All-Star JT LeRoy p:ear Fundraiser

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So this is interesting:

Local publisher Kevin Sampsell recently shared details of an upcoming fundraiser he's organizing, with proceeds to benefit the homeless youth nonprofit p:ear. Billed as "Behind the Legend of J.T. LeRoy," it features local authors Lidia Yuknavitch, Jon Raymond, Arthur Bradford, and Monica Drake, who will read from the work of author and "teenage former street kid" J.T. LeRoy.

The catch, of course, is that "J.T. LeRoy" isn't a real person—it's a persona created by a woman named Laura Albert, who published several well-received books as LeRoy before being outed in 2005. If you're not familiar with the story, stop what you're doing and read this LA Weekly article by Portland journalist Nancy Rommelmann. It's a crazy story, packed with elaborate deception and guest appearances from the likes of Dave Eggers, Gus Van Sant, and Dennis Cooper. There's even a Manti Te'o-esque fake cancer-girlfriend!

During the height of the hoax, the likes of Mary Carr and Lou Reed stepped in for "LeRoy" at readings, because the author claimed to be too crippled by shyness to appear in public. This is neatly paralleled at the p:ear fundraiser, with Portland authors stepping in instead. Albert herself will be interviewed onstage at the event by Sampsell.

Honestly, I have not fully sussed out how I feel about this. Having never read Albert's work, I find her whole career arc pretty distasteful, and it doesn't entirely sit right that her Portland appearance is taking the form of a benefit for homeless teens, which Albert pretended to be. I have plenty of time to think about it, though: The show's on March 28 at Disjecta. It's $25—tickets are here.

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