Infamy follows JT LeRoy, 22-year-old author of The Heart Is Deceitful above All Things and Sarah. Stories of his "cult" of celebrity friends, his intensely private nature, and the child abuse central to his writing shadow him everywhere. While he's grateful for the attention ("There ain't anything worse than putting out a book and nobody giving a fuck," he said in his soft-spoken Southern drawl), he doesn't want it to mess up his life. So he tries to stay anonymous by avoiding public appearances: Per his m.o., other writers will read his work at Bumbershoot, and LeRoy won't be there. Instead, he talked about his world--and the artists and celebs he loves--from his San Francisco apartment.

Why don't you read in public very often?

"Well, if you're an actor or musician, you practice with the idea of an audience in front of you. But being a writer, it wasn't my fantasy. I didn't even write with the purpose of being published. It really just all happened by accident, really and truly. I've kind of grown into this thing that happened. I wrote these diary things, and imagine suddenly your diary being published.

The idea of standing and having people stare at me reading this intensely personal shit [is hard]... at least an actor is playing a role. [Author] Mary Gaitskill said, 'I'll read for you,' and that's how that started.

And I love hearing [my work] read by other people because it allows me to hear it outside, not from my voice. I always learn things. I've heard the same passage read by different people, and it always blows me the fuck away."

So what's the deal with this "cult" of celebrities you hang out with?

"If you're at a good buffet, you're going to go for the good shit. Who goes to a fucking all-you-can-eat buffet, and goes for Saltines? No, motherfucker, you're going to go for the lobster. And I go for the lobster. I'm not interested in celebrity for celebrity's sake. I'm interested in the people who move me. I just love great art, I love artists, and I love people who are creating.

The thing that excited me about being an artist is, sometimes someone puts into words something you feel, and it makes you feel less alone in the world. That is a heavy burden for an artist. You reach out your hand. There are people like Bono or Shirley Manson [of Garbage] who really reach out."

Which artists excite you?

"I am a fucking junkie of fucking artists. The thing that's frustrating to me is, people pay attention to the people I'm connected to who are famous, but there are a lot of other people that I have their backs and I'm trying to promote their art. I could scream until I'm blue about [the band] Superdrag, but people write about my relationship with Courtney Love. I could scream about this artist Jane Gilday in Pennsylvania, this transgendered wonderful folk artist, and people are going to write about me and Madonna. I am fucking excited by creation. I think everybody is, and why not?"

Clint Catalyst and Tess.Lotta read work by JT LeRoy on Mon Sept 2 at the Starbucks Literary Stage in the Alki Room, 1:45-2:15 pm.