|JT "Terminator" LeRoy is a non-existent novelist, the product of one of the biggest and strangest literary hoaxes of all time. For years, LeRoy was known to his friends, fans, and publishers as a young man from West Virginia with a prostitute mother, who had grown up to become a cross-dressing teenage prostitute himself at truck stops across the South. He had eventually made his way to the streets of San Francisco where he was rescued by a psychiatrist who encouraged him to write. By phone, LeRoy began to make contact with some of his favorite writers, including Dennis Cooper and Mary Gaitskill, who championed his work. In 2000, his novel, SARAH, came out, a book assumed by everyone to be a thinly veiled autobiography. It was followed by a collection of short stories titled THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS. By phone and email Leroy had cultivated a large network of celebrity friends, admirers, and advocates, including Madonna, Winona Ryder, Billy Corgan, and Gus Van Sant. Notoriously shy, JT LeRoy made rare public appearances and always dressed in dark glasses and a blond wig, usually accompanied by his friend "Speedie," with whom LeRoy lived in a San Francisco squat. However in October, 2005 a New York magazine ran an article suggesting that LeRoy's writing, voice, and identity actually originated with "Speedie" aka Laura Albert, a Brooklyn-born writer, and the public persona was merely an actor playing a role. In 2006, Warren St. John, a writer who had previously written a credulous profile of LeRoy, identified the public "LeRoy" as actually being Savannah Knoop, Albert's sister-in-law, who had been recruited to play the role to allay suspicion. In the subsequent backlash, Albert was lambasted for expropriating sexual abuse, heroin addiction, and HIV-infection simply as a means to get published, make money, and become famous. In a lawsuit in 2007 by the film company that had optioned the rights to SARAH, Albert was found guilty of fraud. However, many consider Albert's decade-long invention and maintenance of a fictional person to be a fascinating experiment in gender-bending and the shape-shifting potential of identity. As author Mary Gaitskill said in New York magazine, "Even if it turned out to be a hoax, it's a very enjoyable one. And a hoax that exposes things about people, the confusion between love and art and publicity. A hoax that would be delightful, and if people are made fools of, it would be okay--in fact, it would be useful."