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.