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Author: The JT LeRoy Story (2016)

Author The JT LeRoy Story.jpg

For a while there in the late Nineties and early Noughties the literati and glitterati were consumed with a tousled blond transsexual HIV+ teenage hustler turned author who obsessively recorded phone conversations with famous people. Actually JT LeRoy was the non-existent brainchild of Laura Albert, an overweight Jewish woman who made a living from phone sex and she had to come up with a real-life avatar when the books started selling. So she deployed her live-in boyfriend’s sister, Savannah Knoop, to act out in public with a series of wigs (very Warhol) while she accompanied her/him as an English manager ‘Speedie’ whose function remains non-descript. This bizarre story is told primarily through Albert herself, interviewed (in not remotely sufficient detail) in the present day. She describes her upbringing, when she was serially committed as a teenager to psychiatric hospitals and affected an English persona so convincing that one boyfriend didn’t figure out for 4 months that she came from Long Island. A lot of famous people were taken in, not least the actress and director Asia Argento, who slept with Knoop. Albert snarls to camera, ‘Didn’t she notice her pussy?’ Lovely. What is odd perhaps is that none of these people notice what is immediately identifiable to anyone with sight:  Knoop’s female hips. Few of the hoax victims are interviewed, which lessens the impact of this fascinating narcissistic exhibitionist’s jolly jape, every moment of which she compulsively recorded. Who does that? Unless it’s part of some sort of bigger, greater, Situationist joke involving more than immediate family? (She thinks of herself as being a kind of Thomas Pynchon figure.)  One of the many strange aspects of this unravelling mythography is the changing face of Albert herself, whose transformed body and visage (drastic gastric plastic) overlooked that most vital of orifices, the thin crooked little mouth from which so much lying was spun. On the same day I saw this it was revealed that the bacterium from which all human life arose was all mouth and no anus. You couldn’t make it up. It is very late in this documentary when Albert reveals having been sexually abused as a child and resorting to food because her rapist liked her thin. One wonders who has been pulling Albert’s strings all these years. Or where all that detritus is stored. Written and directed by Jeff Feuerzeig. Maybe. Dial 1-800 SCREW YOU.

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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