Tag: jt leroy

Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern Star in JT LeRoy Biopic!

JT LeRoy is making headlines again, but this time it’s because the film of the same name based on this literary debacle has finally gained distribution after its breakout premiere at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival.

 

JT LeRoy
IMAGE VIA YOUTUBE

 

Let’s back up. In 2000 came Sarah, a fictional novel that was written and based on the life of JT LeRoy. The next years came a collection of linked stories, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. According to Vanity Fair, “[t]he books were mostly well reviewed, and even critics who didn’t care for the prose, or found the disturbing subject matter overwrought as art, paid obeisance to the horrible contours of the life”. Who can blame them?

JT LeRoy purported to be the son of a drug addict mother, who had his first sexual experience as early as five. He was raped, beaten, addicted to heroin, and homeless by the time he was thirteen. “He was H.I.V.-positive. He cut himself. He burned himself. He associated love with brutality and exploitation, could only feel human connection through physical pain,” Vanity Fair writes.

 

JT LeRoy

Image Via Decider

While the books were fiction, the trauma certainly wasn’t. The public wanted to see this person who wrote down his pain and soon enough they did. At least, it seemed that way.

JT LeRoy came on the literary scene with his red fedora, big sunglasses and a blond wig. The Guardian recalls how “Everybody on stage seemed to be in awe of LeRoy. He was chronically shy, it was explained, hence the disguise. When a question was addressed to him, he answered in a nervous mumble, barely audible or decipherable. He would then whisper into the ear of Argento or Emily Frasier, and they would speak for him: “JT says …'”

 

JT LeRoy on stage
IMAGE VIA THE GUARDIAN

 

He became a sensation, riding the line between mainstream and cult status. The Guardian also noted how “[s]oon he had amassed an impressive following: Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Nancy Sinatra, Matthew Modine, Gus Van Sant, Rufus Wainwright, Shirley Manson, Jeremy Renner, Rosario Dawson, John Waters, Michael Stipe, Carrie Fisher, Winona Ryder, Courtney Love, Billy Corgan, Tom Waits. LeRoy achieved what many artists dream of: cult status combined with mainstream celebrity.”

With friends in high places and a face that everyone couldn’t get enough of it, a film was put into the works. Asia Argento adapted The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things into a film. It starred Argento himself as well as Peter Fonda, Marlyn Manson, Michael Pitt, and Dylan and Cole Sprouse.

 

LeRoy and Albert
IMAGE VIA THE GUARDIAN

Here’s the problem: Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy is a pseudonym for Laura Albert. The JT LeRoy who had been walking around? That’s Savannah Knoop, Albert’s boyfriend’s half-sister.

This reveal came as a shock. Certainly Albert didn’t intend for it to go this far, author’s use pseudonyms all the time (Looking at your Richard Bachman, or should I say… Stephen King!), but contracts were written with JT LeRoy’s name and that meant legal trouble for Ms. Albert.

So that was that, until it wasn’t.

 

Kristen Stewart on set

Image Via Vanity Fair

 

In 2008 came Savannah Knoop’s memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy in which she recounted her story about the whole debacle. Come 2016, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that, “Kristen Stewart, James Franco and Helena Bonham Carter are circling the biopic JT Leroy, a Hollywood-set transgender story.”

Well, Kristen Stewart won out.

In 2018 Vanity Fair reported that the film would be a “….coming-of-age love story, as Savannah—while in disguise as JT—falls for an actress named Eva Avalon (Diane Kruger). Boundaries are blurred on different levels as the two have a fling, and Savannah finds herself pulled between her affection for Eva—who does not know her true identity—and a boyfriend in San Francisco, who does.”

 

Kristen Stewart as JT LeRoy
IMAGE VIA W MAGAZINE

 

That sounds might interesting! So interesting it got Kristen Stewart to join the project. For those unaware, Kristen Stewart, fresh from her Twilight days, has been focusing on getting indie projects off the ground. This got her attention, and she ended up in a staring role “as Savannah Knoop, the artist who helped author Laura Albert (played in the movie by Laura Dern) dupe the public into believing the myth of JT LeRoy.”

 

JT Leroy as Kristen Stewart

Image Via W Magazine

The film was a highlight at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival, and has been duly awarded distribution. Deadline broke the news, saying, “Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Content Group is near to closing a U.S. rights to the Justin Kelly-directed drama. UPHE Content Group will set a U.S. theatrical release for the film and also gets in the deal some international rights that include Benelux, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and South Africa.”

Will you check this film out when it comes to a theater near you?

 

 

Featured Image Via The Guardian

Hitler

The 5 Most Shocking Secrets in Literature

Frauds, fakes, counterfeits, liars, truth-benders, aliases—the world of literature has had many secrets over the years, and here are five of the biggest. 

 

1. Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things by JT LeRoy 

 

Image Via Vanity Fair

Courtney Love, Savannah Knoop as JT LeRoy, and Laura Albert as Speedie. | Image Via Vanity Fair 

 

JT LeRoy became a so-called Hollywood It-Boy—the bestselling author of a novel, Sarah, and a short story collection,The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. Both books were allegedly based on his transient childhood of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of his mother, a drug addict and sex worker, and the various men in her life. LeRoy appeared in public wearing a wig and sunglasses, and befriended various celebrities including Bono, Courtney Love, and Winona Ryder. Asia Argento adapted The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things into a film starring Argento, and Dylan and Cole Sprouse.

 

But the HIV-positive ex-sex worker LeRoy did not exist. Rather, he was the alter-ego, or ‘phantom limb’ of writer Laura Albert, and was played by Albert’s sister-in-law Savannah Knoop in public. When Albert was a teenager, she called suicide hotlines to help her cope with the abuse she had suffered, but found that they were often more sympathetic when she identified as male because, she assumed, abuse of the nature she experienced was more common for women. It was from these experiences with suicide hotlines that the character of LeRoy was born. Albert said that she wrote things as LeRoy that she could not have written as herself. Albert often appeared in public with Knoop, as LeRoy’s best friend known as Speedie. In October 2005, an article in New York Magazine confirmed that LeRoy was a fabrication. Albert was sued for fraud when she signed the film contract as LeRoy. She lost the case. 

 

2. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

 

James Frey on Oprah

Frey speaking with Oprah Winfrey. | Image Via Oprah

 

James Frey’s book A Million Little Pieces was marketed as the brutally honest memoir of a recovered drug addict. It was picked for Oprah’s Book Club,  sold more than 3.5 million copies, and became a New York Times bestseller. Second only to the most recent Harry Potter book at the time, A Million Little Pieces sold more copies than any other book in the United States that year.

 

But all was not as it seemed. The Smoking Gun conducted an investigation into Frey’s background, which revealed that much of his story was in fact fiction. In the article it is stated that: 

 

Frey invented a role for himself in a deadly train accident that cost the lives of two female high school students. In what may be his book’s most crass flight from reality, Frey remarkably appropriates and manipulates details of the incident so he can falsely portray himself as the tragedy’s third victim.

 

Frey subsequently appeared on Oprah’s show again, this time with his publisher Nan Talese, and the pair were subsequently taken to task by Winfrey. Frey lost a two-book, six-figure deal with Penguin imprint Riverhead, and his publisher Random House offered full refunds to anyone who had bought the book on the understanding that it was a memoir. 

 

3. Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, or, The Hidden Secrets of a Nun’s Life in a Convent Exposed by Maria Monk

 

maria monk

Image Via Flickr

 

The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, published in 1836, was a memoir which purported to expose clerical abuse and infanticide in Montreal. In the memoir, Monk, who was allegedly an ex-nun, stated that an order of nuns, the Religious Hospitallers, were often sexually assaulted by the priests of a nearby seminary who entered the convent through a secret tunnel. Monk claimed that if a baby was born as a result, it was baptized and killed, and that nuns who did not cooperate with this arrangement vanished. The book became a bestseller.

 

However, various inconsistencies were found in her story. It was eventually revealed that Monk had resided in the Magdalan Asylum for Wayward Girls during the four years she claimed to have been in the convent, and one of the nuns from her story was actually a woman who was also at the asylum with her. The book was published at a time in which there was much anti-Catholic rhetoric in the United States, partly due to the large influx of German and Irish-Catholic immigrants. It is thought that Monk, who sustained a brain injury as a child, may have been manipulated into writing the story in order to stir controversy and create problems for the Catholic church. 

 

4. Hitler’s Diaries 

 

Image Via The Museum of Hoaxes

Image Via The Museum of Hoaxes

 

In 1983, in one of the most groundbreaking announcements ever made by a publication, The Sunday Times announced that it was in possession of Adolf Hitler’s diaries that he had kept over the entire course of World War II. German reporter Gerd Heinemann alleged that he had discovered the diaries, after they were thought to have been lost when a plane carrying Hitler’s possessions crashed in 1945.

 

Many leading historians expressed their doubt over Heinemann’s claims. However, media mogul and owner of The Sunday Times Rupert Murdoch insisted that the paper run the story, regardless. The diaries were analysed intensely several times and eventually proven to be fake. The Sunday Times insisted the diaries were authentic for two weeks. Then they stopped insisting that.

 

5. Shakespeare’s Love Letters 

 

william shakespeare

Image Via Famous Biographies 

 

In the 18th century, at age nineteen, conman William Ireland claimed to have found an old chest, love letters, unpublished manuscripts, and annotated books belonging to William Shakespeare. He convinced leading scholars of the documents’ veracity. However, he lost the run of himself entirely when he staged a production of a play he’d allegedly found, entitled Vortigern and Rowena

 

It received horrible reviews, after which literary expert Edmond Malone wrote an essay claiming that Ireland wrote the play himself. This cast suspicion on all of his ‘discovered’ works, which were subsequently proven to be fakes. 

 

Featured Image Via The Daily Beast