We love this charming JT LeRoy video made by Fotis Tzanakis, using audio and art by Hannah Tutor/2Zorru!
Find out for yourself how well JT did on Day 1 working at Dairy Queen….
I had the privilege of covering one of Daniel Johnston‘s songs for the compilation The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered. We recorded as the band Thistle LLC, I sang (as Speedie), it was produced by the wonderful Jerry Harrison and rad Matt Cohen on bass, engineer Geoff Knoop (Astor) on guitar, Karl Derfler engineer & legendary Prairie Prince (who already had his own Mountain Man Toothpick from TX) on drums at Sausalito Sound. We worked to make the song something I could sing, I had to climb inside Johnston, then make his song an expression that was true for me. I was later told he said that our cover of his song Love Not Dead was his favorite. Little did I know that, years later, I’d end up working with Jeff Feuerzeig, the same filmmaker who created the phenomenal documentary “The Devil and Daniel Johnston.” Because of the compassionate way he had handled mental illness and its impact on Daniel as an artist (and vice-versa), I trusted Jeff to make Author: The JT LeRoy Story and turned over all my archives so he could make a documentary about me.
I have felt a kinship with Daniel, I know what it is like to feel that creating is the way to make sense of reality. One commonality Daniel and I shared – which almost no one caught – was that Daniel recorded his conversations, and so did I. Sensing that you might have a tenuous hold on reality is like being given a broken compass, you cannot identify what is true north. The part that is still grounded, or “sane,” needs to have an accurate record of what IS. Daniel taped his family in conversations, he taped phone calls – and I did the same thing. I did it as a kid, in a fight with my mom – I needed to hold on to which way up was, it would sometimes change. But it was also to hold on to Story. My mom had a tape recorder and she’d set me up to sing my songs. I could hear myself tell stories and create characters. Later, with her encouragement, I was documenting others and taping interviews, which also allowed me to escape into another reality.
I do not record calls any more. It’s funny, sometimes someone will say to me during a phone conversation, I hope yer not taping this, and my reaction is, You should be so lucky to become part of my archive…. But yeah Radio Shack is gone, and so is my drive to document and escape into other worlds – just like I do not call hotlines as a boy. My compass works, for the most part now.
I don’t know if Daniel’s did. For me, working with Jeff Feuerzeig was very healing, it integrated all the parts that I had kept frozen and disassociated. Writing again, which his film made possible for me, effected the greatest healing for me. I know that, after Devil, the public gained a new awareness of Daniel, a deeper appreciation and understanding of his work. He was able to go around the world and perform. I have no doubt that’s what prolonged his life: being able to share his work.
That’s what Author: The JT LeRoy Story did for me as well. My books were re-released under MY NAME, and I have been able to go around the world and be present with people and talk as honestly as I can about mental illness, trauma, sexual abuse, complex PTSD, and the creative ways we find to survive.
I feel like I lost a shadow self with Daniel’s passing. Our diagnoses might be very different, but we are compatriots. Daniel was five years older than I am. Surviving with metal illness seriously impacts one’s life span. That’s why it is critical for us to move past the stigma of mental illness and the criminalization of the mentally ill. As we know, that was the preferred treatment of artists, locking them up, because our “distorted” way of seeing and representing the world is the most honest and can be spooky to behold.
Here is the link to me singing Daniel Johnston‘s Love Not Dead. https://open.spotify.
Here’s a message that Laura wants to share with you:
My favorite part of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is when Father Christmas visits to give gifts – which are tools for Lucy, Susan and Peter, to help them survive what they are going to face. Lucy gets a horn to blow if she needs help; if she sounds it, help will arrive. When you feel powerless, knowing who to call for help makes all the difference in surviving what feels like a doomed battle. I first moved to SF not long after living in placement as a ward of the state and, and when I was referred to the Independent Living Resource Center, I felt that relief of the arrival of Father Christmas, bringing tools that are life saving. I am so very proud to be joining the board of ILRCSF, as they are deeply committed to assisting people with disabilities to keep their independence. (More about that below…)
ILRCSF is having their 40th anniversary on June 21st. Please come join us in our celebration fundraiser! Tickets are $35 and tax deductible!
For every person who buys a ticket, I will send you a personalized note, special care of gratitude! (Dealers’ choice – ya want it signed: Laura Albert, JT LeRoy, Speedie or Laura Dern, you got it!) If you buy two, you get the note AND a signed raccoon penis bone (that’s JT’s domain).
I have never posted a fundraising thing, as there are so many worthy causes that desperately need support. But this one really does help people stay in the world, in life, by bringing you the tools so you can do it. That is core to me.
Please consider donating any amount if cannot buy a ticket. Let me know, and I’ll find a way to express my gratitude.
Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco (ILRCSF) is a disability rights advocacy and support organization. Our mission is to ensure that people with disabilities are full social and economic partners, within their families and within a fully accessible community. ILRCSF’s mission is achieved by systems change, community education, partnerships with business, community organizations and government, and consumer directed services. We work to empower individuals and community, so that all people with disabilities have as full, productive and independent lives as they so choose.
We’re delighted to share this news on our website: Pepper Spray Press, which has made an array of iconic prints and posters over the years, is offering something unique: a portrait of mythic author JT LeRoy, made by master artist Raffaella Bertolini. And what she has produced is truly magical – the spirit of the JT LeRoy books is alive in this remarkable image.
Laura arranged with Pepper Spray to create a limited-edition series of prints from the original portrait – and each print is signed by both Raffaella Bertolini and Laura. Only 40 of these 19×21.5-in. prints have been made, and they are printed on 270gsm French archival paper. These prints were created using seven layers of acrylic and transparent inks, giving each one a singular look with a completely unique background. You can obtain your print from Pepper Spray Press for $150. But you’ll need to move fast because they won’t last long! They go on sale starting Wednesday November 7 at noon EST, and you can place your order HERE.
Are you tired of people ignoring your head? Do you wish it could make a statement about literature – and about an author’s right to follow her own vision? Well, this is your chance, sporting this awesome “written by JT LeRoy” cap! It’s a classic adjustable Dad’s Cap in black, with its message printed in vivid white lettering in typewriter font. Make your head the envy of all your friends – you can order one of these JT caps for just $19.95 right HERE.
A complementary autographed penis bone has been won by Jillian Sutherlin of Oakland, California, for guessing which poster Laura Albert designed for editor Peter Coffin’s Imaginary Concerts, Vol. 2 – an eye-popping collection of inspired posters for the greatest music concerts that never happened!
Jillian correctly surmised that this dream of a concert –
– must have been Laura’s contribution: New York, England, and Saturn, all celebrating Independence Day in San Francisco!
Yes, this is your chance to be sent a FREE autographed penis bone – and we’re NOT FOOLING! All you have to do is enter this mysterious field of colors:
Which is the cover of Imaginary Concerts, Vol. 2 – a series of posters for the most wonderful, exciting, and brilliant concerts that never happened! Editor Peter Coffin asked an array of creative people to contribute line-ups for these dream shows, and there are posters from such notable artists as Yoko Ono, Lydia Lunch, Christian Marclay, Arto Lindsay, and yes our own Laura Albert! None of the contributors, however, have signed their poster. But if you think you know which one is Laura’s, write us here and let us know – if you’re right, we’ll send you an autographed penis bone! Good luck!