Welcome to Queerty’s latest entry in our series, Queerantined: Daily Dose. Every weekday as long as the COVID-19 pandemic has us under quarantine, we’ll release a suggested bit of gloriously queer entertainment designed to keep you from getting stir crazy in the house. Each weekend, we will also suggest a binge-able title to keep you extra engaged.
The Scandalous: JT LeRoy
Director Justin Kelly (I am Michael, King Cobra) made his best film to date with JT LeRoy. It’s a shame more of the world hasn’t noticed.
JT LeRoy derives its name from the titular author whose autobiographical novels about prostitution, child rape and drug addiction took the literary world by storm in the late 1990s. LeRoy’s work earned a devoted celebrity following, with the likes of Moby, Courtney Love and Winona Ryder showing up to do live readings from his novels, and LeRoy’s novel The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things even getting the movie treatment in 2004. Imagine their disappointment when they learned JT LeRoy doesn’t exist.
The film JT LeRoy revisits the scandal of how a would-be rockstar woman named Laura Albert created JT as a pseudonym, and then recruited her real-life sister-in-law Savannah Knoop to impersonate JT at public events. In an even stranger twist, Albert also insisted as appearing as JT’s manager, Speedy, a cockney-accented hippie chick manager with a habit of answering JT’s questions for him. Leave it to Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern to approach this kind of material with the appropriate enthusiasm–and the needed sexual and gender fluidity to match. Both give alluring performances, as does Diane Kruger as an ambitious actress modeled on Asia Argento.
Only a director like Kelly would have the wherewithal to not show his characters as queer freaks…or to make any excuses for their deceitful behavior. Instead, Kelly leaves his viewers with lingering questions about Laura Albert’s motives, and a showbiz establishment a little to enamored with LeRoy’s biography. Scandal seldom gets this fun, or this intriguing.
Streams on Amazon, VUDU & YouTube.