'Tis the season for end of the year lists, which presents an interesting problem for us here at ANTSS.
On one hand, we hate to be followers.
On the other hand, we're way too cowardly and lazy to do something that might push us beyond the pale and get us ostracized by the horror blog community.
What's the solution? Do a list, but do it on trangendered sexual weirdness with everybody's favorite moody daughter of Dario Argento (pictured in the typically reserved and humble portrait above). We get in on the whole traditional listy goodness, but we roll a little weird and try to keep our thin alibi of individuality.
There comes a time in the life of every Asia Argento fan when you wonder to yourself, "Self, I wonder what it would be like to make love to Asia Argento as a girl who had fooled Asia Argento into thinking she was actually a boy who had extensive sexual reassignment surgery done and was now pretty much a girl."
Well, wonder no longer. Savannah Knoop has lived the dream.
In 1999, Savannah Knoop did a solid for her sister-in-law, Laura Albert.
Since 1996, Albert had been writing short stories, musical reviews, and other bits under the penname Jeremiah "J. T." Leroy. Over the course of those three years, Albert had given Leroy a baroque Southern Gothic backstory involving child prostitution, religious fanaticism, drug abuse, truckers, and a titanic Evil Mother figure identified only as Sarah. In 1999, Albert – as Leroy – had produced two novels. The first, titled Sarah, was a dark magical-realist take on the subculture of "lot lizards," prostitutes that haunt the truck stops of America's highways. The second novel, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, was actually an interlinked series of short stories. The novel tossed out the magical-realist angle and went for a more spare, relentless, and grim approach.
The good news for Albert was that both books had become cult hits.
The bad news was that people wanted to meet J. T. Leroy.
The issue was further complicated by the fact that a considerable amount of the buzz regarding Albert's novels came from the fact that people assumed they were largely autobiographical. Part of the attraction of Leroy and his works was this bizarre and horrifying life story he supposedly had. Albert rightly understood that revealing there was no J. T. Leroy would drive a stake right into the heart of her success. Consequently, when Interview requested a photo of Leroy, Savannah was pressed into service. She was dressed up as a young man, photographed, and thanked for her part in keeping the hoax going.
It was meant to be a one-time deal, but for the next seven years Knoop became the public face of the J. T. Leroy literary conspiracy. She was interviewed, wooed, given awards, praised by everybody from Dennis Cooper to Bono, and even managed to sleep with Asia Argento while still disguised. To figure out how she pulled that off, you'll have to read Knoop's new memoir of the hoax, Girl Boy Girl: How I Became J. T. Leroy.
I can, however, share some of the things readers will learn about the tempestuous Italian actress and director from the not-a-man who knew her so intimately.
Without further ado, ANTSS proudly presents the official "And Now the Screaming Starts List of Nine Things You Would Know About Asia Argento If You Made Love to Asia Argento as a Girl Who Had Fooled Asia Argento into Thinking You Were Actually a Boy Who Had Extensive Sexual Reassignment Surgery":
1. When Asia Argento sees a sheep, she makes a flicking gesture with her fingers. It's a motion like trying to flick something sticky off your fingers. Asia believes that doing this will bring her good fortune.
2. In the sack, Asia Argento is "kind of a toppy-bottom." And, somewhat inexplicably, right before getting down to the nasty, she may announce that she wishes she had a penis.
3. When Asia Argento gives a toast, she stares directly into her dinner companion's eyes. She believes that doing so will allow her to detect betrayal. Of course, Asia seems to have never seen through Knoop's disguise, so you could be forgiven for doubting the efficacy of this lie-detection method.
4. Detecting treachery is apparently a major concern with Asia Argento as she seems to react to stressful situations by throwing paranoid fits. When she was directing The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, Argento repeatedly announced that her crew was purposefully undermining her. She also stated they resented her authority because she was a woman. She also claimed that they made fun of her accent.
5. If Asia Argento spills wine, she dips her finger in it and dabs it behind her ears like perfume. Why? Who knows?
6. Asia Argento smokes like a freakin' chimney. It is alleged that she smoked through her pregnancy. Agrento helped give this allegation legs by allowing her preggers self to be photographed naked in the bathtub with a lit coffin nail in hand.
7. For formal media-event occasions, Asia Argento always wears Fendi. In fact, she's contractually obligated to. Even though she feels that Fendi designs "conventional" and "prissy" clothes, she likes the money that comes from being their red carpet dummy. In less formal contexts, she prefers jeans, which she covers in ballpoint pen doodles.
8. Asia Argento does not like Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain album.
9. Ask Asia Argento and she will tell you that, despite what people think of her, she's actually quite shy.