FILM PORN: [THE CULT OF JT LeROY]

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CULTY

OMG, where do I even start with this film?!

I knew nothing of “The Cult of JT LeRoy” before attending a viewing at the Rose Lipman building for the Queer Fringe Festival last Saturday. The picture on the program, a juicy pop blend of bleach hair, cyan background and massive shades was enough to stir my imagination into a whip of American, acid punk, heroin-chic wonderment.

I was not aware of the huge following and controversy attached to this image so I was in for a treat when the ensuing documentary unraveled.

The Cult of JT LeRoy tells the story of an androgynous, teenage, heroin addict, HIV positive, prostitute writer who takes the entire celebrity world by storm with their shy demeanour, powerfully vulnerable books and insane fashion sense.

After watching LeRoy’s life get more and more fabulous, going on world tours, making A-list friends and becoming a celebrity writer; we later discover that the entire thing was fake and the books of JT LeRoy which shot him/her to fame were really written by Laura Albert. The physical part of JT was played by Albert’s Partners younger sister, Savannah Knoop, for an entire 6 years before the exposure of the true story.

This is possibly one of the most confusing, in depth and interwoven stories I have ever heard, unpicked by various journalists and celebs who all had direct involvement or experiences with JT either physically, or via phone calls and JT’s expansive email network.

Their experiences and stories brewed feelings of uncomfortable sickness and perplexity throughout my being, whilst keeping me utterly hooked.

It has been a long time since I felt so uncomfortable and paralysed watching a movie.

I believe that reality is what truly makes this film so dark. The fact that the occurrences happened so recently, the people are still alive and this is not just a memory of something that happened in the past means we are completely confronted with the proximity of questioning it poses regarding reality, morality, art and justice.

I personally feel in awe, if somewhat disgusted, of what Laura Albert has achieved, by creating a character which completely undermines and exposes the superficiality of humanity in modern society.

Her genius – which some may call psychopathic – was able to manipulate a hugely vast web of people using tools like the internet and magazines to truly unravel the complexities of what makes people tick and what we view as real and interesting in the light of celebrity culture and fashion.

Although it is the story itself which really holds power, this film would not have had the same impact without the exciting way it is compiled; reminiscent of all the scary documentaries on american TV channels which both haunted and gripped my childhood. The sustained murmur of a low chord and the diary dates displayed on the side of a VHS somehow dizzy me into the  beige plastic and navy carpeted aura of a customs lounge leaving me tense and muggy.

There is much discussion to be had around this film and I’m sure if you ask your friends, one of them will remember the story in real life and be able to give you their understanding of what happened.

I would strongly recommend seeing “The Cult of JT LeRoy”, if you fancy having your head bashed for a few hours. Just remember that this film is not just a film, it comes with it’s own hangover of controversy, ill feeling and philosophical debate.

Written and Recommended by Ted Rogers “Artpornblog”

xXx

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