LOS ANGELES – Despite multiple claims of sexual abuse against fashion photographer Terry Richardson, Playboy hired him to shoot an entire special edition of the magazine released this week. Indeed Richardson, despite sexual assault accusations spanning a decade, remains one of the most sought after photographers in the fashion industry.
“The fashion world is not the TV world. It is much sleazier, its consumers don’t care about the personal behavior of the photographer/artists because he is not the end product. But consumers are buying the sex when they buy -- directly or indirectly -- Richardson’s photos/work,” human behavior expert Patrick Wanis PhD, told FOX411. “His bad image, reputation and accusations against him only further encourage people to hire him when they want to sell sex, rebellion and provocation.”
New York Magazine ran a lengthy report last summer questioning if Richardson is “an artist or a predator?” saying he had cultivated a reputation of being a “proud pervertee.” Richardson has vehemently denied the allegations of sexual inappropriateness and insists he is “considerate and respectful” of those he works with, and several other models have come forward in his defense.
But while many publications, including Playboy, Harper’s Bazaar (which this week honored him for his birthday with a special slideshow of his snaps), Paper Magazine (which just released the Richardson-shot cover of Marilyn Manson) and Rolling Stone (who had him photograph Nicki Minaj for their January cover), still employ Richardson, others do not.
Amid the accusations of inappropriate behavior last year, Vogue announced it had “no plans to work with him in the future,” clothing giant H&M distanced themselves, and shoe company Aldo said they had no intention of working with him.
But even those negative headlines may help Richardson. Brown University sociologist Dr. Hilary Levey Friedman said part of Richardson’s appeal is that he generates his own publicity, which in turn helps generate buzz and sell magazines. Plus, “those who buy Playboy already likely won’t be very disturbed by the allegations,” Friedman says.
Richardson has a show opening March 7 at Galerie Perrotin in Paris – his first exhibit at the gallery since 1999. His statement in the press release touches on America’s puritanical history, prompting ARTNews.com to question whether it served as a “thinly-veiled defense against the reams of negative press Richardson has accumulated since last year.”
Here’s an excerpt:
“From the hysterical fear of sexuality that led to the Salem Witch Trials, to Prohibition, to Blue Laws, to the Westboro Baptist Church, America, more than anywhere else seems in many ways obsessed with sin. Even today, hardline religious groups use a similar strategy to their Puritan ancestors of exploiting impropriety to assert and fortify their own doctrines, for example, placing billboards near the sites of transgression -- you can buy your pornography or pay for your lap dance, but not without the admonishment of a larger than life, silent Jesus watching over you.”
Richardson and Playboy did not respond to requests for comment.
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay