I was totally into it. I had the signed raccoon penis bone. I read the books. I was a big JT LeRoy fan.
I wrote “him” emails. I even tried to call him once to clarify something for an interview I did for Rain Taxi. I remember having this funny feeling when someone answered the phone that JT was being hidden away somewhere, protected from nosy interviewers. For some reason, I always pictured him living in a squat with a bunch of other young punks. Someone else answered the phone and I got an annoyed vibe from them so I ended up running the interview as is.
Well, thirteen later, I’m getting another chance. And a LOT has happened since then. It was found out that the author of the books was actually Laura Albert (who also went by the names Emily and Speedy). It’s a pretty crazy. Fair warning: A quick google search will send you down a fascinating wormhole for hours.
This Thursday night, I am hosting a night to illuminate and investigate what exactly happened. Writer friends Monica Drake and Arthur Bradford will read a little from the JT LeRoy books and then Laura will actually read some new work, followed by an interview on stage that I’ll conduct, including questions from the audience.
This event is a fundraiser for p:ear, an organization that mentors homeless youth. Many of themes in the JT LeRoy books are directly about the issues that at-risk youth face. So, despite the controversy about the identity of the author and whether people felt “duped” or whatever, the books (Sarah, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, and Harold’s End) are all powerful and ultimately artful literary gems. I hope to see you there. (and if you need your tickets at a discount, type in 2for1 in the discount code window)
Also: Laura is doing a similar event in Seattle Tuesday night.