PERSONA NON GRATA: The recent exposure of writer JT LeRoy as an apparent fraud has made life somewhat awkward for those who have been party to the charade, knowingly or otherwise. Take Palm Pictures, which is trying to publicize a new film based on LeRoy’s novel “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.” Palm invited ridicule with its poster for the film, which declares it to be “based on a true story.” BlackBook magazine posted a copy of the poster on its Web site last week, along with a suggestion for revising the copy: “Hey guys, how about ‘Based on a complete and utter lie?'”
BlackBook has reason to be sensitive: The New York-based title has published numerous articles by LeRoy, and a conversation between LeRoy and journalist Kurt Anderson on the death of snark is featured in the upcoming issue. “We managed to slip quote marks around [LeRoy’s] name in the table of contents,” noted editor in chief Aaron Hicklin.
In fact, Hicklin and his colleagues at BlackBook had their own suspicions about LeRoy’s veracity, well before stories in New York magazine and The New York Times showed the LeRoy persona, or at least aspects of it, to be the creation of a San Francisco writer named Laura Albert and several accomplices. For the magazine’s summer 2004 issue, LeRoy wrote about butterfly hunting in the Congo with writer William T. Vollman. Smelling a hoax, BlackBook tried to verify the account with Vollman, who denied ever having met LeRoy. The piece eventually ran with a disclaimer: “We have no idea if any of the events recounted here actually took place.”
“It’s impossible to separate JT’s writing from ‘JT the persona,'” said Hicklin. “Now that the persona has been exposed as a sham we won’t be commissioning him/her again, unless they want to use BlackBook as a vehicle to set the record straight — but that’s not to say that the whole JT performance wasn’t a hugely enjoyable distraction while it lasted.”
— Jeff Bercovici
RADAR’S PUZZLE PIECES: While Radar editor in chief Maer Roshan has set off, once again, on a pilgrimage to find yet another round of funding, his former staffers have been circulating their résumés.
This story first appeared in the January 23, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Some have found temporary homes: Radar deputy editor Chris Knutsen is guest editing a summer fiction issue of Best Life and also editing a book for Harper Collins while he considers what to do next. Christopher Tennant, a senior editor at Radar, is, at the moment, freelancing for The New York Post’s “Page Six”; editor at large Andrew Goldman is contributing to New York magazine and continuing to write the “Cherchez La Femme” back page of Elle; former contributing writer Tyler Gray is freelancing at Us Weekly, and special projects editor Remy Stern is said to be working on an “entrepreneurial” endeavor.
Others have taken full-time jobs: senior editor James Lochart has returned to Men’s Journal as its assistant managing editor, and Roshan’s former assistant, Julie Bloom, is now an associate editor at Jane.
The staff isn’t the only element of Radar being picked over by other magazines. GQ has landed the highly anticipated Aaron Gell piece on Nazi-loving twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede that was supposed to run in the last, unpublished issue of Radar. The story will run in the March GQ. Salon.com has taken a piece by Benoit Denizet-Lewis about Mike Jeffries, and one on baby luxury by Dale Hrabi.
— Sara James and J.B.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS: Just what were Kent Brownridge and Steve Florio discussing over breakfast at Michael’s earlier this month? Perhaps free-agent Brownridge and soon-to-be-free-agent Florio were comparing notes on the next chapters of their careers?
Brownridge is technically available to go to work for another firm. (Jann Wenner and Wenner Media even threw him a going-away party last week — though, unlike photos of Wenner’s own birthday party, pictures of Brownridge’s send-off are not likely to end up in Us Weekly.)
Florio, meanwhile, is still under contract with Condé Nast, at least until the end of the year. Neither former chieftan could be reached for comment.