Last week, model Ria Rasmussen confronted photographer Terry Richardson at a Paris event, accusing him of “degrading” women and using his industry power (and camera) to sexually harass models. A few days later, writer Jamie Peck came forward with a disturbing tale of a photo shoot with Richardson, in which he instructed her call him “Uncle Terry,” waggled his penis, and asked if he could make “tea” with her tampon before stripping himself completely naked.
Peck ended up giving Richardson a handjob, the memory of which she describes thusly:
I’m not sure how he maneuvered me over to the couch, but at some point he strongly suggested I touch his terrifying penis. 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.
After he came, Peck writes, ‘His assistant handed me a towel.”
I’ve made no secret of my disgust for Richardson’s questionable behavior, and I’m not alone. Shortly after Peck published her essay, Jezebel’s Jenna Sauers offered complete anonymity and their site as a platform for stories of Richardson’s alleged actions. On Thursday, she wrote:
I heard from modeling agency bookers and former bookers, photographers (many of whom told me that they are disgusted by Richardson in part because by propagating the idea of the fashion photographer/predator, he makes their jobs harder), fashion writers, magazine editors, models of all descriptions, stylists, and others in the industry. Because of Terry Richardson’s extraordinary position of power, all of these people spoke to me anonymously, for fear of losing their own jobs or being blacklisted in an industry that hates to endure any overt challenge to its power structure.
Among them, a friend of a stylist who once worked for 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.”
A model attending an industry party in Los Angeles:
I saw him shooting some obviously inebriated chick straddling a full naked erect guy with her SG panties pulled over to the side one hand on the camera; the other hand grabbing his cock over his pants. I’m like HOLY SHIT! I immediately backed away, ran through a bunch of drunk women, confused business people, and out the door like I had just had the worst nightmare imaginable.
And an industry insider who says everyone “know[s] full well Richardson’s predatory behavior”:
“It’s 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.”