Jennifer’s post about Terry Richardson last Friday begged the question of whether everyone’s favorite “edgy” fashion photographer is a camera-wielding predator or merely a misunderstood facilitator of fun. “It strikes me that it’s fairly hard to make a call unless you have a model actually saying ‘I felt bad about it,'” she wrote, allowing for the fact that Richardson’s fame and industry clout might make models hesitant to speak those words lest they be perceived as some kind of anti-fun crusaders and blacklisted accordingly.
Luckily for the purposes of this post, I’m not a model, just a vain girl with nice tits who likes to pose for the occasional cheesecake photo. I modeled for Terry Richardson when I was 19. And guess what? I felt bad about it. 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. This man has built his business/pleasure empire on breaking the cardinal rule of asking a young girl you don’t know to come over to your house and hang out naked: don’t be a fucking creep.
I first met Terry at a party for “SG Pin-Up” Magazine, a print project of Suicidegirls.com that never ended up coming out. I posed for him right then and there. He had his people get my info before I left, and they called me later that week to ask me to come over and pose some more. I said sure, sounds like fun.
The first time I went over there was pretty okay. He made me tea and we hung out and talked a little before getting down to business. He spoke in the effeminate tones of someone trying very hard not to come off as sexually threatening despite the fact that he was basically walking around in a hipster pedophile costume. I got naked, danced around a bit, smiled, squeezed my tits together, yada yada. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ first album was playing on repeat. He asked me to call him Uncle Terry and I obliged, because why not?
The second time was the weird one. It was the end of my freshman year of college and my mom had just helped me move my stuff out of my dorm room, which I had one more day to vacate. I went straight downtown from there, thinking it would be more of the same, but it wasn’t. Uncle Terry was feeling frisky that day! I told him I had my period so I wanted to keep my underwear on, and he asked me to take my tampon out for him to play with. “I love tampons!” he said, in that psychotically upbeat way that temporarily convinces so many girls that what’s fun for Uncle Terry is fun for them. (I can just imagine him chirping, “Why don’t you wear these fairy wings while I fuck you in the ass? Wouldn’t that be like, so fun?” to some attenuated girl fresh off the boat from Eastern Europe. Either the man’s totally delusional, or he gets off on the fact that many of these things are not, in fact, very much fun for the girls.) I politely declined his offer to make tea out of my bloody cunt plug. It was then that he decided to just get naked.
Before I could say “whoa, whoa, whoa!” dude was wearing only his tattoos and waggling the biggest dick I’d ever seen dangerously close to my unclothed person (granted, I hadn’t seen very many yet). “Why don’t you take some pictures of me?” he asked. Um, sure.
So his assistants took pictures of me taking pictures of him. All the while, he was dropping names like they were hot, casually mentioning his upcoming Miu Miu shoot with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Billy Crudup, wondering aloud if he could get the kid from Elephant to model, and suggesting I come upstate with him and his fab celebufriends. I wish I could say this didn’t impress me, but I was fucking 19 and nerdy as hell, okay?
I’m not sure how he maneuvered me over to the couch, but at some point he strongly suggested I touch his terrifying penis. Who the heck specifically requests a handjob, that most unpopular of sex acts which, were we casting a sex act version of The Breakfast Club, would undoubtedly play the part intended for Anthony Michael Hall? I’ll tell you: high school boys and Terry Richardson. Not that I would’ve preferred him to request anything else, I’m just sayin’: if you ask for an H.J., you are aiming low with complete knowledge that the girl is not into it.
This is where I zoom out on the situation. 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. The only explanation I can come up with is that he was so darn friendly and happy about it all, and his assistants were so stoked on it as well, that I didn’t want to be the killjoy in the room. My new fake friends would’ve been bummed if I’d said no.
I must have said something about finals, because he told me, “if you make me come, you get an A.” So I did! Pretty fast, I might add. All over my left hand. His assistant handed me a towel.
I was supposed to get a signed print as payment but I felt so gross about the whole thing that I never went back. A while later, someone told me my picture was in Purple. If you’re reading this, Terry, and want to prove you really are a nice guy after all, I’m over it now and wouldn’t mind collecting that print.
As much as I’d like to think he went especially mad for my unique brand of non-emaciated sex appeal, it’s likely that he approaches all girls the same way: gauge the situation, drop some names, take out your trouser monster, and see what you can get them to do. I don’t doubt that some of the girls who pose for/starfuck him really do have fun; I’m not going to tell another person how she should or shouldn’t get her kicks. But it’s not my personal cup of period tea. Or, I’d venture to guess, that of many others who’ve crossed paths with fashion’s sacred perv.
Following the article we attempted to follow up with Terry Richardson. His representatives have no comment. And, for the record, I no longer think of Terry as a “misunderstood facilitator of fun”. – JW.
UPDATE as of April 2014: Model posts screenshot of creepy text allegedly proving Terry Richardson offered her work for sex