Author: The JT Leroy Story

Director: Jeff Feuerzeig (2016) BBFC cert 15

Deceit and desperate self loathing punctuate this gender twisting documentary based on a real life literary hoax.

Former phone sex operator Laura Albert became the toast of the New York art scene in the 1990’s when she wrote a fictitious memoir under in the guise of JT Leroy, a HIV infected fifteen year old rent boy.

Being the wrong sex and fifteen years too old to convincingly act the role for publicity interviews, Albert employed her wig wearing sister in law to pretend to be Leroy while Albert pretended to be ‘Speedie’, ‘his’ manager.

Having achieved cult celebrity status, Albert’s writing career morphs into music performance,  TV writing and movie adaptations. This includes a collaboration with director Gus Van Sant and appearances at the Cannes film festival.

Among those unaware of the true nature of JT and Speedie. There’s a delicious moment when U2’s Bono summons her to bestow some celebrity advice.

Having successfully maintained the deceit for a decade, Albert was unprepared for the media backlash and family betrayal when New York Times uncovered the hoax in 2005.

Unable to accept responsibility, Albert’s confrontational self justification points to her troubled childhood as the root cause of any supposed wrong doing.

Albert’s impassioned testimony is supported by line drawn animations and home video footage. But paranoia seeps from someone who seems to have recorded her every phone call on cassette tapes.

And having being successfully sued for fraud makes Albert an extremely unreliable narrator of her own fall from grace.

@ChrisHunneysett

 

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