Story time! Story time!
Once long ago, a young girl went to school in quiet York County, Virginia. Her strong daddy worked to save the lives of others. She lived in a nice house.
She dreamed of being an artist or performer. She went to school, and worked summers at the Busch Gardens amusement park in Williamsburg, VA. She then went on to Christopher Newport University and became heavily involved in SF/Fantasy fandom. She was a big fan of The Lord of the Rings! She liked to get involved in fan events and to help run and sponsor conventions that raise money for charitable organizations.
Sound just like me, doesn’t it?
Same county, same summer job, same fan group, same college, same everything.
Except for this part: the girl we are talking about is not me. Her name is Amy Player.
She is about a decade younger than me, and instead of growing up to become a happy cartoonist who gets to go to conventions and sign autographs and hang out with hobbit actors, Amy Player decided she didn’t just want to go to a convention and meet Elijah Wood, she wanted to be Elijah Wood.
In a gender bending tour de force the like of which has not been seen since Victor/Victoria, she cropped off her hair, ran away from home, and adopted the identity of Jordan Wood, Elijah Wood’s male cousin, who, inexplicably (even if you read the explanation in the book), was on the run from the Irish Republican Army. She also made extraordinary claims about being sold into child prostitution by her very-shocked-to-hear-about-it family, has psychic visions, and generally made a wahoo of herself all over the place.
This means that in some fannish circles, she was very popular.
Amy/Jordan was so convincing as Jordan Wood, she managed to dupe hundreds of devoted Lord of the Rings fans into believing that she was the very person she claimed to be. As if that wasn’t enough, she even managed to convince some of the actors in the cast of Lord of the Rings, and she set up bogus charity events and conventions that bilked fan and pro alike out of thousands of dollars. She managed to bamboozle cast members, stranding a bunch of them in an airport with no plane tickets, no money, and no hotels, after they had flown to the USA all the way from New Zealand to attend a non-existent convention.
If you think that’s weird, just wait until you get to the chapter where Amy and her friends have a nice, long, online chat about how they are channeling the hobbits – and even a ringwraith – in a psychic menage a trois. It is not to be missed.
Jeanine Renne has written a very amusing account of the saga, and as someone who got squeezed for thousands of dollars by these weirdos, her account is not only personal, it is the perfect cautionary tale for anyone in or around fandom.
After all these years, I find myself also getting snookered more than I care to admit by folks like Amy Player. I even donated a bit of money to the Bit of Earth charity she dreamed up before she took off with the donated funds. I have only met Amy once when she was in Frodo garb. She was quite off-putting. I did not know who she was supposed to be. I did not find out all of this until later, either. Much later. Oh well, she got my money.
Amy has a new identity now and spends her days dressing up as various movie characters while begging money from tourists on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, CA. She has not returned the vast sums she managed to snooker out of people and continues to run scams to this day. A recent attempt to weasel her way back into fandom – with many apologies, claims of mental illness, and promises to pay back money – turned out to be yet another big fat fake-o-rama.
Jeanine Renne has her own website where she not only sells her book of the saga, When A Fan Hits The Shit, but she also sells her handsome pottery. You can get a copy of her book autographed by Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee) directly from her.
Please buy Jeanine’s book. She lost many thousands of dollar on this mess, and has yet to make a profit on the sale of her tome. Here’s a look from Amazon’s site: