JT Leroy, for the uninitiated, was a super-hip trans teen novelist who CONQUERED the literary world in the early 2000s. Later, it came to light that JT was actually two women; writer Laura Albert who wrote under the pseudonym and Savannah Knoop who portrayed him for public appearances. LeRoy was the “author” of the novel which based a film Winona did in 2004, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, but before the movie was released, it emerged that “she” didn’t exist. You can read a lot more about such events in this Guardian article.
Earlier this year a documentary –Author: The J.T. Leroy Story – premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It showed how Albert, a San Francisco punk rocker and phone sex operator, created created the character and managed to build such a celebrity following. Winona has a scene in the documentary since she was one of the artists that admired LeRoy and also did an appearance, in 2003, to a Public Theater event in their honor.
Check the documentary synopsis:
On January 9, 2006, The New York Times sent shockwaves through the literary world when it unmasked “it boy” wunderkind JT LeRoy, whose tough prose about a sordid childhood had captivated icons and luminaries internationally. It turned out LeRoy didn’t actually exist. He was the creative expression of 40-year-old San Francisco former phone-sex operator turned housewife, Laura Albert. Author: The JT LeRoy Story takes us down the infinitely fascinating rabbit hole of how Laura Albert—like a Cyrano de Bergerac on steroids—breathed not only words, but life, into her avatar for a decade. Albert’s epic and entertaining account plunges us into a glittery world of rock shows, fashion events, and the Cannes red carpet where LeRoy becomes a mysterious sensation. As she recounts this astonishing odyssey, Albert also reveals the intricate web spun by irrepressible creative forces within her. Her extended and layered JT LeRoy performance still infuriates many; but according to Albert, channeling her brilliant fiction through another identity was the only possible path to self-expression. JTLeroyStory.com
My friend Mariana sent me screen captures of Winona’s scene in the documentary. Check it below: