A few days ago Laura received this email through the website:
You talk so much about celebrities, celebrity and how much you want to be a celebrity. It seems as though you’ve been trying to make a trade with celebrity for a long time. That transaction will never go well, for anyone, let alone you.
She sent this response, which she wants to share with you all:
Oh I know this very well. And the process I went through being JT and the way media created this celeb culture around JT very much enforced my awareness of how hollow celebrity worship is. I feel our culture sells the idea of fame as a fix for our suffering, whatever it might be. I hid and did the work of writing in my room. In the same way I believed food might fix me — it numbed me — fame is another distraction and it does NOT fix anything. Oh I know this. I really do not talk about it much at all, but it is very much the lingua franca of our culture. I am asked about it a lot. Believe me I would rather talk about most anything else. My books are NOT pop culture books, but they do go into the desire to be loved, to be seen, to be needed — to feel important, that your life matters. To feel connected. The desire to find a self.
My work deals with gender fluidity, trauma, abuse. I suggest you read the work — this is what interests me. Please do not mistake what is written ABOUT me with what my true focus is and has been. The trade was never ever for celebrity, at all. It was going to artists I was moved by, it is what I did in the punk scene — I rejected celebrity worship. Being a celebrity, existing in that realm? Nothing could be further from that as my organizing principal. If it were, then when I was outed I would have jumped on all the offers that were thrown at me to create myself as one. I did not. I even got into a lawsuit because a movie company wanted to make my story but I said NO to Hollywood. Please read the work, the essence of it all is there. I do appreciate your coming to me with your concerns instead of posting anonymously. You opened a chance for dialog and that is rare.
As our regular readers no doubt noticed, we had to change plans for the Toronto opening of Author: The JT LeRoy Story on November 2 and 3. We originally announced personal appearances at the theater for audience Q&As, but had to change to Skype sessions at the last minute. And now we also have to announce with regret the cancellation of laura’s appearance at Book Court in Brooklyn, which had been scheduled for November 6. We’re sorry friends, but you just can’t Skype to a book signing… We further regret to announce that Laura’s appearance at the Stockholm Film Festival has also been cancelled – but she will be Skyping to them too, so watch this space or the website’s Author page for the precise date and time.
The explanation is simple: The day before her flight to Canada, Laura had a small accident and fractured a bone in her left foot. We’re saving the cool X-ray photo for this month’s newsletter, but here’s Laura pictured below, showing up the next day for a radio interview, boot and all.
Watch the website for news of when her Brooklyn appearance will be rescheduled. In the meantime, we offer here as consolation Laura’s awesome new interview on Q with Tom Powers from CBC Radio.
Good news for all our friends north of the border! Author: The JT LeRoy Story, currently playing in theaters around the US (find a screening near you by clicking here) will begin playing in Canada in November. The Toronto opening is on November 2 and 3 at the Ted Rogers Cinema (506 Bloor Street W, Bathurst, Toronto; 416-637-3123). As part of the Hot Docs series, Laura will be speaking via Skype at audience Q&As moderated by Hot Docs programmers. She will be talking at the 6:30 and 9:15 screenings on Wednesday the 2nd (yes, that’s her birthday!) and the 6:45 screening on Thursday the 3rd. You can order tickets here.
And then what? Well, Laura will be in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, speaking and signing books at Book Court (163 Court Street; 718-875-3677) on Sunday November 6 at 4 PM. She’ll be joined by Alan Feuer, reporter for The new York Times, author of Over There: From The Bronx To Baghdad, and co-author of Still New York. Introducing Laura and Alan will be novelist Amy Sohn, author of Prospect Park West, Motherland, My Old Man, Run Catch Kiss, and The Actress. For more details, click here.
After that, it’s on to Sweden! Laura will be at the Stockholm Film Festival, appearing on November 9 at the 6:00 screening at the Biografen Sture (Birger Jarlsgatan 41A). Tickets can be ordered here. Watch this space for more details!
We want to notify all our friends of Laura Albert’s UPCOMING APPEARANCE: On Friday October 7 at 7 PM the fine people at Books Inc. in Berkeley, CA (1491 Shattuck Avenue, 510-525-7777) are doing an event with her to celebrate the reissue of the JT LeRoy books Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things by HarperCollins. Justin Desmangles will be speaking with Laura about her writing, and Laura will be signing books and meeting with readers. Read more about this event here. Please join us if you can, it’ll be fun!
Further appearances planned for October in Brooklyn and Los Angeles — watch our website for the latest news!
Laura’s reading at Booksmith in San Francisco, held on September 7 and hosted by Grant Faulkner, was a big hit! Filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig, the auteur of Author, made a surprised everyone by making an unexpected appearance — he insisted there was no way he’d miss the first reading held in the US for Laura under her own name! Laura persuaded him to share a few words with the audience, which was much appreciated by all. The Booksmith event was standing-room-only, and the books flew off the shelves. Don’t take our word for it — here’s the tweet!
My body is trembling and I will show up today – for all of us who know: We are here We are here We are here! (Horton Hears A Who) We will be heard – even if we need to be unseen for a little while – until we remember who we need to be and how we need to be, so we can continue to show up in this process of life. Often it doesn’t just get better, but we can hold each other’s hand and make it through another moment – together. And the of doing this – makes it better.
Thank you to all of you who have and who do take my hand – giving me the privilege of offering my hand back to you, to help you in finding greater stability and balance and in making it through your moments of not wanting to go any further. I pray we keep taking steps forward, and I hope you will continue to be with me in this future tense of joy.
Or in the immortal words of Seal, “We are never going to survive unless we get a little…. Crazy…” Or a lot…
We wanted to share a moment with you from the Los Angeles premiere of Author: The JT LeRoy Story at the NeueHouse Hollywood on August 25. Here’s Laura at the event:
Her beautiful dress came from miss velvet cream, a California-made Neocouture slow fashion clothing line handcrafted by artist Scatha G. Allison. She tells us, “Characteristics of the style and design of MVC pieces are craftsmanship and attention to detail, a punk rock sensibility in design and construction, a love of luxury, and an eye for silhouette and feminine power. In designing and constructing the look for Laura Albert, I wanted to convey her true nature, her essence and heart, which I find to be deeply sentimental and hard as steel, a true survivor, a warrior of this world. I am deeply grateful to her trust and the freedom she gave me in expressing the design and vision. Despite the romance and femininity embodied in the look, it is aggressive, modern and sharp as a blade. Much like Laura Albert in her writing and in her life. I look forward to collaborating with her again in the future. It is an honor to be a part of the Author story.”
You honor us Scatha! Thank you!
The artist who captured the iconic image of Harvey Milk used in the Forever stamp was photographer Dan Nicoletta, and we wanted to share with you this brilliant commentary of his, which he posted on the Youtube page of the trailer for AUTHOR.
Many questions are brought forth with the unfolding saga of the JT LeRoy novels, so of course I was anxious to see this film from author Laura Albert’s perspective – now several years after some of the dust has settled on the original media frenzy revealing her to be the stealth author behind the LeRoy novels. Kudos to Jeff Feuerzeig for making the film and getting Laura Albert and other primary sources to trust him enough to share their intimate details. For those of us that have followed the trajectory of JT LeRoy, the film does not disappoint, it is revelatory and at times deeply poignant and touching and beautifully crafted.
For me the take away of the film and the whole phenomenon begs the question – why the often irrational randomness in how and when and why we apply ethics in the art world. Isn’t the absence of a set standard one of the salient points of making art? Why for example are William Burroughs outlaw cultural riffs endlessly celebrated ad nauseum, but when a woman like Laura Albert crosses the gender line and takes on the culturally charged persona of a male youth at risk, she is persistently demonized for her inventiveness.
And so through this documentary film we finally get confirmation of the piece to the puzzle that many of us suspected all along through the course of the public witch hunt that occurred after the reveal of Albert’s part in things. Turns out the source of the narrative was actually telling her story after all, that she had authentically lived a parallel track to her avatar JT LeRoy including but not limited to surviving molestation, abandonment and disassociation and addiction. She was in fact a youth at risk herself. This film affirms that we originally responded empathetically to the work because its authenticity was not very far away despite its fictional sheath and the media circus that grew up around its success.
The film is refreshingly pro-neurodiversity and a welcome voice at a time when counter culture seems almost crusty or worse – fickle in its propensity towards call out culture… and often for not very good or rational reasons.
see WE VAULT here!
Laura Albert is proud to announce that WE VAULT, a film she has written, has been selected for the prestigious 2016 New York Shorts Festival, held this year from May 31 through June 2. A celebration of women in the challenging sport of equestrian vaulting, WE VAULT merges Laura’s stirring text with the breathtaking imagery of director Sharif Hamza. The result is an epic three minutes, a feast of words and images, the poetry distilled from a young woman’s aspiration and commitment and achievement.
Learn more about the May 31st screening here.
The sad news is the passing of photographer Mary Ellen Mark at the age of 75. She had taken JT LeRoy’s portrait to accompany the Tom Waits interview in Vanity Fair magazine, and for a recent exhibition at SF Cameraworks, Laura wrote this text to accompany the picture:
“I wrote Sarah and several other works of fiction under the pseudonym JT LeRoy. JT was a persona I created, asbestos gloves for material I couldn’t stand to touch. JT was the living expression of that pain. To me, he always wanted a body. It was physical, like contractions in childbirth. But in person, the body had no eyes. Behind the wig and the sunglasses was a stand-in, an avatar, an enactment, a living mask.
“I was 17 years old and living in a group home when I saw Mary Ellen Mark’s movie Streetwise with some other teenage girls who were also in exile from their families. When Vanity Fair wanted a photograph of JT, I asked that Mary Ellen Mark take the photos. She understands the language of suffering and loss: loss of childhood, loss of a child. I knew she would get JT.”
“How can we seriously not perceive that literature is a mask to hide behind?”
Luna Miguel poses that question in the introduction to her interview with Laura Albert for the new European magazine Ponytale. Exploring femininity through art, music, and fashion, filled with references to pop culture, girl culture, and riottttt fanzines, Ponytale is dedicated to girls who are on the quest of finding themselves. So their latest issue turns to Laura Albert, the author who has spun questions of identity, representation, and self-realization into a new literary orbit. And “Beyond The Mask” even has an appearance by a new incarnation of JT!
HERE’S where you can learn about the new issue Ponytale.