- Sex & Drugs
- 05 Apr 19
For a model, taking off your clothes might not be an unusual request. But not every situation is equal. And, as has been emerging in recent times, there was a lot of creepy behaviour involved when photographers’ egos became stupidly inflated. We talk to someone who’s been there, done that – and won’t be doing it again, thanks...
I recall the first time I saw Cindy Crawford in an ‘80s Pepsi ad. Gorgeous. Sexy. Inhumanly perfect. I was jealous.
“She must have really great sex,” I thought. What would it be like to be so flawless that everyone pops a boner just by laying eyes on you?
Illusions of that kind have been shattered in the wake of #MeToo, with droves of beautiful young women in the fields of fashion and entertainment finding the courage to speak out. Things have flipped to the extent that there is an emerging consensus that maybe it sucks to be so “hot” that everyone wants you – because ultimately, gross, perverted men like Weinstein are scheming their entire careers just to get in your pants. Or you may ‘just’ get stuck with a pedo-hipster photographer’s penis in your cheek or unwanted jizz on your face as his assistant watches.
All in the name of ‘art’!
Did the widely-feted fashion photographer, Terry Richardson, exploit the models he worked with? Did he engage in sexually inappropriate behaviour? Did shots that he took end up being used as porn without the awareness or agreement of the subjects?
The body of evidence against him is considerable. And, objectively speaking, that is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg in a fashion industry that has always treated women as products that can be discarded at the first sign of worry lines. With all of this in mind, I caught up with a beautiful ex-model, Miranda, who was represented by Elite Model Management – and who did a shoot with Terry Richardson.
UP AGAINST A WALL
Miranda is an easy 5’9”, but you don’t notice her height until you’re intimately in her space. Her dark-haired allure carries the innocence of a young gamine who’s oblivious to her own gorgeousness – until she catches you off-guard with a seductive smile, which reminds you why she was a successful model. “It’s a superpower and you have to use it for good,” she quips. We both laugh. She’s aware of how to use her beauty to captivate anyone, in any situation – but she’s using it with discretion these days.
“Ugh, he was THE WORST!” she says of ‘Uncle Terry’, who is widely described now as the ‘Weinstein of fashion’. Richardson was a photographer for magazines and brands like Vogue, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, GQ, Yves Saint Laurent, Sisley and Marc Jacobs – and thus wielded considerable power. “It’s not who you know, it’s who you blow,” he told Hint Magazine – before the #MeToo shit-storm hit. “I don’t have a hole in my jeans for nothing.”
“This was before people were saying all those bad things about him (pause) – and he was a career maker,” Miranda continues. “If I had walked off a shoot with him, my agent would never have sent me out again.”
In general, models had no idea what they might be walking into, on a given shoot. ‘Consent’ was something that happened on the job, rather than beforehand – which left them vulnerable to sexual predators. The agencies, casting offices, magazine editors, assistants, and clients, failed completely to protect the young girls entrusted to their care. “We all sold our souls to the devil so the model could become famous,” Carolyn Kramer, former co-director at Marilyn Models agency, told The New York Times.
Miranda wishes she could turn back the clock and walk out on what she remembers as a humiliating shoot. “He was so cool at first, just sitting and chatting with me about the Valley, and then he went to grab his camera, and his assistant – a woman – was like, ‘okay’. I’m like, ‘okay, what?’ And she goes, ‘take off your clothes’.
“Models get asked to go nude all the time, even when it’s absolutely unnecessary, so I didn’t feel weird about that as such, but it was in her tone. In my gut, it just didn’t feel right. It felt demeaning. Then they lined us all against a wall and started painting on us, but here’s where it gets uncool: out of the blue, a door opens, and it’s like a bunch of Terry’s male friends, and these dudes are just standing there watching all of us naked young chicks like we’re in a line-up in a brothel. It made us feel like animals. And then the only restroom was off-limits to the models – so we had to go outside behind a dumpster to pee. My biggest regret is that I just didn’t walk away.”
Were there nude sessions where you felt differently?
“Oh yeah, one of my favourite photos of myself was taken by Ryan McGinley and everything about it was beautiful. I have this pure vulnerability in it, that’s not from someone exploiting me. When I see that photo, it’s very body-positive to me. It taught me to be comfortable with my body and with being naked – and it was the way he directed me.
“Yet when my agent sent me the Terry Richardson photos I made him delete them and never show them to me again. I looked upset in them, because I was.”
ENJOYING SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS
Were there any moments in your modelling career that you’d see as sexually empowering?
“I remember there was this one lingerie shoot at the very end of my career. I’m not really a lingerie girl… thongs and garters, and a bra with the nipple part cut out. I was just so out of my element, because I had this short cropped hair that was very androgynous, but they were really specific about wanting me. I had never seen myself that way before and it was really sexy. It was the first time I purchased lingerie for myself, after that shoot.”
Was sex ever part of the scene for you?
“One time my agency had a party and I went with one of the other models. He was a European boy who was really pretty, with long hair – like he could’ve been a pretty girl. We’d been flirting and hanging for a while so we knew there was a vibe between us. The party was a dud, but it was promoted by a big vodka company so we walked out with a magnum-sized bottle of vodka to share.
“We ended up fucking in a random truck bed underneath the stars that night and had a great time until my friend walked by and ‘caught’ us. We were so drunk we didn’t even care. The next morning my agent totally made a comment about us leaving together, asking what we did after drinking that bottle of vodka.
“At the end of it all, when you’re a very beautiful or sexy young woman or barely legal girl, men want to own that,” she says. “They think they’re entitled to it, but I’ve had to come full circle to make my beauty and sexual consent my own.”