Work has been slow lately. Like, can’t-pay-my-rent slow. My agency says it’s because I put on two centimeters since Paris but I really think it’s the dumb fucking haircut they just made me get. Some mullet masterpiece crafted this new, hot, ten-year-old hairstylist out of London who looks like a tatted up, septum-pierced Harry Potter. “He cuts Freja’s hair.” That’s how they sold me.
So yesterday my agent called me up and says, “Hey, Frankie. Terry Richardson wants to shoot you.” And I’m like, “Holy shit, are you serious?” And my agent is like, “Yeah, I know. I was surprised, too.” And I do my best not to tell my agent to fuck off and demand they give me back every penny of the 20% they’ve practically stolen from me over the last seven years, sitting at their desks while I cram myself into client-paid-for coach seats, walked down runways with my nips on display for 125 euros, modeled bikinis in New York alleyways during January blizzards for editorials that’ll run in summer (though, right now, 20% of zero is zero, so the joke’s on them).
“Okay, so give me the details.” That’s what I say instead of the whole “fuck off” thing that just ran through my head.
“Are you sure?”
“Fuck yeah, I’m sure. Terry’s, like, Terry. He shoots for everyone. If Vogue won’t say no to him why would I say to no to him?”
“Well, I don’t think Terry’s ever jerked off on Vogue’s face.”
“That Anna’s a freak,” I tell my agent. “Don’t let those sensible mules fool you.”
The other line goes silent while my agent probably contemplates dropping me from the board. I grew up in Kentucky. I am a massive, mouthy pain in the ass. But whatever. Fuck them. My currency is that I used to book Chanel shows. I’ll cash in on that as long as I can… which is probably, like, another two days.
“Alright, so I’m going to book you for tomorrow. Just, I don’t know, bring a clean towel or something for afterward. But I warned you. You’re responsible for whatever happens.”
My agent clearly does not know me. This is the opportunity I have been waiting for: Getting cream pied by THE TERRY RICHARDSON. H & M campaign, here I cum.
And so here it is, the day I get sort-of-kind-of molested for the sake of my career. Other models have done worse. Shooting with Terry is nothing. Try marrying some rich troll just so that you can stave off the panic of turning 30 and possessing neither college degree nor useful skill set. I’ll take a pearl necklace any day of the week if it means making my own money so that I don’t have to bear the ugly children of some billionaire oligarch.
But not everything is going as planned.
When I arrive the assistant comes up to me and asks me what I’m doing here. Like, you know, casually, but still. “So what do you do?” I’m six feet tall and weigh 115 pounds (plus whatever two centimeters equates in extra weight). It should go without saying that I’m here to model. Or, like, it should be.
“Oh. Well, uh, hair and makeup’s over there.”
I sit down in front of Yasmin Henrique, who was another famous makeup artist’s understudy until she got really heavy into heroin and subsequently moved to Utah for this rehab facility where they treat people with good taste in clothes and a proclivity for substance abuse. I hear it’s quite nice there.
Yasmin doesn’t say anything to me the entire time, which makes me a little uncomfortable, though she does compliment me on my skin and I say, “Thanks, I do acid peels on the regs.” In my peripheral vision, I see a blur of red plaid and thick-framed glasses and then, all of a sudden, Terry Richardson is standing in front of me, my mouth open wide while Yasmin gets the corner of my lips with some fire-engine red shade from MAC.
“Hi, Frankie. I’m Terry. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ll just be over there, drinking orange juice with my crew. I think today will be a lot of fun.”
“Yaw I thonk it wheel be naawce,” I say, my mouth still open while Yasmin takes one hundred goddamn years with the lipstick. And then Terry politely shakes my hand and walks away. And I’m thinking, It’s not supposed to be like this. Doesn’t he shove his fist in your mouth just to check the size while you’re getting your hair done? This Mr. Polite business is not at all what I was expecting and, to say the very least, I’m disappointed. I’ve dated bigger jerks in real life and they weren’t famous and they didn’t get me anywhere and if I wrote about how they defiled me on the internet it wouldn’t make so much as a ripple in the blogosphere or whatever those dorks call it.
Are all the rumors about Terry just rumors? Or is he just, like, just not that into me? Tears start to well in the corner of my eyes while I contemplate being rejected by Terry. “Frankie Thompson: The Only Model Terry Richardson Refused to Jerk Off On” reads tomorrow’s headlines. The prospect alone is mortifying. My self-doubt spiral is thwarted by Yasmin’s husky voice telling me, “Cut that shit out. You’re ruining my makeup.”
So we start shooting. Despite the racks of crop tops and denim thongs, I’ve been put in a high-neck, turtle-y thing. Valentino or some fancy crap, I don’t know. “You sure this is what you want me to wear?” I ask the stylist. “Mmm hmmm. Yep,” she says. This bitch clearly doesn’t know what she’s doing. Hasn’t she been on a Terry shoot before? I make one last ditch effort to be put into something else, asking if she’s sure no one wants to see my boobs. “Yep” she says, “I’m sure!” Chipper. She says it in a chipper voice like she’s the mother on some PTA board.
Now I’m standing against a white wall in my turtleneck thing that shows absolutely no part of my body and Terry starts shooting from a distance that would likely require a telephoto lens. I mean, by the time his flash gets to me it is like a dull, distant blip on the horizon. “You can come closer, you know,” I say. “Nope! Got it from here! Looking gorgeous, Frankie!”
I had practiced all my moves in the mirror last night, but now they seem incongruous with what I am wearing. Sticking three fingers in your mouth and rolling your eyes back in your head just doesn’t pair well with a nine thousand dollar shirt and dress slacks. And so I pull out my old, tried-and-true classy moves. Richard Avedon. Whatever. But I feel awkward and stilted because I didn’t come here to be a debutante; I came here to be a whore.
Terry comes closer. Thank fucking god. Let’s cut the crap.
“Really need to capture the detail of this dress,” he says. “The luxury, the glamour.” Sure, buddy, I think. I’ve read the articles; I know what’s next: First, he’ll ask me to take of my top, then he’ll move me to the couch, then he’ll ask that I put my hands on the top of his pants and look at him with that stare that says “I’m a dirty little slut. Fuck me fuck me fuck me.” You know, Fashion.
But he keeps snapping away, cheerfully mumbling about the exquisite beading of my turtleneck. “Just marvelous,” he says. “Marvelous.” This is taking far too long. I reach for his pants. “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” he says. “What kind of place do you think this is? I think you’ve got the wrong idea about me.”
Mortified. I feel mortified. I mumble an apology and draw my hands close to my body, where they will remain for the next two puritanical hours. The only thing that keeps me from bursting into tears is running through the catalog of more dignified people Terry has worked with, cultural icons who have been complicit in his supposed tactics without fearing having a dick thrown in their face because of who they are: President Obama, Oprah, Lupita Nyong’o, Lena Dunham, Woody Allen, and, finally, me, Frankie Thompson, just another broke and desperate model no one will ever hear about and who didn’t even need the fresh towel she brought to this stupid shoot.
Note from the author: This piece is satirical and in is in no way meant to discount the allegations made against Terry Richardson in the past by previous models who are, in fact, real people.
Photos courtesy of Terry Richardson