Tuesday, January 10, 2006

From today's San Francisco Chronicle: New clues in mystery story of elusive author JT LeRoy

New clues in mystery story of elusive author JT LeRoy


"Author Armistead Maupin, whose novel 'The Night Listener' was based on his experience with a literary pretender, has strong feelings on the subject.

'A lot of people argue that such frauds cause no harm and are a great joke played on the literary establishment,' he said by telephone Monday.

'But in fact there's something very callous about using AIDS and an abusive childhood as a way of getting sympathy and support,' Maupin said, adding, 'I'm surprised that people were bamboozled as long as they were.'"

Maupin nails the fraud's insidiousness. Here's an email "JT" sent me before the New York Magazine story broke. I'd never post private correspondence in a public forum, but the sender doesn't exist, so no ethical line is broached. However, I've blacked out the names of the other two recipients:

----- Original Message -----
From: JT Leroy
To: XXXX ; Litsa Dremousis ; XXXX
Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2005 4:34 AM
Subject: Re: Gawker

Please the BEST thing we can do is hit them back! We cant just sit and let them smack at us. I did that as a child, and I wont do it now. This is fueled by jealous cruelty. Please post... back. Bet this person wrote this never read a word of mine... hit back... never thought I'd advocate that... but I am... mannnn....
With love and sadness, jt

Keep in mind that "JT" knew I'd worked as a domestic violence victim advocate, that I'd volunteered for the King County Crisis Clinic and for Northwest Women's Law Center, and that my mom had prosecuted crimes against children. I didn't believe "JT"'s stories of abuse because I'm naive, but because I've worked with abuse survivors. And as everyone who has worked w/ abuse survivors knows, they're often disbelieved when they come forward. And now abuse has been falsely purported in order to gain notoriety and sympathy.

The books remain very good, but a noxious cloud swirls around their creator.

1 comment:

belledame222 said...

I'd never even heard of JT Leroy (maybe vaguely) before this all hit. I wouldn't think it was a cute trick even if it were something like an Andy Kaufman stunt--funny as he was, the act got seriously weird, and by all accounts he had some issues. And I get really tired of the ol' razzle-dazzle. There's quite enough of it about these days, it seems to me, that actual honesty would be more exciting.

But to hear details like this--that this person made *fake suicide calls* to people who believed in and cared about the persona--I'm just revolted. That's not just a con, that's spiritual vampirism. My condolences to anyone who got tagged by this creep.