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Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy [Kindle Edition]

Savannah Knoop
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The JT LeRoy scandal is a story of our times. In January 2006, the New York Times unmasked Savannah Knoop as the face of the mysterious author JT LeRoy. A media frenzy ensued as JT’s fans, mentors, and readers came to terms with the fact that the gay-male-ex-truck-stop-prostitute-turned literary-wunderkind was really a girl from San Francisco, whose sister-in-law wrote the books.
Girl Boy Girl is the story of how Savannah Knoop led this bizarre double life for six years, trading a precarious existence as a college dropout for a life in which she was embraced by celebrities and artists—Carrie Fisher, Courtney Love, Mary Ellen Mark, Winona Ryder, Asia Argento, Sharon Olds, Gus Van Sant, Mike Pitt, Calvin Klein, and Shirley Manson, to name a few—and traveled the world. Telling her side of the story for the first time, Savannah reveals how being perceived as a boy gave her a sense of confidence and entitlement she never had before. Her love affair with Asia Argento is particularly wrenching, as they embark on an intimate relationship that causes more alienation than closeness.
As Savannah and Laura struggle over control of the JT character, Savannah realizes the limits of the game - - and inadvertently finds herself through the adventure of being someone else.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When is an HIV-positive, transgender, ex-truck-stop-prostitute turned pseudo-celebrity novelist none of the above? When the faux man of letters is JT Leroy, revealed to be erstwhile community-college coed Savannah Knoop, who masqueraded as her middle-aged sister-in-law Laura’s nom de plume. At 18, Knoop started living in public as JT, “a boy who became a girl, still pretending to be a boy.” Secret thumbsucker and compulsive overeater Laura, who was JT’s publicist, Speedie, created JT as a metaphor for her own pain—perhaps. Eventually, portraying JT became Savannah’s “exciting reprieve from real life. He had access to a world so beyond what I thought could be my own.” The game ran for seven years, ending in a 2006 public revelation/scandal. “The whole experience had been a contagious lie,” quoth Savannah, “that spread and obstructed what I wanted my life to be.” What with snapshots and celebrity photos, her confession’s a breezy, fast, oddly likable read for fans of bizarre deceit or, perhaps, just the bizarre. --Whitney Scott

About the Author

SAVANNAH KNOOP began to lead a double life in 1999 at the age of eighteen, when her sister-in-law asked her to be the face of JT LeRoy, author of the internationally acclaimed novels Sarah and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Their true identities were revealed in 2006. Knoop began designing clothing six years ago and formed a clothing company under the name of Tinc. She lives in San Francisco.

Product Details

  • File Size: 285 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; A Seven Stories Press 1st Ed edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003R7KZTO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,086 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply fascinating. September 11, 2008
By Jo D.
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Savannah Knoop's well written account of her experience as the body [or wig and glasses] of J. T. LeRoy, the famed but fictitious truckstop-boy-turned-author, is rivetting even if you've never read a LeRoy book or seen the movie. Simply put, the experience of seeing how people react to her when they think she's not just a he but also a victim and a celebrity is a fascinating exposure of the projections people make and of celebrity culture. Knoop captures both the humor and pathos of never being sure what people are seeing or reacting to when they believe her to be JT. Also, it is surprisingly easy to sympathize with Knoop, as she was not the mastermind of the hoax but in many ways simply a conveniently aimless and exploited sister-in-law. Her vexed relation to Laura Albert, equal parts admiration and resentment [and a sorority of shared eating disorders], is uncomfortable but very believable. Finally, this book interests not because it or the JT hoax is important in its own right but because of what it reveals about our insecurities, our self presentations, and our acute desires to be the sort of person, with the sort of experiences, others find desirable or charismatic -- to be, in short, the people we wish to be and are not.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange, strange story February 3, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Because I live in the very area where the fictitious author of tales of abuse and child prostitition, "JT LeRoy", was supposed to have arrived in to become a street hustler & author, and because the unmasking of LeRoy as Laura Albert was a big story in my town, I was so excited to get the behind-the-scenes story. Unfortunately, I was left wanting more information about Laura Albert, but I guess that's fair since the focus is on Savannah Knoop, the public impersonator of LeRoy. And it does say so in the title I guess I can't fault Knoop for that. However, she isn't really that interesting! She does at least write pretty well, if at times overwrought. Her description of Asia Argento lying in bed was a bit purple-prosey, but since Argento is the object of much desire, I suppose that's ok. I suppose many people who would bed Argento would gush a bit.

The book mainly discusses the evolution of Knoop impersonating JT, appearing in a makeshift costume for interviews, photoshoots and any public appearances, with Albert as her sidekick/handler, "Speedie", as JT rises in the literary world and becomes a media darling, culiminating in a filmed version of one of the books. (Albert would handle extensive phone calling, while Knoop would be the public face of JT.)

The thing that first jumped out to me was: "How in the hell did people buy their shtick?!" Especially Albert as "Speedie"-- a cockney (yes -- cockney!!)street urchin (I actually laughed out loud picturing her going "'Ello, matey! Oim Speeday, and this 'ere's JayTeaa, doncha know!" Ridiculous!), and LeRoy as as homeless southerner, a truckstop hustler.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book by a beautiful girl February 11, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I could not put this book down. Savannah's insecurities, her unsureness, and her honesty about her time spent as JT LeRoy makes for an amazing story. I related deeply to her personal struggles and the confusion of finding herself, and was fascinated by how she described going from an insecure teenager to a worldwide superstar. She is not a monster or a manipulator like so many have made her out to be. I saw none of that in this story. What i saw was a really beautiful person on a journey to find herself.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Story Behind The Face October 13, 2008
When the story broke that JT Leroy didn't exist in the way he'd been said to exist, a lot of people on the periphery of this phenomena wanted to know more. Savannah Knoop provides not a typical insider's bitter wail but rather a heartfelt and clear-eyed tale of how the public face of a hip and cool author was created and thrived for a while. She's a good writer and is able to capture some of the manic, slap-dash nature of the enterprise that was JT Leroy and make it a good story.

In telling her part in this created life (her own life is compelling without JT in it) she displays a remarkable sense of having come to terms with being part of an invention that among many things "punked" a whole lot of people who don't care to be punked. But rather than providing more fuel to the fire of those who felt betrayed, Knoop gives a human face to the affair, one that is well-told and provides a sense of how these things are sometimes less than deliberate and more the product of often ingenious invention based on a startlingly clever reading of what people want to hear and in this case, see.

For those who feel betrayed or confused by what some call a hoax, this book goes some way to humanizing the people who put it all together and provide a sense of empathy if not compassion for them. For someone looking for a good read about post-modernist identity, the nature of who we are and especially how most people often see what they wish to see, this would be a good book to get as it is told by someone simply telling their story without pretense. GirlBoyGirl a candid account of the face of a remarkable event in modern publishing and entertainment.
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More About the Author

Savannah Knoop began to lead a double life in 1999 at the age of eighteen, when her sister-in-law asked her to be the face of JT LeRoy, author of the internationally acclaimed books Sarah and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Her true identity was revealed in 2006. She published a memoir about her experience titled Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT LeRoy (Seven Stories Press). She began designing clothing six years ago and formed a clothing company under the name Tinc. She lives in San Francisco.

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