>> In 2004, Terry Richardson told the Guardian UK: "I don't like to exploit anybody. That's not my bag. Everyone has fun on my shoots." But in the last couple of weeks, all kinds of lurid stories about his work habits are coming out of the woodwork.
It started last week when reports of Rie Rasmussen confronting the photographer on March 8 in Paris were published by the New York Post. The model, who said that Richardson manipulates young girls into posing for pictures in compromising situations, told the newspaper: "I told [Richardson] what you do is completely degrading to women. I hope you know you only [bleep] girls because you have a camera, lots of fashion contacts and get your pictures in Vogue. Instead of arguing with me, Terry ran out of the bar. Then the next day, he called my agency and complained I called him names in front of clients in Paris. It was the most cowardly thing I have ever seen."
He's made no comment, but has removed certain pictures from his blog »
Then, a week later, Jamie Peck recounted her experiences modeling for Richardson at 19, six years ago: "Of all the fine folks I’ve frolicked au naturel for, he’s the only one who’s left me feeling like I needed to take two showers." The photographer asked Peck to call him "Uncle Terry," and unexpectedly took off his clothes during her nude shoot before propositioning her for a handjob. "This is where I zoom out on the situation," Peck writes. "I can remember doing this stuff, but even at the time, it was sort of like watching someone else do it, someone who couldn’t possibly be me because I would never touch a creepy photographer’s penis." After she did the deed, Terry's assistant handed her a towel.
Yesterday, Jezebel published many more tales of Richardson's behavior. One model from the late '90s recounted a shoot for Arena Homme Plus, in which 30 models were gathered and each given a cover try: "Being familiar with Mr. Richardson's .....peccadillos, many of the models were eager to please; pleasing in this instance consisted primarily of pulling down pants, pulling up skirts, losing blouses, and a bit of finger sucking thrown in for good measure." When the storyteller approached Richardson and asked about his exploiting the dreams of models and whether he realized that they were acting in a way they thought might gain his favor, he replied: "I don't really think about that stuff. I guess you're smarter than me."
Another story, from the friend of a stylist who worked with Richardson: "She quit because of having to watch him sexually harrassing/abusing two (naked) teenage Eastern European models who didn't speak English — she didn't speak up and was so ashamed I don't think she did anymore styling for quite a while afterwards."
Terry regularly works with Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Interview, New York Times Magazine, Vogue Paris, British Vogue, i-D, V, and GQ; Jacob Bernstein, former features writer for W and WWD, wrote two days ago: "everyone in fashion knows Terry Richardson messes around with the girls he photographs . . . because they know it directly from Terry." Another anonymous fashion insider told Jezebel that modeling agencies "know full well Richardson's predatory behavior," but that he "is tolerated because the industry folk are just sheep. There are only a handful of photographers who have the power, a handful of editors who have the power, and a handful of clients who have the power. Everyone else just follows this small group of people. Those people in power, the women, need to take their responsibility for what happens to the girls because by booking him, they are tacitly giving their approval that whatever he does is OK."
There is one major magazine without recent Richardson credits, however: W. Two current and former W staffers confirmed to Jezebel that Richardson has not worked with the magazine in a while; another individual claimed that the most recent instance was in the November 1996 issue. There's a rumor that the ban on Richardson's work was instituted after W art director Dennis Freedman took offense to a photo by the photographer of a model with her head in an oven, but Freedman has yet to comment.
Meanwhile, Fashionista has polled a number of insiders, who don't seem to think all of the allegations will make a lasting impression — one drew comparisons to Kate Moss's cocaine scandal. And while Terry himself has not commented, as one Fashionista commenter pointed out: "He REMOVED all the images from his blog of him grabbing models breasts and posing with his thumb up and a grin next to bare asses. obviously there is some heat there."