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5 Things We Learned About Terry Richardson From His New York Magazine Cover Story



He speaks! The allegations, it seems, will not subside, and so Terry Richardson invited New York magazine into Terryworld to see what reporter Benjamin Wallace might be able to knock loose from the scandalous narrative. The feature isn’t exactly a game-changer as far as Richardson’s current position in the public eye goes—if you despise the photographer for his behavior, you will not likely have your mind changed; if you’re one of his supporters, there are no new allegations here that will cause you to question your position. Beyond that, here are the five things we gleaned about Richardson from the story.

1. He Thinks the Internet Is “Like a Little Cancer”

After all, much of the controversy is rooted in Twitter (where H&M distanced itself from him over the allegations), Facebook (where one model falsely claimed Richardson contacted her about shooting a photo in exchange for sexual favors), and Reddit (where Charlotte Waters posted a graphic description of her encounter with Richardson). It’s not surprising that he’s wary, to say the least. He tells New York: “It’s insane, the Internet. Totally craziness. Like a little cancer. People can just do whatever they want, say whatever they want, be totally anonymous. It’s totally out of control.”


2. He Had a Really Messed-Up Childhood, But He Doesn’t Blame His Parents

As far as troubled upbringings go, Richardson’s is about as dysfunctional as it gets. His father, the photographer Bob Richardson, left his mother for a 17-year-old Anjelica Huston and soon after descended into schizophrenia and homelessness. When he was 9, his mother was in a car accident and “emerged from a coma with brain damage and came home in diapers.” His family went on welfare, Richardson found drugs and attempted to overdose on more than one occasion. Today, Richardson does a lot of psychotherapy, SoulCycle, and AA. He told New York that he has “nothing but so much love for my parents. They’re artists, and they showed me films and took me to museums and taught me about art and things that I’m eternally grateful for.”

3. He’s Got a Signature Sandwich

Richardson likes routines. Same outfit. Same camera. Same sandwich. New York mag spoke to his friend Gavin McInnes, cofounder of Vice: “My wife and I have a Terry every Sunday: English muffin, mayonnaise, avocado, Cheddar, tomato, salt, and pepper. My wife says, ‘Do you want a Terry?’”

4. Terryworld Earned Him Lots of Lawsuits, Good Sales

New York discovered that the lawsuits piled up after the publication of Terryworld: “According to someone close to the situation, as many as nine people depicted in the original Terryworld have threatened Richardson with lawsuits since its publication.” Not surprisingly, sales did not suffer as a result. Richardson’s friend and editor at Taschen, Dian Hanson, said the book was one of the publisher’s “better-selling titles.”

5. “He doesn’t have a terrifically sophisticated way of analyzing his own work.”

It may not be the job of the artist to analyze his or her own work, but one of the most interesting passages in the New York profile reveals a little about how Richardson’s mind works. “But when I asked him about the themes of his work, over lunch one day at the Smile on Bond Street, he was unreflective. Son of Bob? ‘My father’s name was Bob. I was his son. I just thought it was funny.’ Teddy bears? ‘I don’t know. Not consciously or whatever. I don’t know, I like that film Ted. It’s great. Teddy bears are great. A lot of that stuff is, I don’t think about, What theme should I explore? Teddy bear. Terry bear. I don’t know. But they’re comforting, bears.’ Maybe this was wary deflection, or maybe he really hadn’t thought about it. ‘He has so many blind spots,’ says a former close friend. ‘He has extremely strong and smart instincts, but he doesn’t have a terrifically sophisticated way of analyzing his own work.’”

Photo: Cass Bird for New York Magazine