The very fact that such allegations are no longer surprising is obviously a cause for huge concern, especially as the allegations by then-19-year-old Redditor amaheygirlhey are among the most disturbing yet. They were posted last week on Reddit’s TwoXChromosomes thread and recount a nude photo shoot that turned very X-rated very quickly. Essentially, it involved the girl showing up to Richardson’s studio on a Saturday evening, meeting the photographer’s assistant, signing a release, and being offered some sort of lemon garlic pasta — all apparently part and parcel of taking part in a nude photo shoot:
It was a Saturday early evening, I went to his studio in Soho. When I got there his assistant let me in and I met him. He was very smiley and his studio was just a big studio apartment type set up. We sat at his kitchen table, me, him, and his assistant. His assistant was probably like 40-45, dark hair, some work done on her face. We sat at the table and they were super casual, she was ordering food and asked if I wanted any I declined (I legitimately had a stomach infection building and went to the hospital that night but that’s another story). I remember he got this like lemon garlic pasta and thinking that sounded really good. So he ate, she ate I drank tea and he was doing something on his computer and she had me sign the model release forms. I don’t remember what they said, definitely not anything specific about what he would want to do though, I had signed several of these before and it looked the same.
What happened next, though, was definitely not normal:
Eventually we got up to take pictures and he had me stand against the blank white wall in the middle of the apartment. I stood there and he started taking pics, assistant off to the side. Then he came up and took pictures POV style with his hand on my face. Then he put his thumb in my mouth, I actually thought this was funny in the moment and he and his assistant were very upbeat and just light heartedly directing me. Then he stepped back at some point and had me start removing my clothes (I knew I would be getting nude, so this was not weird to me). I remember he had me take stuff off in stages, he complimented a lot, his assistant too. Definitely the usual trying to make the barely legal model feel special kind of thing looking back. I honestly do not remember if the sexual stuff started by the wall or when he moved me to the couch area but at some point I was being directed to do things like hold the top of his pants while he took more POV style pictures, then eventually unbutton his pants and then his penis was out. Meanwhile it felt like it was all just happening and there was no time to step back and be like “woah this is out of hand”. I dont think anyone who knows me would describe me as a particularly aggressive person (and definitely wasn’t at 19) and the only way I can describe how I felt was nervous and paralyzed. At some point the assistant started taking pictures too with a crappy point and shoot camera. He had me posing on the couch and then I had my back to him and just literally felt him start licking my ass, like every part of it, and the assistant was taking pictures the whole time. Things were now completely pornographic and never once initiated by me. He was now on the couch with me and it became sexual act after sexual act, aggressive kissing, random sexual things being done to me and being directed to do everything you can think of back, everything slow so his assistant could photograph. He even directed me to squeeze his balls as hard as I could so that they pushed back up into his body. I did not even know that was possible (At least I learned something about the male anatomy that night?). I was completely a sex puppet at this point. It ended with him jacking off on to my face and he told me to keep my eyes open really wide and his assistant stood over me and it got in my eye and they both began taking pics of it for a what felt like 10 minutes but was probably only 30 seconds…
The allegations are disturbingly similar to those of other models who have come forth. Jamie Peck‘s 2010 essay for The Gloss, in which she recounted a psychotically upbeat Richardson making the worst flavor of tea ever, offers an alarming insight into how easily he convinces girls to act out his fantasies. Shock replaces logical thought — the model at hand describes feeling like a “puppet,” — and it’s difficult to define the exact moment at which the line has been crossed. Is it any physical touching? Holding the top of the photographer’s pants? Unbuttoning his pants? What if you’re okay with — even expectant of — one of those things? Does that mean you don’t have a right to speak up when there’s suddenly a dick in your face? Of course it doesn’t, but by that point you’re probably paralyzed with shock, and if not shock, then guilt. Sara Ziff also spoke out recently about Richardson’s unique ability to make you feel like a prude for not going through with acts that seem easy to condemn from behind a computer screen.
How the shoot concluded is almost creepier than how it was initiated:
Finally, they backed off and were still acting like everything was totally fun and normal and upbeat or whatever and I think I was visibly in shock. I am a quiet person and I was definitely quiet in that moment and that’s when he asked if I had a boyfriend. I said yes and he started overly sweetly apologizing and so did his assistant. And he said oh I always mean to ask that first I’m so sorry. This was the part that actually bothered me the most because A. I think what had just happened was hitting me and B. it felt so fake and planned and like a slap in the face. I said it was fine that it didn’t matter and he wouldn’t care its ok (I don’t know why, obviously he would and did care. He knew I was nude modeling but nothing like this). Then I guess I cleaned up and got dressed and I don’t even remember saying bye or what happened as far as leaving the studio/apartment but his assistant wanted to come with me and paid for a cab and rode halfway with me and sort of comforted me I guess? She was giving me weird advice on how everything we did was ok and how I am clearly a strong girl but i wasn’t even asking for advice. Then she left at her destination and I went home. I told my roommate that night about it in disbelief. I still had that stomach infection going on and it got extremely bad that night and I ended up being taken to the hospital in an ambulance, looking back I am almost 100% sure this was more panic attack induced than the stomach infection alone.
The sad truth is that things like this have done fuck all to convince major brands and magazines not to work with Richardson. Following an anti-Terry petition last year that made headlines everywhere, he’s stayed on the A-OK list of everyone from Vogue and H&M to Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o. Lena Dunham has said she wouldn’t work with him again after the inevitable end of his bizarre relationship with 26-year-old smart person Audrey Gelman, but unfortunately there are many girls — both anonymous models and Hollywood darlings — lining up to take her place.
Vogue, H&M, Mango: Who’s Still Working With Terry Richardson
Should Terry Richardson Be Guilty Until Proven Innocent?
Sara Ziff on Terry Richardson: “He Makes You Feel Like You’re Being a Prude”