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September 29, 2007



Here's another brilliant hoax that I've followed closely: JT Leroy. Punk, porn and personas--what's not to like? I read one of "his" books (The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things") and liked it. I still like it. Does it matter who really wrote it?

Watch out for the mention of a Filipino restaurant in San Francisco that used to be a watering hole for punk bands.


I read about Hatto early this year and talked to a friend who runs a classical music recording company. He mentioned that several of the pieces done by their company were lifted by Hatto and co. As noted in your post, part of the reason they got away with it for so long was due to the credulity of the critics.



Wow, that’s quite a story. I’m inclined to take this line on her:
"I see JT as an elaborate nom de plume," says former New York Press editor Strausbaugh. "Sort of a 21st century George Sand. Here's this middle-aged woman who's not getting anywhere as a writer. She reinvents herself as a girly boy and becomes a huge success. On whom does that reflect more poorly, her or all the rest of us?"
The “gender issue in punk rock” identified in the article surprised me a bit.

The scene was dominated by males. It was all about male power. Girls couldn't be intuitive or emotional; they had to be hard-ass just to keep up. Being a girl attracted to the music, but seen as only sexual, stuck in Albert's brain.

That seems to me quite different from 1977—1981, when women (Poly Styrene, Siouxie Sioux and the splendidly named “The Slits” to mention just a few) were among the leaders of the movement. As Laura Albert’s “career” demonstrates perfectly, when it comes to punk regalia there is really very little to choose between the sexes.

Of course I am talking about ORIGINAL and BRITISH punk movement – pale American imitators probably have their own rules, ha, ha. (And by way of an aside I don’t know that there is much room for anyone, with or without a Y chromosome, who is “intuitive or emotional” in punk, that’s not what it’s about.)

I’ll say this for the SF punk scene though, just when you think they’ve run out of good punk song titles someone comes up with "Vicious Panties".


Yes, the white collar crime aspect of the Hatto story is sort of glossed over in the New Yorker piece, After all, this is, at the very least, copyright infringement and passing off to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t particularly want old Barry to spend time behind bars but I’m surprised that no record companies have chased him for the money he made out of peddling their recordings.


Yes, the JT Leroy story is one of the more elaborate hoaxes of the century. You've got to admire how Albert spun it for a decade. I first came across the book at the time I saw Tarnation, the documentary. Same dark themes, different ways of telling them. "JT" did it better.

Unlike the Hatto hoax, however, I find the JT one more sinister. When an old couple fiddles with recordings to promote a failed concert pianist in her twilight years, where's the real harm? I find myself smiling at the online correspondence they maintained with critics and admirers. Who even writes like that anymore?

But Albert and co. capitalized on issues like child abuse, homelessness, AIDS, etc. It wouldn't have been so bad if the whole thing was intended to 1) promote genuinely engaging fiction and 2) make a fool of critics and celebrities. But it doesn't appear to be just about that. Albert seems genuinely troubled. And brilliant. Not a new combination. There's an article in the Independent that describes one of her personae as having a broad Leeds accent. Wow! I wish she'd do a Sheffield one.

As for punk and gender, I know too little about the two, unfortunately. Part of Albert's victimology, I think. She appears to have been a mediocre punk rocker.(What on earth is a mediocre punk rocker? Someone who can't stick a safety pin through her nose properly? I don't know what I'm talking about.)

"Vicious Panties" at the Mabuhay Gardens. Wish I'd been old enough to have watched that.


I believe the company I mentioned is running after lost revenue, but it's a problematic case since they have to show proof that it's their unknown pianist and not some other unknown pianist plinking the keys.


“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”
-Adolf Hitler-

amateur misanthrope

I've never liked Yefim Bronfman's playing. I don't understand why he's famous. But I also have not heard of Hatto until I read this post.

But I digress. I'm appalled by Abalos. He doesn't even know how to lie. He kept on saying "I don't know what he's talking about" apropos Neri and de Venecia. This is insufficient denial. And yet Abalos is a lawyer!

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