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Tuesday, September 28, 2004   |    One-Question Interviews

J. T. LeRoy, young Turk


1. “Terminator”? What kind of a pen name is that? Please explain/defend yourself.

J. T. LeRoy

I was tricking on the street and it was a name these other boy kids gave me as a joke because it is so opposite my personality.This guy would always come around and ask for Terminator. I really liked the name. It was my street name. It made me feel powerful like I had a knife in my pocket. It was like trying on another persona.

Actually there were a few Terminators that hustled… a whole army of us. Some used to tag around the neighborhood and once an interviewer asked me if I had done it. It was pretty funny. Wish I could’ve taken credit for it, but I had a handwashing thing, spray paint woulda drove me nuts!

That’s how I identified myself at the time, that was my life. My first story was published under the name Terminator. I guess also being on the street and all it would not have been smart to be more specific about my identity in case I wrote about something that pissed someone off.

J. T. LeRoy is the author of The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, Sarah, and Harold’s End. His Web site is