Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hip-Waders Optional

Such a troubled individual was JT Leroy. And Laura Albert. But Laura was JT. JT was Laura. Her respirator, JT, her channel for air.

Pull on your hip-waders or slap on the Wellies. The muck is piling high, higher and deeper. Laura Albert is in the midst of a contract dispute and she's pleading a form of insanity. Money's at issue, and how else could she hope to salvage something out of the web she wove when first she practiced to deceive? So it's to be the artiste, the creative genius slipping into insanity, replacing JT Leroy with the next character.

A contract signed by JT Leroy is null and void because JT Leroy does not exist. That's what the film production company said when they cancelled out on the film rights for the JT Leroy epic novel Sarah. The critics loved the book, but they really loved that deranged author who was so asexual as to be androgynous. Then the world discovered that this brilliant author was only a real person who said she was what she was not, and that was the end of the ride for Ms. Albert.

Why should Ms. Albert not lose the money? Let me count the ways. She was sexually abused by a family friend and by her mother's former boyfriend. Then she had to deal with obesity as a child, and endure the teasing and torment of her peers. She spent time in a mental hospital, and then she worked a phone sex line in San Francisco. Yes, but, what does this have to do with signing a contract with a false name? Writers use pseudonyms all the time and sign their contracts with their real names.

In a nutshell, Ms. Albert was a nut case. She created this artificial persona of JT Leroy and took to inhabiting it full time. When Steven Shainberg came around to discuss the movie deal and meet the author, the tangled web wrapped around Ms. Albert and she fought to get free. She had to spin even more lies, to cover up the original lie. As far as Antidote International Films is concerned, that's fraud and it's illegal and that nullifies the contract.

Not so fast, says Ms. Albert. She was not really pulling a fast one. Her ex-boyfriend's sister was not merely fronting for JT Leroy when Ms. Albert was pretending to be someone else entirely. No indeed, this friend was possessed by JT Leroy when they met with Mr. Shainberg. Or pregnant with JT Leroy. There was a JT Leroy, Ms. Albert insists, sort of like an invisible friend or the creation of a very troubled mind, so she was not deceiving the production company after all.

Fraud, however, is fraud, and even a lunatic cannot claim insanity as a defense and then expect to keep the money that was paid out on a fraudulent contract. It's a nice try. Maybe Ms. Albert can walk around in public in a bathrobe, looking dishevelled, to demonstrate her incapacitating mental state. Then again, that tactic didn't work for a New York mobster.

The critics raved about the book, but it withered when the public found out that the writer was not JT Leroy. That was the end of the plaudits, the adulation, the oohs and ahhs. And the literary agents insist that it's all about the writing that gets you published.

No comments: