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Read Bjork's2001 interview with Juergen Teller from the index archives.

Kathleen Hanna discusses writing and making music in this interview from 2000 with Laurie Weeks.

Isabella Rossellini spoke with Peter Halley in this 1999 interview.

Check out our interview with Crispin Glover by Richard Kern from 2000.
Alexander McQueen's 2003 interview with Bjork.

Terry Richardson, 1998


Most people when they meet me think I'm English and gay," says Terry Richardson, who is neither. In fact, he's about as American and straight as you can get — and I mean that strictly as a compliment. When I bumped into Harmony a few months ago at a glamorous index party at Barmacy, the Kid told me he had to hook me up with Terry, an alleged fan of mine, whose career as a fashion photog I had been following à la distance for quite some time.
When we met, it was one of those instant friendships — add Stoli and stir. We discovered we had a lot in common: both of us have anchors tattooed on our right forearms; both were full-on punk rockers in the '80s; both had extremely traumatic potty training experiences ... But before I start to sound like Mailer on Marilyn ("Bruce LaBruce is virtually an anagram for Terry Richardson - except for about twelve consonants and a few vowels"), let me just say I think Terry is terrific. Whether photographing women on death row for George magazine or Sharon Stone for the cover of Harper's Bazaar, the mutton-chopped Mr. Richardson, son of Bob (read the interview and all will be explained), is a straight-ahead, salt-of-the-earth kind of guy who remains refreshingly untouched by all the fashion falderal.
As the interview began, Terry was on his way to pick up copies of his very first book - an impressive affair produced under the auspices of the Japanese fashion house Hysteric Glamour. Terry was ecstatic, as the book had arrived just in time for his big debut - a one man show of his photographs at the Alleged Gallery. Heady with excitement, he recounted his turbulent history to me as we indulged in various stimulants (espresso and cola) and depressants (sake and Red Stripe).

BRUCE: Do you think you inherited fashion photographer genes from your father?

TERRY: I inherited all the schizophrenia, depression, anxieties, and a Napoleon complex, even though we're both six feet tall.

BRUCE: But it's also osmotic, don't you think?
TERRY: It's totally Sabbath, man. Totally Ozzie.

BRUCE: No, no, osmotic.
TERRY: I only have a tenth grade education, Bruce, so don't throw those heavy words at me.

BRUCE: Like through osmosis - you were in that environment from such a young age that you acquire a feel for it through osmosis. Or maybe it's more like photosynthesis.
TERRY: When I was about eleven years old and my balls had just begun to drop I was vacationing in Haiti with my father. One night, these two eighteen year old model chicks brought me into their hotel room and one was in the shower with these big breasts and I remember having this really erotic experience with them.

BRUCE: And that was Veruschka and Penelope Tree, I suppose.
TERRY: I love all those early sexual experiences. They're so innocent.

BRUCE: So you had access to babes from a very young age, which is probably one reason why you got into fashion photography. So give me a historical linearity. When you were born was your father already famous as a fashion photog?
TERRY: Yeah, he was already quite famous, he was doing Harper's Bazaar in America, a contract guy doing his quite radical pictures, and when I was one we moved to Paris because he thought he could do stronger pictures there, which I think he did. He worked for French Vogue in the '60s, and we lived there for four years and when I was five we moved back to New York. French was my first language.

BRUCE: Do you still speak French.
TERRY: Oui oui. Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?

BRUCE: Peut-etre, plus tard.
TERRY: Hey! Before she met my dad my mom was dating Gerry Mulligan, the jazz musician, and lived in Greenwich Village and worked at a coffee shop on Greenwich Street. She was a dancer at the Copacabana, smoked a lot of tea, and then my dad walked into the Copa and fell in love with her and she left Gerry Mulligan for him. At that time my dad was very conservative, from Long Island, wearing button-down shirts, very upper middle class.

BRUCE: So how did he get into photography?
TERRY: My dad went to art school with Andy Warhol, then ended up as a window decorator like Andy. He also wanted to be a painter, but a friend of his gave him a Roloflex and told him he should be a photographer. Then he met my mom and she gave up everything for him and supported him, and eventually we moved to Paris. My mom worked as his stylist, and we were all decked out in cowboy clothes which was quite a sensation.

BRUCE: But after you moved back to New York your parents split up?
TERRY: We had moved back to New York and a friend of my dad's said, "There's a model in town you have to meet," and it was Anjelica Huston. Anjelica walked into his studio one day, and three months later they were living together. She was seventeen and he was forty-three. They were together for three years, and she was sort of like my older sister.

BRUCE: Where was your mom?
TERRY: She started seeing Jimi Hendrix. He used to come over and I remember him playing his guitar and picking me up and throwing me in the air when I was about four and a half. We had a penthouse on Jane Street, and one night I walked out onto the balcony and my mom was making out with Kris Kristoferson. I remember going to his place in the country and riding horses for a few weeks. He was always very cool.

BRUCE: So you were left with your mother in New York?
TERRY: But she was like, fuck New York, I'm moving to Woodstock, so in 1971 we moved up there.

BRUCE: Why Woodstock?
TERRY: Because in the early '70s it was still counter-culture and everyone who was fed up living in the big city moved there. She would commute to New York because she was a stylist. Todd Rundgren was up there, and the Sales brothers, Soupy Sales' kids, Tony and Hunt, who ended up playing with Iggy Pop - Tony had blue hair, and Hunt had black hair with a big white skunk streak through it - they were 1971 pre-punks.

BRUCE: What was it like at the time?
TERRY: There was this whole scene. My stepdad was Jackie Lomax, who was the first guy signed to Apple Records. I remember hanging out with all these people in the recording studios - there was Rick Danko and the Band and Bob Dylan. My mom took incredible photographs and documented that whole scene. It was nice then because everyone would be completely fucked up and drunk and on drugs at parties, all the little kids would be running around at one o'clock in the morning. I remember making out with Maria Muldaur's daughter Jenny.

BRUCE: How old were you then?
TERRY: Six, seven ...

BRUCE: And you were already copulating?
TERRY: Just playing. You'd be in the shower or you'd pull down your pants and play choo choo train.

BRUCE: You're straight, but you've had a lot of homosexual experimentation?
TERRY: In elementary school we used to have pee fights and run around and pee on each other. When I was seven I couldn't stand girls, but your best friends are boys so you're all mooning each other and pulling apart your butt cheeks.

BRUCE: Was there lots of nudism in Woodstock?
TERRY: Yeah, totally. Men would be shooting off guns at night, like Michael Pollard and all those people. He lived next door to us.

BRUCE: I love Michael J. Pollard.
TERRY: He was incredible. He was just a total mess.

BRUCE: He was a big star for a while. After Bonnie and Clyde in the early '70s there was Hannibal Brooks and Little Faus and Big Halsey. Stars back then could look like freaks.
TERRY: But he was like W.C. Fields. I mean, the sad thing was drugs didn't destroy him but alcohol did. When I was spending summers with my dad at the Gramercy Park Hotel he'd show up at four in the morning drunk, ranting and raving.

BRUCE: He was also on that amazing Star Trek episode about the Grups ...
TERRY: He was on Dukes of Hazzard too, man.

BRUCE: And that episode of Lost in Space where he lived in the mirror.
TERRY: Michael's still around, man. He does commercials.

BRUCE: And you were neighbors.
TERRY: He pulled a gun on me one night, a .38. He got really drunk and started pointing his gun at the kids. It was a heavy scene, it was all acid and people were experimenting with things that just blew their minds and if you were a little unstable to begin with those things just made you completely out of your mind.

BRUCE: The early '70s was when it all went wrong. Just for clarification, your mother's maiden name was ...
TERRY: Norma Kessler, but my stepdad renamed her Annie because she used to wear cowboy clothes and he thought she looked like Annie Oakley so her name is Annie Lomax now. She's a better photographer than me and my father put together. Her pictures are incredible. She photographed all through my high school punk rock years and everything and now she just sits there in this little town, handicapped, with all these incredible photographs.

BRUCE: She had an accident?
TERRY: Yeah, when I was nine. She was in a Volkswagen bug and she was going onto the freeway and a telephone truck that was doing like, seventy miles an hour rear-ended her. She was in a coma for a month and her equilibrium was fucked and she was in diapers, couldn't walk.

BRUCE: Wow. You were a real care-giver from a really young age.
TERRY: [fake weeping] Yeah, it really fucked me up.

BRUCE: I'm sure it made you very responsible.
TERRY: And it also made me very attracted to very dysfunctional, fucked-up people. But my wife Nikki is very together.

BRUCE: [laughing] Brackets close brackets.
TERRY: And so is my friend Bruce LaBruce over here.

BRUCE: Ha ha.
TERRY: Everyone I know has been abused and been through fucked up things, and when you're a kid you're just so vulnerable. Very few people have had perfect childhoods.

BRUCE: I had one. And look what happened to me! Anyway, you were in LA when your mother had the accident?
TERRY: I moved to London from Woodstock with my mother because my stepdad was in some supergroup called Badger for about six months, and from there we moved to Hollywood where he had a deal with Capitol Records. I was going to a child psychiatrist because I used to be really hyperactive and violent and beat up people all the time. I had a green belt in karate.

BRUCE: You were a bully?
TERRY: No, I only beat up people when they were fucking with me, and people bigger than me. So when I was in fourth grade I beat up all the sixth graders. I'd just go up and kick ass. I liked to fight, and I had a mean roundhouse kick.

BRUCE: A green belt. Is that good?
TERRY: Yeah, that was like a year and a half of karate. I was hyperactive and very violent and I used to fucking just destroy my room and smash everything and have tantrums. I used to hear voices in my head, but that's gone away a little bit now.

BRUCE: Good.
TERRY: So I was waiting outside my psychiatrist's office and my mom was on her way to pick me up when she was hit by a truck.

BRUCE: Oh wow.
TERRY: And six months later mom came home in diapers. But it's all good, you know? As Anjelica Huston once said to me, "God, your parents are so fucked up I'm surprised you came out so normal."

BRUCE: Don't you have a Robert Downey Jr. story?
TERRY: We were like nine or ten and we smoked weed and played "Cream the Carrier."

BRUCE: What's that?
TERRY: You know, you run around and tackle each other and get the person into a position until they say "Uncle." I didn't see him again until years later, I was 22 and running these underground clubs in LA - Viva La Revolution and Dr. T's - and he came into one of them.

BRUCE: Where were those clubs?
TERRY: Downtown. MacArthur Park and below was where all the cool underground clubs were. The '80s in L.A. were really amazing and decadent.

BRUCE: So-Cal punk is legendary.
TERRY: Yeah, I saw The Germs and Black Flag when I was a little kid.

BRUCE: Were you around when Penelope Spheeris was shooting The Decline of Western Civilization?
TERRY: Yeah, I went to the premier at Graumann's Chinese. The police barricaded off Hollywood Boulevard because they thought there would be a riot — which there was. But Decline, man ... I mean, no disrespect to New York Hardcore, but the SoCal punk scene was the scene as far as I'm concerned, with all those real cute Huntington Beach surfer skinhead boys.

BRUCE: And you were in the band Doggie Style — you caught the tail end of Doggie Style. Were you on Doggie Style II, with the Led Zeppelin cover?
TERRY: Just after that. I was in SSA before that, and a band called Baby Fist from Ventura. I was in a lot of garage bands, I had a lot of fun.

BRUCE: Did your father encourage you to be a photographer?
TERRY: I started taking pictures when I was eighteen, and I ran into my father. I rescued him, he was homeless. But when he saw my pictures, he discouraged me so bad that I threw away my camera. I stopped taking pictures for seven years. I wish I'd never stopped, for all the moments of my life that I missed. I think it was because he wasn't taking pictures that he didn't accept that I was.

BRUCE: What made you start taking photos again?
TERRY: I moved to New York and my father followed shortly after. We worked together for six months. We did really terrible pictures together. We were going to do a story for Vibe, but the night before the shoot I told my father I had to do it by myself or I'd never get any respect.

BRUCE: But you'd gotten the job on the basis that it would be the two of you together?
TERRY: Yeah, I was taking the pictures and he was art directing them. So he said, "You can't do it on your own, you're not good enough," and I said, "Fuck you, I'll do it on my own," and hung up the phone. I went and did the story and it ended up in the Festival de la Mode and was shown at the Louvre and all that. And then he wouldn't speak to me and I just took photos on my own in the East Village for two years. And now when I tell him that he wasn't very supportive and he was very fucked up, he says that's what made me a good photographer.

BRUCE: Do you believe that?
TERRY: Yes and no. I was strong enough and had a big enough ego that I could say, "Fuck you, I'm going to show you I can do it." We just had a weird co-dependant relationship. Us separating was the best thing that could have happened because I went out on my own and learned how to take pictures. It became an obsession. But he shouldn't take credit for that necessarily.

BRUCE: That photo of you by your father I saw in Big is so homoerotic. How do you feel about that?
TERRY: Well I'm a bit of an egotist, so it was my idea to wear a little tank top and long johns. He showed up and that's what I was wearing. I wanted to look good. My Dad's not gay, he's more trisexual. He'll try anything. He just loves sexual experiences. As the French say, he has joie de vivre. Andrew Dice Clay says you either suck dick or you don't, but in my father's case he just loves youth and beauty. To be old and broke and have a young lover is way more chic than if you have a lot of money, because if you're rich they're attracted to you for that reason only. If you're broke they must be attracted to you because you're intelligent and fascinating and a very good lover, which is quite nice I think.

BRUCE: And your father used to hit on your friends when he was living with you?
TERRY: Yeah, and he had a six month affair with an actor friend of mine who was twenty-three, and my dad was sixty-seven at the time. I'm having a script written about it called "Born Again Christian," which is also about my relationship with my father.

BRUCE: You and your dad were sleeping in the same bed at one point, correct?
TERRY: This was a couple of years after the whole Vibe thing when we weren't speaking to each other. He had just gotten out of jail. He had been evicted from his apartment but he wouldn't leave so the police arrested him. He called and said, "Look, I just want to stay with you for one night," but he ended up staying four months in my tiny one room apartment. It was pretty intense. So finally I said, "If you don't move out, I'm going to kill you," and he moved out the next day. I probably would have killed him. I mean, I do love him, but ...

BRUCE: We all have our limits.
TERRY: So he went to this transient hotel for about six months, and then he started teaching and got it together and got his own apartment. It's amazing that he got a second chance. Not many people get as low as he did and are allowed to come back.

BRUCE: He lived on the street for a couple of years in LA?
TERRY: When I was 19, I hadn't seen my dad in three years. He was living with his older brother who was on lithium and a complete basket case in San Diego. So on his birthday I hopped in my car and drove to San Diego and knocked on the door of this motel, he opened the door and I said, "Happy Birthday, Dad!" and he nearly had a heart attack. I told him I loved him and missed him and it was great.
About two months later he called up and he said he's taking a Greyhound bus to Hollywood and he wants to start working again and would I help him out? So we lived together for a bit and we had this huge fight and he went to live on the street. Then he called me and said he'd been attacked and I went to pick him up and he was all bloody and beaten up. So I got him an apartment and he started testing models and building a portfolio again. He had set most of his old pictures on fire. But then one day he left a note and said he wasn't happy and went to live on the streets again. Three years later he ended up in San Francisco living in a hotel selling newspapers.

BRUCE: Was he taking any pictures at all at this point?
TERRY: In between that he had been living with this millionaire who had this huge mansion in Beverly Hills. He would bring home young prostitutes and get my father to photograph them, but he got fed up with that and wouldn't do it, so the guy called the police and had him thrown in jail. He ended up in San Francisco, and I quit my band and moved there to spend some time with him. He started helping me out with pictures, and then I went to New York and he followed shortly after.

BRUCE: Didn't people still remember him?
TERRY: At one point we were totally broke and I tracked down some of his old negatives at French Vogue and places like that - he had none of them - and I remember going to Bruce Weber and Steven Meisel to sell them prints. Bruce was very kind. He said he'd always loved my father's pictures, and he bought some. And Steven did too.

BRUCE: So what was your big break after the Vibe thing?
TERRY: Phil Bikker from London called me one day and said Katherine Hamnett was looking for a new photographer, so I sent a bunch of personal pictures — people with their dicks out and all that — and three days later they called me and said I had the campaign.

TERRY: So I went to London and started working for the Face and iD and launched my career, then came back to America and eventually started working for Harper's Bazaar. My father was teaching and I finally got him Social Security and he decided to start taking pictures again. That parlayed into him doing Big magazine and hooking up with Italian Vogue. Anyway, it's all turned out quite good, and I'm really happy. He's seventy years old and he says he still wakes up with a hard-on every morning.

BRUCE: A blessing or a curse?
TERRY: After all we've been through, he's a complete pain in the ass but I love him because he's my father. You only have one father and we've always had a ridiculous relationship, but I do love the man. As it stands now, we haven't spoken in eight months and he won't return my phone calls — bastard — so if you read this, call me back, because you could have had some really nice naked pictures taken by Bruce, and you could have taken some nice naked pictures of Bruce too.

BRUCE: Yah!  

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Terry Richardson by Bruce LaBruce, 1998
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