She Speaks (Again): Laura Albert Profiled In Rolling Stone

15_jtleroy_lg.jpgAdd to the list of things that will seemingly survive the end of the world, behind cockroaches and Cher, Laura Albert — the woman who perpetrated the JT LeRoy literary hoax. Long after the clock stopped on her fifteen minutes, she still manages to get a few thousand words written about her, this time in your granddad’s favorite music magazine, Rolling Stone (excerpt online, with audio!). Guy Lawson’s piece doesn’t reveal anything new and or startling per se, it’s more of a if-you-missed-this-kooky-story-about-a-crazy-writer lady-who-pretended-to-be an-abused-transsexual-teen-with-HIV-to-gain-fame and-adulation kind of thing, but let’s dig in and look at some of the salient points and quotes, shall we, just to reinforce that Albert is a stark raving nutter.

  • “The thing is, I have the road map to crazy,” says Albert. “You can say it’s a fucking hoax. But a hoax you can’t explain — there are going to be huge gaps. I can explain it. I have the road map to crazy.” Oh honey, you don’t only have the map, you’re like the Kerouac of crazy, forging your own cross-country route.
  • Pre-notoriety, “Albert brought in cash by performing phone sex, earning three dollars for a five-minute call, which could add up to as much as $100 a day. (Her services were advertised in the back of ROLLING STONE.)” And here she is being interviewed by the selfsame publication! What Luck!
  • While writing the novel Sarah, under her non de boywhore, Albert was “eating herself into obesity…by the time Sarah was published, Albert weighed 320 pounds. Now 200 pounds lighter and a long-standing member of Overeaters Anonymous…” Okay! Stop right there. I’m now convinced Laura Albert herself isn’t real, but instead may be a creation of the twisted mind of Chuck Palahniuk.
  • After “LeRoy” gained notoriety, Albert was in the tricky pickle of having to actually produce said writer for interviews and whatnot. Her solution: “Over the years, Albert had paid street hustlers small amounts of cash to be JT.” USER! For someone who seemed to channel the plight of these runaway hustlers and maladjusted teens, she sure didn’t see fit to like, throw them more of a bone than a few bucks in the service of her scheme.
  • As was exposed, Albert finally settled on Savannah Knoop, her ex-boyfriend’s half sister, as her permanent LeRoy stand-in. For this, “Albert offered to pay Savannah fifty dollars an appearance.” Ugh! Fifty bucks? Seriously that’s it? To perpetuate an ever-expanding hoax? Cheapskate.
  • Not content with her stable of literary admirers like Mary Gaitskill and Dennis Cooper, Albert/LeRoy began collecting an odd assortment of celebrity “friends” including Tatum O’Neill, Suzanne Vega, Susan Dey and Carrie Fisher.
  • After meeting with Billy Corgan under the auspices of a JT LeRoy interview for Spin magazine, Albert grabbed Corgan’s hand and began “talking as JT,” ultimately confessing her whole enterprise. She and Corgan are still friends, natch. He comps her tickets to his shows. Well, someone’s got to still be interested in seeing the Smashing Pumpkins, I guess.

I could go on, but there’s only so long you can piss on a mentally-ill person’s pity party before you just feel icky. A final moment from the interview with the disgraced fabulist:

  • “Sometimes in the shower I’ll have a conversation with [JT],” she says. “During the lawsuit I would ask if he was still there. It’s sad. I can’t find him.” She starts to weep, deep, inconsolable sobs.

It’s almost sad, isn’t it?

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5 Responses to She Speaks (Again): Laura Albert Profiled In Rolling Stone

  1. joe says:

    fuck off, the pumpkins still rock.

  2. Clare of London says:

    Who cares who wrote ‘Sarah’ or ‘The Heart is Deceitful…’ or if they’re auto-biographical or not – they’re still fu*king good!

    Where does all this bitterness come from, oh ‘Ephemerist’? Are you jealous that you’re not a talented writer? Or do you have a story to tell us that’s heartbreaking and funny?

    Clare of London

  3. ephemerist says:

    I care because of the deceitful way in which it was done, pretending she was an abused kid with HIV to garner sympathy and collect celebrity frienships.
    She can obviously write, so why did she not do it under her own name? Barring that, a pen name is fine, but why the entire fabricated personality that duped and I think probably hurt people. It’s not ye olden days. Ladies can write and publish books. Under their own names even! It’s crazy! And as demonstrated by this and subsequent interviews, she seems to crave attention and the spotlight much more than respect. So.

    Scratch all the above, I should’ve just replied in the manner of Joan Didion to a letter by John Romano in the New York Review of Books: oh, wow.

  4. apophenia says:

    I don’t know if you yourself are of the womanly persuasion, but other female writers have commented that using a male pseudonym often made it surprisingly easy to get work published when no-one would give them the time of day. I wish I had access to the article I read that talked about it. I think it was on Salon.

    Anyway, Laura Albert’s long dry spell before she invented JT Leroy seems to be proof enough that no-one was really interested in what she had to say until they thought it was coming out of the frequently soiled mouth of a transsexual former truck stop prostitute. I suppose you’re right that she hurt people, if you think that Courtney Love is still a person (I kid!). But I don’t think the illusion of reality is the only thing people liked about The Heart Is Deceitful (etc).

    Anyway, I know this comment is three years late, but I was looking into Leroy again and stumbled over here, so there you are.

    • ephemerist says:

      Revisiting this, there are many sides, sure. I think that if the ruse remained only that she was writing under a pseudonym, things would’ve been fine. But building an entire art cult around this thing, and rooking all sorts of other authors/celebs, and hiring someone to ‘play’ the author…that got…out of hand.

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