Knoop (who's the guy that supposedly helped rescue the teenage LeRoy). The Times found an image of Savannah Knoop online, and people who have met LeRoy confirm that she is he. Take a look:

Savannah Knoop

J.T. LeRoy

The Times also notes that there's "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." They note that all the money paid to LeRoy appears to go to Albert or her family members. They also note that LeRoy wrote a travel article for the Times about a trip to Disneyland Paris, but (after looking at pictures of Albert) employees at Disneyland have confirmed that the person who was traveling as LeRoy was actually Albert.

So it seems pretty clear that LeRoy is a hoax.

The question is, does it matter? Defenders of LeRoy have been arguing that if people enjoy the books, the identity of the author shouldn't matter. This is a lot like the excuse that P.T. Barnum always offered, that it doesn't matter it people are fooled, as long as they're entertained. Critics are responding that it does matter because readers have been manipulated into caring about someone who doesn't exist. I suspect that the critics are going to win the day in this case, because the phony LeRoy has gone too far and people feel like they've been used. So LeRoy will probably go the way of Milli Vanilli. We'll have to wait to see if readers file a class-action suit against LeRoy.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 09, 2006
Comments (5)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
So I
Posted by T.Remington  on  Mon Jan 09, 2006  at  07:31 PM
Tiny pictures that don't link to larger versions are not proof.
Posted by Craig  on  Tue Jan 10, 2006  at  05:08 AM
Posted by Speedeez N. Unscripted  on  Wed Jan 11, 2006  at  09:23 PM
To answer the question, yes it does matter, when something that is allegedly written as "fiction" but passed off as a "true biography of someone from the street". Yes. It. Matters.

However, Laura, here's your chance! You will never work as a writer again, and you just might become homeless! That would be Just Desserts for you lass!
Posted by Laura I hope you never work again  on  Wed Jan 18, 2006  at  03:23 AM
i just feel so much better knowing that no matter how big of a fuck up i have been and perhaps for far far too long, jt never put it together in some divinely manifested savior form. i had felt so inferior for so long, now im just human again. better than jt the hoax.
Posted by everything comes back in the end  on  Fri Mar 31, 2006  at  01:02 PM
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