Book Article

The True Story of the Very Fake JT LeRoy

Savannah Knoop's 'Girl Boy Girl' -- The woman who posed for six years as a transgender ex-prostitute pens a memoir describing her experience

Savannah Knoop isn't an actor, but for six years she played the ultimate role: the transgender ex-prostitute JT LeRoy, a pen name her sister-in-law Laura Albert created while writing best-sellers like Sarah. Appearing as LeRoy at events, Knoop bound her breasts, wore sunglasses and a wig, and adopted a Southern accent. Together she and Albert fooled press, publishers, and even celebrity fans like Carrie Fisher, until The New York Times discovered their secret in 2006.

Two years later, Knoop has released a memoir, Girl Boy Girl, to describe the hoax that consumed her: ''I thought I would lose my [own] voice,'' she says. ''I was separated into different people.'' Though she knew she and Albert couldn't maintain the deception forever, its sudden end stunned her. Albert was sued for fraud by the production company that planned to adapt Sarah; Knoop began suffering from an identity crisis. ''I mourn that JT's not around,'' she says. ''It was that intimate, that close.''

Originally posted Sep 26, 2008 Published in issue #1014 Oct 03, 2008 Order article reprints
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