Last week, Jezebel leaked that the upcoming issue of New York Magazine would feature a cover story about Terry Richardson, focusing on the several allegations of sexual abuse thrown at him over the years. The source told Jezebel that the article would absolve Richardson of any guilt and discredit his accusers. The piece, penned by Benjamin Wallace came out today, and while we're not sure if it leaves the photographer vindicated, it does certainly give plenty of insight into how easy it is for young girls to get swept up in Terryworld.
Possibly the most telling quote in the article comes from Terry's father, Bob Richardson, who seems to have cultivated an environment on his shoots in the 60s that is eerily similar to his son's M.O. "Often a session would wind up in sex," he recalls. Richardson himself has admitted his sessions can get of out hand. One particular job for Supreme ended in pure debauchery: “The woman producing the shoot got freaked out and had to leave," he told Vice in 2002. "I think every person there fucked someone. It was intense.” But though Richardson does admit to some eyebrow-raising behavior, he firmly denies forcing anyone to do anything they were uncomfortable with or taking advantage of teenage girls, two of which the piece attempts to discredit.
The first, Charlotte Waters, who anonymously published an account of an encounter with the photographer to Reddit before coming out to tell her story to Voactiv, claimed that amongst other varied compromising positions she was in during the shoot, Richardson also licked her butt and asked her to squeeze his testicles. But Wallace notes that before the session, Waters contacted Terry via email about possible jobs with the line, "My name is Charlotte. I'm 19 and a pervert," a note which Waters has come to regret. Jamie Peck, whose 2010 tell-all to The Gloss about Richardson's creepy exploits has the shutterbug doing everything from asking to play with her dirty tampon to actually coercing her into giving him a handjob. Peck claimed that she was only photographed by Richardson once, but there are several photos of her in his book Kibosh, in an array of different haircuts. “Jesus Christ, I have no explanation for that,” she said. “I’d be scared this undermines my credibility but if anything I think it shows I was/am more traumatized by the experience than I thought.”
But regardless of whether or not these girls seemed comfortable during the shoot, or even returned to work with Richardson again, the fact remains that for many hungry aspiring 19-year-old models, posing for a photographer like Terry Richardson is a huge step for their career, and that relationship, coupled with the explicitly sexual nature of his work, makes for an unfair power dynamic between himself and the girls. “Kate Moss wasn’t asked to grab a hard dick,” as one high-profile modeling agent put it to New York Magazine. “Miley Cyrus wasn’t asked to grab a hard dick. H&M models weren’t asked to grab a hard dick. But these other girls, the 19-year-old girl from Whereverville, should be the one to say, ‘I don’t think this is a good idea’? These girls are told by agents how important he is, and then they show up and it’s a bait and switch. This guy and his friends are literally like, ‘Grab my boner.’ Is this girl going to say no? And go back to the village? That’s not a real choice. It’s a false choice.”